Favorites

I made 236 different recipes last year. When I went down the list to find favorites, I thought it would be hard to even get a top ten so I was really surprised when I ended up with twenty. I knew I had made a lot of good food but I didn’t I’d made that much that left such a great impression.

Here are my favorite meals from last year. They are not in order of preference. They’re in alphabetical order by country because I just went down the list of Categories and I am not taking the time to rank all of them. Sorry. Most of them are on the easy level so if you want a good, fairly quick meal (under an hour) most of these should work.

Fugazetta – Argentina I will never see stuffed pizza the same after this.

Moules Frites – Belgium This meal made me fall in love with mussels.

Black Bean and Sausage Soup – Brazil Probably one of the simplest meals I made all year. Probably why it’s a favorite.

Cumin Spiced Lamb – China Same for this one.

Tamales de Pipian – Colombia I can’t wait to eat this again!

Stamppot – Netherlands I’m totally incorporating this into Thanksgiving dinner.

Panes Rellenos – El Salvador I want to visit El Salvador just to be able to eat these things again.

Chicken Theresa – Germany Another very easy dinner. Not very healthy but who cares?

Murg Purdina – India You would think that the Masala Dosa would be my favorite since I was and am so proud of being able to make it but this Murg Purdina and the accompanying Methi Aloo far surpass it.

Shakshuka – Israel Oh man, I think I might host a brunch just to have the excuse to share this amazing dish with people!

Gamja Saelleodeu – Korea I’m seriously waiting for the next barbecue pot luck to take this dish and blow everyone’s mind with it!

Harira – Morocco This dish made me like lamb.

Chicken Sekuwa – Nepal The previous post already explained my love for this.

Arroz con Chancho – Peru I’ve made this a couple of times since I first made it. It’s that easy and that good!

Ceebu Jen – Senegal I love this meal because it got my kids to eat fish. And veggies. All at once!

Shrimp Curry – Sri Lanka This made the list not just because it was tasty but because also because of its versatility. I made it a few days later but with chicken and it was just as great!

Pork Meatloaf Stir Fry – Thailand This is now how I make pork meatloaf.

Chicken in Pandan Leaves – Thailand This meal introduced me to and made me fall in love with pandan leaves.

Kiymali Pide – Turkey Another pizza and soooo good!

Sister’s Stew – Westeros This meal taught me that not all fish soups are gross and for that, I am grateful. I also got semi-drunk making the bread bowl.

 

 

 

Year In Review

I am finally getting around to my last post! I spent the last month really focusing on training for the half marathon I ran this past Sunday so this post took a back seat. To be honest, I put this post in the trunk and forgot it. It started stinking recently and I finally looked back there and found it so I decided I should probably air it out.

The first thing people asked when I told them what I was doing was “What’s been your favorite?” The second was “What’s been the worst?” followed by “What have you learned?” So let me go ahead and answer those questions.

“What’s been your favorite?”

I made a lot of food last year, 236 recipes to be exact. Despite making A LOT of good food, my favorite meal was actually from the beginning. I thought that it would change throughout the year because there was so much to choose from but nope, it was and is still Chicken Sekuwa from Nepali week. I think James will argue it’s my favorite because it was our first meal after the disaster that was Finnish week (I think just answered the second question) and coming off that, a grilled cheese would have been delectable but I disagree. I mean, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the week before was spent training our gag reflex but this meal was really amazing! I just re-read the post and I don’t think it gave it justice. You will have to click on the recipe portion to get more praise because this meal was made when I was still on Blogger and when I transferred over to Squarespace, I broke the posts into two portions. Anyway, it was much better than I gave it credit it for. Yes, the meat was tender but I think the true essence of the meal was in the yogurt sauce and those flippin’ pickled onions! It was creamy and a little tart and salty and overall amazing.

There were others I loved a lot, nineteen others actually, but Chicken Sekuwa was number one. I’ll post the other nineteen in a separate post but don’t worry, it’ll just be a list.

“What’s been the worst?”

