Goat Cheese Dip

Versão em Português

Patê de Queijo de Cabra

In Uruguay and in Brazil, we have a long weekend coming along: Carnival! Most people go out and celebrate, but we are just going to binge-watch Netflix and catch up with our reading! 😛

To finish the Dip Tertulias, I’ve chosen a very different recipe (adapted from Chef John’s) – when you read “goat cheese dip”, you might think of hours in the kitchen making something complicated, but all we need to do here is mix some ingredients in a big bowl! The easiest recipe in this series!

You’ll need:

200 g cream cheese
200 g mild goat cheese * − here, I used creamy goat cheese, but I’ve used hard cheese in the past. In that case, all you have to do is grate it coarsely.
1 clove of garlic − I used garlic flakes because it’s carnival! I was lazy!
¼ cup of chopped herbs – I used parsley and chives, but in the past I’ve used basil, dill… it’s a matter of taste (and of what’s in the fridge!)
Salt, pepper, and hot paprika to taste

* If your goat cheese is stronger-flavored, start by mixing just half of it. After the initial taste, you can decide if you want to add the rest!

Patê de Queijo de Cabra

* If your goat cheese is stronger-flavored, start by mixing just half of it. After the initial taste, you can decide if you want to add the rest!

The directions for this recipe are extremely appropriate for carnival: Place all ingredients in a bowl. With a silicone spatula, mix everything. Check that the seasoning is to your liking and that’s it! Done!

But hey, we can always fancy things up a bit! Place a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter. Put the dip on the plastic and shape it into a cylinder. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until it’s nice and firm. To serve, remove the plastic (obviously!) and slice! 🙂

Tapenade

Versão em português

Tapenade

When I moved to Uruguay, one of the things I had to learn was to cook – no one can survive forever on pasta, cake, scrambled eggs, and tuna salad, right? (Seriously, that was basically all I could cook). I started by making simple, but different, things. One of those first recipes was tapenade, this French olive dip.

The recipe I used to make (I can’t remember where I found it!) called for equal amounts of green and black olives, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. I would simply place everything on the food processor, pulse it, and there: a tasty dip. When I decided that February would be Dip Tertulias, I knew tapenade was going to be one of them. So, I tried to find the “original, authentic, yadda yadda yadda” recipe – but of course I couldn’t find it!

There seem to be a lot of different recipes, each of them adding/omitting an ingredient. Confused, I had to resort to Wikipedia, where I learned that the recipe calls for olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic! I found this recipe on The Guardian and decided to make it – well, adapt it. It was much tastier than the one I used to make!

It doesn’t yield a whole lot, which is fine: it’s pretty strong, so a little goes a long way!

Tapenade

You’ll need:

½ cup of pitted black olives
2 Tbsp capers
2 anchovies, drained – we always have some, for Caesar salad dressing… or pizza. 😀
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp oregano/thyme – I used ½ Tbsp of each
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste – I skipped the salt, as the anchovies/capers were salty enough

Not only did I try a “more authentic” recipe, but I also tested the most traditional method: the mortar and pestle!

Coarsely chop the olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic. Place them in the mortar, add the herbs, and crush and grind everything until you get a paste that isn’t too chunky. Add roughly 2 Tbsp olive oil and use the pestle to mix it in. Season with salt and pepper.

OOOOR….. place everything on the food processor, pulsing until you get a somewhat chunky paste! 😀

White Bean Beet Dip

Versão em Português

Patê de Beterraba e Feijão Branco

While looking for recipes to eat with bread that were different (and, if possible, vegan), I stumbled upon this one. As I had already made a white bean dip and a beet dip, I had no doubt that putting them together would be a hit! 🙂

Apart from the bright look, what really drew me to trying this recipe was the fact that it called for roasted beets – let’s face it, this is the best way of preparing them! After I learned that, I never went back to just boiling them! As the original recipe was a little mild for my taste, I upped the spices a bit.

You’ll need:

1 can white beans, drained – as I don’t buy canned beans here, I used 1 ½ cup cooked white beans
2 large beets – I used 1 large and 2 medium
1 garlic clove – of course I used more than that (six)! 😀
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste – I used smoked and mild paprika

Patê de Beterraba e Feijão Branco

Cut the beets in cubes – as my baking sheet was reasonably big, I chopped a few more to add to another meal! 🙂

GENEROUSLY spice the beets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika, tossing it all well so that all the little cubes are well coated. Place some garlic cloves over the beets and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the beets are nice and soft.

When they come out of the oven, place them in the blender, together with the white beans and one or two Tbsp water, just to help blend everything. As my blender broke (#RIP) and I haven’t bought a new one yet, I used a handheld mixer. It took a while, but it worked!

