Biscocho de Semana Santa

Biscocho de Semana Santa

IMG_1934I have so many memories of Semana Santa. My mom and aunts would get together for Sunday and cook 12 dishes all day and they would fast until noon. We used to try to cheat because we were very hungry kids and running around takes a lot of energy :-). So one of us would go with our big eyes and convince one of our moms to give us some biscocho. Because there were so many of us, we would send the little ones first to beg our moms for a  piece of sweet biscocho. But the first try never worked and we kept trying until they would get tired and send a big biscocho for all of us. These biscochos were so big that they were the size of your head. I miss my family and these big gatherings. You can make this bread in small sizes too. My Mom’s friend shared this recipe with me, thank you Doña Alieta. Enjoy!

Serves 10 large portions or 20 small portions.

You can cut this recipe in half.


2 1/2 cup sugar
12 eggs
2 tsp salt
4 cups margarine or crisco
3/4 cups water
5 tbsp yeast
1/4 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp lemon peeled
4 tbsp oil + 1 tbs to brush
16 cups flour
1 cups raisins soaked in water
3 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup evaporated milk


Melt the margarine or Crisco. Set aside.

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar.


Add the melted margarine and the yeast mix.


Add the cinnamon, lemon zest, orange zest, and salt. Mix.


Add the flour slowly and mix with your hands until all the flour is well blended. Add the 4 tbs oil at the last minute and blend well.

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Pass the dough trough a kneader (sobadora) machine 3 times.  Add the raisins and walnuts. Let it rise, about 1/2 hour.

If you don’t have a kneader let the dough rise three times and push it down after each time that it rises. In the last rise add raisins and walnuts. About 2 hours.

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Divide the dough in balls the size of your hand or bigger. Make balls and let it sit to rise. Brush with the oil so the surface doesn’t dry.


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They are ready when you poke them with your finger and they pop back.

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Flatten each ball to about 10 mm thick. And make 2 narrow cuts along the top surface of the bread. Brush them with the evaporated  milk and place them on a baking tray let it rise for a last time.

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Bake for 30 min at 275F. It takes time to cook and let it rise slowly in the oven once the bottoms are cooked. Turn the broiler on and toast the tops of the bread for 1 min until golden.

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To have those nice bright shiny bread, brush the surface of the hot bread with the milk and if you like coconut you can sprinkled with shredded coconut.

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Pollo a la Chorrellana

Pollo a la Chorrellana


March 19 is Father’s Day in Bolivia. My dad  is an excellent cook but he did not have to much chance to cook since my mom loves her kitchen and it’s her space. The only times my dad would cook for us was when my mom was away. He had great recipes like this Chorrellana but sometimes he would try something new and we would end up eating engrudo de macarron (he was trying to make a macaroni soup). I loved watching him cook this dish because of the colors and the flavor and how easy is to make it. Para mi papa!

Serves 5


5 chicken legs

2 tbs dijon mustard

2 tbs ketchup

2 tomatoes

1 red onion

1 green pepper

1 red jalapeno pepper (with the seeds if you want it spicy)( In Bolivia we use Locoto)

1 lb elbow macaroni

1/2 white onion diced in small pieces

1 peeled small tomato without the seeds.

3 eggs



2 tbs vegetable oil

Chicken preparation:

Rub the ketchup and the mustard into the chicken. Cover and let it sit for 30 min.


Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 F. When the oven is ready, put the chicken in a baking dish without covering for 25 to 30 min and bake until meat is tender and is slightly golden on the outside (doradito!).


Pasta Preparation:

While the chicken is cooking, put pasta on a baking sheet spread evenly and bake on the top shelf of the oven until it’s golden (about 5 min). (My mom does this process by dry frying the pasta in oil before boiling, but I prefer this method using the oven and no oil).


Remove from oven. Boil water and add the pasta and a little bit of salt. Cook as a regular pasta.  Drain and set aside.

Dice the half onion and half tomato. Cook with 2 tbs of oil and add the 3 eggs and a little bit of salt.  Mix and cook until eggs are ready. You can skip this part if you only want to pasta, we Quechua people call this type of mix ‘puti de macaron.


Add the egg mix to the pasta and it’s ready to serve.

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Chorrellana Preparation:

Put the next ingredients together: 2 tomatoes, red onion, green pepper and hot pepper. Peel the onion and slice into thin round slices. Peel the tomato and slice it into round shapes. Take the seeds out of the pepper and slice them into thin round pieces too.

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Heat around 2 tbs of oil in a frying pan and add the onion and green peppers. Let it cooked for 3 min and then add the tomatoes and hot pepper. Cook for 5 more min, add salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook for another 5 min until tomatoes are cooked.