I’ve sort of already answered this…To be fair to the Finnish people who will probably never read this, not all of Finnish week was bad. The Summer Vegetable Soup, the Spinach Pancakes, and the Carrot Casserole were all things I enjoyed that week but I will say, the Liver Casserole did cast quite the black cloud over the whole week. Part of the reason we did this project was to get out of our comfort zone and try new things. We all get in our food ruts and we were tired of eating the same things over and over again. Also, sometimes we shelter ourselves and don’t want to try “the other” because we’re conditioned to stick with things that are similar to ourselves and are wary of different things. This is just being human, we have all experienced this at some point in our lives and we can blame our neanderthal ancestors for instilling in us a fear of the unknown but we wanted to get away from that. So we tried liver. And we hated it. But at least we tried it and that says something, right? There were other meals that disappointed me but I can’t think of any that I just could not stomach after a few bites like with this casserole. So sorry Liver Casserole, we tried. I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t you, it was most definitely you. You’re gross. Sorry.

“What have you learned?”

Where to begin?

Probably the biggest thing I learned was that 250 ml equal 8 oz, or one cup, and how to use my measuring cup. I can’t think of any time before this that I used a recipe that measured things in millileters because 1. I apparently didn’t know that the other side of my measuring cup had millileter measurements and 2. I would just find a recipe that measured in cups. Because I’m stupid. I am not a detail oriented person and never read the small print; this will inevitably be the cause of my downfall.

Which brings me to the second most important thing I learned: the importance of reading THE ENTIRE RECIPE. I don’t know how many times I got frustrated because I didn’t read the entire recipe when planning and then came cooking day and I was like “Man, I was supposed to marinate this stuff for four hours…” or “Oh, this says to let this sit for two days..people will be here in thirty minutes…” So now I read everything and I make notes because I will still probably forget whatever I just read because my memory sucks.

So it goes.

I didn’t do a full fifty-two weeks of cooking like I had originally planned; I ended up doing thirty-eight.

38 countries.

122 meals.

236 recipes.

So no, I didn’t do what I set out to but I did what I could and I’m okay with that. And that’s probably the biggest lesson out of this entire thing, learning to give myself a little grace. I am not a driven person, I am the first to admit that, and I often start projects without finishing them. James recently said that I’m good at starting things but I’m not good at grinding it out and finishing them. I agree with that 1000% percent. And you would think that with me accepting this flaw, I wouldn’t beat myself up about it but I do. And sometimes I should because not finishing things is a horrible habit and should not be encouraged but overall, I need to just give myself a break.

I have a lot going on, we all do, and as we continue on this journey, we will never not have something going on, so we do what we can and move on. It doesn’t mean we don’t fulfill commitments but it does mean that we don’t let it get to us that we can’t give it our all. Because you can’t give your all to everything or everyone, it’s impossible. You’ll have nothing left for yourself or to give in the future so give a little and be okay with it. And on the flip side of that, we should be appreciative of those who give us a little because sometimes it’s a struggle to even do that and we need to be grateful that they care enough to do that much for us.

So thank you for giving me a little of your time last year. Some of our best experiences last year were cooking for our friends or just talking about this and having people share their cooking experiences with us. I’ve made so many connections just by talking about food and it wasn’t just with foodies or professionals. Everyone eats, everyone cooks, we all like food, so yeah, thank you for sharing all that with me.

Coq au Vin with Parsley Potatoes and Buttered Peas and Butter Spongecake

We have reached the end!! Actually we reached the end about a month ago, on December 17th, but I’ve had a crazy month. As I mentioned before, the girls were home for two weeks during the holiday break and then it took me another two weeks to get myself situated. I have attempted to sit and post for almost two weeks but my days have just gotten away from me so here I am. A month late. I know my posting has been sporadic for the past few months but to be honest, my heart has not been fully into this project. Things started to get really hectic around September and I think that’s when I started to lose a bit of interest in this. It’s just been hard to prioritize something that ultimately is just an option, a luxury. I’m grateful that I’ve been allowed to do this but when I look at the bigger picture it’s just not as important as other things in our lives. I’m glad I stuck with it but I’m also glad it’s over.

