These traditional Argentine empanadas are filled with a mixture of ground beef, smoked paprika, green olives and cumin, then baked until golden.
Crispy, Creamy Potato Puffs
These enticing Chilean potato puffs, known as papas duquesas, are a cross between mashed potatoes and french fries. Valeria Huneeus' granddaughters love picking up the little puffs with their hands and popping them into their mouths.
Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas
At Panamonte Inn & Spa, chef Charlie Collins teaches students how to make perfectly flaky empanada dough. For fillings, he uses local ingredients like beef jerk (dried, preseasoned meat) and culantro (a long-leafed herb with a pungent flavor); ground beef and cilantro are fine substitutes.
Beef Tenderloin with Cilantro-Wine Sauce and Mashed Yucca
"We have a stew in Peru called seco, made with beef or lamb, yellow chiles and lots of cilantro" says Schiaffino. The dish prompted him to make a wine sauce with cilantro, which he serves with beef tenderloin.
Goat Cheese & Chorizo Rolls
These crispy rolls, adapted from the cookbook Nirmala's Edible Diary are a riff on Argentinean street food.
Mofongo with Shrimp
While shooting his Food Network show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Fieri stopped at Benny's Seafood in Miami to try mofongo, a Puerta Rican comfort food. "The chef pulled out a wooden pilón (a kind of mortar) as big as a tree trunk and filled it with fried green plantains, garlic, salt and chicharrones (crunchy pork rinds). Then he used a baseball bat to mash it together." The dish is served with chicken broth on the side or topped with meat or seafood, like the sautéed shrimp here.
Peruvian Steak and Potato Stir-Fry
Steak and french fries are a classic combination. For their classic dish lomo saltado, Peruvians toss the two together.
Smoky Strip Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce
Chimichurri sauce, made with parsley, garlic and olive oil, is the ubiquitous accompaniment to grilled meats in Argentina; when serving steak, Laurent Tourondel often prefers its clean, sharp flavors to richer French sauces like béarnaise or red wine sauce. The tang of chimichurri is especially delicious with Tourondel's supersmoky steaks, seasoned with both smoked sea salt and smoked pepper.
Coconut Pudding with Raspberry Sauce
Carolina Buia says that when her mother was growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, it was common for the lady of the house to present this creamy coconut dessert at parties. Even though it's referred to here as a pudding, it has a texture similar to panna cotta.
Brazilian Seafood Soup (Moqueca)
This tangy, buttery, gorgeous soup—bright red with dendê oil—is Daniel Boulud's riff on a recipe by French chef Claude Troisgros.
Crispy Arepitas with Mozzarella and Chorizo
Arepas, fried or baked skillet breads made from corn flour, are eaten night and day in Venezuela (usually stuffed) and Colombia (usually not). Bernstein says they're also her favorite snack at street fairs and carnivals in Miami. Here, she makes mini arepas, or arepitas, to serve as canapés, adding cheese and chorizo to the dough. They're her answer to the corn dog.
Tuna Ceviche with Avocado and Cilantro
With only a few ingredients, Rick Bayless's salpimentado (salt-and-pepper) ceviche is typical of what one would find at stands around the southern tip of Baja. Cooks often make it with sierra, a large and meaty Mexican fish, but tuna works just as well.
Blackberry & Cabernet Caipirinha
For this punch-like take on the caipirinha, Cantina uses a Cabernet blended with a good amount of spicy Syrah.
"We try to make a different menu every day, often using the same ingredients," says Pedro Miguel Schiaffino about the challenges of creating recipes for a cruise ship. Yucca, one of the most ubiquitous root vegetables in the Amazon, appears in many of his dishes. Here he turns pure yucca into a dough for fried empanadas, a typical street food in Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rain forest.
Colombian Chicken Soup
Chicken breast adds plenty of protein but not much fat to this version of ajiaco, a cilantro-scented chicken soup that's virtually Colombia's national dish. Stirring in fiber-rich brown rice turns the soup into a satisfying one-dish meal.
Dulce de Leche Layer Cake
The version of Dominican cake that Scott Conant's friends introduced him to was a white cake layered with dulce de leche filling and frosted with a very sweet meringue. In his adaptation, Conant (along with his pastry chef Gerry Minos) lightens up on the sugar in the meringue and adds a nutty liqueur to the filling and frosting, giving it an Italian flavor. The cake is a knockout, with or without the liqueur, and stellar with either homemade or store-bought dulce de leche.
Fried Sweet Plantains
Plantains are abundant all over the Caribbean, and one popular way to eat them is to pan-fry the sweet banana-like slices until they're warm and tender.
Daniel Boulud's Caipirinha
Sweet, tart and strong, the caipirinha is mixed with the Brazilian spirit cachaça. Cachaça is similar to rum but made from sugarcane rather than molasses. "It's more sophisticated than rum because it's more pure," says Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, patriotically.
Mixed Grill with Chimichurri Sauces and Roasted Peppers
In Argentina, a mixed grill is called a parrillada (parrilla means "grill" in Spanish). The dish is served in a rustic style, with whole pieces of meat like chicken hearts and sausage brought to the table. Michelle Bernstein prefers to grill skewers of meat for a more elegant presentation; here she uses chicken livers instead of hearts.
This recipe from Melissa Rubel is based on Peruvian rotisserie chicken. It's deliciously lemony and garlicky. A bit of vinegar makes it even brighter-tasting.
Dulce de Leche Napoleons
Dulce de leche, the Latin American caramel, is typically made by slowly simmering milk with sugar. For these ethereal napoleons, Valeria Huneeus layers the delicious caramel with a rich pastry cream and delicate, crispy sheets of phyllo dough.
Barley Chupe with Queso Fresco
In many South American countries, thick soups or stews are called chupes. This comforting chupe is made with barley, potatoes and lima beans in a savory chicken broth.
T-Bone Churrasco a la Plancha
Chef Francis Mallman delves into grilling methods like a la plancha "on a griddle" in his cookbook, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way.
Grapefruit Granité with Mangoes and White Rum Mojito
Unlike traditional granita, which is stirred frequently as it freezes so that light ice flakes form, Jacques Pépin freezes his granité in a block until it is completely firm, then softens it in the fridge until it's slightly slushy before scooping it into bowls. The sauce for his light, tropical dessert is a riff on the mojito, the minty cocktail.
The national cocktail of Chile and Peru, this drink may have evolved from the Pisco Punch, which was all the rage in San Francisco during the 1849 gold rush.
Vaca Frita: Crispy Beef
This recipe for vaca frita ("fried cow") is a close cousin of Cuba's famous ropa vieja, stewed shredded beef in tomato sauce. The beef for vaca frita, however, is marinated in lime, garlic and salt, then seared until crispy. The key to achieving the perfect texture is to cook the beef in small batches, so it sautés rather than steams.
Bean, Corn and Squash Stew
In his excellent version of the traditional Chilean stew porotos granados, chef Alex Aguilera uses kidney beans in place of the customary cranberry beans, then folds in fresh basil and a swirl of paprika oil.