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May 10, 2007 09:08 AM

ISO authentic south & central american potluck recipes for teens

I teach Spanish and each year we have a fair where all the students bring in food. I am really trying to keep it authentic and have them try new things. I'm told them no burritos, and no salsa and chips.

So I'm looking for easy-enough recipes that young teens can make (with parents and friends) and bring to our event. I have some great ones: gallo pinto, guatemalan banana bread, arroz con pollo, polvorones, alfahores, and quite a bit more. I'm avoiding flan, soups, and seafood.

But I get overwhelmed with internet searches. I'm looking for non-alchoholic stuff that can sit out on a table for several hours. I live in New England. We can easily get plantains, jicama, yucca, and some chiles. But I want to avoid the dried chiles for the kids. Some stores have tomatillos.

Please let me know if you have anything and what country it comes from.



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    1. I'm not sure if Mexico counts as Central America, but how about some mole or tamales?

      Try these Rellenitos de Platano from Guatemala

      5-6 ripe plantains, peeled and cut into 2-3" pieces
      1 can refried beans
      2 tbsp sugar
      salt to taste
      oil for frying

      Gently boil plantains in covered pot until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and mash. Salt to taste.

      In a separate pot, heat refried black beans. Stir in sugar and salt to taste.

      Take about 1/3 cup mashed plantain and flatten into a disk about 3" in diameter. Place a spoonful of black bean mixture into the center of the disk, then fold the sides up and gather them a the top, making it into an elongated oval/egg shape.

      Heat oil in a deep pan to 350-375 degrees F. Fry until golden brown on the outside. Serve warm or at room temperature.

      1. Take a look at "Daisy Cooks', by Daisy Martinez, with PBS cooking show and web site. Her roots are in Puerto Rico and New York, but her recipes cover all of Latin America (and Spain). Lots of personal comments in the book, including items that her kids like.


        1. I am a high school Spanish teacher too, and we just had our similar "fiestas" last week. I only have 2 food days a year. 1st semester is Mexican, really just so they can get it out of their systems. Their Mexican food ranges from terrible to just edible, and I tell them they will never, ever have that type of Mexican food in my class again. If they have me for AP Spanish 3 years later, we will eat authentic regional specialties. But "enchiladas" with sour cream, chips and salsa and the ever-popular 7-layer bean dip? No way. Also no flan, arroz con leche, or pastel de tres leches this time around, partly because these are already familiar flavors, but mostly because the mexicano or chicano students always cop out and bring these (they need to try new things too!)
          2nd semester is food from any Spanish-speaking country EXCEPT Mexico. I have collected recipes for years, but just last week I threw them almost all away and designed a new self-search recipe guide instead. I grew tired of copies getting mixed up, torn, and lost.
          Here are the dishes that have been popular year after year:
          Empanadas of any kind, but especially de manzana and other sweet fillings (meat fillings are popular as long as you remind them to omit raisins or olives that may be called for)
          Jocón: chicken in green sauce from Guatemala (easy and delicous; all the students love it once they get past the "ew, it's green!" reaction)
          Cocada and other fresh-coconut custards or candies
          Dulce de leche: I tell them how to make it with a can of condensed milk, and they either use it as a dip for apple slices, cake, or bread chunks, or as a filling for pastries "search for "brazo gitano" for a popular rolled cake)
          Tortilla española
          Arroz con pollo (Tell them to leave out olives or capers, if called for, and to NOT use bone-in chicken as recipes will call for -- no one will eat it in front of their friends)
          Champurradas: simple Guatemalan cookies that taste rather like Bisquick dough (I love them)
          I had a recipe for some filled cookies called Bombitas, but I tossed that one
          Tostones or other forms of fried plantains: Never popular in taste, but someone usually brings them
          Pepián, hilachas, and other simple Central American stews
          flan de queso (apparently popular in the Carribean)
          Arepas and dobladas are good if they are brought hot, but they seem to toughen when left out
          Crepas con cajeta
          Tamales, Central American style: these occasionally get made, even though I warm students they are rather bland compared to Mexican tamales

          Every year students have lots of fun working together on new recipes. I've even gotten 2 emails from parents saying how much they enjoyed the experience with their children.

          I did keep a small amount of recipes, which I would be happy to share. I could also email you an attachment of the recipe search guide that I made. Students have to have their recipes "okayed" by me. I check for authenticity and make sure that not too many people are bringing the same dish (often a problem with dulce de leche).

          1 Reply
          1. re: maestra

            Thank you everyone so far. I was suprised about the Daisy Martinez show. I've never heard of her! I thought I knew it all (hee hee).

            Maestra, my email address is in my profile. Perhaps we can share. I have a school teacherweb site with lots of links to specific recipes that I've already okay'd for them. I'd be glad to share it if you are interested. We can have a sort of recipe swap!

            I think something like tamales might be too much to ask. Banana leaves are rare around here (don't quite know why). The corn husks are okay to get, but I, having never made tamales myself, was under the impression that they were difficult and time consuming. I have a really fussy community and parents would complain, even if they agreed to make it at their own free will.


          2. How about platanos fritos? Very ripe plantains friend in oil with a tad of cinnamond on top? Very easy to make! If you like, you can sprinkle some fresh cream (not sour cream) on top. Nicaragua