I ended up only doing two French meals for French week. I had originally planned on doing three but I forgot to marinate the meat for another dish so I just skipped it. This meal took a total of six hours to make so, you know, I think I can be forgiven.

We had our friends Jay and Rick over for dinner, as well as my cousin Robert. Jay and his friend Paul have a podcast,  Have You Seen This One? where each week they recommend a movie for the other to watch and then review the movies. A few months ago Jay and I got the idea to combine forces and watch an international movie to accompany my cooking. Originally we talked about doing it for Italian week but the three of us couldn’t get our schedules together. We settled on French week and chose The Absolutely Fabulous Movie. Jay and I are huge AbFab fans and the way we justified this movie for French week was that it takes place in the French Riviera. I know, it’s a bit of a stretch but both of us had already seen many of the other French movies we considered and, honestly, we just wanted an excuse to watch AbFab.

So the one thing I finally learned from this project was to plan ahead and to do as much prep work as possible beforehand. It happened too many times where I was like “Oh, that won’t take long because chopping the veggies will take five minutes and blah blah blah” and then it’s time to make dinner, guests are on their way, and I’m still chopping veggies after twenty minutes. Not this time! I made the dessert (a butter spongecake with chocolate-rum icing) and peeled the onions for the coq a vin the day before and early the morning of, I made the appetizer (roquefort cheese balls). I am positive this saved SO MUCH TIME. It also helped that James was home the day before so I was able to spend some much needed time in the kitchen. I also set the table almost seven hours before our guests arrived and that too helped.

I had never made a butter spongecake, or any kind of spongecake, before so this was fun. I think I’ve mentioned I’m not the best when it comes to baking because for some reason measured ingredients and I do not get along. I feel like baking involves a lot of chemistry and although I was pretty good at chemistry, I’m a D student at best when it comes to baking. I made the sign of the cross, lit a candle, and got to it. OMG, I was nervous. I think I read the recipe about four different times, kept reading every single step before and after completing it, and was just very thorough. As I poured the batter into the cake pan I thought to myself “If this doesn’t work, I’m breaking something.” The good thing was I had to wait until the next evening to find out if it worked out so nothing was broken that day.

Jay, Rick, and Robert were arriving at 7:30 so around 4, I started cooking my coq au vin. I had to cut up a chicken, which up until this point I hated doing because it always took me forever to do it, but I guess I’d done it so many times throughout the year that it literally took me five minutes to cut up the chicken. FIVE MINUTES! This was a huge ego boost for me and was a great way to start dinner making. I have a pretty good self-esteem as it is so you can only imagine how much “OH YEAH!” and dancing took place after this. It will remain one of the highlights of my year.

The coq au vin wasn’t too difficult to make, really. The most difficult part was lighting the cognac and shaking the Dutch oven until the flame subsided. James really enjoyed that and even filmed it for FB. I was just happy I didn’t burn anything or myself. Low expectations are the key to a happy life! To accompany the coq au vin, I made parsley potatoes and buttered peas. A note on the peas.

The recipe states “In France it is usually accompanied only by parsley potatoes; buttered green peas could be included if you wish a green vegetable.” I laughed when I read this because I could just hear the disdain in Julia Child’s voice. If you wish…just a little eye rolling there. So yeah, I made buttered peas and they were delicious Julia!

Instead of par-boiling the onions, which is an option and one many people seem to prefer, I baked them. I think this made the dish richer and more flavorful but I have no real evidence to back this up other than my happy tummy and those of my guests.

So I was done cooking everything, placed everything in their serving dishes, and I looked at the clock and it was seven. THIRTY MINUTES EARLY! I was so proud of myself! I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal but every single time I’d made food for friends during the year, I was cooking up until the minute they arrived or still cooking after they arrived. It made for a very frantic greeting and I think the food suffered a bit as well. I couldn’t give my guests or the food the attention they deserved and it was very nerve-wracking. But not this time because by now I was a pro!

