Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tortas Frita

This recipe is one of those delicious magical recipes that  are so simple - and yet so delicious.  I remember there was always foods that only appeared on South American tables of families we would visit, so they were always 'festive' foods that you enjoyed and had that essence of traditionalism that surrounded the cacophony of passionate political discussions, crazy argentine soap operas, foot tapping music and futball!  Me... I was always in the kitchen eating...I mean... 'helping' out ;)  One of my favourite treats in these gatherings was Torta Frita, so delicious! I always remember that no matter how over indulgent these recipes look - for an every now and again treat - everything can be enjoyed in moderation!  I like to think of it as special treat Sundays whether once a week or once a month ...creating a moment where you have enough time to bake, and a great family day to enjoy a special treat or take on visits to other people's homes :) 

Tortas Fritas


  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 40g of lard or butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • Lard or oil for frying
  • Sugar

In a bowl mix plain flour, baking powder and salt.  With a fork mix the lard or butter into the mixture.  In the centre of themixture place the egg, and water.  Knead the mixture until dough like. 

Roll the dough out until approx. 1/2 cm thick.  With a round mold or a glass cut out circles in the dough and place to the side.  Torta Fritas don't have to be perfect - so you can even cut out free hand circular shapes or roll the dough in smaller balls and roll out in circular shapes 1/2cm thick.

Heat up the lard in  pan (or oil if you choose to use this) and once ready place the circles and fry.  Take out when fried (don't over fry them, just until the dough is golden brown).  Blot on paper to remove excess oil and leave to cool.

You can eat as is, some people like to sprinkle sugar on top.  A real treat!

You can see the live recipe at Cocina-de-Mama's YouTube channel!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cooking with Reine Summit! Aubergines a la Parmesan, Risotto au Pistou, Bitter Chocolate Tart

I had the thrill of attending a masterclass with the Queen of Provencal cooking - French Chef Reine Summit (twice awarded France's Best Female Chef).   Reine was a bundle of energy as she jumped around the kitchen and infused the room with excitement for her French dishes and traditional methods of cooking!  Here are the wonderful recipes Reine taught us to make - these delicious - but easy to make dishes -  will definitely make it into the recipe book! 



Aubergines a la Parmesan Facon Crumble


 "Only use extra virgin my place I have olive trees and I produce my own..."






Serves 4

  •  500ml of Olive oil
  • 2 eggplants
  • 500ml of tomato sauce

 To make the crumble
  • 50g of flour
  • 25g of parmesan cheese
  • 25g of butter


For the Tomato Sauce
  • 200ml of olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 15g of basil
  • 1kg of Roma tomatoes
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper and sugar (pinch)


Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil then add the tomatoes, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 30mins, push through a strainer (chinois) add chopped basil.

Was, peel  and dry the egg plants, then cut them into round peices about 1/2cm thick.  Fry in olive oil then place the cooked peices on an absorbent paper towel.

Put the crumble ingredients in a bowl and mix them together by hand.

Prepare small individual serving plates.  Place one slice of fried egg plant on the plate, cover with tomato sauce then parmesan.  Repeat this twice.  To finish cover with crumble mic and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.


Risotto au Pistou











Serves 4


  • 200g of Arborio rice
  • 200ml of white wine
  • 50g of eschalots
  • 250ml of olive oil
  • 50g of butter
  • 1 litre of fresh tomato juice (place tomatoes in a blender and put through strainer)
  • 100g of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30g of pine nuts
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 1 small clove of garlic

Remove the leaves of the basil and chop finely with a clove of garlic, add 150ml of olive oil and put aside.

Soften the sliced eschaloyts in the remainder of the olive oil, add the rice and stir for 3 minutes until all the grains are covered and then moisten with the white wine.  Stir overa medium flame.

After the liqud has been absorbed by the rice, use a ladle to add the tomato juice, one spoonful at a time (wait until the liquid is absorbed before adding next spoonful).  Repeat this process until the rice is done (approx 20mins). Then add the grated Parmesan, butter and roast pine nuts.

Spoon the basil oil over the risotto once  plated.


Bitter Chocolate Tart




 " Keep the pastry thin...not so good to eat so much pastry - better to eat more chocolate!!!"




Serves 8


For the Tart:
  • 150g of butter
  • 95g of icing sugar
  • 30g of powdered almonds
  • 1 egg
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 pinch of salt

 For the chocolate mousse:
  • 50g single cream
  • 250g of dark chocolat (70% cocoa)
  • 60g of butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • 50g of sugar

To make the tart:

 Mix by hand the softened butter with the icing sugar and the salt. Add the powdered almonds then the egg and finally the flour. Once it has joined into a dough leave to rest for an hour in the fridge.

