Mashed Plantains

I mentioned yesterday in my Sopa de Mani post that I had a side of mashed plantains. They were so good I decided to give it it’s own post. I have wanted to cook something with plantains for awhile now. I’ve never had them before, but I see them all the time in the Hilo Farmers Market. I finally bought some this weekend and then searched for a recipe. I kept finding various ways to to fry them, which does sound delicious but not the healthiest. Then, I found one for mashed plantains. Made just like mashed potatoes, but boiling plantains and adding a bit of spices. I loved the idea and thought it was the healthier option.

Plantains are less sweet and starchier than bananas. Common in the tropics and along the pacific, they are a staple in South and Central America cuisine. They need to be cooked before eaten and are usually eaten while still green (I used yellows ones because I did not know green ones are better for cooking). Like bananas, they are high in potassium and fiber.

Mashed Plantians
2 large plantians
1 tsp butter
salt and pepper
chili powder
red pepper flakes

First, peal the plantains. This is best done by first cutting off the ends.

Then making an incision into the peal length wise. You might make another on the other side too.

Then pull the peal off.

Next remove the seeds inside. Cut the plantain in half.

Then cut just to the side of the seeds.

Now cut off the top strip with the seeds.

Cut the plantains into smaller pieces so they fit into the pot better.

Add to a large pot or saucepan and cover with water.

Bring to boil over high heat and cook until tender.

Drain and return back to the pot. Add the butter and mash until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water to help the texture.

Add the seasoning to taste.

Taste similar to bananas but a bit starchier. Sweet with some spice, but neutral enough to go with most main dishes. I even ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Sopa de Mani: Bolivian Peanut Soup

I was chatting with my Bolivian friend Leslie again and decided to make another Bolivian dish. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make and did not want to have to go buy tons of ingredients. After some searching on the web, I came across a recipe for soap de mani and thought it sounded amazing. It’s a peanut base soup traditionally made with chicken, raw peanuts, and carrots. It’s a little thick and sweet from the carrots. In Bolivia, soups can be a starter or main course (just like everywhere else I guess….). I left out the chicken and used purple sweet potatoes because that is what I had on hand. I found a recipe that skipped the whole raw peanut boiling step by using natural peanut butter instead. Yeah, I know it is not the traditional way, but I do not have the money to buy whole raw peanuts nor the patients to wait for them to cook down. And, since I found this recipe on an international recipe site, I am sure plenty of Bolivians cheat with peanut butter too.

Peanuts are native to the tropical regions of America. They are high in protein, vitamin B3, and vitamin E. They are also a good source of fiber and antioxidants. They were consumed by the Aztecs, who even mashed them into a paste. But modern day peanut butter is quiet different than the paste the ancients ate. Most modern versions of peanut butter roast the peanuts first, and include oil to make it more spreadable and sugar to make it sweeter. Although peanuts have some health benefits, the peanut oil or other vegetable oils added to peanut butter are still fats so it should still be eaten if moderation. And natural peanut butter, meaning it is only ground up peanuts and a bit of unprocessed peanut oil, is always the best way to go. No one needs the added sugar of processed peanut butter.

This recipe is based on one from Whats4Eats called Soupa de Mani. That recipe serves 4, but I cut mine down to serve 2.

Sopa de Mani
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock
3 carrots, sliced
3 small potatoes (I used purple sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Chop the onions, mince the garlic, slice the carrots, and cut up the potatoes. Always easier to prep all the veggies before you start cooking.

In a large pot, heat some oil and add the onions. Cook on medium-low heat until translucent.

Add the garlic for cook for a minute or two.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes and cook for another 10 minute until all the veggies are soft.

Remove a bit of the hot broth and whisk in the peanut butter to temper it.

Add the tempered peanut butter to the pot and let it simmer for a minute or two. Season with the red peppers flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

I garnished mine with a bit of basil, not sure if that is Bolivian, but I wanted a splash of green. The soup is creamy and sweet, with a bit of a kick from the red pepper flakes. I loved it, the flavors blend together so nicely. I ate this with a side of mashed plantains, which I will be posting tomorrow.

Humintas: Bolivian Tamales

 

After receiving my package from Bolivia, I researched Bolivian food.  While majority of it isn’t vegan, because it uses fresh ingredients and simple cooking methods, it can easily be adapted. After looking at many mouth watering recipes, I saw humintas and knew I had to make them. They are pretty much just the Bolivian version of a tamale. I had a hard time fiding a basic recipe online, so I based this one on several. I also used followed some advice my friend Leslie gave me.

Although they are not complicated to make, they are time consuming (especially if you have to ground your corn by hand because your blend broke like me). But, I promise they are worth it.

I made a green chili and cilantro sauce to go with them. It’s a perfect compliment for the slightly sweet corn, and it’s not overly hot so don’t be afraid.

Green Pepper and Cilantro Sauce
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup green onion
2 hot peppers
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
Red pepper flakes

If you have a blender or food processors, just throw everything in there and blend until your desired consistency.

