Category: Cooking With The Downings

Plátanos asados con queso (baked ripe plantains with cheese)

This recipe produces: 6 baked ripe plantains
This is an easy recipe for a taste of Ecuador. Baked ripe plantains stuffed with cheese are a common treat that all seven Downings suggest you try this dish at least once.

Click play to listen to this recipe!


6 slices of mozzarella
1-2 pats of melted butter
6 ripe plantains, whole

First. Pre-heat oven to 400 F
Then. Peel the plantains, place them on a baking sheet and rub them with butter.
Then. Bake the plantains for 30 minutes, turn and bake for another 20 minutes. Both sides should be golden brown.
Then. Remove the plantains from the oven, make a cut (from end to end) and stuff them with the cheese slices. In a few minutes the cheese will melt
Enjoy. Serve warm.


Love, C47AEA7E-E7FD-42F2-9652-93969FBCCB5AThe Downings

Grilled CornWith Cilantro Queso Fresco Sauce

Grilled corn with cilantro queso fresco sauce

Grilled corn with a cilantro queso fresco sauce is a common treat in Ecuador.  Seven out of Seven Downings recommend this delicious fair.


  • For the cilantro cheese sauce (makes about 1 ½ cups of sauce)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¾ cup sunflower oil (don’t use olive oil because it  will overpower the sauce)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 6 oz queso fresco, crumbled
  • Grilled corn: 1-2 ears of corn per person
  • Butter or oil for rubbing, add some chopped fresh cilantro for extra flavor


Cilantro queso fresco sauce:

First.  Combine the egg, the crushed garlic, the cilantro, a dash of salt, and ¼ cup of the oil in a blender and blend until the ingredients are pureed

Then.  Continue blending and add the remaining oil until the mayonnaise sauce starts to thicken

Then.  Add the crumbled queso fresco and lime juice, blend until you have smooth sauce

Then.  Add salt to taste

Pre-boil corn & grill method:

Pre-boil for 2-3 minutes, then rub with butter or oil and grill for 10-15 minutes, turning every 3-4 minutes

Wrap corn in foil grilling method:

Remove the husks and silk from the corn, rub with oil or butter

Wrap each ear of corn in foil and grill for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes

Using gloves, carefully remove the foil and grill for 3-5 minutes if you want that crispy charred finish

Corn grilled with husks on:

Remove a few of the outer husks and open the husks (without removing them), remove the corn silks and then close the husks

Soak in cold water for a couple of hours before grilling

Grill with husks for 15-20 minutes, turning corn every 5 minutes

Using gloves, remove or pull back the husk, and grill for 3-5 minutes if you want that crispy charred finish

Then.  Baste the grilled corn with the Cilantro queso fresco sauce.

Enjoy.  Serve warm.  

Love, 9A5BC3BC-7686-46D4-856A-4B7C6AB368BFThe Downings


Ají Sauce

Hello friends, this week we are revisiting some of our more popular posts from the past. Make sure you tune in next week for fresh new content. In the meantime enjoy these tried and true podcasts.


Love 3CE1F13A-A92A-4FEF-8B0C-F66055BED84BThe Downings

Empanadas De Viento

Empanadas de viento (fried cheese empanada)



Empanadas de viento are a special Ecuadorian treat.  Six out of seve Downings consider this the best kind of empanada.  We highly recommend this delicious treat.


25 small empanada discs (you can use homemade empanada dough, see recipe below, or store bought dough)

2 ¾ cups grated cheese (quesillo, mozzarella, monterey jack, or other white melting cheese)

½ white onion chopped

½ cup sugar for sprinkling

Frying oil


First.  Mix the grated cheese and chopped onions together.

Then.  Spoon the cheese filling on the center of the each empanada disc.

Then.  Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges, first pressing gently with your fingers, next use a fork to press down and seal, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas and then use the fork again to make sure they are sealed.

Then.  Chill the empanadas for one hour.

Then.  Fry the empanadas in a frying pan, use enough oil to cover at least half of the empanada, let the oil get very hot and fry each empanada until they are golden on each side.

Then. Place the empanadas on paper towels to drain any excess oil, sprinkle with sugar.

Enjoy.  Serve warm.


Empanada Dough


1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter, cut in 8 pieces

½ orange juiced

1/2 – 2/3 cup chilled sparkling water

3 cups all purpose flour


First.  Mix the flour, salt and baking powder.

Then.  Add the pieces of butter,  juice the ½ orange and sparkling water – add ½ cup of the water to begin and then add more as needed or until clumps of dough start to form.

Then.  Form a ball with the dough and knead.

Then.  Place the dough in bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for one hour.

Then.  Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas. Discs should be really thin so that they will fully cook when you fry them.  The discs do not need to be completely round but they need to be about three inches in diameter.

Then.  Use immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer to use later.

