Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Happy Birthday, Chiari!

My dear friend had her birthday last monday, and in her honor I cooked a special dish last night. The recipe includes an Andean cereal, Quinoa, and a taste of ginger and lemon, which gives it an oriental touch. 

Quinoa happens to be a “recovered” species and has won a sustainability prize (or something like that… I only found out from Chiara herself after I told her about the dish).

The recipe is not my own, it’s from a yoga cookbook but it has some adaptations…

This is what you’ll need

1/2 cup dry quinoa
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
– 1 medium sized eggplant
– 1 small sized red bell pepper, chopped in thin strips
– 1 small sized grated zucchini
– sesame seeds
– fresh parsley
– soy oil 



Preheat oven at medium temperature. Cut the eggplant in thick slices and fry together with the sesame seeds until they get golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on a square oven pan. Prepare a sauce by mixing the water, soy sauce and grated gingerroot. Pour on top of the eggplant slices and put in the oven for 10 minutes. Then, turn the slices upside down and put in the oven for another 10 minutes. 


Zucchini and Pepper

Meanwhile, use the oil that’s left in the pan to stir fry the zucchini and the pepper. Put the quinoa and 1 cup of water on the stove, bring to boil and leave to simmer until all water is absorbed. Then mix in the frying pan with the zucchini and the pepper, and cook for some minutes.




Final results

After the eggplant is cooked (most of the sauce should have evaporated by now, spoon the mix of quinoa, zuchinni and pepper on top of the eggplant, and press until it’s compact. Put in the oven and wait until all of the sauce has evaporated.


Sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve with a side dish of fresh salad.



Fresh salad recipe

This is one of my favorite salads.

It is really a matter of free-styling according to your likes/preferences, so I’ll just give you the ingredients and seasoning, and you can customize the proportions.


– Lettuce
– Celery (chopped in slices)
– Avocado
– Green olives
– Champignon mushrooms
– Green apple
– Roquefort cheese



olive oil and lemon

Trip to Mendoza: Day 3 (part 2)

Back in Mendoza, we walked from the station to the city centre and stopped at a shop to buy some cous-cous, then hit the supermarket and bought the rest of the ingredients to make a dish that Cristian always praises, together with a chocotorta for dessert (recipe at the end of the post!).

Pipi, Dechi and I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking, and enjoyed supper with the wonderful company of our friends. We decided that we’d gather up the rest of the UWC graduates from Mendoza and get together that Friday, after we came back from our trip to Uspallata.

Now the recipe for the famous chocotorta (let me warn you, you need dulce the leche!)


-500grs cream cheese (ideally Casancrem or Mendicrim- red label)
-500grs dulce de leche (instructions for making your own DDL)
-3 or 4 packs of Chocolinas
– 250ml of warm coffee


Mix the cream cheese (CC) with the dulce de leche (DDL).
Soak each chocolina lightly in the coffee, rinse, and place side by side on a square or rectangular baking tray, until you cover it. Spread the CC-DDL mix until the whole layer of chocolinas is covered, and then prepare another layer of chocolinas, preferably alternating the disposition between layers.
Repeat until it’s reached your preferred height (or when you run out of cookies), then improvise a decoration for the cake. As you can see from our pics, we free-styled a bit…
Finally, refrigerate for a couple of hours… and enjoy!!


And, why not, the recipe for the Cous-cous dish (piece of cake!)

This is an improvised dish that I prepared a lot while in boarding school, whenever I felt hungry and couldn’t wait until (or had missed) supper time. Unfortunately, I don’t really know how much you’ll need of each ingredient… anyways, it’s a matter of trying it out and fixing the quantities according to your own personal taste. It’s an quick and easy-to-do dish for those days when you are so lazy you are thinking of ordering from McDonald’s delivery…

So here’s what you need:

– cous cous (as much as you think you’ll need… remember it hidrates up to 400%)
– peppers, preferably green, yellow AND red.
– black olives (actually, the purple ones are better for this)
– tomato
– mozzarella cheese
– origanum, other herbs you might like…
– oil
– olive oil
– salt (as much as you like)


Boil the cous-cous. In the meantime, cut thin slices of the three kinds of peppers and fry till they are tender (do not use olive oil for the frying, preferably use a neutral oil like maze or sunflower oil). Cut the tomatoes and the olives in small squares, and set aside.
Once the cous-cous has little water left, lower the fire, throw in the cheese, cut in squares and let it melt.
Mix in the peppers and herbs. Salt is up to your taste.
Remove from fire. Mix in the raw olives and tomatoes. Add olive oil, and voilá!

Sweet rocks

Oh, wait… did you think I was using “rocks” as the 3rd person simple present tense? Something like, “sweet stuff is great! it rocks!”?

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you… I meant “rocks” as a noun.

So before you imagine yourself swallowing chocolate covered pebbles or (even worse!) trying to bite a sugar frosted stone, let me tell you about the event that led to this title…

On Wednesday evening I spent some hours preparing the truffles (check previous post for recipe) and the chocotorta (for the recipe check “Mendoza: Day 3”) for a UWC gathering. As you could see from the pictures I posted previously, it somehow didn’t look like I had made enough food, so before I went to bed that night I resolved that I would do some baking on the next day.


After returning from the hospital I set out to baking some corn flake cookies. I had no idea how to make them, but I figured I could find some easy recipe online. Turns out that I didn’t find any reasonable ones in spanish, and I couldn’t remember how to say “corn flakes” in English!! (yes, I eventually remembered, but it took me a loooong time!)

