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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wine Tasting in Mendoza - Tapiz and Melipal

On our first day of wine tasting, we went to two vineyards -  Tapiz and Melipal. At Tapiz, we had a wonderful tour which included a horse-drawn carriage ride through the vineyard.  On the tour, we learned about all the wines of Tapiz, including  the two most well-known types of wine in Argentina - Torrentes and Malbec. The tour was interesting and the wine was great!

Next we headed to an amazing five course tasting lunch (with wine pairings) at Melipal.  It was such a great meal! It was probably the best meal that we had in Mendoza.
Mixed green salad with Granny Smith apples,  arugula, and a lemon cream emulsion

Yogurt marinated chicken, seasoned vegetables and a 'cachoecabra' chili reduction

Melted goat provolone cheese served over smoked red beets, hummus, and prune marmalade 

Filet with grilled vegetables, potatoes and a roasted carrot emulsion

Fresh  cheese and quince jelly cream, burnt spring oranges, and crunchy cereal crumble

I meant to take a picture of the wine but it kept disappearing

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Porter Beer Braised Pot Roast

I know pot roast isn't very cool or fancy but this recipe is fantastic!

3-4 lb roast (I used eye of round roast)
1 bottle of porter beer
5-6 cloves garlic, smashed
flour (for coating roast)
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, large chunks
2-3 potatoes, chunks
dry onion soup mix (optional)

Super easy!  Marinate the pot roast in the porter and garlic overnight.  Remove roast and pat dry.  Don't throw out the marinade, you'll need it in a few steps.
Liberally sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper.  Add enough flour to a plate to be able to coat the roast.  Coat the roast with the flour and shake to remove excess flour. Heat oil (high heat) and then add roast. Sear nicely on all sides (not just top and bottom).   Make sure you really get it nice and brown on all sides.  Add sliced onion to bottom of crockpot.  Place roast on top.  Measure out 1 cup of the beer from the marinade.  Pour it into the skillet and scrape with wooden spoon to deglaze the pan then pour over the roast. Sprinkle onion soup mix on top and let cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Around hour 5-6, add the potatoes and carrots and stir around a little to coat with the delicious broth.

Serve with some crusty bread and a nice green salad.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Samosas - golden fried deliciousness

I've made these a few times now and think I've perfected the recipe to my tastes  I hope you like them!


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
1/4- 1/2 cup lukewarm water (start with 1/4c and add until it's wet enough)

2 large potatoes, boiled and diced (peels can be left on or removed)
2 tablespoons oil
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 red chili pepper, diced (seeds removed for less heat)
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 c lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup frozen peas

To make the dough
Mix the flour, oil, salt and water together to form a dough. Start with 1/4 c water and add to it, as needed.
Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes.  Separate the dough into 8 small balls. Set aside and cover with damp cloth.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

For the filling
Dice and boil the potatoes (can be done in advance).  Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the cumin, red chili, ginger paste, and coriander.  Stir frequently for a minute.  Add the green peas and let cook until the peas are tender.  Add the potatoes and mix well.  Allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Add the lime juice and salt and remove from heat.  Let filling cool to room temperature before proceeding.

Assembling the samosas
On a floured surface, roll a ball of dough into a thin circle.  Cut the circle in half.  Take one half of dough and form a cone shape (by folding the cut ends up). Seal the sides of the cone by pressing firmly along the seam.  Fill the cone with the potato mixture then seal the top of the triangle. Set aside. Repeat this step with all 8 balls of dough.

Heat enough oil in a pot to completely submerse the samosas (deep frying).  Add only a few at a time (depending on the size of your pot) and let fry.  Let them cook until they are a nice, deep golden brown color.  Move them to a paper towel lined plate.  Repeat until all samosas are fried.

You can also prepare extra and fry them for a few minutes, allow to cool, then freeze for future snacks.  Warning:  I have tried to do this but each time my husband convinces me that we need them all right now.   And he's right.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baked Buffalo Wings (two sauces)

My husband requested wings for football Sunday.  Since he rarely makes any meal requests and I love wings and I love him, I happily complied.  I wanted to bake the wings so I could at least pretend I was being healthy, so after researching a lot of recipes, I decided to try them three different ways.  I also made two sauces because I wanted the buffalo wings to be spicy and my daughter can't handle a lot of heat.  So, I made a honey ginger glaze and a spicy buffalo sauce.  I also had to make some homemade blue cheese dressing because I couldn't find any here.

The sauces ( can make the day ahead or just before cooking wings)

Honey Ginger Glaze
1/2 c honey
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1/4c water

Combine all ingredients and heat to boiling, stirring frequently.  Reduce to simmer and reduce sauce for about 10 minutes. Let stand 15-30 minutes to thicken.

Buffalo Wing Sauce
3 oz unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients. Chill 30 mins.  Reheat before using.

