Author Archive: Ana Olson

Vampire Slayer Soup

Versão em português

Sopa Caça-Vampiro

I love garlic. I know I say that about every recipe with this ingredient, but it’s true. And I always add more garlic than the recipe calls for, because… well, did I mention I love garlic? But there’s always a first time for everything, and I found a soup recipe by Deb that called for exactly 44 cloves of garlic – I didn’t dare to change such a specific number!

Yes, I know that 44 cloves are roughly three heads of garlic. It sounded excessive, even for me! Don’t worry: as 26 of these are roasted, the recipe is actually quite mild. The “Vampire Slayer” part stays, though, as it is catchier than “44-clove garlic soup that isn’t really that scary.” 😀

For four reasonable servings (a.k.a. Sky and I ate it all and called it dinner), you’ll need:

26 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter – I totally eyeballed that
2 ¼ cups onion, thinly sliced – this was roughly 2 medium-sized onions
1 ½ tsp fresh thyme – I eyeballed that too, obviously
18 garlic cloves, peeled
3 ½ cups of beef broth – for a vegetarian version, use veggie stock!
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated – did you know that parmesan is NOT vegetarian? Yeah, it shocked me too. You can replace it for another strong hard cheese.
1 lemon, cut into four wedges

Sopa Caça-Vampiro

The first step is to roast those 26 garlic cloves. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C, place the unpeeled garlic cloves in a small baking dish, cover with the olive oil, and season with a generous pinch of salt and some pepper. Toss to make sure the garlic cloves are coated. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. Let it cool a little bit and do something that is oddly satisfying: cut the end of each clove and squeeze them out into a small bowl.

Melt the butter in a large pot. Throw in the onions and thyme, and cook until the onions are translucent – Deb says it takes 6 minutes, which makes sense, as it took me two indie songs to do it. Add the roasted garlic and the 18 raw garlic cloves and cook for one song (or 3 minutes). Add the stock, cover the pot, and let it simmer over medium heat until the cloves are soft, which should take about 20 minutes.

Blend the soup using a conventional blender (carefully, in batches, so you don’t burn yourself like I did that one time) or an immersion blender. Transfer the soup back to the pot, add the cream, and bring it back to a simmer. Check the seasoning – Deb used just salt and pepper, I added paprika as well, just because.

Hmm, didn’t the recipe call for cheese and lemon? It does! Divide the cheese among four soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the cheese, squeeze one lemon wedge on each bowl, and serve!

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Ramen

Versão em português

Ramen

Every time we go to Montevideo, we try to find new ethnic restaurants, because there isn’t much variety here in Punta. In our last trip, we read on TripAdvisor about a Japanese restaurant that wasn’t just your standard sushi spot, so it was an easy choice for lunch. We ordered ramen, which came in a huge bowl, but wasn’t that great. Ever since that day, I was absolutely certain that I was going to try to make (a better version of) it at home.

There isn’t a RECIPE for ramen. Much like Italian minestrone, ramen appears to be more of a concept than a recipe per se, and you can adapt it however you like. I think that the only crucial elements are the noodles (duh) and a bit of miso. Everything else is pretty much fair game! Is it “authentic”? Of course not! It was made in Uruguay, by a Brazilian lady! 😀 It was pretty tasty, though!

This is how I made it:

200 g ramen noodles
2 hard-boiled eggs
150 g pork, chopped into strips and cooked on the frying pan – you can use mushrooms, beef, a mix of everything, or even that suspicious leftover meat from that other day…
Salt and pepper
1.5 L beef stock – you can use veggie stock if you prefer
2 (generous) Tbsp miso paste – the one I used was artisanal, and a bit more concentrated than normal. Add it to your stock little by little, and taste as you go
Freshly ground ginger, to taste
2 Tbsp mirin – it’s not on the picture, but I decided to add it as I was cooking and it turned out great
1 bunch of spinach
2 turnips, finely cut

Ramen

This is not your “dump all ingredients into the pan and let it boil” kind of soup.

Boil the eggs and set them aside.

Season the chopped meat with salt and pepper (I also used paprika, as usual). Cook it on the frying pan with a little bit of oil and set aside.

