Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oysters, Tabasco and Limes

I lived in the mountains away from the sea for way to many years.
I do not love cold weather but I do enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing; my biggest complaint was the lack of fresh seafood. On top of that the little seafood we get is extremely expensive.
Since I arrived to Brazil I can’t stop eating raw Oysters.
They are so fresh and sweet. I like the smaller ones, not because of difference in taste but I think Oysters should be a one-bite affair
Walking to a bar on the beach and enjoying beautiful sunsets with great company.
Good music…what else could I ask for?
Oh yes…A cold beer

Friday, November 14, 2008

Top three reasons to go to Brazil.

Food, food, food.

A few days ago I was chatting with my cousin on line and he asked me: “What are you doing?”
“Not much” I answered, since I just woke up and I was enjoying my cup of super-strong coffee.
“Come over” he replied.
“Over to Brazil?”I asked, thinking maybe the coffee wasn’t as strong as I thought.
“Yes” he said.
“Ok” I answered.

I finished my coffee, grabbed my little red bag, threw in 2 bikinis, a pair of flip flops, a couple of sun dresses and my camera; and left.

Twenty six hours later I was arriving at the Florianopolis rodoviaria (bus station), hugging my cousin after almost 20 years of being apart.

The love for food is definitely a family thing. I’ve been feasting for 4 days nonstop. The fact that it rained for 3 days didn’t help at all; no sightseeing, no morning walks just eat, munch, munch, eat.

Today it was the first sunny day and to celebrate we went out for lunch. We had seafood, my favorite.

The food was so good and fresh that I almost forgot to take pictures. So I’m sharing pics of what was left. Better than nothing, I guess.

We had Oyster, fried fish, fried shrimp, mussels with vinagrette sauce, a side of rice and a second side of something like cream of wheat, that I need to ask the name again because I forgot.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Me Me

I have been tagged...

By Ilva from Lucullian Delight to tell six random things about me:

· I am 42 years old and I still do not know what I would like to do when I grow up.
· When the sun touches my face I get an instant smile.
· My grandfather died when I was 5 years old, but in those few years he left me with enough happy memories for a life time
· I have seen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun over 100 times and I never get tired of it.
· I do not care much about sweets but I could eat a jar of Nutella a day.
· I really wish people would smile some more.
I'll just invite anybody who feels like it to consider himself tagged (or herself)

Monday, November 3, 2008


Good friends, good food; can you think of a better combination?
We had a fun Paella night and a mouthwatering barbecue.

We traveled a little around the province.
Drove through “El Trapiche”, such I nice community, I definitely want to go back and spend some time there.
We stopped for lunch at El Hotel Potrero by a beautiful lake in “El Potrero de los Funes”great service and a very nice meal.
Then continued our drive to “La Carolina” , a very small gold mining town with population 250. The end of our day trip was at “La Gruta de Inti Huasi” .

I saw old friends and I made new friends.
My stay in San Luis was wonderful; I can’t wait to go back.

For dessert after the Paella we had a cake called Pirineo, made by one of the guest, un-be-li-va-ble!! The bottom was similar to a thick brownie with nuts, cover by dulce de leche repostero, a layer of heavy whipped cream and meringue on top.

My lunch at the hotel, Veal with a reduced Marsala sauce with peach and a side of veggie mashed potatoes. Big enough for 2.

One of my friend's meal was a typical Milanesa a la Napolitana.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

3 Delicious Spinach Recipes

Somehow the last three posts have been about spinach.
This is the end of the series.
This recipe is from my friend Patricia, who hates to cook, but has this signature dish that is fast simple and delicious.
Try it you can’t go wrong.
Just follow these easy steps.
Spinach Nests

Put some butter in an small oven proof bowl. (Individual portions)

Enmantecar unas cazuelas. (Porciones individuales)

Add some fresh spinach.

Agregar espinaca fresca.

A touch of salt.

Un poco de sal.

An egg in the middle.

Un huevo en el medio.

