Today’s Recipe: Ratatouille

This morning we woke to 40 degree weather with a wind of around 18 mph.  A good day for a warm and hearty stew recipe. I had all the ingredients for a wonderful Ratatouille so that is what I have made.

If you like zucchini and eggplant you will love this recipe. The cutting up of the veggies takes the most time, the cooking time is super fast and you end up with a very hearty meal.

Ratatouille

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into sticks
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, cut into long sticks
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped including leaves
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (use better quality)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Parsley chopped for garnish

Use part of the olive oil to sauté the beef with the dry herbs. Set meat aside on a plate when almost cooked.  In the same pot add the balance of the olive oil and sauté the onions, celery and peppers for 2 minutes, add the balance of the veggies and cook just a few minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point you may need to add 1/4 cup of water but the veggies will release more of their own juices making more sauce. Add the ground beef and stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Check the tenderness of the veggies, they should hold their shape but be tender.  This is the time to make adjustments to the seasoning, adding salt or pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a grating of Parmesan cheese.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

This tastes even better the next day.  You can serve over a baked potato or rice to make a more filling meal.

This recipe is from Sandy Hill who we met in South Miami years ago.  We have lost contact over the years but this recipe has lasted the test of time.  Of course I have made several additions to make it my own but the basic recipe is the same as when Sandy had Joe and I over for dinner back in the late 70’s.

La Pippona

Empanadas anyone? What we are used to is a fried empanada with more crust than filling. These empanadas from La Pippona are light and flaky baked crusts with filling galore. We have tried several of them and so far our favorites are the Mexicana which is super spicy for Uruguay and the Ham and Cheese which is filled with chunks of great ham and a rich creamy melty cheese.  I failed to tell you we did order a little pizza as well, this went into the fridge for another meal.Each empanada is marked with dots to represent what the filling inside is and is delivered to your door hot and ready to just dig in.

But we have also fallen in love with the Lebanese open-faced Lehmeyun. These thin crusted pizza like flat treats are covered with a meat and spice mixture – this is so different yet so wonderful it sparks your taste buds.  Sprinkle a little fresh lemon juice (slices provided with your meal) on top and you are transported to an even better taste experience.

And to top off an already great meal they have dessert empanadas. Yes, you heard me correct.  We have tried two of the four desserts offered and really loved them.  One is an empanada apple pie, hot from the oven excellent. Just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon, thin sliced apples, divine is the only word that can describe this dessert. Actually tastes like the pies Mom used to make. As well as the National Postre (dessert) for all of Uruguay Dulce de Leche we ordered the one with chocolate chips. Honestly not so overly sweet just right for Joe and I to share.

In our research on Uruguay we saw so many comments about the lack of food choices here.  We have not found that to be true at all. The food varieties are wonderful, you have your pastas even with a special day the 29th of each month where noquis are on the menu at almost every restaurant. You have your choice of flame cooked meats from pork, beef, lamb, chicken as well as sausages galore and if your taste runs to innards they do that as well. Our favorite restaurant so far in Atlantida is Don Vito, the food, the service, the atmosphere are just perfect for our Sunday lunch. They have seafood choices, chivitos, pasta, salads, pizzas and meats as well as a beautiful display case filled with desserts to die for.  While in Montevideo we found Tres Fuegos had similar service and food. We have found hamburger restaurants serving just hamburgers, beef or veggie like our favorite Rudy Burgers on 26 de Marzo in Montevideo’s Nuevo  Pocitos section.  You want Japanese we have found several, even in Atlantida we have Sushi Brothers (will be doing a post on them real soon). Are you into seafood? The supermarkets have several varieties of local fresh fish and in Atlantida we even have a fish monger if you really want it fresh. Montevideo has Indian restaurants even take out Indian is available.

I just don’t see an issue with the choices. What we have learned since moving from the US in 2006 is you may have to do a little work to have what you want to eat. I have learned how to make so many things from scratch and that only makes me a better cook and we have more wholesome food and eat so much better as I can control what goes into my food when I use fresh ingredients. So you like Thai make it at home you can find most ingredients at your local supermarket.  Want Thai Spring rolls, make them. Here the supermarket has spring roll wraps, sushi nori, rice noodles, tahini, soy and oyster sauce, wasabi powder…you want to make Pho they have the spices and other ingredients needed to make your own home-made version.

It’s all part of the great adventure. You need to go with it.

 

Fugazetta at Tres Fuegos

While living in Montivideo we often decided at the last-minute to eat out. Many times we picked Tres Fuegos.  The restaurant located directly across the street from the apartment we were living in. And everything we had ordered has been exceptional. From steaks to pizza we have had no complaints.  And this was no exception.

