November 4th, 2019

Buffalo Sauce Recipe Twists

Posted in Recipes, Sauce

5 Flavor Additions to Enhance Buffalo Sauce

Buffalo Sauce on wings

Chicken wings, buffalo sauce, and football are one of those combinations that seems preordained for excellence. But here we are, in the middle of the season, and you’ve probably been slinging classic buffalo wings for weeks now. Customers are restless, and heck, maybe you’re ready to try something new as well.

The problem is you’ve got a shelf full of delicious buffalo sauce and don’t really want to buy new product. So, what do you do?

We’ve got just the solution. With a few on hand ingredients you can whisk some creativity into your buffalo sauce and give your customers a new flavor to satisfy their appetite for wings.

5 Ways to Enhance Buffalo Sauce

Buffalo Sauce Wings

Brown Sugar Buffalo Sauce

What better way to balance out the buttery heat of buffalo sauce than with a bit of dark brown sugar? This easy addition creates and clingy glaze for your wings that balances the heat with sweet notes of caramel and molasses. This is a sure-fire way to inject some craveability into your menu.

Zesty Thai Buffalo Wings

If you think about it, red chilies and Thai food are a natural match. Therefore, it makes sense to give your buffalo sauce a Thai twist.

By adding a bit of coconut cream, ginger, and lime juice then finishing with some chopped cilantro or mint you can easily elevate your wings into a whole new world of bold flavor. Consider other items you may also have on hand like red curry paste or fresh basil for additional variations.

Asian Style Buffalo Wings

Here’s another twist for your buffalo wings: Go Asian style. By adding some sesame oil, ginger, honey, and orange juice you can flip that sauce into a citrus loaded flavor bomb. This variation finishes great with some toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onion. Try adding some miso paste if you have it for a rich umami addition.

Asian Chicken Wings

Buffalo Ranch Wings

Have you ever wanted your buffalo wings to just taste like Ranch dressing without dipping? You’re not the only one. And you can bet your customers would be keen to try that out as well.

This is as easy as adding some dry Ranch dressing mix to your buffalo sauce. If you want to customize your own flavor, focus on adding parsley, dill, garlic, and black pepper to your sauce then finish with fresh chives. For a real boost hit it with some creamy buttermilk powder.

Bacon Buffalo Sauce

It really wouldn’t be a list if we didn’t include bacon, right?

There are a few ways to incorporate bacon into your buffalo sauce, but here’s my recommendation. Roast the bacon in a hot oven on a rack lined cooking tray until it’s really, REALLY crispy (but don’t burn it). Reserve the fat in the pan, dab the grease off the bacon strips, and let them cool. Next, blend the bacon in a food processor until it’s a fine powder. Add the bacon powder and some of the reserved bacon fat to your buffalo sauce and voila! Bacon Buffalo sauce!

You can even use this as a base for other flavor variations like spicy bacon maple or cracked black pepper bacon. Endless possibilities!

Buffalo Sauce Recipe

Now Go Create!

We’ve given you the ideas, now it’s up to you to create your new buffalo sauce. Play with what you have on hand, you’d be surprised what you can come up with. Check out this blog for other hot sauce ideas.


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November 13th, 2017

Thanksgiving Recipes

Posted in Educational, Food Trends, Recipes

Festive Thanksgiving Recipes

Nothing beats the holiday season, and what better way to celebrate turkey day then with some fun, delicious new Thanksgiving recipes!

Thanksgiving is a favorite for most chefs and foodies. It’s a whole day dedicated to feasts and gratitude. How can you beat that? So whether you’re cooking for the entire extended family, or just a small group of friends, check out these ideas to update your traditional menu.

Thanksgiving Food

Photo courtesy of

Balsamic Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

Check out this awesome twist on a classic Thanksgiving vegetable side. The cranberries and balsamic offer and perfect sweet and sour flavor to balance out the roasted bitter notes of the sprouts. See the recipe here.






Thanksgiving Recipes

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Squash Soup with Chile Puree

Here’s an exciting Southwestern flip on a classic fall soup. The chile puree offers an inner warmth to the squash soup that can’t be beat. Even the skeptics will find themselves surprised by this new flavor. See the recipe here.






