May 24, 2011


I fondly remember weekends as a young girl, when my Dad would make his family’s pancakes. The kind he made wasn’t the thick, cake-like pancakes, but more the thin like the silver dollar pancakes.  I loved being able to tally up how many of them I could eat and would often compete with my sister as to who could eat more. Eventually the pancakes got a little bigger, but always stayed light and thin.
1 Cup Flour
2 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Tsp. Baking Powder
Salt (Pinch)
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

In a bowl sift together the Flour, Sugar and Baking Powder, add a pinch of salt.
Beat in Egg and add the milk. When all together add the vegetable oil. Pour in slowly to not make mixture too liquid. (If it does get too liquid, add some flour). Today I had some blueberries in the fridge, so I added those to the mix, about 1/2 cup. You can add chocolate chips if you prefer a sweeter version as well!

Let mixture sit for 20 to 30  minutes.

Warm skillet, and add 1 tsp butter. Pour batter in approximately 4". When the pancake starts to bubble on the uncooked side its ready to flip. For the first pancake, make sure to move around the pan to soak up most of the butter, and toss. Now you can do the same for all the other pancakes-without the tossing!

May 23, 2011

Chimichurri Sauce

Last week for my weekly cooking club/class we decided to do a simple grilled skirt steak-sans the BBQ as I don't have one in my small NYC apartment, topped with an amazing Chimichurri Sauce. As you probably picked up by now, I'm pretty partial to the tastes of Argentina. Who could blame me? Specially after living there for 9 years as a child, and still visit whenever possible. But the truth is the food is simply wonderful and fresh. All we did to our skirt steak, or as the Argentines & Latin Americans would call churrasco, was salt and pepper it. Then we cooked it with a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet to achieve the "grill" taste.

We topped our steak with the chimichurri sauce that adds a whole other dimension of flavor to any steak. Traditionally the sauce uses a mixture of parsley and cilantro, but I prefer a cilantro based sauce. I also cut back a little on the olive oil to create more of a creamy texture, rather than having the herbs linger in a tub of oil. A lot of people also add red pepper flakes to the mix, but I really believe this isn’t even needed as the garlic adds just enough heat to the sauce.

You could also use this sauce as a marinade for nearly any kind of meat or fish or vegetable- its THAT good.

Cilantro-1 large bunch
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender. Don't bother chopping the cilantro or the garlic. The blender does all the work for you. Mix until smoothe and creamy. Season additionally to taste.

Feel free to add more garlic or the crushed red peppers too. If its not blending enough you can always add a few extra drizzles of olive oil or water. And remember, cook to YOUR TASTE, if you don't like a particular ingredient, swap it out!

May 17, 2011


One of my favorite things about having lived in Miami for so many years was the amount of Latin American markets everywhere. Even our basic supermarket was stocked with great Goya products as well as specialty meat cuts such as chorizo,(sausages) from different countries, and my all time favorite: Milanesas.

My love affair with Milanesas started years ago in Argentina. They are similar to what a southerner would call a "chicken fried steak". In reality its a pretty name for a piece of meat, or chicken that is pounded flat, breaded and lightly fried. Whats amazing about milanesas is that they pretty much can go with anything. Typically they are served with fries or a salad or on a sandwich... the list could go on for days as they go with almost anything. You can also put toppings like ham,cheese and tomato sauce (a la napolitana) or a fried egg (a caballo). Today I've chosen to go with a basic milanesa, served with some cheese filled ravioli.

Beef round bottom round steak (4)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Onion Powder, to taste

In separate bowls:
Bread crumbs

Start with placing one steak at a time between 2 large cuts of saran wrap. (If you have large Ziploc bags would work great too.) Pound the steaks with a meat tenderizer using the flat side until they are about 1/3" to 1/4" thick. Lightly salt, pepper and add a sprinkle of the onion powder to all steaks.

 In 3 separate large shallow bowls add flour in one, milk in the other and breadcrumbs in the third. Once the steaks are seasoned dip into the flour mixture and get rid of the excess flour. Dredge into the milk and then into the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the individual steaks. Pan fry in a shallow pan with vegetable oil until golden on both sides. Remove and strain excess oil on paper towels. Serve immediately.