With love, 9A5BC3BC-7686-46D4-856A-4B7C6AB368BFThe Downings


Chifles (Fried green banana/plantain chips)

Chifles are also known as mariquitas, chicharitas, platanutres, platanitos or plataninas, are thin fried green plantain banana chips.  This is a common snack in Ecuador. Seven out of seven Downings recommend this treat.




  • Peanut oil for frying
  • Green bananas or green plantains
  • Salt
  • Optional: Hot pepper, garlic cloves or cilantro for additional flavor variations


First.  Peel the green bananas or green plantains.

Then.  Slice the bananas or plantains.  Slice them as thin rounds or thin diagonal ovals.

Then.  Heat the oil, either in a deep sauté pan or fryer, to between 375 F – 400 F, there should be enough oil to fully cover the bananas or plantains.

Then.  Add the bananas or plantains to the hot oil; be careful not to overcrowd to keep them from sticking together.

Then.  Fry until the chips get a golden color.

Then.  Remove the chips from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Then.  Sprinkle with salt.

Enjoy.  Serve either warm or cold.

With love, C47AEA7E-E7FD-42F2-9652-93969FBCCB5AThe Downings

Tree Tomato Ají Sauce

Tree tomato aji hot sauce / Ají de tomate de árbol


Yield: ~1 1/2 cups of tree tomato aji

Tamarillo or tree tomato aji hot sauce is a very tasty hot sauce made from tree tomatoes or tamarillos, hot peppers, onion, cilantro and lime juice.


  • 4-5 tree tomatoes, fresh or frozen if you can not find tree tomatoes you can use Tamarillo
  • 2 ajies or hot peppers (serranos or red chilies are good options, habaneros if you are brave)
  • 2 tbs finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tbs finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste


First: If using fresh tree tomatoes peel them, boil them for about 5 minutes to make it easier to peel them.

If using frozen tree tomatoes, defrost them over night in the fridge, then cut them in half and scoop out all the insides.

Then: Blend the tree tomatoes with the hot peppers (seeded and deveined if you want it mild, you can always save a few seeds and add them in if it’s too mild).

Then: Transfer the blended mix of tree tomatoes and hot peppers to a small sauce pan, add the water (you can add more if you want a more liquid sauce) and cook on medium heat for about 5-8 minutes. You can also omit the cooking part, the sauce will be fresher, but will need to be consumed faster.

Then: Add the onion, lime juice, cilantro and salt to taste.

Enjoy! Serve warm or cold.


Replace water with oil (avocado, light olive oil, or a mild flavored oil) for a creamier Cuencano style aji (do not cook it after blending).

With love, 1CD38D2B-A6B2-4EFB-AFD7-7812C81D5BCEThe Downings

Mango Ceviche

Mango ceviche

We love mangos!  This simple mango ceviche recipe has brought us a fair amount of joy.  Seven out of seven Downings from youngest to oldest love this ceviche. To hear the recipe click the play button below. 



  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • Juice of a dozen limes
  • 1-2 hot peppers (red chilies, serranos or habaneros), seeded and sliced finely
  • Small red onion, sliced very finely
  • ½ cup water
  • four sprigs of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 4 ripe firm mangoes
  • 3 ripe juicy (soft) mangoes


First.  Peel and dice the firm mangoes

Then.  Soak the mangoes with ½ of the lime juice, ketchup, sugar and hot pepper slices for two of hours.

Then.  Pickle the onions by soaking them in warm water and 1 tbs of salt for 10 minutes, rinse and drain.

Then.  Mix the sliced onions and remaining lime juice, let marinate for two hours.

Then.  Remove the pulp from the three soft mangoes and blend with ½ cup of cold water to make a puree.

Then.  Add the sunflower oil to the marinated onions.

Then.  Combine the diced mangoes, the mango puree, ½ of the pickled onions and the chopped cilantro in a large bowl. Stir well and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Then.  Serve with the remaining pickled onions on the side or a spoonful on top of each individual bowl.

Enjoy! Serve in chilled bowls.

Click here for more great Ecuadorian recipes!

With love, 6EF7E090-4274-4931-9223-67A638494696The Downings

Shrimp Stuffed Avocado

This recipe for shrimp stuffed avocado is made with ripe avocado filled with shrimp, red onion, radish, bell pepper, celery and cilantro mayonnaise. It is a delightful appetizer but we find it is filling enough to be counted as a meal! If you dislike shrimp you can salvage this Ecuadorian food experience by replacing the shrimp with pulled chicken. 




  • 1 lb medium sized cooked shrimp
  • 5 firm ripe avocados
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • 2 radishes, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced
  • 5 tbs mayonnaise with chopped cilantro
  • Lime juice from 1 lime
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Optional garnishes:
  • Chopped lettuce, sliced tomatoes and chopped cilantro


First.  Chop the cooked shrimp in half, if desired keep a few whole to garnish.

