May 15, 2012

Lomo Saltado

This is not a vegetarian recipe.  This is an authentic Peruvian recipe, made on Mother's Day by my adorable Peruvian sister-in-law with some help from me and our two husbands.

Start your rice.  It's made in a similar fashion to the Brazilian rice, only with 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and no onion.  She used a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups water....and we made it for 16 people so it was a HUGE pot.

Next, cut your beef into strips (think stir fry) and place in a bowl.  Add some chopped garlic, soy sauce and salt.  Stir it around until it's all mixed together and then, when nobody is looking, swipe your finger into the blood on the side of the bowl and taste if it's salty enough.  Or not.  You can be 'truly authentic' or not.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  We used almost 3 lbs of beef for 16 people, 7 of them being children so make your best guess on how much you'll need for the number of people you're feeding.

Start peeling potatoes like crazy.  Enlist the help of the whole family.  As you peel them, put them into a bowl of cold water so they don't get all brown and yucky looking.  When you have a few pounds peeled, slice them into french fry sizes and lay out on towels to dry just a tiny bit.  Heat some oil in a skillet then start the never-ending process of frying the potatoes.  Remove them to a pan/bowl/whatever with some paper towels to absorb some oil.  Salt.  We used almost 10 pounds and ended up hating potatoes by the end.  To make this for my family of 6 I'd probably used 2 to 3 pounds.

While you're frying the potatoes, start chopping some red or green peppers and slicing some onions and tomatoes.  You want the peppers in medium sized chunks, the onions in medium-ish slivers (cut from top to bottom, not across the middle) and the tomatoes in wedges (Romas work well for this).  Chop up a bunch of cilantro while you're at it.  You can also use zucchini cut into slices.

Fry the meat you had marinating in the fridge.  You may have to do this in batches in order to get it browned on the outside.  You want to sear the meat, not boil it.  Remove it to a bowl when done.

Once the potatoes are done, remove any extra oil, leaving a thin layer across the bottom.  Add the peppers and cook for a few minutes until medium soft.  Add the onions and stir them around for another 2 or 3 minutes.  You want them tender crisp, not soggy.  Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.  Now dump the meat and fried potatoes into the skillet with the vegetables.  Throw the cilantro on top.  Make sure it's a big skillet.  Stir around and turn off the heat.

To serve, put some rice on your plate then top with the beef/potato/veggie mixture or lomo saltado as we call it.

Heave a big sigh that you're finally able to get out of the hot kitchen.....then enjoy some seriously delicious food.  Then go back for seconds.  And feel free to grab a bite of food from the skillet every time you walk through the kitchen.  Hug your sister-in-law and try to convince her to move to Nebraska.  Then snitch another bite from the skillet.

May 7, 2012

Menu for May - 5th to 12th

In trying to maintain our "meat twice a week" idea (now that we've reached the warmer months), this is the planned menu for the week:

Tacos - grass-fed ground beef with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, cucumbers, avocados, sauerkraut, salsa, and sweet hot chili sauce

Vegetable Lo Mein, fruit

Lasagna, lettuce salad, fruit

Main dish salad with roasted potatoes - we'll probably include the following in small bowls and each person can add what they want:  carrots, tomatoes, avocado, feta cheese, olives, sauerkraut, croutons, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, sweet peppers, craisins/raisins....there are TONS of options, these are just the ones we like

Bean tostadas - with the same toppings as the tacos above, fruit

Brazilian Black Beans and rice, lettuce salad, fruit

Indian-spiced Lentils (without the chicken), rice, naan or tortillas, raw carrots, fruit

Vegetarian Lo Mein

We made this for dinner yesterday and it was super yummy.

Add whatever veggies you want to a large skillet/pan and sauté until just barely cooked or soft, it depends on how you like them.

I used:
shredded cabbage (a mixture of red and green)
onion (sliced thin)
matchstick carrots

other great ideas would be:
snow peas
yellow squash
greens - spinach, chard or kale
bell peppers
bean sprouts
green onions
Napa cabbage
Bok Choy

I cooked the onions until rather soft, then added the rest and cooked until a littler softer than crisp.  I used a combination of coconut oil and water to keep them from burning/sticking.

When they were done I added cooked, drained noodles to the pan (any kind will do....and for my family I used the full package).  To this I added half a bottle of Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce and stirred until heated through and the veggies were mixed in.

We had enough to feed everyone (with a few seconds) and two helpings of leftovers for lunch the next day.

This was super fast, super easy and very tasty.  Not to mention mostly healthy.

May 1, 2012

Brazilian Black Beans and Rice

This is my secret recipe for Brazilian black beans and rice.  I learned how to make it looking over the shoulder of many a Brazilian woman so I don't have exact quantities....they don't use them and I never learned how.  So this is a recipe and a cultural lesson.  I should also add that I lived in Rio Grande do Sul so I make southern-style beans and rice.

For the rice - 
Chop an onion (medium to large based on the amount of people you need to feed).  Fry it in a pan with some oil or butter until soft and lightly browned.  If you want to add a few cloves of garlic, do so now and only cook for a minute.  Add the raw rice and some salt.  (To test for saltiness, stir the raw rice with the salt and onions then cool a small amount and place it in your mouth.  If it tastes salty, you're good.  If not, add a bit more salt.)  Stir the rice around until the grains have turned a light brown color.  Add the water, cover and reduce heat.  Allow to cook for 20 to 30 minutes then check to see if liquid is absorbed.  If not, cover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes.  If all the water is absorbed but the rice is still crunchy, add a bit of water, cover and cook until soft.

For my family of six, we use 2 to 4 cups of rice then twice the amount of water.  So if I use 3 cups of rice I use 6 cups of water.

You could just cook the rice in a rice cooker, but the Brazilians I know rarely do this.  Most of you reading this aren't Brazilian so do what you want!

For the black beans -
You can use either canned or homemade black beans.  Start with cooked, however you get them.  Chop an onion, medium to large and fry in oil or butter.  Yep, do it again!  Once the onion is soft and lightly browned add a garlic clove or two.  Cook for one minute.  Add the black beans and heat through, stirring every few minutes.  Salt to taste.  You can leave these thick or thin them out a bit by adding some water and mashing about half of them.  Some people eat them thin like a gravy or sauce, others keep them looking like beans.  You can alternately use garlic powder instead of the garlic cloves, and onion powder instead of the onion.

Most Brazilians use a pressure cooker for their beans, but I've never owned one so I use the stovetop method.  If you do pressure cook your beans, and want an authentic flavor, add the cooked onions.

To eat it all -
We serve this with beans on the plate, rice on the side.  Sometimes we put the beans on top of the rice like a gravy.  Very often they will fry eggs and put it on top of the beans and rice....usually with a slightly runny yolk so it creates a type of sauce.

Often this is eaten with salted tomato slices or a tomato onion salad.  To make the salada de tomate (tomato salad) slice an onion (yes, another one!!!) and place it in cold water.  Let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes to take out some of the "bite".  Drain.  Add a sliced tomato or three, salt, then add a sprinkling of olive oil and vinegar.  Taste it as you go.  You want a salty, vinegary taste that doesn't overpower.

Another way to eat the beans is to put them over french fries, homemade if possible and usually with a fried egg on top of it all.

Bom apetite!