May 9, 2011

Chicken Curry

A few weeks ago my mother made massive amounts of homemade Mango Chutney and sent me a few jars after our weekend with them. So the other night I figured why not make a simple curry to use the chutney as a topping on.

Please keep in mind of a few notes. I don't want any "but that's not really curry" comments!
1) This is by no means a "traditional curry". It's what I remember from a recipe my parents used to make when we lived in Argentina.
2) This version is not drenched in a sauce like most curries are served. It's not stew-like at all, its a much lighter version.
3) I wouldn't necessarily call it an Indian Curry or Thai Curry, I'm simply calling it curry because the dominant condiment is curry.
4) This dish is more on the lines of Chicken Curry that you would order on a salad (sans the mayo, for those who need more of a direct correlation of what this possibly tastes like).
5) If you do consider making this version of curry,  trust me, you may be converted. It's so good my boyfriend even wants to put it on a deep dish as the topping...rice and all! (Not so sure if he'll end up doing that but if he does, it will definitely make a new post).


Garnish Toppings: Mango Chutney, Cranberries, Peanuts
 2 large chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1/2 medium yellow onion diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (Optional)

In a medium pot, fill with water and add the chicken. Season with salt and cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until the chicken appears to cook through. Remove from pot, and shred chicken. Set aside. Make sure to NOT toss the liquid! We will use a few tbsp in the recipe to keep the chicken moist, and keep the rest in a tight container, and refrigerate. You now have a very basic and simple chicken stock. In another pot make the rice, I always serve curry over jasmine rice.

Place large skillet over medium heat and add the flour. You want to give it a slight toasty color, light brown almost. Make sure to mix around, I prefer to use a flat whisk. When its got a nice color remove from head and place in a small bowl. Add all the other dry condiments and mix. Finely chop the onions and garlic. In a large saute pan, coat with a little olive oil and cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add the shredded chicken and mix well to make sure the onion and garlic mix coats all of the chicken. Add 2 tbsp of the chicken stock and mix well, adding the dry condiments. Cook for several minutes, mixing well. Add a few more tbsp. of the stock to make sure the chicken doesn't dry out.

Serve over a bed of rice, and serve with peanuts, cranberries, coconut shreds and mango chutney as optional toppings.

May 8, 2011

Spring Risotto

Whenever I have a friend over for dinner and tell them I'm making risotto, I always get the same look. For some reason people have this weird misconception that risotto is a dish reserved only for ordering at a great restaurant. Granted, like any other person I've had many a great risotto's and several that really did not impress.

Shortly after I moved to NYC I went to dinner with a big group of people and I happened to order a risotto. Unfortunately, the risotto was less than stellar and I stated that I was pretty sure I could make a much better version of this dish at home. A couple of my friends took me up on my brave statement and had them over for a lovely meal where I used the same ingredients as the restaurant version, but I made sure that my rice was cooked through, unlike the restaurant version. I have adapted that original mix of shrimp and scallops and made a nice spring twist with some seasonal vegetables and some fresh lemon juice to add another great flavor to the dish.

The great thing about risotto is that you can use pretty much any flavor combination you wish: seafood, poultry, vegetables, seasonings. So having a great base recipe as below, you can do endless variations of risotto to impress all your friends, particularly when you suit to their particular palate!

Risotto Mixture
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup white wine
2 Cups Arborio rice
Around 5-7 cups Chicken Stock
2 tsp salt
Juice of 2 lemons
5 thyme sprigs (remove from stalk)
1 1/2 cup asparagus
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Seafood Mixture
1/2 lb. scallops
1/2 lb. shrimp
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

 In a medium bowl add the scallops and shrimp. Add the juice 1 full lemon as well as the Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside. You should also bring the chicken stock to a boil at this time as well.

In a bottom heavy pan, melt the butter. Add the chopped onions, garlic and shallots, cook for about 5 minutes, mixing to ensure the garlic doesn't burn. Once the mixture starts to release the natural juices add the rice and mix well. Add the wine and mix. When the wine has fully evaporated is when you want to start adding the chicken stock but only add 1 cup at a time. Add the lemon juice, salt and thyme as well. Every time the liquid has evaporated, add another cup. When the rice mixture starts getting creamy, around the 4th addition of stock, you want to add the asparagus and peas.

