Fluffy Chocolate Mousse

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While growing up in my mother’s house, I was familiar with two varieties of chocolate mousse. One, made with butter, is dense and almost fudge-like. This is the other recipe – a fluffier, almost meringue-textured mousse.

I always thought I preferred the dense version, made with lovely dark chocolate, until I recently made this one. And it made me reconsider.

This is like the inside of a 3 Musketeer bar!

The funny thing is, my husband thought the same thing, so the next time I make a mousse (in 15 years?!) it will be this recipe.

Fluffy Chocolate Mousse
Serves 6

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
5 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 scant cup white sugar, divided
5 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cognac
1/2 teaspoon powdered espresso
1 2/3 cup heavy cream

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water gradually just until melted. Let cool.

In a large bowl, with electric mixer at high speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition; continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

In a small bowl, with same beaters, beat egg yolks with salt until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating well.

Gradually beat in strong coffee or cognac and melted chocolate until mixture is smooth.

Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream and the egg whites together gently, then fold into the chocolate mixture, until no streaks remain. Turn the mousse in a 2 quart serving dish, or 6 individual serving bowls, spreading the top evenly.

Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving chilled or at room temperature.

If desired, serve each with a fun cookie.

This mousse has one of those textures that you just want to jump into! Soft, fluffy, creamy, chocolate-flavored, all with a meringue-like softness!

Tigelle

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I have fallen in love with a food show called “Somebody Feed Phil.” Or maybe I’ve fallen in love with Phil himself, cause he’s adorable. Previously known as the executive producer of the popular American show, “Somebody Loves Raymond,” he somehow created his own show going around the world experiencing food!

So, is he like Anthony Bourdain? Oh my goodness no. In fact, I’d call Phil, whose real name is Phil Rosenthal, a sweet, goofy, fun- and food-loving nut! And let me say this. I’ve never teared up so much watching a food show.

So in one show about Chicago, which he calls “the city that tries to kill you” because of all of the fabulous food there, like the wonderful Chicago pizza, he goes to Monteverde, an Italian restaurant co-owned by Chef Sarah Grueneberg. And it was on this show that I first heard of tigelle.

Tigelle, pronounced ti-gel-ay, are little yeasted round breads that look similar to English muffins in the U.S. They originate from the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, and can also be called crescente.

But it was what Chef Sarah did with the tigelle that got me wanting to investigate. She sliced one horizontally, added burrata, prosciutto butter, a thin slice of melon, and then prosciutto. Phil looked like he’d reached nirvana! Of course, all Phil has to do is look at a donut and his face really lights up!

Anthony Bourdain, god rest his soul, will always have a special place in my heart. But Phil Rosenthal, you are my hero!

The recipe I’m using is from the website called Great Italian Chefs. Tigelle recipes were not in my Italian cookbooks.

I spent a few days searching for a tigelliera, which I learned is the press with which to make these, and lo and behold, I found one on the website Taglia Pasta. If you want one check it out here.

The dough for these is a basic yeasted bread dough. And just fyi, if you use yeast regularly, buy it in bulk. I keep this bag, that was once a 1-pound bag, in the freezer and pull it out when I need it. Here’s a pound of yeast on Amazon for $7.80. Don’t buy the little packages! It would add up to about $70.00!

Tigelle

500g or 2 cups of 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
150g or 5 ounces lukewarm water
150g or 5 ounces lukewarm milk
25g or 1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5g or 1 teaspoon dried yeast
5g or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Combine the milk and water and stir in the yeast. Leave for 10 minutes to activate the yeast (I always sprinkle a pinch of sugar over the yeast first.)

Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, then stir in the milk mixture with a spoon. Once it starts to come together, tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until you have a nice, smooth dough.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and leave somewhere warm to proof for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, knead for a minute, and cover and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Then roll out to 1/2” thick. Use an 8cm cutter to cut the dough into discs. Re-roll trimmings and cut out more until all the dough is used, placing them all on a parchment paper-lined tray.

Let the dough proof for one more hour.

Heat the tigellieria over medium-high heat on a gas stove. Cook six at a time, for about 4 minutes on each side. Make sure to oil both sides of the press.

They should be puffed up and slightly browned.

It took a little time to get them to the proper color. Sometimes the dough squished a little, but that’s okay.