Heavy cream (that was really good heavy cream)

Parmesan Cheese. (a lot)
Queso rallado. (bastante)

And into the oven until the egg is cooked.
Y al horno hasta que se cocine el huevo.
Niditos de espinaca

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spinach, a delicious source of iron and calcium

I left Buenos Aires and moving on to San Luis, visiting some chilhood friends.
The weather is fantastic, warm with a nice breese keeping the day from becoming hot.
My frineds are so kind and happy and hospitable; I don’t want to leave.
“Vivi”has been working at my friends house for almost a decade and yesterday she made a fantastic spinach fritatta. She is the proud owner of some very expensive Essen cookware. Interestinly with that kind of pan you do not need to precook any of the frittata ingredients and you do not even need to turn it over.
Here she is sharing her recipe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spinach. So good for you

I’m visiting my hometown after many, many years. It feels as if I never left.
I’ve seen a lot of friends, visited many places and I’m enjoying immensely the food I grew up with.
The country I am from has a strong Italian influence. A very characteristic dish from my area is Tarta Pascualina or Spinach Pie.
I found a recipe for Tarta Pascualina in the book “The Silver Spoon”, this book is the English translation of Il Cucchiaio d'argento, an Italian classic.
This is not exactly as the Pascualina I grew up with, but in my opinion, it is a wonderful variation.
Tarta Pascualina

Butter, for greasing
1 ½ pounds, spinach
10 eggs, divided
1 ½ cup ricotta
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs bread crumbs
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs fresh marjoram, chopped
16 oz puff pastry dough, thawed if frozen
all purpose flour for dusting
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a pie dish with butter. Cook the spinach in salted boiling water for 5 minutes until tender, then drain, squeeze and chop. Beat together four of the eggs. Put the ricotta in a bowl; add the beaten eggs, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and cream and season. Stir in the spinach and marjoram. Roll out half the dough on a lightly floured surface into two sheets. Line the prepare dish with a sheet of dough, letting the edges overhang; pour in half the spinach mix. Make 6 small hollows in the spinach mixture and break an egg into each. Season, cover with the remaining spinach mixture and top with the rest of the dough and crimp carefully around the sides to seal. Prick the surface with a fork. Bake for 1 hour. The pie may be served hot or cold.

Tarta Pascualina
1-½ libra de espinaca
10 huevos
1-½ tasa de ricotta
½ tasa de queso rallado
2 cucharadas de pan rallado
1 tasa de crema de leche
1 cucharada de mejorana fresca, picada
Masa de tarta
Sal y pimienta a gusto

Precalentar el horno a 400 F. Enmantecar la tartera. Hervir la espinaca en agua salada por 5 minutos, luego colar, escurrir y picar. Batir 4 de los huevos. En un bowl mezclar la ricotta con los huevos, queso rallado, pan rallado, sal y pimienta. Luego agregar la espinaca y la mejorana.
Poner masa de tarta en la tartera y agregar la mitad del relleno de espinaca. Hacer 6 huecos en el relleno y romper un huevo en cada uno. Luego agregar la otra mitad del relleno; cubrir con la otra tapa de tarta; hacer el respulgue y poner al horno por 1 hora.
Se puede servir frío o caliente.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Paper Chef 33… The Results!

Well, before I even star writing, I have to say this was with out a doubt the most difficult decision I made in my life. I hope my ex-husband is not reading this but it was much easier to decide about getting a divorce (with a small child in a foreign country) than to pick a winner for Paper Chef 33. Every single entry is fabulous.

Usually when I looked at Paper Chef’s previous entries, I had an immediate favorite. This was absolutely not the case.

Let’s start with Kay and Dana from Besides Pizza with Really Red Apple Pie Crisp
I do not have a sweet tooth, but if there is a sweet I like it is apple Crisp; what a great idea. The addition of coconut, walnuts and pecans on the crisp is something that I’m taking notes and implementing in my next apple crisp for sure.

Next we have Duncan from Syrup and Tang with Beetroot and ginger layered kuih with apple purée, very creative idea. I had rice cooked in coconut milk (a sweet version) in Thailand and I loved it. I think using ginger in both the jelly and the apple puree was a very smart way of combining all the flavors.

Prtybrd from Culturally Confused made Ginger Rice Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Apple Beet Compote. How did I not think of that? As a child I don’t remeber ever eating pork with out applesauce; this “grownup” version with the compote is fantastic.

Next are Mike and Paul from Eat Me! with Green Apple Risotto with Beetroot and Ginger “agrodolce” and Walnuts. What is better than a good risotto? A good risotto with a twist and a great side. I really like the addition of vincotto to the agrodolce.

