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!
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:
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
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Zest and juice of 5 lemons
Confectioner’s sugar, for decoration
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!
As I had already made donut muffins, I decided to skip the topping this time. No regrets! 🙂 If you’re like my dad, who doesn’t care for raw blueberries, you should know that they are much tastier once baked!
For 12 muffins, you’ll need
255 g flour
100 g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk – I can’t buy buttermilk at the store, so I make my own, by putting 1 Tbsp lemon juice (vinegar would work too) in the measuring cup, filling it to the 3/4 mark with whole milk, and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes.
90 g butter, melted
Zest of 1 lemon – do not omit, it makes all the difference!
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup blueberries – mine were frozen, and they went from the freezer straight to the batter!
Start by preparing the buttermilk and melting the butter – if you want to be savvy, melt the butter in a pan that is big enough to mix the batter! 😀
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl using a whisk to make sure everything is nicely mixed and lump-free.
When the melted butter cools down a bit, mix in the eggs, the vanilla extract, and the buttermilk. Add the dry mix and mix A LITTLE with a rubber spatula – don’t mix the batter too much, or the muffins will harden: when you can’t see specks of flour, you’re done!
Add the blueberries to the batter and pour into the muffin cups – remember to fill only to 3/4 of the capacity, so they won’t overflow in the oven!
Bake for 25 minutes, or until they are golden/toothpick comes out clean… you know the deal. Let them cool on a wire rack – if you try to eat them while they’re hot, the dough sticks to the paper liner; it’s a nightmare. #truestory #learnedbydoing
To freeze: just place the cooled muffins in a ziploc bag! 🙂 They should last up to three months in the freezer, but only if you forget they are there, otherwise they get eaten WELL BEFORE that! 😀