Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hackett House Cooking Class - Peruvian Night!

I am quite late in posting this. The class was over a month ago. But what a time we had.  I was first introduced to Peruvian food when I was testing for Viva Vegan for Terry Hope Romero. It was then I first experienced the incredible flavor of Aji Amarillo paste. Aji Amarillo is a yellow pepper that gives a fantastic heat and flavor to dishes. If you are lucky enough to have a Hispanic or International market close to you. See if you can get a jar and change your life...well at least make your taste buds happy.

The class was a blast as usual. There is always such a great audience. This is the third class I've done. It was awesome to see some familiar faces from some of my other classes. As an added bonus, one of my very best friends came in from Illinois for the class.

We started off the evening with a combo that included a traditional Peruvian dish called Papa a la Huanciana. It is normally made with cheese and aji amarillo sauce. This version was super easy to make and so creamy and tasty. It was paired with a fabulous vegan ceviche.

The entree, while not super photogenic was the most popular among the guests. I created a vegan version of Seco de Carne. This is one of the most popular dishes in Peru. As the name indicates, it is traditionally made with meat. This version made great use of Butler Soy Curls and Portobello mushrooms. The mushrooms added a deep rich flavor. Last minute I squeezed in a touch of lime juice to brighten the flavor. I'm going to share the recipe here with you, so you can enjoy a bit of Peru in your own home.

Seco de Portobello

Makes 6 Servings

1 – 8 oz package Butler Soy Curls
3 cups boiling water
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped small
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 portobello mushrooms, fins removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon aji Amarillo paste
3 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 cups lightly packed spinach, stems remove
4 cups vegetable broth, separated
2 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, diced into 1” cubes
1 scant cup carrots, peeled and diced small
1 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice

¾ cup green peas, thawed if frozen

Rehydrate Soy Curls in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain well, squeezing out any excess water.

Add cilantro, spinach and 1 cup vegetable broth to blender and blend until well combined but not totally smooth.

In a heavy bottomed stockpot, add 1/3 cup olive oil over medium heat, add drained Soy Curls. Saute until browned and dry, stirring often being careful not to burn bottom of pan, about 5-8 minutes. If needed, add a touch of water if they start to stick to the pan.

Add 1 table olive oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms and aji Amarillo paste, sauté, stirring frequently until onions are translucent and mushrooms start to release their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add cumin, salt and a dash of black pepper and sauté for about 1 minute until cumin is fragrant.

Add remaining 3 cups vegetable broth, carrots and potatoes. Simmer on low until potatoes are tender and stew is thickened, about 45 minutes to an hour. (This would be the perfect time to start your rice). Add green peas and continue to simmer until peas are heated through. Add just a touch of fresh lime juice. Serve with rice and beans.

My kitchen team said to me in no uncertain terms that if I ever made them bust out "donuts" for 30+ people they would ride me out on a rail. The Picarones were a homage to Peruvian street food. They were fun, different and yes, a little challenging to make. The street vendors serve them with a warmly spiced chancaca syrup. This night we added a little drizzle of chocolate ganache as well.

I have to thank my kitchen crew who worked their tails off to make the food look and taste amazing! The Hackett House volunteers are second to none. They make the evening awesome for all of the guests. If you haven't experienced one of the cooking classes at Hackett House, I hope you get a chance to join me. I'm already scheduled for May 1, 2014. I'll be featuring a exciting Cinco de Mayo menu! Hope you can join us!!

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