Tag Archives: Argentinean

{ Beef Empanadas with Avocado Dipping Sauce }

I’ve been back in the States for about 1 month now, and have been taking full advantage of enjoying my much missed American grub (Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Wawa milkshakes, Five Guys burger’s, and the like). But then yesterday, a very unexpected thing occurred–I was struck by an empanada craving. This took me by surprise because I swore that I would never want another empanada upon leaving South America. Not because I don’t like them, but because I had consumed so many over my 6 months there.

Empanadas are the beating heart of Argentine cuisine, and the epitome of South American fast food. They are as beloved and frequently consumed as French fries are by Americans.  And, since you may have already gathered, I’m not one to deny myself food indulgences, I ate up empanadas like I would never be able to get them again after I returned home. I would start off the day with a ham and ricotta one from La Cocina, then grab a spicy chicken one from Na Serapia on my walk to class, and the Kobe beef ones from La Cabrera made a perfect appetizer before my gut-dropping, artery-clogging, 200mg t-bone steak.

Then after months of ordering empanadas out (everywhere from 5 star restaurants to hole-in-the-wall pizza dives that Guy Fieri only wishes he could find), I decided to try making them myself. I didn’t think they would be nearly as good as the authentic Argentine ones, but when they turned out equally delicious, I knew that I had embarked on something detrimental to my health (not to mention, slender physic). Empanadas were no longer something only savored outside of the home, they were a new refrigerator staple, my go-to drunk snack, and my favorite food to experiment with in cooking. I created all sorts of crazy empanada fillings and flavor combinations, and each one had a unique dipping sauce paired with it.

You see, dipping sauce was my American twist on the Argentine classic. Lets face it, we are a nation in love with condiments- a people that put ketchup and hot sauce on any and every thing, a generation of extra dressing on the siders, and yes, I’m talking to you, all my heavy handed salt shakers. Condiments are the cornerstone of American food. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the boutique burgers being served up in our country. Forget lettuce, tomato, and onion. We don’t want it unless its got foie gras, truffled mushrooms, carmalized onions, Kobe beef, and a price tag of about 15 dollars. Condiments = deliciousness.

So without further ado (sorry for my condiment digression), I present to you my recipe for spicy beef empanadas with DELICIOUS spicy avocado dipping sauce!

{ Ingredients }

For the Avocado Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 roasted jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Dash of Tobasco or Cholula hot sauce
{ Directions } Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Adjust seasoning to preference.

For the Spicy Beef Empanadas:

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 20 pre-packaged frozen empanada shells (I use Goya or Saltena brands)

 { To Make the Beef Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, peppers, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato puree and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, remove from heat. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

{ To Assemble the Empanadas } Defrost empanada shells and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or cooking spray.

Dip the tip of your finger in warm water and moisten 1/2 the rim of the empanada shell, making a half-moon motion. Spoon the empanada filling into the center of the dough and fold over half-wise, pinching the edges between your fingers so that the dough seals around the meat pocket.

Place the empanada on the prepared baking sheet and firmly press down on the edges with the back of a fork to enforce the closure.

Then, using a silicone brush, gently apply an egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 tablespoon water) to the tops of the empanadas. This helps them to get shiny and golden in the oven.

Repeat this process until you have finished making all of the empanadas. Place the baking sheet into the oven and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are golden.

Remove from oven and serve with avocado dipping sauce.

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La Cocina *****

Pueyrredon 1508 
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recoleta
(+54).4825.3171

 

La vida locro…

On the days when I don’t have time to sit down and eat half a cow for lunch, I find my way over to La Cocina located on Pueyrredon in Recoleta. This tiny, fast service restaurant only really offers two things; empanadas and locro. But they do both better than anyone else, and so the dinning room is always packed. Then again, this might have something to do with the fact that there are only 10 seats in the place…half of those being bar stools. None-the-less people are rushing in and out of this restaurant  all day to get their ribbon-tied empanada packages on the go. Ohh, and they use pink ribbon, which makes me happy…as if the empanada inside hadn’t already!

If I had to chose my favorite empanadas from La Cocina (easier said than done), I would have to go with the Jamon y Ricotta (7 pesos) and the Carne Picante (7 pesos). The carne picante heads straight to the top of the list simply because it is spicy–a rare find in Argentina. I also like that it doesn’t have the egg in the meat filling, which is very typical of Argentine meat empanadas. On the other hand, the Jamon y Ricotta is perfect for breakfast, because the fluffy cheese seems to be whipped with egg. It’s the closest thing to an egg sandwich this many miles away from home!

If you’re craving more than a snack though, try a bowl of their hearty Locro–a thick stew made with beans, chorizo, ham, potato, and corn (27 pesos). It’s a stick to your ribs kind of lunch. A lunch, which is completely necessary in a country where they don’t eat dinner until 11 pm. I am still struggling with this concept because I prefer to eat like a baby–every two hours! If you like spicy, then ask for your locro picante and you’ll receive a generous drizzling of red hot chili oil on the top. It an experience for your taste buds.

