Argentina 101 part IV: Panqueques con dulce de leche

Yes, I know I´ve been gone for ages, but I´ve been quite busy and I´ve been exploring other things, like photography… yes, I finally took the plunge and started a photography course. Which is not to say I haven´t been cooking, quite the opposite, there has been plenty of action in my tiny kitchen…

Hell, I even made dulce de leche from scratch! YES, I DID! and not using condensed milk, but real milk straight from a cow. However, being a tease and not having produced decent pics from that endeavor, you are going to have to wait a couple of weeks for that particular post because I want to have perfect step-by-step photos to show you every single detail of the dulce de leche making process.

But I do have a very common Argentine dessert to show you, and I truly made it all from scratch because I used the dulce de leche I had made myself: I´m talking about “panqueques con dulce de leche”, panqueques meaning crepes.

It´s one of those simple things that are truly trascendental, especially if you make the crepes right before eating and spread the dulce de leche when the crepe is hot so it softens up and the whole thing is warm when you eat it… gimme a sec, I need to run to the fridge with my spoon to get a little reminder of what dulce de leche tastes like… ok, all done.

So, if you have dulce de leche in your pantry or know where to find it, start cracking some eggs ASAP, otherwise, wait just a little while and I promise you I´ll show you how to make some spectacular dulce de leche.

panqueque
panqueque

Panqueques con dulce de leche

Crepes (from Beth Hensperger´s The Bread Bible)

The recipe yields 16 to 18 7-inch crepes, but you can do what I did and divide it into three, either that or freeze the leftovers.

3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup water (here I did milk as well since I was using 2% milk instead of whole milk)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cooking spray for greasing the pan

1. Using a blender, food processor, immersion blender, or whisk, combine the eggs, milk, water, flour, and salt, beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once. Add the melted butter. The butter will be the consistency of cream; adjust the consistency, if necessary. Conver and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. (The batter can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring the batter back to room temperature and add the butter just before baking.) If your batter is lumpy, strain it.

2. Lightly grease a seasoned crepe pan or a 9 to 10 inch nonstick frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat until hot. Stir the batter to avoid separation. Working quickly, remove the pan from the heat and pour in about 3 tablespoons of batter, tilting and rotating the pan to completely cover the bottom. If the batter does not spread quickly, it is too thick and needs to be thinned with water. If the batter stiffen when poured into the pan, the pan is too hot. If the crepes have holes, fill in with a few drops of batter. Plan on a few uneven crepes at first while regulating the heat of the pan and thickness of the batter.

3. Cook until the bottom is brown and the top dry, less than 1 minute. Turn the crepe over with a spatula and cook the second side until speckled, about 20 seconds. Slide the crepe onto paper towels or a clean dish towel. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking as the crepes are done and spraying with cooking spray only if they are sticking. (Crepes may be cooled, transferred to a heavy-duty plastic bag and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 1 month. Let refrigerated crepes stand at room temperature 1 hour before filling. Completely defrost frozen crepes before using.)

For the filling:

dulce de leche, 1 or 2 tablespoons per crepe, but it depends on your sweetness level

Spread the dulce de leche down one side of the crepe and make a roll, or spread whichever way you want really and fold in a triangle or however you want really. Make sure the crepe is freshly done or reheat it quickly in the microwave or covered with aluminum foil in the oven making sure they don´t dry out. Some restaurants in Buenos Aires heat up the crepes when they are already filled with the dulce de leche, but I find that only leads to overly hot dulce de leche… which turns to burn people´s mouth (yes, I do speak from experience!).

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Argentina, food, sweet

A cake to celebrate

When the lovely Chris of Mele Cotte announced the Daring Bakers July challenge was announced, a shudder went down my spine. Nuts, and lots of them, and hazelnuts, which I´m not really a fan of. I don´t know what happens in the rest of the world, but almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts have been getting more expensive around these parts. As in, 6 pesos for 100 grams, as in, I never eat nuts.

IMG_1417

But I decided the recipe sounded tempting enough to go for it, especially if I managed to find a birthday to justify baking the most expensive cake ever. And I found the perfect birthday boy, my cousin and godson Martín.

IMG_1425

Doesn´t he look adorable? Well, he actually is, in between hyperactive fits. And he truly has a life worth celebrating, since his heart gave him trouble from the moment he was born. Fortunately, he´s perfectly fine now, and he is one of my favorite people on earth. It´s no secret I like unusual people, and Martín gives me plenty to love. Even before he was able to speak, he would crack jokes only he would understand while playing with his toys and started laughing. And he has some peculiar sense of humor… I don´t really know how to describe it exactly, but he likes to play with words and to exploit the ridiculous side of life.