Like I mentioned, tigelle are just a basic bread dough, but once they cooked and sliced open, they are a vehicle for just about everything good that is Italian!

I put out prosciutto butter, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, melon slices, and some arugula.

I got the idea for the prosciutto butter from the show. I simply mixed a herbed garlic compound butter with prosciutto in the food processor. And wow is it good when it melts on hot bread!

Hopefully I’ll get the hang of using the tigelliera and do a better job next time. I saw someone in a video using small scissors to trim around each tigella and make them perfect rounds, but I like the rusticity of these.

Olive Cake

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In the fall of 2015, my husband and I spent a lovely vacation in the Provençal countryside with our friend Stéphane Gabart. If you’re not familiar with him, you should be. He’s a professional culinary guide, chef and photographer. View his inspiring work at his website Stéphane Gabart.

Before this trip I’d already visited him twice – once with my daughter, and the other time with a girlfriend.

This trip was different in that we traveled from Bordeaux through Provence, ending up at le Côte d’Azur. So for two full weeks, we really saw Provence, thanks to the itinerary Stéphane customized for us. I wasn’t familiar with many of the villages, like Boulbon, Gordes, Grasse, and Tourrettes. All were awe-inspiring.

Near Aix en Provence, we visited a working olive farm, Bastide du Laval, had a tasting, and walked the trails amongst the olive groves.

This photo shows Niçoise olives ripening.

At every happy hour in Provence, along with our cocktails, we were served olives. Some were whole, some were made into tapenade, and all were delicious.

At one hotel we were served olives with what I’m sure was olive cake – a savory quick bread baked in a loaf pan, called cake salé in France.

The olive cake I’m making today is reminiscent of the lovely bread I enjoyed while sipping rosé underneath golden sycamores. Who doesn’t love that?!

This is the recipe I’m using, although I can’t credit anyone or any publication; I couldn’t even find it online.

Savory Olive Cake

I pretty much made the recipe as is, except for increasing the cheese to 7 ounces, all grated, and omitting the ham.

 

The bread/cake turned out perfectly.

I served it still warm with cheese, olives, salami and oven-roasted tomatoes.

I think the cake would have been fine with just the olive oil and tapenade, but the chopped olives added a nice texture.

Next time I will make this olive cake the same way.

note: I omitted the ham in this specific recipe, but if you want something more fun, check out my raclette quick bread, pictured below.

It contains sun-dried tomatoes, pancetta, raclette, olives, and herbs. It just shows how creative you can get with a basic savory quick bread recipe!

Birria

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Birria de Res – Recipe from Chef Josef Centeno, Adapted by Tejal Rao, from NYT Cooking email, dated February 10, 2021
Yep, this photo got my attention!

Birria, the regional stew from Mexico saw a meteoric rise in popularity recently, as a soupy style made with beef, popularized by birria vendors in Tijuana, took off in the United States. Chef Josef Centeno, who grew up eating beef and goat birria in Texas, makes a delicious, thickly sauced version based on his grandma Alice’s recipe, mixing up the proteins by using oxtail, lamb on the bone and even tofu. Preparing the adobo takes time, as does browning the meat, but it’s worth it for the deep flavors in the final dish. The best way to serve birria is immediately and simply, in a bowl, with some warm corn tortillas.. —Tejal Rao

Birria de Res

2 poblano chiles
5 guajillo chiles, seeded, stemmed and halved lengthwise
5 pounds bone-in beef shoulder, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves
Fresh black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
2 dried bay leaves
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, quartered
Corn tortillas, warmed

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Use tongs to place the poblano chiles directly over the open flame of a gas burner set to high. Cook the poblanos until totally charred all over, turning as needed, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the poblanos can steam. After 10 minutes, use your fingers to pull the blackened skins away from the poblanos, then remove the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the poblanos and set aside.

If you want this process shown in photos, click on poblano roast.

While the poblano chiles steam, place a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches to cook the guajillo chiles evenly in one layer, flatten the chile halves on the hot skillet and toast them for about 15 seconds, turning once. Put the chiles in a bowl and add 2 cups hot water to help soften them. Set aside.

Season the meat all over with the salt. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof pot over medium-high. Working in batches, sear the meat on all sides until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, transferring the browned meat to a large bowl as you work.

After you’ve seared all the meat, add the onion to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Return all the meat to the pot.

