A Slice of Christmas // Mince Pies with a Peruvian Twist

a-slice-of-christmas-7 // A Slice of Peru

For me, Christmas isn’t complete without a mince pie… or 10. In Peru, these amazing little guys just do not exist so I have to make them myself. If my parents visit just before Christmas they bring me out a jar of mincemeat so I can just make the pastry and they’re ready to go. However, this year this was not the case so I made my mincemeat filling from scratch.

Now for those of you who are wondering what the heck a mince pie is, let me elaborate. Continue reading

Pancake Day is Flippin’ Great!

I actually cannot flip pancakes.

To be honest though, I haven’t ever really tried. I feel next year I might have to give it a go and hope it doesn’t end up on the floor!

As far as I am aware, Pancake Day was originally a Pagan celebration which then turned into a religious tradition (just like most of the holidays). Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), is the day before the 40 day fasting period known as Lent. On this day people would eat all of the rich foods left in their house. Different countries celebrate this tradition in different ways, some by having carnivals and others by eating certain dishes.

In England we eat pancakes.

plate of pancakes

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BLTA Quinoa Salad

What do you get if you cross quinoa with one of my favourite sandwiches?

A really kick ass salad, that’s what.

I have wanted to make a quinoa salad for a while, but there were so many options and I just couldn’t decide what flavour combination would work best. But after a major craving for a bacon and avocado sandwich, I thought ‘hold the phone’, this could be the basis of an awesome salad! I love BLT sandwiches (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato), I love bacon and avocado sandwiches, and I love a good salad. And that is how the BLTA quinoa salad was born. It’s super simple and really tasty, and do not miss out the squeeze of limón at the end, it really ties everything together.

I would just like to apologise for the picture below, it is really quite awful, but I had to take it with my phone (my camera had gone walkabout) and it’s all a bit blurry. Normally it takes OK photos, but clearly it (or I) was having a bad photo day!

Enjoy!

(A quick note: cook the quinoa in advance of when you want to eat, as it needs to cool after it has cooked before you assemble the salad.)

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Ingredient of the Month // Quinoa Soup

It’s winter here, and the thing I seem to want most is warm comfort food. Pasta bakes, shepherds pie, toasted sandwiches…..you get the gist. Soups are amazing in this weather, because they heat you right up. Crema de Zapallo (squash soup) is one of my favourites, but I also love quinoa soup. Warming, full of flavour, and very, very good for you. It contains soft fluffy quinoa, a rainbow of vegetables, a little bit of chilli, and a good broth. This dish used to either warm us up at night on the Inca Trail or keep us going during the day. It is eaten a lot by Peruvians during the cold nights in the Andes.

Dependent on how you like the taste of your soup is dependent on how you make your broth. I like to add half a chicken stock cube to my water to kick up the flavour, but you could always use half a vegetable one, or even none at all, and have the all-natural flavours of the vegetables in your soup to be the basis of your broth. Also, feel free to play around with the veggies. Use whatever you have in the fridge, or whatever happens to be in season. Use pumpkin instead of squash, or maybe add some courgettes.

Remember, it’s really important to wash your quinoa thoroughly, as it gets rid of the bitter tasting coating. I find rinsing it through a fine mesh sieve works really well.

I know it’s summer in the northern hemisphere right now and all you want are BBQs and ice lollies, but I know as soon as the sun disappears, this soup is going to be exactly what you need. Use up those veggies you have lying around from your BBQ salads and boil them up! Mine ended up looking like summer in a bowl.

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Ingredient of the Month // Quinoa

It’s Independence Day this month, and no, I’m not talking about the 4th. The 28th July is Peru’s Independence Day, or Fiestas Patrias, as it is known here.

This celebration of Peru has inspired me to show appreciation for one of the things that this country does exceptionally well.

The food.

I am going to choose a specific Peruvian ingredient, or group, every month and make a number of dishes based around it. This will be mostly traditional dishes, to showcase what Peru can do, but occasionally something a little different might jump in there!

I have picked an indigenous and extremely traditional ingredient for my first month, and a staple of the Peruvian diet, especially in the Andes where it originated.

Quinoa.

At first look, this may seem like a boring ingredient, but boy would you be wrong. This baby is super versatile. From soups and salads to sushi or dessert. It can be either fluffy or crispy, and cooked as a side or as the main star. You can do a lot with these seeds. The Incas saw it as a sacred food and we now see it as a superfood.

Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all eight of the essential amino acids. It’s packed with dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, is gluten-free and easy to digest. (BBC Good Food)

This little seed has a big reputation and a long history here, therefore an ideal choice to start exploring Peru’s culinary superstars.