Vendor Part 9: Torta, Torta, Torta

IMG_2954 Yet another vendor that comes around occasionally, delivers these beautiful chocolate or vanilla cakes.  They are probably a 6″ or 7″ cake for, you will not believe this, $1.50.  It is a really nice cake for $1.50. The chocolate one I purchased had a very thin white icing, it was not too sweet yet it really hit the spot for an afternoon snack. You can see it did not take us long to cut into it.

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Eva’s Birthday Lunch

My friend Eva celebrated her birthday last month so we went out to Viviana’s for a special girls only lunch.

It was great fun, we normally just meet to walk the beach but this was special to just sit and enjoy a lovely meal with my dear friend.

San Clemente 8.3.2013 009After our great seafood meal we went back to my house and had Lemon Poppy Seed Cake and coffee. What a lovely friend, Feliz cumpleaños, mi querida amiga.

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.

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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.

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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.

Baking Goodies from Todo Hogar

Joe, our visitor Harlan and I had a lovely walk through Todo Hogar in the Multiplaza (Kiwi/SuperMaxi) Shopping Center in Portoviejo. I was so happy to find some great baking items that I have not seen there before.

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What I found were baking sheets that will fit my small oven (I have used pizza trays for baking cookies), they also had parchment paper great for making a baked fish en papillote no cleanup just toss the parchment in the trash, and teflon cookie liners. I looked at the wonderful assortment of silpat but they were all too big for the cookie sheets and what I found out later is you cannot cut or bend them without ruining them, so these teflon ones will work just as well. I also found an avocado slicer and a handheld orange squeezer – a bigger version of what we use to squeeze limons. A great shopping day for sure.

Sidenote: It was interesting to note that this store name, Todo Hogar, translates to whole home.  In San Clemente we have a store we love with a sign that says something like Aqui, Casi de Todo. That translates more or less to Almost Everything Here. And it’s true! How cute is that.

Our 1st Christmas in San Clemente

Today a group of expats gathered at the home of Mary and Lou Defrain for a lovely Christmas feast hosted by Mary and John McDonald and Mary and Lou Defrain.  What a special affair it was.

When I spoke to my brother John and sister Linda in Pennsylvania this morning they had gotten a light coating of snow but it was bright and beautiful looking out onto my brother John’s patio, what did we ever do before SKYPE and an IPad.  Here we had the sun shining, the breeze was blowing off the ocean and the temperature was in the  80’s. Just perfect for an outdoor gathering.

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Upon our arrival Lou offered to make us a drink and then we would be on our own for the next. He had a beautiful bar set up with a great looking rum punch that looked to pack a heck of a punch, red and white wines, a selection of liquors and mixers of your choice. Out on the deck we found a huge trashcan filled with ice and beer…an ice cold Pilsener, that hit the spot for Joe and I.

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A beautiful platter of sliced salami and several different cheeses with crackers was set out to whet our appetites.

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Then we were invited into the house to find the entire counter filled with delectable treats. After a beautiful blessing over the food given by John McDonald we found a veritable feast including beautiful roasted turkey along side smoked tenderloin of pork. Let the feasting begin as you followed the counter to the end you found a variety of salads, my favorites were the broccoli and the linguine, well maybe you will need to fit in the cole-slaw and the quinoa OH I just can’t make up my mind, they were all fantastic.

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After most of us needed to unbutton that top button on our pants, well maybe that was just me, desserts were set out. Again, they looked fabulous and I did try a few, like the fruit kabobs, oh my, and the lemon squares…we sure do have some wonderful chefs here in San Clemente. This also was a very difficult decision because everything looked so wonderful and well I couldn’t fit too much more at that point.

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The conversations covered a multitude of topics and all seemed entertained just visiting with this eclectic group of people.

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It was a wonderful afternoon visiting with friends, meeting new friends and just having a great time.

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It is very difficult especially this time of year to be so far away from family, I want to take this opportunity to thank Mary and Lou and Mary and John for making all of us Expats feel like we were with family. Thank you for opening up your home and your hearts to give all the Expat community in San Clemente and San Jacinto a very Merry Christmas indeed. And Jackie – great picnic table!

Chocolate Brownie Cake

If you want something totally sinful this is the cake for you. It is like a brownie in the center, chewy and it will stay moist for days, that’s if it can last that long in your house.

I found the original recipe on one of Donna Hay’s cooking shows. I needed to change it because I am unable to find Hershey’s Cocoa Powder here. What they sell in the supermarkets is called Cocoa but it has milk solids and sugar added so the chocolate flavor is lost compared to regular old Hershey’s Cocoa. What I did was replace the cocoa powder with a Superior Chocolate bar. If anyone knows where I can find Hershey’s Cocoa in Guayaquil let me know and I will make a detour there the next time we are taking a trip up.

Chocolate Brownie Cake:

  • 150 g or 1 1/2 sticks of butter (do not use margarine this recipe needs the butter)
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 180 grams or 3/4 of a large 240 g Superior Chocolate Bar

Melt butter (do not boil just heat) and add sugar to dissolve add crumbled chocolate bar and mix until well blended – The sugar will not completely dissolve.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla

Combine eggs and vanilla and add to the chocolate mixture

  • 1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon of white all-purpose flour

Add the flour and whisk until well blended. Spoon into an 8″ spring-form pan where the bottom has been lined with wax paper. I use a bit of vegetable shorting under the wax paper and around the sides of the pan as well.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 160c until a toothpick/skewer inserted in the center comes out pretty clean, it should not be really wet but a few crumbs may stick and that is okay. Cool, remove from spring form pan, remove wax paper from bottom and serve with vanilla ice cream. Or just sprinkle with powdered sugar (Azucar Impalpable).