Use a seed toaster to toast the jumpy sesame seeds.

To peel the roasted poblanos after they’ve steamed and cooled, simply use a paper towels or your fingers to remove the charred surface, then with a knife remove the stem and any membrane and seeds on the inside.

Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, cloves and a few grinds of black pepper to a blender, along with the chopped poblanos, toasted guajillos and the chile soaking liquid. Purée until smooth, scraping down the edges of the blender as needed. I bought a case of “Joysey Tuhmatuhs” to try them out. Fabulous ingredient!

Pour the blended mixture into the pot with the meat. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, along with about 4 to 6 cups of water, enough to amply cover the meat.

I didn’t add water because I used less meat and I wanted the stew more stewy and less soupy. Cover and cook in the oven until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Divide among bowls and sprinkle with cilantro.

Serve with lime wedges for squeezing on top, and a side of warm tortillas.

This stew is so good. Great depth of flavor; you can really taste the cumin and cinnamon.

A Basic Omelet

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There was a summer many years ago when I taught cooking classes to four little girls – two sets of sisters who were homeschooled. Their mothers thought that cooking classes would satisfy many interests and teach quite a few skills to the girls. And indeed, I’ve always thought that cooking classes are fabulous for not only learning about food, but also grasping important applications like math and chemistry.

During those classes we had a session on eggs – how to appreciate them for the wonderful little package of food they are, and how to treat them with respect in the kitchen. And one thing we made together were omelets. (Also a pavlova, which was a huge hit!)

Now, it may not seem that creative to put an omelet on my blog, but on the contrary, I think that an omelet requires learning some skills. Plus, there are a lot of terrible omelets out there, so perhaps I’m doing a community service with this post. I hope so.

To me, there are a few criteria for making the perfect omelet:
1. good eggs
2. good cheese, for a cheese omelet
3. the right skillet
4. a lid
5. patience

Of course it goes without saying that the ingredients that you choose for your omelet have to be good. It’s especially nice to have access to farm-fresh eggs – the kind that are almost impossible to break open because the shells are so hard.

Cheese is subjective – there’s no “right” cheese. I like Fontina, Gruyere, or even a good Monterey Jack. Who am I kidding?! Any cheese that melts well will work.

The right skillet is important because you want your omelet to end up a decent thickness. Place your whisked eggs in too large of a skillet, and you will get a thin omelet. Unless you like that kind, I don’t recommend too large of a skillet.

The skillet I use for my one-person, 2-egg omelet, is actually a crêpe pan. It’s got a flat bottom and flat sides. The outside diameter is 8″; the inside diameter, or bottom, measures 6″ in diameter.

crepe

A perfect-fitting lid is also important for making a good omelet.

And then the most important aspect of making an omelet – patience. As Rome wasn’t built in a day, an omelet can’t be prepared in one minute. I know everyone likes fast food, but if you rush your omelet, it will taste and feel like something purchased at a fast food restaurant. Which would make me wonder why you’re even bothering to cook an omelet at home in the first place…

For today’s omelet, or omelette, I chose butter, 2 eggs, grated Fontina, and some diced, leftover ham. And here’s what I did.

A  Basic  Ham  and  Cheese   Omelet

2 eggs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Diced ham, optional of course
Cheese of choice – grated, or sliced fairly thinly

Whisk the 2 eggs in a small bowl with a fork, before you begin heating the skillet. Also, please don’t think that brown eggs are better than white. My mother had chickens that laid many different colored eggs, depending on their breed.

Place the butter in the skillet over medium heat. It should begin melting immediately, but not burn. If you think the skillet is too hot, remove it from the heat source for a minute. Cooking is a lot about common sense.

You need to work fairly quickly at first, but don’t worry, it’s not a race. Just have all of the ingredients available, as well as the skillet lid. And don’t forget to adjust the heat on the stove. That’s why there are knobs. Or, if you panic, completely remove the skillet from the heat source and collect yourself.

Pour the whisked eggs into the skillet. The butter has browned a bit. You can see that the skillet is “grabbing” the eggs and the cooking process has begun.

Immediately place the ham and cheese over the top of the eggs and turn down the heat to the lowest setting. Trust me.

Then place the lid on the skillet. Let the omelet cook slowly, with the lid on, over the lowest heat, for about 4 minutes.