Thanksgiving food

Photo courtesy of

Peking Style Roasted Turkey

Looking for an Asian flare on your traditional roasted turkey? Look no further.  Roasted in the Peking style, this turkey combines that flavors of soy, molasses, orange, and ginger to make an enticingly unique bird. See the recipe here.






Thanksgiving desserts

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Ancho Chile Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving isn’t complete without at least 1 pumpkin pie. And this one’s a zinger! Ancho-chiles (I’d recommend a puree over dried powder for more flavor) are added to the mix for a smoky, somewhat fruity pepper taste. See the recipe here.






I hope these recipes help inspire you to twist up your Thanksgiving menu this year. From all of us at Dish-Bliss and Paradise Tomato Kitchens, happy Thanksgiving!

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October 31st, 2017

Spooky Halloween Recipes

Posted in Educational, Recipes

I Scream, You Scream, for Halloween!

Happy Halloween Dish-Bliss readers! It’s that time of year for witches and goblins and vampires (oh my!). Here at DB and PTK we’re ready to dance the night away with Winifred Sanderson and The Pumpkin King.

But all that excitement is bound to stir up your appetite for more than just brains. We’re here to help you avoid the sugar coma induced by gorging on candy with three fun Halloween recipes. These are bound to please a whole murder of crows, or just a couple spooks resting their bones at home for the night.

Halloween Food

Photo Courtesy of

Pizza Skulls

Check out these easy to make stuffed pizza skulls for a delicious handheld meal fit to quench that cannibal craving for meat! See the recipe here.






Halloween Treats

Photo courtesy of

Spider Dipper

Look out for fangs on this eight-legged freak. Instead, tear off a leg for a savory snack that’ll satisfy your lust for carnage, and bread sticks! See the recipe here.






Halloween Recipes

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Meatball Pumpkins

All the festivities without the fright. These meatball pumpkins are the perfect Halloween food for all the monsters in your life. See the recipe here.






From all of us here at Dish-Bliss and Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Happy Halloween everyone!!!

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July 24th, 2017

Mole 101

Posted in Recipes, Trends

Mole Andale!

Red Mole

Anyone familiar with traditional Mexican cuisine is by extension familiar with mole; a rich, incredibly complex, savory chile and chocolate sauce.

With hundreds of published mole variations, and thousands more living in the heads of Abuelas world wide, saying you’ve tried them all is like saying you’ve counted all the fish in the sea… highly unlikely. However, I’d certainly be up for that challenge.

Mexican mole

With all these variations, though, the base ingredients remain similar: Chiles, nuts, bread, and chocolate. It’s not unheard of for a mole to carry up to 30 ingredients and require a slow cooking process over the course of many days.

The ingredients are prepared in various ways (grilled, toasted, burnt, etc.), milled together, and stewed to release a deep, complex flavor. Rich in herbs and spices, moles pair wonderfully with anything from starchy vegetables, bananas, and grains, to chicken, beef, and delicate seafood. Chocolate mole

The word mole stems from the Nahuatl word “milli,” meaning sauce or concoction. Therefore, saying “mole sauce” is the literary equivalent of saying “table mesa,” or “free gift.” It’s redundant, so don’t. Unless of course it’s a proper noun, then do as you must.

The origins of mole are argued, but generally split between the legend of the panicked nuns or Cortez’s Aztec banquet. Having no skin in the game, I’ll let you pick which makes more sense.

For a library of excellent mole recipes, I suggest checking in with Rick Bayless or Zarela Martinez. They offer some amazing moles of both the quick(ish) and methodical varieties.

Now go eat some mole!


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February 13th, 2017

Good Eggs: More Than A Name

Posted in Consumer Trends, food tours, Food Trends, Grocery, Locally Grown, Organic, Recipes, Retail, Trends

Research Chefs

Good Eggs: More Than A Name

Founded in the summer of 2011, Good Eggs is an online market that delivers local, organic, sustainable foods and groceries to the San Francisco Bay area. With same day and next day delivery options, Good Eggs aims to connect people who love food directly with the people who make it.

