My Little Garden

Okay, I know I am in an apartment on the 9th floor but I just cannot live anywhere without having a herb garden. So our apartment for three months in Montevideo is no different from any other home we have had.

3-1-2017-montevideo-9 From left to right: thyme, basil, sage and mint.  What I really want is cilantro as I miss that so much and of course oregano. I have figured out buying the live plants is so much more economical than buying fresh-cut herbs each week.  And picking from the plant well you can’t get much fresher.

Joe has found two spice stores for me one is only about five blocks from the apartment.  They even sell vanilla pods, what a find.  I will need to stock up on those for sure.

I am having a grand time cooking with all the spices and herbs I have available to me.

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

Oh BOY! Salmon

A quick walk from our apartment we come to the port in Buceo, Montevideo. At the port there are several fishmongers, a small fruit and vegetable stand, a trinket shop as well as El Italian Restaurant.  Our first visit I saw the most beautiful salmon filet that looked fresh and I HAD TO HAVE IT.

montevideo-1-22-1The small fruit and veggie stand had some very nice green beans so that is what I bought to have with the salmon.

montevideo-1-22-5Most things here are sold by the kilo and that was not a problem with me because I was open for fresh fish for a few days in a row.

montevideo-1-22-8For lunch that day I made it with this outrageous Asian sauce.  It had soy sauce, fresh grated ginger, garlic, a few slices of hot red pepper for a nice punch, honey (sorry I miss Eva Honey, Eva is our neighbor in San Clemente and that is the most flavorful honey I have ever had) a grind of salt and a bit of pepper.  Heat that in a small sauce pan and top your sautéed salmon with it.  YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY

So we had two nice pieces for our next lunch, yes I can eat fish every day of the week.

montevideo-1-23-2I served the same sauce but a bit more ja ja as I love the sauce as much as the fish.  And I served it with a fresh salad and even added peach slices to the salad and made a yogurt dressing with a bit of honey and herbs and spice.

Well the salmon was a huge success and we will have it again very soon. One problem we really need to try more of the local fish as well. So we will see what I pick next.

PS I know this is farm raised in Chile. I know all about the antibiotics but honestly we just had to have it.  We will not be eating it every day so once in awhile I will take the plunge and have salmon….

Kofta Kabobs and Tzatziki Sauce Come To San Clemente

Another great recipe to use with the Pita Bread recipe from a few days ago are kofta kabobs with tzatziki sauce.  Most recipes for the kabobs I have seen and my original recipe were made with lamb.  Because we cannot find lamb very easily here I have modified my original recipe to use part ground pork and part ground beef. It worked well and tastes great.

Kafta Kabobs

  • 2/3 pounds ground pork (needs a good bit of fat)
  • 1 1/3 pounds of ground beef
  • 4 stems of parsley or cilantro *
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped *
  • 3 cloves garlic, roasted, peeled and chopped *
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Small pinch of clove
  • Small bunch of mint leaves, very finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • dash of chili flakes to taste

*Note: if you are grinding your own pork and beef add the onion, garlic and cilantro to the grinder, it just makes it so much faster and then it will be blended completely into the meats.

Roast the cumin, coriander and clove in a frying pan until they release their aroma, about 1 minute.  Cool slightly and grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.  Add all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl mixing well and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Shape the meat into a 6 inch tube shape like a sausage.  Gently cook for 3 minutes on a side, the meat will flatten out a bit but continue to cook until all sides have taken on a nice brown color and are a bit crispy.

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded and grated – then squeeze out excess liquid
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup thick yogurt or Kefir
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated fine
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • for garnish, chopped dill or cilantro and a dash of cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together and sprinkle with garnish and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make your pita bread (or use rolls) and place one kabob in the center of the pita and liberally cover with tzatziki sauce.  You can also use hummus or hummus and tzatziki together for yet another taste sensation… Beyond Yummy!!!!