The food was amazing! The cheese balls were very strong but that was expected because it was blue cheese. Pairing it with bagel crisps helped but I ate about three or four by themselves. I also love blue cheese so that might have just been me loving on the bleu. The potatoes? Yum. They weren’t too soft or too hard, they were the right texture and flavor. The peas? I love peas and I love butter so I ate a few spoonfuls. Now, what everyone really cares about: the coq a vin. If I were choosing the meals for my last week on earth, this would be Wednesday’s meal. Chicken Sekuwa would be Thursday’s meal, Moules Frites would be Thursday’s, and Frito Pie would be my last meal on Saturday. Hey, I don’t want to hear it. Frito Pie is fucking amazing and if you look down on it, it says more about you than me. That’s all I gotta say about that.

The onions and mushrooms were to diiiiiiiie for! The onions literally fell apart in my mouth; I barely had to chew them. They were so buttery and soft! I’m basically drooling just thinking about them. The chicken was so tender and juicy and my goodness, I want to eat this again. Everything was just perfection and it shouldn’t have been surprising because it’s one of Julia Child’s most famous recipes and this is why. It was just so freaking good!

This was the spongecake the day after. I forgot to take a pic of it that evening; let’s blame the six bottles of wine and two bottles of champagne for my forgetfulness…As you can see, nothing was broken so it turned out well. Even with it being a day old, it was surprisingly moist. I’m pretty sure that was because of all the butter and eggs.

So with full bellies and brains starting to float in booze, we sat down to watch AbFab. If you’d like to hear our review (and I know you do) please check out Jay and Paul’s podcast. My bit starts at the 45 minute mark.

So that’s it, my last meal! I’m going to start working on my Year In Review and with my track record, you can expect it some time next month. Also, it looks like I’ll have to post the actual recipes because I can’t find them online anywhere and that always takes forever. Until then!

Chicken Breasts in Cream and Buttered Carrots and Asparagus

We are finally at the last week of cooking! Actually, we were there about a month ago but it’s taken me a while to catch up.

I saved French week for the very end because French food is so revered and is viewed by many as the best. I’ll save my thoughts on that perspective for another post but it’s safe to say, I was a believer before taking on this project. I knew it would be time consuming and it would require a lot of knowledge and effort so that’s why I saved it for the end. I figured that by the end of it, I would be a much better cook and would have some extra skills that would help me take on the Goliath of international cuisine.

One of my birthday gifts from James was Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.  I’ve always wanted to buy this cookbook but I couldn’t ever justify spending $30 on it. I don’t know why; it’s huge, it’s a classic, it wasn’t ever going to be any cheaper, but I just couldn’t do it. But what I could do was ask someone else to buy it for me as a gift so when James took me to Book People for my birthday and said I could buy whatever I wanted (within reason) I grabbed this one and handed it over! Thanks James!

This cookbook is WORTH $30. It’s worth a lot more but $30 is a good starting point. I feel dumb praising it because I’m sure so many people are already aware of how great and amazing this cookbook is and you’re probably like “Yeah dummy, that’s why it’s a classic!” but I didn’t know until I owned it. It shows you how to do everything! The difference between chopping and dicing vegetables, the different ways to ice a cake, the reasoning behind using certain utensils, and (my favorite part) what to serve alongside your main dishes. This was extremely helpful and I wish more cookbooks did this, especially when you’re dealing with foreign cuisine. If every recipe had done this during my months long project, I would have done a lot less research in putting my meals together. I could have saved so much time! So yes, if you can, add this to your library. It’s most definitely worth it.

For the first night I chose an easy dinner of chicken breasts in cream and veggies of asparagus and carrots. I needed a meal that was easy and quick because that week was a little hectic. The recipe called for boneless chicken breasts but for some reason I bought bone-in chicken breasts. I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference, and it didn’t in terms of flavor, but it might have in cooking time. The recipe said to cook the chicken for a total of eight minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. I was a little skeptical of this because I’ve never had chicken cook so quickly but I tried it anyway. Yeah, eight minutes later, my chicken was still a little pink. Gross. It ended up taking almost twenty minutes for the chicken to be cooked but thankfully it just sat in the oven so I was able to do other things. I looked around online and this seems to a be a common problem so either Julia Childs and the French don’t mind eating undercooked chicken or she and the French have some high powered oven that is not available in the US. Also, the recipe said to cover the chicken in buttered wax paper. I have yet to figure out the purpose of this and I also couldn’t find an explanation in the cookbook so if any of you know the benefit of this, please share.

