Bottom Round is Not the Best Idea for Milanesas

I usually use thinly cut top round to make milanesas.  While the cut has an annoying fat vein in the middle, it’s very tender, the version sold by Safeway is very thin and it just works great for milanesas.

This week, however, Safeway had thinly cut bottom round at half the price as top round – so I figured that I would give it a chance and see how it worked.  The answer is that it will do in a pinch, but it’s definitely inferior to top round.

First, the “thin” bottom round steaks sold by Safeway were two to three times thicker than the top round ones.  Bottom round is a very tough cut of meat, so I beat the hell out of the meat to tenderize it.  It worked quite well, though I ended up with a blister on the side of my finger.  A larger problem was that as the cut was thicker, so were the pieces of fat/gristle in the middle of the steaks.  There weren’t too many and I try to cut them, but it made it harder to eat the milanesas in sandwiches (it’s not a big deal if you’re using fork and knife).    I also don’t think the flavor was as tasty as the top round, but the issue might also have been the olive oil I was using.

All in all, I’d use bottom round again under similar circumstances, but at full price, I definitely prefer top round.

Chickpea Milanesas Recipe

My oldest daughter is a vegetarian, so I try to find vegetarian equivalents of the meals with eat.  I’m not eager to make two meals, so the easier the vegetarian version can be, the better.  This version for chickpea milanesas qualifies as easy.  She likes them well enough that I’ve already made them four times.

Chickpea Milanesas

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes or chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • olive oil for frying
  • lemon juice

Using an electric blender, puree chickpeas and water together.  Mix in the flour, spices and salt and pepper.

Put breadcrumbs in a large plate.  Four your hands.  Take a large spoonfull of batter and flatten it using your hands.  Press onto the breadcrumbs, then turn and repeat.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Using a spatula, transfer the milanesas onto the oil and fry for a couple of minutes until golden. Turn and repeat. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving.

Marga’s Best Recipes

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This year Christmas Eve’s dessert was Sticky Toffee Pudding.  I first had and fell in love with this dessert at the Golden Tea Garden in Hayward, and had made it once before.  It was a good choice.  I served it with vanilla ice cream.  I followed the instructions from this epicurious recipe pretty closely, but if I made it again I’d follow the advise of one of the reviewers and double the amount of sauce, pour same half of it on the cake the day I make it and then top it with the other half.

I made the cake the day before and the sauce a few hours earlier.


For the pudding

  • 1 pckg (~6 oz) pitted dates
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

For the sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp brandy
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


For the pudding

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a bundt pan or 6 ramekins.

Place dates and water in a small sauce pan and heat until it starts to boil.  Remove from heat and add baking soda.  Using a blender, puree.
In a separate bowl, sift flour.  Whisk in the baking powder and salt.
Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Mix in the vanilla.  Mix in one egg, then half of the flour mixture and half of the date puree.  Repeat with the additional egg and rest of flour and puree.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry, 30 to 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Unmold.

For the sauce

Put the sugar, butter and cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Turn off the heat and mix in the brandy and vanilla extract.

Pour sauce over the cake and serve.

Mushroom Marsala Gnocchi

This was probably my favorite dish of my 2017 Christmas Eve dinner.  And no wonder, I love gnocchi, I love Marsala sauce, and the two together are just dynamite.  Indeed, even my husband who hates gnocchi couldn’t stop eating it – even though this was already the 8th course of the night!  I used a combination of



  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • dried sage
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 pckg (~1 lb) vacuum-sealed gnocchi


Melt butter in a wide sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms, turn heat down to medium-low and cook until soft, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add marsala, borth and cream and cook for a few minutes.  Sprinkle sage and black pepper and mix in the lemon juice.

Meanwhile, book the gnocchi according to package instructions.  Add gnocchi to sauce in the pan and mix well.  Serve.

Pear & Goat Cheese Salad with Caramelized Walnuts and Cranberries

I wanted to make a different salad for Christmas this year and finally decided on a pear and goat cheese salad.  Alas, I couldn’t decide on any particular recipe, so I ended up making my regular Mixed Green Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette and simply adding the ingredients I wanted to use.  It came out delicious.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. raspberry vinegar
  • 5 oz mixed greens
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup caramelized walnuts*
  • 3 Tbsp. goat cheese


In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and raspberry vinegar. Set aside.

Toss together mixed greens, green onions, cranberries and walnuts in a salad bowl.  Add vinaigrette and mix well.  Crumble goat cheese on top and mix again.

