Monday, July 30, 2007

Recipes: More Peruvian Vegetarian By Bryanna Clark Grogan

My virtual vegan friend, Bryanna Clark Grogan, is a well-known chef and cookbook author in vegan and vegetarian circles.

I first wrote about Bryanna at this post, where I included her recipe for quinoa salad.

What many may not know about Bryanna is that her father was Peruvian and, as a result, she has adapted many traditional Peruvian recipes for vegans and vegetarians.

This is a good thing: I often get e-mails from vegans and vegetarians asking me how Peruvian food can be adapted to their needs. Well, all we have to do is ask Bryanna.

Back in April, Bryanna was a featured chef at the Vegetarian Awakening Conference held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. True to form, Bryanna demonstrated some of her best vegetarian and vegan recipes, which included those with a Peruvian twist.

She posted some of her photos of the event at her excellent vegan food blog, Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen.

Longtime readers of Peru Food will know I rarely post recipes on this blog, but Bryanna has kindly allowed me to post hers, which originally appeared here, at her Vegan Recipes, Resources and Cooking Know-How site.

So, without further ado, here are Bryanna's vegan Peruvian recipes and some great photos, courtesy of Linda Long.

Bryanna's Vegan Causa (Peruvian Tri-Color Potato Salad Terrine

This is very beautiful and very delicious. This dish is usually full of oil and stuffed with seafood, but this version is low in fat and vegan. If you prefer, you can make small round molds for individual servings.

Lemon Dressing:

1/2 tsp salt
2 small cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 cup Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings (see recipe below)
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Potato Layers:

1 lb Russet potatoes
1 lb yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Golds (or pink-fleshed potatoes)
1 lb purple or blue potatoes
10 1/2 Tbs Lemon Dressing (save the rest for the Filling)
6 Tbs vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegannaise)
1/2 Tbs salt


1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium bell peppers (yellow, orange, and/or red), in thin strips
10 pieces sundried tomatoes in oil, squeezed to eliminate as much oil as possible, and thinly sliced
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced thinly
2 Tbs pickled jalapeños, minced
the remaining Lemon Dressing
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.


2 large cobs of corn, cooked and cut into 1 1/2" rounds (these are used cold or at room temperature)
1 large steamed or baked orange sweet potato, peeled and sliced in 6-8 pieces (these are used cold or at room temperature)
18-24 Peruvian Alfonso olives (or Kalamata olives)

Optional Garnishes:

Avocado cubes, tossed in lemon juice
Roasted, pickled, or raw red bell peppers
Pickled hot peppers
Pretty lettuce leaves

To make the dressing:

With the back of a teaspoon in a small round-bottomed bowl (or use a medium-sized mortar and pestle), mash together the salt and garlic until it is like a paste. (The salt grains will help mash the garlic to a paste and the garlic juice will dissolve the salt.) Whisk in the Oil Substitute, olive oil and lemon juice, with a fork or small wire whisk.

This method of mixing is easy and convenient for small amounts made just before dressing the salad.

To make the potato layers:

Cook the three varieties of potatoes separately. You can peel and simmer the russet and the yellow potatoes (cut into even-sized chunks) in water to cover until just tender, but the purple or blue potatoes fall apart easily, so I steam or micro-steam them with the skins on. I cut them into about 2" pieces first. I micro-steam them for about 10 minutes.

To remove the skins of the blue or purple potatoes, hold them under gently-running cold water and the skins should slip off easily. Be careful not to saturate the potatoes with water.

Mash EACH separate batch of potatoes in its cooking pot or a bowl. When mashed, add to EACH batch of potatoes 3 1/2 Tbs. of the Lemon Dressing, 2 Tbs. of the mayonnaise, and 1/2 tsp. of salt, and mash again until smooth. Reserve the remaining lemon dressing for the Filling. Set the mashed potatoes aside, covered.

To make the filling:

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and peppers and saute until they soften. Add the sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, jalapeños, remaining Lemon Dressing, mix well, and then taste for salt and pepper.