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I love this Chorrellana dish because you can serve with chicken, steak, fish or eggs and combines will with french fries, macaroni or rice.

Enjoy !

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The name of this empanada is Spanish-Quechua. Puka in Quechua means red and Capa in Spanish has two meanings: layer, cape. I think the name evolved because you have a nice round red layer that is the shape of a cape that covers the empanada, so it makes sense to called them Pukacapas.

We love our mid afternoon snacks and I love this pukacapa recipe because of the filling.  I used to eat it with an helado de canela (cinnamon gelato) or a good juice made of dry peaches called Mokhochinchi.



Makes 15 units of Pukacapas

I will describe the process step by step on give the ingredients for each step
1 medium red onion shredded ( ⅓ cup shredded red onion)
8 oz Fresh cheese or Monterrey Jack

2 tbsp shredded hot pepper
1 tbsp chopped quilquiña or cilantro
1 egg
Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl and put aside.

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Red dough wash
2 Tbsp paprika
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp water
Mix all ingredients and set aside.  It has to be well mixed.

2 Cups flower
5 Tbsp Crisco
2 eggs yolks
3 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tsp salt
1 1/2 Tsp dry yeast
¼ Cups water

Sift the flower in a mixing bowl. Shape the flower in volcano shape. Heat the crisco close to boil. Add this hot oil to the flour, you will see how the flower effervesces. Mix with a wooden spoon.

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Disolve the yeast in the water.

Add this mix to the flour  along with the eggs yolks , salt and sugar. Mix until all the ingredients are well mixed in the dough. It’s very important to knead the dough forcefully on the table the dough for at least 5 min. (My Mom slams the dough down on the table, throwing it from up high for about 3 minutes). Make a nice ball and divide in 30 pieces.

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Shape each piece in small balls and with a roller pin, flatten each piece until it’s the size of the cup,. If the dough is a little bit too sticky, add some flour to your surface working area.

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After all of them are flat, add 1 tbs of the filling mix in the center of the 15 discs, making sure ther is a nice pile with no filling on the edges of the disc. Use another disc to cover and press well to seal the edges. After sealed, do a nice braid twist around the edges of the dough. If you don’t know out to braid the dough, you can use a fork to press the edges down.

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Preheat the oven to 350F

Put the pukacapas on a baking sheet and using a brush, cover with the paprika and yolk mix.

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Bake them for 15 min the bottoms look golden.

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IMG_4661Traveling around Bolivia in a bus can be very exciting when you are a kid,  especially when the bus stops at a checkpoint and tons of ladies start offering different street food to the bus passengers. I used to have a favorite food in every city because every city has different dishes. In Santa Cruz my favorite snack that the ladies would sell outside the buses was Cuñapés, sometimes they would even be hot out of the oven. The nice Crispy outside with the melted soft cheese inside makes this little roll a good source of energy for the long travel ahead. Enjoy!





Makes 10 small portions

Cooking and preparation  time 30 min


1 cup tapioca flour (Bob’s Red Mill)

2 cups  shredded monterrey jack (or preferably Queso Fresco)

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1-2 tbs milk

Assemble the ingredients and preheat the oven to 450F.


Mix the tapioca flour and the baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add the cheese and mix well until cheese is covered in the flour.

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Add the egg to the mix of cheese and flour, and mix. If the dough starts sticking together, you don’t need to add milk if it keeps separating add 1 tbs of milk at that time.


In this case I added one tbs of milk and made a nice ball of dough. Divide the dough in 10 pieces of the same size and shape them into balls. Put a thumbprint in the bottom of each ball (to help with even puffing in the oven).

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Place finger print side down on a cooking sheet. You can use a parchment paper. Bake for 15 min at 450F, you want them to be nicely golden and dry.



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This is why I love cooking, you get rewarded at the end with delicious food and some recipes don’t take that long to Cook. Best served warm.


Fricase Paceño Boliviano

Fricase Paceño


What I remember about this dish growing up was that every place that was organizing a New Year’s eve party offered Fricase paceno para recibir el alba on the menu. Of course, I didn’t understand why this was a special on the menu at 5 am in the morning on New Year’s eve! But when I was old enough that my parents let me go to a party with friends, I realized how important it is to have a nice spicy soup to keep you awake to receive the New Year with good energy. So I now understand why fricase is so important. I love this dish for the flavor and how simple it is. You don’t have to eat it at 5 or 6 am in the morning to enjoy!