At this point, the top of the omelet will look like this:

Most of the cheese is melted, but there is still a bit of egg that need to cook through. Remove the skillet completely from the heat source, but leave the lid on.

After about 1 minute, the omelet should be ready. I prefer an omelette baveuse, or soft. Cook a little more if you can’t handle runny eggs!

You can use a thin spatula to remove the omelet from the skillet and fold over gently, or slide it out for an open-face presentation. Alternatively, use the skillet to slide the omelet on the plate, then fold it over into a semi-circle using the edge of the skillet.

The egg part of the omelet is cooked and somewhat puffy, almost like a soufflé, but not to the point of rubberyness. I don’t mind a bit of browning on the eggs.

Notice the cheese is fully melted inside because the lid on the skillet allowed the cheese to warm and melt, just like with a quesadilla.

What’s important is that in spite of the fact that this omelet took a little time, the results are superb.

I swore off omelets at restaurants a couple of decades ago. No more rubber omelets, ever!

Sourdough Country Bread

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When I first read Martha Rose Shulman’s book Supper Club chez Martha Rose, published in 1988, my life changed. Why? Because of what she did with bread. I’m not referring to the crazily intense scientific approach to bread baking, I’m talking about her creativity. She added stuff to bread doughs. And I mean just about everything.

On this blog I’ve shared an olive bread, above, that was inspired by a recipe in her cookbook, but the book taught me to add just about anything to bread. This kind of creativity came in handy during my years as a private cook and caterer. Olive bread isn’t that unique these days, but it was in 1988.

Because of Ms. Schulman, I’ve made breads with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, chili powder, nuts, seeds, grated zucchini, nuts and dried fruits, cooked or raw grains, paprika creme, onions, and cheese… you name it.

But the recipe I want to share from this cookbook today is a rustic sourdough country bread. It’s crusty, chewy, and has the flavor that’s undeniably sourdough.

If you want to get on the scientific sourdough bandwagon with an expert, hop over to Elaine’s blog, called Foodbod Sourdough. I love Elaine because she began innocently enough, with a starter and curiosity and passion, but quickly evolved. Her recipes and techniques are specific, and she now has a book!

But this Martha Schulman recipe shows how sourdough can be created in a matter of days, without a starter. And it’s magnificent! (And no feeding.)

Sourdough Country Bread

for the starter

The First Day
1/3 cup water
1 cup flour, whole-wheat or unbleached white

Mix together the water and flour and knead into a smooth ball on a floured work surface. The dough should be soft and sticky. Flour your hands so you can work with it. Return it to the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let sit at room temperature for 72 hours. The dough will form a crust on the top and turn a grayish color, which is normal. If you keep wetting the towel it will reduce the drying. The dough will rise slightly and take on an acidic aroma.

After 72 hours
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups flour, whole-wheat or unbleached white

Add the water to the starter and blend together. If the crust on the top is like cardboard, you will have to peel it off and discard it. Try blending it before you resort to this. Add the flour and stir to blend. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead into a smooth ball.

Return it to the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let sit in a warm place for 24 to 48 hours. Again, a crust may form on the top. If it is like cardboard, peel it off and discard before proceeding with the recipe.

for the bread

All of the sourdough starter
2 cups lukewarm water plus 1 cup coffee
Scant tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 scant tablespoon salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups whole-wheat flour
Cornmeal for the baking sheet

Combine the sourdough starter, the water and coffee, and the yeast. Whisk together until the starter and yeast are thoroughly dissolved. Whisk in the molasses and the salt.

Fold in the flour, 1 cup at a time. By the time you have added 4 cups, you should be able to knead. I usually do this right in the bowl, as the dough is sticky and unwieldy. Using a pastry scraper instead of your hands to fold the dough for kneading will help. Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours. Flour your hands and wrists and punch down the dough. Knead for 2 or 3 minutes on a lightly floured surface, using a pastry scraper to make it easier. Remove a cup of the dough and place in a bowl, to use as a started for your next loaf of bread. Cover the starter and refrigerate after a few hours if not using again in a day’s time.

