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Llapingachos

(by Carla Perez-Gallardo)


We have become so used to cooking in large quantities that when we are given the chance to cook for smaller groups, it almost becomes a challenge to think small. For this recipe, handed down by my grandmother’s sister Tia Rosario and reinterpreted by us at the restaurant, we’ve kept the quantity generous, because in her spirit, it is a dish eaten in her living room with cousins and friends and grandchildren, everyone balancing plates in their laps. Invite your friends over. First feed them some hot chicken soup. Then the llapingachos (pronounced ya - pin - ga - choz), crisp and gooey. For dessert, let them help you wash the dishes.

Achiote:


2 cinnamon sticks

1 t. whole cloves

2 t. whole cumin seeds

2 t. whole coriander seeds

1/4 c. annatto seeds

8 cloves garlic

1/4 c. canola oil

5 pinches salt

1/3 c. orange juice, plus zest of the orange(s)

Toast spices in a pan over medium flame until aromatic, about 3 minutes.

Combine with garlic, canola oil, salt, orange juice and zest.

Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend thoroughly until smooth.

(You’ll have some left over; use it to season grilled chicken, add color to soups or sauces. Can be refrigerated for one month.)

Potato-cheese balls:


20 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled

2 T. achiote

12 oz. muenster cheese, grated

2 bunches scallions, cut into fine shreds

Place potatoes in heavily salted boiling water until fully cooked.

Strain and allow to rest until they can be safely handled (not until cold; potatoes become gummy if they sit for too long).

Mash and mix thoroughly with achiote.

Allow mixture to cool.

Mix cheese and scallions.

Form evenly sized balls of potato, and make indentations with your thumb to hold the scallion//cheese mix.

Shape the filled balls into flat, round discs, and place on a parchment-covered sheet tray.

Peanut Salsa:


1 c. salted roasted peanuts

1 c. milk

1 c. orange juice, plus zest of the oranges

1 T. achiote

1 T. sugar

salt to taste