Magnus from Amsterdam. What are you trying to do to me??? It is difficult enough to judge on dish, imagine a three course menu. You are just an explosion of ideas and very good looking I must add (I’m talking about Magnus, not food). So he made Smoked mackerel on an apple salsa with a beetroot sauce and a beetroot cracker to start, Rice coated sea wolf on lentils in a beetroot broth as a main and Fluffy rice pudding with apple gel, poached beetroot with beetroot syrup for dessert.

Ilva from Lucullian Delights made Beetroot and Ricotta Mousse with Ginger, Thyme and Balsamic Vinegar Served in Rice baskets and Topped with Apple Garnish., Beautiful! And I cannot imagine how good that dish was using the amazing Italian fresh ricotta (one of the 5000 reasons I would love to move to Italy).

This are all the entries, they are all extremely creative. I personally thought about making soup or slaw, so I’m glad I didn’t participate in this round because I would have come last.

Everybody used all the ingredients.
We have sweet, salty….and I like them all.
So the only way I can decide who is the winner is by thinking which of this recipes I would try FIRST.

And….that would be Magnus’s Rice coated sea wolf on lentils in a beetroot syrup.
Congratulations Magnus! Have fun being the judge next month and please mail me some samples of those dishes.

And for the People’s Choice we have Kay and Dana's Really Red Apple Pie Crisp.
(I wouldn’t mind some more samples)

Thanks to Ilva for organizing everything, and thanks for playing!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Best Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Sweet Potatoes with Tangerine Chipotle Glaze

I have a great cookbook from Chef Douglas Rodriguez; it’s called Douglas Rodriguez Latin Flavors on the Grill. The recipes are sophisticated approach to Latin cuisine and they are photographed beautifully.
A few weekends ago I sat in the kitchen with the book and after reading it back and forward 3 o 4 times I chose a menu; fish with a wonderful looking fruit salsa and a side a sweet potatoes with orange chipotle glaze, a real explosion of colors.
I made a detailed list of all the ingredients, went to the store and shopped for everything.
I was going to a friends house and we where going to cook dinner together.
I was running late (as always) and left in a rush. Halfway down the road I realized I’ve forgot the cookbook, there was no way I was turning around and I thought I would probably remember the recipes. Usually the first time I cook something from a cookbook I like to follow the recipe to the T, to learn something new. Then after that first time I make changes to my taste and eventually the recipe becomes mine.
Well, this was not going to be the case. By the time we started cooking after some chatting between some cheese and wine, I could no remember the recipes at all and I had several “EXTRA” ingredients.
I was not delighted with the fish and the salsa results, but I absolutely loved the sweet potatoes, that ended up with a Tangerine glazed instead of and orange glazed (part of my extra ingredients problem)
So I could say this recipe is INPIRED by Chef Douglas Rodriguez.

Sweet potatoes with tangerine chipotle glazed

· 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½ inch rings
· 2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
· ½ cup fresh squeezed tangerine juice
· ¼ cup butter, melted
· Salt to taste
· Cilantro, chopped

In a medium saucepan boil potatoes in salted water until done (be careful to not over cook). Melt butter in a large frying pan and arrange sweet potatoes with out over crowding. Sauté until golden brown on one side; turn over and sauté on the other side, season with salt to taste. Meanwhile mix chipotle with tangerine juice, add to sweet potatoes and reduce until glazed. Serve and sprinkle with cilantro.

Batatas con un glasé de chipotle y jugo de mandarinas

· 2 batatas grandes, peladas y cortadas en rodajas de 1 cm
· 2 cucharadas de chipotles en adobo, finamente picados
· ½ taza de jugo de mandarina
· ¼ taza de manteca
· Sal a gusto
· Cilantro picado

En una cacerola mediana hervir las batatas en agua salada con cuidado de no sobre cocinar. Derretir la manteca en una sartén grande y distribuir las batas sin amontonar. Dorar de un lado y dar vuelta, salar a gusto. Mientras mezclar el jugo de mandarina con los chipotles picados y agregar la mezcla a las batatas. Seguir cocinando hasta que la mezcla se reduzca y las batas queden glaseadas. Servir y decorar con cilantro picado.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Paper Chef 33

It is time for the October edition of Paper Chef.
Paper Chef 32, was my first time participating and I loved it.
The ingredients, in my opinion, where challenging and for a while I had “chef’s block”, but suddenly, ideas started flowing.
I’m very exited about being the Judge for this month’s event. I hope we'll have many entries.