Then all you have to do is chill in the fridge for a while, then serve with some toast/chips 😀

Red Onion Dip

Versão em português

On the first weekend of February, we have Super Bowl. On the last, carnival – which we will celebrate with a Netflix binge-watch. These things call for a little snack, don’t they? 😉

To begin our Dip Tertulias, I (slightly) adapted this recipe by Rita Lobo, a fantastic Brazilian TV chef, because I was out of yellow onions. 🙂 I’ve made the original recipe, but truth be told, it’s much better with red onions!

You’ll need:

350 g sour cream or crème fraîche

2 large red onions (or 4 medium), sliced as thinly as you can

4 Tbsp of olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt, pepper, and nutmeg, to taste

Start by slicing the onions. If you have a mandolin, here’s your chance to finally use it! 😀 As I don’t have one (yet), I used a very sharp knife to get the job done.

In a large skillet, heat two Tbsp olive oil on low heat and add the onions. Now it’s time to caramelize: stir the onions every now and then, until their texture changes considerably – they’ll be soft and the white part will be translucent. Here, this process took around 20 minutes. Rita Lobo said that “it’s no use turning up the heat: the onions will burn instead of caramelize,” so I obeyed!

In a bowl, mix the sour cream with the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice, and the seasonings. Set aside.
When the onions are nicely caramelized, set aside a small portion for garnish, and chop the rest REEEALLY thinly. Add the chopped onions to the seasoned sour cream. Cover and chill in the fridge. Serve with crackers or sliced carrots and cucumbers.

This is a good recipe for a game night (here, Cards Against Humanity), because it is not only tasty, but can also be made the day before!

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Versão em português

Rolinhos Primavera Vietnamitas

A friend of mine has an Asian-inspired closed-door restaurant here in Punta. When I went there for the first time, I saw “spring rolls” on the menu and I ordered it, thinking I’d get the Chinese fried version. Instead, he brought pockets of raw vegetables. I tried them, skeptically, but I loved it! Very fresh and light!

To end our Summer Tertulias, I decided to make that recipe. It isn’t hard, but it takes a while to roll everything. It’s totally worth it, though, and they last a few days in the fridge – a healthy snack option. They are very versatile: you can fill them however you want. I made the vegan version, but you can add boiled shrimp, for example.

The rice paper used for these spring rolls can be found in health/Asian stores. Here in Uruguay, I found them on the gluten-free section of the supermarket (the celiac population here is surprisingly big: we had a gluten-free section before it was cool 😀 ).

The quantities listed here are simply a suggestion – adjust however you like!

1 packet of rice paper wraps

1 cucumber, julienned – I still haven’t mastered the cut, though…

1 carrot, julienned

1/3 green bell pepper, julienned

1/3 red bell pepper, julienned

1/3 yellow bell pepper, julienned

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 packet of bean sprouts – alfalfa sprouts work nicely too, but I didn’t find them in the market! 😀

Mint leaves

Lettuce

Sauce

4 Tbsp soy sauce – traditionally, fish sauce is used, but then the recipe is no longer vegan. I tested both and they are equally good.

1 Tbsp sugar

Juice of half a lemon

2 garlic cloves

1 cup of water

Rolinhos Primavera Vietnamitas

Start by prepping all the vegetables.

Then, set up your workstation: the veggies, the sprouts, the mint, the rice paper, a deep plate with water (to soften the rice paper), a clean dish towel, and a plate to place the finished rolls.

Place one wrap on the plate with water and let it sit for a minute. It will be quite soft! Carefully, remove the wrap from the plate and place it over your towel, trying to keep it from curling. The first few times it may be a little troublesome, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

Place the filling on the center of the wrap, being careful not to overfill. Fold the bottom part of the wrap over the filling, fold both sides into the center, making an envelope, and fold the top part over, closing the roll. Repeat until you run out of wraps or filling! 😀

Mix the sauce ingredients and serve!

Watermelon-Mint Agua Fresca

Versão em português

Agua Fresca

For the third recipe of the Summer Tertulias, I decided to make the first drink of the blog! 🙂 While researching “summer recipes” on Pinterest, I came across “agua fresca,” a very refreshing Mexican drink – the middle point between juice and flavored water 😀

Among the several options of agua fresca, I decided on this Epicurious version, which has an interesting detail: homemade mint syrup. I had never made syrup before, and was surprised at how easy it is! The coolest thing is that you can use the same syrup to make pineapple agua fresca!

For a big pitcher of agua fresca, you’ll need:

5 cups of watermelon, seeded – I used half a medium-sized watermelon and decided that was 5 cups 😀 For the pineapple version, I used roughly 2 cups of fresh pineapple, chopped.

