Pisco Sour is the house drink in Chile. Pisco is a popular brandy produced in Chile by distilling grapes, mainly of Muscat, Torontel and Pedro Jiménez varieties. Just like wine, the color, aroma and flavor of pisco can be described as fruity, clean, sweet, refreshing, woody and bold, depending on it’s variety.
There are four main classifications of pisco:
Pisco Corriente o Tradicional, 30% to 35% (60 to 70 proof).
Pisco Especial, 35% to 40% (70 to 80 proof).
Pisco Reservado, 40% (80 proof).
Gran Pisco, 43% or more (86 or more proof).
Did you know? Annual pisco production in 2013 reached 30 million litres in Chile and 9.5 million litres in Peru.
I got a chance to learn how to make this cocktail from an expert bartender. Luis Mariano Cerda Monsalve is a mixologist and author of “Recetario – Pisqueria De Chile.” He has worked at the bars of the Ritz Carlton in Santiago, Cumbres Puerto Varas and now at Hotel Vira Vira in Pucon.
When you ask Monsalve for a pisco sour, his question is “what flavor?” I didn’t know that there were any until he pointed out that he makes it in mango, pineapple, cucumber-ginger, and several other flavors.
“Let’s try them all!” I had a pisco sour tasting hour at the hotel’s modern bar and Monsalve happily shared his recipe with me.
Vegan Pisco Sour Recipe
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
2 stems of rosemary + additional for garnish
1 cup lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
3 cups Gran pisco
Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix well on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Strain through a cocktail sieve.
Pour the liquid into a cocktail shaker and add crushed ice till its three-fourth full. Shake well and pour into flute glasses. Garnish with a rosemary stem and say cheers!
*Unlike the Peruvian pisco sour, Monsalve’s does not contain eggs so it is perfect for vegans.
Monsalve is also well versed with his wines too. Ask him about any winery and he will pull out a map to educate you about the different wine regions of Chile.
Monsalve’s other favorite pisco drink is Piscola, which is just pisco and coke.
Do you know the difference between Peruvian and Chilean pisco sour? If yes, please share below…
Gnudi means “naked” as in an inside out ravioli. While a typical ravioli is filled with spinach and ricotta, gnudi is made entirely of the filling mixture, held together with a little flour. Its a great alternative to eating pasta, especially for those who are gluten free! Serve it with a sage-butter sauce as a delightful appetizer.
The recipe below is very easy to make. You don’t want to make gnudi day before as it may dry out.
Ingredients for Gnudi:
1.5 cups Ricotta cheese
1 lb. fresh or frozen spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks (leave out if vegetarian)
pinch of ground nutmeg
salt to taste
1/4 cup 00 pasta flour (more for dusting)
Ingredients for Sauce:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
8-10 fresh sage leaves
Steam the spinach leaves in a large pot until they are fully cooked. Drain the spinach using a sieve and allow for all the water to soak through. The spinach should be cool and dry before its ready to use. If there’s water remaining, then the gnudi will not hold together. Chop the spinach roughly and keep aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add spinach, ricotta, nutmeg, parmesan, eggs, flour and salt. Mix well until the dough is of uniform consistency. It will be soft to touch. Using your hands, take a walnut size pinch of the dough and shape it into a ball. Sprinkle flour on your hands and the gnudi if it starts to feel sticky.
Keep aside the gnudi balls and sprinkle more flours.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil ( same way you would make pasta) and drop in prepared gnudi gently. The balls will be cooked once they rise to the surface of boiling water (about 5 minutes). Remove with a strainer spatula and keep aside. Make sure the excess water is drained.
To make the sauce, heat the butter in a fry pan. Once the butter starts to brown, add the fresh sage leave and cook them for 2-3 minutes until fried. Pour over the gnudi and serve immediately.
Here is the original recipe for GNUDI in Italian courtesy of Luisa Donati, at Montestigliano Società agricola s.r.l.
INGREDIENTI PER 4 PERSONE
350g di ricotta
1 kg di bietole o spinaci
Parmigiano grattugiato q.b.
Una spolverata di noce moscata
40g di burro
Qualche foglia di salvia fresca
Lavare accuratamente le verdure e bollirle in poca acqua salata per circa 10 minuti.