Roll out the dough into a thin pastry.  Stretch into your tart trays.  Prick the pastry once in the tray with a fork.

In a pre-heated oven bake the tart cases for 10minutes until golden brown.  Once cooked remove from oven and let them cool.  Leave in the tray ready to our the chocolate in!

To make chocolate mousse:
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie.  Add butter and cream and mix well.

Once the chocolate has cooled down a little add the egg yolks into the mixture.

In another bowl whip the egg whites int ostiff peaks.  Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar.

Add the stiffened egg whites into the mixture and fold gently into the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate inside each tart tray leaving at least 1cm from the top.   Place in the oven at 200 degrees.  The chocolate should remain runny and not stiffen - so 5mins should be enough.  If you over cook it though - not a problem at all - you'll still have an amazing chocolate tart - just with a less runny filling!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Churros - Argentinean Doughnut like Treat

In Argentina on any given day you can be sitting in your home or walking the streets and suddenly you will hear a weird wailing followed by a kazoo type sound!  As it gets closer you hear the familiar cry of 'Churrrrrrrrrrrosssssssss'... usually a man with a bike rides through the streets or at festivals and events, sits at a special booth to sell one of the most delicious treats in Argentine cooking!  They are something akin to a doughnut treat in our culture... not something you want to be munching on all day - but as a great treat now and again or for a party it is a delicious addition.



  • 3 cups of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of water
  • Lard for frying (great article on why Lard is so misunderstood as an ingredient don't be frightened to use in moderation for certain foods)
  • Sugar
In a bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder.  Boil the water on the stove and just when it starts to boil throw in the mixture from the bowl.  For 10 minutes stir with a wooden spoon.  Take off the heat and keep stirring until the dough starts to cool down. 

Once cool enough to touch place the mixture in a piping bag (there are special churro machines you can buy if you really get a taste for them!) other wise a piping bag does the trick.  Use an end with a straight line pattern and make about 5 cm long.  Place straight into lard which has been on heat ready to fry.  Once golden brown remove and blot on paper to remove excess oil.

The classic Churro can also be dipped in chocolate (simply melt some chocolate or use Churros with a chocolate fondue set!) divine!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Monday, January 18, 2010


We are lucky enough to have Christine from Sydney who has sent in a wonderfully traditional Australian recipe in time for Australia day next week!  This is a true classic... thanks Christine!  Do you have a special traditonal recipe you'd like to share? Send your recipe with your story to:

Christine wrote:

My mum has always been famous among her friends and family for her delicious pavlova. Growing up I would look forward to special occassions when she would whip up a pav for our guests. Now as an adult, we make them together.



  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • strawberries/ passionfruit pulp/ kiwi fruit
Note: If using a gas range set the oven at hot (450 deg F / 230 deg C) immediately you start to beat the egg whites.

Step 1: Beat egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Add sugar gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed if using an electric mixer.

Step 2: When all the sugar has been thoroughly incorporated and a stiff glossy meringue has formed, fold in the vinegar and vanilla essence.

Step 3:

• Grease some aluminium foil and cover a baking sheet. Heap the Pavlova mixture on to the foil. Mould up the sides with a spatula and make a slight depression on top. OR

• Pile the mixture into a 20cm (8 inch) greased springform tin and lightly smooth the top. OR

 • Pile the mixture into a greased 20 cm (8 inch) china flan dish.
If using a gas range turn the heat to the lowest temperature just before putting the Pavlova in to cook for 1 1/2 hours.

If using an electric oven cook the Pavlova at a low temperature (300 deg F / 150 deg C) for 45 minutes and then turn off heat and leave for 1 hour.

When cooked, remove from the oven and cool completely. Pile cream on to Pavlova and decorate with seasonal fruit.


Thanks so much Christine - will be making it for Australia Day this year - looks delicious!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cooking with Tetsuya! Japanese Cuisine Scampi, Spatchcock and Kingfish.

I had the amazing experience yesterday of being in the prescence of one of the world's top Chefs and I wanted to share some of his recipes, tips and philosophy on cooking! 

Tetsuya is originally from Japan and came to Australia over twenty years ago to start a stellar career and end up being a three hat chef!  You can find out more about Tetsuya here.  Like most immigrants Tetsuya found success with his cooking by using traditional recipes and over time combining them with new flavours of his adopted country, whilst remaining true to the simplicity and flavours of the ingredients he uses. 

