Caldo Gallego-Galician Soup

I’ve been craving Caldo Gallego for a while and today I finally made a big pot. I grew up eating this hearty soup pretty much all year long no matter how cold or warm the weather was. It is one of my favorite comfort foods.

Caldo Gallego is a traditional Spanish soup from Galicia, a grass-covered region in the North-West of Spain by the Atlantic coast. My mom was born and raised there. So did my grandmother.

I was never given a written recipe for Caldo Gallego. I learned it from my mom, who learned from her mom, who…you know how it goes. Traditionally, Caldo Gallego is made with a typical Galician green called “Grelos” (which is similar to Rapini), cured meats, potatoes and white beans. Grandma, who lived through war times, never added meats to the pot. Mom, who immigrated to Brazil after war times, never skipped the meats.

Although most of the traditional Caldo Gallego ingredients are readily available here in the USA, I decided to make this batch my own way; turnip greens, potatoes, onions, salted cured pork and cannellini beans from a can- so sorry mom and grandma’!

It all came together beautifully. Filling, hearty, and yet, super simple to make. While there are many types of recipes for this famous soup out there, I want to share with you my very own!

Caldo Gallego-Galician Soup

  • Serves: 6
  • Category:

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water
  • 3 pieces of salted cured pork (aprox. 8oz can be replaced by ham or ham shank)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 turnip green bunches
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 large rusett potatoes
  • 1 15.5 oz. can of cannellini beans
  • salt to taste (aprox. 1 tbsp)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Take a large pot, add olive oil and sauté onions until translucent. Next, throw in minced garlic, and pork into the pot. Add water. Let the broth cook uncover. Once the water is reduced and the soup has gained a little consistency, add potatoes and turnip greens. Season with salt and cook for another 40 minutes on medium heat. Smash some of the potato pieces to add more body to the broth. Add the cannellini beans a few minutes before you serve the soup. Serve with sourdough bread.

 

Caramelized pork chops with spiked orange pomegranate sauce

Before we jump into this recipe, let me tell you, I’m not a fan of pork chops. Neither is my family. But once in a while, when they are on sale, I buy them. And you know what? They always turn out great! As long I don’t overcook them it’s all good. It takes a while to get to that perfect doneness. Not too dry. Not raw. Once you get it right pork chops are not that bad. Even better if you drown them in sweet-tangy-fruity-spicy-boozy sauce. Heavenly!

These pork chops are my new favorite. The chops are coated in a brown sugar mixture before being seared in a super hot skillet. Then you deglazed the pan with a bit of orange juice and a cocktail (yes, you read that right) made with muddled pomegranate seeds, thyme, Serrano pepper, lime juice and Cointreau.

I served it on top of couscous—but rice or potatoes are good choices too. The couscous absorbs the sauce and adds some creaminess to the dish.

The pork chops will take no longer than 20 minutes to cook and you can make the couscous in 5 minutes while the chops finish in the oven. It’s one of the easiest, prettiest and tastiest dishes I ever made!

Caramelized pork chops with spiked orange pomegranate sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless pork chops (Aprox. 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 green onions (white and greens separately chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau (if no alcohol for you just replaced with orange juice)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 small Serrano pepper (cut in half and most seeds removed)
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (plus extra to top chops)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Juice of ½ lime (1/2 tsp aprox)
  • Pinch of lime zest
  • 1 small Serrano pepper (cut in half and most seeds removed)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, cayenne, and salt. Place the pork chops on a cutting board and rub the mixture evenly all over them.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pork chops and sear for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until brown. Remove the pork chops from the skillet and set aside.
  4. While pork cooks, in a thick glass muddle the pomegranate seeds+thyme+one half Serrano chili with the lime juice, lime zest and Cointreau. Set aside.
  5. Add the white part of the green onions to the skillet sautéing slightly. Deglaze the skillet by pouring the orange juice in. Using a small strainer pour the cocktail mixture to the pan. Add some fresh thyme and season with a pinch of extra salt. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and slide the pork chops into the sauce, cook for a minute longer and remove from heat.
  6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 5-10 minutes or until the chops are lightly charred and the sauce thickens a little.
  7. Remove from the oven and top with the extra pomegranate seeds, other half of the Serrano pepper and the green part of the green onions.

Spinach and artichoke lasagna roll ups

Lasagna roll ups is one of my favorite, simple, somewhat ‘lazy’ meals to make! You may think that roll ups are harder to make than lasagna. I say “no way” to that and I would argue it’s even less time consuming! For real!

This recipe is really easy to throw together and I’ve made this one slightly healthier—no meat and more spinach than cheese went into the filling. I also used leftover vodka sage sauce from last night’s dinner, but any marinara sauce works. Honestly these roll ups are so good that they don’t need any kind of sauce whatsoever.

