Papas a la huancaina is one of my favourite dishes. Potatoes with a sauce of cheese & chilli. Weird to think what we would we eat now, if globalisation of ingredients from the South American larder as potatoes & chilli hadnt taken place. No chips and crisps. But also Italian cuisine without tomatoes? Breakfast without beans in tomato sauce? Hungarian Goulash would be plain boiled meat. No wonderful combination of fermentation & heat in Korean kimchi. I could go on and on.
This potato/chilli/cheese mix is going to be the filling for the vegetarian option this week: pasties. Or better: Empanada’s. You could almost dance away on that word. Last year I catered for a concert of a local Latin band, where I served some Empanada’s. These were the classic ones, with a beef mince & raisin filling. Had a little fryer at hand. Still remember the eyes as big as saucers of a customer: “Are you going to fry my pasty?” Of course, because I prefer crunch above stodgyness. Especially with this week’s version, to hold the velvety filling of cheesy potatoes.
Not served at Oren this week, but fond memories of them when we catered for the band last year, are Alfajores, biscuits made with an incredible amount of cornflour. This gives them an unique consistency. Crunchy but once bitten melt in the mouth. I googled a recipe here for you:
It will be the 4th Thursday of November this week – Thanksgiving time. It puzzles me why the Americans have integrated their Harvest Festival with the Pochahontas story and the start of the Christmas holiday season. In protestant Netherlands where I grew up Thanksgiving for the Harvest was in October. That makes more sense. Halloween is the end of the Celtic (and farmers) year, winter starts in November. Nothing much left in the larder, time to slaughter the pig.
Symbols of an Harvest of Abundance (corn, cranberries and pumpkin for instance) feature heavily on a classic Thanksgiving menu. And yes, turkey. It will be the only time it will be on Oren’s menu. Although it might have been the star of one of our earlier Mexican menu’s . ‘Pavo Con Mole’ – turkey with chocolate sauce – is one of my favourite dishes. I have served it in Oren, and some customers really thought the underground digging machine would find it’s way to their plate.
This week’s inspiration comes from the beautiful series of Time Life cookbooks, ‘Foods of the World’. The America edition (1968) starts with a Thanksgiving menu, as it is the main meal of the year. No Oren modern twists this time, we’ll keep exactly to the letter of that book (well, I had to find a vegetarian option on the net):
Fall Salads & Devilled Eggs
Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing
Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Collard & Rice Gratin
Cranberry Orange Relish
Creamed Onions and Peas
Dark horse in this menu is the cornbread stuffing. Baker Mick has made some nice cornbreads for Cajun-style menu’s, but this time baked his sourdough Thanksgiving bread, with cranberries, bourbon, pecan & the lot in it (www.partisanbaker.com) . So this time we made it ourselves. Recipe from the abovementioned book of course. Dont know who Leola is.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Sift into a bowl: 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp baking powder. In a seperate bowl, beat 2 eggs slightly. Add 6 tbsp melted butter and 8 tbsp melted vegetable shortening. Stir in 1 1/2 cup milk. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and beat together for about a minute, or until smooth. Do not overbeat. Lightly butter a 9-inch loaf pan and pour in the batter. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the bread comes slightly away from the pan and is golden brown. Serve hot.
It is quite dry when eaten cold but makes fantastic stuffing!