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.

 

Shopping at Tienda Inglesa – NOT

For the past few days I have had vertigo. For those that don’t know what that is, my world is spinning.  It happened several days ago when I turned in bed and then went to cough.  Something shifted in my ears and the room started to spin. Joe quickly got me in a sitting position and then I went through the exercises to shift these crystals in my ears.  Well I still don’t feel right.  And making a shopping trip was not anything I was interested in attempting to do.

Here you can go online with Tienda Inglesa http://www.tinglesa.com.uy/compras.php and place your order. You can pay by credit card, pick your delivery time and just sit back and wait for them to deliver.Honestly when you are not feeling well this is a wonderful service. All your food and supplies delivered right to your door – actually they brought them in and set them on my kitchen counter and floor.  Kudos to Tienda Inglesa…this is a great service.  And those great steaks from the Tuesday Lunch post – they were part of the delivery.  Gotta love it.

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.

 

Alfajores – A National Obsession?

We read so much about the infamous alfajor that the first day we were in town we were in a small market store (called an almacen here) and asked the young woman behind the counter, which is your favorite?…she was kind of shy and I guess I was kind of forward but she went over and pointed to two. Standing at the counter checking out was a beautiful young woman and Joe saw that she was dying to add her choices, so we asked her and she gave us two more to try.  Honestly every one we have tried, and I will tell you we have tried many, were wonderful. The supermarket has an entire section filled from top to bottom with all different types. You can buy them in a box, not sure how many to a box but I had to have great willpower to keep from buying an entire box. Walk away Nancy, walk away.

They are sort of similar to a Moon Pie when you look at them, but that is where the similarity ends.  Inside you are hit in the face with the most delicate caramel (dulce de leche) – it is not what I have had in the past, Uruguayan dulce de leche is lighter, less sweet and soft. The base is either two crunchy cookies or a soft and chewy cake to hold it all together…Most are covered in some type of good quality chocolate could be milk could be dark, some have a topping of coconut, some have a mousse filling along with the dulce de leche. And I know we will be adding new ones to our “we need more” list.  Below are just a few of the empty wrappers.  YES, YES, YES, they were all wonderful…My favorite of these was the Coco Late and the Mousse…but that could change with the next selection, hee hee

montevideo-2-9-17The confiteria (pastry shops) are up another level when it comes to alfajores.  I am sad to say that they do not last very long once we bring them into the apartment and as of now I do not have pictures to show you.  But when I say they up their game to another level entirely, I am not pulling your leg. Some are wrapped with a coating of coconut around the edges, while others have chopped almonds.  Some have a heart-shaped cut out in the center filled with a cherry or strawberry gel. Others have a macaroon topping that is slightly charred. They make them in bite sized little treats up to a full-sized and bigger beauty that Joe and I must share.  Actually every one of these pastries we cut in half and share with our mid-day meal. And not every day or I would be the size of a house in a few months.

montevideo-2-14-11montevideo-2-14-10montevideo-2-14-9montevideo-2-14-8

The above are just from one store in the Punta Carretas Shopping mall.

They can be addictive.

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.

Plum and Fig Tart or is that Fig and Plum Tart?

montevideo-2-12-21

I found beautiful fresh figs and large purple Italian plums this past week. Figs are a favorite since living in Playas, Ecuador.  Our guardian would pick figs and bring a bag to our home when they were perfectly ripe, soft and sweet. I would cut them in half, wrap half a slice of bacon around it and bake it in the oven just until the bacon was crispy.  That was a real treat. I can tolerate a Fig Newton, if there is nothing else in the house but unless you have had fresh ripe figs you have not lived.

I loved them so much and our friend Yusuf said I needed to plant a tree in the yard in San Clemente, Ecuador. Where was I going to fit another tree in the San Clemente yard?  Well I found a tree and found a place for it and enjoyed a small harvest a few times from that tree.  That is only one of the things I miss about San Clemente, but don’t get me started on that.

I made a shortbread crust, with flour, butter, sugar, dash of salt and vanilla and an egg.  No rolling necessary as it was going to be a tart, free form and rustic.  I cut up 6-7 figs and plums and arranged them on the pastry which I had placed on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking liner, this will stick as the sweet juices ooze from the tart. Turned the edges up and baked it for about 15 minutes.  The crust was wonderful and the fruit just so sweet and soft.

We will do that again…

Sunday Market or Feria

Early Sunday morning Joe and I headed out for our daily walk. Joe had several places in mind for us to at least walk by if not visit.  One was the planetarium another the zoo and the third was……..  But instead we got totally side-tracked as we discovered a Sunday Market about five blocks from our apartment.

montevideo-2-4-23The vendors block off the several streets and set up their tents, some even come with what looks like a food truck that opens to show cold cases for cheese, meat and fish.montevideo-2-4-24The first thing that caught my eye was the flowers, but I only picked up one plant and that was thyme.  And it joined my other herb basil on the washing machine in our laundry room.montevideo-2-4-25We figured a tray of 30 large eggs would cost $3.00 and they even had one man selling household products, cleaning, TP, paper towels.  montevideo-2-4-26There were several vendors set up selling cheese, pork, chicken, beef and even fish.montevideo-2-4-27 montevideo-2-4-28The fruits and vegetables looked fresh but we had just gone shopping on Friday and our refrigerator was filled with everything we needed for the week. I have not had the time to check prices but I am sure this Sunday Market is cheaper than Tienda Inglesa.montevideo-2-4-29Grapes run $1.42 per kilo, that is cheap cheap cheap.  They are grown here so maybe that is why they are so inexpensive. Next Sunday these will be on my shopping list.montevideo-2-4-30Everything is marked so you know what you’re spending.montevideo-2-4-31I just could not resist the strawberries, they are one of my favorites.  They were small with a hint of tartness. Just perfect to eat with sugar and cream, and that is just what I did.montevideo-2-4-32$1.60 a kilo for peaches. That works out to about 72 cents a pound.montevideo-2-4-33 montevideo-2-4-34 montevideo-2-4-35 montevideo-2-4-36This stand was selling all different dried herbs and even had nutmeg nuts in this bowl above.  Need to spend some time finding out what these are but I did buy some of the adobo which I knew had red pepper flakes and seeds in it.  I have used it on several things and it does pack a punch.montevideo-2-4-37 montevideo-2-4-38This will be our Sunday morning ritual.  Buying fresh fruits and veggies five blocks from the house.  Now all we need is one of those Old Lady Carts, yes, I am prepared to drag it around. ha ha