Category Archives: Main course

French Onion Soup

Versão em português

Sopa de Cebolas Francesa

Some years ago, I visited Paris, ate a delicious version of the soup, and vowed to reproduce it when I arrived back home. Unfortunately, procrastination won. I didn’t have the right bowls. I couldn’t find the right cheese. The camera was out of battery. You know how it goes.

When I finally created the courage to make it (and let go of some details), I realized it was quite easy – all it really takes is patience. I basically followed Julia Child‘s recipe (and in this wonderful video, she also teaches how to sharpen knives! <3), but then I procrastinated again, and it took me over a month to write this recipe! 😀

For six “civilized-people” portions (a.k.a., Sky and I ate well over half for dinner), you will need:

5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tbsp butter – I totally eyeballed that.
1 Tbsp olive oil – yep, I eyeballed that one too.
1 tsp salt – this I measured! 😀
3 Tbsp flour
2 L beef stockDeb suggests mushroom stock for a vegetarian version
1 cup white wine – in the video, she uses red wine, but most recipes I have read call for white wine, so that’s what I did.
3 Tbsp cognac – I skipped it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper

To serve (technically, this is optional, but it really isn’t):

6 ovenproof bowls
6 slices of bread – I used large slices of Italian bread, but next time I’ll use baguette slices, as it will be easier to eat… 😀
1-2 cups of coarsely shredded gruyère – as I don’t really like gruyère, I used an Uruguayan cheese that melts easily (colonia) and parmesan. And yes, I used plenty!
Sopa de Cebolas Francesa

Start by slicing the onions as thinly as you can. Here, I needed about six medium-sized onions to get five cups. In a big, thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter and the olive oil. Place the onions, and toss to coat them in oil. On the lowest heat, cover the pan and let the onions cook for about 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, turn up the heat a little bit, and add the salt. The original recipe also called for a pinch of sugar, but I totally forgot about it. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, until all the onions are brown − don’t be lazy about it: that caramelization is what is going to make your soup tasty! Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and stir for about three minutes. Add the wine and the stock slowly, stirring continuously (and don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan!)

Season with pepper and salt (unless you’re using salted stock). I resisted the urge to add paprika! Simmer over medium heat, cover the pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re using cognac, now is time to add it.

You can serve as it is and it will be great, but really, the best thing to do is broil it! Toast the bread slices and then butter them – once in hell, hug the devil! Divide the soup into six ovenproof bowls. In each of them, add one piece of toast (again, next time I’ll use a baguette; the smaller slices will be easier to handle!) and cover the bowl with a generous layer of cheese.

Bake the soups on a tray for about 20 minutes − I used the toaster oven, with heat coming from top and bottom, but you can be normal and just use your broiler to make it nice and golden. Dig in!

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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!

Ramen

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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!

Gazpacho Blanco

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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!

Crudo Siciliano

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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!

Stuffed Pepper Rings

Versão em português

Anéis de Pimentão Recheados

Food nostalgia. It’s not often, but every now and then I miss some recipes I ate as a child and nobody (aka Mom/Grandma) has ever cooked them again.

This time, the feeling was quite odd: I was longing for a recipe that Mom must have cooked only once in her life AND I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE IT AT THE TIME! Ok, I know this might be a sign of madness. But there I was, thinking about stuffed peppers, so I decided to do something about it.

The idea for this recipe came, as usual, while I was procrastinating on Pinterest. I thought I’d follow this recipe to a T, but I ended up doing something different 😀

For two hungry people, you’ll need:

2 large bell peppers – choose your favorite color/the one that’s on sale 😀
400 g ground beef
1 egg
¼ cup parmesan, thinly shredded – I used my microplane for that
1 onion, chopped into small cubes
Garlic, to taste – and my taste is a bunch!
½ bunch of chopped parsley
Salt, pepper, hot paprika, red pepper flakes, and powdered mustard
400 mL tomato sauce –
About 300 g of mozzarella

Anéis de Pimentão Recheados

Start by cutting the bell peppers into thick slices, about 2 fingers-tall. I got three slices per pepper, give it or take. Set aside. Chop the leftover peppers into small cubes.

In a bowl, mix together the ground beef with the egg and the parmesan. Add the onions, chopped peppers, garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper – as usual, I added paprika and other spices (this time, red pepper flakes and powdered mustard). Set aside.

Stuff the pepper rings with the ground beef mix. Do so gently, to avoid breaking the rings.

On a hot (cast-iron if you have it) pan, seal the stuffed rings for 3 minutes on each side.
Cover a baking sheet with the tomato sauce and place the sealed rings on it. Cover the rings with the mozzarella – I used slices, because that’s what I had, but I think it would melt better if I had used the shredded version.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes and serve!

