Tag Archives: Cheese

{ Brushetta with Prosciutto, Ricotta, Apples, & Olives }

Before almost every meal at my house, I find that there are a few moments where everyone gathers around the kitchen center island, anxiously waiting for dinner to finish cooking. The table has already been set, but the meat may need to rest another minute before carving, or the sauce may have to reduce a bit more before serving. It is during this time that I like to “pre-game” for dinner (confessions of a fat girl) with an appetizer–and bruschetta is always at the top of my list! I steal a few slices of baguette from the bread basket, toast ‘em in the oven or on the grill, and then top them off with any and every thing that I can find in the fridge.

This week, my little sister Ella, turned me onto a new layering of ingredients and flavors, which included; sliced granny smith apples, creamy ricotta cheese, chopped kalamata olives, and thinly sliced prosciutto.  Not going to lie, I had some reservations about these particular food combinations at first, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the sweet and salty contrast of the prosciutto and ricotta. The slightly tart bite of apple also added another unexpected dimension to the plate, and was a refreshing palate cleanser in-between toasts.

If I were to serve this at a party (which I certainly will in the future!), I would allow the guests to create their own toasts by serving the ingredients separately, this way everyone can have exactly the toppings they want. The dish is so simple and relatively inexpensive (cost of ingredients averaging $10 for 6 servings), but it very important that you use quality ingredients–high grade (or homemade) ricotta is a  MUST! (I suggest Wegman’s brand for $3.00). I also suggest that you season the ricotta with a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper before serving it…it adds more umph–and looks pretty!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 baguette, sliced on diagonal, 1″ thickness
  • 2 cups high quality (or homemade) ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 granny smith apples, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto

{ To Make the Bruschetta Toasts } Use a silicon brush to coat the sliced baguettes with extra virgin olive oil. Place them on the grill, turning until well toasted on each side (about 3 minutes per side). NOTE: You can also toast the bread in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees, which takes about 5 minutes.


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{ Homemade Empanadas }

I’ve been hunting for BA’s most delicious empanada for months now, and so far, my favorite contenders for the title also happen to be the spiciest (list of top 10 picks coming soon!). However, finding the right combination of tender meat, flakey dough, and proper spice can be quite a challenge in a country where hot sauce and chili peppers are shunned like the the plague. Also, Argentines don’t like to combine different food groups when it comes to stuffing empanadas (in a manner akin to children segregating their mashed potatoes from their meatloaf, as if an imaginary forcefield was dividing their plate). It’s either meat or cheese….never both in one pastry!

This continues to boggle my mind, because they have all the best ingredients at their disposal…they just never seem to get assembled in the way that I would combine them. I love meat and I love cheese….so why not put them together in one super delicious empanada, rather than forcing me to take a bite of caprese followed by a bite of carne (besides that fact that it always lures me into purchasing two empanadas, of course)?!

In an effort to solve this rather distressing empanada dilemma, I have decided to try making my own! Which brings me to TheGrubDaily’s first ever food event–a DIY Empanada Party, hosted in conjunction with the fabulous KitchenParty.org and LVstudio! I offered my home and empanadas caseras in exchange for good company and a bottle of wine to share! It turned out to be a wild success, as 120 empanadas were served before people began using their paper plates as fans in my tiny, overheated apartment.

I laid out a buffet table with various ingredients for filling the empanadas (chicken, beef, cheese, tomato, act…), and all 25 attendees were given the opportunity to come and make their own creations! With the help of a few native Argentine girls (Valeria and Elvira), everyone was shown how to properly stuff and close the empanada dough and then they were sent into the oven for baking!

The following recipe is a very Traditional Argentine Beef Empanada filling, showed to me by my very dear cleaning lady. The one below it, is a spicy “Gringo” version of that recipe, as adapted by myself. I recommend using Saltena empanada shells (or Goya, if you are in the US), rather than wasting time on homemade ones.