This month randomly chosen ingredients are:




And to this I would like to add:

-Apples (any kind)

My first thought was actually “lamb” but then I realized lamb was chosen not long ago.

So… you have until Tuesday October 7th by midnight to come up with a wonderful recipe.
If you have any doubts or questions, the official rules are at the Paper Chef blog and you can always email questions at paperchef AT gmail DOT com, where our wonderful host Ilva, from Lucullian Delights has always the right answer.

Get creating and have a blast!

Monday, September 8, 2008

What to do with quinoa

I’ve been watching Paper Chef from afar for quite a long time.
I’ve been wanting to participate for a long time also but I always happen to be out of town, traveling, in a foreign kitchen, etc…So, I was so exited this time to actually be able to participate. That was until I saw the ingredients list.
Quinoa, tomatoes, yogurt and rice paper.
Quinoa is something that I like if somebody else makes it, but I wouldn’t normally cook with it. Love tomatoes and yogurt and I have used several times rice paper for Shrimp Rolls. The combination of all 4 ingredients was definitely a challenge for me.
Ilva, who is our wonderful Paper Chef host, just publish some scrumptious "Polpettine di pollo con rosmarino" and that is where I got my inspiration from.
My dish is a roasted tomatoes soup with mini quinoa croquettes (or polpettine).
The soup has small dollops of Tzatziki and the rice paper was cut into small strips, seasoned and fried for garnish.
I hope you’ll enjoy it; it was fun creating it

Roasted tomatoes soup with quinoa croquettes:

For the soup:

6 ripe tomatoes
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 onions, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
Oregano, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Cut tomatoes in half; fit cut side up on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a touch of kosher salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile sauté onions in a medium pan. Chop tomatoes and add to the onions, mix well and add the broth; season to taste.

Quinoa croquettes:

1 cups cooked quinoa
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup parsley
Pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and roll mini croquettes.
(I got 50)


1 pint Greek style yogurt
1 English cucumber peeled, grated, salted lightly for 5 minutes and squeezed between the hands to remove juice
3 garlic cloves mashed to a paste
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (optional)

Just mix everything up together until it is all blended and the oil has emulsified into the yogurt.


Rice paper, thinly sliced
Chili powder
Garlic salt

Limes wedges.

Soak rice paper until pliable, cut into thin strips, season with chili, cumin and garlic salt and fry in some olive oil.

Sopa de tomates con pequeñas croquetas de quinoa:

Para la sopa:

6 tomates
5 cucharadas de aceite de oliva
1 cebolla picada
4 tasas de caldo de pollo
Sal y pimienta a gusto
Orégano a gusto

Calentar el horno a 375. Cortar los tomates por la mitad y poner en una fuente de horno, rociar con aceite de oliva sal y pimienta. Cocinar por 30 minutos.
Mientras tanto saltar la cebolla en aceite de oliva. Picar los tomates ya cocidos y agregar a la cebolla; mezclar bien, agregar caldo y condimentar con sal, pimienta y orégano.

Mini croquetas de quinoa:

1 tasa de quinoa cocida
½ tasa de pan rallado
½ tasa de queso rallado
¼ perejil picado
Pimienta a gusto
Ajo en polvo a gusto
2 huevos


2 tasas de yogurt griego
1 pepino, pelado y rallado y exprimido con las manos para sacar toda el agua
3 dientes de ajo, pisados
½ tasa de aceite de oliva
1 cucharada de vinagre de vino
1 cucharada de eneldo picado (optativo)


Papel de arroz, cortado en tiritas
Sal de ajo

Poner papel de arroz en remojo, cuando se ablande un poco cortar en tiritas y secar.
Condimentar con chili, comino y sal de ajo. Freír rápidamente en un poco de aceite de oliva.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How to look 10 years younger in 5 minutes

