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Route to memory's flavours

Passport & Plate - Cachapas with grilled pumpkin & walnut pesto

Venezuela | Saturday, March 7, 2015 | 5 photos

For the Cachapas:
- 3 cups of grated sweet corn (taking most of the liquid and keeping the pulp)
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt

For the filling & side:
- 1/4 kg of grated or sliced mature goat cheese
- 200 gr of sweet pumpkin
- 1 bunch of sweet basil
- 1 cup of whole walnuts
- 3 tablespoons of greek yogurt.
- 3 San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 big avocado
- Salt & pepper
- Olive oil
- Frying oil (no more than half a cup)


How to prepare this recipe
Preheat the oven.
In a bowl, mix all the Cachapa ingredients to get a thick liquid mix. Reserve
Peel and cut the pumpkin in slices making sure they are similar, so they cook uniformly. Place them on a baking tray with some olive oil and salt. Cook them in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they're firm but soft.

In the mixer, place the walnuts and the basil's leaves with the yogurt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix and add salt to taste.
Dice the tomatoes and the avocado and season it with olive oil and sea salt. Reserve in the fridge.
On a hot pan, place the Cachapa mix and make them custom size, as you were making pancakes. Make sure you have a good and wide spatula to turn them over, you have to be fast and clean otherwise they could break.

Once the Cachapas are ready, place the cheese in the middle and fold or stack them so the cheese melts. You can add the pumpkin and the pesto inside or on top of the folded Cachapa. Same with the side salad. It's up to you and the context that you are eating it. Remember this is a street food, so you should be able to eat it without knife and fork if you want to, of course.



The story behind this recipe
I fell in love with Cachapas when I was working as a cook in a Venezuelan restaurant in Australia. They reminded me home because of the creamy sweet taste of the corn, very similar to many Chilean summer preparations (We only get fresh corn at that time of the year).
After that, I started the biggest of my adventures (until today). With 4 friends, we travelled for 8 months by land shooting a documentary about local food, discovering the culture and the people behind South American kitchens. This trip ended up taking me to 11 countries and countless new and old recipes and flavours.
I met and tasted many different Tamales, Pamonhas and Humitas, but my heart still missed my beloved Cachapas.
When I arrived in Venezuela, it was pretty much all I ate. There were in every corner, shining gold, beautifully filled with sometimes even half a kilo of Telita cheese.
When I came back home, I had its texture, smell and flavour tattooed. I used to make them at the restaurant in Australia, but the recipe was completely forgotten.
I started experimenting to get the perfect recipe according to my taste buds and I made it.
But the filling was concerning me since you can't get Telita cheese outside Venezuela (that was my favourite and street-classic filling). I know that there're many traditional fillings for it, but I wanted to create something with local Chilean summer ingredients, kind of a vegetarian mix between Humitas, Pastel de Choclo and Cachapas.
And here's the result. In my memory, the flavour of basil and corn together is traditionally the taste of summer. So I made some pesto taking the garlic out, to soften its flavour.
For the filling, I replaced the Telita cheese with some matured local goat cheese along with grilled sweet pumpkin.
I served it with a side salad of locally grown tomatoes and every Chilean's favourite: Avocado.

About gabrielaisabel

Happy me after eating a Cachapa

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