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Cumana *****

Rodríguez Pena 1149
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recoleta
001 4813 9207

As I mentioned in the previous post, Ariana and I have become ¨regulars¨ at La Cholita–frequenting the restuarant at least once a week to get our parrilla fix. But we aren´t the only one´s in BA that know about the deals to be had there, so there is often times a wait to get in (get there after 10 O´clock, and you´re not leaving until 1 or 1:30…no, I´m not joking). Luckily, right next door is a resturant called Cumana. It is the same price point as La Cholita, and the food is equally as delicious, but the menu offers a completely different selection of Argentine cuisine. Rather than parrilla, Cumana serves up food typical of the Northern region of the country, including homemade cazuelas, pizzas, calzones, empanadas, and potato dishes. Most people show up with the intentions of eating at either La Cholita or Cumana, but inevitably put down their name for both once they see the crowds waiting outside. Pretty much, which ever restaurant can accomodate the party first wins. Nobody goes home upset!

Inside Cumana, you will find an equally mixed crowd of locals and tourists. The locals come becasue the prices are unbeatably cheap, and the tourists come to sample a wide variety of the delicious cazuelas, which are thick and hearty stews served in lerge clay vessels. They come out steaming hot, and they never seem to cool off…you will still be blowing on the last spoonful (if you can even manage to eat that much of these filling casseroles, of course!) Some of the cazuelas are simply legumes, others include meats such as chorizo and beef, and then of course there are those that offer a mixture of vegetable and meat. My favorite cazuela at Cumana is the one with Lentejas y Chorizo (lentils and sausage). The menu simply reads Cazuela de Lentejas, but the Chorizo is a delcious surprise that adds a nice smoky flavor to the dish. The lentils are cooked to a tender perfection and the meal overall is like a hug in your belly.

I also hear that the Cazuela al Pastor is incredible, although I have never gone to Cumana hungry enough to tackle the dish myself. The waiter described it almost like a Sheppard´s Pie, layered with hearty ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese. Again, this is all baked and served in a large clay pot (it is on my list of things to eat in the very near future!). When I don´t order the Cazuelas de Lentejas, I go for the Locro–a thick soup made with beans, potatoes, squash, ham, and chorizo. It is like Pasta Fagiole on steriods, and without a doubt a ¨stick to your ribs¨ kind of meal. Although the locro is very delicious at Cumana, I must be honest an admit that there is one better at La Cocina on the corner of Puerrydon and Santa Fe (the review is coming soon!).

If your craving more than soup, I highly, highly, highly, recommend the pizza and calzones at Cumama. There is some special ingredient that they use, which makes the flavor of the pizza very unique. I can´t figure out if it is an herb, or if it is special cheese, or what. I am a pretty good food detetctive when it comes to identifying ingredients, but they have me absolutely stumped. Normally, I would ask the waiter for the secret, but given the language barrier, I am left to wonder. I like the Rucola Pizza with Fresh Sliced Tomato, Cured Ham, Mozarella, Tomato Sauce, and Oregano. It is salty, gooey, goodness. The calzones are also enourmous and look amazing (definitely enough for two people to share).

If you´re looking to eat soemthing I little lighter, as I was the other night, it´s not gonna happen here. I ordered the Ensalada de Cumana thinking that the vegetables would be healthy, but the salad came out in an enourmous baked bread bowl, topped with gobbs of mayonnaise. All of my biggest ordering errors in Argentina have involved salad and salad dessings. The menu will often read; ¨vinaigrette a la casa,¨ ¨ceasar dressing, and ¨dressing especialidad.¨ But do not be fooled….these are just synonyms for disguising the word mayonnaise. And not a drizzle of mayonnaise, an overwhelming heaping of it (see photo below). The moral of the story; order your salad plain and ask for a side of oil and vinegar. Otherwise, you might as well have just ordered the fattiest steak on the menu. Of course, once I removed the top layer of mayo covered lettuce, the salad was delicious. But I hate having to operate on my food before it becomes edible.

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La Cholita *****

Rodriguez Peña 1165
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recoleta
11 4815 4506

I’ve only been in Buenos Aires for about three weeks now, but I am eating my way through this city at an almost unstoppable rate. Since I am currently living in a hostel, the kitchen situation is less than ideal (toaster oven = only oven), forcing me to venture out for about two meals a day. But hey, I’m not complaining!

I am doing the Buenos Aires food scene like a true Porteno, and getting in touch with my carnivorous side. It’s bife de lomo, bife de chorizo, vacio, morcilla, and salchicha for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ohh, and don’t forget the Malbec! I thought I would be sick of it by now, but something tells me I’ll develop gout before I tire out of this good steak and wine.