Traditional Argentine Beef Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped

{ To Make the Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, remove from heat and fold in chopped egg. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

“Gringo” Spicy Beef Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 1 yukon potato, boiled and chopped small

{ To Make the Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, peppers, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato puree and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, stir in chopped potato and remove from heat. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

**I like my meat extra spicy, so I also added a couple of dashes of Cholula Hot Sauce while cooking!

Spicy Shredded Chicken Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2-1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • Slice Jalapeños (optional)

{ To Make the Filling } Place chicken breasts in a large stock pot, adding enough water to cover the meat. Heat over a medium-high flame, allowing to simmer until cooked through.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, before beginning to shred chicken (using hands or two forks).

In a large stock pot of a medium high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and sautee until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, green onion, kosher salt, chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of the tomato puree. Return the shredded chicken to the stock pot and stir to combine (if the meat needs more moisture, add more of the tomato puree).

Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and use to as empanada filling or taco meat!

{ To Assemble the Empanadas } Remove an empanada dough from the package and wet one half of the pastry edge using a finger dipped in water. Spoon a your desired filling into the middle and fold over the ends (so moist end meets dry end), pinching hard to ensure that they are properly shut.

Then crimp the edges using a fork or your fingers, as we have done here:

Place onto a greased baking sheet and allow to bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until the edges and tops are golden brown (about 10 minutes).

Remove from oven and enjoy!

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San Telmo’s Burrito Boy *****

Near the corner of Defensa and Chile
San Telmo, Argenetina
Sundays Only!!

It’s Sunday morning and although I haven’t set an alarm, my phone is ringing. The message reads:

“Yo kids,  u know i b in SanT every sunday afternoon with burrito boy. Come hang!” – M. Koo

My head is pounding, but I am salivating at the thought of a warm, flour wrapped, beef burrito. I want it almost as bad as a glass of ice cold water and advil. I look at the time and it is 3 O’Clock, which means I have approximately two hours to get my ass to San Telmo before burrito boy leaves the market. I grab 10 pesos off my nightstand, wake up the girls, and head out (still wearing remnants of last night’s 80′s Halloween costume, might I add!).

We plow through the sea of vendors and tourists that crowd the narrow streets, until we reach him–Burrito Boy. Since my entire Sunday revolves around this burrito, he is my idol. We kiss on the cheek, and he places in my hand that shiny, foil-wrapped, piece of heaven. Cue eating frenzy.

I think it is a fair statement to say that I am a burrito connoisseur, given my love for Mexican food and my weekly burrito consumption. As such a qualified connoisseur, I assert that Burrito Boy has by far the best burrito in all of Argentina. It is a bold statement, I know. But here is why I arrived at this conclusion:

  1. The burrito only costs 10 pesos 
  2. The wraps are all homemade and hand rolled by Burrito Boy
  3. The burrito is actually hot, in fact steaming hot, when you get it
  4. Burrito Boy’s wrapping technique is fail proof, it never falls apart
  5. Burrito Boy serves his Mexican masterpiece with an incredible spicy sauce that will keep you at his stand for the duration of you burrito eating experience, God forbid you should have a bite without the sauce
  6. Burrito Boy has personality–he will talk to you the entire time you are eating (without passing judgement as you double fist with your burrito in your one hand and the bottle of hot sauce in your other)
  7. Lastly, Burrito Boy has an entire roll of paper towels, which he will give out freely to anyone with a face covered in hot sauce (which is everyone by the time they are done)
Now, I cannot take the credit for discovering Burrito Boy (although I wish I had). Instead, I got the tip from another fellow foodie, Mr. M. Koo, who sent the text message above, and can in fact be found posted up at Burrito Boy’s stand every Sunday afternoon (with me now, of course!). If you care to come join us–I encourage that you do–you can find Burrito Boy located on Defensa near the corner of Chile.
I didn’t even bother to describe the burrito in this post, because some things are just too delicious for words–this being one of them. But I will give you the heads up that there are just two kinds of burritos: vegetarian (with sauteed spinach) and carne (with barbacoa). I am normally a meat person, but happen to think that the vegetarian burrito is better because it isn’t as dry. Then again, you should be slathering every bite in Burrito Boy’s hot sauce, so pick which ever one tickles your fancy!