I didn’t really do anything special with the asparagus, just blanched them and then rolled in butter, but I did follow a recipe in the book for buttered carrots. It wasn’t complicated and it didn’t call for different ingredients but it did involve preparing the carrots in a way I hadn’t done before. I basically boiled the carrots and yes, I have done that before BUT not with sugar water. That sugar water made a huge difference because those carrots came out fantastic! Of course they were sweet but they were so yummy!

This meal was a great way to start French week! The chicken was, of course, creamy and rich and I couldn’t stop eating it. Both of the girls also ate this meal and I think this is when the baby fell in love with carrots because she’s been requesting them ever since. I made a pot roast with potatoes and carrots last night and all she ate were the carrots. I’m expecting lots of orange poop today.

 

Ribollita

When I was meal planning for Italian week I knew I wanted to make a soup because we were expecting a cold front that week. I’m weird in that I prefer to eat soup when it’s cold outside. Eating soup when it’s warm or hot outdoors makes me feel really gross because I feel like it heats my insides to match my outside and yes, I know it’s crazy, but that’s how I feel. And don’t even get me started on cold soups. I don’t care how many great cold soups there are out there and how you think I’m missing out, I don’t buy it. Soup should be hot. End of story. Well, my story, at least. If you want to incorporate cold soup into your story, go for it, you’re the author. I’ll just skip that chapter when I’m reading your book.

So anyway, we were expecting a cold front that would lower the temps into the thirties so I knew it was perfect soup weather! Googling “Italian soup” brought up a lot of what I’ve seen at Olive Garden or soups with sausage but I was craving something veggie so when I found the recipe for ribollita, I was really happy! Ribollita, which roughly translates to “reboiled,” is another peasant dish that originated in Tuscany. It’s main ingredients are leftover bread, cannellini beans, and kale; preferably you would use Tuscan bread and kale but, yeah, use what you can! It’s also best eaten after it’s been sitting out for a couple of days but I obviously didn’t go that route. I had some the next day for lunch and I don’t think it was any better than the night before. Probs because I didn’t use Tuscan anything…

Since I knew I’d need days old bread, it gave me an excuse to bake my favorite loaf of bread, an Italian crusty bread. I first made this bread about four years ago and I found the recipe on some survivalist website. Don’t ask why I was on that website…Anyway, I bookmarked the recipe on my phone and always meant to print it out but never did. Then I got a new phone and lost it! I searched and searched and couldn’t ever find the exact recipe I used before but I did find one that was pretty close and have used it since. I love this bread mostly because I don’t have to knead it. I HATE kneading bread because I have zero upper body strength and I’m impatient. Kneading bread requires both strength and patience. So yeah, no kneading but you do need time because it has to sit and proof for twelve to eighteen hours before you can bake it. The recipe I now use is a little tougher than the first one but it makes the bread perfect for soups. So I baked my bread about two days in advance and then got to soup making!

It doesn’t get any easier than this recipe but it is time consuming. Thankfully it doesn’t require much attention so much of the time spent is just letting the soup boil but if you’re looking for a quick fix, this is not the recipe for you. I didn’t include chard like the recipe suggested but I doubt it made a difference. I also added cheese to my soup because I read “This soup is traditionally served without Parmigiano-Reggiano” as PUT ALL THE CHEESE ON YOUR SOUP.

This soup was perfection! It was so very cold that day and this soup warmed up the house and us and we were all so happy after eating it! Yeah, the girls even ate this! The four year old pulled out every piece of kale and mostly ate the beans, bread, and carrots but she ate it and that’s what counts! It was a little creamy and I think that was due to the pureed beans and the soft potatoes. It had a slight buttery flavor which, again, I’m putting on the beans and maybe even the kale. The kale really softened up and lost all of its tough texture, which was nice. I will definitely make this again and if I am on a time crunch, I’m gonna buck tradition and use canned beans. I’m sorry but, c’mon, how often do I have four and a half hours to make dinner???