In a medium-sized pan, prepare the stock: heat up the meat (or veggie) stock and season it with salt, pepper, miso paste, grated ginger, and mirin. Let the mixture heat and taste the seasoning. When it is almost boiling, add the chopped spinach and turnips to get them nice and hot. Keep the stock on very low heat, just to keep it hot.

While the stock is finishing cooking, take another pan and prepare the ramen noodles according to the package directions – except if the directions call for a weird “flavor package,” just ignore that part. Drain and set aside.

When everything is ready, it’s time to assemble your ramen: place a bit of the noodles in the bowl, cover with the stock and then arrange the meat strips and half of a hard-boiled egg. Serve immediately.

If you have leftovers, store the components in separate containers. It is important to re-heat it separately, so the noodles don’t get a nasty texture!

Lemon White Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Versão em português

Biscoitos de Coco, Limão e Chocolate Branco

White chocolate is one of those things that I only learned to enjoy as a grown-up. The first step was not thinking about it as chocolate (because then dark chocolate wins!), but as a tasty treat! Unfortunately, a lot of brands have hydrogenated fat, which makes them quite icky. One of these days, I bought a fancy Belgian one and I kept thinking how great it was! It was time to look for some recipes, such as this one from The Baker Chick.

Despite the white chocolate, these cookies aren’t overly sweet. Together with a fresh cup of coffee, these were a hit!

1 ½ cups sweetened coconut flakes – I used unsweetened coconut flakes and I thought the cookies were sweet enough!
1 ¾ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
113 g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar – press the sugar when measuring
½ cup white sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
113 g white chocolate, chopped

Biscoitos de Coco, Limão e Chocolate Branco

Spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet and toast in a pre-heated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring well every 2 minutes, until the coconut is golden. Set aside the coconut, but don’t turn off the oven.

Cover the cookie sheets with parchment paper – I used a Silpat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar, and mix until they are well combined. In cookie recipes, I try to avoid over-beating the butter. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest and juice, and combine the ingredients using a silicone spatula.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing until you can’t see any flour specks anymore. Finally, add white chocolate and the toasted coconut, and mix well with the spatula.

Biscoitos de Coco, Limão e Chocolate Branco

Use a cookie scoop to portion the dough, or simply make small balls of dough (1 Tbsp). Place them in the cookie sheets, leaving about one inch between them – they spread a little bit in the oven.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Carefully remove them from the cookie sheet – they will be kind of soft! – and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.

Tip: If you’re using the same baking sheet to bake multiple batches, cool it before adding the second batch, so that the cookies won’t spread too much in the oven. I usually remove the baked cookies (and the parchment paper, obviously) and place the sheet under running tap water for a few seconds, until it’s cool enough for me to touch it with my bare hands. Then, I dry it with a cloth and it’s ready for the second batch!
Freezer: If you don’t want to bake the entire batch on the same day, flash-freeze the dough balls on a tray. When they are completely frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc bag – they’ll last up to three months in the freezer. To bake, place the frozen balls on the prepared baking sheet and bake for a few extra minutes! It’s that easy!

Strawberry Cake

Versão em português

Bolo de Morango

For Easter, I decided to unleash my inner hipster and make a chocolate-FREE dessert! The strawberries at the supermarket looked inviting, so I decided to bake this cake that I had seen made by Paula from The Cookie Shop and Deb from Smitten Kitchen, all based on Martha Stewart’s recipe! 😀

This cake is everything you want from a strawberry cake. I hadn’t had such a good cake – and such a pretty one – in a long time! The best thing is that it’s not very hard; actually, it comes together reasonably quickly.

When the cake came out of the oven, Sky asked me: do we have cream? I opened the fridge and saw a small package of cream. I whipped it to serve with the cake, making our dessert even richer!

Bolo de morango

For a 10-inch cake, you’ll need:

85g (6 Tbsp) butter, softened
200g (1 and 1/2 cup) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 cup) sugar, plus 2 Tbsp to sprinkle over the cake – I used regular sugar in the batter, and turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the cake
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
400 g strawberries, hulled and halved

Bolo de morango

Butter a 10-inch round pie plate and pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). It is such a quick process that I actually started pre-heating the oven before making the batter 😀

Start by sifting together the flour, salt, and baking powder. I must confess I never sift – I follow Chef John’s trick of whisking them thoroughly for 2 minutes. This gets rid of any lumps and saves me from having to wash the sieve! 😀

Using your stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. The recipes usually say something about “mix until the cream is pale,” but Uruguayan butter is pretty yellow, so that never really happens – it has never stopped me from baking anyway, though!