Scolarle bene e lasciarle raffreddare nello scolapasta affinchè si elimini tutta l’acqua in eccesso; quindi strizzarle con cura fra le mani e tritarle grossolanamente con un coltello.
Mischiare in una terrina le verdure con la ricotta, aggiungere la noce moscata e il parmigiano, aggiustare di sale; deve risultare un composto omogeneo e abbastanza asciutto.
Formare con le mani infarinate delle polpettine grandi come una noce, infarinarle bene e posarle in un piatto spolverato di farina.
Agathe Devisme is an adventurers French lady married, who opened Ipiutaq Guest Farm at a remote location in South Greenland. She combines her French culinary heritage with farm grown ingredients, to create delicious homemade meals for her guests. Her passion for cooking and presentation is apparent on every plate she presents. The guest house sits on a sheep farm, with a backdrop of mountains and icebergs, and has only 2 rooms, so Agathe personally prepares all guest meals during their stay. While the scenery is breathtaking, the location remote, and the surroundings peaceful, Agathe’s food is enough reason to spend a few days in Ipiutaq!
Agathe has generously shared one of her recipes with us. This cake can be baked with apples and angelica sticks instead of rhubarb, depending on preference and availability. The recipe is below and you can see photos on her website.
Agathe’s Apple and Rhubarb Cake Recipe
2 or 3 apples
250 grams rhubarb sticks (or angelica sticks)
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
75 grams butter
1 tablespoon milk or cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
40 grams melted butter
Wash the rhubarb sticks and cut them into small pieces. Peel the apples and cut them into thin slices.
If you use angelica sticks, you have to slice them finely and boil them for approximatly 30 minutes, and then, cook them with sugar (half of angelica ́s weight) for approximatly 30 minutes.
Mix the egg, the butter and the milk or cream. Then add progressively the flour and baking powder until you get a smooth dough. Add the pieces of fruit to the mix.
Pour the dough in a round greased and floured cake tin and cook for 20 minutes in 225oC oven.
Take the cake out of the oven and pour the second dough on top. Bake for 10 minutes until golden.
Serve warm with vanilla custard or vanilla ice cream.
~ Recipe courtesy of Agathe Devisme, chef and proprietor of Ipiutaq Guest Farm in Greenland.
During my recent visit to San Diego for the Travel and Adventure Show, I dined at some of the most reputable restaurants in the city. I was delighted to find that many of the places cooked with fresh, high quality, farm to table ingredients that included locally sourced vegetables and meat.
San Diego is blessed with temperate climate, abundant sunshine and varied topography that allows for a variety of foods to grow year-round. Beets are in season during the winter and spring, although the chefs I inquired told me, “San Diego folks ask for it year round” and every restaurant is unofficially required to have beets on their menu. Apparently, the locals complain when they don’t see “beet salad.” Nothing wrong with that since beets are one of the healthiest vegetables out there. They are rich in antioxidants, folic acid, fiber, anti-inflammatory properties and cancer-fighting agents.
Trust me, after 5 days of noticing the beet salad at every venue, I started to think that all the chefs in San Diego area must have received some sort of a memo about it. Here are some of the variations I discovered…
Hotel del Coronado‘s flagship ocean front seafood restaurant, 1500 Ocean served homemade burrata (Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream), with heirloom beets and valencia oranges, tossed in Temecula (a city in California) balsamic.
Prep Kitchenin Little Italy’s version included fresh baby spinach, satsuma (Japanese mandarin), avocado, goat cheese, whole pistachios, with a gentle dressing of balsamic vinaigrette. It tasted more like a salad with beet as an important ingredient hiding below the spinach leaves.
Amaya, the Mediterranean restaurant at Grand Del Mar, took a slight twist on the classic recipe. Their Roasted Beet Salad was a simple concoction of pickled shallots, tangerine, goat cheese, molasses-candied walnuts and mache (French name of the edible salad green Valerianella locusta).
My favorite was this elegant creation by Chef Jason Knibb of Nine-Ten Restaurant, located atat Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla. Red and yellow baby beets were adorned with a light goat cheese pudding, shaved fennel, smoked oranges, drizzled with citrusy beet vinaigrette, and sprinkled with pistachio and cacao crumble. I would have never thought of using cacao dust for garnish but its an ingenious idea. The dish was a symphony for all the senses.