Here are the different methods I used for baking the wings -
1. Steamed then cooled then baked (this was my favorite)
2. Floured and baked (second favorite)
3. Naked - tossed in a little oil, salt and pepper then baked at 400 for 45-50 minutes (good but not crispy)

Blue Cheese Dressing

1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 half of fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup (or to taste) crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon chives

Mix everything (except blue cheese) together until smooth.  Add blue cheese and stir until combined.  Chill 30 minutes.
Also, if you don't have buttermilk (I never do), you can make it by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes.

I'm happy to report the wings were a huge success!  The blue cheese dressing was amazing!

It was a good day for wings and football.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sao Pedro/Lumiar trip - a great weekend getaway

A few weekends ago, we drove to Lumiar and Sao Pedro in Novo Friburgo.  It is a lovely little mountain town area that is only about a 2 1/2 hour drive.  

We did go a longer route so that we could fit in a visit to the Geneve Goat Farm.  This goat farm supplies all the nice french restaurants with their goat cheese.  It was my favorite part of our trip!  There have a nature walk, a play area for children (or kids, ha!), a tour that includes feeding and petting the goats and watching them prepare the goat cheese.  

nature walk

feeding the goats

goat cheese!

We also had lunch at the restaurant there.  It was amazing!  Lots of goat cheese and the vegetables are grown right there on the farm.

duck breast with apple puree

filet mignon and mushroom risotto

vegetable crepe (with goat cheese of course)
After lunch it was on to Lumiar/Sao Pedro.  We loved this area!  It was beautiful and green and peaceful.  We hiked and walked around town.  We saw waterfalls and beautiful landscapes. We had some great food (and beer). It was just a great, relaxing family weekend.


We stayed at this amazing little pousda (inn) in Sao Pedro.  It is only about a year old so everything is new and wonderful.  The rooms are huge with a fireplace in each (ours had a big jacuzzi in it).  It also has a movie room, a game room, a very helpful, friendly staff, a good restaurant and there is a natural spring just next door to it.  
View from the breakfast room at our hotel

The last night, we walked into to the little town area for dinner.  It just so happened that there was a spring festival that night.  There was a clown/magician that put on an excellent show.  There was musicians playing on the street.  It seems as if the whole town came out for it.  It was just wonderful! 
live music at the spring festival

Waiting for the magic show to start

It is such a short distance and easy drive to this area.  It is perfect for a weekend away from Rio. I'd love to return for another weekend before we leave Brazil, but who knows?  So many places to visit and so little time!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Baba Ghanoush

I had been craving it for a few days.  Delicious charred eggplant, lemon, tahini slathered on nice, warm pita bread.  So last night I finally gave in and made it.  So. Worth. It.

First, the scary part.  You have to char the eggplant to get that delicious smokey flavor.  Poke some holes in the eggplant, wrap it with a bunch of foil and place it over the open flame on a gas stove or a grill. Turn every five minutes or so.  It will take 15-30 mins, depending on the size of your eggplant.  I had medium ones and they took about 20 mins. Remove them when they feel squishy.  Yes, that's a technical term.

Let them cool a little then open the foil (watch out for the hot, escaping steam), split them open and place the eggplant pulp (not the skin) into a bowl.  Let it cool slightly then mash them with a fork (or you can put them in the food processor if you prefer a more pureed dip).  Add the rest of the ingredients (adjust for your personal taste) and enjoy.

Serve with pita bread, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, or just eat it straight out of the bowl.

2 eggplants roasted
1/4c tahini
1/8tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cumin
1 lemon
1/2tsp salt
Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika 

I can't wait until lunch time so I can eat this (along with the pita bread and hummus).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Homemade yogurt

I've been making my own yogurt for the last couple of months and decided it was time to share.  This is such an easy thing to make and it's a lot cheaper than buying those tiny containers of yogurt at the grocery store.  The nice part is that you know exactly what you're eating.  It is plain yogurt so you still have to add whatever kind of flavor you want but that's the fun part.

1. Pour a 1 liter container of milk (whole, low fat or fat free) into a pot and bring it to a boil.
2.  Allow it to cool until you can just touch it but not completely cool (about 125 degrees)
3. Pour into a container  (with a tight fitting lid) and add 4 teaspoons of plain, live culture yogurt
4. Put lid on container and leave in a dark cabinet for 5-6 hours (longer if it's a cold day)
5. Refrigerate and enjoy

I enjoy a bowl with some fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey and some granola.

Oh, and a little tip - I have forgotten about the yogurt a couple times and left it out overnight.  Now I set a reminder on my phone to ping me and remind me to take it out of the cabinet and stick in the fridge when it's done.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread Pudding

This is such a good and easy dessert to make.  I recently made it for a potluck (which is perfect because you can eat it warm or room temp or even cold) and I enjoyed it so much, I made a batch for home just a few days later.  This is really good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

1 tablespoon butter
8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
2 cups milk
4 oz chocolate
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
confections sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray or butter a 9 inch square baking dish. Toast the
bread and tear each slice into four pieces. Place them in baking dish. Heat chocolate, milk and butter over med until chocolate is melted (stirring frequently). Whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Slowly add the milk/chocolate mixture and stir until combined.  Pour over bread and bake 25 minutes.  Cool for about 15 minutes and top with confectioners sugar (if using).  Otherwise, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Avocado, Tomato, and Heart of Palm Salad

  • This is a delicious, easy to prepare salad. It's a little spicy so if that's not your thing, you can omit the chipotle powder. This is great on its own or over a nice piece of baked chicken (or meat of your choice).