Recipe, Recipe

Carbonara

*Spoilers ahead for Netflix’s “Master of None” so if you’re not caught up on that show or haven’t watched it (in which case, what’s wrong with you?!), skip this post until you have*

At the end of Netflix’s “Master of None” Aziz Ansari’s character, Dev, makes fresh carbonara and this leads to the discovery that he’s really good at it so he moves to Italy to learn how to make pasta. Ever since I saw that episode, the show premiered in November of 2015, I’d been craving homemade carbonara. I’d never even eaten carbonara but Aziz/Dev made it look delicious so I was like “I gotta get on that!” When we decided to embark on this project, one of the things I was certain about was I was going to make carbonara during Italian week. I had originally hoped to make the pasta myself, just like Dev (!), but after the ramen disaster, I decided to buy my spaghetti pasta and then just focus on getting the best ingredients.

Carbonara is considered a peasant’s dish and due to that, it’s very simple. It consists of pasta, eggs, cheese, and bacon. That’s it. I guess some people add cream to it but from what I’ve read, that’s a big no-no. Also, some people add peas? Gross. Peas are delicious but I don’t think they would work with this dish unless you get fresh peas and who has fresh peas?! Anyway, I couldn’t get fresh eggs because our farmer’s market is only open on Saturdays and I planned on making this meal later in the week so the eggs would lose their freshness; same thing with the cheese. With all that, I made it my mission to get the best bacon possible! Most of the recipes I saw suggested using guanciale bacon and I was going to drive into central Austin and buy some but then I remembered my HEB sells pancetta, which is a decent alternative, and my HEB is only two miles away. Central Austin, with traffic, is a half hour away. I think you know where I ended up…Well I should have made the damn trek because my HEB didn’t have pancetta, for TWO DAYS IN A ROW. I was very frustrated but not so frustrated as to actually drive into town so I ended up buying regular bacon.

The biggest obstacle in making carbonara is making sure the eggs don’t scramble when you add the egg/cheese mixture to the pasta. The way to avoid this is to stir very quickly and add water when needed. I followed the recipe exactly and I did not end up with scrambled eggs. Look at that! I’m a mini-Dev!

It was so good, so, so good! It was saltier than I expected and even though I didn’t used to be a fan of salty food, that changed over the course of the year. Because of that, I loved this dish, salt and all! It wasn’t overpowering but just more than I expected. It was creamy and I loved the crunchiness of the bacon here and there. The girls gobbled it up but I knew they would because it was pasta. Those girls love their carbs!

Definitely check out Master of None and then celebrate your binge-watching by making this dish. It will make all that time sitting on the sofa worth it!

Recipe

Manicotti

Seeing as how we had eaten so much Italian influenced food during Argentina week, it only made sense to follow it up with Italian week. We’ve had our fair share of Italian food so it was difficult to find things we hadn’t eaten. When I’ve had difficulty finding recipes in the past, I’ve turned to friends who have first hand knowledge of the cuisine so this go around, I contacted my friend Kym for some help.

I actually “met” Kym through her husband, Tim, and I “met” Tim through our blogs over ten years ago. Yep, we’re cyber friends! If memory serves me well, Tim and Kym weren’t even engaged when I met him but I think they got engaged shortly after. Regardless, it’s been awesome to see their journey and it’s probably been the same for them watching mine and James’. Now that I think about it, I’ve turned to Kym numerous times for advice on things like planning our wedding, getting things ready for the birth of the girls, and how to survive parenthood. Kym, you have been a fountain of knowledge and I appreciate you so much! Thank you!!!

This manicotti recipe is one Kym uses with a few changes.  For the filling she uses two pounds full fat ricotta, half pound shredded mozarella, a half pound pecorino-romano, and two eggs. She also adds oregano and basil to her mixture but did mention that’s not necessary if you’re using a flavored sauce. You can use pre-made tomato sauce but it’s really easy to make your own so I highly recommend it. I always make my own sauce from a can of San Marzano tomatoes (pricier but worth it for the flavor), garlic, S&P, and oregano and basil. If I’m feeling frisky, I add in shredded parmesan. Oh, and she also doesn’t use oil in the crepe batter. She said the key is to make the batter thin enough to where you can put a spoon in it and the batter pours out.