Serves 4


2 lb pork (ribs or porkchop)

1/2 cup aji amarillo yellow sauce

12 black or white Chuño (usually you use the black ones) 3 per person (chuño is freeze-dried potato, if unavailable, rather than substituting for potatoes I’d just leave them out)

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 can hominy (Mote blanco)

5 garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tbs dry oregano


4 cups of water or broth

Get the ingredients ready. Chuño is soaked in water a night ahead, clean the extra skin if necessary.


Cut the pork into 8 large pieces, two per person. Rub the aji amarillo into the pork.


Meanwhile in a large pot heat the water or broth. Once is hot (but not boiling) add the pork, garlic, salt, cumin and let it simmer for an hour an a half.

While the meat is cooking, cook the Chuño in a separate pot. It’s cooked after 20 min or tender with a knife. Set aside.

Once the pork is tender after one hour and a half, add the oregano and bread crumbs. Let it simmer for 10 min. Add the Chuño and hominy or mote blanco (I like doing it this way).

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Usually in Bolivia they put the chuño and the mote blanco in the soup bowl first and they add the meat and the fricase soup on top. I love cooking the mote blanco and chuño in the soup a little bit so they absorb the flavor.

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The best way to enjoy this is early in the morning usually Saturday after a long night partying! There’s nothing better to go with this than a crispy  marraqueta (Bolivian version of a baguette) to soak the juices in your bread and a good llajwa (spicy salsa).


Pan de Arroz (Baked in banana leaves)

Pan de Arroz horneado en hojas de platano

IMG_3300One of my favorite treats from time to time that my mom would buy for was Pan de Arroz. She bought these in a special Santa Cruz-style pastry shop called “La Pascana.”  She never baked these because she thought she would offend the people from Santa Cruz for just trying. I love this delicious bread and I was always curios about how to prepare them, so when I was in college, one of my best friends was from Santa cruz and she taught me the “secrets” for this recipe. I taught my mom how to make them but she is still afraid of trying and she loves having an excuse to go to La Pascana and enjoy a real  pan de arroz from Santa Cruz.

Makes 12 large pastries or 24 small pastries

Total time 3 hours

Preparation time 1 hour


3 pounds yuca root, about 4 large roots

1 lb. rice flour (Bob’s Redmill)

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1 cup milk (more or less)

1 cup hot melted Crisco (you can substitute for butter)

1 lb. queso fresco or Monterrey Jack

1-2 banana leaves

Mix the following dry ingredients: Rice, flour, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

Shred the cheese and reserve 1/2 cup. Set aside the rest


Preparing the Yuca

Cut the yuca roots into 3 segments. Wedge a pairing knife between the skin and the flesh, and pry the bark-like skin away from the flesh (as opposed to peeling it). It pops off in chunks easily.


Rinse the white pieces in water, put in a pot of water to boil like potatoes.


When you can insert a fork or knife easily through a few, they’re done, it takes about fifteen minutes. Also, you’ll notice the edges starting to crack. Drain and set aside until cool to the touch.


Going through the center of the each whole root is a fibrous string. Pull this out of your chunks with your fingers or a pairing knife. Mash the remaining yuca, piece by piece, in a bowl with a potato masher. For this dough, you only want to use the fresh, soft white parts. Discard  any hard, waxy or yellow pieces.

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Preparing the Dough

Into the bowl of mashed yuca, add the rice, flour, salt, and sugar. Knead until you mix the ingredients all together. Add milk a little bit at a time.


Add milk until the dough starts to hold together. Press down with your hands since it’s very thick. You’ll use about a cup of milk. The dough shouldn’t get outright sticky, but it should barely stick to your hands. Add the melted Crisco and mix really well. It’ll sound squishy. Add the cheese (except a half cup) and knead some more. The final dough should be thick, slightly sticking on hands. Add more milk if needed to get this consistency. Let the dough sit covered in the fridge for 2 hours so that the yuca can  suck in the fat.

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Making the pastries one at the time!

While the dough is resting:

Preheat the oven to 375F

Cut  out 12 or 24 rectangles of the banana leaf. You want them to be about the size of your hand.


Then you take enough dough to make a small ball in your hand. Flatten the ball into a little cake and place in the middle of a banana leaf. Fold two corners into the center and press into the middle of the cake. Repeat until you run out of dough.


Don’t worry if the banana leaves don’t stick perfectly.

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Put them on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 25 minutes – until the cakes just start to turn a little golden and the banana leaves start turning yellow.

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If you don’t have banana leaves: Roll a piece of dough the size of your hand and put it directly on top of a baking sheet and flatten them, add a litle bit of the cheese that you reserved. Cook at 375 for 20 min or until golden.