Thai Lobster Corn Fritters

IMG_2961 I had the most beautiful fresh corn on the cob and several cooked lobster tails. So what shall I make?  How about Thai Seasoned Lobster and Corn fritters.

We are going to pretty much wing this, so hold on for a pretty funky ride:

IMG_2956Thai Lobster Corn Fritters

  • 2 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or clabber milk)
  • 1 small nob of ginger finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Several teaspoons of chopped cilantro
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 medium ears of fresh corn – cut from the cob
  • 2 cooked lobster tails, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large scallion

In a large bowl combine slightly beaten eggs with the next 8 ingredients Mix well. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder. Finally add corn, lobster and scallion. Mix well to incorporate all the dry ingredients.

Using a tablespoon place a dollop of the mixture in a preheated frying pan that has a small amount of oil on the bottom.  Cook on medium heat until golden brown, flip and do the same on the other side.  Serve hot with the dipping sauce.  But they are great cold from the frig as well.

IMG_2959Sweet Sauce for Dipping

  • 1/2 cup fruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoon of vinegar or water

Mix all ingredients and taste for seasoning. Set aside for the flavors to meld.

IMG_2960Side Salad

  • 4-6 leaves of cabbage sliced very thin
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and shredded
  • 1 small green pepper seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or white vinegar

Mix soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and seeds along with vinegar in a small bowl.  Combine cabbage, carrot and green pepper and toss with wet ingredients. Separate into serving sized bowls.

IMG_2949They came out wonderful and the taste was excellent.  A great use for corn and lobster, making a wonderful summer lunch.

Making Whole Grain Mustard

I received both yellow and brown mustard seeds from a blog friend and decided to make some beautiful fresh mustard.

San Clemente 3.27.2013 006

Whole Grain Mustard

  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I used regular Heinz vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt or sal de mar
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar or honey (optional)
  • you may want to add one of the following: 1 t dry tarragon leaves, 1/4 t allspice, a cinnamon stick, 1/8 t red pepper flakes or 1/4 t caraway seeds for flavoring

Put mustard seeds, wine and wine vinegar in a small bowl. Cover and let soak at room temperature for two days

Add mustard seeds and liquid to a blender, hold back 2 tablespoons of the seeds. Add salt, sugar and other flavoring blend until mustard is a thick consistency. Add the whole mustards seeds and put in clean jars and allow to sit in the refrigerator for two days before use.

San Clemente 3.27.2013 001

San Clemente 3.27.2013 003Two beautiful jars of whole grain mustard. I took a taste – it won’t take much to add a great deal of zest to a sandwich or, better yet, sausage. One jar is already being given as a gift to our friends Eva and Fred. I know they will get a “kick” out of it.

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

It is a wonderful feeling to look in my “pantry” and find fabulous ingredients like poppy seeds, baking soda, cardamom pods, curry, curry pastes, turmeric, smokey paprika, tapioca, fish sauce and an assortment of pickling spices right at my fingertips. This is due totally to all you wonderful folks who for the past several years have asked if you can bring us anything from the States.

Today’s treats include eight jars of Garlic Cucumber Spears made perfect with mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric and coriander seeds all delivered to my door by some of my new friends. I added a bit of garlic, some hot pepper flakes that I previously made and the balance of the dill weed from Mary MacDonald’s garden.

San Clemente 3.13.2013 001

I was in a mood today and so I also made Lemon Poppy Seed Bread/Cake. Oh my it has been a very long time since I have had poppy seeds in the house. These breads did not last very long. Joe and I ate a few pieces even before it was a bit cool, so I started handing out pieces to my neighbors or we would have eaten them totally ourselves.

San Clemente 3.13.2013 003

I guess this afternoon Joe and I should go to the beach. I have done all that I wanted to accomplish today so the beach sounds like a great choice for this afternoon.

Thank you again to all of you lovely folks that have packed spices and herbs, roots and seeds and all other sort of special item in your luggage to deliver to our door. I cannot express my appreciation for your kindness in making room in your luggage for these items. It truly makes a difference in our daily lives.