The chefs in San Diego have inspired me to cook Beet Salad at home more often. Here is a simple recipe that I have created using all that my tastebuds have guided me from this trip.
Easy Beet Salad Recipe:
Soak the beets in water with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, then scrub them well. Cut them into quarters and boil in water for 15-20 minutes until fully cooked but not too tender. If a sharp knife can go through easily, the beets are good enough to use in salad. Drain water and cool. You can also use them raw if you like.
In a large bowl, combine any greens (Boston lettuce, Bibb lettuce, Baby spinach), with fresh chopped oranges, diced avocados, crumbled goat cheese and roasted pistachios. Add good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, toss gently and serve immediately.
If you missed my presentation at Taste of Travel stage at the San Diego Travel Adventure Show, you didn’t get to taste my delicious paella. But all is not lost. You can still watch some clips from the show and follow along the recipe below.
Paella is a rice based dish that was invented in the mid 19th century around Lake Albufera, which is in the Valencia region in the East coast of Spain. Paella means a round “pan,” that is shallow, made of steel and has two handles. You can find paella pans at pretty much every kitchen equipment store, but a wok or flat deep dish would also do.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a national dish of Spain. In fact, most people in Spain don’t even eat paella unless it’s a special occasion. It has gained a lot of popularity around the world and still considered a delicious entree. There are mainly three types of paella – Valencia, seafood, mixed and others. Paella was traditionally cooked by men over open fire fueled by orange and pine branches and pine cones.
toasted rice on the bottom, called socrarrat, was considered a delicacy
Trivia: In 2001, Juan Galbis in Spain created the largest paella that served 110,000 people.
The difference between Spanish and Mexican paella is that the Mexican version is spicier and soupier. It also does not have saffron, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing the most expensive spice in the world. Mexican paella is cooked using parboil rice. If you frown upon cooking with parboil rice, you must not know that it contains 80% of nutrients of brown rice (as it is rice with husk on boiled). This is how 50% of the world eats its rice.
As the Mexican paella is spicy it uses Arbol (chile de arbol) in the recipe. Arbol is a small and potent red chili that is commonly used to decorate wreaths. It is also known as tree chile, bird’s beak or rat’s tail chile. If you cannot find Arbol, Cayenne is a good substitute.
Another difference is that we use white wine in the broth for Spanish paella, whereas beer is used in Mexican paella (preferable Mexican beer). Other ingredients include seafood (Clams/ shrimp/ mussels) that must be properly washed and spicy Mexican chorizo that is mashed up into the sauce as well.
The Mexican paella is an easy dish to prepare and makes for a great one meal dinner. It can be prepared ahead of time and served at room temperature.
Chef, restauranteur and author, Avi Bitton visited Atlanta from Tel Aviv, Israel. Bitton started working in the restaurant business at 14 years of age, and went on to open restaurants – Bucharest (Romanian inspired), Adora (named 10 best restaurants in Israel), Chill (chic bar on Tel Aviv’s famous Dizengoff Street), and Mercado (Kosher restaurant on the top floor of the highest building in Tel Aviv). Bitton is now one of Israel’s top celebrity chefs. Bitton hosts two shows on Israel’s main TV networks called “A Maximum of 24” and “Global Kitchen.” He is also a frequent host on various programs on Israel’s Food Channel. Bitton is author of the books – My son and my Father Cook and Tell Chicken.
Here’s a Q&A with Chef Bitton courtesy of Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta.
#1. You started working in restaurants at the young age of 14. When did you know you wanted to be a chef and run restaurants?
AB: I think when I was maybe 5 or 6 when I cooked my first recipe at home. It was tuna salad from a children’s magazine.
#2. At 24 you opened your first restaurant. What were some of the major challenges you faced?
AB: There were a lot of challenges! First, when I agreed at 24, I was in shock. I was only a cook at the time and I had never organized a restaurant or managed a kitchen. It was a challenge to handle waiters, bartenders and manage salaries. When I started in my restaurant I thought I only had to buy ingredients, cook and serve. After one month I realized it’s like the army – everything needs to be perfect of you lose everything.
#3. Today you have several eateries. What’s the difference between your restaurants? Why did you choose to open a Kosher restaurant (Merkado)?