There are lots and lots of lasagna roll up versions in the Universe. This one is more like a ‘get inspired’ recipe. Use more cheese, replace spinach with meat, do a Mexican flavor version…whatever inspires you. Either way, I’ve add the rough recipe at the end of this post in case you think these rolls look just perfect as they are!

Now, I baked the rolls side-up rather than laying down on their side. I did this because the best part of this dish—to me at least—is the crispy edges!

It’s also important not to overcook the lasagna sheets. It’s better if you cook them just enough to be pliable—barely al dente! That way the sheets will stay in one piece, it’ll be easy to roll them up and you end up with a perfect texture after baking.

Spinach and artichoke lasagna roll ups

  • Serves: 1
  • Category:

Ingredients

  • 12 dry lasagna sheets (I used Barilla Wavy Lasagne Pasta)
  • 2 cups frozen/thawed spinach (squeezed dry)
  • 1 small onion, diced (red, white or yellow)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup artichoke antipasto (I used Trader Joe's) optional
  • 16 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (1 for filling, 1/2 for topping)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (1/2 for baking pan bottom, 1/2 for topping)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and red pepper flakes to taste
  • Italian seasoning (I used dry basil only)

Instructions

  1. Cook the lasagna sheets just enough to be almost al dente (4 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool off.
  2. Chopped the onions plus garlic and sautée in the low heat until translucent.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the spinach, artichoke antipasto, ricotta, egg, 1 cup of mozzarella, and sautéed onion+garlic. Seasoned generously with dry Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes.
  4. Lay out lasagna noodles. Top each with equal amounts of filling mixture. Spread it evenly over each noodle leaving last 2 inches uncovered--don't overfill. Roll up each starting with the covered end.
  5. Spread 1/2 cup of marinara on the bottom of a 8X8 inches baking pan/dish. Carefully place rolls ruffled-edge facing up in dish. Repeat until all of the sheets and filling have been used and snuggly fit into the baking dish.
  6. Top each roll evenly with the remaining marinara. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes at 375F. Remove from oven. Serve. Enjoy!

Bone broth and beef Pho in the Pressure Cooker

 

Pho is easier to make than I thought. There are no hard prep requirements or techniques to master. If you can boil water, you can make pho.

This is an easy beef Pho version for four people in 1½ hours using a pressure cooker. The sweet-savory broth always comes out full of flavor and the rice noodles are addicting–and gluten free!

Bone broth and beef Pho in the Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

For the broth

  • 2 pounds marrow bones
  • 1 pound boneless beef brisket, chuck, or cross-rib roast
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon corieander seeds, whole
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 inch section ginger, peeled, thickly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 9 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 10 ounces dried narrow flat rice noodles
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the toppings

  • fresh Thai/purple basil
  • green onions
  • serrano peppers and other chilis
  • limes
  • fresh bean sprouts
  • serrano peppers and other chilis
  • limes

Instructions

  1. Rinse the bones and boneless beef with warm water to remove excess blood or bits on the surface; set aside in a bowl.
  2. Put the star anise, cinnamon, and cloves in a 6- to 8-quart pressure cooker. Over medium heat, toast for several minutes, shaking or stirring, until fragrant. Add the ginger and onion. Stir to release a little flavor. A bit of browning is okay.
  3. Add the water, all of the bones, boneless beef, and salt. Lock the lid in place. Bring to high pressure (15 psi) over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain pressure. Cook for 30 minutes, or longer if your cooker’s high setting is less than 15 psi.
  4. Turn heat off and allow the pressure to decrease naturally. Remove the lid.
  5. Use tongs to transfer the boneless meat to a separate bowl. Strain broth through a cheese cloth or thin mesh strainer over a pot. Discard the remaining solids.
  6. Season broth with the fish sauce, extra salt, and sugar. Put pot back in low heat. Let it simmer until serving time.
  7. About 30 minutes before serving, ready the ingredients for the bowls. Thinly slice the cooked beef. Place green onion, basil, sliced serranos and bean sprouts on a platter/plate for a pho assembly line.
  8. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Rinse and drain well. Divide among 4 large soup bowls.
  9. Check the broth flavor once more, raise the heat, and bring it to a boil. Serve about 2 cups broth into each bowl. Self serve sides. Don't forget to squeeze some fresh lime juice to wrap all the flavors!

Chocolate crinkle cookies

Humans are resilient. I’m no exception. I decided to give baking yet another try. And what better way to do so than making cookies. Not any cookies. Crinkle cookies. Not any crinkle cookies. Chewy chocolate crinkle cookies!

I’ve been seeing crinkle cookies everywhere lately. They seem to be the holiday cookie of choice this year. There are so many recipes out there for these cookies but the one from What’s Gaby Cooking seemed simple, straight forward and fairly safe for my baking-challenged self.

I’m not sure if the baking stars were perfectly aligned over my kitchen or this recipe is just on point. Whatever it was, it worked and I want you to know that it can happen to you, too!

