Category Latin American

The 2nd Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Bread & Honey Festival

Just thought I’d share a few pics while I am waiting to take my crew of sleepy teenagers to the Rotary Pancake Breakfast. Our clan has made the Streetsville Founder’s Bread & Honey Festival a tradition since year one – that’s a lot of Hazel-led parades and pancake breakfasts. The Bread & Honey started when I was a kid; all of our Chatham cousins would come down for the weekend for one giant sleepover. We’ve carried on the tradition with my siblings’ children. We spend the whole weekend at the festival or wandering the streets of our happy village and we love it! It’s like a huge Streetsville reunion.

My brother used to start our B&H weekend with the phrase “Lock your windows, the carnies are in town!” and the kids love it when I continue his tradition (all in jest of course because the ‘carnies’ are kind and decent people). Missing a few faces and pay no mind to the lad on the right – he hates it when mom takes his photo…suck it up buttercup.

#menofsteel2016 #breadnhoney #breadandhoneyfestival2016

A post shared by Olive (@olive_to_eat) on

The kids enjoy the carnival and every once in a while, Uncle Nagui tries to put on a brave face to join them on the rides. They would like to see the return of the Zipper, the Boat, and the Fireball….especially the Fireball, right Uncle Nagui?

Oh so pretty! #breadnhoney #iloveaparade #streetsvilleliving

A post shared by Olive (@olive_to_eat) on

I thought the kids weren’t into the parade this year so we ate our breakfast in the garden, listening to the music from band after band marching along the street. It sounded like the best parade ever; we ran out and caught the tail end and vowed to never miss it again (sorry Hazel, it was a late night).

There are some great food trucks at the festival this year. These tacos were fantastic.

Saturday’s weather was perfect! Hopefully today will clear up but we are going down anyways. Happy Bread & Honey Festival Streetsville! Hope to see you down there today.




Read More

My Favourite Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

Sometimes I wonder who I love more – my guacamole or my husband? I raise one pondering eyebrow and make him a bowl. It’s a labour of love as I chop the fragrant cilantro, juice the sweet, tangy lime, and mellow as I mash the creamy avocado. As soon as it’s ready I feed my husband a scoop and watch him swoon…and then I know it’s him I love the most, of course! Hey, does he love my guacamole more than he loves me?


I used to mix my pico de gallo in with my guacamole but then I tasted the most delicious guacamole at La Cantina Mexicana in Streetsville. Since then, I’ve spent the rest of my guacamole-making days trying to replicate that smooth and luxurious, pure avocado dip that has a hit of garlic and is served with homemade tortilla chips and salsa on the side. Now I focus on the avocado and don’t get watered down by the tomatoes. Use firm but ripe Haas avocados; make sure the stem end yields to the gentle pressure of your thumb.

I prefer to serve my pico de gallo on the side; it’s easy to whip up since it uses some of the same ingredients. To have enough cilantro for both recipes, buy one large or two small bunches. I don’t use fresh jalapeno because I find the raw, crunchy bite of heat too jarring in a guacamole or pico de gallo. Green Jalapeño Pepper Tabasco Sauce gives me the flavour and heat I am looking for (and I ain’t ashamed to admit it) but switch out for the classic, fresh jalapeno if you like.


Makes 2 cups

This recipe is as close as I’ve come to the one we love at Cantina Mexicana. The guacamole can be made a few hours ahead, covered with plastic wrapped pressed on to the surface of the guacamole, and refrigerated.

Because the limes vary in size and taste buds vary in acidity tolerance, only add about two thirds of the lime juice initially; then taste the guacamole and add more juice as desired (I like to use it all). To get the most juice out of your limes, place your hand over the whole lime and lean down while rolling it around to soften it before you cut it open.


3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 clove of garlic
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Few dashes of hot sauce (preferably Green Jalapeño Pepper Tabasco Sauce)
Juice of 1 ½ limes
3 Haas avocados, firm but ripe


Tortilla chips


  1. Mince and mash garlic in the salt to achieve a purée; add to medium bowl.
  2. Add the cilantro leaves and a few dashes of hot sauce. Add about two thirds of the lime juice.
  3. Slice avocados in half; remove pit and discard. Empty pulp into bowl.
  4. For chunky guacamole, mash the avocado with a potato masher until you achieve desired consistency. For smooth guacamole, purée with an immersion blender.
  5. Taste and add more lime juice or hot sauce if desired.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping.



Pico de Gallo

Makes 1 cup

My Spanish sister-in-law, Marie, converted me from jarred salsa to fresh pico de gallo with the spicy and refreshing pico de gallo she lovingly prepares for our clan when we gather at her pool in the summer. It’s a real treat; your guests will feel the love. Pico de gallo can be made up to a few hours before serving; any longer and the tomatoes breakdown and release too much of their juices.

To prevent my pico de gallo from becoming too watery, I’ve tried seeding my tomatoes first but the tomatoes lost some of their flavour and broke down too much. I also tried a technique I read about on the internet: chopping the tomatoes whole (including the seeds), placing them in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, sprinkling them with salt, and leaving them to drain for about 30 minutes. But the results lacked a fresh tomato flavour, tasted bitter, and had a weird texture. So I just dice up the whole tomato, seeds and all, and love my pico de gallo for what it is: juicy and flavourful.

