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.

 

Cranberry Walnut Scones: What a Wonderful Breakfast Treat

Last night before bed I was thinking what wonderfulness can I make tomorrow morning.

I have decided that we can eat “good for you” food every weekday but the weekends are special and we should have something even better.  So Sundays I make something wonderful like Lobster Rolls or a Pork Tenderloin Roast with Homemade Sauerkraut and Root Veggies or a Moroccan Roast Chicken with Guava Paste.  But Saturday morning should be special also.  So I remembered making scones once before.  The recipe was from a Rachael Ray cookbook and honestly it did not do it for me.  So I got on the computer and found a recipe from All Recipes.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/79470/simple-scones/

img_3434I of course made some changes and this is what I came up with:

Cranberry Walnut Scones

Heat the oven to 400 F.  In a medium-sized bowl mix the top 5 ingredients.  Grate the butter into the flour mixture and with a pastry blender or two knives cut the butter into the flour mixture. Do not use your hands as it will melt the butter. Add the walnuts and mix well, place in the fridge until ready to add the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl add the sour cream or the cream and vinegar mixture and set aside.  Add egg to cream and mix well.

Add your egg/cream mixture to your dry ingredients. With just a few strokes incorporate it – it will have dry ingredients that have not mixed well.  No problem just turn out onto a work area (I use a large plastic place mat).  With your hands knead gently until you have a soft dough.  Do not overwork, you do not want to melt the butter pieces. Just a few strokes with your hands should incorporate it into a nice dough.  Shape into a disk about 1/2 inch thick and approximately 7 inch diameter. Sprinkle top evenly with cranberries and pat into the dough. Sprinkle with the white sugar. Cut like a pie into 8 pieces.

Place on a baking sheet with parchment or another non-stick mat. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.  Watch that the bottom does not burn.

Serve hot with honey butter mixture or my favorite cream and honey.

Cream or Butter Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon butter or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light honey

Mix together and serve on the side with the hot scones.

Great with a good cup of coffee sitting on your porch watching the street come to life.

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!!!!

Thursday is Pork Day

Most Thursday mornings the family that sells pork and beef drives by with that days slaughter. I purchased 7 lbs of beautiful lomo fino (tenderloin) of pork. Half went into the freezer already covered with the dry rub, while the other half went into the refrig for its rest until this morning when I cooked it up.

I had to take a few pictures because these guys are just so sweet, the father was not with them this morning so I was only able to get photos of two of the sons. Here is a series of photos, I guess they wanted to look more macho so smiling too much was not how they wanted to be portrayed.

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The pork had marinated and this morning I had it in the pressure pot by 7am. While out this afternoon Joe and I stopped by Jesus’s place and picked up fresh rolls, I made cole-slaw and invited David Hitchcock over for a quiet dinner. It was fun, the pork was excellent and life could not get any better.

Another Episode of Little House On The Costa

Some days I feel like I am living the part of Caroline Ingalls in Little House On The Prairie. I am not complaining – it is a unique and wonderful feeling, bringing me back to a simpler time. I can remember my Mother and Grandmother canning pickles, plums, apple sauce and even meat. Memories of my father butchering a cow or pig and all the adults cutting up the meat, making sausages, packaging the meat in white butcher paper and labeling them for the huge freezer my parents had in the basement. Looking back, it was a wonderful time. My father and mother were proud of their accomplishments, storing foods for many months for a growing family that required a great deal of food on a limited budget.

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Above are the first four of us with Dad, missing is Mom who is taking the picture I’m sure and not yet born John Jr. and Lori Ann.

Here in Ecuador we are basically going back in time, very few processed foods are available and if you can find them at the big supermarkets they are expensive and the varieties are very limited. So to make our lives better we do many things from scratch an example is canning hot peppers, mango jam and assorted pickles and even sauerkraut, which I made this past week.

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My latest is grinding my own pork for sausage and beef for hamburg. I purchased over 5 lbs of res lomo fino (beef tenderloin) last Saturday, I honestly think it was still warm from the cow. I have learned to wrap these tenderloins in clean kitchen towels and place them on a wire rack on the lowest point in the refrigerator for several days to allow the meat to dry out a bit and age. This has worked wonders for the tenderness and taste of the beef. After a few days of aging, I got out my trusted ceramic knife (a gift from Joe purchased from the states) a good cutting board and started the task of cleaning the meat for steaks and chopped meat for hamburg. It is a labor of love, done because it is important to have good food, prepared with love. It took me over two hours to complete the task, package my treasures and cleaning up. On Thursday I purchased 5 lbs of pork tenderloin and put a dry rub on it and placed it in a plastic bag back in the refrigerator overnight, the next morning it was already in the oven wrapped in triple thickness of tin foil for a 4 hour marathon. It emerged tender, juicy and extremely tasty. The following is the recipe for the dry rub and the BBQ sauce to go with it.

