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20151111_194534We find ourselves tonight sharing our evening with friends, something you may have gathered already we love to do. Why should tonight be any different so we decided again to share our dining experience with our friends. We spun the globe to land in Peru…

The republic of Peru is situated in Western South America, to its West The Pacific Ocean, South is Chile, Bolivia is to the Southeast, Brazil to the East and Colombia and Ecuador to the North. Peru is an enormous biodiverse country with environments extending from the “dry plains” of the “Pacific Coastal Region” in the west to the pinnacles of the Andes mountains spreading from the North to the Southeast reaching the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest.

Peru is divided into 25 regions and is a representative democratic. A country that is developing with a high Human Development Index score. The predominant financial activities comprise of agriculture, fishing, manufacturing and mining. There is a population is approximately 30 million and is very multi cultural which include Europeans, Amerindians, Asians and Africans with Spanish being the chief language spoken. However, there are a considerable number of Peruvians speaking indigenous languages. Because of the combination of traditional customs Peru is widely varied in areas such as literature, music, art and cuisine.

Peru has fantastic gastronomy and this has grown equally from immigrant and local customs. Foods enjoyed and cooked by ancient customs are still enjoyed in today and also profit from African, Asian and European influences. The natural characteristic “harvests” of Peru is very mixed with, the greatness of seafood, potatoes, grains and tropical fruits.

Peruvian food has really expanded over the world and equally is loved on all parts of the globe, thanks to its fresh and exceptional flavours and meals are never rushed.

The staples of indigenous Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and chillies, and these have prevailed through centuries of colonial rule and immigration.

The amount of food being served at a dinner party in a Peruvian household,because of their class, is normally large amount, even by US standards. Potatoes and rice will be served along with bread and other starches. On completing your meal you would place your cutlery diagonally across the pate, with the points facing to the 10 O Clock position on the plate.

The host and the honoured guest usually sit next to each other (males to the right of the hostess, and females to the right of the host); if there is a hosting couple they usually sit together.

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For our dinner party we/I opted for some traditional Peruvian food and hopefully we will do it justice and our friends will love what we have offered them..

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Our appetiser/starter is a Hot Stone Shrimp(Prawn) Ceviche – Peru is one of the countries that states ownership to ceviche, which is made of raw fish and chilies, cured in lime juice and it has become their national dish. It has been one of South America’s best-kept secret for centuries, but Ceviche has become a very trendy starter/appetiser. The birthplace of Ceviche is argued between Ecuador and Peru, but with both countries having wonderful varieties of seafood, it could have come from either from the ancient Incas. Each South American country has given the ceviche a twist of its own by adding extras. 

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DSCF2557Easy to prepare, flavours and smell was/is gorgeous. As we were unable to get an Arji Amarillo paste, we substituted it for an Amarillo Chilli Sauce found in the supermarket. Only the tasting will let us know whether this was a good substitute or not. Peru add cold sweet potato or corn on the cob to this dish.DSCF2558

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The recipe I have found lightly cooks the shrimp/prawns just lightly and I will be serving the sweet potato warm as we prefer it that way.

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DSCF2560Our main course Lomo Saltado – this is one of the most popular Peruvian dishes and represents like no other the combination of Peruvian ingredients with Asian techniques of preparing food. Another easy dish to prepare and cook.

DSCF2574Beef is marinated overnight, in Balsamic Vinegar, Soy sauce and spices.

The Onions, tomatoes and chilli peppers also were marinated in Balsamic Vinegar.DSCF2575

Some recipes say you can marinate together, but our recipe asked for them to be separate. The use of both potatoes (which originated in Peru) and rice (which originated in Asia) as starches are typical of the national amalgamation that the dish represents.

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A very quick dish to cook and the aroma fills the house…This could easily make a week night quick meal too. Begin to fry the beef and when almost cooked through, add the marinated vegetables. We used oven chips, and not embarrassed by it as my research found various sites that suggested bought fries were acceptable. Prepare the rice as normal and plate up..

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DSCF2573Dinner parties at the Minters always sees us having two desserts, so here we go with Peruvian Caramel and Liqueur Meringue (suspiro de limeña): this actually translates into “sigh of a woman” and dates back to the 1800s. One of the favourited native Peruvian desserts. This absolutely divine dessert is based around manjar blanco, the Peruvian name for what is known as dulce de leche elsewhere in South America. The manjar blanco layer of the dessert is made traditionally with whole milk and sugar boiled until thick and caramel coloured to which are added egg yolk and vanilla essence…

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The recipe I used uses evaporated and condensed milk boiled,  then a ladle full being added to the egg beaten in and then returned to the pan continuing to stir until becoming thick, in a similar way you would make custard, adding vanilla essence.DSCF2542  DSCF2543

DSCF2544The merengue top layer is made from beaten egg whites adding a port wine syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon.

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My spice cupboard was bereft of ground cinnamon so mixed spice was sprinkled over… Interestingly this wasn’t a baked meringue and to be honest had never had it uncooked before but we will see…

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We also served Arroz Zambito A classic Peruvian treat…Also called rice pudding kissed by the sun. A dish very very similar to rice pudding but is a lot less creamy and very cruder in flavour.

It contains dried coconuts, pecan nuts and raw sugar but our recipe uses brown sugar

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This recipe uses brown rice too and actually works really well.  Boil the rice up in a pan with the spices and cook for around 35 – 40 minutes, until the rice is soft but not claggy…DSCF2524

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In a small pan, melt the sugar over medium heat, with 3 tablespoons water to make the caramel. Once the rice is cooked remove all the added spices – I did remove most but some proved a little fiddly, but did not affect the dessert at all.                                         Add the caramel, carefully, nuts, raisins, and coconut.  The recipe doesn’t actually tell you when to add the port – so  added after I added the nuts etc.

Serve hot or cold and with ground cinnamon according to your taste. I made the mistake of cooking this ahead of time and it had gone cold, so it was difficult to warm without drying it out. If I were to cook this again would make to serve straight to the table. On this occasion I warmed slightly and served with vanilla ice cream…

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Family and guest verdict: “Fabulous meal and very tasty”. The prawns were exquisite and the flavours amazing and the added ingredients worked extremely well with the dish. I certainly preferred my sweet potato warm. The Amarillo Chilli Sauce was indeed a perfect substitute for the Arji Amarillo.

Marinating the beef tenderised it perfectly and the smell was delicious coming from the Wok.  The combination of fries and rice was something we had to get our head around. There weren’t many fries, but I suppose being typically British, one or the other would have sufficed.

The suspiro de limeña, I didn’t have but our guests and family did and I am told it was amazing and one of the loveliest dessert tasted in a while. My daughter in law to be did ask if

I would make them again SOON!

The rice pudding dish was lovely but has previously mentioned it should have been made to serve straight away. I had it and thought it was very tasty, but would have preferred it warmer…

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