To assemble:

Line a 9x5" loaf pan, or a 10" round casserole with oiled plastic wrap, with an overlap. Press the one of the mashed potato mixtures onto the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 of the filling, then another one of the potato mixtures, then the remaining filling, then the remaining potato mixture. Smooth the top, fold the overlapping plastic wrap over, and refrigerate for several hours or days.

To serve:

Fold back the plastic wrap covering the top of the terrine. Unmold the terrine onto a platter and garnish as desired.

Serves 8.

Bryanna's Low Fat Oil Substitues For Salad Dressing

Makes 1 c.

Use this simple mixture in place of all or some of the oil in salad dressing.

1 c. cold water or light vegetable broth (broth adds the most flavor to a dressing)
2 tsp. cornstarch or potato starch

Mix together in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear. Cornstarch will have to boil; potato starch does not.

Bryanna's Trigo (Wheat, Lima-Style)

This unusual Peruvian dish, adapted from a recipe in my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook", is made with whole wheat kernels, or wheat berries, and was given to me by my cousin Rosario Urbina Musso, known as Charo. She just gave me an idea of the ingredients, and I consulted an old, badly translated Peruvian cookbook of my mother’s for more help. This is what I came up with, and I like it very much!

Charo says that the wheat kernels we get here are not the same as the trigo they get in Peru. Trigo is a bit smaller than our wheat, and you may be able to find it in a Latin American grocery store, but I made it with cooked soft wheat berries, and it tasted fine to me!

1 T extra-virgin olive oil (you can add a few drops of roasted sesame oil too, if you like)
1/2 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp. dry red chili flakes (or more to taste)
1 and 1/4 c. trigo or wheat berries (soft, if possible), soaked in 4 c. water overnight, and then cooked in the soaking water until tender, 50 to 60 minutes, and save the cooking water
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cooked and cubed
1/2 c. grated vegan mozzarella-type 'cheese' (Tofutti, Vegan Gourmet, or Sheese)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Saute the onions until softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes, along with the chile flakes. Saute for several minutes. This is what Peruvians call the sofrito.) Add the cooked wheat and potatoes and stir-cook for several minutes. Add some of the wheat cooking water if it’s too dry. Stir in the 'cheese' and parsley, and taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

If you like savory foods for breakfast, the leftovers are delicious in the morning!

Serves 6.

Bryanna's Northwest-Style Mazamorra Morada (Peruvian Purple Corn Pudding)

This pudding is traditionally made with purple corn and sweet potato starch. Since purple corn is hard to come by where I live in the Pacific Northwest, I have used native blueberries for the color and cornstarch for the thickener. It tastes very authentic! It’s a refreshing dessert.

Ingredients A

2 cups frozen small blueberries, defrosted
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
12 dried prunes, chopped
6 dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
Grated zest and chopped flesh of 1 large organic orange
Zest of 1 small organic lime and 1 small organic lemon

Ingredients B

1 cup cold water
6 Tbs cornstarch

Ingredients C

1 /19 oz. can unsweetened pineapple chunks, well-drained
2 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs lemon juice

Mix ingredients A in a large Pyrex bowl and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Or, simmer the mixture in a large non-aluminum pot for 15 minutes. (Wrap the cloves and cinnamon in a square of cheesecloth and tie with string.) Remove the cheesecloth bag after cooking.

Mix ingredients B together well and stir into hot A mixture. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir well, and cook 3 minutes more. It should be thick and clear. Or, stir B into A briskly and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and clear.

Stir in ingredients C and spoon into serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving time. It should be cold and pudding-like.

Serves 12

For the recipe for Bryanna's Vegan Alfajores, you can visit her recipes page.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Video: Peru - The Royal Tour

This program originally aired in the Fall of 2004 on the Travel Channel.

Peter Greenberg, Travel Channel's chief correspondent, travels around Peru with a very special guide, former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo (still in office at the time) who takes him on a whirlwind tour of Peru.