I'll share with you a few of the dishes he made on the day!

New Zealand Scamp Tail, Witlof and Citrus

What Tetsuya said:

"This dish is simple tasting but easy to do at home".
"Cook Scampi on low heat (65degrees in oven) so as not to make it mushy - slow cook is better."


Serves 6

  • 6 Scampi tails
  • 2 witlof cooked in olive oil and orange
  • 1 orange
  • 100ml of olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 limes
  • 2g of choped fresh tarragon
  • Herb oil (2ml grape seed oil, chopped tarragon, chopped ginger)
  • Sat,
  • White pepper
  • Brown Sugar
  • Wakame
Mix the juice of lemon and lime with tarragon and brown sugar to taste.
Stir in olive oil.  Cut the witlof into quarters amd grill on both sides and arrange on top of wakame.
Brush the scampi tails with herb oil, season and roast on a very low heat without any colour intil just cooked (almost translucent - you don't want it white)
Place on top of the witlof and pour over a little citrus dressing.

"You can add and create dishes - not that hard - okay to experiment."
"Every Chef has a passion to cook but first a passion for eating - if you don't like eating why cook?!"

Braised Spatchcock with Olives and capers

Serves 4


  • 2 Size No. 5 spatchcock, cut into halves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika
  • Dry white wine
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons salted packed capers, rinsed
  • 20 black olives (use juice/brine that comes with them)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon of oregano, chopped
  • 100ml of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
Place spatchcock halves into a deep baking dish. skin side up.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook with the bones, it will add amazing flavour to the dish.
Pour the wine over each of the spatchcocks until the liquid reaches half way up the sides of each spatchcock.  Add water if more liquid is required.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of paprika.
Add the capers, olives, garlic and oregano to the iquid.  Let the juice or brine from the olives fall into the mixture too.
Drizzle the olive oil over each spatchcock halve and place in the pre-heated oven to cook for 45mins, or until the skin is golden and spatchcock is cooked through.
To serve, place in the centre of serving plates and spoon over a little of the liquid.

With the liquid - if you have some left over, Tetsuya recommends mopping up with crusty bread!  Another tip if you have enough juice is to cook up some pasta and serve fresh with some parsley to garnish.

Salad of Kingfish, Black Bean and Orange

Serves 6


  • 1 x 400g fillet king fish
  • 6 orange segments sliced
  • 10g chopped black beans
  • 5g baby shiso leaves
  • 2g chilli flakes
  • 3g Julienne garlic and ginger
  • 2g baby coriander leaves
  • 10ml grape seed oil
  • 3g leek batons
  • 2g chive batons
  • 10ml soy, mirin and sake
  • 5g washed wakame
  • 2g sliced scallions
  • salt

Skin the king fish and cut on an angle into 4/5mm slices
Arrange the wakame onto a large plate, place the kingfish on top
Season the fish with soy marinade.  Place all the herbs, black beans, citrus, leeks and scallions on and around the kingfish.  Heat up the grape seed oil and carefully pour over the fish.  Finish with a little olive and a little salt oil and serve.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!
Leticia (with a little help from Tetsuya!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pizza Classica - Classic Pizza

Growing up is always a tumultuous time... but I think two of the things that got me through the earlypre- teen years was Bruce Springsteen and Mum's yummy pizza on Saturday nights!  It was always such a treat for friends to come over and enjoy freshly cooked pizza from the oven with yummy salads and if we were lucky maybe a dozen empanadas!  I was lucky that mum was a huge Springsteen fan - I think I received far less treats when I moved onto Nick Cave about ten years later ;)

Pizza is one of those great classic recipes that should be a part of your cooking repertoire!  The great thing is that once you get the base perfect... the toppings are endless... and it can be whipped up so quickly... always a favourite!  There are a myriad of pizza recipes out there - this is probably the simplest I've come across and still used in my family today...


  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 3/4 cup of cold water
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tomatoes (take out the seeds) and finely chop
  • Mozzarella cheese (whole - sliced peices)
  • Green Olives
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Oil

Preheat your oven to high - around 220 degrees

Put the flour and water into a bowl and mix with your hands until a soft dough is made (if your mixture is too dry carefully add water until soft dough like).

Grab a pizza baking dish and line well with oil.  Extend the dough evenly across the baking dish.  Spread the onions, tomato and oregano evenly over the dough.  Salt to taste.

