I decided to make use of the fireplace and make our lunch in it today. I know I am starting to act like Mrs. Ingals on Little House on the Prairie (or Francis Mallmann for you foodies). This house does have two parrillas but I had a perfectly good fire going in the fireplace why would I want to make more work for myself. SO I wrapped a white potato and a boniato sweet potato in tin foil and dropped them under the grate on the hot coals.Then I took a beautiful piece of Rib Eye steak called Ojo de Bife Angus here and set it up next to the wood fire just above the hot embers. Lunch is served! I made a fresh chimichurri sauce to go with the steak as I had just purchased fresh cilantro as well as fresh parsley, added some spices, olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper and fresh lemon juice. YUMMY It looked great. It tasted great and I would make my steak this way again. And hey, potatoes are vegetables. And for dessert we shared an alfajor.
Each week when I go to the feria (Thursday Street Market) I am looking for what fresh and wonderful things they have for sale. Then I make my decision on what I will be serving during the next week. This week they had the most beautiful leeks so I had to have them. I paired them up with some good-looking potatoes and some pancetta and decided on Potato and Leek Soup.
Creamy Potato and Leek Soup
- 2 T of Olive oil
- 4 slices of bacon or smoked pancetta – cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary chopped fine (use fresh if you have it)
- 1 teaspoon adobo (here it is spice mix with several herbs and spices combined)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Add everything except the bacon to a good-sized pot, cook, allowing the spices to fragrance the kitchen do not burn. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy. Set aside a small quantity of this for a garnish.
- 4-6 good-sized leeks (trim green stalks and clean well to remove any grit)
- 4 or 5 large potatoes cut into cubes (I do not remove the peel – more roughage)
- 8-10 cups of stock chicken or vegetable (I used two bouillon cubes from Knorr)
- Pepper to taste
- fresh thyme sprigs (extra for the garnish)
Add the veggies to the spice mixture and sauté for just a few minutes, not to brown just for more flavor. Add your stock and cook for 30 minutes. Check to see if the potatoes are cooked. If not cooked through, give them another 10 minutes. Remove 3 ladles of the mixture to a plate and set aside. Using an immersion blender blend the remainder until it is smooth and creamy. Most recipes call for cream I think it tastes great without using it. After the soup has cooled a bit add back the potato mixture you set aside. Taste for seasoning and adjust according to your palate. When serving sprinkle the top with crispy pancetta and some fresh thyme.
Being raised in the US our custom was to have our main meal of the day at dinner time, after work. These were large heavy meals but our friend Eva suggested moving our main real to lunch making the dinner meal lighter. So that meal now consists of a bowl of hearty soup. That is why I make so many different soup recipes.
Here we use pinecones to get our fires started as well as getting it going a bit hotter when we have left it a bit too long without checking. So each week several guys come around selling big bags to help stock up our inventory. They run from 60 pesos a bag to 80 or $2.15 to $2.85 US per bag.
Right after I took this photo our guy came by and we bought two more bags of cones so our inventory is 4 full bags and 1 partial. That should take us for a few weeks when the weather turns cold again. The past several days it has been up into the high 60’s even got up into the low 70’s so we have not had a fire going.
Something new for us are these little green squashes. Here they stuff these zapallitos with all sorts of things and bake. I bought several and used a few in my ratatouille recipe. Had two beauties left so I decided to make my own version of these little baked babies.
- 2 nice sized Zapallitos – cut tops off. Remove interior add this to other ingredients
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 red onion cut up in small pieces
- 1/4 of a large red pepper
- 3 oz. ground pork
- 3 oz. ground beef
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- little cubes of cheese 2 oz or so
- a few slices of mozzarella cheese for the top
Set the zapalittos aside. Place the olive oil to heat in a frying pan, add the oregano, garlic and sauté for one minute add the chopped meat and cook until the meat is no longer raw. Move to a plate. Add all the veggies and sauté for just a few minutes add the meat back and cook for just a few more minutes. Add salt and pepper and check to see if it needs more.