I’d never made crepes before but I made masala dosa (I will never stop bragging about that) and they’re basically one and the same so I wasn’t worried. My batter came out thin just from following the recipe and Kym’s note to not add oil so I was grateful for that. It took a few crepes before I got good at making them a decent round shape but once I did, I was on a roll. The recipe said it makes 24 crepes and it was not wrong, I got exactly 24. Then it was just a matter of filling them and baking them. I will note that the recipe says this will feed eight to ten people but there were only four of us so I halved the recipe for the filling.

So my manicotti didn’t come out looking like the pictures on the recipe but they were still delicious. When I posted on Instagram and FB, I mentioned they looked like enchiladas and Kym said they’re basically Italian enchiladas so yay, I got it right! The girls love tortillas, like LOOOOVE tortillas, so the way I got them to eat the manicotti was by telling them they were stuffed tortillas. I think they each ate half a manicotti and then asked if they could just eat the tortillas; they each ate about three.

These things were filling but they were so good! I thought they would be harder to make but it was actually pretty easy. Yeah making the crepes took some time but whatever, it wasn’t terrible. I had about twelve crepes leftover and I refrigerated them in the hopes of using them for breakfast crepes a couple of days later but that didn’t happen. But just so you know, you can refrigerate them for up to a week and freeze them for up to six months so it’s not a complete waste of food.

Thanks to Kym, the first night of Italian week was amazing! I’m definitely saving this recipe because it’s so easy and it’s way better than using the pre-made shells. Also, I learned how to make crepes.

Recipe

Gaucho Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Chocotarte

I once again do not have pictures of this meal but I have a pretty good excuse: we had company and I was too busy enjoying them and the food to remember to take pictures. Also, booze. So much booze. Like three bottles of wine and two six packs of beer. It was worth it!

The day started out not so awesome. My plan was to make gaucho steak, marinated eggplant, roasted potatoes, and chocotarte for desert. As I was prepping the eggplant, I read the last sentence “Let marinate for at least two days in the refrigerator for best results.” People always ask what I learned from the project. Well, this was week forty something and I still hadn’t learned how to read the entire recipe! So the marinated eggplant turned into roasted eggplant. Then something else happened with the potatoes but I don’t remember what…I ended up scrapping that recipe and making Raviv’s Potatoes. Raviv was our neighbor in Houston and he would always make these awesome roasted potatoes for barbecues. It’s a super simple recipe: make a spice mixture of cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and S&P, dice potatoes, toss in oil and spice mixture, bake in the oven at 350 for forty minutes. At this point I was irritated with myself and the clock was ticking!

Another setback was the steak prep. I had planned on grilling the steak outdoors but then it decided to be really cold and rainy that night so I had to improvise and use the broiler in our oven. The problem with that was I didn’t have a baking sheet wide enough to fit all two and half pounds of flank steak so I had to divy it up onto two pans and then rotate the pans every few minutes so the meat would get the direct heat from the broiler. It wouldn’t have been so bad had we not already had our guests and their four kids over. Trying to talk to people and going back and forth from the kitchen is not fun.

But anyway, we finally got the kids down, gave them pizza, and then sat down ourselves to enjoy our dinner. It was good but it was meh. The thing was I’d had my roasted eggplant and Raviv’s potatoes before so there was nothing surprising there. The steak was decent but a little boring. I don’t think the chili water made all that big of a difference in the flavor. Everyone else said it was great but I was unimpressed.

What did impress me, however, was the chocotarte. I had made it earlier in the day and was a little skeptical about it. I had to soak chocolate wafers in milk and then make layers of wafers and a mixture of cream cheese and carmelized milk. I was just worried it was going to be really thin because wafers are thin. Well I guess that milk really worked its magic because those things puffed up! It ended up having the consistency of a cake; yeah, it was that puffy! I loved it and I typically don’t like caramel but I think the cream cheese dulled the sweetness and made it just a little tart.

That was the end of Argentine week. The food wasn’t that great but the company more than made up for it. Now that I think about it, I’ll have to have those friends over again and make them a better meal. I think they were just being kind.