While Toledo is now a controversial figure in Peru, during his Presidential tenure he was a tireless promoter of tourism in Peru, as his participation in this program attests.

The program has been uploaded in five segments, each lasting about ten minutes.


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

Saturday, July 28, 2007

July 28: Happy Peruvian Independence Day!

186 years ago, on July 28, 1821, Peru declared its independence from Spain.

Peru: There's only one place on Earth that has it all.

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TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Photos: An Amazonian Market

Just a few photos from the market at Nauta, a small town about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon.

There is only one road from Iquitos, and that road leads to Nauta.

There are three ways to get to Nauta from Iquitos: by river on an overnight boat (about 8 hours); on a bus (about two hours); or, in a shared taxi (about one hour).

We opted to go in the taxi and hired it just for ourselves (40 soles). Driving along the solitary road, cutting through the lush Amazonian landscape, with the endless bright blue sky overhead, windows open, wind whipping through our hair, and tropical cumbia music blasting from the radio, was a memory I will always treasure.

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived, and the market had closed down for the day, but I was still able to take some photographs.

There was an indoor part to the market and an outdoor part, where we found these Amazonian fish drying in the sun.


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TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

El Olímpico In Huancayo

I wrote about our recent trip to the central Andean city of Huancayo at this post, and I mentioned we ate at El Olímpico, which was founded in 1941 and long regarded as the best restaurant in town.

This is not the first time I mention El Olímpico at Peru Food. Last year I posted some photos taken at El Olímpico by Achalaw at this post.

Huancayo is not an historic or particularly attractive city, but it has a good Sunday fair and the Mantaro Valley, where it is located, has many villages rife with folklore and local art.

If you get a chance to go to Huancayo by train, it is truly one of the world's most spectacular train rides, rising from sea level to 15807 feet (4818 meters) at the Ticlio pass, before descending to the agricultural valley where the city is located.

The train no longer operates a daily service, but information about the occasional trips offered can be found at the Ferrocarril Central Andino website.

The train was not running when we went to Huancayo from Lima, so we went by road on a very comfortable Cruz del Sur bus (about seven hours, 50 soles) and returned by plane on LC Busre (about 40 minutes, USD 70).

Flights from Lima to Huancayo are a recent event (the airport is actually in Jauja, about 40 minutes away, but the airline takes you from Huancayo to the airport for departure) and the flight on the 18-seater over the central Andes was one of the highlights of our trip.

Although many people in Huancayo told us El Olímpico was no longer what it used to be, we found the food to be perfectly fine. In fact, we had one hearty, home-style meal there. I particularly liked the kitchen area, which was open to the public, and employed a wood burning stove with a a grill across the top, upon which all the dishes were prepared. The service was acceptable and helpful, and during the course of our meal, the restaurant filled up. Prices were quite reasonable and less than what we normally paid in Lima for a comparable meal, and all the dishes I photographed were part of the daily fixed-price lunch meal, known in Peru as menu.

For starters, we ordered an escabeche de pollo, which is a chicken dish in a spicy tangy sauce. Any dish called escabeche (it can also be made of fish or duck) has a vinegar-based sauce, and is a culinary descendant of Arab dishes that traveled from Spain to the New World.

Note the color of the potato served with the dish (the Huancayo region is known for the quality and diversity of its potatoes) and the onions which are a tart accompaniment.

Almost every Peruvian restaurant in the world has a version of the creamy spicy cheese dish called papa a la huancaína, which originates in Huancayo.

El Olímpico's version is nade the old-fashioned way (in fact, just as my grandmother would make it) using a mortar and pestle to make the sauce instead of a blender (which is the modern and easy version).

Some people have commented the dish doesn't appear appetizing; however, if you can get beyond the way it looks, the marriage between the cheese and the ají, Peruvian hot peppers, is almost perfect.

Once again, the quality of the potatoes is the key, and at El Olímpico they use the famed yellow potatoes, considered to be among the most flavorful of all.