One mission of Good Eggs, as my guide Angelica described during my site tour, is “to grow and sustain local food systems worldwide in order to change the supply chain from the ground up, making it better for everyone.” This noble and ambitious mission shines throughout the operation.

Chef Consultants

Unlike its online competitors (think Instacart, Amazon Fresh), Good Eggs receives their products straight from farmers and suppliers, rather than tapping into an existing market chain. They have established direct relationships with their producers and in turn have created a very efficient, mutually beneficial system of operation.

This direct relationship between producers and customers also puts Good Eggs in a unique position to see culinary trends develop in real-time. Angelica noted the popularity of local foods, especially produce, Korean ribs, ramen, the return of pasta, and bone broths in 2016 and sees no slowing down going into 2017.

Additionally, they’ve seen a push for easy weeknight meal solutions for busy families, especially those with young children. Dinners that can be prepared relatively quickly and without much fuss that still maintain healthful, natural, and craveable qualities are ideal. You can even get inspiration from unique, easy to follow chef developed recipes that are found on their website.

Restaurant Consultants

Good Eggs is working hard to drive away the misconception that natural markets are only within reach of those of a higher socioeconomic class by offering competitively priced groceries and a spectrum of comparable products. They’re also aiming to ensure that EBT and WIC benefits will eventually be allowed for use in their market.

In asking what one thing Angelica wished shoppers recognized about Good Eggs, she replied “We want customers to understand that Good Eggs is the simplest way to get groceries every week. That we’re priced the same as major markets, but we source directly so it’s as fresh as if you were getting them from a farmer’s market.”

Seem too good to be true? You be the judge.

Corporate chefs

If you’re in the San Francisco area give Good Eggs a try to see for yourself if they stack up. I can tell you first hand that after visiting their facility, I’m impressed not only with their food, but with their people. They truly believe in what they do and are determined to change the world.

Plus, where else are you going to find a whole pig’s head?

I can’t wait to see what they do next…

Culinary Consultants



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January 20th, 2016

Austin Restaurant of the Month: Dai Due

Posted in About Allison, Celebrity Chefs, New Foods and Flavors, Recipes, Restaurants, Trends

DaiDue (800x600)


Another Austin restaurant found its way onto the Bon Appetit best new restaurants for 2015. Dai Due, the labor of love for chef Jesse Griffiths, is equal parts farm-to-table and upscale butchery with an innovative cocktail program thrown in for good measure. Placing at number 6 on the list, the restaurant started out as a farmer’s market stall, a small format culinary school offering classes in butchery and an underground supper club.

With its brick and mortar opening last August, Dai Due has continued to gain momentum and buzz with its interesting and forward-thinking dishes. Equal parts diner and supper club, the restaurant opens for breakfast and lunch, closing at 3pm for the supper club reset. We decided to sample some of the breakfast and lunch menu items for our foray into the Dai Due universe.




Since they are known for their seasonal focus we started with the Centex Mezze.  Featuring ‘house made feta, house-cured olives, sweet potato hummus, sprouted wheat and dried tomato tabouli, venison and kale dolmas, radish top pkhali, and house grilled flatbread’, this plate was a symphony of flavors. The sweet potato hummus was flavored with garlic and just a touch of tahini and cumin, then drizzled with olive oil. The house cured olives had a subtle briny garlic taste, and the flatbread was slightly smoky from the wood burning oven. Among the more surprising tastes were the sprouted wheat berry tabouli and the radish top pkhali. Pkhali is a Georgian dish composed of greens, nuts, spices such as fenugreek, and garlic olive oil that is pureed into a dip. It was one of my favorite flavors on the board.




Our next side trip came packaged in a house made chile drenched sesame bun. Covered with masa coated oysters, julienned watermelon radish, cilantro and chorizo Mexicano, this pambazo was a flavorful and well executed sandwich that was served with pickled jalapenos for those that like their sandwiches with a little more heat.