Here is the link to Gaby’s recipe and I also included one below.

I’m so full of baking hope and positivity I can barely contain myself– I may even bake my way into Christmas!

Tis the baking season!

Chocolate crinkle cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powder sugar to roll/coat the cookies

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the cocoa powder, white sugar and vegetable oil-- you can mix by hand or in a stand mixer. Once combined, add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until evenly combined.
  2. In another bowl combine the all purpose flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Spoon in the flour into the wet mix until fully combined. Whatever you are using (hand or stand mixer) don't over mix it.
  4. Cover the bowl with the cookie dough and refrigerate for at least 5 hours (I left it overnight and baked in the morning.)
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Measure out small ball of dough, 1.5 t-2 inches balls. Roll the dough into balls with lightly oiled hands. Roll each ball in powdered sugar before placing onto baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

 

Turkey and kale taco pasta with avocado crema

Two of my kid’s favorite things in one dinner. Pasta and taco. The kale is just there so it can ‘healthify’ further this dish, that honestly, it’s pretty clean if I say so myself.

There’s very little prep involved and it can be done in less than one hour. It’s just making the taco meat, washing and chopping some veggies and whipping the avocado crema together. Now, this avocado crema is not optional. It truly brings the dish to another level– and you’ll want to keep it on hand for most things because it’s that good!

Start by cooking the turkey meat with the taco spices and diced tomatoes. Add the kale and lastly the onions+bell pepper+corn. The chopped vegetables go last so they keep their crunch and don’t overcook. The rest is easy. Toss the pasta and serve!

To keep with the taco tradition, I like to serve the pasta with toppings on the side such as shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, and–of course– the avocado crema.

I’m including two separates recipes bellow. One for the taco pasta and one for the, you know, avocado crema I’m raving about. Both are independently delicious but oh so much better together!

Turkey and kale taco pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey (chicken or beef)
  • 8 ounces small dry pasta shapes (about 3-4 cups dry)
  • 1 small red onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (I used mild)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 curly kale leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add the taco seasoning and the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain the tomatoes.) Simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the kale until wilted. Add the rest of the vegetables (onions, bell pepper and corn) and Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked and drained pasta a little at a time. Stir to coat.
  5. Top with Mexican mix shredded cheese (about 1 cup) while hot.
  6. Serve with a side of avocado crema (recipe below), chopped cilantro and chopped green onions to be added to the taco pasta to taste.

Avocado crema

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (can be replaced for sour cream if preferred)
  • 1 large very ripe avocado
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon light agave syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup prepared green salsa (such as Herdez salsa verde or Trader Joes tomatillo salsa)
  • 1 whole green onion (washed and ends trimmed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste (I used aprox. 1 tsp)

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl half way through.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl or place in an airtight container for storing. Can be stored int the refrigerator up to 3 days. It will not lose it's vibrant green color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

White chocolate ginger snap truffles

It’s that time of year when everyone struts their baking stuff for the holiday parties. But not even the simplest cookie recipe can prevent me of an epic cookie fail. And I’ll be put in baker’s purgatory if I dare to make a batch of cookies from one of Betty’s cookie mixes.

My way around the non sense baking shenanigans that takes place in the holidays is to try new no bake treats recipes like this spicy gingersnap truffles. No bake. Very little margin for error. Deceptively easy treat. So good!

White chocolate drizzled truffles with a spicy ginger snap filling inside. So easy to make and eat. Here is the recipe.

White chocolate ginger snap truffles

Ingredients

  • 16oz ginger snaps packet
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 8oz condensed milk (half of a 14oz can plus a bit more)
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
Method
  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or non-stick pastry mat.
  2. In a food processor, crumbs the ginger snaps. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Gradually pour in condensed milk and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is too dry add more condense milk. Mixture should be homogeneous and sticky to the touch.
  4. Using your hands, pick up approx. 1 tablespoon of mixture and roll into a ball. Keep your hands slightly wet so mixture doesn’t stick to hands and it’s easy to roll.
  5. Place ball onto prepared tray. Repeat this process until all the mixture is finished.
  6. Melt the white chocolate chips with the coconut oil in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Remove and mix. Microwave 30 more seconds and mix. Repeat in increments of 15 seconds after that until fully melted.
  7. Drizzle melted white chocolate over the truffle balls with a spoon, doing quick horizontal swings until truffles are covered.
  8. Enjoy!

 

One-pot French onion and mushroom pasta

Now that we’re done with Thanksgiving and in Christmas mode, I’m spending less time in the kitchen and more time shopping online and out there. Easy and quick dinners are a must no matter what time of the year, but for me, December is the winner month for all fast meals.

