Making empanadas, the jetlagged edition.

It’s raining in Seattle today. I got back yesterday, when it was sunny. It feels like it’s 10 pm right now, but it is definitely not. Confused. Very confused.

However, I did muster the energy last night to make empanadas for my coworkers. I baked them this morning so they’d be fresh (reheated empanadas are just not the same).

I also cheated and smuggled discos into the country, because according to the Googles, they are very difficult to obtain in the greater Seattle area.

Smuggled goods.

They held up surprisingly well through a total of three flights and eighteen-ish hours in my suitcase. I could also use them to make piroshki; my mom just ordered them from here. More expensive than buying them in Argentina, yes, but not when you factor in the airline tickets.

And now, for the recipe.

Empanadas argentinas con carne

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons corn oil (I used vegetable oil because it was all I had)
1 tablespoons of butter
1 large yellow onion chopped in small squares
2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
1/2 cup green olives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons raisins (I used 3 tablespoons)
¼ cup chopped green onion (only the green part)
1 tablespoon ground hot and sweet paprika (I only had hot, so I added some Splenda to taste)
1 tablespoon ground red dry spicy peppers
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and oil, then saute the onions until transparent. Add the ground beef, then the raisins, spices, salt and pepper to taste and stir to break up the meat. Pour about half a cup of water over the mixture and cook until meat is cooked through.

Once cooked, place in a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least an hour to cool). When the mix has cooled, add the eggs, green onions and green olives.

Filling the empanadas: Fill one half of a disco with the meat mixture and fold along the edge, sealing with a bit of water. Leave enough room at the edge of the dough so you can roll the edge a bit. They should look something like this when you’re done:

You can also brush egg wash over them as well; I was baking them early in the morning and it didn’t seem necessary to me at the time.

Anyway. Bake at 350˚F for about 20 minutes, or until the empanadas are crispy and golden (the dough is similar to puff pastry). Let cool a bit before devouring or you run the risk of burning your mouth.

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Nothing like homemade empanadas.

Our housekeeper, Eva, has been exceedingly sweet to us over the course of our stay in the house in San Telmo – she took us on a tour of La Boca on our first day, she was really patient with us when the power went out and Mom accidentally blew out the pilot light on one of the heaters in the house, she tolerates our feeble attempts at Spanish. She stopped by to change our sheets and towels yesterday and brought all the makings for what turned out to be the most wonderful empanadas, like, ever.

We just had them for dinner for the second night in a row. And we still have all these in the freezer…

We emailed her for the recipe, but she seems to have conveniently ignored the question. She does, however, want to go to dinner with us on Saturday, so perhaps the recipe is so top-secret that passing it on through email leaves too much of a trail and she needs to pass it on via word of mouth. Yes, I am convinced she is Argentina’s sole keeper of the Best Empanada Recipe Ever.

They have green olives in them. Olives! And I saw some raisins, too. I’ll post the recipe if we can squeeze it out of her. I think it’s something like this one.

She also made us some spicy chimichurri sauce (much spicier than the parrilla we all went to served). Eva can cook, that’s for sure.

Today, we went on a walking tour with an American expat named Jessica who also lives in San Telmo. Among many other things, she explained the various roles of women in this country. The men are… well, macho, which we’ve noticed. They’re not averse to staring (and I do mean staring) at women and generally being obvious when they think a woman is attractive. However, that also means that chivalry isn’t dead here, which is a relief – they open doors, they’ll get up on the bus or the subway to let a woman sit down – things men don’t do in America, for the most part. A woman can still do very well in business, can even get ahead faster if she’s attractive, whereas women in America can’t really do that as overtly. But the traditional roles still apply. The president of Argentina is a woman, but, Jessica explained, she wouldn’t be surprised if the president was still cooking and cleaning for her husband while in office.

In Seattle, I know more men that cook than women. In fact, the only women I know who actually cook are not in my generation. I didn’t even like to cook until I started getting into eating healthy and realized I had very little idea what I was getting when I was ordering food from restaurants.

Interesting how different the two cultures are when it comes to gender roles and expectations, isn’t it? And for an otherwise progressive city, it’s funny how those traditional roles are still in place here.

Ice cream Sunday!

Once again, we overslept this morning – we may or may not still be on West Coast time. We weren’t super adventurous with our food today, but we did finally check out the helado situation this afternoon. The place we stopped at had quite the selection to choose from:

It was a tough decision. Like the Sophie’s Choice of ice cream.

This was what I had – that’s flan with dulce de leche on top, and chocolate with bombones (candies) on the bottom. It was deeee-licious.

Mom had crema de rusa (top) and pistachio. She was pleased with hers as well.

The cafe boasted some of the best ice cream in Buenos Aires, and I will definitely back that up, despite the fact that we have not and probably will not be sampling any other helado (to avoid the whole not-fitting-into-our-jeans problem that would arise shortly thereafter).

I think we will have to eat empanadas for the rest of our trip. Fortunately, we found the bakery where we got our favorite empanadas a few days ago – they’re AR $2/US $0.50 apiece, so we will be non-broke and well-fed. My skinny jeans still fit me today, so I’m still good for the time being, despite all the bread. You know what I miss, though? Salmon. And cooking in general.

Oh, before I left Seattle, I had the brilliant idea of freezing cottage cheese like I had with the yogurt. Turns out it’s even better than frozen yogurt, because it doesn’t harden the same way and I like the texture better. I’m looking forward to getting back and making more. One more week…

Too much food, too little time.

I just realized it’s been a few days since I’ve updated this – whoops. We went to Colonia, Uruguay on Friday and spent yesterday walking to Microcentro and back (with a short subte ride to and from Malabia in vain hopes of finding leather). So I guess I’ll start at the beginning-ish.

