What on earth is an huminta, you ask? It’s easier to show than explain…
First, you separate the corn from the husk – cutting off the bottom of the cob so that the leaves peel off intact.
Then you cut the corn off the cob, grind it, and add cinnamon, sugar, salt, oil, and anise seed
Then you overlap two leaves and add a small slice of cheese. Once you’ve folded the leaves over and tied the little bundle shut, all that’s left is cooking the humintas.
To prepare the pan, place some of the used cobs in the bottom of the pan and lay extra leaves on top of them (to prevent the bottom humintas from burning on the bottom of the pot). Place the tied humintas on top of the leaves, stacking them on top of each other. When all of the humintas are in the pan, place a layer of leaves on top of them. Add boiling water so the pan is about 1/3 full, cover, and let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
The jovenes (college students) at our church decided we needed to learn how to make humintas and so last Monday they all came over. We didn’t realize the process would take so long… though it only took an hour or so to get the humintas in the pan, it took a lot longer to cook them! But since Monday was a holiday, we enjoyed the time together.
Of course, we didn’t just make humintas. Lots of Dutch Blitz was played, a movie was watched, and Caleb was loved on.
Just in case you want to try your hand at humintas, here are the proportions we used:
25 ears of corn (makes about 4-5 quarts of ground corn)
1/2 – 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp anise seed
1 Tbsp salt (or to taste)
2 Tbsp oil
A few weeks ago some of the gals on the team made cheese empanadas with Celia, a dear grandmother who has adopted us as her own. She has a slightly different recipe than the one I’ve posted before, so I thought I’d share! These empanadas aren’t quite as biscuit-like as the other recipe, but other than that they’re about the same.
Empanadas de Queso (Cheese Empanadas)
Makes about 50 empanadas
- 8 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 4 Tbsp baking powder
(Baking powder should be decreased to 3 Tbsp if you are baking at high altitude)
- 3/4 cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 2-3 cups milk
- shredded cheese, 3-4 cups
Any cheese that melts well should work, use what you prefer. Note that the amount of cheese is a guess, we didn’t measure what we used.
Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add eggs and oil. Begin mixing, incorporating the flour mixture into the liquid little by little. When the egg/oil mixture is mixed in, add milk little by little until the dough is soft and moist. It may feel a little sticky, but shouldn’t be too sticky.
Separate dough into balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter, you should have about 50 of them. Roll each ball into an oval and place cheese on one end of the oval. Fold the other side of the dough over to make a semi-circle. Using your palm, press down on the empanada to get rid of any air pockets inside.
Press the edges of the empanadas together with your fingers and use the tines of a fork to make little lines all the way around and keep the dough together, as shown in the picture:
Bake ~20 minutes in a hot oven (I don’t have a temperature, but assume 350F will work well) until empanadas are golden brown.
My Challenge to You!
In Bolivia, empanadas are not finished with a fork they way I have shown in my recipes. The reason why I give an alternative method is because I have found it rather difficult to get the pretty finished edge just by pinching and turning the dough. But, I thought I would share how to do it and see if anybody can figure it out!
- Holding the empanada in your left hand (for all of you right handed people) with the flat side away from you, pinch the edge of the upper right corner between your thumb and forefinger.
- Twist/fold the dough over the top of the empanada.
- Pinch the bottom half of the fold you just made and the next little bit of un-pinched dough together.
- Twist/fold the dough over the top.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have gone all the way around the empanada. To finish it, fold the last little bit of dough underneath.
I hope my directions are clear… unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the process. I think the process is trickier than it looks, since those who have taught me how to do it learned when they were 8 years old and can do it like it’s the easiest thing in the world. I’m just happy when my empanadas look like I have a clue of what I’m doing!
Silpancho has become one of my favorite Bolivian meals and is quite common in Cochabamba. It consists of five layers: rice, french fries, meat, a fried egg, and a salad. But don’t let all those layers scare you – Silpancho is an easy meal to make, especially if you already have boiled potatoes or cooked rice in the fridge.
Some recipes use thin slices of beef, but this one uses hamburger. I learned this recipe from my friend, Nelvia.
Silpancho (serves 6-8)
cooked rice (for 6-8 people)
potatoes, 6-8 small to medium sized
1 pound hamburger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
pinch of pepper, if desired
1 medium carrot
2 medium tomatoes
1 red onion
- Prepare rice for 6-8 people if you don’t already have cooked rice. (About 1 1/2 cups uncooked)
- Peel the carrot and cut it in 3 or 4 pieces; halve the potatoes. Boil potatoes and carrot until tender. Drain and let cool.
- The salad can be made at any time in the process: dice the tomatoes, onion, and cooked carrot. Mix together and add salt, red wine vinegar, and oil to taste.
- Mix hamburger, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, and egg together. Add enough breadcrumbs so mixture is not runny.
- Separate hamburger mixture into 6-8 balls. Lightly coat each ball with breadcrumbs. Using a rolling pin, roll into a flat circle between two pieces of wax paper (or a shopping bag that has a slit in one side). Meat patties should be about 1/4 inch thick. Stack them on a plate with plastic or wax paper between them.
- Fry the meat patties in oil in a hot skillet. Peel and cut the potatoes crosswise so they are disks 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and fry in oil. (I often place them around the outside of the pan so they cook while I fry the meat.) Note: Each meat patty will cook quickly because they are so thin.
- After the meat and potatoes are cooked, fry an egg for each person.
- Assemble the meal: Layer rice, then potatoes, meat, fried egg, and finally, salad, on a plate for each person.
One thing that surprised me when we arrived, was that juice and other beverages are made from scratch a lot in Bolivia. One drink we’ve enjoyed is refresco de canela, a cinnamon tea-like beverage. It’s really easy to make and we wanted to share the recipe with you!
Water, 5 quarts or so
Cinnamon sticks, 1-2 sticks about 3 inches long, separated into pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
Boil cinnamon sticks in water for about 20 minutes. Let cool, leaving cinnamon sticks in the water during this time. When cool, strain liquid to remove cinnamon pieces.
To serve, mix 3 quarts of the cinnamon liquid to 1 quart water and add about 1 cup sugar. We like to drink it room temperature, it’s good chilled as well.
(Mix the remaining 2 quarts cinnamon liquid with about 1/2 to 3/4 of a quart of water and add about 1/2 cup sugar. Exact proportions aren’t necessary – just mix it so it tastes good!)
Here’s a picture showing the amount of cinnamon that I usually use to give you a better idea.