1/4 cup of lemon juice

A LOT OF ICE (I used two trays)

For the mint syrup:

1/4 cup mint leaves

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Agua Fresca

In a small saucepan, place all the ingredients of the syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let it chill completely.

While the syrup cools down, remove the seeds of the watermelon and chop it. When I was done chopping, I remembered I had a pineapple that needed to be used as well. As I had doubled the syrup recipe, I decided to make pineapple agua fresca – the method was exactly the same, but I only used 2 cups of chopped pineapple.

Place the watermelon, the lemon juice, and the mint syrup in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the contents directly over the pitcher. Add two cups of water, mix well, and add plenty of ice. Serve ice cold!

Freezer: Place the agua fresca in a popsicle mold and freeze – it will be a hit! 🙂

Quick-cured Salmon

Versão em português

Salmão Chef John

For the second recipe of the Summer Tertúlias, I finally photographed one of my favorite recipes! This is a great thing to have on the fridge for a quick lunch – a simple salad or sandwich with a few slices of this salmon will get the job done. And what’s more, this recipe does not require a stove, which is ideal for the hot weather down here!

This must have been the first recipe I’ve watched from Chef John. Naturally, after testing it I became a fan! On Christmas, we served it with mini toasts and cream cheese, which I spiced with dill and pepper – it was a hit!

You’ll need:

1 piece of salmon – mine was approximately 1 kg, but the size doesn’t really matter, as the brine is the same

For the brine:

2 1/2 cups cold water

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup salt

Salmão Chef John

Start by removing the skin – or be smart and buy your salmon without the skin. With patience (and a sharp knife), the skin will come off.

Slice the salmon as if for sashimi – that is, 0.5 cm thick, give or take. It’s no big deal if your slices are thicker – all you have to do is leave them a little longer in the brine!

For the brine itself, you’ll need a bit of arm strength and faith: stir all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until the liquid is once again clear. For the first two or three minutes of stirring, you’ll be thinking “this is never going to get clear,” but here’s where the faith (and arm strength) comes in: it WILL turn clear, just keep stirring! 🙂

Set up a little workstation on your counter: the sliced salmon, the brine bowl, a clean plate to place the salmon when it’s ready, a cooling rack, and your cell phone (or a kitchen timer, if you’re feeling fancy). If you don’t have a cooling rack, just place some paper towels on your counter to soak up the excess liquid.

Place a few pieces of salmon in the brine and set your timer for three minutes. Don’t overfill the bowl – a single layer will do. When your timer rings,
transfer the pieces to the cooling rack (or paper towel stack). Put a new batch of salmon in the brine and repeat the process.

As the salmon dries off a little, place the pieces on a place – they should be close together, but not stacked. Cover the plate tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Serve with toast and cream cheese, or simply with some soy sauce!

Greek Salad

Versão em português

Salada grega

January in the Southern Hemisphere is always the same deal: it’s too hot, “this year I’ll eat healthier, I swear,” “did I mention it’s hot in here?,” etc. So, nothing better than starting the year with Summer Tertulias – a series of light recipes that go hand in hand with the hot weather! 😀

Today’s recipe is a very very tasty LETTUCE-FREE salad (I don’t really care for lettuce). The coolest thing is that you only get the cutting boards and the plates dirty, no need for a salad bowl! Deb’s original recipe called for feta, but I’ve never found it here in Uruguay – I used hard ricotta and it worked great. You can also use goat cheese, it’s excellent!

For two people, you’ll need:

1 cucumber
1/2 green bell pepper
1 cup of cherry/grape tomatoes
1/4 cup of black olives – you can skip it, if you want. I won’t understand it, but you can do it, it’s your salad after all!
1/2 medium-size red onion – mine was big, so I used 1/4.
Thick slices of feta, ricotta, goat cheese, or grilled tofu for a vegan version
juice of 1 lemon – I got carried away and used 2, but the original recipe calls for just one 😀
olive oil, salt, black pepper, oregano (fresh oregano would be the ideal thing here, but I only had dried leaves, so that’s what I used)

Salada grega

Assembling this salad is super easy.

If you think that raw onions are too strong, you can slice it thinly and let it soak in the lemon juice while you chop the rest of the ingredients. I love raw onions (mom will tell you all about how I used to steal raw onions from the fridge when I was five), so all I did was slice it thin! 😀

Cut the cucumber into medium-size bits, the bell pepper in small cubes, and the cherry tomatoes in half. I placed the ingredients on the plates as I chopped them, to spare one dish! #lazypeoplehack

Place the olives and the cheese slices on the salad, and dress it with the lemon juice (even if you’ve soaked your onions in it), olive oil, salt, pepper, and the oregano leaves.