Add a few small cubes of cheese to the bottom on each squash. Add one large tablespoon of the filling, more cheese, continue filling until the mixture reaches the top of the squash. Press down to use all filling. Place the lid on top and put in a 350 oven for 30-45 minutes. The squash shell should keep its shape. Right before serving remove the squash top and add a slice of mozzarella cheese. Put back in the oven and allow to melt.
Serve alone or with rice or mashed potatoes for a great lunch or dinner.
I started this article weeks ago, but finally a few days ago took my camera to get some pictures of Maria and Lourdes.
About a week after we moved in to the house in Alantida Joe and I were sitting out on the front porch catching a few late afternoon rays. Maria our neighbor across the street was taking a walk down our street. She smiled and I walked out to the road to meet her. She does not speak one word of English but has been wonderful in telling me about herself, her family and this neighborhood. She has lived in the house across the street for 35 years and in this area for 45 years. Her husband was a contractor and built many of the homes right on our block including theirs. Sadly he passed just a few years back and Maria is sharing her home with Reina (Queen) her little doggie.
A few days later I was outside with my new rake and I was attempting to clean up the pine needles from the yard. She walked over and we started to chat. Then she asked if I like palta – that is what they call avocados here. I told her yes but they had none at the market this week and the ones in the supermarket we so small, very overripe and expensive that I did not buy them. She said she had a tree and invited me over to her yard. Well she has a beautiful avocado tree with some huge fruits and it looks to be the Haas variety which is my most favorite of all the varieties. Then she showed me this little orange tree, again filled with huge fruits and so many on the ground just rotting. She picked and gave me about 20 oranges – they are Navel, yummy. Also a few lemons they look to be the Persian variety and two beautiful avocados. She showed me other fruit trees that I did not recognize the name or the tree as well as a huge gardenia bush in her front yard and a small patch of rosemary. She also had a big bush of Lemon Balm and several tomato plants just falling over with big green tomatoes.
As we stood in her front yard she told me that the tree in my front yard was a laurel or bay and so we came over together and picked a few branches she took some to her house and I took a big branch into my kitchen for my next batch of soup or stew.
Here is a picture of Lourdes and Maria who have been very kind to us. Maria is as sweet and gentle a person as I have ever met. If I stop by to visit she always has a cup of tea, a cookie or cake to share and loves to talk about her life and family. I wish I understood more Spanish the conversations would be so much nicer if I could completely follow along. What a blessing to have such beautiful neighbors.
While food shopping at Disco on Monday I met Jose who said he was 84 years old. He was holding an electric blanket and looked pretty dapper in his little cap. He told me he was a maestro…a maestro of what I never found out. We stood in the one isle for about 20 minutes chatting. He told me about his family many of which live in the US and speak English. Next I went to buy a throw for the bed and there was a women in a wheelchair and her companion a spry gentleman. I recognized her as the women who lives a few houses away around the corner from our home. We also chatted for a few minutes.
So far, everyone we have met has been warm and kind. Full of questions and willing to share information on the town, the neighborhood and themselves. From the taxi driver wanting to know how to say our address in English to the young man Frederico at the appliance store, and of course the guys at RedTec from yesterday’s post…everyone has been so very kind and takes the time to ask about us.
Un mensaje especial para María: Has sido un vecino maravilloso para nosotros desde que nos mudamos a Atlántida. Su cálida sonrisa, su amable corazón y su amistad son muy apreciados. Ojalá mi español fuera mejor. Ojalá pudiera hablarte más y entender más de lo que tú y Lourdes me dicen. Eres una mujer encantadora, Dios te bendiga por tu amabilidad.
Meet the guys from RedTec Informatica in Atlantida. From left to right Harry, Michael and Adrian.
What a nice group of guys, what a good place to visit if you need anything for your computer, phone, tablet. If they do not have it in stock they will order it and from my personal experience, in as little as one day you can have whatever you heart desires when it comes to technology available here in Uruguay.
The office located in downtown Atlantida at Calle 11 y 18, Edificio Portofino. All three guys speak a bit of English and are not shy in speaking to you. If you have questions you can email Michael at email@example.com or call the store at 4371-6456 or cell at 099 372 649. So far we have bought a few items from them and been very very happy. Joe has a new LeNovo tablet and I’m thinking about a new cellphone.
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!