And the morbid side every once in a while too. Like the time he was about 4 and he was asking everyone how old they were, so when he got to our mutual grandpa and he said “82”, so Martín said, as if he was stating the most obvious fact ever, “oh, so you are the one that´s going to die first then.” haha Ok, it´s funnier if you are not my grandpa, of course.

But I´m getting sidetracked here by Martín´s awesomeness, since we are here to talk cake, people. So, after having shelled out those precious pesos for the almonds and the chocolate. I set about to make the cake, which let me tell you, isn´t too bad if you do some things ahead of time, tedious things like peel almonds.

IMG_1273

IMG_1304

And making caramel to make praline and fancy decorations.

IMG_1316

And then you make the cake, fill it up with whipped cream or buttercream with the praline paste you made before. Cover it up with a ganache, whipped cream or buttercream, your fancy caramel thingies, and voilá… easy, right?

IMG_1402

Ok, maybe not particularly fast or straight-forward, but I have to say this probably was one of the best cakes I´ve ever made. It was very moist and it tasted amazing, if I may say so myself.

So if you ever want to honor someone special and have some time to spare… or find a good bunch of almonds or hazelnuts on sale, I´d say this is the cake to make.

IMG_1420

And for a thousand other takes on this recipe, check out what my fellow Daring Bakers did.

Recipe after the jump

Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Daring bakers, food, sweet

Italian sweets

Ricotta, chocolate, orange and pistachios. Not a bad combination, right? Well, that what we Bakenistas chose to bake this month, meaning cassata a la siciliana.

cassata

cassata

It´s the typical cake I would probably not tackle on my own, but is likely to surprise me, and this one certainly did, I absolutely loved it, it´s moist, chocolaty without being overwhelming, and has some extra crunch and flavor on top with the almonds and the candied orange peel.

candied orange peels

candied orange peels

The original recipe called for a rum syrup to soak the cake in, but I´m not much of a fan of rum and a friend of mine who is pregnant was going to be eating this cake, so I went with an orange-flavored syrup instead… oh and no almond extract in the glaze either, because I hate almond extract with a passion. I just covered the cake with actual almonds and candied orange peels and that was that.

cassata

cassata

Before I forget, I need to warn you that this cake is very filling (I´m thinking it´s the ricotta since it doesn´t have tons of butter or anything crazy like that), so you easily need 8-10 people to eat it. Luckily, Sunday was Día del amigo in Argentina, which is a day in which we celebrate friendship and friends, so a bunch of friends helped dispose of the cake that night. The recipe doesn´t say anything about freezing, so do a couple of minicakes halving the recipe or halve the recipe and do it in a loaf pan if you don´t want to be eating cake forever and ever… not that the cake isn´t worth it, but I just thought I´d let you know beforehand.

cassata

cassata

If you want to check out different takes on this cake and even some different frostings, see what : Lis, Ivonne, Helene, Ben, John, Chris, Stephanie, and Kelly did (Tanna, Sara , Laura and Mary didn´t bake with us this time around).

Recipe after the jump
Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under food, sweet

Sneezing my way through Denmark

It´s Daring Bakers´ time, people! Yep, I´m back. This month, our gracious hosts are Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What´s cooking, and they chose a great recipe that lends itself to make shapes and fillings: Danish braid with a wonderfully aromatic cardamom-orange flavored dough.

Danish braid

We were given the chance to do whichever filling we wanted and even play with the shapes once we had done a braid since the recipe shields two big braids. I was planning on doing just that yet the flu caught up with me.

And to make matters worse for me, I was doing the braids for Father´s day, so I was going to have to suck it up and get the recipe done. So I divided the recipe in two days and baked at my “high” moment, meaning those few hours when the flu meds did the trick and I felt somewhat normal.

Since I had seen fresh quinces around, I chose to do a quince compote and apple filling. And since many people are still unfamiliar with quinces, I did a little step-by-step photo shoot to show you the progress from fruit to compote since the change in color itself can be quite confusing.

Quinces

Danish braid

I love how it turned out and the dough is quite versatile so I see myself playing with this again, you know, when I´m not with the flu and I have the uncontrollable urge to fold and turn, then chill, and then fold and turn again.

Danish braid
If you want to check out endless, and I´m sure endlessly creative, variations of this recipe, check out what my fellow Daring Bakers did this month.