Eat and feel virtuous that you are sticking to your new year’s resolution (for now…) 😀

Phoebe’s Cookies – OK, Nestlé Toll House Cookies

Versão em Português

Cookies da Phoebe

(If you don’t know why I call these “Phoebe’s Cookies,” stop reading this and go watch Friends, season 7, episode 3)

There’s no better way of finishing the Christmas Tertulias than with Phoebe’s grandma’s cookies! 🙂 I had wanted to try these ever since I first watched that episode, in 2000 something. When I moved to Uruguay, I finally looked up the recipe and tried it. In fact, I’ve made these cookies so many times that I had to search the blog files to make sure I hadn’t posted them yet! 😀

And the most important thing is: you can still make them for Christmas! Did you forget to buy stocking stuffers? Phoebe’s Cookies to the rescue! Your children need to leave some cookies for Santa? He’ll like these better than any store-bought cookie! 🙂

I wanted to follow the original recipe strictly, for the pictures, but I ended up making a tiny alteration: I swapped ½ cup of walnuts for ½ cup of chocolate chips, because I had chopped more nuts than necessary. 😀

You’ll need:

200 g butter, room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups chocolate chips – If you can’t find real chocolate chips (aka not the gross hydrogenated fat, ewww), just chop some normal chocolate bars! I used 1 ½ cups of mini chocolate chips, 50% cocoa.

1 cup of walnuts, chopped (measure, then chop) – as I said before, I used 1 ½ cup.

Cookies da Phoebe

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar for approximately 3 minutes, until it’s creamy. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing a little more.

In a bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the stand mixer in thirds. The original recipe said to continue using the stand mixer to incorporate the flour mix, but I prefer to do this step using a silicon spatula, to make sure I don’t overwork the dough. It takes a little muscle strength, but I think it’s worth it! 😀

When you can’t see flecks of flour in your dough anymore, it’s time to add the chocolate chips and the nuts. Use a silicon spatula to mix it well.

As I still don’t have a cookie scoop, I had to shape them by hand. My suggestion: sit in front of the TV/computer, put on an episode of your favorite show, and shape! It will take a while. 😀 The original recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of dough per cookie, but I thought they turned out too big, so I only used ½ Tbsp per cookie.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, leaving approximately 2 cm of room between them. Bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 15 minutes. Remove the cookies from the sheet and let them cool on a rack. When they are COMPLETELY cooled (it may take a while if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere!), place them in a nice box or jar and they’re ready to be gifted! 🙂

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! 🙂

Lemon Bars

Versão em Português

Barrinhas de Limão

The second recipe of the Christmas Tertulias is not exactly a Christmas recipe, but it is a perfect fit for the hot weather in the Southern Hemisphere. As the idea of this series is to make edible gifts, all you have to do is place these bars in a red-and-green box and there you have it: CHRISTMAS 😀 😀

They are also a great dessert for Christmas Dinner. We know your aunt is bringing
pudim (Brazilian-style flan), but you can innovate and bring these! 🙂
Lemon bars are also one of Sky’s favorite desserts: I first baked them because every time I baked something, he’d say “oh, this is pretty good, but you could make lemon bars, you know…” I’m glad he insisted, though, because these are really good! I’ve tried many recipes, but this one, by Ree Drummond, is one of the most traditional.

To fill a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 11 inch) pan with lemon bars <3, you’ll need:

Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract – “an invention from my head,” as Grandma would say

225 g butter, cold and chopped into small cubes

Filling

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs

Zest and juice of 5 lemons

Confectioner’s sugar, for decoration

Barrinhas de Limão

Start by lining the baking pan (20 x 30 cm, 8 x 11 inch) with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that removing the bars from the pan isn’t a traumatizing process 😀 – there’s no need to butter the foil, as there’s plenty of butter in the dough!

For the crust: in a medium-sized bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and the vanilla and use the tip of your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to mix the ingredients until it looks like fine crumbs. Press this dough onto your baking pan and bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the sides are light golden. Don’t bake any more than that, as these will go back to the oven! 🙂

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Use your whisk to mix the sugar and flour. Add the eggs, mixing well, and then add the lemon zest and juice. Mix and set aside. As this whole process takes about 3 minutes, do the dishes! 😀

Remove the crust from the oven, carefully pour the filling, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is firm. Remove from the oven and cool it for a while before placing in the fridge for about 2 hours – it’s a lot easier to cut them when they’re cold!

Remove the chilled bars from the pan, using the aluminum foil. For extra prettiness, sift a generous layer of confectioner’s sugar over the bars. Cut them into 5-cm (2-inch) squares. Place the bars in a cute box (if you have to pile them, separate the layers with wax paper), and there’s your gift!