Add the egg and mix well. Then, add the milk and vanilla, mixing well. At this point, the mixture looked a bit curdled, which is normal for this kind of cake.

As usual, to avoid over-mixing the batter, at this stage I change to a hand whisk. Add the flour mixture little by little, mixing just until you can’t see any flour specks.

Transfer the batter to the buttered pie plate. Place the strawberry halves over the dough, cut side down. Try to place them as close together as you can!

Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of sugar (I used turbinado) over the strawberries and bake at 180 C (350 F) for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 170 C (325 F) and bake until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes clean – the recipes said this would take about an hour, but in my oven it took only 45 minutes.

Let the cake cool over a wire rack and serve with whipped cream!

Gazpacho Blanco

Versão em português

Gazpacho Blanco

Cold soup. A lot of people dislike the idea, but I honestly think it’s because they’ve never given it a chance: cold soups are the best thing for summer! To date, this is my favorite cold soup. While I find it super weird calling gazpacho something that doesn’t have tomatoes in it, that’s how Chef John called it!

Is it the easiest recipe ever? No, not even close. But it’s worth it. Seven years ago, when I moved to Uruguay, I didn’t know how to cook the most basic of the foods – my repertoire consisted of pasta with store-bought sauce, tuna salad, and basic chocolate cake! Now I can cook a sophisticated-tasting cold soup. I can’t help but feel proud!

For 4 portions, you’ll need:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup leeks, washed and chopped – chop, then measure. Use only the white part, or else your soup will be green! Save the green part for vegetable stock
2 English cucumbers, peeled
10 seedless green grapes – I just cut regular grapes and removed the seeds
¼ cup chopped blanched almonds – you can also use slivered almonds
1/3 cup sour cream or plain yoghurt
1 generous cup of bread cubes
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt, pepper, and cayenne
1 ½ cup cold water – you may need more
(optional) dill

Gazpacho Blanco

Did you know you can blanche almonds at home? I learned that for this recipe, as I tried, but couldn’t buy blanched almonds! Soak them in boiling water for one minute. Drain the boiling water and soak the almonds in cold water for another minute. Drain again and place the almonds over a dry dishcloth. Rub the almonds using the dishcloth and see how easy that skin comes off! Chop the almonds, measure ¼ cup and set aside.

In a small pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook the leeks in médium heat for 10-15 minutes, until it softens. Set aside and let it cool completely. Peel the cucumbers and chop them into medium-sized pieces. Set aside.

When the leeks are cooled, it’s time to blend. Place the cucumber, leeks, grapes, almonds, sour cream, bread, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, water, and dill in the blender. Blend well and, if necessary, add a bit more water. Try not to add too much, we want a thicker soup.

When the mixture is wel blended comes the boring part: passing the soup through a fine strainer! The idea is to remove the little chuncks/skin/whatever, so don’t skip it!

As the trick is to serve this soup VEEEERY cold, fill an ice cube mold with the soup and freeze it. Cover the rest of the soup and place it in the fridge for about three hours.

When the soup is nice and cold, taste for seasoning: I had to add more pepper and cayenne. To serve, place a couple frozen soup cubes in a bowl and cover with the cold soup. Add a few drops of olive oil, sliced grapes and slivered almonds and you have a delicious (and fancy) soup!

Mimosa Gelatin

Versão em português

Gelatina de Mimosa

I hadn’t had gelatin for a LONG time! I mean, I didn’t really miss that overly sweet dessert with those bizarre artificial flavors. But when I started to think about what to make for Summer Tertulias, the idea of gelatin kept coming back to me. I decided to find a homemade version.