This one-pot French onion and mushroom pasta is one of the easiest and tastiest dishes to make—and eat! It’s just so good. The pasta, the caramelized onions, the mushrooms and the cheese. Love, love and love it! And because this is dealicious cooking, here’s the deal: everything gets started in one pot and ends in the same pot!

Confession alert! I’m not a one-pot pasta believer. I still think that pasta needs to be cooked separately, always al dente and finished in whatever sauce or juice it’s destined to be. But this recipe works better in one pot where most of the sauce is absorbed by the pasta and a little cream plus cheese help to wrap the flavors together.

One-pot French onion and mushroom pasta

  • Serves: 4
  • Category:

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small red onions thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 12 ounces pasta of your choice
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms (white button and/or crimini)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh oregano springs (optional and can be replaced with 1 tsp dry oregano)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add the OO. Add the onions and brown sugar. Cook about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and brown. Toss the mushrooms+garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add the Worcestershire sauce and wine and let it cook into the onions.
  2. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add your pasta, bay leaves and oregano, cook covered, stirring often until most of the liquid has been soaked up by the pasta and the pasta is al dente. Taste the pasta for doneness. Allow to cook more (if still crunchy), or allow some of the liquid to cook off. The pasta will absorb more of the liquid as it sits.
  3. Stir in the sour cream+cream and half the gruyere cheese. Cook 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Top with the remaining cheese (gruyere and parmesan) Let it sit uncovered for 5 minutes before serving.

Chai White Russian

It’s almost Thanksgiving! I’m not going to bother you with side dish recipes or tips on how to make your turkey taste less like turkey. We know it’s all about the stuffing and the booze!

And this year, for dessert, I’m skipping the store bought pumpkin pie and drinking this Chai White Russian instead.

It’s a classic drink with a twist. Vodka, Kahlua and Chai milk tea.

For the milk tea I used almond coconut blend, but it can be replaced with regular milk or even heavy cream—which is more like the original White Russian. Bring one cup of milk or cream to a boil, mix a tablespoon of agave syrup, turn heat off, throw in a Chai tea bag, and let it sit covered for a while.  Keep the Chai milk tea in the refrigerator until cocktail time.

  

Before I got busy with the shaker I fancied my glass up with a graham cracker crumbs rim—but this is totally optional, and frankly, I only did it for the looks.

Chai White Russian deconstructed:

  • 2 generous ounces of vodka
  • 1 ounce of Kahlua Liquor
  • Mix it in a shaker (or tall glass) with lots of ice. Pour it on a ‘old fashioned’ glass filled with ice. Top it with 2 ounces of Chai milk tea. Garnish with ground nutmeg and a cinnamon stick for stirring.
  • Find a comfortable spot in the couch to enjoy it, count your blessings, and get ready for Christmas. Yikes!

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Real

I’ve been down. The more I look at food/cooking blogs out there, melting and sizzling media accounts, minute-videos of how to make the “best dishes ever”, the more I realize I can’t keep up. The fakeness is real! I’ve been self-duped by a bunch of images, videos and endless stories that made me almost believe that I ,too, can make perfectly perfect looking real food.

Sadly, I tried. Luckily, I realize that I’m just too real to be fake.

I’m disappointed. I don’t have as many Instagram followers as I thought I could have. It may be because I fucking suck at pictures, creative #hashtags, catchy post phrases, and who knows what else. I’m an Instalooser and I know it! But I love to cook, and I make good stuff. I’ve been doing it for a long time and for the right reasons.

I have 17 precious blog followers. Seventeen!!! Two of them are my kids. The rest are…not sure who they are because I still can’t figure out how to see who subscribed to this stupidly complicated WordPress blog. Maybe because I’m not tech savvy. Maybe because I don’t do ‘give aways’. Maybe because I can’t write, spell or know how to SEO. But I keep doing it so my kids–and whoever else thinks it’s worth it–can look back at some of these life moments and feel inspired to cook, eat, and share.

In the abstract—which is to say, if I had all the time in the world and I didn’t need to attend to all but those parts of human life I chose to handle myself– the walnuts would be perfectly aligned in the salad, my apron+hair+nails would be impeccable, and my posts would be shining with sparkles.

Unfortunately, I do not live in the abstract, but rather here in reality, where I am sorry to report that a perfectly fake portrait is kind of a pain in the ass to keep up. It requires a special set of behaviors, camera lenses, routines and energies. I cook. My kitchen is messy, my aprons constantly dirty, and my nails…what nails?

Don’t get me wrong here: A well ‘seasoned’ presence is great, and there are so many inspiring food/cooking blogs, vlogs, instas, and stories out there. But I do realize it takes time, money and a pinch of bullshit to make it work–all three I don’t have!

I’ve been down but I’m proud– proud of my cooking, my pictures and writing. I own them all. The successes and the failures. I cook. I share. I document it. It’s sort of my own legacy. It’s messy and unpopular, but it’s REAL!