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Pupusas & Curtido

Pupusas are a delicious El Salvadoran  classic meal that I have been wanting to make since the first time I devoured them in Red Hook, Brooklyn. After swimming at the Red Hook pool, we made our way over to the plethora of food trucks, and discovered the pupusas and curtido, the cabbage/carrot topping.  I found this easy to follow recipe in a recent Vegetarian Times

Curtido Ingredients:

4 cups shredded cabbage

2 medium carrots, coarsely grated

3/4 cup thinly sliced onion

1 jalapeno, finely diced

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. dried oregano

Pupusa Ingredients:

4cups masa harina, such as Maseca

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup refried beans

1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese

8 tsp canola oil

Directions for Curtido:

Pour 4 cups boiling water over cabbage, carrots, onions, and jalapeno in a large bowl.  Steep 5 minutes then drain. 

Bring vinegar, 1/2 cup water, salt, sugar, and oregano to a boil in saucepan.  Pour over cabbage mixture. Cover, and cool.

Directions for Pupusas:

Combine  masa harina, cumin, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Stir in 3 cups warm water, adding more, if needed, to form soft dough.  Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

Line baking sheet with wax paper.  Roll dough into 16 balls.  Make an indentation in centers; fill balls with  cheese and beans.  Fold edges over fillings, and roll into balls once more.  Press into 4-inch disks.  Place on prepared baking sheet.

Heat a few teaspoons of oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 4 pupusas at a time to skillet, cook 5-7 minutes per side.

Serve immediately with the Curtido.



Messy Tofu Sandwiches with Onions, Peppers, and Mushrooms


4 teaspoons Olive Oil

1 large white onion cut into 1/2 wedges

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips

2 cups button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

4 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar

1 package extra firm tofu

cayenne pepper


Baguette, halved lengthwise

Romaine Lettuce Leaves


In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and oregano.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onion and bell pepper are tender, about 12 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and stir in vinegar; tent with foil to keep warm.

Add 2 teaspoons oil to skillet.  Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch strips and press the water out using a paper towel.  Season each side of the tofu with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne.  Cook until golden brown on one side, about 3-5 minutes.  Flip and cook until the tofu is browned on both sides. 

Spread mayonnaise on inside of bread.  Assemble sandwich with vegetables, tofu, and lettuce.  Serve with a light frisee apple salad. 



Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, & Shitake Mushroom Dish


2 Tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil

1 medium-sized garlic bulb for roasting

1 small head bok choy

Half a medium bunch broccoli rabe

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

10 medium-sized shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered

1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Roasted whole cashews

Chinese-style dark sesame oil

Chili oil


Preheat the oven or a toaster oven to 375.  Line a small baking pan with foil and drizzle with a little of the oil.  Trim the tips of the garlic, then stand the bulb upright on the oiled foil.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the bulb feels soft when gently squeezed.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  When comfortable to handle, break the bulb into individual cloves and squeeze the pulp from the skins.  This will be a slightly sticky process and the bulbs may break apart a little—-all of which is fine. 

While the garlic roasts, prepare the bok choy and broccoli rabe.  For the bok choy, trim and discard the tough bottom 1/4 inch or so, if necessary.  Remove and coarsely chop the leaves, and cut the stems into 1-inch pieces.  Keep the leave and stems separate.  Trim the tough ends from the broccoli rabe and chop the rest into 1-inch pieces. 

Place a large, deep skillet or wok over medium heat.  After about a minute, add the remaining oil and swirl to coat the pan.  Turn the heat to high, add the onion and shiitakes, and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to brown.  Add the bok choy stems and the broccoli rabe, sprinkling in the salt.  Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until the stems are just tender.  Toss in the bok choy leaves and about 1 1/2 Tablespoons water, then immediately cover the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 2 more minutes (lifting the cover to stir just once or twice) until the stems are tender and the leaves wilted.

Add both the fresh and roasted garlic, tossing gently.  Cook and stir for just a minute longer, until the garlic is fragrant, Season lightly with freshly ground black pepper, and serve immediately over rice, topped with roasted whole cashew, if desired. Pass around shaker bottles of Chines-style ark sesame oil and chili oil for a finishing touch.

*This recipe is from The Vegetable Dishes I can’t Live Without*



Carmelized Red Onion Focaccia

This recipe is unbelievable! I found this in  Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food  and the homemade pizza dough recipe at


3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds homemade or store-bought pizza dough

2 large thinly sliced large red onions

course salt and ground pepper

1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 425. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 Tablespoons oil. Place dough on sheet, stretching it to fit.  If dough springs back, let rest 20 minutes and repeat.  Drizzle edges with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook , stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and golden brown in spots, 15-20 minutes. Add vinegar and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, 1 minutes.