I found several recipes, among them Patricia’s tangerine and prosecco gelatin. I decided to try that one, subbing orange juice for the tangerine, to make a solid version of one of my favorite drinks!:D

The first time I tried, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t set, so I placed it in the freezer and ate frozen mimosas (No complains here, it was super tasty! :D)

But I’m stubborn, so I decided to try again, increasing the amount of gelatin and changing the way I added it on the recipe. It worked! I served with a spoonful of whipped cream and it was a hit!

For four servings, you’ll need:

200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp powdered gelatin
3 Tbsp water
100 ml sparkling wine – I used rosé, because that’s what I had in the fridge!
Optional: whipped cream, to serve (I didn’t add sugar to the cream, as orange juice is quite sweet!)

Gelatina de Mimosa

Making gelatin is pretty easy. Sure, not as easy as mixing the flavored package into warm water, but then again, the homemade version tastes much better! 😀

In a small pan, mix the orange juice and the sugar. Mix well and heat over medium heat until it simmers. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the powdered gelatin and water and let it hydrate for 10 minutes. After this, the mix will be pretty solid. Place this small bowl in a larger bowl with hot water – don’t put too much water: think “water bath,” but off the stove! Stir the gelatin mix until it turns liquid.

When the gelatin is liquid and clump-free, pour it in the pan with the orange juice. Add the sparkling wine, whisk well, and strain the mix.

Pour over four serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and place them in the fridge for about 3 hours, until they set. Serve with a tablespoon of whipped cream.

Crudo Siciliano

Versão em português

Crudo Siciliano

One of the best restaurants here in Uruguay is La Huella, in José Ignacio. We don’t go there very often, but it’s great every time. Last year, on my birthday, we shared several starters, but one was really special: it was similar to ceviche, but with some very different flavors.

I was intrigued, of course. When we asked for the check, the waiter told us they had a recipe book. I asked the obvious question: “Is this recipe in the book?”. A few minutes later, he came back and said that the recipe was not in the book, but that the chef would happily teach me how to make it! Obviously, I accepted! As you would expect, she didn’t give me exact measurements, but a good idea of the proportions.

I was sure I would cook that the next week, but I ended up not doing it. In fact, I procrastinated so much that I only cooked this now, for Summer Tertulias! 😀

For a light lunch for 4 people, you’ll need:

Approximately 800 g white fish, deboned – she used sea bass, I used brótola, so you can choose whatever white (and firm) fish. If you’re cooking for less people, reduce the amount, as this is best served immediately after it’s made.
Salt
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper
½ red onion, very finely chopped – don’t grate it!
1 bunch of chives, very finely chopped – you can also use mint
1 heaping Tbsp Dijon mustard – next time, I’ll double the amount
2 Tbsp capers
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil – roughly the same volume as the lemon juice

Crudo Siciliano

Start by chopping the fish into small cubes – mine were a little too big! 😦 It’s supposed to be smaller than your regular ceviche cubes. Season the fish with salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Place it back in the fridge, so it won’t lose its consistency.

Chop the red onion as finely as you can – do not crush or shred: the goal is to have mini cubes here! Chop the chives and the capers very finely, too – the capers will turn almost into a paste, don’t worry. In a bowl, mix the onion, the chives, the capers, the lemon zest, and the Dijon mustard. Set aside.

In another bowl, emulsify the lemon juice and olive oil. This is how I did it: I placed the lemon juice in a bowl and poured the olive oil slowly, whisking well. That required a lot of elbow grease, of course. I later looked it up and it turns out you can do that with a hand mixer! I’ll try that next time! Set the emulsion aside.

When you’re ready to serve, all you have to do is combine the fish with the onion mix and this emulsion in a big bowl. Taste (and adjust the seasoning) and serve with a nice green salad!

Pecan Pie Mini-Muffins

Versão em português

Mini-Muffins de Noz-Pecã

Of the recipes I made for this holiday series, this was the biggest hit BY FAR! As it yields 24 mini-muffins, I thought I’d have some leftovers to freeze, but they disappeared! I had to make it again, so I could take the pictures – and once again, there were no leftovers! 😀

This is a pretty easy recipe: only five ingredients, and you don’t even need a stand mixer! The hardest steps are chopping the nuts and buttering the mini muffin tins. This last step is mandatory, though – I tried making it with paper cups, and it all got stuck! 😦 #truestory

You’ll need:

1 cup brown sugar – press well into the measuring cup!
½ cup all-purpose flour – yes, that’s all it takes!
1 cup pecans, chopped – chop first, then measure
2/3 cup (150 g) melted butter
2 large eggs

Mini-Muffins de Noz-Pecã

This is easy! Start by thoroughly buttering the mini-muffin tins.