Colonia was… alright. I got a few more stamps in my passport and took more pictures, so that was important, but there wasn’t a lot to do besides eat and do a very limited amount of shopping.

For the eating, we went to El Rincon, a quaint restaurant with a patio facing the water. It looked as though it was just a restaurant that had sprung up out of someone’s house, but upon further inspection, we discovered that it was quite a pricey place.

El Rincon also had an outdoor grill fired up and ready to go – it looked as though its main appeal was the parrilla – so of course, my mother and I ordered a salad and ravioli with meat sauce. That ravioli was so yummy, though…

Definitely the best part of being in Colonia. Isn’t it pretty?

Of course, after wandering around the shops near the water for an hour or so, we got bored and walked back to the ferry… about four hours before our ferry was scheduled to depart, I might add. We did meet other Americans on the way back, though – a mother and her two daughters from Georgia. We bonded. That’s one of my favorite parts of going to another country, strangely enough – it’s easier to make friends with other Americans.

Yesterday was a little more fun. We decided to do some walking (in an effort to negate the effects of all the food we’ve been eating), so headed toward Florida, a pedestrian-only street that cuts through Microcentro. Along the way, we stopped in a few little shops. I ended up procuring the most fabulous purple leather purse for $80 – it’s wonderful quality and, had I gotten it from Coach or Nordstrom, it would’ve cost at least $500. That was probably the highlight of my day. I know it’s not food-related, but definitely worth mentioning.

On Lavalle, the pedestrian-only street that intersects Florida, we stopped at a restaurant called El Palacio de la Papa Frita (palace of the French fry) for lunch.

So, naturally, we had a caprese salad, chicken with steamed vegetables, and flan with dulce de leche. That’s right, no potatoes for us! We’re such rebels.

And it would’ve been a healthy lunch, had we not ordered the flan! Oh well. I had to make my mom try dulce de leche. The flan was yummy, anyway, and I’m sure we walked it off (haha, yeah, right – you can’t burn sugar. I’m really just kidding myself).

Once we made our way back to San Telmo for our requisite afternoon cappuccinos, we found this cute little cafe called Las Mazorcas. We liked it so much, we went back for a very early dinner (very early by Argentine standards; about 8:00).

This was our afternoon snack – tapas and bread (with cappuccinos, of course). Those were red bell peppers marinated in olive oil and eggplant “caviar.”

Part one of our dinner: chicken tacos with all kinds of delicious vegetables inside. They were wonderful. Not quite as good as leftovers (we ordered way too much and had to take half of it home for lunch today).

For part two, we had this shrimp with vegetables. We took half of this home as well. We were silly – we got two of each when we could’ve just split it, but my mom assumed the portions would be small like our tapas were earlier. Not so much!

I’ll make a new post for today’s adventures in San Telmo – this is getting long and picture-heavy.

Finding Nemo!

One of the restaurants on our list was Nemo, a seafood restaurant in Recoleta, a neighborhood which is also home to the famous Recoleta cemetery. I was craving fish, so it seemed an apt choice for lunch. Of course, we’d slept until 10 today, so by 1 pm we were hungry.

We kept it relatively small today: just a smoked salmon salad…

And a seafood risotto with squid ink. Yes, squid ink. It was wonderful.

Oh, and then we had tiramisu with dulce de leche and cappuccinos. It was almost a small lunch… oopsies.

We ran around Recoleta (mostly taking pictures in the cemetery) for the rest of the afternoon, then made our way back to San Telmo for our afternoon cappuccinos in the Plaza Dorrego. We changed it up a little today – we decided to go on our cab driver’s recommendation and have cappuccinos at Cafe Dorrego.

Then we did some more shopping as we made our way home, and picked up some empanadas from a bakery for dinner. No restaurant-ing tonight… we needed a restaurant break, I think.

Tomorrow… Colonia, Uruguay!

Eating like the Argentines do.

Argentines don’t usually eat breakfast, and this morning, we learned why. We stayed at La Brigada until close to midnight, which is fairly typical for dinner – people here really know how to dine. We then proceeded to sleep until 11, so we almost completely missed the morning. Part of it, I’m sure, was jetlag – but part of it had to be that we ate dinner so late last night.

By about 1 pm, we were ready to leave the house and find food again (this is how my mother and I travel – we basically eat our way through every city). We wandered down Carlos Calvo (our street), aiming loosely toward the ATM, and ended up stopping for lunch at Don Ernesto.

They served these delicious white beans with bread:

And ohmigodthebestempanadasever:

Seriously. They were amazing. We’re going back for dinner.

We made the mistake of ordering another dish, when we would’ve been fine just eating the empanadas and arugula salad, but this was also amazing:

That’s chicken with Portuguese sauce and Spanish-style potatoes. Deeee-licious.

We did some shopping in our neighborhood after that, then made our way back to Plaza Dorrego for our afternoon coffee. Our good intentions – two cappuccinos – turned into one cappuccino, one cafe con leche, and a split piece of torta de ricota.

Torta de ricota = pie stuffed with ricotta. What a novel concept. Not too sweet, yet still a delightful little pastry.

All in all, a delicious day!

Update: La Brigada!

We had this amazing arugula salad with parmesan and vinaigrette…

And then this breaded chicken, barbecued (parrilla) pork, and fries with garlic and parsley…

In addition to the bottle of delightful chardonnay and two pricey glasses of port, the entire dinner for the two of us was $70 US (about 280 Argentine pesos). And all this, at an upscale, though touristy, establishment. Yummy yummy.

We also learned that, not only do people normally eat dinner around 9 or 10 here, but they also typically share dishes. No wonder the entrees have been so sizable – we weren’t supposed to eat them all ourselves! Go figure.