Oh, and let me know if you are interested in the quince compote recipe because I´m lazy when it comes to typing up recipes, but you know I´d do anything for you, my dears 😉

UPDATED WITH POACHED QUINCES RECIPE AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under bread, Daring bakers, food, sweet

Watch your breath!

IMG_1195

What happens when a dozen bakers get together to bake on a Sunday through Skype? Well, trust me, you don´t really want to know the details, but there was laughter, girth talk, small talk, linguistic queries (is it penises or penii?) lol ok, I think you get the picture.

Oh you are wondering about who was in that little group? Well, I´m not naming names, but it was Sara, Mary, John, Lisa, Chris, Helene, Kelly and Tanna. This time, Ivonne, Laura, Ben, and Stephanie couldn’t join in the fun, but I´m sure they´ll come back in for the next recipe after that description of what went on.

IMG_1173

IMG_1190

And regarding the recipe, we did garlic knots. Some did the King Arthur Flour recipe, and some of us did a variation of a Bon Appetit recipe Mary came up with to try to come up with something Lis ate at a restaurant and loved. The dough is a bit sweet with 1/2 cup of sugar, but mine didn´t come out too sweet, so you can adjust that to suit your tastes. I doubled the original amount of garlic, because we are talking about garlic knots here, so they needed to pack a punch.

IMG_1211

I loved the brioche-like texture of the bread, not so much the amount of butter brioche-like bread needs, but oh well, you can´t win them all. But beware, if you don´t want to eat them all in a day, do what I did and cook most of them halfway (before they start to brown but they are cooked) and freeze them up to reheat them briefly in the oven later on.

IMG_1203

Butterhorn garlic knots (originally from Bon Appetit , later adapted by Mary, and later on, by myself)

Makes 16 big knots

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup unsalted butter cut into pieces
½ cup warm water (105 degrees)
1 tsp plus ½ cup sugar, divided (remember to reduce the sugar a bit if you don´t want them to be a bit sweet)
1 envelope dry yeast
3 large eggs, room temp
5 ¼ cups, AP flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 Tbsp melted butter

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
7 cloves garlic, minced finely

In heavy medium sized sauce pan over low heat, heat milk and ¾ cup of butter until butter melts. Stir occasionally to prevent milk from burning on bottom of pan (I did this step in the microwave at 60% and it worked beautifully). Let cool to 120 degrees.

Combine warm water, 1 tsp sugar, and yeast in small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes (this is for flavor not to proof yeast, unless you are using active yeast in which case you are proofing and getting flavor)

In large bowl of stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat eggs and remaining sugar at low speed until blended. Beat in milk mixture. Gradually add 2 ½ cups of the flour, ½ cup at a time until blended smooth. Replace the whisk with dough hook. Add yeast mixture, salt, and 2 cups of flour (½ cup at a time), beat at medium low speed (2 on the KA mixture). You will have very wet and loose dough that climbs the dough hook but falls back down the bowl by this time. One TBSP at a time, add enough flour to form a firm but sticky dough ball. The dough balls will pull away from the sides of the bowl and not flop back to the sides. It will feel like “fly paper” when you tough it.

Pour 1 Tbsp melted butter in large bowl (4Qt or Larger) that can be fitted with a lid or that plastic wrap clings to well. On very lightly flour covered counter and with lightly floured hands, give dough 3 – 5 quick hand kneads to form good dough ball and then put in buttered bowl, turning dough over to coat with butter. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place (your hot water heater Lisa, covered with a towel) until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.

Punch down dough, fold dough over in half and then half again, and brush with melted butter. Cover bowl again and let rise again in same warm draft free place until double (about 1 hour) FYI: This is called turning the dough too, just like with puff pastry and will result in a flaky rolls)

From here follow the directions for making the knots as shown on the KA website. Just don’t tuck the ends in to get the shape you want.

Cover and let rise until double, brush with melted butter and garlic and bake in 375 F degree preheated oven for 15 -20 minutes. If you notice your oven is baking too hot, turn it down to 350 and bake a little longer. If the tops are starting to brown too much owing to all the butter, just cover with some foil but take the foil off for the last few minutes of baking so you don’t make the rolls soggy.

12 Comments

Filed under bread, food, savory

Here comes the sun, do do do do

Charleston

I´m having the worst case of writer´s block when it comes to writing about this trip, I don´t know why, maybe subconsciously I don´t want it to be over, so I let it be an unfinished business… but it really isn´t a good idea waiting this long to write because, with my memory, that´s not a luxury I can afford. Before long, I´ll be like Helene, who was that? (kidding!).