In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, the flour, and the chopped pecans. In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the melted butter. Now all you have to do is combine both bowls!

Fill the well-buttered mini-muffin tins 2/3 of the way. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean. With the help of a butter knife, remove the mini-muffins from the tin right away. Let them cool on a wire rack.

When they are completely cooled, place them in a nice gift box and brighten someone’s day! 🙂

Panettone Muffins

Versão em português

Muffins de Panetone

One of the things I picked up from my mom was the love for panettone – the best part of Christmas! As today is her birthday, I thought it was appropriate to post this recipe – which is much easier than the traditional panettone!

The first time I made these muffins was last Christmas. Everybody loved them, so I decided to bake them again – as they freeze wonderfully, you can bake them now, when the holiday madness is not fully on, and share them on Christmas Day!

Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you – it’s quite long, but this is not a difficult recipe! Instead of Amaretto and Cointreau, I used almond and orange extracts. You can also replace the dried fruit for candied fruit if you prefer!

For 12 muffins, you’ll need:

1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped apricots – chop, then measure
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup (60 mL) orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries – the original recipe called for candied orange peel, but I couldn’t find it! 😀
½ cup (100g) sugar
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Cointreau – I used orange extract
1 tsp Amaretto – I used almond extract
2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup (160mL) whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp brown or turbinado sugar, to sprinkle over the muffins

Muffins de Panetone

Place the apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Mix well and cook over high heat until the juice starts to boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the candied cherries and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven on medium. Place paper liners in a common muffin tin and set aside.

Place the sugar and the orange and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using your fingertips, rub the zests in the sugar, so you can extract more aroma from them – this is an optional step, but it’s so fun! Add the butter and the oil, and mix until it’s light-colored. You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula every now and then.

Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. I always do that, but I must say I have no idea what happens if you add all the eggs at once! Hahahahahah!

Add the vanilla, the Cointreau (or orange extract), and the Amaretto (or almond extract). Mix well.

Muffins de Panetone

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/4 of the flour mix to the batter, mix well, add 1/3 of the milk, and mix well. Repeat until you finish both – the flour mix will be the last thing you’ll add.

Add the reserved fruit, together with whatever orange juice is left in the pan. Mix into the batter with the silicone spatula.

Split the batter among the tins. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the muffins, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they pass the clean toothpick test.

Let them cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, place them in a pretty box/bag and give them away! 🙂

Spiced Chocolate Shortbread

Versão em português

Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias

Here at Culinary Tertulias, December is a synonym for edible gifts!

To start this series, I wanted to make something with chocolate and spices, Christmas-y but not overly so. I also wanted a quick and easy cookie, because I had to take SOMETHING to a meeting with friends. I found this recipe at King Arthur’s Flour and I immediately knew it was the one to make – I love shortbreads and I had all the ingredients!

I used two things that may be a bit tricky to find outside the US: allspice and pumpkin pie spice. To make this recipe, you will need one teaspoon of spices – you can use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

You will need:

1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/3 cup (28 g) Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp mixed spices – I used ½ tsp allspice and ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, but you can also use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 and 3/4 cup (200 g) all-purpose flour

 
Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias
 

Start by lining 2 8-inch square pans with aluminum foil, leaving some excess to help you remove the shortbreads, and grease them well. Pre-heat your oven.

This is a recipe that is stirred by hand, which sounds hard – it’s actually pretty quick and easy, if the butter is properly softened!

With a spatula, mix the butter, salt, and sugar. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, spices, and baking powder. Mix well. Add the flour and mix just until you can’t see any more white specks.

Divide the dough into both pans – use the spatula to smooth the surface and prick it all over with a fork. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Use the excess aluminum foil as handles to remove the shortbread from the pans and immediately cut the shortbreads into squares. Cool them on a wire rack.

When they are completely cool, place in a cute box or bag and spread the cheer! 🙂