Recipe, Recipe

Choripan

So, I don’t have a picture for this meal. I apparently only took a pic for my Instagram account and for some reason my phone didn’t save the original picture. It’s not even in my Google Photos so either there was a interwebs fail or a phone fail. Clearly there was not a fail on my part because I’m perfect. If you want to see what I’m talking about, you can visit the Eat 52 Weeks Instagram account.

This was by far the easiest meal I’d made all year. At least I think it was, I made a lot of food and my memory is not good. But really, this could not have been easier. I’m still going to link the recipe but I’m also going to post it here because it will take me a minute:

– Heat buns

– Slice sausage

– Carmelize onions

– Put sausage and onions in buns

– Add chimichurri sauce

– Eat

To be honest, the chimichurri sauce took a bit of time but not that much. So if you want a quick, awesome, delicious meal, make choripan.

It gets its name from two of its ingredients: chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread). It’s one of the most popular meals eaten in Argentina and is considered a street food. Sidenote: I made a lot of street food last year and my question is, why doesn’t the US have all this awesome street food? You know what we have in Austin? Hot dogs. You can argue we have a lot more due to the ridiculous amounts of food trucks we have but no, you would be wrong. Street food is served from a cart, not a truck, and is not gentrified.

We loved it! Yeah I forgot to make sides so all we had that night was the choripan but we were okay with it. The girls didn’t like the chimichurri sauce but the baby kept asking for more sausage. And the four year old kept asking for more bread. Of course. I will make this during the summer and probably pair it with the Korean potato salad because awesome deserves to be surrounded by awesome.

Recipe

Fugazzeta

Day two of Argentina week and I think James was really excited about this meal because it involved a pizza. We love pizza (who doesn’t????) so when we’ve had opportunities to eat different versions of pizza, like during Turkish week with the pide, we jump at it. This meal involved me coming into contact with my frenemy, yeast, so I not super excited it about it. I was looking forward to trying something new but knowing my frenemy would be there did dampen my enthusiasm. I did some yoga that day and tried to get centered and peaceful before dealing with it. It was like drinking a beer before going to happy hour with your frenemy because you know you’re going to need some additional help in getting through it but you don’t want them to see you need the help.

This was another Italian inspired dish. It’s a stuffed pizza that is most popular in Buenos Aires. Quick little history lesson: the word fugazzeta is derived from “fugassa” which means “focaccia” in the Genoese dialect. An immigrant baker by the name of Agustin Banchero created a fugazza, a onion focaccia with grated cheese on top, and then his son, Juan, created the fugazzeta by stuffing it with mozarella cheese.

I will admit, I did fail in my first attempt to get my yeast bubbly. The recipe said to warm up the milk to 100-105 degrees but it was only a fourth of a cup so mine got very hot, very quick. Very hot liquid kills yeast so I chunked that mess and started over. The second time worked and I’m glad it did because I could already feel the yoga wearing off. After that it was just a matter of waiting an hour or so for the dough to rise and I think I spent that time doingmore yoga.

Yoga saves, y’all.

I thought I would have a harder time with rolling out the dough because I had to wait ten minutes in between each roll for it to relax but it went by pretty quickly. I did pour a little too much olive oil in my skillet so the dough got a little slick after a bit but I was still able to work with it. The hardest part was laying the top over the bottom because dough moves. Yeah, don’t know if you knew that but it’s not a solid object.

Aside from those minor irritations, the result was still fantastic. We were both surprised by how light the pizza was because, hello, it’s a stuffed pizza. Stuffed pizza is never light! But I guess most stuffed pizzas are, you know, stuffed with all sorts of meats and cheeses so that probably contributes to the lead like feeling after eating them. This fugazzeta didn’t have that because it was just stuffed with mozarella and provolone and the topping was very thinly sliced onions. Even with it being baked with lots of olive oil and being topped with onions, there was no heartburn afterwards so that was an added bonus.

We all ate multiple slices and I think there was maybe only one slice leftover. The girls even liked the onions and didn’t pick them off like I expected them. That was a win!

Recipe