Today’s Recipe: Ratatouille

This morning we woke to 40 degree weather with a wind of around 18 mph.  A good day for a warm and hearty stew recipe. I had all the ingredients for a wonderful Ratatouille so that is what I have made.

If you like zucchini and eggplant you will love this recipe. The cutting up of the veggies takes the most time, the cooking time is super fast and you end up with a very hearty meal.

Ratatouille

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into sticks
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, cut into long sticks
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped including leaves
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (use better quality)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Parsley chopped for garnish

Use part of the olive oil to sauté the beef with the dry herbs. Set meat aside on a plate when almost cooked.  In the same pot add the balance of the olive oil and sauté the onions, celery and peppers for 2 minutes, add the balance of the veggies and cook just a few minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point you may need to add 1/4 cup of water but the veggies will release more of their own juices making more sauce. Add the ground beef and stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Check the tenderness of the veggies, they should hold their shape but be tender.  This is the time to make adjustments to the seasoning, adding salt or pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a grating of Parmesan cheese.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

This tastes even better the next day.  You can serve over a baked potato or rice to make a more filling meal.

This recipe is from Sandy Hill who we met in South Miami years ago.  We have lost contact over the years but this recipe has lasted the test of time.  Of course I have made several additions to make it my own but the basic recipe is the same as when Sandy had Joe and I over for dinner back in the late 70’s.

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.

 

Food Truck Heaven

Food trucks are a very big thing here in Uruguay.  There are several in little Atlantida. The one we pass every time we go into town sits about 5 blocks from the house. I stopped one day coming back from town and took home a chivito and a cheeseburger.  The chivito was wonderful, would not get the cheeseburger again. Have been totally spoiled when it comes to burgers after having Rudy Burgers in Montevideo, NOTHING can compare.

Joe was up to taking a walk a few weeks ago so we strolled down for a nice lunch break.  I wanted the chirizo sausage sandwich so we both ordered those and it was well worth it. Can’t wait to do that again!

Rudy The Burger House, Montevideo Uruguay

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You must taste the burgers at Rudy’s. Located on Av 26 de Marzo here in Montevideo.  Oh MY Oh MY.  First the restaurant located almost next door to the apartment we rented for the past 3 months. The burgers we had were nothing short of fabulous. The meat was excellent, juicy is not the word for this burger, maybe super juicy would be better.  We ordered the burgers jugoso which mean juicy but it actually is rare but not bloody red, just very juicy and dripping flavor. By the way, the server told us they make their own hamburg rolls as well.

It is a cute place with out front seating on a patio overlooking the sidewalk and road, inside seating in several different rooms as well as a patio out back that is walled and super private.  Our first visit we opted for the patio in the back and it was cozy, private and perfect for our lunch date.

The menu is burgers and fries. We wanted the cheeseburgers with all the trimmings and rustic fries.

Excellent.  We went back several more times before we moved and each time I brought the camera and the battery was dead. Guess I need a new camera.

If you are visiting Montevideo you MUST make a trip to Rudy. The best burger we have ever had. The beef here in Uruguay is outstanding and these folks know how to do it right. The only thing they do is burgers…..out of this world delicious.

Shopping Cart or Like I Call It The Old Lady Cart

montevideo-2-12-34Some days our shopping consists of just a few bags, but those bags can be heavy. Getting a taxi is easy but the supermarket is only 2 blocks from the apartment. So if we can walk it we do. In our walking around town we noticed so many people young and old alike pulling one of these carts behind them while they were walking home.  For $15 we bought this beauty and have used it several times both from the Supermarket and the Sunday Market.

It holds a good amount of packages, is pretty easy to either push or pull and stores well right next to the front door so we will remember to take it when we shop.

Yes, I hear ya, we are officially old.  Bring it on!!!

Fainá – Chickpea Flatbread

montevideo-2-7-28Another wonderful FOOD FIND…Fainá. It is chickpea flatbread prepared here in Uruguay.  We walked across the street to the Tres Fuegos Restaurant for a quiet lunch early one afternoon and ordered Muzzarella and Fainá.  The Fainá is thin, light and delicious. Some restaurants even top their pizza with it.  Not sure if we will try that. But alone it is wonderful. The muzzarella was a type of pizza made with a sweet tomato sauce topped with a ton of mozzarella cheese. FYI pizza does not come automatically with cheese here.

I may have to try the fainá at home….really good.

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.

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

They can be addictive.