Some three hours later I was pretty satisfied with a recipe I had found, and I got all set to start the process. The recipe is a very easy one (find it at the end of the post). It all went smoothly until it was time to take them out of the oven… Errrr, yeah. It was time to take them out of the oven, but I wasn’t aware of it, so I didn’t proceed as expected, and my diligently prepared treats looked like charcoal by the time I figured that the recommended 15 minutes of heating time were an exaggeration…

I wish I had taken a picture of the carbonized cookies or, better yet, I wish I had watched them as they baked so that I could have done something in time to save them! Ach! Like a friend of mine likes to say: s**t happens…

But I am stubborn, and I wasn’t going to let a killer oven (a kitchen-sized tinned piece of  hell) burn down my cooking spirit. No. In fact, I was now even more determined to get some cookies baked by 7pm, time by which I was supposed to be at the gathering.

So I got whatever was left of the corn flakes, some corn syrup, maizena, dark chocolate, and looked for a recipe that had all of those ingredients… of course, I didn’t find any. But then I looked behind the corn syrup label, and I found a recipe for some sort of brownies made out of corn syrup, maizena, flour and sugar (hopefully by now you are starting to picture what I mean by “rocks”)…

I followed the instructions thoroughly, and left the mix in the oven at mid-temperature for 30 mins, as I was told by the label (never trust a piece of paper glued to the back of a corn syrup bottle!). When 29 mins had passed, I took a look through the oven window and realized that the corn-brownies were far from ready, and I left them for a couple of minutes unattended, during which the timer bell rang, and induced my dear brother who was just passing by to remove the tray from the oven without even checking if they were baked.

So, when I went back to the kitchen 5 mins later, sure that I would have to leave the mix inside for at least another 5-10 mins, I did it only to find that the tray was resting outside, and that the brownies had lost all their height (it is, indeed, true… do not open the oven UNTIL a cake is fully baked!) and were now a flat, dense layer of liquid paste… I didn’t really panic. I just told myself that whenever fate gives you a sign, you should just get the message the first time and prevent yourself from hitting your head against the wall more than once…

In a desperate grasp of hope, I rushed the tray into the oven again, hoping that what now looked like fudge would miraculously regress into the beautiful example of bakery it had once been… you guess right, it never happened. But it was already 7pm and I had nothing else to recur to than to an unjustified faith that the forces of nature would alter their normal course and move away from entropy, just once, just for me….

Once the dow was sort of baked (ie: burnt at the bottom and raw in the middle), I took it out, waited 10 miliseconds and started cutting it into squares… the paste kept getting stuck to the knife, so the squares ended up looking like any sort of polygon but a four-sided one (rule #1 of baking: do not open the oven too soon; rule #2: cook until a knife can cut through the cake without the dow getting stuck to it). I tried a bit of the steaming wanna-be brownies and felt satisfied that they were sweet and soft (I forgot to tell you that the previous corn flakes cookies were NOT sweet at all). Finally, I put everything in a plastic box and rushed out of my house, for I was already running late.

By the time I got to the gathering, the chunks of syrup-sugar-flour were still warm and so a couple of people ate some and approved of the sweet taste: “Hmmm, sweet! Nice!” Of course, it all might have been a reaction to the threatening glance I gave to each and every single person who picked them up and brought them close to their mouths. By the 5th brownie I followed from the plate to a poor victim’s mouth, I was disappointed to learn that the treats had gone cold and fossilized in the process… This last person’s denture had an unpleasant surprise, which was only worsened by the way my eyes were still fixed at the brownie’s trajectory. Forced by some implicit (?) need to validate my now obviously unsolvable attempt at baking, the unfortunate (and somewhat involuntary) brownie assesor could not find a decent way to get rid of the hard piece of food now inevitably heading toward his digestive system. I saw a few attempts at biting the “sweet rock”, followed by a repressed expression of pain and distaste, which led to one of the most impressive anatomic achievements I have seen in my life. After a couple of seconds intended to lubricate the throat and esophagus, what once could have been a brownie was quickly swallowed in its whole dimension, altering the external appearance of the man’s neck as it slowly went down the tube towards the stomach. Painful, but impressive…

I guess I can just apologize and thank this poor man who sacrificed himself in order to preserve my dignity.

That was the last time someone ever touched the sweet rocks… it is said that they are now kept at an archaeological museum, after a waste-collector found them in the trash and convinced the authorities of the museum that they were in the presence of fossils from the tertiary period.

(Note: I know I promised the recipe at the end of the post, but since they came out black and tasteless, maybe it’s safer to skip it! But hey, I promise to post some other recipes later on!)

Sweet fingers

There are few moments in which I actually enjoy getting my hands dirty. I am usually a neurotic hand-washer, and I can barely stand feeling my hands sticky or greasy…

But these moments… they make me happy:

– Getting my hands covered in melted chocolate or dulce de leche (milk caramel) when making truffles

– Getting my hands/feet muddy on a rainy day outdoors…

Today I had one of those moments… One cake and two sets of truffles later, I’m exhausted, but satisfied. I’m only hoping to get a taste of my sweet bites tomorrow…



Oats and Coconut Truffles

– Mix 250grs of dulce de leche with 300grs of rolled oats (or as much as you need to make it “pasty”)

– Grab spoon size portions of the mix and roll it until it becomes a ball the size of a walnut.

– Roll the balls over shredded coconut.

Chocolate cookie truffles

– Mix 170grs or crushed chocolate cookies with 3 bars of melted dark chocolate and 250grs of dulce de leche.

– Grab spoon size portions of the mix and roll it until it becomes a ball the size of a walnut.

– Roll the balls over chocolate crumbs.