Known for their house charcuterie and smoked meats, we couldn’t leave without sampling some of their specialty meats. We decided on the hash because of the variety of meats as well as some more interesting vegetable additions, namely scarlet turnips and beet ketchup. While I loved the various house cured meats, I have to say that the local sweet potatoes were the star. Sweet and clean with just a hint of smoke, they were the epitome of the Dai Due philosophy: buy it fresh, buy it local and know your farmer.



What better way to finish a delicious meal than a spot of dessert? My dining partner has a terrible weakness for all things squash, so the sweet buttercup squash empanada with natilla was the obvious choice. I have to say that this dessert was something I might eat every day. They have mastered the crust, which was perfectly flaky and crisp. The filling was a delicately sweet squash with just a hint of warming spices. We ate this with our fingers, unabashedly dipping into the natilla custard. And someone at the table (not me) finished off the natilla with one generous swig.











I would say that our visit to Dai Due was a resounding success and the first of many visits to come.

August 31st, 2015

By Stove, I Think He’s Got It: IBM’s Watson in the Kitchen

Posted in About Allison, New Foods and Flavors, Recipes, Trends

IBM has been working on expanding the capabilities of its supercomputer, nicknamed Watson for some time now. One of the major innovation is the Cooking with Watson App that was released to the public last month. The app features the ability to input up to four ingredients and then Watson takes it from there. The app – IBM Chef Watson ( ) – was beta-tested by the Bon Appetit team, after their database of 10,000+ recipes were added to the Watson database.

One of the benefits of using Watson is that the supercomputer can analyze all recipes containing the requested ingredients (including quantities) and generate a brand new recipe based on its conclusions.

Perusing the created recipes shows a diverse range of flavors and food combinations. Once the recipe is generated, Watson makes any disclaimers up front about any ingredients it thinks will work well, but that it is unsure of the quantities. It asks for feedback on those parts of the recipe it is not sure are correct. For example, a tomato tart recipe notes that “Chef Watson is pretty sure that orange zest will taste good in this dish, but needs your help in figuring out the details”, hoping that the recipe crafter has insight that can help Watson make better procedural and flavor choices in the future.

IBM’s Watson is not only making inroads in recipe creation, it is also using its computing muscle to power Watson Explorer, an enterprise solution that allows a company to connect data points to make more informed decisions. By connecting the company’s internal data stores with the internet’s vast stores of data, the system allows companies to make informed decisions on a much reduced timeline.

But let’s get back to recipe creation! For this exercise, I perused my pantry and refrigerator for ingredients that I thought would be weird flavor combinations.

My first attempt uses tahini sauce, maple syrup, cucumber, and olives, and here is the outcome:



tahini 2










The recipe also notes the inspiration for the recipe as well, in this case Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeno Salsa. This recipe seems a little strange in its combination of ingredients (such as cranberry and horseradish), and the availability of ingredients (such as blood orange and cranberry) should be driven towards a seasonal subcategory. The app also has the ability to modify a recipe based on style of cuisine. For example, if I select the style “Africa”, the recipe changes significantly with the addition of vegetable broth, sparkling wine, and balsamic vinegar. I have to admit this confused me, since none of these ingredients are African in origin.

Other options allow you to search by dish name, and in many instances this returned no result, which is most likely due to the varied nature of the ingredients I selected.

In all fairness to Watson, I tried it again, but this time I chose blackberry, sage, crème fraiche, and mustard as my ingredients. Here is what Watson came up with:




What I found most interesting is that the recipe once generated allows you to change the dropdowns to explore alternative ingredients. For example, if you don’t have blackberries on hand, then you could substitute kaffir lime, lime, lemon, sweetened flake coconut, grapefruit, or red grapes.

Part of the R&D development process is often taking existing flavors and reimagining them into something new entirely and for this purpose this could be an easy way to play with flavor combinations. While this may seem feasible in the future, the robustness of the program only improves with more trials and the addition of a greater breadth of recipes.