Pan de Arroz is best enjoyed with a nice cup of coffee or tea at breakfast or afternoon tea time!

Llajwa (Spicy Bolivian Salsa)

Llajwa (llajua)

Llajwa is a spicy sauce that we have on every table in Bolivia at lunch or dinner time.  It goes very well with almost everything! In Bolivia, instead of Jalapeño, we use a pepper call LOCOTO that has beautiful black seeds inside and instead of cilantro we use Quillquiña a plant that is similar to cilantro. But after trying different combinations, this is the closest to an authentic Bolivian Llajwa I can make in the US so far. In Bolivian, my family uses a traditional Quechua batan, a large flat stone mortar and pestle to grind the llajwa ingredients. Our batan came from my grandmother to my mother and one day it will belong to my sister and I. Llajwa is easy to make and you’ll get addicted to it in no time- ask my husband!

Serves 4

Cooking time 10 min

2 large green Jalapeño peppers cut it in half

1 large red tomato cut it 2 pieces

A handful of cilantro leaves (or it really should be Quillquiña leaves if you have them)


1 tablespoon  vidalia onion chopped in small pieces (optional)

Depending how spicy you want it, you can take the seeds out of the Jalapeño. I like it spicy so I leave the seeds in.

If you are using a food processor or blender take the tomatoes seeds and reserve them to add later.

After you have the ingredients ready, put them in a food processor or a blender and chop them until they are small pieces.

Add the tomatoes seeds and salt at the end. If you want you can add the vidalia onion on top. My mom only adds the onion if the Llajwa is going to be eaten the same day.


In my last trip to Bolivia my mom made me a llawja in a batan.

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Silpancho – The Best Bolivian Silpancho Recipe!


Every Friday after sunset, a house on my block would bring a bare lightbuld to hang outside of their door and a sign that said silpancho made out of a flattened lard can.  When I was very little in Cochabamba, my street was a dead end and this silpancho light was the only illumination on the street. My mom would send us out with a plate to buy a silpancho from the lady selling them and we’d take it home to share among the five of us. People would sell silpancho in this way to earn a little extra money and it was so delicious.
I moved to Maine in 2009 and the first thing that I missed was Bolivian food. The first Bolivian recipe that I made for my in-laws was Silpancho and they loved it. So now, silpancho is the favorite dish of both of my families from Maine and Bolivia.
serves 4
cooking time: 1 hr
1 c. white rice
3 yukon gold potatoes
1 small green pepper, med. diced
1/2 small red onion, med. diced
1 tomato, medium diced
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef (with the least fat content possible, ideally 90% or more lean, buffalo meat is also delicious)
3/4 c. breadcrumbs
handful of Quillquiña leaves  (or cilantro)
canola oil
First, get 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water heating on the stove. Also put 3 whole potatoes on to boil for about 10 minutes. Once cool enough to touch, you’ll slice them like this (notice the insides are still raw). You’re going to finish cooking them in a frying pan.

Massage salt and pepper into the ground beef with your hands. Then you divide the ground beef into balls the size of limes.  Sprinkle ground pepper onto a of a pile of breadcrumbs and then roll the beef in the bread crumbs to give it a light coating.
Coat each side the meat with breadcrumbs and roll flat with a rolling pin on top of the breadcrumbs, flipping the meat over whenever it starts to stick.
The final thickness should be like a crepe. Roll each meatball out into a sheet and stack the rolled meat sheets on a plate.  Pan sear each on medium high, flipping them when you could see raw pink start to turn brown.
 Stack each finished meat sheet on a plate, and then fry eggs individually and brown the potato rounds.

Top the dish with the salad of tomato, red onion, and green pepper. Bright, fresh, and crunchy, it breaks up the richness of the meat, eggs and potatoes. The dressing is equal parts vinegar and oil, plus generous salt.

To put the plate together, put potatoes at the bottom, then rice, the beef, egg and then the salad.
Prepare a nice llajwa (spicy sauce) to go with it!

Puchero de Carnaval

Puchero de Carnaval


“Estos carnavales quien inventaría…”

One of my favorite holidays in Bolivia is Carnaval and Martes de Ch’alla. Each part of Bolivia celebrates it differently but we all agree on the part of being thankful for all the good things we have and we are thankful to our mother earth (Pachamama) for them. And what a better way to celebrate than having fun and harken back to our childhood playing with water ballons or buckets of water. This is the only time that I saw my parents being tricky and hiding and making alinces to try to soak as many people in the family as possible. After so much fun and being all so wet and cold a good abundant hot and spicy dish hits the spot (te cae como del cielo!) The nice crispy meat mixed with the warm rice and the crunchiness of the cabbage all topped with a nice hot yellow sauce, warms any belly and body. Some Puchero recipes call for chuño or peramota (pear) even peach, you can be very creative with it. I miss the Carnaval season but at least with this recipe I can warm my belly and bring memories back with each bite of Puchero!