FREEZER: Freeze them before baking: cover a freezer/oven safe baking dish (I used a disposable one) with the tomato sauce, place the sealed rings, cover and freeze. When it’s time to use it, thaw, cover with cheese and bake as usual.

Broccoli Melts

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Broccoli Melts

Yeah, I know. “Broccoli sandwich” doesn’t sound very appetizing. I was mildly intrigued when I read the recipe last year on Smitten Kitchen, but then I thought “hmm… no. This is a broccoli sandwich.” I left it at that.

Until last week. Sky bought I-don’t-know-how-many heads of broccoli, because they were on sale. I was sick of eating them steamed, with a dab of butter. Then I thought of this recipe. I read it again, decided it wasn’t that weird after all, and made it. I thought the eight slices would be too much, we’d have leftovers for sure. How naive of me! Sky tried one and said: you didn’t make enough. I tried it and had to agree with him – we almost had to fight for the last slice! 😀

This recipe immediately made the weekly menu, as the broccoli + lemon zest + cheese combo is really good!

To put your skepticism aside and make these, you’ll need:

500 g broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced – I used garlic flakes because I ran out of garlic #thehorror
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon – I zested the whole lemon
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated – I used a microplane
8 slices of bread
butter, if you want
8 thin slices of cheese

Broccoli Melts

Start by preparing the broccoli: chop the florets into medium-sized pieces (about 5 cm) and the stems, which are harder, into small-sized chunks (about 2 cm). In a small pan, boil about an inch of water. When the water boils, place the chopped broccoli, cover the pan, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well – the original recipe calls for patting the broccoli dry with paper towels, but I forgot and didn’t do it – and transfer to a cutting board.

Chop the broccoli once again, so that everything is in small chunks. Dry the pan you used to cook the broccoli and heat the olive oil for a minute, over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes and the garlic and heat for another minute. Add the broccoli and stir well to coat the broccoli with the olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and cook for two minutes. Set aside.

Place the bread slices on your baking sheet – I used my toaster oven, because my regular oven doesn’t grill. Lightly toast the slices on both sides. I buttered both sides, just because.

When the bread is slightly toasted, get that pan with the broccoli and add the parmesan and the lemon zest and juice. Taste for salt.

Pile the broccoli mixture over each slice of bread. Place one slice of cheese over each, and bake until the cheese is melted. Eat without any semblance of guilt, because broccoli = healthy 😀

Borscht

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Borscht

Last month, my aunt told me about a beet soup my grandma had made a long time ago, but had lost the recipe. Of course I went and asked grandma about it, but all she could remember was that the recipe was “from Russia or something like that”. It had to be borscht! I found several recipes, and I decided to combine Ana’s and Chef John’s recipes to make my own! 🙂

Those who know me know that I have very strong opinions regarding vinegar (AKA: it’s not food, it’s a cleaning product!). This recipe has made me change my mind, at least temporarily! I try the soup with and without vinegar – it was much better with it! 😮

You will need:

3 cups beets, diced
2 medium-size carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
½ white cabbage, sliced – I used ½ cabbage, because mine was a big one. If yours is small, use it all!
2 L meat stock – or vegetable stock, if you want a vegetarian/vegan recipe
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper, paprika

Optional, but advisable:
Sour cream
Dill, chopped thinly – for the photo, I used parsley, because I had run out of dill!

Borscht

This is a very easy recipe: start by chopping the beets, carrots, onion, celery, and cabbage. I julienned the beets, just because I thought it would look good – no fancy scientific explantation here! 😀

In the pan that you will use to cook the soup, place the onion, celery, and carrots with a little bit of butter (use olive oil to make it vegan!). Season with salt, pepper, and paprika and cook for about 5 minutes. When the onion has turned translucent, add the stock, the beets, and the cabbage.

Cover the pan. Cook over high heat just until it comes to a boil – then, cook over low heat for approximately 50 minutes, or until the beets are soft. Check the seasoning, add the vinegar and… THAT’S IT.

Serve with a generous Tbsp of sour cream (your vegan friend doesn’t get any, though!) and garnish with a little bit of chopped dill!

Split Pea Soup

Versão em português

Sopa de Ervilha

As it is almost tradition, the cold July weather calls for Soup Tertulias!

