Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Zucchini Pasta Bake

I tried this recipe from AllRecipes.

I was looking for something that used zucchini and tomato, and had all the ingredients, minus the mozzarella. Unfortunately, it wasn't worth buying the mozzarella. It was bland. I added an extra tomato, as some suggested, and some tomato sauce. I also used bread crumbs in place of crackers and whole wheat noodles, but I don't think any of this accounted for the lack of flavor. Not a repeat.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tortilla Española

(Adapted from Epicurious)


  • ½ cup oil

  • 2 pounds (or a little less) boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/3 inch slices

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onion

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt

  • 10 large eggs


Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and add potatoes, onion, and half of salt. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender but not colored, about 30 minutes(?). Drain vegetables in a large colander set over a bowl and cool 5 minutes. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl. Gently stir in vegetables with 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Return 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and add mixture, pressing potatoes flush with eggs. Cook over low heat, covered, 12 to 15 minutes, or until almost set. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Shake skillet gently to make sure tortilla is set on bottom and not sticking to skillet. Invert tortilla onto a large flat plate and slide back into skillet, bottom side up. (Alternatively, especially if top is still loose at this point, slide tortilla onto plate first. Cover it with skillet and invert tortilla back into skillet.) Round edge with a rubber spatula and cook over low heat, covered, 15 minutes more, or until set. Slide tortilla onto a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cooks' note: · Tortilla keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days.

My Notes: I made this for Charlotte's going away party. Although I've been happy with the recipe before, it had a skin this time that didn't thrill me (perhaps because I usually finish it in the oven, rather than doing all the tricky flipping?) Regardless, it was gobbled up. Needs more salt, when using Argentine salt.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Restaurant on Gral Flores, Colonia

We ate lunch in Colonia, while spending the day there. It was a bit tricky to avoid tourist traps (Martín is talking incessantly about the U$S 5 hamburger we saw listed at one place). We settled on a place that had reasonable prices and was reasonably busy. I ordered a beer from the tap, which I believe was a Patricia (one of Uruguay's 2 national beer brands), which was good, however it felt smaller than the half liter they advertised. We also ordered pizza, I had hongos on my half.

The mushrooms were marinated, which may have been a good thing due to them coming from a can, but they tasted fairly vinegary. They were also pricey, costing almost U$S 2 for half the pizza. However, eating in Uruguay tends to be cheap and I was dead tired and starving (feeling the first effects of a cold), so I had no real complaints.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Swiss Chard Gratin

I made this, and here is the review I posted:

The recipe was good, however the chard tasted like chard. Given the cream and butter, I hoped for something with a bit more flavor. The topping was salty, I probably won't add salt if I make it again. It was also very labor-intensive. I have other recipes that come together a lot quicker and seem to be a lot healthier.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

El Recinto-Empanadas

Diag. 77 e/ Plaza Italia y 6

I went out for empanadas again, this time selecting the small, family owned restaurant around the corner from my house.

The masa was definitely not as good as I'm used to, it was very ordinary-tasting. The fillings were good, I had an acelga (chard) empanada that came with huevo duro, which was good, but typical. I also had the choclo (corn), which came with a cream sauce. I prefer my choclo empanadas without a cream sauce, although cheese can be good. And, I had a cheese and onion. This was also good, but typical. They were $2.25 each. They also had a Roquefort and nuez on the menu, but were out of it when I ordered. I may return if I'm craving a roquefort empanada, but aside from this, La Tercera Docena still wins, which is unfortunate, because I'd prefer to support the mom-n-pop operation. Maybe I will anyway.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Restaurante Beijing

Calle 13 No. 738 e/ 46 y 47

Chinese food in La Plata, what can I say? It was good, the vegetables weren't as Argentine as Wei Mei Xiang and the sauce was tasty, if not a bit strong (sweet and soy sauce-y). They have vegetable eggrolls which I'll have to try next time, as well as some rice curry dishes which look interesting.

I ordered the Tou Fu with vegetables, and the tofu was solid, without being fried, the veggies included lots of carrots and onions...

It cost 10 pesos, but with my addition of brown rice (50 centavos?) will easily make for two meals, being a bargain! (Sadly, the eggrolls are a bit more pricey and will not be so easily justified.)


