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!