At this time my overall impression is that this app will work well for the home cook and possibly in a professional restaurant setting where chefs are looking to branch out from current recipes. Where this technology would be beneficial to the R&D community would be its ability to interface within the parameters of the company’s needs. This would mean a robust interface that compiles the data within the company database and integrates it with internet based search parameters. This is the shape of future R&D development. Will you be ready when it happens?


December 20th, 2013

Texas BBQ

Posted in About Allison, food tours, New Foods and Flavors, Pork, Recipes, Restaurants, Trends

With all the talk about Franklin’s BBQ in the national news, Austin is quickly becoming the new BBQ capital of Texas. Sound a little premature? When Lockhart was declared the official Barbecue Capital of Texas during the 1999 House regular session, the little town of 12,000 seemed untouchable. And Lockhart is still famous from coast to coast for its BBQ, with visitors topping 250,000 per year. So it seems a little bold to proclaim Austin the New BBQ Capital, right?

Before we backup our assertion about Austin’s place in Texas BBQ, a little about the 4 distinct styles of Texas BBQ:

1 – East Texas BBQ: typical Southern BBQ (chopped meat, predominantly hickory smoke in a sweet tomato BBQ)

2 – Central Texas BBQ: “meat market style” (the meat is dry rubbed and cooked over pecan or oak, sauce is thinner and served on the side, served sliced on a tray with sides and condiments)

3 – West Texas BBQ: “Cowboy Style” with mesquite wood an direct fire

4 – South Texas BBQ: BBQ sauces made with molasses, barbacoa and cabrito

East and Central Texas styles represent the most widely known types of BBQ nationally, with West and South Texas enjoying more recognition at the regional level.

So is it even possible to knock Lockhart off the top of the chart? To understand just what the Austin BBQ scene is up against, let’s look at the 4 BBQ joints that made Lockhart famous:

Blacks Barbecue: opened in 1932, Blacks is the longest running Texas Barbecue restaurant to be owned by the same family. They offer lean and fatty brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, turkey and chicken. Their brisket is their number one claim to fame, and they are consistently on the “Texas Monthly Top 50 Texas BBQ” list. Look for the opening of Terry Black Barbecue here in Austin in early 2014. Mark and Mike Black will be bringing authentic pit smoked BBQ to Barton Springs Road. Oh yeah, and this was cause for a family dispute:

Kreuz Market: (pronounced “Krites” Market) opened in 1900 and changed hands in 1948, and then again in 1984. They have a ‘no sauce’ policy, as they feel it covers up the flavor of their meat. They serve fatty brisket, lean beef clod, beef ribs, and prime rib, sausage, turkey, pork chops, pork ribs, and pit hams. They sold their original location in Lockhart due to a family dispute, and moved to a different location outside of town. They are a current “Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ winner”.

Chisholm Trail Barbecue: a lesser-known and less established BBQ joint that opened in 1978. They have a cafeteria-style line and brisket, ribs, turkey, chicken, and sausage.

Smitty’s Market: Owned by one of the members of the same family that runs Kreuz Market, they took over the building that Kreuz had been in since 1900 They serve brisket, beef shoulder, pork chops, pork ribs, prime rib, and sausage. They were last in the “TMT 50 BBQ” list in 2008.

So let’s talk about Austin BBQ: it is making a gigantic splash on the National BBQ scene. The current grand champion of BBQ in Texas and the US, Aaron Franklin’s brisket is no joke. But when you look at the impressive list put out every 5 years by Texas Monthly (May 2013) you cannot help but notice: 5 of the Top 50 are right here in Austin. That is to say a full 10% of the list is devoted to the BBQ of Austin. Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio can only boast 2 BBQ joints each, and they are all bigger markets than Austin.