Remove plastic from dough.  With your fingertips, poke dimples all over dough, then top with cheese, browned onions, and red-pepper flakes.  Bake until golden brown around edges, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool on sheet 5 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve warm.



Roasted Corn Poblano Chowder

This chowder is a great side to any Mexican dish or a great main meal with a couple sides of vegetables, such as collard greens, roasted acorn squash, and zucchini.


2 Tablespoons butter

2 cloves minced garlic

1 chopped stalk celery

1 chopped medium onion

1/4 cup +1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purposed flour

6 cups vegetable stock (Check my “Vegetable Broth” posting from a few days ago)

2 cups milk or 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 pounds unpeeled and diced new potatoes

3 medium poblano chilies, roasted (Check my posting, “How to Roast Peppers and Chilies”), peeled, seeded, and finely diced

1 (16 oz) frozen corn

1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers

salt to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the garlic, celery, and onion.  Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the flour to make a roux.   Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes, being careful not to let the flour scorch.  Turn the heat to high and slowly whisk in the stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add the milk.  Bring the soup to a rolling simmer and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the potatoes, poblano chilies, corn, and roasted red peppers.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the salt an cayenne pepper to taste.

This recipe is taken from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook*



Sweet Potato Tacos

This is one of my first creations that I attempted on my own years back when living in Seattle.  It was my “go to” for the sporadic dinner parties I would throw.  It is inexpensive and always a crowd pleaser.

This is a recipe for 4 large flour tortilla tacos


1 1/2 Tablespoons Canola Oil

1/2 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil (if you don’t have this,substitute it with Canola oil)

1 Large Sweet Potato or 2 medium peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 Large Onion thinly sliced

1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper thinly sliced

2-3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

Place the sweet potato slices into in a medium size pan.  Cover the bottom of the pan with 1/4 inch of water, then place a lid on the pan, and turn to medium-high heat.  After 5-7 minutes the sweet potatoes should be cooked yet still firm. 

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.  Then add the bell pepper slices, stirring often.  After 3-5  minutes, add the cooked sweet potato slices .   Cook for another  7-10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown and the flavors begin to meld.

Serve with warmed flour tortillas.

Topping options:  sour cream, jarred jalapenos, fresh cilantro, thinly sliced radish, sliced avocado

Great side dishes: Havana black beans and Roasted Corn Poblano Chowder and/or Mexican Corn



Creamy Vegetable Soup

This is a favorite at our house and served with a crusty rosemary roll and a side of roasted squash (or another vegetable of your choosing), you have yourself a meal. 

2 cups cubed potatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup thinly peeled and sliced carrots

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup water

Cook together in a large soup pot for 5 minutes.

Add 2 cups broccoli cut into small bite-size florets and continue to cook an additional 5-10 minutes.

Add 3 cups milk, 2 vegetable bouillon cubes, 1 teaspoon Wrocestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste.  Heat to boiling.

In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup milk and 1/3 cup flour together until smooth.  Stir into the soup and cook just until thickened.   Turn off heat.

Add  1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese and stir until melted.

*This recipe is from the Simply in Season cookbook, that is often used in my home.  They refer to it as Hearty Broccoli Soup in the Autumn section of their book. 



Vegetable Pot Pie

This is a great spin on the classic pot pie-involving the most delicious biscuit topping.  And really, who doesn’t love a homemade biscuit?


1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cps coarsely chopped onions

2-3 garlic cloves minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

4-5 cups sliced or halved mushrooms

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes or yams

2 cups cubed potatoes

2 cups peeled and cubed parsnips (or carrots-your choice)

1/2 teaspoon  ground black pepper

3 cups water or stock

3 Tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup of COLD water

1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

Biscuit Topping:

2 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

6 Tablespoons melted butter

1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (have tried both-both delicious)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

Warm the oil in a soup pot.  Add the onions and garlic, cover, and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the salt,thyme, marjoram, mushrooms, and mustard.  Cook until the mushrooms start to release their juices, about 5 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, white potatoes, parsnips (or carrots), black pepper, and the water or stock and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.  Stir the dissolved cornstarch mixture  into the simmering vegetables, stirring constantly.  When the liquid starts to thicken, mix in the peas, corn, soy sauce, and salt.  Pour the vegetables into the prepared casserole dish, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and buttermilk or yogurt.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible to make a soft dough.  Drop the biscuit batter over the vegetables in the casserole dish in 6 equal mounds. Sprinkle the dill over the biscuits.

Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean. Serve immediately. 

*This comforting dish is from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook and serves 6 large portions.