Layered potato cake with shrimp recipe

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This is not a cake in the sense of the dessert we are used to in the United States, but rather a savory, layered creation that makes for a beautiful presentation of color as well as a unique use of potatoes.
Causa is an ancient Peruvian creation that has adapted to the introduction of new ingredients by incorporating some as fillings. Causa is made with a yellow variety of potato not available in the United States, but the Purple Peruvian or Yukon Gold can be substituted.

  • Yield: 20 portions (5 ounces/portion) as an appetizer; fewer if used as an entree


For Making the Potato Base
  • 2 gal Water
  • 2 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 lbs Purple Peruvian Potatoes, peeled (if these are unavailable, use all Yukon Gold)
  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled
  • 4 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil (traditionally just vegetable oil)
  • 2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 oz Aji Amarillo Paste
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp White Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
For Making the Filling and Garnish
  • 3 Avocados, pits removed and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 40 Shrimp (26/30), peeled, deveined (from the inside, not back), and poached
  • 8 oz Red Onion, minced
  • 4 Eggs, hard-boiled
  • 12 oz Queso Panela, crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp Cilantro, minced
How to Make It
    For Making the Potato Base
  1. Add 1 qt of water, 1 Tbsp of salt, and each of the potato types to each of two separate pots; bring to a boil over a high flame.
  2. Once the potatoes are tender throughout, strain them through a colander and allow any excess water to drain and steam off for 5 minutes.
  3. While they are still hot, press the cooked potatoes through a food mill or a sieve to yield lump-free, smooth potatoes, making sure to keep the two types of potatoes separate.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine ½ of the extra virgin olive oil, all of the lime juice, and all of the aji paste (this mixture will be used with the yellow potatoes; the purple potatoes will only be seasoned with ½ of the oil and salt and pepper).
  5. Add all of the chili/lime mixture to the yellow potatoes and ½ of the olive oil, salt, and pepper to each of the types of mashed potatoes, mixing them in with a whisk to yield a smooth potato mixture (this should be done while the potatoes are still hot/quite warm, so have all ingredients ready for this step).
  6. Taste the potato mixtures and season, if necessary, with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer each of the potato mixtures to a pastry bag with a round tip.
  8. For Assembling the Causa
  9. To assemble into individual portions, gather 20 small shaped molds and coat the insides with a very thin layer of vegetable oil or pan spray. To assemble into a larger portion, a springform cake pan works well for molding a circle, which can then be cut into wedges (also coat the inside of the springform pan with vegetable oil or pan spray before starting).
  10. If you are using the individual molds, place the molds on a sheet pan covered in plastic wrap, and pipe a single, solid layer of the Yukon potato mixture onto the sheet pan and inside the mold. If you are using the springform pan, place it directly on the serving platter and assemble there. (As you add the remaining ingredients, remember that it is only the outside of the container you are filling that will be visible [unless you are making this in the large cake form and then cutting for serving], and thus you want the ingredients in the layers up against the outside container so they are visible when unmolded.)
  11. Place the avocado slices on top of the Yukon mixture, pressing down slightly to keep compact and keeping them at the edge of the small molds (if using small molds).
  12. Next, pipe a solid layer of the purple potato mixture twice as thick as the first Yukon potato layer on top of the avocado.
  13. On top of the purple potato mixture, place pieces of the poached shrimp with the uncut back facing the very edge of the mold; add some of the minced red onion to make it an even layer. Compress slightly to keep everything tight in the mold.
  14. Next, pipe another layer of the Yukon potato mixture on top of the shrimp, and spread flat with a metal spatula dipped in water.
  15. Cover the top of the causa with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until completely cool (about 1 hour; the process up to this point can be done a day ahead of serving).
  16. For Garnishing the Causa
  17. Release the causa from the springform pan, if you are making the larger presentation. If you are using the individual molds, carefully remove each causa by pressing on the top of it and sliding the mold off of the mold; then transfer each causa to a serving plate using a metal spatula.
  18. Once the causa has been released and is on the plate to be served, it can be garnished with the hard-boiled eggs (chopped or wedged, if desired), queso panela, and cilantro.

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