Charleston 2

So Charleston was so damn beautiful there are going to have to invent a new word for it, it´s just calm, sunny, breezy, just what I needed to relax before going back to New York. And I had the best hostess ever, the lovely Helene of Tartelette, who made me feel as if her home was my own for those four days I was there. And I even got to “borrow” her dog Tippy to help me not miss Phoebe as much, and of course, he was delighted to surrender to my attention. I also had my very own history professor (Helene´s hubby) to show me around town and even do things that were totally beneath him, like fixing one of my necklaces, poor guy, I´m very high-maintenance haha

And to relax after all my hard work, we went to the dock down the street to relax with the neighbors as the sun descended, and eat some chips and salsa. And just to make matters even more idyllic, a little dolphin and its mom came out to play! (you can see their fins in the second picture below if you look closely).

Charleston 3

So by now you are wondering to yourself if I was crazy because I was with Helene and didn´t do any cooking apparently, right? Well, you´d be wrong to judge me like that, we certainly did some cooking here and there, like homemade pizza, some pasta, a homemade crumble with loquats and different fruits, and of course, I had to make her teach me how to make a proper macaron, since I had never tasted one, let alone make it myself! And I´m proud to say they turned out quite well, so I´m going to try them again soon.

Charleston 4

And I ate the best strawberries I´ve ever tasted on my last day there. We picked them up ourselves at the Boone Hall Plantation, and they were just amazing, ripe to the very core, and sweet as can be… I´m still dreaming about them now that we are starting winter here and it´ll be months until I try another strawberry.

I feel as if I´m leaving so much out, but this will have to do for now because if I keep reminiscing, I´d take the next plane and head back out there!

4 Comments

Filed under food, rambling, sweet, travel

Clouds, weirdos, and sunshine

I had a funny thing going on with Seattle even before I set foot in the city. Everyone I met either online or in person seem to come from there, it was as if suddenly all the interesting people had decided to move there, notwithstanding the grayness, which I decided was not a big deal… that is, until I actually experienced it myself!

IMG_3616

It turns out it wasn´t any sort of myth, trust me, in Seattle it rains, or drizzles, quite a bit, but that´s not the worst part, the bad part was the winter-like weather in the middle of spring, and all that gray. BUT I loved the city, I truly did, despite all I´ve just said, which means all those people who move there actually know what they are doing.

IMG_3561

IMG_3591

Of course, my situation was quite special because I was staying with my dear friend Jenny and her family, so I actually got to see a bit of real life there and not just touristy stuff, which is just how I like it. Plus, I had talked to Traca of Seattle Tall Poppy online before going, and she kindly organized all sorts of fun activities for me, including breakfast with Peabody and a food lovers dinner at Kris Dew´s house with Lara of Cook and Eat, Molly of Orangette, Mohini of Mango Power Girl, food journalist Rebekah Denn, pastry chef Dana Cree, and food lovers Dan and Phil. Needless to say, we did a potluck dinner so we had quite a spread, not to mention the view, but truly, the best thing was the company, including Kris´s adorable cat, Rocky.

But the one thing that sucks with meetings where you meet that many people is the feeling of not being able to talk deeply with anyone at all, especially since, believe it or not, I can get quite shy in such situations. But, anyways, Jenny and I brought a tasty, yet dead simple dish, to the meeting: Martha Stewart´s chana masala, but more on that at the end of the post.

IMG_3568

I have to say that one of the things I loved the most about Seattle is its wonderfully crazy irreverent attitude, as can be evidenced by people you meet walking down the street, or in bizarre monuments like a troll eating a car in Fremont, or a tiny replica of the statue of liberty, among many, and I mean many, other things.

Like smart “political” toys:

IMG_3580

Or fake macarons made of soap:

soap macarons

So, trying to sum up all of my experiences in Seattle after being back in Buenos Aires for over a month now, I think it´d come down to people and nature, because the place is truly gorgeous and has the peculiar advantage of remaining close to nature while being a big city, and I´ve always enjoyed hanging out with weirdos like myself, and Seattle gives me plenty to choose from.

Which means that I have no idea when I´ll be back, but I´ll be back, so save a few days of sun for me, will ya?

chana masala

Chana masala (from Martha Stewart´s site)

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 small onions, finely diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans of chickpeas (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add cumin seeds, and cook until they begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add onions, and cook until they begin to brown. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more.

2. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, jalapeno, garam masala, and salt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, and serve.

12 Comments

Filed under food, rambling, savory, travel, vegetables