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
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!
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.
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
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 😀
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:
Dill, chopped thinly – for the photo, I used parsley, because I had run out of dill!
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!
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
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!
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?
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
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!
On my last trip to Brasília, my aunt Paula gave me a wonderful gift: Gui Poulain’s Cartas Amarelas! The book is as beautiful as the autograph! Of course, I was dying to try one of the book’s recipes – to start our Pie Tertúlias, I chose his recipe for Quiche Lorraine, one of my favorite savory pies!
I followed the recipe ALMOST to a T – I changed the way to roll out the crust, because I didn’t want to make a mess on my counter! As expected, it was delicious. The best thing is that this pie is equally good hot and at room temperature. This recipe yielded six servings – lunch, dinner, and lunch again! Nobody complained of eating the same thing three meals in a row… 😉
For the crust
250 g flour
125 g cold unsalted butter
2 tsp salt – next time, I’ll use just one, as I thought the dough was a tad too salty
1 tsp sugar
1 egg yolk
50 mL water
For the filling
300 g bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
250 g heavy cream
salt, pepper, nutmeg
150 g gruyère, coarsely grated – I’m sure any melty cheese would work just fine, but gruyère and emmental are the traditional options
Start by making the crust. Whisk the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and, with your fingertips or a pastry cutter, mix until you get a coarsely crumbly mixture. Add the yolk and the water and combine just until you can make a ball – don’t knead it, or else it will be too hard! Wrap this ball with some plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Fry the bacon on low heat. Be patient, so that the bacon grease can render. When it’s all nicely fried, remove SOME of the grease, add the chopped onion and fry it until it’s golden. Set the bacon and onion aside, and try not to snack on it too much until it’s time to assemble the pie.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the heavy cream and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Remove the crust from the fridge. The normal way of rolling out the crust is by dusting your counter with flour. As I didn’t want to clean the flour mess, I cut two sheets of wax paper, placed the crust between the sheets, and rolled it out with a rolling pin. Then, I removed the top layer of paper, placed my 9-inch pie dish upside-down on top of it, flipped everything, and the crust just… fell into place beautifully. (And then, obviously, I removed the second layer of parchment paper)
Now comes the easy part: cover the bottom of the crust with the bacon and onions, then pour the egg and cream mix, and cover everything very well with the grated gruyère!
Bake on a preheated oven for about 40 minutes, give it or take, or until everything is golden brown and firm! You can eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven (which is what we did here) or you can wait and eat it at room temperature (which is also what we did here! 😀 )
I remember the very first thing I ate in England: a COLD pork pie, with a visible fat layer, together with a coffee that was also cold and yucky. To make things worse, it was expensive! To this day Sky, who was responsible for making that choice, is mocked! 😀
But there I also ate wonderful things, among them the famous fish and chips. The first time we ate that was at the only restaurant open after a long day of walking around. When we ordered a beer, the owner was almost insulted: we hadn’t realized that the restaurant was halal! To end the Sea Tertulias, I decided to make fish and chips – and had a good laugh when I realized Jaime Oliver’s recipe called for beer in the batter! 😀
250 g white fish fillets, deboned – we used corvina
½ tsp salt
pepper and paprika
225 g flour
250 ml COLD beer
3 tsp baking powder
Potatoes to fry – I must confess I cheated and bought frozen fries. I know, I know.
About 1 liter of oil to deep-fry
Start by heating the oil. Place some beers in the freezer. When the oil is hot enough, start frying the French fries. While they’re frying….
Season the fish fillets with salt, pepper, and paprika. As we wanted finger food, I cut the fish into medium-sized chunks, but traditionally this dish is made by frying the entire fillet. Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. Add the beer, which must be very cold, in parts. The batter should be thick, almost like a cream – if it’s too liquid, it’ll make a mess of your oil!
Dip the fish pieces in the batter, making sure they are fully covered. Deep fry them for about 4 minutes, or until they are golden. Here, I served with garlic and herb mayonnaise – and beer, of course!
Ooops, we skipped a week! With all the fuss of Gabi’s graduation party (which was last Thursday, but we also celebrated on Friday and Saturday!), there really was no time to post! To make it up to you guys, today we continue the Sea Tertulias with a very easy and different recipe, great for having friends over!
The first time I ate coconut shrimp was at the only Chinese buffet that we know in Uruguay – and to think that there’s one on every corner in Brazil! The most traditional version of this recipe is deep-fried, but I decided to make something a little healthier, and I thought it was better than the original!
400 g deveined shrimp
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper – you can use paprika instead, if you prefer it less spicy
2 cups shredded coconut – I used regular shredded coconut, because that’s what I can find here. If you can find unsweetened flaked coconut, it’ll look a lot prettier! 🙂
3 egg whites
For the sauce:
Unsweetened orange marmalade
Did I mention how easy this recipe is?
Start by preparing your baking sheet: take a baking sheet and grease it with olive oil. End of the preparation! 😀
Spice the cornstarch with salt and cayenne pepper. Place the mixture on a plate and set aside. Quickly beat the egg whites with a fork and place on a separate plate. Set that aside as well. Place the coconut on a third plate and guess what? Set that aside too!
Now to the assembly: take one shrimp, dredge it on the cornstarch, then dip in the egg whites, then in the coconut. Place it on the baking sheet and repeat the process until you finish! As 400 g is quite a bit of shrimp, I recommend you do this process while watching a show or something! 😀
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 7 minutes. Then, flip the shrimp so they brown on the other side and bake for another 7 minutes.
While the shrimp are baking, make the sauce. In a small pan, place the marmalade and a couple Tbsp water, mixing on low heat until the marmalade is thinner. When it comes to a boil, turn off the stove, place the sauce in a nice little bowl, and serve!