Peruvian Cuisine: Dulce De Leche Cookies (Alfajor)

The last item which Erika shared with us is a cookie filled with dulce de leche called Alfajor.  Erika made this cookies for his son’s school party and it was a hit.  Many parents asked for the recipe.  Dulce De Leche is a caramel like spread that can be made by simmering sweetened condensed milk in the can for hours.  But, we are very lucky that we can find them in jars in Real Canadian Superstore for about $3.

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The Dulce De Leche Cookies (Alfajor) is very delicate and they just melt in your mouth with the caramel sweetness lingering in the mouth.  I enjoyed the cookies very much as I have sweet tooth.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of corn starch (or more)
  • 225 gm unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • Dulce de leche (manjarbalnco) for filings

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Peruvian Cuisine: Potatoes Huancaina Style (Papas a La Huancaina)

The second dish which Erika shared with us is called Potatoes Huancaina Style (Papas a La Huancaina).  It has a few similar ingredients as in the Chicken in Aji Sauce recipe. You can kill two birds with one stone for these dishes, i.e. prepare 2 dishes with common ingredients which helps to reduce preparation time.

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The Potatoes Huancaina Style is relatively salty because we use feta cheese.  You can reduce the saltiness by using a mixture of ricotta or cottage cheese with feta cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 5 aji amarillo fresco or fresh yellow aji peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 3/4 cups (400g) farmers cheese (ricotta, cottage, or feta)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • 4 Spanish olives, pitted and cut in halves or quarters
  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) yellow flesh potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced (use white potatoes if not available)
  • lettuce for plating
  • salt and pepper to taste

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For this recipe, Erika used the Aji peppers in whole in a jar. Under normal circumstances, canned peppers tend to be hotter than fresh ones. Erika shared with us tips on how to reduce the heat of the peppers, especially if you are serving the dish for children. For those who cant find the aji peppers, you can replace it with sweet yellow peppers.

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Peruvian Cuisine: Chicken in Aji Sauce (Aji De Gallina)

Erika Pereyra is a relatively new member of the South Arm Community Kitchen.  We were glad that she’s sharing some of her favourite Peruvian dishes in the South Arm Community Kitchen.  Erika shared with us that Peruvian cuisine has lots of influences from Spanish cuisine.  One can also find a lot of Japanese and Chinese restaurants in Peru.

I bet you will never guess that Peruvian Cuisine has one of the most diverse in the world and is at the same level of cuisines of the Chinese, Indian, French and Spanish. Lima, the capital of Peru, is referred to as the “gastronomic capital of the Americas”.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBo6_0c1vcQ]

The video above on Peruvian Cuisine is a bit long but I find it interesting that the country of Peru is so rich in gastronomic heritage. Did you know too that Peru is home to about 2000 types of potatoes? Peru accounts for 40% of all potato varieties in the world.

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The first dish which Erika shared with us is called Chicken in Aji Sauce (Aji De Gallina).  Aji is a kind of pepper, also known as Peruvian hot pepper.

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The above are two types of Aji pepper which Erika introduced to us, one in the form of paste while another is whole.  Erika told us that we can find Peruvian groceries in Killarney Market at 49th Ave East Vancouver.  For the Chicken in Aji Sauce, we used Aji paste. (more…)

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Kale Chips

I had heard of Kale Chips from Arzeena’s facebook posting but had never try it before.  Apparently, it is very easy to make.  This is a very healthy snack.  As a matter of fact, I would even call this a vegetarian chips because it is made of vegetables. I’m glad that Frank and Christina will be making Kale Chips in the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors.

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The Kale Chips have the texture of potato chips and taste like Japanese dried seaweed.  It’s amazing what a quick roast in the oven can do to these greens!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale, try to get those with flatter leaves for a crispier texture
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Corn Muffins

June and Keiko made Corn Muffins to go with the Hamburger Soup in the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors.  June is a pioneer volunteer for the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors while Keiko is a new member.

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This Corn Muffin has corn kernels in it which adds a little surprise and sweetness to it.  You may add diced green chiles in it for the extra kick.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Optional add-ins:

  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 can diced green chiles, drained

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Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Grapes and Sage

The second recipe for the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors is Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Grapes and Sage.  This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit and it serves 4 to 6.

