Category Archives: Argentina

Buenos Aires in bits and bites

When you live in such a huge city, it´s hard to feel like you´ve got a good grip on it since there´s no way to know it all. And sometimes that hugeness can make you block out your surroundings and not pay attention to the little bits of beauty that can be found all around if only you keep your eyes open.

And having grown up in the suburbs, there´s just so much I have left to discover. So I decided to make an effort to explore more and to drag my camera everywhere so I could capture it.

Which is why I´m planning to make this a weekly, bi-weekly or at least a monthly series, so those of you abroad can get to know the city a bit more along with me, and those of you who live here or have already visited can see it under a different light. Hope you like it!

Iglesia de Guadalupe
Iglesia de Guadalupe (between Charcas and Medrano)

Iglesia de Guadalupe

Iglesia de Guadalupe

graffity shrine
Shrine to all things graffiti (check out the monkeys above the columns!)

graffity shrine

art
Art in the park (in Plaza Armenia, between Costa Rica and Armenia)

the body, deconstructed

city art

Jewish food
Jewish New Year celebrations (in this case, just the food)

Jewish New Year

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Filed under Argentina, Buenos Aires, rambling

Snow in Buenos Aires: a photographic essay

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I know this will be boring for those of you in cooler climates, but it´s the first time it has snowed in Buenos Aires since 1918, so this is big news around here, thus bear with me for a while.

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My parents smiling in the snow

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It´s not big foot per se, but my father huge foot on the snow 

I was at my parents´house in the suburbs, so we got much more snow around here that in the city itself so we stayed outside as much as possible trying to capture everything, even Phoebe got to play in the snow for the first time.

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It´s funny how something as simple as snow can make me happy, but I´ve been in a great mood all day playing like a child. What can I say, the best things in life are free indeed after all, which works for me since I´m not particularly loaded at the moment!

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(Back to the regular programming soon, but this deserved to be captured. Remember to take a look at the previous post with the cheese roll recipe.)

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Filed under Argentina, rambling

Unleash the Paraguayan in you (chipá cheese rolls)

chipá, take two

Chipá is a traditional bread from the north of Argentina and Paraguay. I´ve been meaning to make this for the blog for ages, but never got around to buying all that cheese. Basically, these are cheese rolls which use tapioca flour instead of regular wheat flour, which gives them a very smooth, chewy texture.

chipá 2

They are truly delicious and quite easy to make, freeze perfectly either raw or cooked, and are definitely crowd-pleasers. And it´s just made up of tapioca flour, butter, eggs and all sorts of cheese, what´s not to like?

chipá, take two

In case you can´t find tapioca flour/starch where you live, you can buy it at Amazon for sure. And I can even give you a satisfaction guarantee, since I have never met anyone who doesn´t like them.

Traditional cheese rolls with tapioca (chipá)

Yields about 40 chipá

Tapioca flour or tapioca starch, 500g

4 eggs

Butter, 200g (about 1 3/4 sticks)

2 teaspoons salt (this will depend on the amount of salt the cheese you use has)

pepper

parmesan cheese, 250 grams (about 1/2 a pound)

mozarella or other soft cheese, 250 grams

manchego or other hard and somewhat spicy cheese, 250 grams

1. Put the tapioca in a big bowl (it is quite volatile so it can make a mess), along with cold butter (chopped roughly), the mozzarella or any semi-soft cheese (also roughly cut to make the process easier), the grated parmesan cheese, and the eggs.

2. Start mixing the ingredients by hand until the dough is somewhat formed. (Another method I´ve used is to first process the butter and the flour till it resembles a fine crumble and then add the soft cheese, the parmesan and the eggs until it forms a ball.)

3. Add the hard cheese cut into small squares to the dough and keep kneading until you have a homogeneous dough (with the exception of the hard cheese squares, which aren´t supposed to blend in).

4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. This step can be skipped if in a hurry and they´ll still come out great. Or you can keep it in the fridge and finish the next day.

5. Take small pieces of dough and form little balls with it. (At this point, you can also freeze some of them raw and bake them later.)

6. Cook in a 400°F oven for around 10 mins, checking every 5 mins or so. The result should be crunchy outside and softer inside. (Be careful not too overcook them, otherwise they´ll get too dry. They should be quite soft and chewy on the inside.)

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Filed under Argentina, bread, food

Why everyone should start a blog:

free cookies and brownies, of course!

You see, I was invited to a blogger event organized by Frank, who owns a cookie shop called Sugar & Spice just a few blocks away from my house. Those of you who know me must know that an offer like that is a total no brainer, so I said YES instantly.