This past weekend was the official date when all the farmers market comes to an end in my area. Well at least the area I’m right now, since that changes quite often. There is only one market left, which I love mainly because it runs on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 in the afternoon. The other markets are usually on weekends, but there are so many other things to do on weekends. On the other hand my Tuesday afternoons are pretty open.
This is a typical market with veggie and fruit stands, breads, food and food demonstrations, wines, roasted chilies, soaps and nice smelling things, etc.
Even thou I am TOTALLY into food, I have to admit that my favorite discovery at this market was a “Facial Kit”.
This lady comes to me and asked me if I wanted a free 5 minutes facial.
“Is this a trick question?” I asked her. Of course I want one; I love pampering, especially FREE.
The kit consists of a citrus moisturizing, a dry mask, a moisturizing mask and a toner. It is all made with natural and organic substances like chickpea flour, grape fruit oil, etc.
It felt really good on my face.
When she was done she gave me a mirror. Oh my God!!! There was actually a change!
My skin looked great, refreshed and younger. I bought the kit!
I have never had this results with anything I tried in my 42 years of life in this planet.She doesn’t have a website yet, but she does have an email address: and her name is (I think this is a funny coincidence) Mary Kay.

I also bought zucchini, eggplant, garlic, edible flowers and basil.I used the zucchini, garlic, edible flowers and basil in a frittata. The flowers looked very mice while I was cooking them but after the frittata was done you really couldn’t see them. Next time I’m going to add some more.
Zucchini and flowers frittata

4 Tbs olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped garlic clove
2 cubed zucchinis
1 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
1 bunch edible flowers
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for five minutes.Add the zucchini and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until tender about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in basil and flowers. Pour in egg mixture and cook, without stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden and most of the mixture is set. Now carefully invert frittata onto a plate, then add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and slide frittata back into skillet.
Cook for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until golden on the bottom.
Slide onto serving platter.

Tortilla de zapallitos y flores:

4 Cucharadas de aceite
1 Cebolla picada
1 diente de ajo, picado
2 zapallitos en cubos
1 cucharada de albahaca picada
4 huevos batidos
1 puñado de flores
sal y pimienta a gusto

En una sartén sobre fuego medio, dorar una cebolla en 3 cucharada de aceite, por 5 minutos. Agregar zapallitos, mezclar y cocinar por 10 minutos. Sazonar con sal y pimienta.
Agregar albahaca y flores, mezclar e incorporar los huevos batidos; cocinando por 3 o 5 minutos hasta que el fondo este ligeramente dorado. Con mucho cuidado, dar vuelta la tortilla sobre un plato. Agregar la cucharada de aceite restante a la sartén, calentar y deslizar la tortilla nuevamente en la sartén. Cocinar por 3 a 5 minutos mas o hasta que este ligeramente dorada en el fondo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Green Salad with peppered goat cheese and watermelon

Watermelon should be a synonym of summer; it is truly one of summertime’s sweetest treats. I’m always delighted when I start finding them on truck farmers or roadsides produce stands.
This year, while traveling Italy, I bought my favorite Italian cooking magazine, Sale & Pepe, where I found this delicious and simple salad.

Green salad with peppered goat cheese and watermelon:

24 oz watermelon
10 oz mixed greens
12 oz goat cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon
8 Tbs. Olive oil
Salt to taste
Green pepper to taste

Ground green pepper on a plate and roll the goat cheese over it to cover. Cut into slices.
In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice and salt with a fork, until emulsified.
Cut watermelon into thin slices; set on individual plates. Ad mixed greens on top and goat cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.
Makes 4 servings.

Ensalada verde con queso de cabra, pimienta verde y sandia

24 oz. (700 grs) sandia
10 oz. (300 grs) ensalada verde
12 oz. (400 grs) queso de cabra
Jugo de ½ limón
8 cucharadas aceite de oliva
Sal, a gusto
Pimienta verde, a gusto

Moler la pimienta verde sobre un plato y rodar sobre ella el queso el queso de cabra, para cubrir. Cortar en rodajas.
En un bocal pequeño, batir con un tenedor, el aceite, jugo de limón y sal hasta emulsionar.
Cortar sandia en rodajas finas y poner sobre platos individuales. Encima agregar ensalada verde y el queso de cabra. Rociar con el condimento y servir.
Sirve 4 porciones.