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.

 

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.

Pita Bread and Hummus

We are cooking again in San Clemente.  Today I am making the easiest pita bread you will ever find and hummus that will make you want to cry.  Well maybe smile, not cry.

IMG_3007NO Bake Pita Bread

Heat water and mix with yeast in the bowl of your mixer along with the 1 cup of flour.  Mix with the whisk attachment until completely blended.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes until bubbly and starting to grow.  Add balance of ingredients and mix with the dough hook for 8 minutes until the dough is soft and has formed a ball on the hook.  Take dough out, shape in a ball tucking the ends under and add a few drops of olive oil to the bottom of the bowl as well as the ball of dough.  Cover with cling film and a dish towel and allow to rest and grow for the next two hours.

When double in size take out of bowl, pat down to a disk and cut into 8 same size pieces. Roll each piece into a ball tucking the ends under and sprinkle with flour.  Allow to sit for a few minutes while the cast iron skillet heats – do not add oil.  Roll each ball into a flat disk and gently lay into the bottom of the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes. It should start to puff up and get nice brown spotted on the underside. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Now turn over once again and cook for a few more minutes. Place on a dish towel in a basket while you finish making the others.  If at this point you do not want to make the rest you can refrigerate the dough making sure it is covered completely with the cling film and when you go to use the next day just allow the dough to warm up a bit before cooking.

IMG_3003IMG_3004IMG_3002Hummus

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup cooking water from chickpeas or fresh water
  • 1/2 cup Tahiti (sesame paste) include some of the oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated fine
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh cumin, ground
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • extra olive oil and cilantro for garnish

In a food processor add chickpeas, tahini and olive oil  Start by pulsing and drizzle water until you get the right smoothness and consistency.  Add the balance of the ingredients and mix until completely blended.  Taste for salt, pepper and olive oil and add more if necessary.  Blend again, remove to a serving bowl, make a deep impression in the middle of the hummus and add your garnish of olive oil and cilantro to that indentation. Serve at room temperature with the pita bread.  Refrigerate any left overs for the next day. In our house, there were no leftovers!  Yum.