Search This Blog

Monday, July 16, 2012

You Cant' Always Get What You Want

I decided that I would share a little of what we, as expats far from our native land, view as "comfort foods" and what you can and cannot have in Uruguay. We have been experimenting with adding to our repertoire of recipes and have been able to get a few more foods from "home" (though Uruguay is our home now).

You can't get corn tortillas. The caustic and environmentally dangerous processes (which I commented on earlier) needed to produce the masa for corn tortillas, is unknown in Uruguay. Obviously we have been able to make flour tortillas. However, homemade flour tortillas are not anything like store brand tortillas. In the store they are uniform size and very, very flat (about 1/8" thick). Home made tortillas, on the other hand, vary from round to any other shape you can imagine and are very, very thick, usually about 1/4-3/8" thick. I have tried everything I know to make them thinner, but it just has not worked (if anyone knows the secret of producing uniformly thin flour tortillas, please share). They are closer to peasant bread (I don't know if this is a real designation, but I am using it). Not to say that they are not delicious, but they are not what we were used to. So you get the drift. You can have some things, but you can't always get what you want....

However, we recently were able to buy and cook chicken wings. I had seen a package, in Tienda Inglesa, but only found them once or twice. Most meat, however, is purchased at your local butcher. So, the other day, when I was shopping, I asked him what he did with the wings, knowing that they sell chicken breasts and also the leg and thigh combination (muslo), but wondered what they did with the little wing and drummette. Turns out they sell them (happily) for about $1.25/lb. They are called "alitas". I was able to get a kilo (2.2 lbs), cook them up, make a little BBQ sauce* and we feasted on "wings". Denise and I had sampled wings at the "Anchor Bar" in Buffalo, NY in about 1983- before buffalo wings became such a big deal. Now, we can enjoy them on a South American beach, while sipping down our favorite beverage. If you try sometimes, you just might find- you get what you need.

The other day, a mentor of ours (Deby), who has lived in Uruguay for over 10 years, shared a recipe for butterhorn rolls and also cake donuts. I was somewhat hesitant to try them, but eventually (after Denise begged), I tried the butterhorn recipe. I was very impressed. The basic recipe made 36 rolls and they freeze nicely, as well. We enjoyed them with soups, and with morning coffee. Very tasty.
Butterhorn Rolls

1 cup milk scalded
1/2 cup oil
1/2 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3 eggs
4 and 1/2 cups good flour (0000) here

Combine: milk, oil, sugar, salt - then cool to lukewarm. (not cold but not hot). Add the yeast that has been dissolved in 1/3 Cup warm med. warm (not hot) water- stir it well.

Add eggs beat them a little bit, then add the flour, half the flour first, stir, then add the rest,,,,mix to a smooth dough. It will be very, very wet. Turn out on a well-floured surface and knead until it is a smooth dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.

Divide dough in 3 even balls .

Roll each ball on lightly floured surface with a rolling pin in a circle a perfect circle 9 to 10 inches around..... Brush with melted butter (real butter )cut each circle with a sharp knife, in 4 pieces now cut each of these in 3 roll each piece from the fat end to the point end. Place the point end side of the roll down on the greased pan so they stay looking nice..

Arrange in a greased baking pan allow 2 to 3 inches apart at least. Brush with melted butter again

Cover and let rise again until very light doubled. or so put in hot oven 400° to 425° (here a little over 200°) for 15 minutes- let sit in pan. I bush them again with butter to make them shine ... watch them !! don't burn them........

You will get 36. Right out of the oven they are wonderful...

Yesterday, I tried the doughnut recipe. I had been putting it off, because I was thinking of raised doughnut and  all that was involved. However, cake doughnut are just the easiest things ever. In less than 15 minutes (the time it took the oil to heat up), I was making the doughnut and minutes later, enjoying them. I am now tempted to locate one of those "Krispy Kreme" recipes you see all over, and try them. Make sure not to overcook them. I was used to seeing cake doughnuts a little darker and I fried them a little too long. I think a light brown will do for next time. Of course, this did not make them inedible- to the contrary they were delicious, but will be better the next time (and there will be a next time).