Dust a clean, dry towel with flour and line a bowl or basket. Form the dough into a ball, dust the surface with flour, and place, rounded side down, in the towel-lined bowl or basket (banneton). Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until almost doubled in bulk. You can also let the dough rise in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. (I made two smaller breads.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place an empty pan on the bottom shelf of the oven. When the oven is heated, pour 2 cups of water into the pan; the steam will help give the bread a thick, hard crust. Turn the dough out onto an un-oiled baking sheet or baking stone dusted with cornmeal, peel off the towel, and slash the dough with a sharp knife or razor. Place it in the oven and bake 45 minutes, until brown and it responds to tapping with a hollow thumping sound. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

I don’t do the slashing cause I’m not good at it. But the first thing I do is slather butter on the hot bread. I’m good at that.

And then, you have the starter in your kitchen or fridge, depending how often you bake bread. A bonus!

The lesson here, is that you can make a slurry/dough with just water and flour, let it sit for a few days, then use it to create a bread. Then you magically have a sour dough!

I usually make the first bread, then use all of the starter for a second bread. I just don’t want that much bread around! But the “souring” process of starting with just flour and water still excites me.

Bobotie

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2020, the year that will always be remembered for the world-wide pandemic, was also the year my husband and I would finally visit South Africa, and some neighboring countries. This was a highly anticipated trip of ours, not only for wildlife, wine, and culture, but for me, it was so much about the food of South Africa.

Being a geeky kid, I remember reading my mother’s Time-Life series of the Foods of the World. There were 27 in total, representing various cuisines – a larger book, and a smaller, spiral-bound recipe booklet.

I loved the larger books with the photos, and in African Cooking, I oohed and aahed over crayfish curry, a “popular dish at the Cape of Good Hope.”

African Cooking encompasses the continent of countries and their varied regional cuisines. A ridiculous task, really. The book is divided into five regions, and Southern Africa is one of them.

From the book, “Fertile soil and agreeable climate give South Africa much of the best grazing and crop land south of the Sahara. The Dutch first settled the region, and its culture and cuisine still bear their imprint, but a wide variety of other ethnic strains – Europeans, Asian, and African – exist in the south side by side.”

In anticipation of our 2020 South African trip, our daughter gave me this cookbook, by Melinda Roodt, published in 2016.

It is from this cookbook that I’m making the recipe for Bobotie. Another wonderful recipe is from one of my favorite professional food bloggers, stylists, and photographers, Sam from Drizzle and Dip, who lives in Cape Town, South Africa. This is one of her Bobotie photos.

From her blog post: “The Indonesian influence on South African cookery entered the country with the Dutch colonists, some of whom came from Indonesia at the time. The Indonesian word “bobotok” from which bobotie is derived, appeared in a Dutch cookery book in the year 1609. Malayans brought their culinary traditions to the country and these formed the cornerstone of many dishes, which were perfected and adapted by each succeeding generation and can be regarded as indigenous. One of the most typical traditional dishes “Bobotie” still features prominently and preparing and serving it will allow you to taste and delight in the spice of South African life.”

This has to be the yellowest meal I’ve ever made!

Bobotie

1 thick slice white bread
8 ounces milk
1 ounce olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Robertsons Rajah Mild & Spicy Curry Powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 – 2 1/2 pounds beef mince
1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons apricot jam
3 ounces Mrs. Balls chutney
3 extra-large eggs
3 – 4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons beef stock powder
16 ounces water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the bread in a bowl with the milk to soak.

Heat half the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic. Add the remaining olive oil, the curry powder, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of the turmeric to the onion and sauté for another 30 seconds.

Add the mince and fry over high heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring continuously, until cooked and loose in texture.

Turn down the heat and stir in the diced apple, salt, pepper, lemon juice, vinegar, jam, and chutney.

Drain the bread (keep the milk) and tear it into the mince. Mix well.

Beat 1 egg, quickly stir this into the mince mixture and remove the pan from the heat.Spoon the mince into a 8 x 12” ovenproof dish, reserving 2 tablespoons in the pan, and even out the top.

Beat the remaining eggs with the reserved milk and the remaining turmeric in a small bowl and pour over the mince in the dish.

Press the bay leaves halfway into the top and bake for 30 minutes until set.

While the bobotie is cooking, add the flour and stock powder to the reserved mince mixture in the pan. Bring to a high heat while adding the water and stir until thickened. Add the Worcestershire sauce and season to taste.

Serve the bobotie with this reduction and turmeric rice.

