Les Marmitons

Les Marmitons is a gastronomic and social club of gentlemen who share a common interest in fine food, wine and the culinary arts, with the first North American Chapter established in Montreal, Canada in 1977. The New Jersey chapter is the oldest in the US and meets monthly, with members preparing and enjoying a gourmet dinner using a menu and recipes provided by a guest chef.

I was invited to join Les Marmitons for an event recently and was excited to introduce them the cuisine of Peru. I gave them the menu and recipes in advance, which they would then cook themselves during the evening under my guidance. 14 Les Marmitons members attended, dividing into groups to cook and plate each course. I was there to talk about Peruvian cuisine, supervise and help them with anything they might need, adding final touches and seasoning the Peruvian way

I designed a 4-course menu of classic Peruvian dishes for this dinner and, naturally, we had to start off Peru’s national drink as an aperitif, the Pisco Sour, made with pisco, a grape brandy. The chefs divided into four groups and one group was in charge of the Pisco Sour and the appetizer, Tilapia Ceviche. Ceviche entails several steps – cooking the sweet potatoes and corn for the garnish, juicing the limes, and cutting the fish and the onions – but they were up to the task and finished in plenty of time for dinner. The second group was in charge of the Amuse Bouche, Choritos a la Chalaca, steamed mussels topped with tomato, onions, cilantro and corn salsa marinated in lime juice. Then came the entrée, Aji de Gallina con Camarones, the Peruvian version of chicken fricassee but with a spicy kick from the yellow dried aji paste. The dish is shredded chicken, aji, shrimp, chicken stock and panada, a creamy paste made out of bread and milk, used as a binding agent and a legacy of Italians who immigrated to Peru. The last  group had dessert, which was one of the classiest and oldest desserts from Lima, Mazamorra Morada, a porridge like dessert made out of purple corn, fresh fruit and thickened with sweet potato flour.

The evening was delicious and fun – every dish tasted great and they absolutely loved the food.

Here is the menu I created:

Pisco Sour

Amuse Bouche
Choritos a la Chalaca

mussels with tomato and corn salsa

Fish Ceviche

fresh tilapia, onions and limes over lettuce with sweet potato and corn

Aji de Gallina con Camarones

chicken and shrimp in a spicy sauce with rice

Mazamorra Morada

purple corn pudding

Sam Fine Shoe Launch Party

I recently catered the launch party for celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine’s new shoe line, “Sam Fine by Cavage,” at DEX Studios NYC. They gave me the option to choose my own menu and I was thrilled to serve Peruvian flavors to the guests, including models and celebrities, and they absolutely loved it!

I decided to keep things on the lighter side, especially since there were models coming. Here’s what I served:

Mini Potato Causitas with Lump Crab Meat and Blue Olive Aioli – mashed potato seasoned with yellow aji pepper and lime, mixed with lump crab meat and topped with blue olive aioli made with botija olives blended with olive oil and garlic.

Mini Black Organic Quinoa Cakes with tomato avocado salsa – I used black quinoa, which is new to the U.S. market and also organic. The cakes were lightly fried and topped with a marinated lime tomato avocado salsa.

Peruvian Corn and White Cheese Skewers with Huancaina sauce – this is a classic hors d’oeuvres from Peru. They are very easy to make and assemble: skewer three corn kernels and top with a square cut piece of cheese (Feta works well). The Huancaina sauce is a creamy blend of cheese and aji amarillo, mixed with milk, garlic and sometimes crackers. It generally tops cooked potatoes, but you can eat it with anything. My favorite is French baguette.

Mini Sliced Beef Filets with Huacatay sauce (black mint) on garlic crostini – the seared beef filet crostini were topped with a black mint sauce that is easily made in a blender with Huacatay, olive oil and garlic. (Huacatay can be found frozen at any ethnic store)

Herb Crusted Chicken Skewers with Rocoto Aioli – Rocoto is one of the hottest aji peppers in Peru, but they are delicious. To take some of the heat off, I soak them overnight in water. Drain them and blend with a mayonnaise of olive oil and garlic.

Culintro “Flavors of South America”

Potato Causitas

Recently I was honored to be part of Culintro’s “Flavors of South America” event at the beautiful Bulthaup showroom in Soho. Culintro is a culinary trade organization and they have a monthly cocktail series where their members can network over drinks and hors d’ oeuvres, as well as other programs.

Three other chefs and I made dishes representing different South American countries from Peru (of course!) to Brazil to Venezuela. I made a Peruvian classic: potato causitas with shrimp, avocado and pickled onion. I also made my alfajores cookies that everyone seems to love. Look for recipes soon!

© Copyright 2010 Marita Peruvian Cooking