AB: I have one restaurant and two bars. Adora, my first restaurant, is a fusion between Israeli and Mediterranean. We serve seafood, but with Israeli serves small tapas that are both Mediterranean and Jewish. The Jewish food is a little trendy including foods like chopped liver and gravadlax.
I opened a kosher restaurant because kosher is important. Our religion is 5000 years old and it’s important to respect our religion. In my other restaurants I mix milk and meat. For example, I make my roast beef with lots of butter. I want Israelis and tourists who keep kosher to have the ability to eat at one of my restaurants.
#4. Let’s talk about your food. Do you consider your food Israeli? How do you define Israeli food?
AB: I call it “New Israeli.” Actually, we don’t have an Israeli kitchen. It doesn’t exist. The Israeli kitchen is a unique blend of all cultures that came to Israel. There are recipes from Europe, Africa and all over the world. Only in Israel do you find Chinese chicken served in warm baguettes or fresh prawns that are typically European with tahini . When I was in New York three months ago I ate at 36 restaurants in three weeks! Everything was perfect, but I didn’t find any good fusion.
Chef Bitton was scheduled to teach a modern Jewish cooking class at Hal’s Kitchen/ Go Eat Give. Here is one of the recipes he shared with us…
Veal Fillet Stuffed with Nuts Recipe
Fillet weight of 1 kg
For the filling:
2 onions, chopped and fried in olive oil
1 cup chopped walnuts
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 Tablespoon of toasted sesame
Mix the ingredients for the filling. Make a hole in the center with a knife dropped all the way and put the mixture nuts. Season the roast with salt and pepper and roast in the heat of 250 C for about twenty minutes. Slice and serve.
~ Recipe courtesy of Chef Avi Bitton. To learn to make this recipe join the cooking class on February 25 hosted by Hal’s Kitchen and Go Eat Give in Atlanta.
As seen at the Travel and Adventure Show in Dallas!
Gado-Gado is famous green beans dish from the island of Bali, Indonesia. Go Eat Give volunteers learn to make this dish from Aunty Puspa at Paon Bali Cooking School. Generally Gado-Gado is served as a side dish along with other entrees. It is spicy and flavorful. Try it out instead of your green bean casserole this year!
Gado-Gado (Balinese green beans)
For the veggies:
2 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups string beans (cut into 5 cm)
2 cups bean sprouts
1 packet firm tofu
1 small cucumber
For the sauce:
1 1/2 cups fried peanuts (skin on)
1 inch piece galangal
2 macadamia nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 dry red chili
3 tablespoon Indonesian sweet soy sauce
salt to taste
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoon coconut oil
To make the sauce, first remove seeds from chili. Blend chili, peanuts, garlic, macadamia, galangal & tomato in a blender or with a mortar/pestle (bring it if you have one) until it forms a fine paste. In a small sauce pan over low heat, add water and whisk the sauce base into it. Add soy sauce, salt & lemon juice. Stir thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. This can be made ahead of time.
For the vegetable, blanche cabbage and bean sprouts for less than a minute in boiling water. Boil the beans for 3 minutes so they are still firm. Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Cut tofu into small cubes and fry it in hot coconut oil until golden color.
In a large serving bowl, toss the tofu and vegetables. Pour the sauce over the and serve immediately with a side of steamed rice.
You might think pasta, pistachios and the strong flavor of gorgonzola make for an odd combination, but it works! It is so easy to make and only takes a few minutes. The dish is quite rich so I recommend serving it as a side to a meat entree.
I served it at our Italian conversation club, Ciancia meeting and everyone asked me for the recipe!
Tip: Do not make ahead of time
Shells with Gorgonzola and Pistachios (Serves 4)
1/3 cup pistachios, skinned and chopped
3.5 oz diced Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
11 oz shell pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Cook the shells in salt until al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving dish. Melt the Gorgonzola and cream in a pan on low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Mix together the shells with all the ingredients. Serve immediately.
The festival of Holi is celebrated once a year during spring time in India. It has a strong mythological, cultural and social significance. It is a day when people of all ages, religions and backgrounds come together to play with dry and wet colors, water balloons, and much more. Everyone would be outdoors, laughing, giggling, soaking in bright colors, leaving all reservations at home. Continue reading “What to eat at Holi?”