 Serves 6

Cooking time 2 hours

Tips: While the meat is cooking you can get ready the potatoes, cabbage, yellow sauce. Usually, I do the rice last since once that starts cooling down it gets thicker. Fry the meat before serving or fry ahead and keep it warm. I like the crispness of the meat so I usually fry right before serving.

Instructions by key ingredient:



I/2 cup dry chick peas (you can substitute for one can of chickpeas if running out of time)

2 cups warm water plus 1 cup for cooking.

And hour before cooking soak the chickpeas in warm water

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Once the skin is starting to get loose, peel the chickepeas. This take some time so I recommend  doing it a day ahead.

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After they are all peeled, put them in a pot with a cup of water and cook for about 20 min. Don’t over cook since you will add this to the rice and you want it crisp. (The best way to tell is when the midlle part of chickpea has a light color)


Briscket, potaoes and cabbage

2 1/2 to 3 pounds Briscket (buy from a farmer because it tastes better and cooks faster)

2 carrots

1 white onion

2 celery sticks

8 cups water or any broth

1 1/2 tsp salt

8 red potatoes

1  cabbage

1/2 tbs cummin

1 tsp salt

Peel and cut onion, carrots and celery. Put them all together in a large pot with salt and water and let it cook for about an hour.


Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and peel the leaves off the cabbage and set aside

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After meat is tender, remove the meat and vegetables from the broth. Let the meat cool down


Add to the broth: the potatoes, cabbage, cummin and correct to the desired salt level. Cook until potatoes are cooked. Drained the broth into a container and save.

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While potaoes are cooking prepare the rice and yellow sauce.

Aji Amarillo (Yellow Spicy Sauce)

1 mediun red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

2 cup yellow spice sauce (see recipe for picante de pollo)

1 cup of briscket broth

2 tbs canola oil

Dice the onion very small, mince the garlic. Cook the onion and garlic with canola oil.


After onions are cooked add the yellow sauce, cumin and salt. Add broth and cook until the sauce thickens and don’t let it get sticky. Add more broth if necessary.

Rice and chickpeas

2 cups rice

4 cups water

2-3 cups briscket broth

2 tbs canola oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

Boil 4 cups of water in a large pot, add salt. Wash 2 cups of  rice in cold water. Add the rice to boiling water. Stir the rice avoiding getting stuck on the bottom. Cook for about 10 min or until start its starts drying and add the vegetables oil and 2 cups of broth. You want there to be with some broth and don’t let the water go away entirely.

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Cook for another 5 min and add the Chickpeas. If needed it you can add more broth to keep the runny consistency of the rice. It has to be less tick than rissoto. Cook for 10 min.


While the rice is cooking

Slice the briscket into 16 thin slices, 2 per person. Slice the against the grain


Salt each piece and fry with 1 tbs of oil until golden on both sides.


Putting the plate together

First add potatoes and cabbage topped with the rice


Add the meat and Yellow sauce


You can also switch the way you present this dish. In Bolivia this was my favorite way my mom would put the rice and the sauce  on top and hide the meat, cabbage and potaoes under it. I must confess I used to hate boiled cabbage when I was a child. So this was her way to make us finish the entire plate.


Feliz Martes de Ch’alla, feliz Carnaval!


Pastel de Queso

Pastel de Queso

Every day early in the morning around 5 am, the air in the streets at the market fills with the smell of dough being fried and red corn flour being boiled. This is the way some Bolivians start their day with a warm cup of red boiled corn and a delicious melted cheese inside the Pastel de Queso.

8 oz   Queso Fresco or Monterrey Jack
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp Crisco
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp sugar
⅛ cup boiling water.
1 Tbsp confectioner sugar
Sift the flour in a large bowl, heat the crisco to boiling point. Add the hot crisco to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon.

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Add the egg salt and sugar and mix. Slowly add the hot water until you had a soft dough easy to roll.Divide the dough in half and each half in half until we have 16 little ball.

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Rolled with a pan rooled each of them and once flat add cheese in the middle and folded in half press carfully the edges to close, Do the same with the others.

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Do the same with the others. Heat 1 cup of vegetable oil and when is ready cooked each of them until golden.

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Cool them  in a paper towel and once cooled sprinkled with some confectioner sugar.

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Enjoy it with a good cup of coffee or if you can with a good API morado!

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