And then start planning when you’ll make it next, cause you will want to!

Uchucuta Sauce

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At our first breakfast in Cusco, Peru, when staying at the Hotel Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, there was lovely display of a green sauce with little clay cups for self-serving. I love just about everything green, and I’m addicted to condiments, so I put some on my eggs. I started small not knowing the heat level (see the little blob of green on my egg?! I went back for more.

What was especially nice, for me, was that a recipe was propped up next to the sauce.

It turned out the sauce was fairly mild, so during our time in Peru pretty much everything I ate got slathered with this stuff!

I took a photo of the recipe to I could recreate it at home. I had no idea how challenging that would be. The main ingredient is sachatomates, also known as tamarillos. I happened to have taken a photo of a tamarillo tree in Cuzco, without knowing what the fruits were. And, in a hotel room in Cartagena there were tamarillos in a bowl.

I recently discovered that another name for these are tree tomatoes, and ordered a box from Tropical Fruit Box, out of Miami, Florida. They sell quite an assortment of fruits! (What’s trending now are pink pineapples!) But, when I compare the photos, are they the same fruit?

My other stumbling block was finding green rocoto chile peppers. When you google their images, this is what you get: Only red.

When I looked for the peppers on Amazon, I found only red sauces, no green.

Obviously this is a green sauce, so I’m not going to add a red chile pepper paste to it, but I bought some just for fun. (It’s super hot!!) I decided instead to substitute jalapenos.

The next problem is huacatay, pronounced “wah-ka-tay.” It’s also known as Peruvian black mint. Since I didn’t have any of this mint, I bought a jar of the paste.

I have cilantro, peanuts, and salt and pepper, so I moved on with this Peruvian salsa, fingers crossed. Here is the recipe provided at the hotel’s restaurant.

Uchucuta Sauce

4 sachatomates
1 green rocoto chile pepper
100 grams cilantro
100 grams Peruvian black mint
100 grams peanuts
Salt, pepper

Peel, de-seed and dice the sachatomates.
Boil and dice the chiles.
Grind all of the ingredients until they form a sauce.
Leave the mixture thicken for 2 hours.

My first issue with these sachatomates/tamarillos/tree tomatoes, is that they cannot be peeled with a normal peeler, so I sliced them lengthwise in quarters, removed the seeds, and did my best with my knife to gather the flesh only. You can see that the flesh is thin.

I then boiled the diced jalapenos for a minute, as per the directions, weighed out the cilantro and peanuts.

I placed the fruit flesh in the food processor jar, along with the drained jalapenos, then added the cilantro and a tablespoon of the mint paste.

Then it was the peanuts, salt and pepper. I pulsed away, not wanting to make it too smooth, although I’ve since seem some photos of Uchucuta that looks like green soup!

In the recipe, a batán is recommended, which to me must be an equivalent of a molcajete, so I used mine to make the salsa a little smoother and greener.

This is what one looks like. Photo from Cuzcoeats.com

.

I made eggs and potatoes, which are eaten with uchucuta sauce, also known as uchukuta. Meats are also recommended for this condiment.

After tasting the sauce, it was so mild that I added another jalapeno, and it was still mild.

But it’s good! I just wish I had some mint, even if it isn’t Peruvian black mint.

And, it turns out, that these hard-to-find sachatomates aren’t even that important to this sauce. Oh well. Was this still fun? You betcha.

It’s been so long since we were in Peru that I don’t know if the taste is the same, but I doubt it. And in other recipes, I see feta cheese, and no sachatomates. Interesting.

I have about 30 more sachatomates to eat. They’re good, really tart, but good vitamin C to last the whole pandemic!

My friend took some and turned them into a salsa, which was delicious!

Raclette Quick Bread

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For those of you who don’t know what a quick bread is, well, it’s just that – a quick bread! As opposed to slow bread, you could say, or a yeasted bread, which can take hours to prepare and bake.

A quick bread utilizes baking powder as leavening that lightens the bread as it bakes, as opposed to yeasted breads that utilize yeast.

Besides being quick, quick breads are extremely easy. You mix up ingredients much like you would muffins or pancakes, whether sweet or savory. You just have to respect the ratio of wet to dry ingredients. Think about it. A cookie dough is different from a cake batter for a reason.