Filed under Buenos Aires Restaurants, International Restaurants, Markets

Romario’s Pizza ***

Locations all over Buenos Aires; you’ll be hard pressed to find a corner without one!


It is a fact: Argentines love pizza. I dare to say they love it almost as much as their prized bovine. If you want to get a rise out of a Porteno, you can do one of two things: mention politics, or ask which restaurant makes the best pizza. Yes, I just compared Peronism and pizza.

Anyways, one of my new favorite pizza spots in BA is Romarios. It’s certainly not the oldest pizza place or the most famous–in fact, it is a chain (probably, the Argentine equivalent of America’s Pizza Hut). But I think it is delicious! I like to order their standard pizza pies, which come in 3 sizes, and I usually top mine with serrano ham, mozzarella, cubed tomatoes, garlic, olives, and fresh arugala. One slice of this pie probably has just as much sodium as a cup of ramen noodles, but it is worth every ounce of swelling. The cheese is hot and gooey and the crust isn’t too thick on the pizza. Addtionally, they make their pies with the sauce on top of the cheese, which keeps the crust from getting soggy.

Of course, you can also order a cheese and onion fugazette if you’re looking to carbo-load. Fugazette is a very popular form of Argetine pizza resembling a calzone. It is pizza dough stuffed with cheese and onion, olive oil, and herbs. It is delicious, but certainly filling. You can get delicious unhealthy food almost anywhere in BA though, so I suggest sticking to traditional pizza at Romarios.

If the pizza isn’t filling enough, order an empanada or two. They have an onion and pancetta empanada one that is ridiculously good and the spicy beef empanada is amazing.

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“Death By Prosciutto” – Madrid, Spain

Iberico Ham from Spain

Before my trip to Spain, mention of the word ham conjured up strong images of Christmas dinner—a honey-glazed, suckling pig in the center of a large table, surrounded by side dishes piled high with mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and rye bread. However. I must admit that this traditional Christmas feast never tickled my fancy because I don’t like the actual taste (or texture) of cooked ham. And judging by the number of condiments that people use in combination with their boiled and broiled pig, I don’t think that I am the only person sharing in this sentiment. I mean you rarely see someone just nibbling on a piece of ham…unless of course, it’s slathered in mayo between two slices of Wonderbread, or served next to a heap of cheesy scrambled eggs, or covered in gobs of mustard. But in Spain, ham is like a second religion (soccer being the first), and it is delicious because it is NOT cooked. Instead, it undergoes a delicate process of curing and drying, which can take up to 48 months! After the ham has aged to perfection, it is dubbed “Jamon Iberico,” which is then sliced down into thin cuts of meat that sell at a very lofty price point. I once heard a comedian say, “I wouldn’t mind being treated like a piece of meat, as long as it was Serrano ham…because that means you think I’m fancy and thin!” I would have to agree with this statement after spending time in Spain.

Serrano ham is truly incredible—an explosion of flavor in your mouth. Unfortunately, it is also an explosion of sodium. Your fingers and feet will attest to that after just 2 short days in Catalan country. You will struggle to take off your rings and your ankles will transform into cankles as they rapidly loose bone definition from all of the salt-swelling. However, you will accept these side effects as minor troubles, and continue to eat Serrano ham, as you begin to realize that it is one of the best foods available in Spain. And unlike ham in the US, it doesn’t require a slew of condiments to taste good. It is perfection when eaten alone, but also delicious when paired with melon, Manchego cheese (a real sodium-assault), or sliced baguette for a simple sandwich. It is an ingredient so delicious, that you honestly can’t ruin it if you try, which brings me to my next point: do yourself a favor, and order simple in Spain. They have a lot of high quality produce and ingredients available, but they struggle developing the right flavors in complex dishes at many restaurants. After several disappointing meals, I learned that the best foods in Spain are the simplest; i.e. Serrano ham platters, chorizo, stuffed olives, and patatas bravas (potatoes with hot sauce). Therefore, a good place to grab lunch is in a food market (this is NOT to be confused with a supermarket). The food markets are very gourmet and have a variety of different vendors, each with a specific and unique culinary offering. You can create yourself a fantasy meal as you go from station to station, and select the items that call out to your belly…a true tapas experience. My favorite food market in Spain was located in Madrid, and it is called the Mercado de San Miguel (situated right outside the Plaza Mayor—http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/).  This covered market is over 100 years old and boasts 33 different food shops; selling anything from fruit to meat, cheese, and baked goods.

