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….

Baba Ganoush

I know the name sounds a bit strange but it is a wonderful tasting and very filling dip. Especially good with cut up raw vegetables or my favorite fresh pita bread*. So guess what I am making today?  Baba Ganoush. This is going to be lunch.  Joe and I have always talked about just having dessert first and forget about the lunch or dinner.  Well I say let’s have an appetizer for lunch and forget about the lunch!

So let’s talk eggplant, what a wonderful vegetable.  I make a delicious eggplant lasagna as well as a ratatouille recipe that I will post in the future. Both are excellent ways to use this very versatile veg.

Baba Ganoush

  • 1 large or 3 smaller fresh shiny eggplants
  • 1/2 head of garlic just cut the tops off to allow the oil to penetrate the cloves
  • 1 clove raw garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala – it is a traditional Indian spice blend that usually includes cumin seeds, cinnamon, coriander seeds, black pepper, clove, nutmeg and chili.
  • Olive oil for baking the veggies and a few tablespoons for the top of the dip
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

img_3224First take your eggplants, wash them and cut them in half. In a small tin foil wrapper add half head of garlic and just trim the tops of the garlic to show the clove below. Place all on a cookie sheet that has been lined in tin foil, less to clean up. Sprinkle all with olive oil, add the oregano and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until soft.  Squeeze any excess olive oil from the garlic tin foil into your mixture, what a wonderful flavorful oil it has made.

In a large bowl spoon all the eggplant flesh and squeeze the bottom of the garlic head –  the cloves will just pop out and add them to the bowl.  Mash all together and add your tahini, lemon juice, garam masala, salt and pepper. Finely grate the one raw clove of garlic on top of the mixture. Mix well. It should be dip consistency, pretty thick with no big chunks of eggplant if it seems too thick add a little water until you get the right consistency.  Taste for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Refrigerate. Right before serving add your cilantro and mix well.  Serve with sliced vegetables, crackers or pita bread.

img_3245*Pita bread recipe can be found by searching for Pita Bread and Hummus above from my August 2016 post.

Vendor Part 8: Donicio AKA the Whistler

Donicio comes by on his motorbike every day. He has this high-pitched whistle so you know exactly who is driving by, plus his motorbike is pretty loud. Obviously his whistle is why I call him the Whistler. Today he had fresh cilantro, choclo, lemons, long beans, green peppers, tomatoes and an assortment of fresh beans.  I assume he has a farm as the items change daily, are of limited quantity and all are fresh fresh fresh.

IMG_3010He was fascinated when he saw the picture I had taken of him. Sometime this week I will print a picture out for him and when I stop him again I will give him his photo.

 

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!!!!

Vendors Part 5: Fruits and Veggies for the Weekend

Around noon on both Fridays and Saturdays this lovely couple comes down our street.  They have a good variety of fruits and vegetables which varies depending upon what they can find in season.

IMG_2987Both on Friday and Saturday they had grapes, strawberries, two varieties of apples, pears, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beets, cauliflower, lemons, peas, mandarina, radishes, red onions, spring onions, broccoli, cilantro, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, tree tomatoes, garlic and green peppers.  Last week they had dragon fruit, two types of grapes, chard just to name a few of their many items.

IMG_2990 IMG_2988 IMG_2989There produce is fresh and of very good quality.