So let’s take a look at what makes Austin, TX BBQ so special:

Franklin’s BBQ (pitmaster: Aaron Franklin): His BBQ brisket is so good, that Bon Appetit named it the best BBQ in the country for 2011. After that, well, the rest is history. Then this year, Texas Monthly gave it the top rating as well (5.0). Considered the new king of BBQ, Mr. Franklin has confirmed expansion of his establishment, with the addition of a full-blown smokehouse. His espresso BBQ sauce can be found at local grocer HEB here in Austin. Fans of his BBQ rejoice: you may not have to wait 4 hours ever again, once the smokehouse is built…or maybe you will…… Rating: 5.0

John Mueller Meat Co (pitmaster: John Mueller): Ironically, Aaron Franklin got his start with BBQ under the tutelage of John Mueller. Mueller, of the Taylor Muellers (Louie Mueller BBQ of Taylor is in the Top 4), is infamous for his rather unconventional lifestyle, and recently opened John Mueller Meat Co, after a disagreement with his sister. (She reopened their former joint venture as the newly renamed La Barbecue). Best thing on the menu? Beef ribs and fatty brisket. Rating: 4.5

La Barbecue (pitmaster: John Lewis): owned by LeAnn Mueller, the joint gets its name from an abbreviation of her first name. She hired John Lewis, who worked previously at Franklin’s to helm the pit after a spat resulted in John Mueller’s exodus. Lewis uses a mixture of pickle juice and yellow mustard for his wet rub for better flavor penetration. Rating: 4.5

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue (pitmaster: Zach Davis): its claim of “Fancy Barbecue” may leave you with a little concern, but the upscale environment does not detract from the interesting combinations of meat. Pork ribs with fennel and coriander, yep. Achiote and Lime chicken, sure thing. Although cooking with a gas-fired smoker is not BBQ in the most traditional sense, they still receive high marks from Texas Monthly. Rating: 4.25

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (pitmaster: Lance Kirkpatrick): Lance got his start under Bobby Mueller of Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor (those Mueller’s hold a lot of influence) and opened Stiles Switch with the backing of Shane Stiles. Again the specialty here is brisket and beef ribs.

So if you were to say who is the most influential BBQ family in Austin and the surrounding towns, it would be the Mueller family. Whether they are working the pit, or teaching the next generation of BBQ genius, they are the family we all need to watch.

In late November, I started to hear buzz on the internet: a lot of buzz. A place called Kerlins BBQ, off the 1700 block of Cesar Chavez on the East side, was getting rave reviews about its brisket, pulled pork and pork ribs. Located right next to Vera Cruz All Natural, and owned by Bill Kerlin, and his wife Amelis Paz-Kerlin, the setup includes a separate smoker trailer, a serving trailer, several picnic benches, and games while you wait. With nearly 2 decades of restaurant experience between the co-owners, the truck started out like many do: cooking really good BBQ for friends.

From there Mr. Kerlin entered his very first BBQ competition in Wimberley, TX. With a smoker made from a 55-gallon drum and another $50.00 smoker that he borrowed from a friend, his team garnered the sympathy of the neighbor who lent them a string of lights for their BBQ setup. That may have been a mistake, as Mr. Kerlin’s team took 1st in pulled pork, 1st in chicken, and an overall grand champion. A rookie earning the G.C. is something rarely seen on the BBQ circuit. Then a call to come to the American Royal Invitation 2013 would have to wait: there was a food truck to tend.

Ascribing to the same “serving until sold out” mantra common among other “meat market” style places, I knew I had to show up early if I was going to sample the good eats. I was there by 11:30 and all the desserts were already gone. I would need to come back another day to sample the pumpkin flan and banana pudding (all desserts are made by Amelis). Everything is made at Kerlin’s except of the sausage, but don’t worry, there are plans in the works to update the equipment and start making their own.

Do you see that? That’s some seriously delicious brisket. The fat rendered perfectly was reminiscent of bacon with a nice 1/4 “ smoke ring. The Kerlins use pecan wood where others use post oak, and you can taste the difference.

The pork shoulder is slightly smoky, slightly sweet with tons of moisture from the fat. The ribs with a brown sugar and molasses rub were fall off the bone tender with a hint of pepper on the finish. Sausage from Smokey Denmark down the street, is tasty, but it does not have the signature flavor of the others house meats. House-made pickles are large cut, tangy and slightly salty with a small amount of heat. Blue cheese coleslaw is proper ratio of slaw to dressing with real blue cheese notes. It’s a little unconventional, but pairs well with the brisket, and pork shoulder.

