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Carnes al Disco


Well, I´ve been on a bit of a hiatus because there have been some changes in the last few months. The biggest being I am going to move to South Korea this August to teach English. Signed, sealed, delivered. It´s happening: contract, flight and all. Therefore, I´ve been dedicating my remaining time to being with friends and soaking up my last few months in Chile.

Last weekend, I went to Algorrobo with my housemates to do a little bonding. Unfortunately, the weather gods were not on our side and it was rainy and windy the whole time. At one point, the power went out too. So, we decided to make the best of the situation and started a fire, poured some wine, and started cooking.

One of my favorite aspects of Chilean cuisine is that the majority of the food and cooking is a social process. Whether it is a weekend asado or a long Sunday almuerzo, Chileans like to take their time and chat while the food slowly simmers. One of the best examples of this type of food is cooking in a disco which is similar to an Asian wok, except not concave. The legged, deep pan is put directly over the fire and the food cooks for hours to build flavor. Typically, Chileans will make this dish with seafood (mariscos al disco) but sometimes they just stick to meat, which is what we did in Algorrobo.

And it was absolutely delicious. We put in potatoes, onion, 6 cloves of garlic, wine, salt, chicken, sausage, carrot and green pepper and let it do its thing, stirring occasionally.

The chicken and sausage got nice and tender and the juices from the onion and meat mixed beautifully with the soft potatoes. Be sure to dip your bread in the juice!

Unfortunately, many of us do not have an open fire or a disco at our disposal, so I came up with a way to replicate this dish without the special equipment. And, maybe it wash´t exactly the same but it was really delicious nonetheless.

Grace´s Carnes al Disco sin Disco

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 small chorizo sausages

1 whole chicken cut into pieces or 4 thighs, bone in

2 large onion, sliced thinly

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 large carrots, sliced thinly (I used a peeler)

1 large green pepper, sliced

4 tablespoons of salt

1 pinch of tarragon

1 pinch of pepper

1 pinch of merken (optional)

5 large potatoes, peeled and sliced like french fries

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup of wine

DIRECTIONS:

Put in the onion, garlic, potatoes, chicken and sausage and put on medium high with a little bit of olive oil. After about ten minutes add the wine and carrots. After about 10 minutes add all the spices. Now, all you have to do is stir occasionally, and let this puppy simmer for about an hour, or as long as possible, until the onions are caramelized and the potatoes soft. Add a cup of water about halfway through. The chicken should be fall off the bone soft and the potatoes nice and soft.

Buen Provecho!

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Pickled Ají Peppers


Hello Hello and Merry Almost Christmas!

It’s been a strange week for me here in Santiago: Hot, mellow, pools. Not Christmas in any way. BUT. I ain’t complaining, because it feels like vacation everyday.

Christmas food definitely sounds awful in the heat, so I’ve been eating a lot of Mexican and pickled foods. What is it about a cold, juicy pickle on a hot day?

Also, summer weather means the markets are in full bloom, selling gorgeous produce like strawberries, bananas, basil, melon, and aji peppers.

Inspired by my friend Isabel (who recently moved home) I decided to make some pickled aji peppers to keep in the fridge.

Chileans like pickled foods (sauerkraut, pickles, onions, etc) but you normally don’t see a lot of pickled aji. This is a fun way to give Chilean food a modern twist.

Here’s a quick, outrageously easy recipe to make your own batch (yes, you can use ANY hot peppers like jalapeños, banana peppers, whatever).

Pickled Aji Peppers

INGREDIENTS:

Aji peppers (3-8 big ones)

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoon crushed red pepper (merken might work too!)

3-4 cups of white vinegar

seal salt

DIRECTIONS:

First, sanitize your jars by bowling them in hot water (this recipe makes two jars).

Next, wash and dry your peppers.

Bring a small saucepan of the vinegar to boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to simmer. Add peppers, garlic, salt, and hot peppers. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Once the peppers are a little soft, add the whole mixture into your jar and screw the lid tightly.

Refrigerate for at least 1-3 days for optimal flavor.

Happy pepper eating!

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5 Step Peruvian Ceviche


Happy weekend everyone!

I was really excited to get done with classes on Friday because I was going to make a dish I absolutely adore but have never made: ceviche. This was my first attempt at it and I thought it went fabulous. There are many many types of ceviche, and not all ceviche use raw fish. Some ceviches use cooked shrimp and octopus, and some use fruit like mango and avocado.

While every and all ceviches are winners in my book, Peruvian ceviche takes the cake.

Maybe that’s because ceviche was originated in Peru, or so says Wikipedia:

“The origin of ceviche is disputed. Possible origin sites for the dish include the western coast of north-central South America,[1] or in Central America.[3][4] Other coastal societies such as the Polynesian islands of thesouth Pacific are also attributed the invention of the plate.[13] The Spanish, who brought from Europe citrus fruits such as lime,[14] could have also originated the plate with roots in Moorish cuisine.[11] However, the most likely origin of the plate lies in the area of present-day Peru.[2

Interesting.

Throughout South American, ceviche recipes differ by region. Chilean ceviche  uses sea bass and heavy amounts of cilantro, and occationally even grapefruit juice. Peruvian ceviche comes in all varieties, and sometimes includes aji amarillo, garlic, lemon juice, corvina (white fish), shrimp, and the liquid is typically removed  (this has to do with the Japanese “sashimi” style influence on the country). Ecuadorian ceviche has the unusual addition of ketchup and sometimes mustard and some kind of chunky side, like tostados (South American corn nut). In Mexico, the ceviche sometimes has avocado and tomato.

The recipe I found for my version came from Laylita’s fabulous South American cooking blog. This recipe was awesome and I loved the addition of the hot pepper.

So on Friday afternoon I made a trip down to Mercado Central to buy my fish. Unfortunately, the corvina was like 10,000 luca (20 dollars) so I went with reineta instead. I do think a little higher quality, more expensive fish would have been better, but honestly the recipe was still delicious and overall, a definite success.

WORD TO THE WISE: Ceviche has to “cook” in lime juice for a few hours, so make sure you plan ahead!

White Fish Ceviche

Ingredients:

15 small limes, juiced

sea salt

olive oil

1 bunch of cilantro

1/2-1lb of boneless white fish (halibut, sea bass, or red snapper are good picks)

2 small red onions, sliced very thinly

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 hot peppers (I used these aji amarillos I found at the market, but I think thai chili peppers would be good, or any hot pepper really)

DIRECTIONS:

First: Cut the fish into small cubes and soak in salt water for 30 minutes in the fridge. the reason you must do this is to kill any bacteria and parasites. Gross, I know.

Second: Juice your limes! This takes a while. Not the most fun part.

Three: Cut your onions and soak them in salt water with a little vinegar if you have it. This will make the onions sweeter.

Four: Remove the salt water from the fish, and put the fish in a glass container (baking pan will work) with the lime juice, the hot peppers sliced diagonally, the garlic, and a few springs of cilantro. Put the container, covered, in the fridge for 2.5-3 hours, until the fish looks whitish and firm. This is the “cooking” process and it is important that all the raw fish is covered in lime juice so that it cooked properly.

Four: Remove the peppers, and garlic, and add the onions (water removed) and cilantro. Add a few drizzles of olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt. Put in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Five: Finally, serve in a glass dish, with liquid or without. I like personally like somewhere in between.

If you want to make it PERUVIAN, it should be served in a lettuce leaf, with a sliced sweet potato, and choclo (large grain corn).

Ceviche is a great appetizer or even main dish for a hot summer day. Serve it it in fun tequila glasses, or glasses with salt lined rims. You can also make fish tacos with your ceviche, or eat it with something crunchy like potato chips.

Happy Fall! Or, Spring here in Chile….

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Stuffed Zucchini (Zapallo Italiano Relleno) and Savory Rice


Yikes. This has definitely not been a great week for me. Last Sunday, I went to Viña and had my back pack robbed off the beach. We didn’t even leave the bags! They pulled a fast one. The bag had some jeans, my carnet, my credit card, my cell phone, my keys, everything. So, much of this week has been spent recovering all the things I need. Also, my camera was stolen, which put a damper on my food posts, but I hope to get one soon.

Then, yesterday I came down with food poisoning! I’m felling a little better now, but I’m not sure what I’ve done to offend the gods of luck and good fortune, but I ain’t getting none. Sigh. Hope for good things soon. In the meantime, I’m on a toast and 7-Up diet.

Enough bummertown, back to food.

A  few weeks ago I made this dish after seeing my friend order it at a restaurant in Bellas Artes. It looked delicious, simple, and tasty so I gave it a go! The results were tasty.

Stuffed Zucchini and Savory Rice

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of white rice

1 bouillon cube

2 gloves of garlic, minced

One zucchini, halved with the seeds scooped out

1/2 lb of ground beef

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup of bread crumbs

1 chopped onion

1 tablespoon oregano

salt

pepper

crushed red pepper

parmesan/mozarella

1/4 cup tomato sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Boil the zucchini in hot water for about 6 minutes, then remove, dry, and put in a baking dish.

Then, sautee the ground beef and onion in a fry pan until browned. Add all other ingredients, except the cheese, and cook for 10 minutes. Add mixture into the zucchini halves with the cheese on top at bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

For the rice, cook the rice with garlic and oil in a pan, then add 2 cups of water and the bouillon cube and cook until the water evaporates.

Easy to make, easy on a budget!

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Friends and Fish! Sunday Dinner Party


Well. It’s been almost 7 months now here in Chile, and I think right now I’m the happiest I’ve been. I like my job, I like the people at my job, I like my students, the weather is good, life is good. Currently, I scheming a birthday trip in November to Buenos Aires and Mendoza, Argentina and I am very excited (PS. all advice and tips welcome on that….). I havn’t left Santiago since I got here, and it’s time for a change of scenery, ya know?

Speaking of fellow employees, I had a great time going to the Vega with Isabel and Mike last Sunday. The plan was to give Mike a cooking lesson, who currently has been living off rice and pasta. We pursued the market, and finally came home with reineta, spinach, mushrooms, and potatoes. Using, I dunno, about 3  entire heads of garlic, we put together some thin sliced, roasted garlic potatoes (potatoes, garlic, olive oil, lemon, baked for an hour at 400), creamed spinach with mushrooms, and baked fish with lemon and garlic and cherry tomatoes. We may have  repulsed all vampires within 20 miles, but the food was so tasty! The fish was extra fresh because we got it at the Fish Market.

We had some ensalada de porotos (white bean salad with onion and cilantro, comes in a bag at La Vega) as a starter…

Cooking is really only as hard as you want it to be. Most of the time, all you need to do is stick stuff in the oven for a long time with salt. SEriously.

Monday was payday, and to reward myself, I bought myself a pan! It’s bright, bright green. I love it. All ym cooking equipment blows and its been difficult to cook with bad knifes and terrible pans.

Happy Humpday Everyone.

Til next time!

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Cazuela de Ave and Learning Chilean Spanish


Happy Hump Day everyone!

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Been struggling to get the best schedule/work load to pay the bills and worrying about other useless stuff. A lot of boring things to do, like go and get my temporary RUT (half way to being Chilean!) and cash checks, blah blah.

But, I did have an eventful weekend, so that helps with the boring week. Last Saturday night I met up with some Chileans for a night out. By the time I got home my brain was swimming (for many reasons). Speaking spanish for 12-24 hours is exhausting, especially Chilean spanish. Although, I’m starting to pick it up (whether I like it or not). Thus far, I’d adapted “sipo,” (means yes basically) “cachai” (you know) “como estaí” (Como estas) but have yet to adapt “weon” (dude, sorta) because I’m afraid. All in good time.

Today is a slow day for me, with only one class at 6:30pm. So, what do I do with my spare time? Cook. Of course.

Today I took a stab at making Cazuela de Ave (see older blog post).
I seem to have a strong penchant for soups and anything that can be made in a huge pot. I love stewing, seeping, and simmering. The smell of spices and juices mixing….mmmm mmmm.

Cazuela de Ave is a perfect mix of Spain and Chile, blending native ingredients like pumpkin and corn with more european flavors and ingredients like rice, onion, garlic, and parsley. Traditionally, the soup might have been made with quinoa, red pepper, and local foul or meat. When the Spanish conquerors arrived on the scene, they named these soups “cazuelas” because they were made in large pots/tubs.

Cazuela is fresh, flavorful, hearty, healthy and filling. It is South American’s version of chicken noodle soup and my does it sooth the soul. Moist, soft hunks of pumpkin drenched in freshly made stock, garnished with herbs. What could be better? Serve it on cold winter nights or when your system needs a re-boot.

Cazuela de Ave

INGREDIENTS:

2 chicken legs, skin on (or thigh/leg, breast/leg combo)

6-8 cups of water

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 hunk of pumpkin of squash, cut into 4-6 large chunks

4 small potatoes, skinned and cubed

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 ear of corn, cut into thirds

1 teaspoon oregano

bouquet garni (click here for explanation)

1 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoon of salt

1 cube of bouillon (optional)

fresh parsley, minced

black pepper

cilantro, minced

1 cup of  white rice, cooked

thinly sliced green beans/red pepper (Or, I used a frozen veggie mix with peas and carrots)

DIRECTIONS:

Cook a small pot of rice and set aside.

Take you chicken and cover it with half the garlic, salt, and a dash of pepper. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and turn the heat to medium high. Stick the chicken in the pot and brown the skin slightly.

Next, add 6 cups of water, or until pot is a little over 3/4 full. Boil the chicken in the water for about 40 minutes until the liquid has absorbed the chicken flavor and the water looks more yellow and rich. I added bouillon to my broth at this point only because I didn’t have much chicken and the stock seemed a little bland, but in the future, I might not do this. It was a little salty.

