Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Dad's Birthday

My sweet dad on his birthday!
Argentina is the land of beef, Malbec wine, maté, and of course, dulce de leche. You may be thinking to yourself, “oh yeah, i know what dulce de leche tastes like” but, I am sorry to tell you that anything on an American fast food menu that claims to be DDL, isn’t. And sure, Pinterest is littered with homemade DDL recipes and they are good— but it’s just not the same. DDL straight from Argentina is rich, has more depth of flavor, and is impossible to stop eating. The next best thing I have found to this is Gauncho Ranch Dulce De Leche which can be purchased from World Market for about five bucks and is typically what I use in this recipe— unless someone I know is making a trip to Buenos Aires :). 

 Dulce de leche translates to “sweetness of milk” and its history has long been disputed in South and Central America as to where it truly originated. And since you are currently reading the blog of an Argentinian, and I am controlling this narrative, I will tell you that DDL’s origins lie in Argentina. The history I was told as a little girl is that long ago, the gauchos of Argentina created DDL by slowly heating sugar and milk over a campfire in the hopes of getting a warm and sweet milk drink but, thankfully, they got dulce de leche instead and the rest in history… Argentinians put DDL on anything from toast in the morning to alfajores to ice cream to cakes. The possibilities are endless, and I, having been raised by two proud Porteños (people from Buenos Aires) couldn't resist concocting the confection I’m sharing with you today… 

If your dad is anything like my dad is, then he has a massive sweet tooth. To give you a better idea, my dad likes sweets so much he one of his fave sweets is maraschino cherries. MARASCHINO CHERRIES Y’ALL—who does that?! My dad does. Fernando Luna goes HAM on the sweets but let me be clear here, you guys: I am not hating on my father. The fact that he loves sweets so much is one of the most endearing qualities about my dad. It is also something that I definitely inherited from him and SURPRISE, it’s one of the most endearing qualities that I have as well. ;)

More to my point, and actual the purpose for this blog post, when you have a father who loves sweets as much as my sweet, Argentinian dad does, for his birthday, you make him one hell of a cake with copious amounts of dulce de leche. And this cake is no ordinary cake… no, no… this cake is is a four-in-one deal. Let’s start from the top, shall? Or the bottom, rather. The base of this cake is a decadent brownie, the recipe for which I adapted from this one by the one, the only, Ina Garten. The second part is a generous layer of— surprise— dulce de leche, followed by a layer of ripe, sliced bananas, and topped with a fluffy, lightly sweetened whipped cream. When I say lightly sweetened, I mean *lightly* sweetened and the reason for that is, if you hadn’t noticed, this cake packs a hefty sweet punch and I find that a whipped cream that has only a hint of sugar complements this cake very well. 

 This sweet cake is for all the sweet dads out there. The dads who took their daughters to see Spice World at the movies and who know the lyrics to way too many 90s pop songs. I hope you and your dad (and the rest of your family) enjoy this Argentinian inspired cake!


1 brownie pie base (without the ganache)
1/2 a jar of dulce de leche
3 bananas, sliced thinly
1 pint of heavy whipping cream (whipped)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp powdered sugar

How to...

  • Bake the brownie pie according to Ina Garten's recipe. Allow to completely cool.
  • Whip the heavy cream with vanilla and sugar.
  • On top of the cooled brownie, add the layer of DDL, then the bananas, and finally the whipped cream. Enjoy!

Friday, April 20, 2018

A meatloaf so good that it was entirely devoured before I could get a good picture.

How many of you grew up eating meatloaf for dinner? I can’t really count myself as one of those people. My mom never made it and the term “meatloaf” always kind of sounded so gross and weird to me. But I ate it a few times at a friend’s house growing up and I have always loved spaghetti and meatballs (which is basically mini meatloaves) plus my boyfriend loves meatloaf, so when my brother asked to come over for dinner the other night, I decided to concoct my own recipe.
I started by doing lots of reading and most things I read I was expecting-- like the fact that almost every recipe contains ketchup (sounds weird but it so good). What I found surprising were recipes really heavy on the onion (i saw recipes with 3 onions and I thought that was just too much!) and no recipes containing sausage. I found this kind of weird. I mean, the best part of any meat sauce or meatball is the fact that it usually has some amount of ground sausage mixed in. This got me thinking: what if I make a meatloaf with a mixture of sausage AND ground beef? And let me tell you. It was damn good. Like so good that I couldn’t stop telling my brother and boyfriend at the dinner table,”this is so freaking good!” to which they were like, “we get it.”😂

Another thing that I changed was the use of herbs. Now most recipes call for a fair amount of fresh parsley and don’t worry— you guys know I love parsley and I didn’t leave it out! I decided to take the herb mixture one step further by adding herbs de provence and red pepper flakes. The herbs de provence add such deep aromatic flavor that was just out of this world!

