Cooking Away to Bolivia with a Friend

Many things in life are better with friends; cooking is no exception. My friend Jessie is half Bolivian, and as soon as I launched my blog, she told me she wanted to cook some Bolivian recipes with me. She had great memories of making food with her aunties.

Jessie cooking and looking cute with her baby bump (she's only going to look like this a few more days!!)
Jessie cooking and looking cute with her baby bump (she’s only going to look like this a few more days!!)

Jessie gave me a host of recipes to choose from, so I asked her what she thought of most when she thought of Bolivian food. Ultimately, we settled on salteñas (Bolivian empanadas) and peanut soup.

Hard boiled eggs, quartered for the salteñas.
Hard boiled eggs, quartered for the salteñas.

Jessie told me one of the challenges with cooking Bolivian food would be finding an actual written recipe for me to use on the blog. In fact, we cooked the salteñas only partially referring to a recipe, and the peanut soup from Jessie’s memory. As a result, the peanut soup recipe is very much an approximation of what we made.

Jessie shows off colorful carrots for the dishes.
Jessie shows off colorful carrots for the dishes.

We got to work, chopping veggies and prepping the ingredients. First, the salteñas. The key to preparing for the salteñas, Jessie says, is to make sure to chop everything that is going into them into small chunks.

Jessie shows off the tasty insides of the salteñas, a veggie, potato, and meat mixture.
Jessie shows off the tasty insides of the salteñas, a veggie, potato, and meat mixture.

Because they require stuffing into a pastry filling, salteñas take a little bit of time to prepare. I set to work rolling out the dough while Jessie folded the filling into a neat little packet.

Jessie assembling the salteñas.
Jessie assembling the salteñas.

Each packet contained veggies, potatoes, and meat along with a quarter of a hard boiled egg. The recipe states not to use ground beef, but Jessie said ground beef was just fine (and saved us a bit of time in chopping).

Golden crispy goodness
Golden crispy goodness

We opted to cook the salteñas in the oven rather than frying, as I don’t currently have a fryer. The salteñas are generally served with a variety of sauces. Jessie made a tomato mixture that was similar to salsa to pour on each bite.

Delicious
Delicious

For the peanut soup, Jessie and I removed the skins from unsalted peanuts before grinding them in a blender. Removing the skins was a little tedious, and Jessie said when she was a kid, it’s the job she and her brother usually had to do.

Jessie pours the ground peanuts into the simmering chicken broth.
Jessie pours the ground peanuts into the simmering chicken broth.

The soup simmered, filling the kitchen with peanut-y sweet smells. The result was a feel-good pairing of a silky smooth soup with meaty salteñas.

The finished product
The finished product

I am so glad that Jessie shared just a little of her cooking memories with me.The salteñas can be found here, and the peanut soup here. Try these recipes and travel with Jessie and me to Bolivia for an evening. You will not be disappointed.

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