If you are looking for a recipe for this dish, quite a while back I posted links to some I found online at this post.

Central to much Andean cooking are the soups. We thought this barley-based soup was simply outstanding. It tasted almost as good as grandma's (and everyone knows that is always quite a compliment).

Our main dishes included a simple yet classic beef stew served with a hearty dollop of Peruvian-style mashed potatoes (once again, using the very tasty yellow potatoes).

There was nothing fancy about this dish, but its simplicity evoked memories of long-ago, sitting around the family table, enjoying the long conversations for which Peruvians are famous.

One other main dish we tried was olluquito con charqui, which is made with two typical Andean ingredients.

Charqui is a jerky-like dried beef, and ollucos (olluquitos is in the diminutive) are the fruit of a vine that grows in Peru. The dish is stewy, as are so many Andean dishes, and had peas and carrots mixed in for good measure.

The main dishes are served with a side of white rice or potatoes, and if you're lucky, you get both!

While we did notice some elements of the dishes and the restaurant could use improvement, we still enjoyed our meals at El Olímpico, which is located across the street from Huancayo's main square. The windows overlooking the plaza offer great people-watching.

Yes, I will go back to El Olímpico the next time I am in Huancayo.

Restaurante El Olímpico
Avenida Giráldez 197-199, Huancayo
Phones: (64) 21-9515, 21-2024, 21-5719

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TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hanzo Japanese Cuisine In Surco

Although I am no expert on Japanese cuisine, having grown up in Southern California where Japanese is a quite common culinary option, I simply love it.

I know Lima has some great Japanese restaurants, among them this gem of a place, located in the upwardly-mobile Surco district. I had long been wanting to try out this restaurant, considered among the best in the city.

On my most recent trip to Lima, I was able to visit and verify that Japanese cuisine is alive and well in the Peruvian capital.

Many visitors to Peru are surprised by the Asian influence in Peruvian society and cuisine, particularly along Peru's coast. But, Chinese and Japanese immigrants came to Peru at about the same time as they did to the West Coast of the United States (late 19th and early 20th century) albeit in lesser numbers.

I've previously written about the Chinese-Peruvian fusion cuisine restaurants, known as chifas, at this post. And, no visit to Lima is complete without a quick trip to Lima's Chinatown, as I mention here.

But, while the Japanese did not arrive in Peru in the same numbers as the Chinese, their influence is still felt in the cuisine known as nikkei, which is a fusion of Japanese cuisine with Peruvian influences.

At the helm of Hanzo Japanese Cuisine (which has been previously mentioned on this blog) is the young chef Hajime Kasuga, who despite his very Japanese name, was born and raised in Peru. He is one of the rising stars of Peruvian chefs who is always invited to represent Peru in culinary festivals worldwide at which he has won numerous awards.

Chef and Itamae, Hajime Kasuga

On our recent visit during the damp, grey Lima winter, we encountered a locale that was inviting and architecturally interesting. After drinking hot sake, we opted for a hot combination meal that included miso soup, seaweed salad, and the pièce de résistance: a sizzling platter of cracked shellfish and seafood, which we
washed down with copious amounts of both Sapporo and Asahi beer. In two words, our meal was simply wonderful.

On any future visit to Lima, Hanzo Japanese Cuisine will definitely be worth a repeat.

Hanzo Japanese Cuisine
Prolongación Primavera 1494, corner of La Encalada

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TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Peru Food Is Back

Yes, I was in Peru during the month of June, but I found traveling and blogging at the same time to be a bit more daunting than I expected, particularly after I headed to the Amazonian city of Iquitos.

Once home in California, I found myself immersed in work, so I decided to take a little break from blogging.

But now, I am looking forward to posting some of the pictures I took in Peru and to continue blogging about one of my favorite subjects, Peruvian food.

Longtime readers of this blog will know that on occasion I take a break from the blogging world. If you have just landed at this blog, hopefully you will be back. To all of you who have written me e-mails and left comments, muchas gracias. I will start responding right away.

Come back soon!

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana