Category Archives: vegetables

Shakshouka (Egg in Tomato Sauce)

Quick din-din for one: Shakshouka. Wikipedia says it’s Tunesian. Thinking about it now, though, maybe it’s more Tex-Mex? It’s almost like a low-carb Huevos Rancheros. I don’t know; I was hungry and threw together whatever was in the fridge. And this delicious, little dish was the result.

Enjoy!

Shakshouka – Tex Mex Style (Eggs in Tomato Sauce)

Recipe inspired by The Three Cheeses

printable recipe

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

small splash olive oil

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped

1 leaf mustard greens

1/2 cup diced stewed tomatoes

1 egg

1/4 cup canned beans (I used pinto)

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground cumin

pinch of red chile flakes

salt and pepper to taste

grated cheese to top, optional (I used Jarlsberg, but any kind would work)

plain yogurt to top, optional

METHOD

  1. In a pre-heated (medium-high) small pan or saucepan, sauté onion, garlic and mustard greens in olive oil until slightly golden. Then add in tomatoes, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir and allow to simmer over low heat until liquid reduce somewhat, ca. 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in beans and crack an egg over the top. Cover and reduce heat further to lowest setting. Cook ca. 5 minutes. At about the half way point, sprinkle optional cheese over the top. Then cover, turn off the heat and allow to finish cooking and the cheese has completely melted. Be careful not to overcook the egg–the yolk should be sticky, golden and still a little runny. (If you like it cooked all the way through, cook it longer.)
  3. Top with plain yogurt and eat!

 

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Mushroom and Roasted Eggplant Moussaka

This moussaka was my veggie main for Thanksgiving. I made it for my mom (who’s actually pescatarian) and my friend S. who joined us for dinner. She brought along her amazingly talented chef husband and also her little sweet pea, baby V. (We all took turns staring at and holding him. He in turn entertained himself by staring at the kitchen light and spitting up on me.) Anyway, moussaka is perhaps a bit unconventional for the holidays, but we are an unconventional family. Besides, who cares about tradition—this is awesome.

Recipes involving both cooking and baking are often labeled “laborious” and “time-consuming”. I don’t think so; actually, I think those kinds of dishes are total time-savers, especially on days when you know the oven is going to be occupied most of the time by a big, fat turkey. (I had to negotiate with my dad for oven time. He takes his turkey verrrry seriously.) They also have more complex flavors because of the multi-stage prep and cooking time. I roasted the eggplant the night before, made both red and white sauces and assembled the gratin in the morning, and then didn’t think about it again until the turkey came out hours later, at which point I shoved it in the oven and baked it for an hour. See, not complicated; just requires a little organization!

Time-consuming or not, it was delicious. CookThink says the mushrooms “are so rich and meaty” that you won’t miss the meat, and it’s true! I’m sure my mom and S. didn’t miss anything; and I don’t think the rest of us did either. The superstar of the mushroom sauce, though, was really the spice combination of cinnamon, allspice and oregano. Aromatic and bold, they are what truly make the sauce. As for the eggplant, I saw a few versions, in which it is breaded and pan-fried, like in eggplant parmigiana, but I liked them roasted. Maybe I’ll try it that way next time when there’s less competition, i.e. no turkey. One more thing to note is that unlike with lasagna, the bechamel sauce goes on top of the layered veggies. It’s flavor—nutty from the nutmeg and salty from the parmesan—is just as important as the vegetables in bringing the dish together.

This was fun! Too bad I forgot to take photos…guess I was too busy eating. 😛

Enjoy!

Mushroom and Roasted Eggplant Moussaka (recipe adapted from Janet is Hungry and  CookThink)

printable recipe

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

Mushroom Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4″ thick slices

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 lb button mushrooms, sliced

2 large tomatoes

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or more if necessary

1/2 tsp ground allspice, or more if necessary

1/2 tsp oregano, or more if necessary

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

Bechamel Sauce

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

2 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%, but any will do, even skim)

1/2-3/4 cup grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste

Topping

3/4 cup bread crumbs (I made my own with 2 slices of my half-white bread)

METHOD

Mushroom Sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease 2 baking sheets with the olive oil, and arrange the eggplant slices on top in a single layer. Douse and season each side with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, turning once, 20 minutes. (I did 20 minutes on each side; I wanted them really roasted. And then I wrapped them in foil to continue steaming until cooled.)
  2. Plunge tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel and chop roughly.
  3. Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, tomato paste, parsley, wine, salt and pepper to the mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then cover and simmer or 15-30 minutes, or until it tastes right.

Bechamel Sauce

  1. While the red sauce is simmering, prepare the bechamel. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and slowly stir in milk. Return to heat and whisk until sauce thickens. Stir in nutmeg and Parmesan. Again, remove from heat and set aside.

Assembly

  1. Spoon alternating layers into a greased 9″x13″ baking dish. Start with a layer of eggplant, then half the mushroom mixture. Then another layer of eggplant, and the second half of the mushroom mixture. Finish with a layer of eggplant.
  2. Spread sauce over last layer of eggplant and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 F covered with an aluminum foil tent for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until golden. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Peruvian Potato and Tuna Salad Rolls (Rollos de Causa Rellenos con Atún)

Causa is Peru’s version of potato salad and it’s also one of my favorites. It seems unfair to compare it to the yellow, mayo-laden, eggy stuff we have here in the US. Causa is actually more like a cold gratin with layers of creamy pureed potatoes, tuna (or chicken or crab), avocado and a garnish of tart olives and hard-boiled eggs.

The recipe I found in a newspaper article from The Olympian is excellent and seems pretty close to authentic (at least to me). Especially helpful is the explanation on how to make aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile) paste with dried chilies. You can find a lot of “exotic” ingredients in Portland, but it’s still rather limited compared to the selection available in bigger cities. Here in San Francisco, I can buy frozen aji amarillos, but in Portland, I only found dried, which are available at Whole Foods. In any case, the recipe lists the chilies as optional, but I wouldn’t dream of leaving them out; they’re used a lot in Peruvian cooking and also provide a very particular spice, color and heat to the food.

In making this, I should have paid better attention to the ingredients list. First, I didn’t use Yukon gold potatoes, which are a must because of the characteristic yellow color and texture they give. I used regular baking potatoes, which I found too starchy and also a lot less pretty. Also, I forgot to garnish the top with olives and boil eggs; instead I used only chopped parsley.  Another thing I did differently, on purpose, is that I didn’t make mine in gratin form, but rather made mine maki-sushi style, i.e. rolled. I’ve seen it served both ways and since there was already so much food, I think the smaller pieces fit better.

I’ll definitely be making Causa again—it’s simple, comfort kind of food, which I love, but can be dressed up to be super elegant too.

Enjoy!

Rollos de Causa Rellenos con Atún (adapted from an article found in The Olympian)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

Potato Paste

1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (ca. 8-10), washed and scrubbed, but not peeled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lime juice, or more if necessary

1 tbsp aji amarillo paste, optional

salt to taste

Filling

2 cans tuna, drained (I used white tuna in water)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)

1/4 cup frozen corn, peas and carrots mix, thawed and drained

salt and pepper to taste

2 medium avocados, peeled and sliced thinly lengthwise

Garnish

3 hard boiled eggs, cut into wedges or sliced into rounds

6 kalamata olives

METHOD

For the Potato Paste

  1. Cook potatoes until tender. Peel when still warm, then put through a ricer. Mix riced potatoes with oil, salt and aji amarillo. Add lime juice and stir the mix until the dough is soft and well blended. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

For the Filling

  1. Add mayonnaise, thawed vegetables, chives, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix well and add salt if necessary.

For Assembly

  1. Maki-sushi style: Line a bamboo maki mat with plastic wrap. Spread a portion of the potato paste to the edges of the mat.
  2. Then, spread filling over the potato paste, leaving 1/4 inch space at each edge. Distribute evenly 1/4 of the avocado slices on top.
  3. Roll, pulling out the plastic as you go and wrapping it around the roll to finish. Repeat for remaining paste and filling. Place wrapped rolls on a platter and refrigerate. When ready to serve, unwrap and place back on platter. Slice into 1 1/2 inch pieces, sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve.
  4. Traditional Squares: use a square baking pan, lightly oiled. Spread half of the potato paste in it, then spread the chicken filling. On top of the chicken filling spread the other half of the potato paste. Cover the baking pan and keep in the refrigerator until serving. Causa is a cold dish. When ready to serve, cut the causa into squares. With the help of a spatula, transfer each piece to a salad plate. Once on the plate, use the slices of avocado, egg and olives to decorate each piece. Each piece should have an olive and the same number of egg wedges and slices of avocado. (I didn’t add the olives or eggs; just topped mine with more chopped parsley)

Hint: You can make your own aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile pepper) paste with one pound of fresh aji amarillo and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Place aji in a saucepan with water and boil for 5 minutes. Change the water and repeat procedure twice. Cut, seed and devein ajies. You can peel some ajies to reduce spiciness. Blend with oil until you get a creamy paste.

As an alternative to fresh aji amarillo, you can use dried chilli-peppers (known as dried aji mirasol), which are easier to find outside of Peru. The procedure is similar to the fresh ajíes, just add some water when blending until you get the creamy paste.

Arroz con Pollo (Peruvian-style Chicken and Rice) and Herby Roasted Potatoes

There seem to be endless versions of this well-known dish. So no surprise, Perú has it’s own version which gets its principle flavor and color from cilantro. Normally this is served with an onion-aji amarillo-lime salsa, but I was too lazy and also didn’t think the fresh onions would go over well with the students. (I don’t think it would have mattered; they scraped the pot clean—I guess they liked it!)

This turned out so great! I love learning new dishes to cook when I am abroad and am always really excited to try it out at home. However, often my version never tastes quite the same. The source of the ingredients is different and sometimes, as was the case this time, you have to substitute less common ingredients with ones you have around the house. The aji amarillo chiles are really important for an authentic flavor, so I was worried about how my version would turn out. Luckily, though, it came out great. Actually, I think it was the lime that saved it. So, definitely don’t forget the lime!

Enjoy!

Arroz con Pollo

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

Arroz con Pollo:

1 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces (I only had chicken breast on hand, but dark meat is tastier, i.e. more tender)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped finely

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes

olive oil

1 bunch cilantro, stalks trimmed

5 aji amarillo, deseeded, deveined and roughly chopped (Use a spoon to clean the chiles—they’re hot! This time, I didn’t have any, so used mild yellow chiles, plus ca. 1 tsp cayenne)

1/2 bottle of beer, preferably dark

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups rice, well-rinsed

3-4 cups water, divided (my guesstimate)

1/2 cup frozen or canned peas (In Perú they use fresh)

1/2 cup fresh hominy corn (I didn’t have this, so left it out. You could put regular yellow or white in, however.)

juice of 1 lime

Herby Roasted Potatoes:

5 medium to large size baking potatoes (I used russets), scrubbed but not peeled and diced into large pieces

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp dried oregano

3-4 tbsp olive oil (or more—it should be generous enough to completely coat the potatoes)

METHOD

For the chicken and rice:

  1. Pat the chicken dry; season with salt and pepper. Then in a large stockpot, brown the pieces in a little olive oil, in batches if necessary. (If you overcrowd the pot, the chicken won’t brown properly.) Remove and set aside. Also empty pot of excess grease.
  2. In your blender, liquidize the cilantro and aji (or in my case, mild yellow peppers), adding 1 cup of water to help in the process. Set aside.
  3. In the same pot used to fry the chicken, fry the onion, garlic and carrots until just golden. Pour in the cilantro-aji liquid and the beer. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to half. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting
  4. Put the chicken back into the pot, cover and simmer until cooked. Remove and set aside. (I deviated from the traditional method here in that I added a little more water to the pot and allowed the meat to braise for 2 hours. As I only had chicken breast, I wanted to tenderize the meat a bit more.)
  5. Add the rinsed rice, the remaining 2-3 cups and salt to the water to the pot and increase the heat, bringing the liquid to a boil. The liquid should taste salty. (I also added the cayenne at this point.) Once boiling, reduce the heat once again to the lowest setting and cover. Allow to cook for ca. 20 minutes or until almost cooked. (I did this differently as well by keeping the chicken in the pot and allowing it to cook with the rice.)
  6. Once the rice is just cooked, stir in the peas and corn. Replace the cover for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are warmed through.
  7. Just before serving, season for salt and pepper and then optionally, squeeze into the pot the juice of 1 lime. Or you can just serve lime wedges with the meal, which is how is normally done.

For the herby roasted potatoes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
  3. Remove and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Tuna – Gigantes Bean Sauté

Mmmmm….beans. Beans are a good source of protein and fiber; beans are cheap—so cheap that I can even afford to buy organic.

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of bulk foods at Rainbow Grocery. Gigantes beans (aka giant lima beans), are just one of my latest discoveries from the bulk bin! Gigantes are meaty, creamy and buttery. And they’re HUGE: after soaking overnight and cooking, they grow to about the size of a thumb tip—what is that, like 2 inches? (P.S. Did you know that lima beans are actually named after Lima, Peru? I always wondered…you can read more here.)

When I bought my giant limas, I really wanted to make this, a dish I found on Closet Cooking…but I just didn’t have the time or the patience to boil, saute AND bake dinner just for me. No time for messing around when I’m hungry 🙂

I was inspired by the traditional Italian dish, Fagioli con Tonno (cannellini beans with tuna), when I was trying to figure out what to make.

Tuna and beans are such a clever combination. Hearty, interesting texture and go great with all kinds of herb combinations. I threw in some sad swiss chard left over from my CSA, a little garlic, onion and oregano—and that’s it. Dinner. To go with the main, I made a quick tomato-avocado salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Photo taken from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska

Enjoy!

Tuna – Gigantes Bean Sauté

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

Sauté

1 can white, no salt added tuna

1/4 cup Gigantes beans, soaked overnight

2 large leaves swiss chard, roughly copped

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup onion, roughly chopped

1 tsp dried oregano (I used Mexican; it has more flaaavor)

salt and pepper

olive oil

Tomato-Avocado Salad

1 small vine-ripened tomato, diced

1/4 small avocado, diced

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

a pinch of evaporated cane sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

a squeeze of fresh lemon

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

  1. Boil the beans over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, but reserve about 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the salad: in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Add the diced avocado and tomato. Set aside.
  3. Back to the beans: In a small pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion, garlic and swiss chard until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the tuna, oregano, salt and pepper and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked beans and reserved liquid into the pan. Reduce the heat to low and stir to combine. Fry until the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Plate the tuna and beans with your prepared salad, drizzle a little more fresh lemon over the top, and serve.


Taste Testing

My friend Elizabeth is a brilliant chef in the making. And as it is her dream to one day open her own Peruvian restaurant, she’s decided to hold monthly dinners to test-run dishes and drinks for friends. Taste testing? I’m happy to lend my taste-buds to the cause! (^_^)

Last week was the first of the dinners. My favorite (surprise, surprise) was the lucuma cheesecake. Elizabeth gave me the recipe, which I hope to try soon (lucuma’s already in the freezer 😛 )!

The Menu


Steamed Mussles with Pico de Gallo


Fried Potato Croquette Filled with Sweet Ground Beef and

Topped with an Onion Salsa and Fresh Yellow Chili Sauce

Peruvian-style Creamy Seafood Chowder

Lucuma Cheesecake Topped with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce and Served with Lucuma Ice Cream


Hello, Spring! Frittata with Radish-Red Cabbage Salad

Yay—Spring has come to San Francisco at last. And so has my first CSA box. (There are a lot of things I could write about CSA, but I’m too lazy to get into it right now. OK, I’m testing it out for a month. I know it’s good for the environment, good for the farmer, good for my body, blah, blah. But can I afford it? If I can and I actually enjoy the food and don’t have to eat celery sticks, I’ll keep doing it.)

Anyway, to celebrate my first Bay Area Spring, the blooming cherry blossoms and my CSA, I made this happy, little swiss chard frittata and radish-red cabbage salad.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had swiss chard before—I’ve definitely never cooked it. If I end up hating CSA, at least I’ll have learned one thing: I LOVE swiss chard: it has crunch, major flavor and serious BITE. And it tasted incredible in my little ode-to-Spring omelet with sauteed garlic, onion, cauliflower, raisins and shredded sharp white cheddar. For the side salad, I sliced up some radishes and red cabbage and tossed them in a simple lemon-olive oil vinaigrette (because balsamic would’ve been too much).

Happy Spring!

Swiss Chard, Raisin and White Cheddar Frittata with Radish and Red Cabbage Salad

A Little Baker SF recipe

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Frittata

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

2 leaves Swiss chard, washed, trimmed and sliced thinly

1/2 cup cauliflower florets, broken into bite-size pieces

olive oil

1 tbsp raisins

salt and pepper, to taste

1 egg, plus a generous splash of non-fat milk, whisked

1 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

Salad

3 radishes, washed, trimmed and sliced thinly

1/2 cup red cabbage, washed, trimmed and sliced thinly

juice of 1/4 lemon

1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

a pinch of evaporated cane sugar (or whatever sugar you have)

salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. In  a small, non-stick pan on medium-low heat, saute the swiss chard, garlic, onion and cauliflower in a little olive oil (ca. 5 minutes). Once the vegetables have softened a bit, add in the raisins, salt and pepper. Stir and allow to brown slightly.
  2. Reduce the heat to low. Pour in the whisked egg-milk mixture and evenly distribute it in the pan. Cover and allow to cook/steam for 3-5 minutes (or until the egg is half-set).
  3. While the frittata is cooking, prepare the salad: In a small salad bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Toss in the sliced radishes and shredded red cabbage. Mix and set aside.
  4. Check on the frittata: If the egg is half-set, remove the cover, sprinkle the shredded cheddar over the top. Cover again and cook until the egg is set and the cheese is melted (ca. 3 minutes).
  5. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice over the top. Serve.


Honey Mustard Red Cabbage Salad with Sauteed Chicken, Eggplant and Zucchini

I’ve been eating a lot of red cabbage and cilantro these past few weeks. For two reasons: they’re totally budget-friendly (1 head of cabbage and 1 bunch of cilantro lasts me an entire week) as well as figure-friendly, or at least that’s what my mom and sister say. They both swear they’ve lost inches off their waistlines just by replacing lettuce with cabbage. Save money AND lose weight? Sounds good to me.

This salad was so awesome. Super crunchy from the red cabbage, kicky from the cilantro and sweet from the dressing. I made the dressing with non-fat greek-style yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and I sauteed the chicken thigh, eggplant and zucchini in only a drizzle of olive oil. So fat content is pretty minimal as well. You can of course play around with ingredient combination. I use canned tuna a lot or go completely vegetarian and use sweet potato instead.

Try this. It’s AMAZING.

Honey Mustard Red Cabbage Salad with Sauteed Chicken, Eggplant and Zucchini

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

Salad

1 chicken thigh, trimmed and patted dry with a paper towel

1/4 cup zucchini, sliced

1 round slice of eggplant, halved

a drizzle of olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped

1 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 large tbsp non-fat greek-style yogurt

juice of 1/2 small lemon

1 tsp mustard (any style)

1 tsp sugar or honey

salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Put the sliced zucchini and eggplant in an unzipped Ziploc bag and microwave for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a pre-heated non-stick skillet, fry the chicken thigh in a little olive oil, ca. 2 min. Do not move or flip during this time. Grind salt and pepper over the top.
  3. Then, flip the chicken and push to the side. Put in the zucchini and eggplant. Grind a little salt and pepper over the vegetables and other side of the chicken. Fry for about 2 minutes, moving the vegetables around to ensure even browning.
  4. Turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes while you prepare the salad and dressing.
  5. In a medium-sized salad bowl, combine and mix together all dressing ingredients. Add the chopped onion, cabbage, cilantro and crumbled blue cheese and toss to coat.
  6. Slice the chicken at an angle. Put the salad on a large salad plate, topping with the sauteed veggies and sliced chicken. Grind a little more salt and pepper over top.

Delicious Peru

I’m back.

Ten glorious days of stuffing my face with as many Peruvian culinary delights as possible—now that is my idea of vacation. My body is a little mad at me (and was really pissed on the flight back home) for being such a glutton, but I don’t care. It was worth it.

I’ve posted pics of my favorite food memories. (Photo-quality was not my main priority when I took these—obviously.)

Papa a la Huancaina (Potatoes with Aji Amarillo Cheese Sauce)

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Pollo Relleno

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Ceviche Mixto

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Arroz con Mariscos

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Ceviche de Pejarreyes

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Tamal Verde

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Chicharronnes

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Choncholi y Rachi Rachi

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Lomo Saltado

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Pachamanca

(I realize that this post is REALLY LONG because of the photos, but I couldn’t get the pictures to appear next to each other. (Does anyone know how to do this???)