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South of the Border – the Panamanian Border

May 27, 2010

You may have noticed that the recipes disseminated by the Mouse House Kitchen are mainly derived from North America, Europe and Asia.  In an attempt to broaden our continental culinary horizons, we have recently been trying some recipes from a book called The South American Table, which as you can tell from the title, contains Australian recipes.  Not really – it features authentic dishes from all over South America, from Chile and Argentina to Brazil and Bolivia, with Ecuadorian and Peruvian represented as well.  I’ve been to an Argentinean and a Peruvian restaurant, but that’s as far as my experience with South American cuisine has gone.  This cookbook paints a very interesting picture of that continent’s food – there is a lot of European influence, fused with some Latin American ingredients as well…it’s a real mish-mash (technical term) of flavors and cooking styles.  But many of the recipes I’ve tried have not been anything to write home about – or blog about, to be more accurate.  They haven’t been bad, just not anything I’d want to make again…until now.  I finally found one that is full of flavor and varying textures, and I sure will be making it again.  Papas Huancainas, or “potatoes with spicy cheese sauce,” is a Peruvian dish eaten just warm or at room temperature, and is generally served as an appetizer, but it works well as a side dish too.  The eclectic influences are obvious, as it combines ingredients like Feta cheese, cream cheese, hot peppers and olive oil.  The accompanying salsa is an absolute must – not that the dish doesn’t taste great without it, but the tang of the onions and the extra kick of pepper really deepens the dish.  It seems that it would be a very heavy dish, but the cheese sauce is actually on the lighter side, not to mention it’s gorgeous to look at – the turmeric gives it a beautiful yellow color.  Traditionally it’s eaten with hard-boiled eggs and olives, so feel free to add those.  Enjoy!

Salsa Criolla Peruana

1 small onion, halved and sliced into thin half-rings

Juice of 1 lemon

1 jalapeno, minced

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Papas Huacainas

(serves 6 as a side)

6 medium Yukon gold potatoes

1 ½ tsp. salt

8 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled

3 oz. cream cheese

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

½ tsp. turmeric

¼ tsp. black pepper

½ cup whipping cream

¼ cup olive oil

Combine the salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Refrigerate.  Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with enough water to cover potatoes by 1 inch.  Add 1 tsp. of the salt, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain well and set aside.  In a blender or food processor, combine the Feta, cream cheese, lemon juice, garlic, jalapeno, turmeric, remaining ½ tsp. salt, pepper, whipping cream and olive oil.  Process until smooth.  Transfer cheese mixture to a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often, until smooth.  Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces (or slightly larger) and place on a platter.  Cover potatoes with cheese sauce.  Serve salsa on the side.  Eat!

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