Pork Dry Rub

  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons natural meat tenderizer
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt or 1/2 tablespoon crushed celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix together and apply to pork. Rub into the meat and allow to season overnight in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Southern Vinegar BBQ Sauce

  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

Mix the first ten ingredients together, stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, allow to cool for several minutes. Blend vinegar and basil in blender until basil is pulverized. Stir vinegar mixture into other ingredients and allow to cool completely, refrigerate.

It was actually fun preparing these things from scratch. Living in Ecuador can be daunting to some folks, our attitude is what else have we got to do with our time. Having that attitude towards any job makes the job less tedious and more rewarding.

Look! Pork and Fish On The Doorstep

 

Yesterday the young men who deliver pork and beef to our neighborhood stopped with a beautiful rack of pork ribs. I just could not resist and made these beauties for Joe last night. One word of caution, do not allow anyone to chop up your pork or goat using a machete or ax, this just splinters the bone and you end up having to pick out tiny bits of bone before you can prepare. This was pretty tricky for me to get into my biggest pot.

$2.50 a pound was expensive when I can buy tenderloin of pork from these same guys for that, so I will need to discuss this with these guys next Thursday when they come by.

Also this week the fish guy riding his bike with a 5 gal bucket precariously balanced on the bar sold me two pounds of these beautiful fillets for $4.

In looking for something different to do I decided to make Asian Fish Balls. What a great idea. Here is the recipe for those of you who need a change from the same old fish dish. This recipe comes from http://honest-food.net/fish-and-seafood-recipes/easy-fish-recipes/deep-fried-asian-fish-balls/

Asian Fish Balls

Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as an appetizer

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds white fish, such as largemouth bass, catfish or bluegill
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or Worcestershire
  • 3 small hot chiles, minced (you can use less if you want, we like it spicy)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced lemongrass or lime zest (I used both)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I did not have fresh so I used fresh dill it worked well)
  • 1 egg (I used 2 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (you can use regular flour, too), plus more for dusting (I did not use this at all)
  • Oil for frying
  • Lime wedges to serve
  1. Chop the fish into small pieces and put in a food processor. (I left the fish a bit chunky, it had a nicer consistency to me)
  2. Beat the egg and put it into the processor.
  3. Put everything else into the food processor and buzz into a paste. You want it pretty smooth, but not totally pureed. The reason you chop all these ingredients before putting into a food processor is because if you don’t some things will be a pulp by the time others will be broken down enough to use in the fish ball.
  4. Put a cup of flour into the bowl (this was not in the list of ingredients above and I did not use it – was not necessary)
  5. Get your oil hot over medium-high heat in a deep-fryer or a high-sided pot. Don’t fill the pot more than halfway full. What kind of oil? I use canola or peanut oil. You can reuse this oil a half-dozen times if you strain it through cheesecloth after you’ve finished and let the oil cool. (I used corn oil and threw it out, I don’t reuse oil that I fried fish in ever)
  6. Once the oil is approaching 350 degrees, start making your fish balls. Grab enough of the mixture to make a fish ball about the size of a ping pong ball and dust it in the rice flour. (did not dust)
  7. Fry the fish cakes a few at a time so the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much. Cook at least 5 minutes, and up to eight — you’re looking for golden brown.
  8. Drain the fish balls on a wire rack set over a paper towel.
  9. Serve with lime wedges and a cold beer.

Joe made a dipping sauce as follows:

1/2 C White Vinegar

2 packets of Splenda (you can use sugar if preferred)

1 t grated fresh ginger,

1 T onion

1 t carrot

Hot pepper vinegar to taste, dash of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of sweet and sour sauce.

This made a little bit over a half a cup. He just guessed at the quantities but it came out excellent and was a wonderful accompaniment to this dish. We ate the leftovers the next afternoon as a snack and they were actually great cold with the sauce splashed over them.

 

Pork Tenderloin Delivered To Our Door

Look what I bought off a truck for $2.50 a pound? Yes, you got it right, it is two beautiful pork tenderloins.

I first browned them and then cooked them up with seco seasoning, chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, hot peppers and we enjoyed it for dinner last evening with a good amount of leftovers for another meal.