    Juice of 1 med lemon
    1 tsp white vinegar (optional)
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp sugar
    1 tsp chipotle powder
    ½ tsp ground black pepper
    ½ large red onion, diced
    ½ c finely chopped cilantro
    2 med roma tomatoes, diced
    2 large ripe avocados, diced
    5 stalks Hearts of palm (or one large jar), thinly sliced
    1 med lime
    Whisk first 6 ingredients together until spices dissolve. Add everything else except the lime. Lastly, squeeze the lime juice into the bowl and fold the mix together.

    That's all there is to it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pita bread, hummus, and tzatziki

Today's lunch consisted of  hummus, tzatziki and pita bread.  These recipes are all pretty easy to prepare and so much better than store bought stuff.  Enjoy! 

Pita Bread

Makes 8 pitas

3 1/2 cups flour (depending on your flour you may need a little less.  Start with 3c and add if it's too sticky)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 packet yeast 
1 1/4 cup room temp water (you may need a little more depending on your flour.  Start with 1 1/4 and work up until it's all incorporated but not too sticky to work with)
2 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening

Add yeast to water in a mixer (or a bowl if you're doing by hand) and stir to combine.  Add the flour, salt, sugar and oil and mix on low until combined. Knead on low for about 10 minutes. Check the dough and see if you need to add more flour.  If it's too sticky, add a little more at a time until feels like you can knead it by hand without having it stick to everything. Lightly coat a bowl with oil and put the dough in and cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel.  Let double in size (about 1 1/2-2 hours).  Once it's doubled, punch it down to release gas.  Divide dough into 8 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a ball and set on a greased cutting board.  Let rest 20 minutes.  While it's resting, place a cookie sheet upside down in the middle of your oven.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Once the dough has rested, on a floured workspace, roll out the balls into 1/4-1/8 inch thick pita.  Place on the the preheated cookie sheet (I did two at a time) and cook for about 3 minutes.  They will puff up beautifully!  Take them out of the oven and flatten the pita with a spatula. Continue until all 8 pitas are done.  You can store these in a plastic bag for several days. If they last that long.

2 small contains plain yogurt
1 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
1T vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of lemon zest or dried lemon peel (optional)
pinch of chipotle powder (optional)

Mix together.  Let chill in fridge for about 30 mins.  Enjoy.

Hummus recipe is linked here.

Life is good!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Grilled Sausages, Creamy Polenta, and Sautéed Onions and Peppers

Tonights dinner was fantastic!  We (and by we, I mean my husband) grilled these amazing sausages that we bought on trip to Campos do Jordao.  Yeah, that's the kind of souvenirs I buy when I go on vacation.  We bought them from this fantastic little German restaurant  called Harry Pisek's where the chef (of the same name) studied sausage making in Germany. We also bought some of the dark mustard made by Chef Pisek.  YUM!

I made a creamy polenta with parmesan and sautéed some onions and green peppers.  Oh, and the bonus aspect of this husbands homemade beer was ready for drinking.  Can you say AWESOME?!

Double IPA homemade by my husband

The polenta was really easy.  I've made firm polenta but had never done the creamy version so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Basically, you bring chicken stock (or veggie stock or water) to a boil, whisk in the polenta, salt and pepper and stir until it's nice and thick.  Then, you take it off the heat and add tons of cheese and butter. How can this not taste delicious, right?

4 cups chicken stock
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup polenta (I used med ground polenta/corn meal)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 tablespoons butter

Bring chicken stock and garlic to boil.  Slowly whisk in the polenta.  Turn down heat to medium low. Add salt and pepper and stir.  And stir and stir.  Bacially, you have to stand over this and stir it until it's done.  Depending on the grind of the polenta you use, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Mine took about 20 minutes. Once it's nice and thick, remove from heat and add cheese and butter. Taste and adjust seasonings. Easy peasy!

Oh, and my daughter wanted to help out, so she made artwork for the party.

The sausages and sautéed pepper and onions went perfectly with the polenta and homemade double IPA's.

Really nice Sunday dinner. Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Iguacu Falls

The Falls
Majestic, roaring, awe-inspiring.  I could go on and on but I won't because I know you really just want to see the pictures.  The falls are on the border of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.  They are one of 'The New Seven Wonders of Nature". 

We spent several hours visiting the falls.  We did one of the longer trails and slowly made our way towards the beautiful falls.  We started out with a good, far off view that just kept getting better and better.  

We also stopped by the Bird Park where you could get up close and personal with a lot of cool birds and butterflies. The birds would let you get pretty close for pictures and some even posed for us.  Truly. If you visit the falls, I highly recommend the bird park.  The trails are really pretty and the birds and butterflies are amazing.

My beautiful mother in law.  

My daughter's favorite part of the whole trip


All recipes are on Petitchef