Today I decided to make a savory quick bread using some leftover raclette that I had frozen after Christmas, and a few other goodies I gathered together. If you decide to make this bread, you can completely change up the ingredients to make this bread your own.

This kind of bread is also referred to in France as a cake salé, a savory “cake” made in a loaf pan.

Raclette Quick Bread

2 ounces jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil, slightly drained and chopped
6 ounces pancetta, diced
2 tablespoons butter
16 ounces milk
2 eggs
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt or ricotta
1 teaspoon salt
Leftover pancetta and fat
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
10 ounces grated raclette or other semi-firm cheese
4 ounces of chopped olives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pancetta and butter together in a skillet over medium heat. A little browning is good. Let everything cool, and remember to save the fat in the skillet to use in the recipe. I actually discovered diced pancetta at my grocery store!

To a large mixing bowl, add the milk, eggs, yogurt and salt and whisk until smooth.

Add the pancetta and its fat, and the herbs. Stir until smooth. I used fresh parsley, rosemary, and oregano.

Using a spoon, gradually add the flour and baking powder and stir until the flour is almost combine with the wet ingredients.

Add the grated cheese and olives and fold them into the batter gently; do not over stir. And another discovery – pitted Castelvetrano olives! Thank you Amazon.

Divide the batter in between two greased 8 x 4″ loaf pans. Place the pans in the oven for 45 minutes.

To make sure they are cooked through, use a cake tester or long toothpick to check them. No doughy substance should be sticking to the tester. If there is, the breads need to be cooked for maybe five minutes longer. An alternative is to lower your oven to 325 degrees to help the breads cook in the middle. Sometimes it works to turn off the oven and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.

There should be a little rise along the middle of the bread, and it should also be firm to the touch.

Let the breads rest in the pans for about 30 minutes, and then remove them to cool completely.

Serve these breads as part of a buffet, or for an hors d’oeuvres platter.

They’re best warm or at room temperature. When the bread is warm it’s luscious and cheesy and flavorful.

Can you imagine serving this bread with a bowl of tomato soup?!

This bread would be great with smoked cheese, bits of chorizo, and chopped cilantro. Or, roasted red bell peppers, Gorgonzola, and basil. Get creative!

For a similar bread, click on Olive Cake for another delicious cake salé, pictured below.

Guiso de Carne

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At our favorite Mexican restaurant in town, I typically order one of two favorite items. One is shrimp Saltado, and the other is guiso de carne This is what is looks like at the restaurant.

It’s tender beef in a rich red sauce – not spicy, but very flavorful, served with rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream.

Recently I decided to make guiso de carne at home, and I immediately had challenges. The first was that this didn’t exist in any of my Mexican cookbooks, and then online, the name guiso de carne was most often changed to carne guisado. I tried to figure out the difference, but hit a dead end.

Carne Guisado is beef braised in a seasoned red sauce, and at this point I’m thinking its a Tex-Mex creation.

So I created my own recipe, and is it exactly like what I love at the restaurant? I’d have to do a side-by-side taste test. But it’s really good.

Guiso de Carne

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Grapeseed or canola oil, divided
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 guajillo chile peppers, stemmed, seeded
8 ounces hot chicken broth
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper
8 ounces tomato sauce

Place the cut up beef in a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cumin and coriander and toss so that all the beef is seasoned.

Starting with 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven, brown the meat in batches over high heat, without crowding, then place in another bowl. Continue with remaining beef.

Reduce the heat and add a little more oil if necessary, and sauté the onion; don’t caramelized much.

Meanwhile, place the hot chicken broth in a small blender jar with the guajillo peppers, broken up slightly, the chipotle peppers, the oregano, and ground ancho chile. Let sit for about 5 minutes before blending until smooth.

Add the tomato sauce and blend again; set aside.

Once the onions are sautéed, stir in the minced garlic for barely a minute, then pour in the tomato sauce mixture.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the beef and its juices to the sauce, give everything a stir, and simmer on low for 1 hour.

Check halfway through cooking – add some more broth if necessary. Make sure to give the meat a stir to make sure there is no sticking.

Serve the guiso de carne on a plate with your desired side dishes and toppings.

Rice and beans are great accompaniments, as are flour tortillas.

If you prefer eating guiso de carne in tortillas, like tacos, it’s best to make sure the pieces of chuck aren’t bigger than 1/2″.