Venezuealan cheese sticks with avocado dip
(From the Land known as Venezuela)
It should come as no surprise now, that like many of the other countries in South America, Venezuelan cuisine has been influenced by a number of other nations. Native American and Spanish influences dominate, but other European countries, as well as West Africa, have played their part in the cuisine of this, one of the most northerly countries of the South American continent. Tequeños are popular throughout Latin America, but originated in Venezuela; exactly where is open to discussion. Please take care when wrapping the cheese with the dough and ensure there is sufficient overlap, otherwise the stick will open up and fall apart when you try to remove it from the oil. That is the voice of experience!
What you need
For the sticks
*1/2 tsp salt
*70g butter, chilled
*350g queso blanco cheese, farmers cheese, or other firm, salty cheese that melts partially (I used Feta for this recipe.)
*Vegetable oil for frying
For the dip
*2 ripe avocados
*Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*3 tbs vinegar
*1 green pepper, diced
*1 small onion, finely chopped
*3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
*1 small mild/sweet chili pepper (optional), finely chopped
*110ml vegetable or olive oil
*40g chopped tomato (optional)
*4 tbs chopped fresh parsley or coriander
What to do
For the sticks
*Mix the flour and the salt together in a mixing bowl
*Chop the butter into 1cm cubes and add them to the bowl along with the egg.
*Use your fingers to mix the egg and butter into the flour until the mixture is sandy and crumbly, and the butter is in very small pieces.
*Add the water to the mixture stirring in with a fork.
*Add more water, 1 tbs at a time, until the mixture starts to come together as dough.
*Knead the dough in the bowl, adding more water if overly crumbly.
*The dough should be soft and malleable but not perfectly blended. Cover with cling film and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
*Cut the cheese into sticks about 9cm long and about 1cm square.
*Roll out half the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 35cm square.
*Use a sharp knife or pizza cutterto cut the dough into 2.5cm wide strips.
*Wrap the dough around one of the cheese sticks: Start at one end of the stick and cover the end with dough.
*Continue to wrap dough around the stick in a spiral fashion, overlapping the edges well, until you reach the other end. Cover the other end of the stick with dough and seal; cut off any excess. (Use a bit of water to help seal the dough).
*The cheese must not show through anywhere.
*Repeat with remaining cheese sticks.
*Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the sticks in batches, turning frequently with a spatula, until golden brown. Alternatively, deep fry.
*Cover in foil and keep warm in a low temperature oven (150°C), until ready to serve
For the Dip - Guasacaca
*Peel, pit and dice the avocado. Toss with a pinch of salt and the vinegar, in a bowl.
*Mash until creamy. Add the green pepper and onion and mix well.
*Add the garlic and chili and mix well.
*Add the vegetable oil, chopped tomato and the coriander or parsley and combine.
*To make a smoother guasacaca, add the oil and vinegar to a blender, then the remaining ingredients in batchesand process until smooth.
*Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Hope you enjoyed the fifty-second of our eighty dishes from around the world. Please join me next time when we visit Panama.