Anyway, all I got was one sad picture that you can barely see the meatloaf in but I promise you won’t be disappointed if you try this one!

Said sad ass picture with one measly portion of my glorious meatloaf.

Ridiculously Good Meatloaf

1 1/2 lb ground beef (80% lean)
1/2 lb ground italian sausage
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/3 cup chicken broth (low sodium)*
1 tbsp tomato paste*
1/4 cup ketchup*
3 tables spoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp herbs de provence
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper

*These three ingredients might sound strange but the use of all three ensure that the meatloaf stays super moist, so they are v important.

How to…

  • Preheat your oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  • Combine all the ingredients except for the ketchup in a large mixing bowl. Using your clean hands (or a fork if you’d like) mix everything together until just combined. Be careful not to over work or knead the meat as it can cause it to become tough and that’s not what we want!
  • Using a rubber spatula, scoop the mixture into a light greased loaf pan and spread it evenly. Spread the ketchup on top of the meatloaf evenly— this keeps it vvvv moist.
  • Bake for 45 to an hour or until your meatloaf is cooked all the way through. Before cutting, allow the meatloaf to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite sides and ENJOY! :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ode to a Healthy Throat

Does it ever feel like everything is happening to you all at once? I kind of got a "when it rains, it pours"(#mortonsaltgirl) situation going on over here... I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that at the top of my list is the fact that I had my tonsils removed last week.

I'll preface this by saying that yes, I know that there are worse things that could befall someone but this friggin' sucks y'all. It is definitely a necessary evil as I have become the unwilling dance partner of strep throat and tonsillitis since last November AND I am off my dad's insurance next month....so my tonsils needed to get got.

So here I am, 6 days post op and starving with the world's worst sore throat #poorme. My diet since Wednesday has consisted of no actual solid foods so I've been downing cottage cheese and apple sauce like it's going out of style (I actually love cottage cheese so there's that #littlethings). Because of this, I find my mind drifting to a meal I had last week and wishing that I could eat it all over again without fear of solid food scraping the poor ghosts of tonsils past.  So last Monday night, my sweet younger brother, who is a college student in Tacoma, requested that I make him dinner. How could I say no?! I love to cook and he only knows how to make a few staples (french toast, pasta, fried eggs) so I decided on a hearty pot roast with mashed potatoes and salad. Perfect for rainy, October weather.

The term "comfort food" to me has layered meaning--we all have our favorite foods that we ate as kids that made us feel happy, safe, or cheered us up after a rough day. But another layer to this comfort, for me, is the actual preparing of the food. The chopping, the sautéing, the searing, and the garnishing. Being creative and artistic with the presentation and the cooking process. The taking raw ingredients and turning it into a meal that can nourish and comfort someone I care about is where I find the most comfort.

Another thing I love about a dish like pot roast is that there is no one way to make it. I learned by watching my mom make hundreds of pot roasts for us growing up. The smell of olive oil and bay leaf would fill our house and we would wait with rumbling tummies for dinner time.

Now let's talk about parsley-- I have a distinct memory of having breakfast at a restaurant with my family when I was very little. I had eggs and hash browns and on the side of the plate, as a tiny garnish, was a small sprig of curly parsley. Disgusted, I asked my mom what it was and requested that she take it off my plate. She did and proceeded to eat the sprig of parsley and I sat confused. It's a silly memory but these days I freaking love fresh parsley and often find myself sampling the raw stuff in the midst of chopping and it always reminds of that breakfast. It brightens most meat and seafood dishes flavor-wise and not to mention looks so pretty and rustic roughly chopped and sprinkled on top of your finished product.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the recipe below and find comfort in the preparing and eating of it. Happy Fall, Y'all. :)

Comforting Fall Pot Roast

1 beef pot roast*
1/2 head of celery, roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp herbs de provence
2 cups water, more or less based on roast size
salt & pepper throughout to taste
olive oil throughout
*mine was almost 3 pounds... it depends on how hungry your brother is :)

How to...