Saturday I had the lunch special at Restaurante Beijing, which featured chow mien, a soda, and…egg rolls with sweet and sour sauce!  The chow mien looked fabulous, but was over seasoned, in a pool of heavy sauce.  The egg rolls contained very little filling, and a whole lot of wrapper, with a sweet and sour sauce that looked good, but also lacked flavor.  Their soda choices were coke or sprite.  The food to price ratio was excellent ($13 for more than 2 meals), however, I don’t think I’ll be repeating, as the veggies with tofu were much better.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Butter Flaky Pie Crust

This time, I used the pie crust recipe from Allrecipes, Butter Flaky Pie Crust. A vast improvement on the previous, I think the majority of the problem with this one was due to technique (most obviously, that I was unable to refrigerate it for the full four hours, and instead left it for about an hour). While it tasted pretty good, it wasn't flaky and was quite ugly (I had problems getting it to stretch.)


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/4 cup ice water


  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
Some tips to keep in mind next time:
  • Try using hands instead of food processor.
  • Freeze the butter for 15 minutes, before using
  • And/or use a cheese grater to shred the butter.
  • Freeze the water a little, until ice crystals form.
  • Brush prepared crust with egg whites, if sogginess becomes a problem (it wasn't this time).
  • Refrigerate the dough a bit between adding butter and water.
  • Rolling out the dough twice may help it stretch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I'm not sure I should be reviewing Liverpool, given the state I was in when we went there--it was after St. Patrick's day festivities, and I was a little embarrassed by my sloppy walking skills.

However...the pizza was good, if pedestrian. I prefer Vizio's, across the street. For 20 pesos, we got a large mozarella with a liter of Quilmes. Not a bad deal, however, we were in no state to drink more Quilmes. Oops. The dinner was followed by a nightmarish hangover, however I'm not holding Liverpool responsible.

Antares--St. Patrick's Day

Ah, Antares. It may be expensive, but for the quality, it's at the top of my list. Jen and I have long disagreed on this, but I think it comes down to this: if you're looking to get drunk, it's not an economical option. If you're looking for a rich, delicious beer, or even a bit more variety than the local cafes, it's fabulous. The food is good, and an interesting change from American pub food.

We went on St. Patrick's Day, as there was a firm pact between Jen and I to avoid Wilkenny, La Plata's "official" Irish pub, and an overpriced bar in its own right (more due to the prevalence of imported beer, but their domestic beer is also overpriced).

Anyway, we made it for happy hour, when they had two half-liters for $13 (pesos)...Jen and I started early, with some liters in the plaza, but still enjoyed ourselves--me, a bit too much!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tasty Bite's Paneer Makhani

Looking for some comfort food, I delved into a box of Tasty Bites, that my mom sent me for Christmas. I told her I liked the spinach paneer, and since she likes to be more creative than that, she sent me a new one I hadn't tried: Paneer Makhani.

Oops. The sauce was creamy, and lacking in heat upon first inspection. Soon after I realized it was also lacking in overall flavor, and completely uninspiring.

TARTE A LA MOUTARDE (Best of Craigslist)

This savory tart is filled with tomato slices and a mustard-kissed cheese custard.”

1 unbaked 9-inch buttery pie shell
1 heaped tablespoon mild Dijon mustard
6 to 8 ounces grated Gruyère
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 firm-ripe tomatoes, sliced
Salt and pepper
3 heaped tablespoons creme fraiche
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread 2 teaspoons of the mustard in pie shell. Sprinkle in half of the cheese, then the shallot. Layer in tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Stir creme fraiche to smooth it out, then add remaining mustard and cheese, and the beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over tomatoes and return to oven. Bake 15 minutes longer, or until edges of pastry are lightly browned and top of tart is slightly puffy, with golden splotches here and there. Serve warm.

Serves 4

PER SERVING: 480 calories, 19 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 33 g fat (14 g saturated), 105 mg cholesterol, 418 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

My Notes: While the recipe turned out fine, I ran into a couple problems that I'd like to fix before making it again, to see if it can be a truly knock-your-socks-off dish. My pie crust was a tough disaster. I thought my downstairs grocery store had Gruyère, but as they didn't, I used a generic cheese blend. And, I failed to anticipate the creme fraiche, using instead regular cream. I plan to try again in a few days, and see how it goes with these changes.