Sprinkle some oil over the top of the pizza.  Place in the oven for 20mins. 

Take out of the oven and place the sliced mozzarella cheese over the top of the pizza place the olives on top of the cheese.  Place back in the oven until the cheese is melted.  Take out of the pizza dish and cut the pizza slices!

You can of course add all sorts of toppings, far too many to list here... so experiment with your favourites - you can make endless different pizzas!

You can see the live recipe at Cocina de Mama's YouTube channel.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rueditas de Chocolates - Chocolate Wheel Cookies

There are have been a lot of incredible women on both sides of my family which have passed down wonderful culinary traditions to the new generations of cooks... one of the most treasured and reveered women in my family is my mum's aunt - Teresita.  She taught my mum almost everything she knew when it came to house keeping, crocheting, quilting and of course cooking!  One of the many, many recipes which comes from Teresitas little recipe book,  is a great cookie recipe 'Rueditas de Chocolates' which literally means Little Chocolate Wheels... Not all good things come in packs in the supermarket... there is no taste sensation more enjoyable than a warm baked cookie just out of the oven!  Give it a try... it's easier than you think!

Rueditas de Chocolates


  • 120g of butter
  • 110g of sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 block of chocolate (melted)

 Let the butter soften and add the sugar slowly mixing well.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence mixing well.  Add the milk and mix.  Add the plain flour, salt and baking powder mixing through until dough like.

Split the two into two roughly equal parts.  Take one of the dough halves and place in a bowl and add the melted chocolate to the dough and mix through. 

Roll out the plain dough into a rectangle shape.  Then roll out the chocolate dough in a roughly similar sized rectangle.  Place and gently press the plain rectangle of dough on top of the chocolate dough.  Roll the dough tightly and place some cling film around the roll of dough for a few hours.

Remove from the fridge and cut 1/2cm sized discs from the roll.  Place on a well lined tray.  Put in a pre-heated oven (180 degrees) for 10 minutes or until well cooked.  Take out of the oven, allow to cool and devour the cookie delight!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pan De Chicharrón - Savoury Bread

My aunty Mariana (dad's sister) grew up under the cullinary shadow of my grandmother - who was an amazing cook!  All her life she had to hear how amazing her mother's cooking was... when my beautiful grandmother passed away, Mariana took up the reigns and started to make all the classic meals that were so venerated in the of which is the gorgeously delicious pan de chicharrón.  I don't have an equivalent recipe to compare it to for those who haven't eaten it - but it is like a savoury bread... so delicious - I would recommend giving this one a go!.

Pan de Chicharron



  • 1kg plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of yeast
  • warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 250g of chicharron (crackling with parts of the meat still attached)
  • 1 teaspoon of lard or butter

Place in a bowl dry yeast (enough warm water as yeast pack directs) add the salt and pepper.

Place the flour in a bowl and in the centre add the crackling and lard or buttter and bit by bit add the leavened mixture working through well until a dough is formed.  Add enough warm water to make the flour dough like.  Let the dough rest and rise. 

Once mixture rises.  Make small round balls and set aside to rest for 10mins or so.  Then place the small balls in a baking pan and gently squash down so it is like a small turkish pide.  Make small cuts into the top of the bread.  Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180degrees for 15-20mins or until cooked through.

You can eat it as it is...with a dip, or with small salami bites...this is actually just divine!  As strange as it sounds- give it a try!!

Cocinar, Comer and Ser Feliz!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fiambre Aleman - Savoury Pancake Stack

Pancakes!  Many people think pancakes are only made for maple syrupy breakfast fun... but in Argentinean cooking I have seen pancakes used for many different purposes!  For super special treats sometimes mum would make pancakes with dulce de leche rolled into the middle - it was to die for... (my mouth is watering as I write this!!).  However one of the things I always remembered on festive occasions, which she was always asked to bring to other people's parties was Fiambre Aleman... translated literally it means German Ham... but in actuality it is a wonderfully easy, but incredibly flavourism, savoury pancake stack!  It was a recpe she learnt from her mum, my Grandmother Victoria.