Cake Doughnuts
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder *
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Mix all the dry ingredients together and stir till well blended,,, add the egg, milk, and butter mix well form a ball . lay out on floured waxed paper and kneed the dough 20 times add a LITTLE bit of flour so it is not sticky . add more flour to the waxed paper and roll out flat and even, cut doughnuts about 1/2 inch each ... if you do not have a doughnut cutter use a plastic glass, then make the whole with "a top of a large pop bottle".

I don't mess with the frying holes anymore I gather all the holes dough up and just make another doughnut.

Get a skillet put oil in it at least half full get the oil hot then fry 5 or so at a time. watch them very well do not burn them they have to be fried on both sides.
Take them out drain on paper towels. then put them on a wrack to cool . Then ice them .

This recipe should make 11 or 12. (don't roll these too thick..)..and no holes to fry...

OR roll them in cinnamon and sugar when they are just out of the frying pan.( the recipe says dip them quickly in melted butter so the sugar and cinnamon stick.)

Chocolate Glaze This is a chocolate glaze for coating doughnuts.
• 2 Tbsp. Butter or Margarine
• 2 cups Confectioner's Sugar
• 1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
• 1/4 cup Milk
Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Sift the confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder into it. Stir while adding milk until smooth.

Now- on to biscuits (or baking powder biscuits). I have been making biscuits for years, now, using a recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook (the recipe is so simple- it's not worth including). Try as hard as I might, I could never get them to rise, properly. They were always flat and a little hard. Needless to say, we didn't have them often. Now, with the discovery of lard (graso de cerdo), and the fact that I needed to use twice the amount of baking powder, I have produced very light, fluffy biscuits. I prefer working lard into the dough, rather than butter (much easier) and only folding the dough no more than 10 times produced a very nice biscuit. Also I took care to cut the biscuits cleanly- not twisting the cutter- thereby sealing the edges and preventing rising during the baking. So biscuits are back on the menu.

I received a recipe to make sour cream from scratch and so I tried it. It was not one of my finest attempts. The recipe calls for a cup or so of natural cream and a tablespoon of natural yoghurt. Our friend in Punta del Este even sent me photos of the proper brands to buy and I followed the recipe to a "T". Of course the recipe was, mix a tablespoon of yogurt to 250 ml of "crema de leche" and sit for 24 hours, covered. What could be simpler?

Crema de Leche is very sweet and thick. You could spoon it over fresh peaches, any day, and have a fantastic dessert, with no sugar. Anyway- after sitting at room temperature for over 5 days, I do not have sour cream. What I have is slightly less sweet cream than I started out with. Something has gone terribly wrong. What- I don't know.

Anyway- until proven wrong (and I hope I am) I will consider sour cream something you can't get here. There are products that closely approximate sour cream, but not the real deal.

* A little note on BBQ sauce. Some years ago we were invited to a BBQ and they cook had such a delicious sauce that I asked him about it. He took me aside and made me swear not to tell the guests his secret. He took ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, hot sauce and a little of the cheapest BBQ sauce you can get in the store. When it was mixed together, it tasted divine. I have always followed that and have never had any complaints.

** I learned an interesting fact, the other day for cooking in Uruguay. In the US, almost all baking powder is what they call "double acting"- meaning it contains two types of acids that react at different times in the cooking process. The baking powder that I have been buying is not, so I need to double the amount that I would normally use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Wally! My name is Erica and I live in South Marindia too, I am a cook and sell home made food. My husband Diego has followed your blog for a couple of years. He mentioned you were trying to make chicken wings and I couldn´t help looking at your photos. Yummi!! Well, chicken wings is one of our favourite things too when inviting friends over! You can see them in my facebook profile, Intimas Suculencias in the ¨Abrebocas¨ photo album. I learnt a very easy technique to remove one of the 2 little bones that the chicken wing has, which make them easier to eat in just 1 bite, and better looking too. I would be glad to show this wasy technique to you!
As for the tortillas, there is a device you may already know that can be bought in the US, if you ever go back, at Williams Sonoma, which is the tortilla press (quite cheap) and that´s how I learnt to make them at the cook school. This press make them look professional. As for the recipe, I got one involving boiling white corn and lime and that´s something you can easily do at home. They taste really good, but my husband mentioned that is not environment friendly at all.
Anyway, feel free to contact us for the tortillas recipe or the chicken wings technique!!!