This Fugazetta was fabulous – brick oven crispy crust, light tomato sauce, tons of onions and ham with just the right amount of mozzarella cheese.  Great celebration of flavors in every bite!

Feria One Block from the House

Every Thursday afternoon there is a feria (farmers market) set up one block from our house. It has seafood, cheese, meats, sausages, clothes, shoes, plants, cleaning supplies, garden items, you name it and it will likely be found on a table, or under a canopy or in a trailer.  I know that in Montevideo the residents of the street receive a tax incentive for having the farmers market in front of their homes each week and that it is a three-year commitment allowing the mercado to be on your street.

They sell grains and beans in quantity, plus all different types of herbs and spices.  Some places sell medicinal herbs as well.This stand had honey and home canned veggie mixes.Not a great deal of fruit this time of year.  But they did have three varieties of apples, bananas, pears, juice and eating oranges and plums.  One stand had beautiful strawberries but there were just too many people.These trailers have chilled display cases with cheeses, salami and other cold cut meats, they also have several varieties of olives.This market does not get totally set up until around 3pm. By 4pm it was packed with people. This week the variety of warm clothing was unbelievable – coats, hats, scarves, gloves, you name it and it was at the market.  Joe and I bought heavy wool socks and gloves along with some fruits and veggies for the week.  We also bought a variety pack of sweets, cookies and alfahores. It came out to 10 pesos a piece.  Not bad since we cut everything in half and share.Another trailer with cheese, salami and cold cuts. This one sells pet supplies. Makeup and nail polish anyone? I wanted all three of these cast iron pots.  Not exactly sure what to do with the one with legs… Now for all you Yerba Mate drinkers…I bought a dozen or so of the pansies.  Hopefully this afternoon I will get them into the planter on the front porch. Next time Joe requested that I take close up pictures so you could see the actual items and cost.  Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Thursday market. Joe also said the best part was eating the torta fritas that reminded him of hojaldras in Panama.

Weather in Atlantida

We have only been in our home two weeks today so I can only give you my impression of the fall weather in that time period.  It is cold! The house gets so cold at night and there is no central heat just a fireplace which we do not even have wood for at this point. During the day, if the sun is shining it is absolutely beautiful, clear skies, crisp air but hot sun to compensate.  You must start your day layered with cool clothing underneath and top with sweaters or fleece vests and a good jacket.  I have already worn my wool cap as well as my down filled jacket but within a few hours needed to strip down to those lighter things underneath. We have had one day of gloomy weather with rain showers and that makes everything seem even colder.

Some of the trees are turning yellow and dropping their leaves and the parrots are making nests in every tree in the area getting ready for winter.  They must eat the seed pods of the pine cones as there are cones all over the street and yards under those trees, with birds in a frenzy of excitement.

Right now is 75 degrees with 62% humidity and 6 mph winds at 2pm. Low for today is 56 high 76. Just a beautiful fall day!

Rudy The Burger House, Montevideo Uruguay

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You must taste the burgers at Rudy’s. Located on Av 26 de Marzo here in Montevideo.  Oh MY Oh MY.  First the restaurant located almost next door to the apartment we rented for the past 3 months. The burgers we had were nothing short of fabulous. The meat was excellent, juicy is not the word for this burger, maybe super juicy would be better.  We ordered the burgers jugoso which mean juicy but it actually is rare but not bloody red, just very juicy and dripping flavor. By the way, the server told us they make their own hamburg rolls as well.

It is a cute place with out front seating on a patio overlooking the sidewalk and road, inside seating in several different rooms as well as a patio out back that is walled and super private.  Our first visit we opted for the patio in the back and it was cozy, private and perfect for our lunch date.

The menu is burgers and fries. We wanted the cheeseburgers with all the trimmings and rustic fries.

Excellent.  We went back several more times before we moved and each time I brought the camera and the battery was dead. Guess I need a new camera.

If you are visiting Montevideo you MUST make a trip to Rudy. The best burger we have ever had. The beef here in Uruguay is outstanding and these folks know how to do it right. The only thing they do is burgers…..out of this world delicious.

Nigiri

While here in Montevideo we are attempting to eat at places we have missed for a long time.  Sushi is one of the things we have missed. So from Konichi-Wa to the mall sushi place we have enjoyed some great food.

Today we went to buy fresh fish and the salmon looked too good to pass up so we bought a kilo. On the way walking back I decided to try to make nigiri. I needed wasabi but had everything else.

Here is my first attempt.

It did not last long. Yum!