Foodie415's Tomato Tart Buttery Pie Crust

This recipe had a large error. The amount of liquid to dry ingredients was off (by a lot). I believe it needed to start with 3 times the butter. However, it included an egg yolk, which I haven't seen in any other recipes, so I'm not sure how that affected things.

Regardless, it was overmixed, as I had to keep adding more and more water (before I realized the fault was a lack of butter), and very tough.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ebony Banana Cake—Craigslist “Best of”

With over-ripe bananas and no pan for banana bread, I searched out some alternatives. Banana pudding sounded interesting, as did banana pancakes, but neither came up with good recipes. Finally, I came across the Ebony Banana Cake, which I'd saved several months back on craigslist, amongst the “best of” posting.

It was simple enough to throw together, after making my own buttermilk and buying a whole bottle of (gold) rum...dark rum and buttermilk seem to be specialty items here. I threw the sugar and rough lemon zest in our mini-food processor, which worked beautifully for creating a fine grate.

The cake got burnt a bit, as everything seems to in this oven. One day I'll learn to gauge temperatures better. I had the dial almost all the way to the low flame. Next time, I guess we'll go for low.

Still, it turned out delicious. I skipped the powdered sugar, and think even with the sugar, it lacks the presentation and wow factor necessary for company, but is a yummy treat to have at home. (I also got more practice with “food pictures.” I'm trying to replace all my internet steals with my own photos.)

10 minutes to prep, 1 hour to bake. 30 seconds to consume.
Makes 1 9-by-9-inch cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (or less)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed -- about 11/2 cups
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon dark rum

1. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. Beat together bananas, sugar and zest. Slowly add beaten eggs. Slowly add melted butter. Add buttermilk, vanilla and rum.

3. Add sifted dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated. Deposit in a 9-by-9 Pyrex baking dish that's been greased with butter or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven, approximately 1 hour.

4. Test center of cake for doneness. Cake will spring to the touch when finished. Cool on a rack. Invert cake when completely cool. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

*My notes: next time I'll increase the rum to 1T, because I think it'd add some more complexity, and possibly add more vanilla.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Artichoke Spinach Dip

Jen had a get-together to show off her new pizza making skills, and I wanted to contribute as well. Appetizer-surfing brought up a fabulous sounding Artichoke Spinach dip. Unfortunately, when I hit the grocery store, I'd already made up my mind, regardless of the $12 peso can of artichoke hearts, $12 peso package of cream cheese, and other cheeses necessary to create this heart-attack inducing ----. It was worth it, but probably won't be appearing again until I get back to the U.S.

Artichoke Spinach Dip


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a small baking dish.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix together cheeses, mayonnaise, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.

  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.

  4. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Zucchini Latkes

So, I've been getting an overload of those cute little zapallitos from work, and looking for ways to use them. Zucchini pancakes are a typical fallback, when I get tired of the steamed and sauced versions...

However, I ran across a recipe for Zucchini Latkes, which seemed fairly simple. Quite similar to my pancakes, except I've never made latkes before. And I'd been craving hashbrowns for a while, so the chance to add some potatoes sounded promising. I wasn't about to hunt down matzo in Argentina, with a bunch of bread crumbs in my pantry, so I subbed those.

They also really needed a sauce, so I mixed up some mayo with a few drops of sriracha, and ended up with a fabulous dish!

Zucchini Latkes

Adapted from Food & Wine

Makes about 4 dozen 1 1/2-inch latkes

1 pound medium zapallitos
1 large baking potato (3/4 pound)
1 small onion (4 ounces), peeled
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Halve the zucchini crosswise. Cut the zucchini flesh off the seedy center and coarsely grate it in a food processor. Or grate it on a box grater until you reach the seedy center. Discard the center. In a food processor or on a box grater, coarsely grate the potato and onion. Transfer the grated zucchini, potato and onion to a colander and squeeze dry. Let stand for 2 minutes, then squeeze again. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Add the matzo meal, egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

2. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until shimmering. Drop packed teaspoons of the zucchini mixture into the skillet and flatten them with the back of a spoon. Cook the latkes over moderately high heat until the edges are golden, about 1 1/2 minutes; flip and cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining zucchini mixture, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.

