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.

Tuesday Lunch

I decided to make use of the fireplace and make our lunch in it today.  I know I am starting to act like Mrs. Ingals on Little House on the Prairie (or Francis Mallmann for you foodies). This house does have two parrillas but I had a perfectly good fire going in the fireplace why would I want to make more work for myself. SO I wrapped a white potato and a boniato sweet potato in tin foil and dropped them under the grate on the hot coals.Then I took a beautiful piece of Rib Eye steak called Ojo de Bife Angus here and set it up next to the wood fire just above the hot embers. Lunch is served! I made a fresh chimichurri sauce to go with the steak as I had just purchased fresh cilantro as well as fresh parsley, added some spices, olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper and fresh lemon juice.  YUMMY It looked great. It tasted great and I would make my steak this way again. And hey, potatoes are vegetables.  And for dessert we shared an alfajor.

Oven Baked Zapallitos

Something new for us are these little green squashes.  Here they stuff these zapallitos with all sorts of things and bake.  I bought several and used a few in my ratatouille recipe.  Had two beauties left so I decided to make my own version of these little baked babies.

Oven Baked Zapallitos

  • 2 nice sized Zapallitos – cut tops off. Remove interior add this to other ingredients
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 red onion cut up in small pieces
  • 1/4 of a large red pepper
  • 3 oz. ground pork
  • 3 oz. ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • little cubes of cheese 2 oz or so
  • a few slices of mozzarella cheese for the top

Set the zapalittos aside. Place the olive oil to heat in a frying pan, add the oregano, garlic and sauté for one minute add the chopped meat and cook until the meat is no longer raw.  Move to a plate.  Add all the veggies and sauté for just a few minutes add the meat back and cook for just a few more minutes. Add salt and pepper and check to see if it needs more.

Add a few small cubes of cheese to the bottom on each squash. Add one large tablespoon of the filling, more cheese, continue filling until the mixture reaches the top of the squash. Press down to use all filling. Place the lid on top and put in a 350 oven for 30-45 minutes.  The squash shell should keep its shape.  Right before serving remove the squash top and add a slice of mozzarella cheese. Put back in the oven and allow to melt.

Serve alone or with rice or mashed potatoes for a great lunch or dinner.

 

Milanesa, Another Great Culinary Treat In Uruguay

montevideo-2-19This milanesa is a pounded chicken breast. We have found that every food store, day market called a feria and even small tiendas called almacens have these tasty meats available.  In Tienda Inglesia you can find them breaded ready to cook or already cooked and ready to eat.  We found these above at our Sunday market all ready to be cooked.  The first time we went to this market day so many of the older women were buying up packets of these – must have been for Sunday lunch with family. They looked like pretty experienced cooks so we decided to follow suit and buy a few for our Sunday lunch.  Well they were wonderful, flavored bread crumbs or cracker crumbs on a thin piece of chicken breast, heat a bit of oil in a pan and sauté and you are ready to eat.

I would definitely buy these again. I covered mine in Bolognese sauce and some mozzarella cheese and Joe’s in Caruso sauce which is very popular here.  Caruso sauce was first created in the 1950s in Uruguay by Raymundo Monti of the restaurant ‘Mario and Alberto’, located at the intersection of Constituyente and Tacuarembó Streets in Montevideo. Monti wanted to create a new recipe following the current traditions of Italian Cuisine. The dish was named in honor of the famous Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso (1873–1921) who was a popular figure in South America during his tours of the 1910s. It is a rich cream sauce with mushrooms and ham, it became known as Caruso sauce and is sold fresh in the refrigerator section of most grocery stores here.

Shiela’s Chicken Wing Sauce

montevideo-2-11Way back when we were just kids I had a good friend, Shiela Adelman. We lived in South Florida at the time and Sheila had a exercise studio where I taught aerobics classes. Besides being a great exercise instructor she was also a great cook.

She would use chicken wings for this recipe, I love using skinless chicken legs and other times I would use boneless and skinless chicken thighs.  Honestly the recipe will work with any cut of chicken.

Her recipe was just the ingredients, no quantities, so you can add additional amounts until you have this Sticky Asian BBQ sauce to your liking. This is how I make it now after years of tweaking it:img_3244Shiela’s Chicken Wing Sauce

  • 1/2 C Ketchup
  • 6 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C honey darker in color is more flavorful to me
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (taste before adding salt the ketchup and soy sauce may give it all the salt it needs)
  • 2 small slices of fresh red pepper or a dash of red pepper flakes
  • Fresh ginger

Mix all the ingredients together until the sugar is melted.  Put your chicken wings, thighs or legs in the mixture and allow to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 1 hour.  The sauce should be thick and the chicken tender.  Enjoy! Oh, and be sure to have a few napkins handy!

Fish Market at the Buseo Port

montevideo-2-12-28On Saturday we walked down to the Buceo Port as Joe was asking for fish. We got the salmon again, and just like the first time, it was fabulous.

montevideo-2-12-31 montevideo-2-12-30 montevideo-2-12-26All the fish looked good and even things like calamari, octopus and the mussels looked fresh and very appealing. Prices are in Uruguay Peso, convert to US Dollars by dividing the number on the card by .28.  All of these prices are for a kilo which is a little over 2 pounds.

montevideo-2-12-27You can buy a whole fish or you can buy steaks or fillets.

montevideo-2-12-33 montevideo-2-12-32There are two other stores including a store with local trinkets as well as a vegetable and fruit stand that carries spices, herbs, a few live herb plants and has a cooler with drinks.

montevideo-2-12-29A new addition from the other times we were there was a van backed up to the sidewalk and the back door opened. As you can see it had a variety of cheese, wine and salami.

We got our salmon and ran home to have lunch.

Tenderloin and Beet Greens

Loving what you do, learning something new every day, working to have a good life, it all fits into our way of life.  Before retirement we had time for so little, between work, taking care of a house, yard, Jennifer which was the best part…the days fell very short of hours, our lives were a constant rush here, rush there.  Looking back I find it amazing that we accomplished as much as we did.  So now I have the time to shop for the best quality in meats, vegetables and fruits. Taking my time and most of the time meal planning based on what is available.

We have been blessed to have lived in such abundant countries as the US, Panama, Ecuador and now Uruguay. Uruguay is known around the world for its delicious beef.  I picked up a pound of tenderloin and found fresh beets with just perfect greens attached.  That became our mid-day meal.

montevideo-2-4-11I cut the steaks into about 4 ounce portions, more than enough for Joe and I for our lunch. I brought water to a boil and after cleaning the greens cooked them in salted boiling water for just 2 minutes.  When drained I added them to a frying pan that had a good glug of olive oil, chopped garlic, chopped shallots and chopped hot red pepper.  Saute it for just a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and it was ready to serve.  Dropped the steaks on a roaring hot frying pan and turned them in 3 minutes, cooking on the other side for just 2 minutes more.  Set aside, top with a dab of butter, a sprinkling of chopped hot red peppers and we are ready.

montevideo-2-4-15 montevideo-2-4-12 Steak was tender, juicy and very flavorful.  Loved the beet greens with their similar to mustard greens flavor they were a big hit. So next time when you see the leaves still on the beets, look for the freshest bunch and try this, you will get a nice addition to your next meal.