Use the ripest, locally-grown or homegrown tomatoes you can get your hands on – it doesn’t matter what size, along as you end up with 1 cup of diced tomato. If it is not tomato season, use roma tomatoes.


1 cup diced ripe tomatoes (locally-grown or roma tomatoes)
½ cup minced white onion
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Several dashes of Green Jalapeño Pepper Tabasco Sauce
Juice of ½ lime
½ teaspoon coarse salt


  1. Add tomatoes to a medium, non-reactive bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and toss gently.
  3. Let rest for 15 minutes and then serve with tortilla chips for scooping or cover in an airtight container and refrigerate up to a few hours.
Cantina Mexicana
277 Queen St. South
Mississauga, Ontario L5M 1L9
Telephone: 905-813-1992

Read More

Peruvian Delights: Oakville’s Machu Picchu

Longing to take your taste buds on a culinary adventure? Oakville’s Machu Picchu serves delicious Peruvian and Latin fusion cuisine. Don’t let the industrial strip of Speers Road mislead you – discovering the food at Machu Picchu may be as delightful as discovering the cloud-shrouded, ancient Incan, mountaintop city it is named after. My Peruvian friend, Pilar, recently took us on an expedition there for a fun girls’ night out – and since then, we haven’t stopped talking about how good the food was.

Frothy and tangy Pisco Sours (Peruvian brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters) and other Latin cocktails are a great way to start off the evening. Toasted Peruvian corn, “cancha”, is a complimentary crunchy nibble served with drinks.


Peruvian cuisine has an Incan base, fused with Spanish, Basque, African, Japanese, Chinese, and Italian influences. Peru’s signature dish is ceviche. Machu Picchu offers several ceviches on their menu.

Machu Picchu’s Ceviche Mixto is utterly delectable: tender chunks of fresh shrimp, calamari, squid strips, and diced white fish cured in lime juice and Peruvian peppers and marinated in a sparkling dressing that is a delicious balance of tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet flavours with hits of fresh cilantro. Mouth-watering! Served with Peruvian corn (larger kernels), thinly sliced purple onion, luscious chunks of yam, and banana chips.


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts.

The aromas of the meat dishes passing by our table were so enticing that we shared Ceviche Mixto as a starter and ordered meat as an entrée. Seco de Carne is a slow-simmered stew with big chunks of fork-tender, full-flavoured beef in traditional Peruvian gravy laced with cilantro and beer. It’s served with nicely seasoned rice and delicious stewed beans.


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts

There is so much to choose from on Machu Picchu’s extensive menu. Perhaps the Lomito Saltado (marinated filet mignon sautéed with onions and peppers) that my friend said was really good? Or the beautiful Arroz con Mariscos (Peruvian-style seafood rice dish prepared with a mixture of Peruvian peppers) that Pilar enjoyed?


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts

Or Papa a la Huancaína (a traditional appetizer of sliced cold potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce)? Chupe de Camarones (shrimp chowder, only available Wednesdays through Sundays)? Or Chifa (Peruvian Chinese food served every Wednesday, starting July 16th)?

Go with an appetite for good food and fun: English and Latin karaoke on Friday nights, starting at 8:00 p.m. Live Latin music starts at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday nights.

There aren’t any Peruvian cookbooks on the shelves at my Indigo, which astonishes me because it is such a flavourful cuisine created by a culture that loves food and cooks from scratch. I have just started to follow a blog on Pinterest, Peru Delights; the recipes look so good. Can’t wait to try the Seco de Carne recipe. The authors (Morena Cuadra and Morena Escardo) have written a cookbook, The Everything Peruvian Cookbook, which is available on-line at Indigo and Amazon but I haven’t seen a hard copy yet. Check out my Grocery/Gourmet Store Directory under Grocery/Gourmet Markets/Ethnic/Latin American for a listing of Latin American markets in our region. Don’t be shy to ask questions; the owners would be more than happy to share their cooking tips. Of course, the best way to learn about Peruvian food is to make a Peruvian friend – they’ll enrich your life and your cooking!

Machu Picchu
1272 Speers Rd.
Oakville, ON
L6L 2X4
Telephone: (905) 847-2228
Check website for business hours.


Read More

Happy Halloween: Papa a la Huancaína Soup

This mildly spiced cheese and potato soup is my twist on the classic Peruvian dish, Papa a la Huancaína (sliced cold potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce). My soup has just enough heat to gently warm your bones – but not enough heat to awaken the bones of the dead – on a chilly Halloween night. Add more aji amarillo if you’re feeling devilish.


Papa a la Huancaína Soup

Serves 6

Aji amarillo peppers are orange-fleshed, medium-hot Peruvian chili peppers, which are prized for their unique fruitiness and imported from Peru. Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow. Look for frozen aji amarillo chili peppers or jarred aji amarillo paste in Latin American grocery stores. Check my Grocery Store Directory to find a Latin American grocery store in your area.