So I got to try different cookies (and even take home a box of brownies) and meet fellow Buenos Aires bloggers, which was a first for me, because actually I had never met fellow bloggers, be it from here or anywhere else. Needless to say I had a wonderful time munching away and talking to some very interesting people (and I even got to dust off my spoken English that has been safely resting since I finished college).


(These are totally cute and come with bags of cookies and cookies presented as lollypops, next time someone has a baby, no flowers!)

Since I don´t want to piss off those of you outside of Buenos Aires who don´t get to try the cookies, I´m adding some pictures of my venture into jam making, specifically kumkuat jam making.

I got a 2-pound bag of kumkuats (or quinotos) at the farmers´market for 2 pesos on Wednesday (0.65 dollars or so) in which can possibly be the bargain of the year so I got busy right away. I used this recipe, though I cooked the jam 10 minutes longer because I wanted a thicker consistency.

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I used some of Frank´s brownies to go along with the jam, which worked wonderfully because of the sweet-tart-sour combination.

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(Thanks to Frank and Alan for the pictures of the event. Hope to see you all soon.)

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Filed under Argentina, food, sweet

Homemade to the core

Inspired by the why-buy-it-if-you-can-do-it-from-scratch attitude of many food bloggers, I decided to do something I hadn´t attempted before: homemade “dulce de membrillo” (kind of like a quince spread, but presented as a bar.)

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Besides being curious about making it from scratch and later using it to make a quince pie, I wanted to have a tried-and-true recipe to give those of you outside of Argentina to have a way to make our typical pastafrola. (Though after reading this article in Wikipedia, I´m hoping you can get hold of the fruit to begin with because apparently Argentina is among the few countries that still grow the fruit and is the source of most of the quinces found in North America.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yep, the quince spread… I was actually surprised at how easy it was to make (it did take like an hour and a half overall but it´s not too bad for this sort of thing and it keeps for a few months). You peel and cut the fruit, take the cores out and put them in a little cheesecloth pouch, put the fruit and the bag in a pan and cover it with water and boil until tender. Then you make a puree, mix with sugar and cook again. And you get this:

dulce de membrillo

The taste is in the apple family, yet different and you can use it to eat as is with some creamy cheese or on top of a toast or whatever you want really. I´ve just found Shuna´s post about quince, and I suggest you read it from top to bottom if you want to find out more about this poor neglected fruit.

pastafrola 2

But what I had in mind was to show you our typical pastafrola, which is a quince pie with a buttery pastry base (you can use a pate brisé, for instance) with lots of lemon zest and the quince paste on top, covered by a lattice top. I was planning on having a perfectly uniform lattice top, but the flaky dough was determined not to let me achieve perfection… so let´s just call this pie “rustique”, shall we?

pastafrola

pastafrola in the making

I don´t know if this pie will be alluring enough for those of you who´ve never tried it before… probably not, but to me it´s perfect just as it is, in all its simplicity, because it´s a bit of a national landmark by now (and it doesn´t have dulce de leche, that´s a first!), and it´s just tied to so many childhood memories.

Like the time when my mom made one with a delicious golden crust using some amazing eggs my grandma had brought from a farm, and left it to cool on the table before picking up my brother from a soccer match. When she came back our dog Perrín had eaten half of the pie! And you know how it goes… when it comes to dogs, you don´t want to assume the other half was left untouched, so the other half ended up on the bin… that was a very sad afternoon for our stomachs, but it still makes me laugh to relive the whole scene: my mom screaming, the dog hiding under a table, me mourning the lost pie.

So I still hope you get to make it or try it someday. I´ll save you this slice for whenever you make it to Buenos Aires ;)

pastafrola slice

Dulce de membrillo (quince spread)

Fresh quinces, 1.8 kg (which got me about 1.4 kg after cleaning them)

Sugar, 1.1 kg (some recipes say it should be the same amount of sugar than fruit, but it gets too sweet if you use those amounts)

1. Wash and peel the quinces (they should be firm and yellow, I used a potato peeler to peel them and it was very easy to do). Cut them in quarters and remove the cores. Put some of the cores with the seeds in a cheesecloth pouch.

2. Put the fruit and the little bag in a pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until they are tender (mine took 15 minutes or so, but it depends on the size of the fruit, just check with a fork or a knife for doneness.)

3. Strain them (reserving the water in a bowl) and puree them with an immersion blender. Mix in the sugar.

4. Put it back in the pan and cook over medium-low heat mixing with a wooden spoon every few minutes until it gets quite thick (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan when mixing) and it acquires a caramel-like tone. Be careful to cover the pot because the jam forms bubbles that pop while cooking and it could burn you. What I did was cover it almost fully with the lid and take it out of the fire and wait a few seconds before removing the lid and mixing.

