Engaging demos from blow-your-mind knowledgeable chefs, tasting receptions, wines and trend-setting conversations. The Culinary Institute of America’s 2011 Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference October 5-7, 2011, at the San Antonio campus, was as sweet as an Argentine-style Alfajor cookie. I picked up some tips such as Chef Roberto Santibanez advising to always throw away the water your chiles have been soaking in (you don’t know how clean it is.) I also learned about some odd ingredients, like during Mexico City-based Chef Enrique Olvera’s demo of Roasted Baby Corn with Coffee and Winged Ant Mayonnaise. (He passed around a small bowl of the crushed, dried specimens and they smelled musty and earthy. I just couldn’t dip my finger in.)

I’m happy to share a few recipes from the conference! ¡Buen provecho!

Piquin Chile Mojo – Mojo de Chile de Monte

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients/Amounts

Olive oil – 1/4 cup

Canola oil – 1/4 cup

White onion, finely sliced – 1 ea.

Piquin chile (see note) – 15 ea.

Garlic clove, thinly sliced – 2 ea.

Capers, small – 1/2 cup

Lime juice – 1/2 cup

Salt – to taste

Method:

1) Place the oils, onion, garlic, and chiles over low heat and cook until all ingredients are soft, about 45 minutes.

2) Remove from the heat; mix in the lime juice and capers; season with salt to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Note: Regionally, the chile used is for this recipe is the local chile de monte or piquin de Monterrey.

Recipe credit: Guillermo Gonzalez Beristain, as presented at the 2011 Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Chef Rick Bayless’ Salsa Macha (from his recipe Grilled Lamb Chops with Salsa Macha)

Yield: 4 portions

Ingredients/Amounts

Dried chiles (arbol, chiltepin, pequin, serrano seco, chipotle, morita, puya, guajillo, ancho, mulato, or pasilla) – 2 oz.

Nuts (almonds, peanuts, pecans) – 1 1/2 oz.

Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp.

Garlic cloves, peeled and halved – 4 ea.

Olive oil – 2 cups

Cider vinegar – 1 tbsp.

Salt – 1 tsp.

Dried herbs (Mexican oregano, marjoram, or thyme) – 1/2 tsp.

Method:

1) Stem the chiles, then break or cut them open and scrape/brush/let fall out most of the seeds; cut into 1/4 inch pieces–you will have about 1 cup (simply use chiltepin or pequin whole). In a large 4-quart saucepan, combine the nuts, sesame seeds, garlic, and oil. Set over medium-high heat and cook until the garlic and sesame seeds are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chiles. Mix the vinegar with the salt until the salt dissolves, then add it to the pan along with the herbs.

2) When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it into small pieces. Run the processor for a few seconds until everything is finely chopped, but not pureed.

Recipe credit: Rick Bayless, as presented at the 2011 Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Peruvian Yuca Empanadas

Yield: 12 empanadas

Ingredients/Amounts

Dough

Yuca, peeled – 1 lb.

Canola oil, for deep frying – as needed

Stuffing

Turmeric and cumin sofrito – 3 tbsp.

Sweet chile, diced – 100 g

Scallions, white part, chopped – 50 g

Tomato, concasse – 50 g

Celery, diced – 50 g

Golden raisins – 20 g

Brazilian nuts, blanched and chopped – 3 ea.

Sachaculantro leaves, chopped (see note) – 3 ea.

Fresh cheese, diced – 100 g

Salsa criolla with cecina

Habanero chile, seeded and veined – 1 ea.

Red onion, chopped, rinsed in cold water – 1 ea.

Cilantro, finely chopped – as needed

Cecina, grilled and diced – 1 tbsp.

Lime to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1) For the dough: Boil the peeled yucca until tender; cool slightly and pass through a ricer while they are still warm. Set aside to cool.

2) For the stuffing: In a frying pan, heat the sofrito. Add the vegetables, Brazilian nuts, and raisins. Cook slowly until the vegetables are tender; add water or vegetable stock, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese and sachaculantro; mix well. Transfer everything to a bowl and cool down.

3) To form the empanada, dust your hands with flour and put a small amount of the dough in your hand; flatten and put a tablespoon of the stuffing in the middle. Using your hand, cover the stuffing with the yuca and form a slightly oval-shaped empanada. Let them sit uncovered so they form a crust before frying.

4) For the criolla salsa: Season all ingredients with salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro just before serving.

5) Fry empanadas until golden brown and serve them with criolla salsa.

Note: Sachaculantro is also referred to as culantro and is a wide leafed herb similar in flavor to cilantro, widely used in Peru’s Amazonian cuisine.

Recipe credit: Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, as presented at the 2011 Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Passion Fruit Souffle Glace with Drunken Berries (Shown top right.)

Ingredients/Amounts

Curd:

Yolks – 8 ea.

Sugar – 2/3 cup

Passion fruit puree – 2/3 cup

Salt – a pinch

Butter – 4 oz.

Meringue:

Heavy cream – 1 cup

Egg whites – 4 ea.

Cream of tartar – a pinch

Passion fruit puree – 6 tbsp.

Sugar – 1/3 cup

Salt – a pinch

Berry topping:

Mixed berries – 2 pt.

Confectioners’ sugar – 1/4 cup

Tequila – 3 tbsp.

Method:

1) For the curd: Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.

2) Add the passion fruit puree and cook over a bain marie until it has thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, cool until warm and whisk in butter. Place plastic wrap directly on top.

3) For the meringue: Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form and refrigerate.

4) In a separate bowl, whip egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating.

5) While the egg whites are beating, bring the passion fruit puree and the sugar to a soft boil in a small saucepan.

6) Add the puree to the whites in a slow steady stream on the side of the bowl and continue beating until thick and glossy.

7) For the souffle glace: Fold the meringue into the curd, alternating with the whipped cream. Pour into shot glasses and freeze until set.

8) For the topping: Combine the berries and confectioners’ sugar in a pan and cook over medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened slightly.

9) Remove from heat and add the tequila.

Recipe credit: Fany Gerson, as presented at the 2011 Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Argentine-Style Alfajor – Alfajor Rogel

Yield: 25 portions

Ingredients/Amounts (equivalents provided by Mesa a Mesa)

Dough

Flour – 250 g

Cream – 250 g

Meringue

Egg white – 125 g

Sugar – 250 g

Vanilla – 1 tsp.

Filling

Dulce de leche – 1 kg

Method:

1) For the dough: Sift the flour and put it in a food processor with the cream until it forms together; let it rest in the refrigerator for half an hour.

2) For the meringue: Whip the egg white with the vanilla until it has doubled in volume; slowly add the sugar on high speed until incorporated.

3) Roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick sheet. Using a biscuit cutter, cut into 3-centimeter circles. Place on baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180C until done.

4) Layer the cookies and the dulce de leche. Top with the meringue and toast with a torch.

Recipe credit: Dolli Iorogyen and Dante Franco, as presented at the 2011 Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

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