Mercado de San Miguel

Me, standing in front of the Mercado….itching to get inside

I got the best Iberico ham that I have ever tasted there, in addition to olives stuffed with mussels, croquettes, a mini tuna bocadilla (sandwich), and an assortment of Spanish cheeses with sliced baguette.

Is it a fruit display or is it art?…ask for assistance getting those cherries!

Our Jamon Iberico getting sliced to order….talk about fresh

Our Jamon y Queso Platter

Assorted Croquettes Stuffed with Blue Cheese, Spinach, and Chorizo

Manchego Cheese, Sliced Baguette, and Spanish Olives Stuffed with Mussels and Chilies

Tunafish Bocadillo with Manchego Cheese

Prices at the market were very reasonable, and I enjoyed eating my lunch at a window-counter where I was able to people watch passerbys outside. Just try not to make eye contact with the bands of roaming gypsys that are begging outside the market. It is like feeding the birds at the beach…you give a crumb to one seagull and soon the whole flock is swarming.

If you manage to resist the mouth-watering desserts offered in the Mercado (a serious testament to your self-control), you can walk across the street to CH&CH Chocolate & Churros (Calle Mayor, 54 in Barrio Palacio) for a sweet bite.

CH&CH Menu

CH&CH serves up fabulous cappuccinos and Spanish fried pastries (known as churros). Personally, I prefer Mexican/Cuban churros, which are topped with cinnamon and sugar (too much time in Miami), but this place served up some delicious fried-to-order churros that came with an incredible thick and rich chocolate dipping sauce. Ohh and just a heads up, the dipping sauce comes in a mug so you might mistake it as hot drinking chocolate, but don’t drink it unless you want the belly-ache of all belly-aches (I speak from experience). You will also be all sorts of hyped up, like the episode of Friends where Ross drinks all of the maple syrup.

Frothy Cappuccino

Freshly Made Churros with Chocolate DIpping Sauce

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{ Kendall’s Simple Baked Brie en Croute }

Baked Brie en Croute with Almonds and Raspberry Preserves

Baked brie is a great and easy appetizer to bring to any holiday party. I showed my roommate Ariana how to prepare it for our potluck Thanksgiving dinner, and since then I have received a lot of requests among my friends for the recipe (Ariana did a great job making it!). Instead of sending each of them an individual message, I have decided to just post it on my blog for all to view and enjoy!! Unfortunately, now I think everyone is going to offer to bring baked brie to my next potluck…but brie is delicious so I would be okay with that.

You can make this dish using either philo-dough or puff pastry. Philo-dough is flakier and a little bit more difficult to assemble because it is done in thin sheets one at a time. Therefore, I encourage using puff pastry dough if it is your first time making this dish! Also, feel free to substitute different nuts and flavors of fruit preserves, such as walnuts and/or Black Current preserves. Get creative!

{ Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, pre-packaged (or philo-dough)
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter (or 1 egg beaten if using philo-dough)
  • 1 8 oz brie wheel
  • Apricot, Raspberry, or Strawberry preserves
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

{ To Make using Puff Pastry }

Preheat oven to 375.

Defrost puff pastry for about 15-20 minutes and then unfold. Place the wheel of brie in the middle of the pastry dough and top brie generously with fruit preserves and then nuts. Fold the puff pastry dough up over the toppings and wheel of the brie, gathering up the edges in center and gently squeezing together the excess dough at the top. Brush the sides and top of the puff pastry dough with the beaten egg using a silicon brush. Place the brie on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pastry dough is golden brown.

Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes and then serve with crackers and fresh fruit.

{ To Make using Philo-Dough }

Preheat oven to 375.