Make ahead: The fried latkes can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Reheat them on a dark baking sheet in a 375° oven for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and crisp.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Parilla, 60 e/ 23 and 24

We arrived at 10:15, but our whole party didn't make it until 10:45 or so. While we got a bottle of wine for the wait, the waitress seemed to have lost interest in us by the time we were all together. We were able to place our orders around 11:15, and ready for another bottle of wine around 11:45. Our food finally came out around midnight. I'm not sure I was really in a place to review it after all the wine, as my attention was more focused on the french fries that continually sailed past our table than the food, but...

It's a parilla, and everyone else ordered meat (none of it came with fries). I got big raviolis stuffed with ricotta, walnuts, olives, and another cheese (mozzarella?)...topped with pesto, although they had a house sauce that also looked fantastic (I wasn't sure how it'd combine with the ravioli). I finished the plate with no issues, and used some bread to soak up the remaining pesto, and truly believe it was a great meal, although I can't be 100% sure. The restaurant was full, which is always a good sign. The recommendation came from Mary Andrews, as it is a favorite of one of her bosses. Prices were reasonable, the pasta was about 20 pesos, with another 10 for the sauce, our wine was about 20/bottle. Cubiertos were 2 pesos.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Restaurant Wei Mei Xiang

Chinese Restaurant, diag. 74 e/ 6 and 7

I ordered the veggie eggrolls with sweet and sour, and a vegetable chow mein, Neither were particularly impressive. The eggrolls had too much dough, with little filling and the sweet and sour sauce just wasn't the bright orange, gooey type I was hoping for. While there was nothing wrong with the chow mein, it also failed to impress. Mostly noodles, with a smattering of typical Argentine vegetables, it felt very pedestrian. Some bok choy or little corn would have made a big difference, but alas, maybe the bok choy is nonexistent here and the corn an American addition? Either way, I think the veggies with tofu is the way to go here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Meal 1: crackers and cheese, coffee

Meal 2: honeydew

Meal 3: cheese raviolis with a pesto-y/fresh tomato sauce. Pear.

Meal 4: Frutigrans, coffee...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 w/ Tercera Docena

 Meal 1: ww bread w/ hummus, coffee

Meal 2: yogurt, honeydew

Meal 3: vegetable soup with bread and tomato salad, half peach

Meal 4: cafe con leche, 2 medialunas

Meal 5: grilled cheese, Patagonia beer—the grilled cheese was lacking, maybe some mustard or something next time would help? Pesto? And sadly, the beer, which was double the price of Quilmes was not up to the task of providing a beer with double the gusto.

Meal 6: 4 empanadas from La Tercera Docena—a total accident, as I didn't realize until after I'd paid for four that they must have doubled me up on something. I got two cheese and corn, which definitely weren't needed. They were good, but combined with the humita and chard and cheese, it was way too rich. Next time, 2 empanadas (humita and acelga) and a healthy side of veggies would be a more satisfying order. I checked on the souffle empanadas, and they are cooked in beef fat, as Martín indicated. =(

Update: I gave the pizza a try.  It was good.  The mozzarella is a deal, at 12 pesos for a large, however, the one I chose was pricier (still a good deal), but all their pizzas only come in large, and I just don't have the self-control to handle that!  Vizio's is still my top choice.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meal 1: ww bread w/ hummus, coffee

Meal 2: yogurt, honeydew

Meal 3: tomato salad, hb egg, bread

Meal 4: hummus w/ ww bread, pastries

Meal 5: Vizio's pizza, wine

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Meal 1: coffee, crackers and peanut butter

Meal 2: yogurt, honeydew

Meal 3: zapallito revuelto, tomato salad, bread

Meal 4: crackers with hummus (tahini-less hummus)

Meal 5: boiled veggies with peanut sauce. The sauce had too much soy sauce, but was otherwise good. While it didn't taste good on its own, it was great over the veggies. Bon thing for dessert.

Peanut Sauce (Smitten Kitchen)

Directly pilfered from here. Next time I'll decrease the soy sauce, and maybe a bit of water.

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger (I subbed 1 tsp. dried)
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or a splash of the hot sauce or chili paste of your choice

Purée dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Ya!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Meal 1: plum, cracker

Meal 2: Leftover pizza

Meal 3: Carrot salad, green beans, vegetable soup (made from caldo and cut veggies with a squirt of Sriracha).