Heat a skillet, I love using a cast iron skillet when cooking shrimp and scallops since it gives them a great texture. Coat the pan with a little olive oil and add scallops and shrimp. Cook until done and set aside, this will only be a few minutes on each side. Any of the excess juices add to the risotto mixture, it just adds more flavor!

Keep on adding the liquid to the risotto mixture. The most important thing to keep in mind when doing risotto it to keep mixing it continuously, and slowly adding the liquid until the rice is creamy and fully cooked through. As soon as the rice has cooked through and the texture is rich and creamy add the grated parmesian cheese ( I prefer a good parmesian such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated). Mix well and add the cooked seafood. Serve immediately.

May 5, 2011

Blueberry Crumb Bars

I love blueberries. I eat them with breakfast several times a week and love making any type of desserts with them. Last summer was all about the crumbles and the crisps as easy toppings for fruit based desserts, but that was before I found this recipe which I made almost immediately and have made it several times. I love that when baked it forms the perfect base for the bars and you still get some of the crumbly texture on top.

At my weekly "cooking club" class this week we decided to make these bars, but instead of making in a pan we decided to use a Cupcake Pan for the perfect individual portion. These make great desserts and are equally as satisfying in the morning!

Crumb Mixture
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blueberry Mixture
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9×13 inch pan or cupcake pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl or food processor, stir together cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg.( I prefer to use a food processor. Makes the dough in a minute!) The dough will be light and crumbly. Try to separate the dough in two equal parts.Pat half of dough somewhat tightly into the pans, as this will serve as the base of your bars.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares or removing from individual molds.

May 3, 2011

Fried Rice with Chicken

I tend to cut my prep time with peppers every time I come home from the market. Last week I went down to the farmers market and brought back 2 peppers of each color. I like to slice them and put them in plastic bags and just keep in the freezer. So while I was going about my routine chopping, I thought of making a quick and easy Fried Rice.

Now this post may seem on the long side, but I promise it doesn't really take as long as it looks! The trick in  fried rice is all in the prep work. Once you have all your ingredients chopped or sliced, it just takes turns cooking in the wok.

1/2 cup onion sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1/2 cup red peppers, sliced
1/2 cup green peppers, sliced
 Small to medium handfull of green beans
1 tbsp. ginger, grated
3-4 scallions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2-4 chicken breasts, sliced (depending on size)
1 1/2 cups rice (I like jasmine- cook separately!)
Vegetable oil (several tspns to coat the wok)
1/4 cup ponzy, or soy sauce (ponzu is a citrus based soy sauce)

First you want to start by making the rice. Using these measurements it should give you 4 servings. If you're unsure about proper measurements while making rice, a great rule of thumb is using twice as much water as you use uncooked rice. In this case I used 1 1/2 cups of Rice, so I used 3 cups water. I like to season the water with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp butter. Sometimes I also add additional grated ginger to add more flavor to the rice. Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked through and tender.

While the rice is cooking you can get started on all your veggies. Slice red and green peppers, green beans, scallions, onion and garlic. (Feel free to add other vegetables such as carrots or peas). Once you have all the vegetables sliced, place in a medium bowl and set aside. Slice the chicken on a bias or a diagonal in about 1/2 inch thick pieces. Place in separate bowl and set aside. Now you are ready to start the actual stir-fry process!

Heat the wok and add about 1 tbsp. vegetale oil. Add the eggs and coat around the pan, make sure they cook thru, almost like a light scramble. Once cooked thru, remove from wok and place in a small bowl. Next add 2 tsp of veg. oil to the wok and sautee all the vegetables. Add about 1 tbsp of the ponzu to the vegetables. Sautee until the vegetables are soft and cooked thru. Remove from wok and place back in bowl. Next do the same with the chicken, until that too is cooked thru. Since its thinly sliced it should only take about 7 minutes to cook thru. Remove from wok once cooked.

Now we finally get to combine all ingredients. Heat the wok with some oil, about  2-3 tspns. Add the rice, vegetables and chicken and cooked eggs. Mix well and add the remainder of the soy sauce, a little of the time. Feel free to taste or use less of the ponzu.