This side dish is versatile in the sense that you can use it in different ways like as a topper for spinach salad or stuff it inside a whole wheat pita with a bit of blue cheese for an unusual and delicious snack.

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This Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Grapes and Sage is easy to make fall recipe.

The grapes are a surprise to this recipe which I think you will like.

The hardest part of this recipe is cutting up the squash.  Charlene shared some tips on how to prepare butternut squash in a later kitchen.  If you’re making soup, simply cut the squash in half, lengthwise and bake in a 400F degrees oven until the flesh is soft enough to scoop out, about 45 minutes.  If you need to peel the squash, submerge the squash in a big pot of boiling water for 2 minutes.  This will soften the skin, making it easier for removal using a vegetable peeler.

Ingredients

  • 1 x 2 1/4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage leaves (or 1 tablespoon dry sage, crumbled)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts (optional)

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Hamburger Soup

The South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors met again for more fun time cooking some wonderful recipes. For this week’s menu, Charlene prepared four recipes. The first recipe is Hamburger Soup, adapted from CookingNook.com.

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The Hamburger Soup can be cooked on the stove top or in a slow cooker.  This soup freezes extremely well.  Simply ladle it into small plastic containers, label and freeze for up to 3 months.

Paul and Chris worked on this recipe.  Chris is no stranger to this recipe as she often makes this soup at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 x 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cans beef consommé soup (or beef broth)
  • 4 carrots, chopped fine
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • parsley for garnishing
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Fettuccini with Tuna and Fresh Tomatoes

The second recipe which Minoo demonstrated at the Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen was a pasta dish.  It is a fast, easy and fresh tasting pasta.  It is made with canned tuna which is usually a pantry item and freshen up with some fresh sweet tomatoes.

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This fast and easy Fettuccini with Tuna and Fresh Toamatoes dish is perfect for a family meal on a busy evening.

Ingredients

  • 375g fettuccine or other long pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each, dried basil and thyme
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cans light tuna (look for Italian tuna packed in olive oil for a more intense flavour tuna); you may replace tuna with 125g chopped smoked salmon and add 1 teaspoon crushed pink or green peppercorns with the garlic or 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 4 small plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup whole or chopped black or green olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

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Ham and Cheese Muffins

Minoo prepared two recipes for the first meeting of Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen for this fall season.  The first recipe is a hand held breakfast or lunch item which is perfect for families on the go.  These Ham and Cheese Muffins are savory instead of the regular sweet muffins.

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These Ham and Cheese Muffins taste like quiche but they are easier to make.  You can even make them ahead and they can be reheated quickly.  It is also a good recipe to use your leftover bread.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
  • 5 cups cubed whole grain bread (about 5 slices, trim off crust)
  • 1 cup shredded Canadian Cheddar, Swiss or Colby cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced deli ham
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise or quarters if they are large.

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Canning Tomatoes

This is the last of the 6 canning workshops organised by Richmond Food Secure and Richmond Fruit Tree Project.  The workshops were a great success with full attendance.   Here are the earlier workshops I attended:

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There is nothing quite like the taste of sweet, ripe tomatoes.  Canning is a way to capture a taste of summer to brighten up a grey winter day.  Canning tomatoes seemed to be very popular and 3 tomatoes canning workshops were conducted.  It looks like a lot of people love to plant tomatoes.

The above are some of the tomatoes that Karen harvested from her community garden in downtown Vancouver and her balcony.  They include Green Zebra, Tigerella (orange with green), Italian Plum (small red) and Purple Ball (the big red one as it did not turn out to be purple).  Karen and Colleen started with 50 tomato plants from seed in early spring.  In May they planted the seedlings in the community garden in downtown.  Not all of the tomatoes have yield a lot of fruit but the Tomatillos, Sungolds (tiny orange tomatoes), Italian Plum, Black Plum and Green Zebra have been the most prolific.

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You may infused the tomatoes with herbs and spices but do not add too much as the addition may changed the acidity of the content and caused spoilage.

Ingredients

For each 500ml jar, you will need:

  • about 1 pound (400 to 500 gram) tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon of powdered citric acid or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice.  Bottled lemon juice is recommended as it has a defined acidity, whereas fresh lemon juice will vary significantly in acidity, depending upon the individual lemon.
  • salt, if desired, up to 1/2 teaspoon
  • herbs and spices if desired

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