Vendors Part 4: Fresh Cheese, Butter and Veggies

On Tuesdays and Thursdays in the early afternoon this truck comes by with a variety of items.  They are mostly known for their fresh cheese, butter and peanut products.

IMG_2983They also carry different vegetables and fruits. This varies with each visit, some days they have avocados, melons, watermelon, oranges, carrots, potatoes…

IMG_2986 IMG_2985IMG_2984Thursday they had grapefruits, watermelons, pineapples, potatoes, carrots, garlic, long beans and white beans like a lima, corn, fresh cheese, fresh butter, peanut butter, salpietra, peanut pieces and avocados.  The items are fresh and he is very dependable. Now, what shall I make from this?  Hmmmm…………

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Vendors Part 1 – Gonzalo: Veggies and Fruits At My Gate

Everyday at around noon Gonzalo (on the right in the photo below) and his brother Christian come by the house with their cart filled with great fresh produce.

IMG_2963These guys are great! Gonzalo has four boys with the last just starting preschool a few weeks ago. And mommy is Paola who is also as sweet a person as you will ever find. They tease me about broccoli which is my least favorite vegetable and bring me bunches of fresh acelga (chard) each week. When Joe and I were researching moving to Panama we looked at every picture we could find on the internet that showed the food items that were available.  See the pictures below for close up pictures of what Gonzalo sells.

IMG_2967His produce varies each day but most days you can find potatoes, red onions, scallions, cucumbers, beets, cabbage, mandarin oranges, juice oranges, pineapple, cantaloupe,  other melons in season, watermelon, tree tomato and naranjilla.

IMG_2966Some days he will have both the choclo and the yellow corn along with a green vegetable that they stuff with cheese and bake.

IMG_2965Fresh mora berries, green peas, peanut butter, sal piedra, crushed peanuts, tamarind, garlic, white onions, long beans and green beans. Tomatoes, green peppers and carrots are also available.

IMG_2964Today he had strawberries, fresh red beans, cilantro, cauliflower, broccoli and radishes.  I did see lettuce and white cabbage somewhere in the cart as well.

He also carries raisins, other fruits in season, grapefruit, apples, hot peppers, fresh peanuts, watermelon, yucca, the purple sweet potatoes they call camote, celery and bok choy called nabo here.  And if you do not see what you want, ask and he may even be able to get it for you in the next several days.

I depend upon Gonzalo for most of my fresh fruits and veggies.  His produce is fresh, reasonably priced and he always has a smile on his face.

Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

IMG_1684We love all different types of food, almost anything Asian – Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Korean you name it we will eat it.  And because these restaurants are not found in our area, I have had to start making my own.  Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

These are Thai Spring Rolls. The biggest problem is getting the spring roll wrappers. A good soul brought me a package from the US and I use them sparingly. The other item I am having a hard time finding is Hoisin Sauce. A while back I could always find it on the shelf in Super Maxi but my past several trips including one to Guayaquil I could not find one jar. Well making Hoisin Sauce will be left for another post.

Shrimp Spring Rolls:

  • 4 dried spring roll wrappers
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of jumbo shrimp (Langostinos)
  • 1 small carrot cleaned and shredded fine
  • 1 small cucumber cleaned, seeded and shredded fine drain well
  • 1/4 package of fine rice noodles, cooked al dente
  • 5 leaves of iceberg lettuce shredded
  • 20 fresh basil leaves
  • 20 fresh mint leaves

prepare shrimp (langostinos) by boiling with the heads on in water infused with seasonings like bay leaf, peppercorns and / or hot pepper flakes for 10 minutes. Drain, run under cold water until cool, clean and cut each shrimp in half. Put in refrigerator until ready to use. Cook rice noodles, cool under running water, drain and set aside. Shred all vegetables and set aside along with the herb leaves. Small individual dishes work great for this.

Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 3/4 C smooth peanut butter (if using unprocessed peanut butter add 1 t brown or panela sugar)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C crushed peanuts
  • 1/4 to 1/2 t hot pepper flakes
  • 3 T Hoisin sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce

Mix the peanut butter and water together over low heat, add the rest of the ingredients once the peanut sauce is blended thoroughly. Taste for spice and sweetness adjust for your palate. The sauce should be thick, sweet and spicy.

Putting everything together:

Clear an area on your counter, clean it and arrange your bowls with the vegetables at the top of the counter. Take a large plate and add water to the bottom of it. Take each spring roll wrapper and gently sprinkle water over both sides. Do not use too much water. This takes a bit of practice. They will still be a bit stiff, they will soften up while you finish all four wrappers. Lay the wrappers down in a row going from left to right. With your plates of veggies above also going from left to right. Start with the wrapper furthest to the left. Placing shrimp in the lower half of the wrapper leaving both ends empty. Do all 4 with the shrimp distributing equally. Then add the leaves evenly over the shrimp, continue with the carrots, lettuce and cucumbers. It works better if you do each wrapper with each additional ingredient this way you will distribute more evenly on each wrapper. Do not overfill the wrappers or you will not be able to roll them. Starting at the bottom or the wrapper peel it off the counter gently, while stuffing the ingredients pulling the sides in until you have a neat roll with all the veggies inside.

Serve with the warm peanut sauce.

 

Triple Layer Cookie Bars

I have a list of favorite cookie recipes that I’ve made for years.  This one is really nice because it does not require a huge amount of work or time making individual cookies. Made in a baking pan and cut into individual bars,  it’s a very rich cookie. Don’t cut the pieces big – a two to three bite cookie is the best size.

Triple Layer Cookie Bar

  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1  1/2 C Chocolate Animal Cookies
  • 1  –  7 oz. package of flaked coconut – Coco Rallado
  • 1  –  14 oz. can of condensed milk
  • 1  –  12 oz. bar of Superior Chocolate
  • 1/2 C creamy peanut butter – mani

Grease a 9 x 13 pan and dust with coco powder.  Melt butter and mix with the crumbled cookies and press into bottom – if the crumbs are not coated with butter add a few more spoonfuls to make them stick together.  Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the crumbs and press into cookie base. Pour the condensed milk over all to cover evenly.

Bake in a 325 f or 170 c –  (I make it a bit higher) for about 25 minutes or until the edges are a golden brown.  Let stand to cool 5 minutes.

While crust is cooling, in a sauce pan melt the chocolate and peanut butter together and pour over the cookie base to cover.  Let cool completely.

From top left – Fresh Peanut Butter (Mani), Chocolate Animal Cookies (Galletas), Superior Chocolate Bar, Coconut (Coco Rallado) and Condensed Milk.

Everyone who love chocolate loves this cookie bar, it will go fast so hide a few for yourself!