Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eating the Americas - Argentina and Bolivia

I've always thought it a good idea to include foods from other cultures or historical periods as part of social studies or history studies. It's not always workable - sometimes not even appealing, depending on what  foods are associated with a particular time or place! - but we've often tried to do this. This school year, we are studying the history, geography and cultures of the Americas, which looks like it will lend itself very well to including food as part of school. Armed with recipes from around the world found in a couple of favorite school/cookbooks, and inspired by the Global Table Adventure (which also provides lots of recipes from all around the world), we are going to try to cook and eat our way through South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and some regional specialties of the USA and Canada. And my hope is that we'll not only stick to that part of the lesson plan, but that I'll be able to report on our experiment here every week, and link up to Try a New Recipe Tuesday at Home to 4 Kiddos each week as well. (Yeah, I know today is not Tuesday. Thankfully, Lisa leaves the linky open for about a week.)

So much for the introduction - here's our first installment of Eating the Americas!

We are starting in South America, specifically with Argentina. Argentina is a leading producer of beef, and Argentinians lead the world in consuming beef as well, averaging about 140 pounds per person per year. So it's not surprising that meat features prominently in the dishes we associate with Argentina. We chose to try  a meat stew called Carbonada Criolla, which features vegetables and fruit along with the beef. At Christmas feasts, this stew is often served in a pumpkin shell.

I had a choice of two recipes to use for Carbonada Criolla, and I think I chose the blander of the two, which was a mistake. The stew contains steak or stew beef, tomatoes, peppers, onions, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash or pumpkin, and peaches. Yep, peaches. We were all a little unsure of how those flavors would blend, but I think the peaches and sweet potatoes added a nice touch. I wish I'd added some beef stock and more flavoring though - it was a bit on the bland side.

Global Table Adventure shared this Argentinian recipe - Potato and Corn Casserole. My picture totally does not do this justice, and since we didn't finish this the first night, I thought it got even better when reheated. Basically, this is rich, buttery mashed potatoes topped with a blended mixture of corn and butter, then baked. It was really easy to make and since the ingredients are very familiar, it was well received.

For lunch one day, we enjoyed Panquaeques de Dulce de Leche (Crepes with Milk Fudge), also from Global Table Adventure. Simple crepes topped with an even simpler Dulce de Leche, made by simmering a can of sweetened condensed milk for a couple of hours.

We even tried making a Dulce de Leche pudding, but for whatever reason it did not thicken and set enough to be considered a "pudding". I have no idea what, if anything, I did wrong, but apparently I must not have scalded the milk quite long enough before adding the sugar mixture. But I suggested to the kids that they use the unset pudding instead of milk when making milkshakes, and it was tremendous!

There are a couple other recipes from Argentina we thought worth a try, but haven't got to them yet, so maybe next week.

Next up was Bolivia. So far we've only tried one recipe from Bolivia, but it introduced us to a new favorite snack food - Queso De Freir or Queso Blanco. Our recipe was from Global Table Adventure and is incredibly simple to make. Corn on the Cob with fried cheese.

The trick is to find the cheese. I chose queso de freir - the package looks like this:

and the cheese looks like this frying in my skillet.

At least that's what it looks like before I or one of my family members gobbles it up. See how it fries up toasty brown without getting runny and globby? It keeps its shape when heated, and without any breaded coating. We just sliced it and threw it in a very lightly greased skillet, and we could probably eat this for lunch every day. In fact, one of my boys has been asking for it for lunch every day since.

Corn on the Cob with Fried Cheese
Boil husked sweet corn until done. Meanwhile, fry your queso blanco or queso de friere in a skillet over medium heat until both sides have a crispy golden coating. Place a slice of fried cheese on each ear of corn and serve immediately. 

This post is linked at Try a New Recipe Tuesday, hosted by Lisa at Home to 4 Kiddos.

This post was featured on Try a New Recipe Tuesday!

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Stacie said...

I really like this idea of trying foods from around the world. I am planning on incorporating it into our history studies also. The corn and potatoes sound really good.

Kym said...

It was actually really good, and it was simple to do. Thanks for stopping by!

Lucinda said...

Potato and corn casserole sounds yummy to me! Your photo is great. We don't experiment with food enough. Another thing to add to my list for the coming year!

Lisa Boyle said...

These all look amazing! Wow! Thanks for sharing with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday!" I am featuring you this week! Congratulations. :-) Be sure to stop by and grab an "I've been featured" button from my sidebar for your blog. The post should go live around 11pm Eastern on Monday evening. I can't wait to see what you'll share this week! :-)

Unknown said...

The food looks amazing! I try to do that with my daughter when we study a new country (but we usually go to a cheap ethnic restaurant instead). I should really do something like this instead and let her help pick out recipes to make. More involvement is always a good thing.

Kym said...

Thanks for featuring me, Lisa - that's a nice encouragement to keep on with this series. ;-)

If we had more *cheap* ethnic restaurants around to choose from, I'd be all for doing that instead! LOL The nice thing about doing it ourselves is being able to adjust the recipes for the picky eaters in our home, one of whom is me. 8-D

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