So are you hungry?? I know I am!

June 14th, 2013

The Most Interesting Peruvian Foods You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Recipes, Trends

South American cuisine, specifically Peruvian cuisine, is on the rise in restaurants around the country. One of the hottest culinary trends in the past few years, the food of South America is at once approachable and familiar, yet with interesting twists that intrigue and tempt the palate.

We are all familiar with potatoes, being a staple in many diets. Potatoes find their origins in the Andean highlands and are one of the most widely used tubers in the region. It is estimated that there are over 5000 species of edible potatoes in Peru. Most of what we consume in the United States shares one common ancestor, Solanum tuberosum. It’s not so interesting that they have potatoes in Peru you say? Well, it’s really more about some of the ways that they are prepared. Chunos, or freeze-dried potatoes are made from potatoes that are allowed to dry out during the day. Here is a link to the entire process, which can take up to 50 days for quality chunos .

This clip from Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern shows the process first hand: . To cook them, the freeze-dried chunos are typically sautéed in some type of fat, and left to hydrate in water overnight, prior to addition to a dish. One popular dish, called carapulcra, is made by combining chunos and pork into a stew.

Another interesting tuber common in Peru, and second in popularity to potatoes, is the olluco or ulloco. It is eaten for both its tuber and its greens. The tubers are said to stay crisp after cooking, unlike a potato. The green can be used in place of spinach in any dish. That is, of course, if you have access to olluco leaves. I was able to pick up a can of olluco tubers at my local Fiesta so I could try them out. Here is a picture of them:

They do bear a close resemblance to potatoes in appearance but are actually more closely related to the Madeira vine. They are typically eaten fried or boiled, with the tubers being julienned, then allowed to soak in water to remove the bitterness. The most common and oldest recipe for olluco is olluquito con carne, made with olluco and dried beef that has been cooked in sofrito.

To get an idea of what the olluco tastes like, I cooked some up using a traditional recipe (without the meat):

Recipe: Olliquito

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

½ onion, fine dice

6 cloves of garlic, pasted

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp fresh oregano

2 Tbsp Aji Amarillo paste

1 Tbsp paprika

1 can olluco, julienned

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over med-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, Aji paste, and paprika. Cook until soft. Add julienned olluco and cook until all water evaporates (about 5 minutes).

Corn also grows in this region, several types of which are used to make a drink called chicha. Chicha de morada, a purple corn drink is an unfermented drink, traditionally flavored with clove, cinnamon and fruit juices. It is high in anti-oxidants and delicious to boot.

Chicha de jora (corn beer) is made from germinated corn that has been allowed to ferment. In the most remote regions, the chicha de jora starts with ground maize that has been ‘chewed’ by the chicha maker. Enzymes from this chewing break down starch into maltose.

Another interesting drink is called mocochinchi, which literally means “booger” in Spanish. It is made from dehydrated peaches that have been soaked and boiled with spices.

Still with me? Great! Then let’s look at some fruits of the highlands.

The Araza or Amazonian pear is an orange fleshy fruit that has few seeds and is very soft when ripe. It has the flavors of passion fruit with a pH similar to lemons. This fruit may never make it to the supermarket though: it only germinates in semi-rotted wood, making it difficult to grow commercially.

Badea, a relative of passion fruit, is also called giant granadilla. It is similar in flavor to a passion fruit but sweeter and is commonly used to make beverages. The leaves also denote some medicinal purposes.

The lulo or little orange is related to the tomato and reportedly tastes like a cross between rhubarb and lime. This fruit is also difficult to cultivate, and the ripe fruit deteriorates quickly, much like its red juicy cousin. It will be a while before this fruit sees large scale production.

Lastly, we cannot leave out the herb Huacatay; referred to as Mexican marigold, it plays a major role in the flavor of Peruvian cuisine. Also called black mint, it is rumored to taste like a cross between mint and bubblegum and is a key ingredient in pachamanca (a traditional dish of meats cooked in an in-ground BBQ pit).