Fresh from Farmers Market.

If you have a broken blender like me, finely chop the cilantro and green onions.

I really wished I had my blender to do this

Chop the peppers in half and remove the stem, membranes and seeds. I left a few seeds since I like it hot. Then chop finely.

Add the cilantro, green onions, and peppers to a small bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix together well, then let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors develop.

 
Humintas
3 cobs of corn, with husks still attached
1/2 corn meal
4 tbs Engr-G egg replacer
1 tomato
1/4 cup vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Only use fresh corn, canned will not work.

Carefully remove the cobs from the husks. Don’t rip or tear them, they are what you cook the corn filling in.  Remove the silk and rise clean.

 

Watch it, the kernels like to fly off.

Next cut the kernels off the cobs. This can get a bit messy so I suggest  doing this in a bowl so the kernels don’t end up everywhere.

Mashing by hand sucks.

Now, put the kernels in the blender with the corn meal and blend into a slightly sticky paste. I unfortunately had to ground mine by hand (the nice thing about being a geologist is I usually have a nice piece of rock laying around that can be used as a pestle. And yes mom, it’s clean!).

 

Next, remove the seeds from the tomato and chopped finely. Add to the corn mixture.

Traditionally the humintas are stuffed with the cheese, but I am not that talented yet. Add the cheese and egg replacer, then season with the salt and pepper. Mix together well.

Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large pot on the stove.

In another pot, put a few inches of cold water and set aside.

Sort the corns husks into large and small pieces. The large ones are will be the wrappers and the small ones will be used to tie the humintas shut.

Once it’s boiling, place the large husks into the boiling water for about 10 seconds. This makes the husks easier to work with.Then dunk straight into the cold water.

Spray a pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Now time to fill the husks. Spread enough of the corn mixture, 2-3 tablespoons depending on size of the husks, into each husk in a thin layer. I  suggest laying several husk on top  of each other, it is easier to fill and tie. I also suggest oiling the inside husk before you put in the filling. I didn’t do this and my huminitas stuck a little bit.

Not the easier thing to do, but it gets better with practice.

Now fold over the sides to make a little package. Then tie shut with the smaller husks like string.

Not the best wrapping job ever….

Place the humintas on the pan or cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes. They are done when the husks are browned and steam is no longer coming off them.

 

I thought they might open, but I didn’t have any more husks.

Mine burst open because I didn’t wrap them tight enough. I should have used more husks and tied them better. They still tasted amazing, and the few that did stay closed were the best ones.

I topped them with sauce and ate them while they were still hot. Since most of mine stuck to the husks, I had to scoop them out. But normally, they should come right out and be eaten freely. Sweet, cheesy, and very filling.  The sauce provided a nice contrast. I can’t wait to have authentic ones, let’s hope I get to go to Bolivia soon!

Viva las humintas!

The recipes I based this on:
http://www.food2.com/blog/humitas-ecuatorianas
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Andean-Humita-en-Chala-230683
http://thefrugalchef.com/2009/10/humintas-bolivian-style-tamales/
http://www.boliviaweb.com/recipes/english/humintas.htm

From Bolivia, with Love.

I have the coolest friends ever. Leslie, who I have mentioned twice before, showed her madre my quinoa post and she decided to send me Bolivian treats. The package came yesterday morning, I was very excited when the office called me to say it arrived.

Lovely whole grain treats and a fun post card.

First of all, there was a lovely post card with a picture of hot air balloons and a nice message on the back. It made me smile 🙂 She also sent these little grain bars. Some are quinoa, some amaranth, and some canahua. I tried one of each, they were all delicious. They aren’t sweet or salty like most American-made granola or cereal bars. Since there are no fancy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or chocolate, the grain flavor really stands out (proving the point that when you use quality ingredients, you don’t need to add all that other stuff). The amaranth is my favorite, it kind of has a nutty flavor.

Loved them all, but the amaranth is my fave.

The other item in the package was popped quinoa, which I’ve never had before. I’ve had “puffed” rice (aka Rice Crispies) and seen other puffed grains in the health food store, but I have never tried them before. They look like Rice Crispies, just rounder. I must confess, they look yummy but I am not sure what to do with them. The most obvious answer is quinoa crispy treats, but I feel like its a tragedy Americanize a lovely Bolivian gift. Despite the writing being in Spanish, the ingredients in the recipe on the back were straightforward enough I could figure out what it says. It suggests making like a quinoa yogurt parfait with fruit, which does sound good but I am not sold on the idea yet. I started researching recipes for how to use it, but ended up getting side track with Bolivian recipes.  So, look out for an upcoming Bolivian food post with popped quinoa in it somewhere.

Not sure how to use it yet, but can’t wait to try it.

Thank you so much Beatriz for my package! I really want to come visit now. Leslie sent me a post card last time she was there, it has gorgeous mountains and cute fuzzy llamas on it. I hanged it over my desk as inspiration to graduate so I can come see Illimani for myself. I’m going to look for Hawaiian things to send you both too.