  • Place a heavy pot, such as a dutch oven, over high heat and drizzle some olive oil in the bottom-- enough to make a thin layer. While the pot is heating, remove your pot roast from its packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle all sides generously with salt and pepper and the herbs de provence-- press the spices into the meat to ensure that as much as possible sticks to it. Place the meat in the hot pan and sear all sides until a crust forms (2ish minutes per side).
  • After the roast is seared, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a plate while you cook the vegetables. Lower the heat to medium or medium high, depending on your stove, and add a little more olive oil and the onion--cook until almost translucent, then add the garlic, half of carrot, and half of the celery to the mix. Cook until the carrots and celery turn a bright orange and green.
  • Deglaze the pan with 1/4 of the water to get all the good crust off the bottom of the pot, using a wooden spatula to scrape with. Add the meat back to the party and throw in the bay leaves while you're at it. Add half of the remaining water and lower heat to low and cover with the lid ajar. Allow to simmer for about an hour on low heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to add water little by little throughout cooking as the liquid reduces. About 30 minutes into the simmering, add the remaining carrots and celery the the pot.*
  • When the roast is done, at long last, turn off the heat, remove bay leaves, and remove the meat from the pot. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing and pouring the delicious veggies and sauce over it and sprinkle the rest of the chopped parsley over the top. Serve immediately over mashed potatoes or rice. Enjoy!
*The reason I add the rest of the chopped celery and carrot at this point is because I like the variety of textures of the well done veggies with ones that are a bit less cooked. They still have a little bite to them.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Christmas in August

“When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season”…. In that case, I guess it’s a good thing I decided to have Christmas in August. Well at least it was like Christmas; for several reasons... The first being that the first recipe I am sharing is a delicious recipe for Vitel Toné; a traditional dish served on Christmas in Argentina. The second reason it was like Christmas in August was because my sweet uncle and his family were visiting from out of town. 

I grew up with very little extended family in my life—it was mainly my parents, sister, and brother. What’s more, is most of my family is scattered across the globe; Texas, Buenos Aires, Munich, Madrid… you get the idea. It’s difficult to put into words how it feels to spend time together for a couple of weeks. On a sunny Friday in August, I hosted my parents, my uncle, aunt, and my five year old cousin at my apartment in Tacoma. We started off the day with a trip to the Museum of Glass then relished an Argentinian lunch at my place and moseyed over to Ruston Way to enjoy the waterfront to finish the afternoon.

Anyway, back to lunch— Vitel Toné is an Italian dish that is commonly eaten in Argentina (no doubt due to the large Italian community down there) that features sliced beef covered in salty, creamy sauce topped with fresh parsley and chopped hard boiled eggs. It is served chilled which makes it perfect for a Christmas Eve feast in sweltering Buenos Aires summer heat.

The full lunch spread.

Blurry photo. So stuffed. So happy!
The first time I had the pleasure of eating Vitel Toné, I was spending the Christmas holiday 2013 with my mom in Argentina. The trip was a whirlwind of meeting distant relations and driving for miles upon miles to reach the Argentine countryside. But it was all worth it to see and experience the beautiful country my parents once used to call home. It was a bizarre Christmas for me, being from Washington State and used to cold, wet winters— many things were unexpected being plunged into the middle of an Argentinian summer. Worst on the list were the 17 mosquito bites on my ass alone and among the best of unexpected surprises was the Vitel Toné. Cold food on Christmas?! First of all, how dare you… but the moment I tasted it, I knew I’d be heading back to the table for more— plus you can’t get much better than beef from Argentina, amirite? 

This recipe features three of my salty favorites: capers, tuna, and anchovies. I realize that those three foods are a “no go” for some people and to them I say, “Suck it.” You are seriously missing out on so many amazing foods by not letting love into your life. Anchovies on pizza??? I mean come onnnnnn. Throw some capers on there while you're at it— For real though I seriously encourage you to try this recipe, even if you think it sounds a little weird, I think you’ll be surprised!

So that Friday definitely felt a little like Christmas for me: I got to share my city with family and we got to eat some of our favorite foods from home.

As time goes on I am sure that I will share more Argentinian recipes that I have learned, but for today, enjoy the Vitel Toné! Recipe below :)

Vitel Toné

1 beef round roast
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup canned tuna
6 anchovy fillets
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard 
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup capers
1/2 bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

How to...

  • Put the beef with bay leaf and salt in large, heavy pot (I used a dutch oven). Cover with water, place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let the beef cook for about 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes is up, remove the meat from the water and allow it to rest for 10 minutes (or longer if it's too hot!) before slicing into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange the meat on the serving platter, cover and refrigerate.
  • While the beef is chilling, put the remaining ingredients in a blender with only half of the chopped parsley (reaming parsley is for presentation) and excluding the eggs. Blend until smooth.
  • Pour sauce over the chilled meat and garnish with chopped eggs, remaining parsley, some extra capers if you're feelin' sexy. Serve and enjoy!