Friday, January 18, 2013

A es de Aji

Our last A activity of the week was also a tiny lesson for Chiquita about her Peruvian heritage.
Her Papapa (Grandpa) would never dream of having a meal without a little side of aji - a hot South American pepper.  There's all kinds, aji amarillo, aji rocoto and aji panca, but my favorite is aji amarillo in aji de gallina and salsa a la huacachina.  Yum, yum!!

We pulled out all the aji paste out of our fridge and looked at them.  No culinary experiences since Chiquita is currently being a ridiculously picky eater.  We talked about Papapa and how the aji was from Peru just like him.

I drew the outlines of two ajis on a page with the letter A and the word Aji.  I tried to start this activity in the morning and Chiquita was not getting into it, we'd just finished looking at the aji paste and she was already done and did not want to paint.  So... we picked up in the afternoon!

Chiquita helped me mixed some amarillo (yellow) and anaranjado (orange), both of which I pointed out also start with A to make the right color orange. 

See all the other Spanish/English alphabet crafts we've done!  

Speaking of aji, my favorite Peruvian recipe, Papa a la Huancaina, is made with aji.  My husband taught me to make a super easy, non-authentic version of the Huancaina sauce in the blender.  Here's our recipe:

1 box cream cheese (queso fresco is more traditional and available at many stores, but we always use cream cheese)
2-3 cups of milk (to consistency)
2-5 Tbsp of aji paste (depending on how hot you want it)
1 row of saltine crackers (usually a box comes with 4 packages, so one package)
several dashes of garlic powder 
1 hard boiled egg
1/4 of cooked potato

Add the cream cheese, aji and some milk to the blender, as blending slowly add the saltines.  Add more milk as needed to keep the blender going.  Stop to taste, adding more paste or garlic if needed.   You want the sauce slightly runny before adding the hard boiled egg and the potato as they will stiffen up the sauce, ideally it should pour but not be runny.   Traditionally it's served cold on a bed of lettuce over cooked potatoes with a kalamata olive and possible a sliced hard boiled egg.  I love it on meat, corn on the cob, with carrot or other vegetables, tortilla chips, basically everything!!

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