5. If you want to have the membrillo in a bar like I did, let it cool a little and pour the mix in a container covered with plastic wrap. Keep it in the fridge until you need it (it keeps for a few months.)

6. If you want a softer texture to use as marmalade or something, you can add a bit of the water you boiled the fruit in before making the pure.

Pastafrola

For the pie crust

All purpose flour, 3 cups

Baking powder, 6 teaspoons

Sugar, 3/4 cups

Butter, cold, 190 grams (since 1 stick is 115g, this would be around 1 3/4 sticks)

Lemon zest, 3 tablespoons or so (I used the zest of 2 lemons)

1 egg yolk

2 eggs

Milk, 4 tablespoons

1. Zift the flour, the baking powder and the sugar.

2. Cut the cold butter into little squares and make a fine crumble with the previous ingredients. (You can also use the food processor for this, and if you work with your hands or a pastry cutter, make sure you don´t heat up the butter.)

3. Add the lemon zest, the yolk, the eggs and the milk and mix slightly to form a ball. The dough is quite crumbly and you shouldn´t knead it too much because you´ll ruin the flaky consistency this dough should have. You simply need to join the ingredients and form a ball.

4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

To assemble the pastafrola: 

Pie crust (recipe above, but you can use a pate brise recipe if you want, just make sure to add quite a bit of lemon zest)

Quince spread (as much as you want really)

Boiling water, 3 or 4 tablespoons to soften the spread

1. Roll out the dough until it´s about 1/2 cm thick. Cover a tart pan with the crust. Put it in the fridge. Keep about 1/3 of the dough to make the lattice top.

2. Cut the quince spread (more like bar really) and soften it with a few tablespoons of boiling water using a fork. Spread this paste over the crust.

3. Make a lattice top and brush with egg wash.
4. Cook in a 180°C/350°F degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the dough is nice and golden.

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Filed under Argentina, sweet

Happy 25 de mayo!

Yes, that´s right, it´s not all about 5 de mayo in this world, and this festivity doesn´t involve any sort of hangover-inducing activities.

In Argentina, on May 25th we celebrate one of the turning points in our struggle to gain independence from Spain. The actual independence was obtained on July 9th, 1816, but what is known as the “Revolución de Mayo” , which happened on May 25th, 1810, was the first step towards emmancipation, so it´s one of the main holidays here in Argentina.

Now, I was thinking of making a typical celebratory dish for the holiday, namely “tortas fritas” or “pastelitos”, but I ran out of time, so I thought I´d just commemorate the holiday with a recap of traditional (or not so traditional) Argentine dishes I´ve done for the blog so far and some pictures I´ve found on the web.

Alfajores de maizena

Milanesas with a twist

Pizza y fainá

a piece of heaven

alfajor de maizena

Mate con pastelitos 

 Tortas fritas

Mate

                                                                                                        

Torta Rogel

Oh, and don´t forget to check back this Sunday for the Daring Bakers´ post. 

                                                                                                                 

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a perfect lunch… alternately titled “crusty borders, part II”

I´ve rarely talked about cheese here. It´s definitely NOT because I don´t like it, it´s just that it´s always there (try to find savory recipes of mine without parmessan cheese, I dare you!). And I rarely use fancy cheese, so I don´t have any excuse to stop and discuss this or that type of cheese.

provoleta 3

Well, today is that day, and the cheese is called “provoleta”. As you can guess is a sort of provolone cheese which is grilled to serve alongside our famous “asados” (barbecues.) Just imagine this: a big chunk of hard cheese put on a grill till it morphs into a crusty shell with a soft, gooey, cheesy interior.

provoleta

The taste is that of provolone cheese, which is similar to parmessan, so you can just imagine how good this is.

provoleta... melting

I´m a bit of an embarrassment to my country in terms of my beef-eating habits, meaning I rarely eat beef, so I had a small piece of provoleta with a huge spinach salad and some of my homemade white batter bread. I don´t know about you, but that is my idea of a perfect lunch right there: crunchy, yet soft cheese, raw spinach and two incredible pieces of bread grilled along with the cheese.

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As there isn´t really a recipe for the provoleta, just with an invitation to come to Argentina and try it for yourself, I´m gonna give you the recipe for the white batter bread (courtesy of Deb), which is one of my favorite breads ever, is easy to make and doesn´t require kneading for those of you afraid of that part of bread-making.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with at least one wonderful, perfect lunch… see you on Sunday with my first-ever Daring Bakers challenge! :)

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Filed under Argentina, bread, food, savory