* To caramelized walnuts, place 1/4 cup walnut pieces, 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. butter in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and sugar melt and the walnut pieces are well coated with it.  Pour onto parchment paper and quickly separate the pieces.  Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Spiced Chickpeas

I wanted a light snack with Middle Eastern flavors to accompany the mint pomegranate lassi I served as a first course for my Christmas 2017 dinner.  This recipe for chickpeas hit that spot.  They are good, easy to make, and they will keep for at least a couple of days in an air-tight bowl or jar.


  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste


Drain, rinse and pat dry the garbanzos.

Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan.  Add chickpeas and spices. Mix well and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas pop, about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and serve.

Pomegranate Mint Lassi

I discovered this delicious drink at All Spice restaurant in San Mateo, and I was hooked.   I’m a big lover of sweet lassis, and I couldn’t believe I had never had a mint one before – when it seems like such an obvious flavor combination.  I wasn’t sure what the pomegranate contributed – I still don’t know – but the drink at the restaurant was so delicious I just had to try it myself.

I did as a first course for my 2017 Christmas Eve dinner – and it was a big hit.  The recipe is very simple, you need:

  • plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • pomegranate juice
  • honey
  • dried mint

I can’t tell you the proportions as I simply combined the yogurt with the lassi until it had the right consistency and then added honey until it was sweet enough – beating with an immersion blender, but you can just put everything in a blender.  I then added mint until I could taste it.   I tried it with both fresh and dried mint, but dried mint works far better.  The key to this lassi is to let it rest for at least half an hour before serving, as the flavors need time to combine.  But make it, you won’t be disappointed.

Cooking What I Missed: From Aguascalientes to French Guiana

I have been working on my International Foods Project for over 17 years.  I’m making my way through the world cuisines cooking alphabetically and I have yet to get to H!  And this, despite the fact that I have skipped many cuisines on my way here.  I am taking this as the opportunity to visit them – albeit cooking just one dish from each instead of a full meal.  So far, none of these dishes have wowed me: perhaps there was a reason why I skipped the cuisines in the first place.

What we had were:

I have ten more “make up” cuisines to go before moving on to finish the “Gs” (I thought I was finished, and then I found six more G cuisines!).  My hope is to start H at least by the end of the year.

Review: Angelina’s Pizzeria, Las Vegas

I ordered pizza from Angelina’s Pizzeria while staying at The Signature in Las Vegas.  It was an OK experience.  The pizza is thin crusted and pretty generic.  One of my daughter’s loved it, the other one wasn’t happy with it.  I thought it was OK.  I also got a meatballs sub which was very generic as well.

Delivery was $4 and it took over an hour – but they delivered all the way up to the room.

I would probably try a different place next time, but this was one was adequate enough. Angelina’s has five restaurants in Las Vegas.

Angelina’s Pizzeria
5025 S Eastern Ave
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 597-9056

Review: India Oven / Indian Masala, Las Vegas, NV

We stopped by India Oven / Indian Masala for lunch on a Thursday night in late July, 2017 and enjoyed their lunch buffet.  It was pretty generic as far as Indian lunch buffets go, which is not a bad thing.

The restaurant is a fusion of two different Indian restaurants, Indian Oven and Indian Masala, and it does not seem to have decided upon a name so it’s using both.  Hey, it’s Vegas, why not?  It sits in a small strip mall but the inside is rather nice, it could even pass for elegant if it didn’t have a buffet.

The buffet included a small salad bar, made-to-order naan (choice between plain, butter or garlic), had a couple of appetizers (vegetable pakoras and samosas), soup/daal (if I remember correctly), rice and vegetable rice and four each vegetarian and meat entrees.  It most certainly did not have all the dishes they claim to offer in their website, not even close.   I tried the four meat dishes and was fairly pleased.  The chicken tikka masala had a very nice flavor, slightly spicy, but deep.  I enjoyed it.  The goat and chicken curry both seemed to have the same sauce, it was good but not a favorite.  The chicken tandoori was juicy and very flavorful.  My daughter was less happy with the paneer dish she had, but it wasn’t one she usually eats (there was no paneer tikka masala).

The buffet also includes drinks, and my daughters liked the lemonade and the mango lassi, which was more like a thin mango drink than a lassi.

Service was fairly good, though they initially tried to charge my husband for a buffet even though he had clearly not eaten anything (he was sick).  Dinner for the four of us (I was there with three tweens), came up to a little over $50 after tax.

Given the plethora of Indian restaurants in Vegas, I’d probably try a different one next time, but this is certainly good enough to visit again.

India Oven Restaurant
India Masala & Bar Grill

1040 E Flamingo Rd
Las Vegas, NV
Open 11.30am to 3pm –  5pm to 10pm