I love peas. LOVE. The ones that come in a can! (Pause for the “ewww!” faces). I’ll eat fresh peas, but I never find them to be as good as the canned ones… #freakalert But I had never tried split peas. Coming to think of it, I don’t think I had even seen split peas at the supermarket, but that is probably because Sky is the one who does the shopping, I only write the list! 😀

When I saw this recipe by Rita Lobo, which also called for bacon, I was sold! If you’re vegan/vegetarian, there’s no need to stop reading: follow Chef John’s tip and use shiitake mushrooms instead! If you’re omnivore, stop making that face, it’s a legitimate suggestion! 😀

The most entertaining part of the recipe was the side – instead of croutons or dinner rolls, popcorn! I was a bit skeptical, but it was pretty tasty!

For a relatively small soup, you’ll need:

250 g bacon, in cubes – the recipe called for only 100 g, hahahaha! As I said before, to veganize this recipe, you can use shiitake mushrooms!
1 medium-size onion, chopped
500 g split peas, soaked for 4 hours
1 bay leaf
2 L meat stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade!
salt, pepper, and paprika
POPCORN!

Sopa de Ervilha

There is a very basic rule in cooking, which is to read the entire recipe before starting to cook. Everyone knows that. BASIC thing. Of course I didn’t do that and that sucked, because the peas had to soak! I was going to make the soup for lunch, but it had to be left for dinner… 😦

Rinse the peas, place them in a bowl and cover with 1.5 liters of water. Let it soak for at least 4 hours.

After the peas are soaked, drain the water and set aside. In the pan that you’ll cook the soup, cook the bacon, making sure the fat is nice and rendered. If you are using shiitake mushrooms instead, sear them with some olive oil! When the bacon/shiitake is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.

In the bacon great/olive oil, cook the onion on low heat. When the onion has turned gold and transparent, add the peas and cook them for one minute, just to coat them with the onions. Add the stock, season with one tsp of salt, as well as with some pepper and paprika. Cover the pan and let the stock boil. Cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every now and then until the peas are soft.

Meanwhile, make the popcorn. Try not to eat it all before the soup is ready (it’s harder than it looks #truestory)

Transfer the soup into the blender. Rita Lobo advices holding the lid of the blender with a dishcloth, to prevent the vapor from opening the lid. Blend well. Another option is to do what I did, and use the immersion blender directly in the pan! 😀

Place the soup back in the pan (if you’re using an immersion blender, just smile and do nothing). Add the bacon/shiitake mushrooms and heat the soup back to boiling point – make sure you taste for salt!

To serve, place the soup in the bowls and only then add the popcorn!

Roasted Onion Pie

Versão em português

Torta de Cebolas Assadas

OOOPS, we skipped a week! I went to a conference last week and I didn’t have time to schedule a post. :S

To end the Pie Tertulias, I decided to cook a recipe that I always wanted to try. It seemed easy (and it was), but I had a huge problem: I couldn’t buy decent puff pastry in Uruguay! The frozen ones never properly puffed, and they all had that wonderful (not) taste of hydrogenated fat! Gross! I took matters into my own hands and made my own puff pastry, following La Cucinetta’s recipe. It totally worked, and wasn’t even THAT hard! I didn’t photograph the process, but I will next time!

This is a great recipe for a casual dinner at home, a happy hour, or even Sunday lunch, why not?

You’ll need:

¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp vinegar – the original recipe called for red wine vinegar; I used rice vinegar because that’s what I had 😀
1 Tbsp thyme – I used the dried version, but if you have fresh thyme, use it!
Zests of 1 lemon – it’s not in the ingredient picture because I only remembered it when I was about to put the onions in the oven
Salt and pepper
2 red onions
2 yellow onions
400 g puff pastry – you can use the store-bought version! I would have 😛
100 g creamy goat’s cheese – I used one that was seasoned with herbs, it was great! You can use regular cream cheese, if you prefer a milder taste.
1 egg, beaten, to brush the dough

Torta de Cebolas Assadas

This is a ROASTED ONION pie, right? So we’ll start by roasting the onions! 😀 Thinly slice the onions – if you have a mandolin (which is currently on my wishlist), use it! Line a big baking sheet with parchment paper and place the whole onion slices on it – do not separate the slices into rings and, if possible, do not pile them on the sheet.

In a bowl, mix the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the onions and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until they are soft. Remove from the oven, but don’t turn it off! 🙂

Open the puff pastry into a 20 x 25 cm rectangle. If you’re using the homemade dough, line the baking sheet with parchment paper, so it absorbs some of the extra fat, leaving the dough crunchier.

With a sharp knife, score a 1-cm border on all sides of the rectangle of dough – don’t cut it all the way down. This will give your pie a nice, puffy edge! With a fork, prick the entire inside area. Spread the goat cheese inside the scored area and place the onion slices – feel free to pile them up a little bit 🙂

Brush the non-covered borders with the beaten eggs and bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough puffs and turns a lovely golden color. Eat!