Defrost philo-dough for about 15-20 minutes and then unfold. Place the wheel of brie in the middle of the dough and top brie generously with fruit preserves and then nuts.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Fold the philo-dough up over the toppings and wheel of the brie one thin layer at a time. In between layers, brush butter onto dough (almost as an adhesive) using a silicon brush. Continue in layers until the brie is well covered, gathering up the edges in center and gently squeezing together the excess dough at the top. Brush the sides and top of the dough with butter one last time and then place the brie on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pastry dough is golden brown.

Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes and then serve with crackers and fresh fruit.


Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Thin Crust Pizza Dough }

On my 15th birthday I remember looking over my cake and saying “just one more year till I start driving dad!!” Without flinching my dad responded, “Ohh yeah? In what car sweetie? You’re mother and I certainly aren’t buying you one!”

And that’s how I got my start in the restaurant business.

I needed a car and so I needed a job. Within the week I started working at a little gourmet pizza shop near my house called Jules Thin Crust. I was one of the first employees when it opened, and watched it grow into a local favorite hotspot over the four years that I worked there. Their pizza is truly delicious and very unique in topping and presentation. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any other pizza that even resembles the flavors of Jules Thin Crust and so out of necessity I decided to start making my own imitation pizza. I experimented with several different types of dough over the past year, and think that I have finally found the ultimate thin crust pizza dough recipe. It crisps up beautifully on the bottom (even on a plain baking sheet), yet stays soft on the side under the sauce. And best yet, it is super easy to make….just takes some pre-planning because it needs to proof over night!

As far as the toppings go, I like to get creative and make the pizza look pretty (I stole a lot of my presentation ideas from the pizza place I worked at!). But definitely use a variety of cheeses, the more the better. I like to combine fresh mozzarella, aged mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. The Two pizzas that I have photographed are my Margarita Pizza (fresh mozzarella and provolone white base with sliced tomato, minced garlic, and basil garnish) and Eggplant Pizza (homemade tomato sauce, aged mozzarella, thin sliced eggplant, cubes of fresh mozzarella, and arugala). I also love to make a Honey Garlic Pizza, which is a thin layer of honey for the base, topped with minced garlic and then a generous layer of fresh mozzarella cheese. This pizza may seem strange, but it is so surprisingly good. The sweetness of the honey balances out with the saltiness of the cheese in a great way. It is just a little messy on your baking pans if you use too much honey because it will overflow when it heats up, so don’t put too much on!

{ Ingredients }

  • 4 ½ cups unbleached high-gluten, or all-purpose flour, chilled
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast (rapid rise)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ¾ cup ice cold water
  • Semolina flour or cornmeal

{ To Make Pizza Dough }

Put the flour into the bowl of an electric mixer and allow to chill in fridge for 10-15 min. Then stir in the salt and instant yeast. With the mixer on low speed (fitted with paddle attachment) stir in the olive oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. Then switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. It is very important that the dough not stick to the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom. In order to create this consistency, you make need to add more ice water (tablespoon or two) to make the dough tackier or add more flour to make it firmer. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.

Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer dough to counter. Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces, dipping the scraper into water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking. Sprinkle flour over the dough and then list each piece and round into a ball (make sure that your hands are dry and flour them). Transfer the dough balls to a plate or baking sheet that has been sprayed with oil. Then mist the dough balls with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough (you must do this), or keep for up to three days.

On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on well-floured counter surface. Dust your hands with flour and gently press (or roll) the dough into a flattened disk about ¼-½ inch think. Then put pizza dough onto a baking sheet that has been generously dusted with cornmeal or semolina flour and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour before cooking.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven as hot as possible (mine only goes to 400 and that worked just fine), and put your topped pizza into the oven, cooking for about 8-10 minutes. Since the cook time depends on the amount of toppings that you have chosen and the temperature that your oven will reach, check on it very frequently to see when it appears done.

When cooked to your satisfaction, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. You want the cheese to rest before you cut the pizza, or it will just slide off.

**Remember when topping your pizza that basil turns black in the oven, so put the basil on after the pizza has cooked and cooled slightly**

Margarita Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Sliced Tomatoes, Minced Garlic, and Basil

Eggplant Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Organic Tomato Sauce, Parmesan, and Basil

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