Queso fresco is a Mexican fresh white cheese. You can find it in Latin American grocery stores and sometimes in regular grocery stores, such as Paul’s nofrills at Bristol Road and Creditview Road in Streetsville.


Local Dairy in Ingersoll, Ontario produces queso fresco under the LaVaquita brand name (photo not shown), using authentic Latin American recipes and techniques. It is made from fresh milk that is delivered daily from local farms in the Oxford County area. The nearest store where we can find LaVaquita Queso Fresco regularly is the Sobey’s on Queensway, beside the Ontario Food Terminal. Local Dairy also produces other Latin American dairy products (Queso Oaxaca, Queso Duro, Queso Chihuahua, and Crema, all under the LaVaquita name) and Indian dairy products. I was lucky enough to sample their delicious cheeses and dairy products recently, at the Delicious Food Show. I hope we will find Local Dairy products in our neighborhood stores in the future. Next time I am in my local grocery store, I’m going to ask if they can bring in Local Dairy products.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)

4 yellow aji amarillo chili peppers, defrosted (or 1/2 cup jarred aji amarillo paste)

6 medium yellow-fleshed potatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon coarse salt

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 cups water

3 cups grated queso fresco (Mexican fresh white cheese)

1 (370 ml) can fat-free evaporated skim milk or 2%

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lime, cut into sixths

Garnishes: chopped pitted sun-dried black olives, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro


  1. If using whole aji amarillo peppers, seed and devein them; roughly chop.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, potatoes, and chopped peppers (if using aji amarillo paste instead of frozen peppers, don’t add it yet); season with thyme and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Sauté until onions are softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add water (and aji amarillo paste if using in place of the peppers); bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Carefully transfer soup to the large bowl of a food processor; add cheese and then process until smooth.
  6. Return soup to pot. Add evaporated milk.
  7. Bring soup to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until cheese has melted a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with lime wedges and garnishes.

Read More

Latin Love Affair: Olive’s Shrimp Tacos

Move over beef tacos, there’s a new dish in town. My Shrimp Tacos are easy, healthy, and packed with refreshing flavour. Succulent pre-cooked shrimp are briefly marinated in cilantro, mint, lime, garlic, aji amarillo paste, sugar, and salt – a mouthwatering melody of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. Served in a soft tortilla spread with avocado purée and a lick of lime juice, they are everything I want in a shrimp taco. My son named them his new favourite food. Olive to make my son happy!


Aji amarillo paste is a simple blend of orange-fleshed, medium-hot Peruvian chili peppers, which are prized for their unique fruitiness. Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow. Although very common in Peruvian cooking, aji amarillo peppers can be hard to find here. I was thrilled to find aji amarillo paste (sold in jars)


and the much sought-after, frozen, whole aji amarillo peppers (imported from Peru) in Latin Super Chicken Rotisserie – a little Latin American grocery store that also sells Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, located at the corner of Queen and Britannia, in Streetsville. I confirmed by phone that the stores Rincon de Espana in Port Credit and El Tropical in Oakville also carry aji amarillo paste.


Olive’s Shrimp Tacos

Serves 3 to 4

If you can’t find aji amarillo paste, Tabasco sauce is an adequate substitute for this recipe.

Marinade Ingredients:

1 lime

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 large clove of garlic

1 teaspoon aji amarillo paste (Peruvian yellow hot pepper paste)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Taco Ingredients:

454 g (1 lb.) frozen cooked, peeled shrimp 61/70

1 avocado

2 green onions, finely sliced

8 medium soft flour tortillas

1 lime, quartered

Optional garnish:

Extra coriander sprigs


  1. Defrost shrimp according to package directions; drain. Remove tail shells and discard. Place shrimp in a paper-towel-lined bowl, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour to drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, grate the lime zest into the bowl of a small food processor. Juice the lime and add to the zest; add remaining marinade ingredients and then process until well-blended.
  3. Pour out 1 tablespoon of marinade and set aside in fridge for later use with the avocado. Pour remaining marinade in a large, re-sealable Ziploc bag and seal. Refrigerate until 1 hour before eating.
  4. One hour before eating, place shrimp in marinade bag. Squeeze out the air and seal tightly. Massage the marinade into the shrimp until evenly coated. Place in the fridge and marinade for 1 hour.
  5. Just before serving, warm tortillas in the oven as per package instructions.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado into a purée. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon reserved marinade and stir thoroughly. Spread ⅛th of the avocado puree on one half of each tortilla.
  7. Dump marinated shrimp into a colander set in the sink and drain briefly. Place about ⅛th of the shrimp on top of the avocado puree. Sprinkle with green onions and fresh coriander sprig, if desired. Fold other half of tortilla over.
  8. Serve with immediately with lime wedges.

You can find aji amarillo paste at:

Latin Super Chicken Rotisserie
17 Queen Street North A5,
Mississauga, ON
L5N 6A1
Telephone: 905-369-0420
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from  11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. & Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.


El Tropical
391 Kerr Street,
Oakville, ON
L6K 3B9
Telephone: 905-845-9262

Rincon De Espana Inc.
550 Lakeshore Road East
Mississauga, ON
L5G 1J3
Telephone: 905-274-2109

Read More