Coffee & Espresso
The beauty is in its simplicity. It’s just equal parts hot coffee and hot or steamed milk. The French call theirs café au lait. What is purely a Latin variation being that some use condensed milk depending on preference.
Aguas, Teas & Juices
With its roots planted in Valencia, Spain, it is a cold drink popularized and more commonly known from countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador with their specific takes on the recipe. Having a tan or milky color, recipes may or may not use milk. Ingredients range from sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, morro seeds, rice, ground cocoa, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tiger nuts, peanuts, almonds, and cashews and may even be strained in cheese cloth before serving. Ours is made with sugar, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon.
You won’t find a healthier drink than horchata. For centuries, it has been known to have all kinds of health benefits, containing vitamin C and E and being rich in the minerals phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and iron. It stops any nasty stomach upsets, and everyone can drink it, as it’s free from lactose, casein, and gluten and contains almost no sodium. It is very high in calories (100 kcal per 100g) and is unsurprisingly a popular drink after exercise. No wonder they call it the drink of the gods.
It’s good for your eyesight
It’s official. Scientists in Valencia have recently discovered that drinking a little horchata (or anything else with tiger nut in) every day will keep your eyes healthy, too.
It’s an aphrodisiac
As if you needed another reason to try it, locals swear that horchata is much more potent than oysters, chocolate, or any other supposed aphrodisiacs out there. And who are we to argue? Try it and see.
Tiger nuts aren’t grown anywhere else in Spain
What exactly is a tiger nut anyway? Really a kind of tuber, tiger nuts were brought to Spain by the Moors, who invaded in the year 711. The tiger nut was originally grown on the banks of the Nile, but the Moors found that the fertile land around Valencia was an even better place to grow tiger nuts. They were used to make chufa milk, which was the base for today’s horchata.
The first evidence of empanada making occurred during the medieval period on the Iberian peninsula. Most historians believe that Galicia, Spain was the first location to make the pastries, but neighboring Portugal also began making empanadas around the same time.
During colonial exploration, the pastry made its way around Latin America, and currently, Argentina and Colombia claim to have the best empanadas.
Empanadas are one of our favorite foods to make and also to eat. Empanadas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can be served as appetizers or snacks, but they can also easily make a full and satisfying meal.
When you think about it, many cultures and countries around the world have some version of a pastry or dough stuffed with sweet or savory fillings: dumplings, pierogi, samosas, hand pies, turnovers, British or Cornish pasties, Brazilian pastel, Cuban pastelitos, bolani, pastechis, empanadilla, etc. Empanadas are usually made with savory fillings, but sweet ones are also great for dessert or to accompany that afternoon coffee or tea. They can be served alone or with dipping sauces. Argentinean chimichurri sauce is one of the most popular empanada dipping sauces.
Empanadas are a very versatile dish. These delicious bundles can be prepared with so many different types of fillings, from traditional savory fillings to mouthwatering sweet fillings. There are very traditional fillings, called rellenos or condumios in Spanish, that are different from one country to another. Even within the same country, different regions might have specific empanadas that they are known for. However, when it comes to options for empanada fillings, the sky is the limit, you can stick to the classic fillings or you can create your own based on inspiration from other dishes. You can combine flavors and ingredients that you love, or simply use the ingredients you have available at the moment.
Empanadas are a wonderful way to use seasonal vegetables and fruits. I love trying out new empanada fillings based on what I find at my local Farmers’ Market. Another way to choose good empanada fillings is to think about classic pizza and tart combinations, chances are if the ingredients work together in one of those dishes, then it will also make a great empanada filling.
The most popular empanada dough is made with wheat flour. However, empanada dough can be made with corn flour or corn meal, mashed plantains, potatoes, yuca or cassava, sweet potatoes, and more. Sweet empanada dough can also be made with chocolate, almond flour, spiced with cinnamon and clove, with citrus rind, and more flavors. The dough preparation will also vary depending on if the empanadas will be baked or fried. Most of the time they are either baked or deep fried, though there are some that can also be cooked on a griddle or on a grill. You can buy ready-made empanada discs at many Latin grocery stores, but you can also easily make the dough at home. Homemade empanada dough is very easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. Making the dough at home also allows you to customize it and add things like herbs, spices, and other personal touches to the empanada dough. You can also use organic flour or whole wheat flour when you make your own empanada dough. My mom usually makes her empanadas using half regular all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.
COFFEE IN LATIN AMERICA
Coffee is grown throughout the jungles of Central and South America, as well as in the Caribbean islands. Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela and Mexico are all strong producers of coffee.
Beans from Latin America tend to have a very distinct set of flavors and textures, depending on their roast. They are often grown at high altitudes in volcanic soil which gives them brightness and sweetness.
Their acidity is usually high, with a light body. There is often a distinct sweetness and tanginess to Latin American coffees. Their flavor is usually brought out best by a light or medium roast, so you don’t see as many espresso or French roasts with Latin American beans.
They are good breakfast coffees with a lightness and freshness to the taste – very bright.