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.

Advertisements

Look At This Lunch Meat

I am not sure how the Uruguayan people would take me calling this lunch meat, but that is what it resembles to me.

Joe did a great deal of research before we moved here, we saw videos, had slide-shows and generally discussed Uruguayan customs, foods, housing, language, futbal and of course its people.

One major discussion item was food. I love to cook, I love to bake and we both love to eat, so many of our after dinner slide-shows included food.

montevideo-2-3-2Matambre is a rolled stuffed beef dish made here in Uruguay as well as Argentina.   We have seen it for sale in the local supermarket and decided to try it.

montevideo-2-3-3The bread is Pan de Campo or country bread. It was a huge round loaf and this sandwich is only half a slice of bread. I am not sure what the Uruguayans would use on the sandwich but I added leaf lettuce and mayo.  It went over very well.  I would buy it again. Yum!

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.

 

Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

IMG_1684We love all different types of food, almost anything Asian – Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Korean you name it we will eat it.  And because these restaurants are not found in our area, I have had to start making my own.  Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

These are Thai Spring Rolls. The biggest problem is getting the spring roll wrappers. A good soul brought me a package from the US and I use them sparingly. The other item I am having a hard time finding is Hoisin Sauce. A while back I could always find it on the shelf in Super Maxi but my past several trips including one to Guayaquil I could not find one jar. Well making Hoisin Sauce will be left for another post.

Shrimp Spring Rolls:

  • 4 dried spring roll wrappers
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of jumbo shrimp (Langostinos)
  • 1 small carrot cleaned and shredded fine
  • 1 small cucumber cleaned, seeded and shredded fine drain well
  • 1/4 package of fine rice noodles, cooked al dente
  • 5 leaves of iceberg lettuce shredded
  • 20 fresh basil leaves
  • 20 fresh mint leaves

prepare shrimp (langostinos) by boiling with the heads on in water infused with seasonings like bay leaf, peppercorns and / or hot pepper flakes for 10 minutes. Drain, run under cold water until cool, clean and cut each shrimp in half. Put in refrigerator until ready to use. Cook rice noodles, cool under running water, drain and set aside. Shred all vegetables and set aside along with the herb leaves. Small individual dishes work great for this.

Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 3/4 C smooth peanut butter (if using unprocessed peanut butter add 1 t brown or panela sugar)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C crushed peanuts
  • 1/4 to 1/2 t hot pepper flakes
  • 3 T Hoisin sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce

Mix the peanut butter and water together over low heat, add the rest of the ingredients once the peanut sauce is blended thoroughly. Taste for spice and sweetness adjust for your palate. The sauce should be thick, sweet and spicy.

Putting everything together:

Clear an area on your counter, clean it and arrange your bowls with the vegetables at the top of the counter. Take a large plate and add water to the bottom of it. Take each spring roll wrapper and gently sprinkle water over both sides. Do not use too much water. This takes a bit of practice. They will still be a bit stiff, they will soften up while you finish all four wrappers. Lay the wrappers down in a row going from left to right. With your plates of veggies above also going from left to right. Start with the wrapper furthest to the left. Placing shrimp in the lower half of the wrapper leaving both ends empty. Do all 4 with the shrimp distributing equally. Then add the leaves evenly over the shrimp, continue with the carrots, lettuce and cucumbers. It works better if you do each wrapper with each additional ingredient this way you will distribute more evenly on each wrapper. Do not overfill the wrappers or you will not be able to roll them. Starting at the bottom or the wrapper peel it off the counter gently, while stuffing the ingredients pulling the sides in until you have a neat roll with all the veggies inside.

Serve with the warm peanut sauce.

 

Garlic Confit

We just love garlic. I use it in about every savory dish I make. So when Joe saw an article recently about how to make your fresh garlic last, I just had to try it.  Garlic Confit…

It is a very easy process, clean your garlic and put it in a pot with good olive oil, cook very slowly for around one hour. Do not allow the oil to boil just a very low heat is required.

It’s ready to eat, plus the olive oil is infused with the great garlic flavor. The garlic itself is spreadable soft and if you want to infuse it with every more flavor drop in a few peppercorns, a dried hot chili or your fresh herbs from the garden.

IMG_2322 IMG_2323 IMG_2325 We tried it out this evening on slices of apple and Tilsit cheese. What  a great combination, it was smooth as butter with a very delicate flavor. I did add a sprinkle of salt and pepper just for good measure.

Remember to use the best quality olive oil you can find and the freshest garlic and you will not be disappointed.

Cooking for scratch and creating imaginative dishes has definitely changed how we view food, eating and shopping.

Peppers and Friendship

At this point in my life I would probably not be overly impressed if given a fancy sports car, a pair of beautiful high-heeled shoes – all I would be thinking is who is going to do repairs on the car and where would I wear a pair of heels in San Clemente…. but give me a bag of hot peppers and you are my friend for life.

San Clemente 5.29.2014 011These beauties were a gift and will be turned into several condiments for our table. First a few of the habañeros will be sliced and added to olive oil for Joe’s special taste sensation, the rest of them will be oven dried slowly until I can grind them into a fine powder. The red ones will be ground separately because the habañeros are incredibly hot and need special care in my opinion.

Thanks again Debbie and Ernie for this most wonderful gift.