Fiambre Aleman


  • 150g of plain flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • Milk - as needed

  • 1 red capsicum (canned is fine or roasted in oven (allow to cool down before use)
  • 1 can of tuna in oil - drained
  • 5 boiled eggs (leave one for decorating the finished fiambre)
  • 100g shredded or thinly sliced ham
  • 100 g shredded cheddar cheese
  • 100g chopped green olives
  • 3/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of chopped spanish onions
  • egg mayonnaise
Make your pancakes...mix the ingredients in a bowl, adding milk as needed to thin the mixture to a sligtly thickened pancake mix.  Pour into the pan to make thin pancakes.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with the mayonnaise. Use as much mayonnaise as necessary to make the filling moist and mix together.  If you are using sliced of ham instead of shredded ham leave to the side until ready to compile your stack.

Once the pancakes are cooled down, build your pancake stack like a lasagna. thinly spread the filling over every layer (if you are using slices of ham then place slices on every layer).  When you reach the top layer cover with mayonnaise and decorate with centred egg slices.  The Fiambre tastes great freshly made, but if you have time to leave it overnight - it's even better!  it gathers all the flavours and the pancakes soak up the moisture and flavour of the filling.

Simple - yet scrumptious!

You can see the live recipe at Cocina de Mama's YouTube Channel.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Yemista - Traditional Ladino Recipe Stuffed Capsicum/Bell Peppers

Happy New Year!

I am thrilled to add to the blog today a recipe from Deb from California who wrote in with a special family recipe her grandmother used to make!  Do you have a special traditonal recipe you'd like to share?  Send your recipe with your story to:

Deb wrote:
All of my "family recipes" are favorites from my Ladino side -- mostly from my maternal grandmother and great aunt. The Ladino people are essentially Greek Jews from Spain -- when Ferdinand and Isabella had their little party they called The Inquisition, they basically told all the Jews living in Spain that they could leave the country, convert to Catholicism, or be killed. So yeah, the Jews left the building. Many of them settled in what was then the Ottoman Empire and later became Greece. And despite the intervening 500ish years, modern-day Sephardic Jews in Greece still spoke Spanish at home. (In fact, my grandma spoke 4 languages before coming to the US: Ladino at home, Greek in the streets, French at school, and Hebrew in synagogue. English kinda stayed a big hot mess for her in her late adulthood.) Ladino itself is a funky mix of circa-1500 Spain-spanish, Greek, Turkish, and Hebrew. It's actually written in Hebrew script and read from right to left just like Hebrew...but when you actually pronounce the words, they sound like Spanish. So reading a Ladino prayer book or poem is kinda trippy!

Ladino culture is defined by its songs, poetry and of course FOOD. The food is very mediterranean; Greek dishes with a turkish or spanish influence. In that vein, you don't see a lot of spices or added seasonings in Ladino food -- it's all about tasting your base ingredients. 500 years of Ladinos could totally roll with that; fresh meats and veggies from your local butchers & farmers, backyard or windowbox gardens, and a general affinity for fresh, high-quality foods (at the best price possible, of course -- we're still jews! ;^) really makes the cuisine pop. If you're just shopping at a local big box market like Coles or Safeway, your flavor mileage may vary. You've been warned; shop at your farmers' market for this dish!


Yemistas are traditionally stuffed bell peppers (Capsicum), but you can also stuff tomatoes. I just like how it sounds like you're saying "yummy stuff" when you talk about them. This dish is also sometimes called, more plainly, domates de pipryia -- stuffing of peppers.

  • 6 bell peppers (capiscum) - I recommend red ones for better flavor
  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey, or chicken, or skip the meat entirely and used canned garbanzo beans or white beans or other protein source that isn't too dry)
  • 1/2 cup raw rice, rinsed (brown = healthier, but can take longer to cook)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, leaves only
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • tomato paste (store-bought or you-made); 4 tablespoons and up (depending on how wet your protein is to start with)

 Cut out the stem end of each bell pepper with a short knife

Scoop out & discard seeds and ribs

Mix together the beef (or chicken or beans), rice, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Stuff each pepper about 3/4 full (to allow for the rice to expand) and put 'em in an oiled baking dish

Mix the water and tomato paste together.

Pour a few splashes of the mixture into each pepper, and put the rest in the baking dish around the peppers.

Cover the baking dish (with tinfoil or other) and cook on high at 200 degrees for about 45 mins. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve warm, perhaps with extra tomato yumminess on the side.

You basically cook it until the rice is done but before the bell peppers lose their sweet just-cooked smell. I usually tend to overdose each bell pepper with tomato sauce; erring on the side of slightly weaker (more cooked, more collapsible) bell peppers but thoroughly cooked rice.


Thanks so much for sharing your recipe-memory Deb - sounds scrumptious!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz
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