Then, remove chicken from the pot and drain liquid through a strainer into a different container and set aside. In your original pot, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, the onion and carrot. Next, add the oregano, cumin, salt, and left over garlic. Stir until fragrant.  Add the potatoes, squash, and corn, green beans/bell pepper, bouquet garni, and the remaining stock and chicken pieces. Gently boil for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes and squash can be pierced with a knife.

To serve, put a tablespoon of rice at the bottom of a deep soup bowl with some of the vegetables. Next, add a piece of corn, a hunk of squash, potatoes, carrots, and a chicken leg (or piece of chicken). Garnish with fresh parsley and cilantro.

Serve with some warm fluffy pan del día and butter, and  nice big glass of red, Chilean wine. You’ll thank me.

Serves 2-4 (depending on how many pieces of chicken you use). I had tons of leftovers.

Simple, fresh, and satisfying, this dish a winner in my book, and might be the new, improved chicken noodle soup for years to come.

Has anyone else made cazuela and made it differently?

Stay tuned for more Chilean adventures. Until next time, ciao!

Grace Geiger

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Life on the Daily: Beef Curry and My Beef with Chile


Happy Friday y’all.

It’s been about a week since my last post. This is why:

1. I have not been cooking interesting things or eating out much because I’ve been sitting around my house, trying not to spend money. This will change, but during April, pickings are slim. Money is being saved for trips and weekend outings. Also, I’m still sort of figuring out Chilean food. I didn’t come here knowing much and am starting from scratch with what is available here, how to make it, what it’s called, etc. I need a cooking guardian, some nice Chilean to show me how to make authentic dishes in her home. Right now, if I only made Chilean food, that would mean eating hot dogs and french fries everyday which would kill me in a week.

2. Nothing that exciting has happened. Regular life is regular life. I’m not on one big vacay, I’m doing the daily livin’ thing as a poor teacher. Sometimes that just involves watching Confessions of a Shopaholic with Spanish subtitles and eating chocolate…..what can I say.

This week had some ups and downs.

Ups involved getting one more class (still need more work! Right now I have about 5 classes a week. I need more like 8-12 classes a week to be makin’ ma rent), going to the ZOO, and getting my apartment and life more straightened out. The Zoo was sweet, I’m definitely going back. Sure, it wasn’t the best zoo I’ve ever been too, but giraffes and zebras and lions are always fun to see, and the older i get, the more I’m fascinated by exotic animals. Plus, the funicular is pretty cool.

Downs  of the week included having my camera die at the zoo, not having enough to do, cloudy weather, and general frustration with lack of work.

I think on the whole I feel  I’m hitting that one month mark where Chile is losing it’s exotic, newness and I’m starting to realize life is life, and work is work, even if it is in a fun new place. The money part is frustrating too. Not because I don’t have enough, but because life is expensive! Especially getting a new place. All the sudden paper towels, groceries, toilet paper, metro passes, shampoo, pots, and kitchen supplies all really start to add up. I’m not looking to make a fortune here, but I want to be making my rent and also just be more busy during the work week, feeling productive.

But, enough whining (unless it’s Winning or Wining). Really this is the life. And I’m very happy.

So happy, that I made delicious beef curry!

Shout out to Bryce in Uganda, this recipe is for you. For you and all the strange curry mixtures you made. Even though I made fun of you, some of them were pretty legit and I’m totally copying you in this recipe. Yes, beef curry is not Chilean but its delicious, cheap, and easy.

Quick and Easy Beef Curry with Potatoes

Ingredients:

Beef (I bought a big chunky steak type cut. Any stew meat will work, and fatty is probably best), cut into cubes

I large carrot, diced

1 large onion, diced,

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon of curry powder

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons of sugar (brown sugar is even better!)

2 tablespoons of salt

fresh lemon juice (one lemon will work)

black pepper

3 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup of water

Directions:

In a large pot, put the onion, garlic, olive oil, beef cubes, and all spices. Once the meat has browned a bit and the onions are soft, add the carrot, potatoes, and all spices except bay leaf, salt, and sugar. Once all the ingredients are mixed and fragrant, add the water, sugar, and salt, and put the lid on. I would let this baby simmer for about a half hour at least. you want the potatoes and carrots to be soft, and the liquid to have become nice and brown from all the meat juices. Once the curry look how you’d like it, and the juices have reduced to a thicker liquid, add lemon juice (or a splash of red wine vinegar).

Serve over rice with cilantro for garnish.

Well, I’m off to enjoy a sunny Friday afternoon. Have a great weekend!

Madras Beef Curry

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