Then.  Combine diced onions, radishes, bell pepper, celery, eggs, shrimp, ½ of the lime juice and mayonnaise in a bowl, mix well. Taste and salt/pepper if necessary.  Keep mixture refrigerated until ready to use.

Then.  Cut avocados in half, remove seed and peel carefully.

Then.  Drizzle remaining lime juice over avocados, this help keep them from darkening too quickly.

Then.  Use a spoon to stuff avocados with shrimp salad filling.

Enjoy.  Add any garnishes and serve immediately.


This dish is best served with aji or hot sauce to spice it up.

With much love,1CD38D2B-A6B2-4EFB-AFD7-7812C81D5BCE The Downings

For more great recipes click here!

Chicha De Piña

Spiced pineapple drink

Serves 8-10 people

Chicha de piña is a spiced pineapple drink made by simmering the pineapple skins and core with spices and hard brown sugar.  Seven out of seven members of the Downing family recommend this simple drink.


  • Assorted spices: cinnamon sticks, allspice peppers, cloves, anise
  • The skins and core of 1 pineapple, well washed
  • ¾ lb of panela (unrefined sugar) or brown sugar, whole or in chunks – more or less to taste
  • 10-12 cups of water


First.  Combine all of the ingredients in large saucepan or pot

Then.  Bring to a boil and simmer partially covered for at about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy.  You can drink it immediately or let it rest refrigerated to allow the spices and pineapple flavor to concentrate.

With love, 1CD38D2B-A6B2-4EFB-AFD7-7812C81D5BCEThe Downings

If you enjoyed this recipe podcast we encourage you to click here and check out this one!

Fanesca (Ecuadorian Easter Soup)

A while back we spoke about understanding Culture through language (you can listen to that podcast by clicking here). Today we invite you to begin understanding Ecuador through food. Today’s podcast begins a Saturday series called “Cooking With The Downings.” Each Saturday you will be invited to experience a different Ecuadorian recipe and join us as we explore the gastronomy of our beloved Ecuador.

Today’s episode of Cooking With The Downings is a bit work intensive but it is worth it to get a taste of Easter on the Equator. Fanesca is a popular soup served during Easter celebrations. To listen to our thoughts about it click play on the podcast below.


Fanesca (Ecuadorian Easter Soup) Recipe.

Serves: 25 people

This recipe serves a lot of people because Easter Soup is made for a very special occasion.  It is made for the traditional family get together’s held on Easter Sunday.


  • 2 lbs dried salt cod
  • 12 ½ cups of milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 6 cups of diced fresh zucchini
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 ½ cups of shredded cabbage
  • 4 cups of cooked and peeled fava beans
  • 4 cups of cooked corn kernels
  • 3 cups of cooked peas
  • 2 cups of cooked lima beans
  • 2 cups of cooked cannellini beans
  • 2 cups of peeled lupini beans
  • 2 cups of tender cooked rice
  • 8 tbs butter
  • 1 ½ tsp of achiote
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 10 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbs of ground cumin
  • 1 tbs of dry oregano
  • 1 tsp of ground pepper
  • 2 cups of roasted peanuts
  • 12 oz of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of feta cheese
  • ½ bunch of finely chopped cilantro
  • Avocado slices
  • Queso fresco
  • Pinch of salt


First.  Soak the salt cod in water for 24 hours, changing the water every 6-8 hours, at the end cut the cod into medium-sized pieces.

Then.  Barely cover the diced butternut squash and zucchini and cook until tender, drain the water and place them in a blender and make a puree.

Then.  Boil the shredded cabbage for 3 minutes, drain and add the cabbage to the squash puree.

Then.  In a large pot, Heat the butter over medium heat to make a flavor base for the soup, add the achiote, onions, garlic, cumin, pepper and oregano and cook until the onions are tender.

Then.  Add the cooked rice to the flavor base and mash it with a potato masher to make a thick puree.

Then.  Mix in the squash and cabbage puree.

Then.  Add 4 cups of milk and the fava beans, green peas, corn, lima beans and cannellini beans, stir and simmer for 15 minutes, stir frequently and avoid the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

At The Same Time.  Bring 6 cups of milk to boil, add the cod, and boil for 10 minutes.

Then.  Add the milk and cod to the soup.

Then.  Blend 2 cups of milk with the roasted peanuts, and pour into the soup, cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Then.  10 minutes before serving, add the lupini beans, the heavy cream and the cheeses, stir to help the cheeses dissolve.  Add chopped cilantro and stir well.

Enjoy.  Serve with sliced avocado and traditional Ecuadorian side dishes.  

Are you thinking of attempting this recipe? We would love to read your comments about your experience.

With much love, 5D25BBA3-9B30-40D8-B7E0-9ADF863B022CThe Dowings

Did you like this podcast? If so, click here for a less intense recipe for Pan de Yuca!