Unlike my previous travels this summer, which I treated like a vacation in terms of budget (aka no budget), I am now living in Buenos Aires–this is not a vacation. And since I will be working for pesos, I need to think of spending in pesos. Naturally, this equates to a budget.  I’ve pretty much eliminated every expense that is unrelated to eating and drinking (so no more new shoes or unnecessary beauty treatments), and I’ve begun exhaustively hunting for the best food deals in the city. But just because I am on a budget, doesn’t mean I am compromising the quality of my meals. I won’t give a restaurant a good review just because the food is dirt cheap. Personally, I’d rather eat Ramen Noodles at home 5 nights a week to enjoy 1 good meal out than a bunch of cheap meals.

Fortunately though, I have found La Cholita–an incredible parrilla in Recoleta with big portions and even better prices. I’ve dinner here at least twice a week since I have been in Buenos Aires because it truly is the best bang for your buck. I recommend the Provoleta Completa (28 pesos) to start, which is a cast iron skillet with baked provolone cheese, topped with onions, oregano, tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil. Baked cheese, need I say more? I also love the Salchicha Parrillera (14 pesos), which is a very flavorful grilled sausage wrapped in a coil and secured with a skewer. It is awesome, and doesn’t have the fatty texture of most other sausages. Both of these make great appetizers for the table to share, and I highly recommend sharing at parrillas because they are generous with the portions.

As far as meat goes, the Bife de Lomo (55 pesos) is my favorite because it is the most tender and the least fatty. The plate comes with two huge pieces of meat, a side of french fries, and mashed calabaza (which is a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin, in my opinion). I also like the Bife de Chorizo (53 pesos), again large enough to share, and served with the same sides.

If you aren’t in the mood for steak though, La Cholita also happens to have some of the best Chicken Quesadillas (32 pesos) that I have ever had. They come served with guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, a fresh side salad, and french fries. I was eery to order them at first (considering I was at a steak place), but they turned out to be amazing and I order them often. I also suggest the Suprema Milanga de Pollo Napolitana (36 pesos), which is an obnoxiously large piece of chicken fried to golden perfection, and then baked with tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella cheese. It is accompanied by a serving of french fries and it is a belly buster to finish.

If you are looking for something on the lighter side, a rather difficult task in Argentina, then I recommend the Ensalada la Cholita, which is a bed of mixed greens topped with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, diced peppers, and a large piece of chicken palliard.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to eat you way into a food coma, I suggest the Parrilla para Dos, which is an enormous sizzling hot-plate of mixed grilled meats. Here is a glimpse of what you will get:

Ohh, and the house wine is dirt cheap and a HUGE pour! So far this is my favorite casual dinner spot in Buenos Aires. Great steak, great prices, and big portions, and big pours.  Love it!

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Novecento ****

“Lomo” – 10oz Grilled Beef Tenderloin

305.403.0900
1414 Brickell Ave, Miami 33131

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I am back in Miami for the week, celebrating my 1-year anniversary with my boyfriend, Roberto (the only thing in my life that I have managed to commit to), and he has been speaking my love language by taking me out for some incredible food while I’m here. Today, he told me that we were going to Novecento in Brickell to watch the Spain v. Portugal world cup game and of course, I got all sorts of excited to be included in the ethnic festivities, since soccer isn’t really as big of a sport here in America. So I put on my Spanish Saints bracelet, which somehow always makes me feel slightly more ethnic when going to places such as Novecento, and sure enough I found myself blending right in with the 200 something Spaniards who had gathered at the restaurant to watch the game. And as if my bracelet wasn’t enough to disguise my inner gringa, I even referred to soccer as futbol!!

But on to the food! For lunch I ordered the Milanga de Pollo (aka Chicken Milanese), which was very, very good. I believe that a Milanese should always be pounded to a ¼ of an inch thin, and this was so I was pleased. I had mine with a side of mixed greens and my boyfriend had his with a side of fries, which I ate half of and thought were delicious! My boyfriend’s brother, Juanmi, ordered the Pollo al Curry, which I thought was odd to appear on a Spanish menu but it both smelled and looked delicious (I would probably order that the next time I go to Novecento). Juanmi’s girlfriend, Lidi, ordered the smallChicken Caesar Salad (she’s a swimsuit model….I wish I could order that and be satisfied) and the chicken to lettuce ratio was way out of proportion—“Would you like some salad with that chicken?!?” If your trying to get your protein in then you’d probably love it, but if you just want a salad I wouldn’t suggest it.

So we have finished our food and Spain has just won the game against Portugal, much to everyone’s delight (they cheered so loud you would have though the won the whole world cup), and now we are ready for another meal. To celebrate the win we order a bottle of champagne, which was half price (not sure if it’s a daily special or just because of the game) and some more food—Ceviche Con Tostones (white fish ceviche marinated in lime juice, jalapenos, avocados, plantains, and fresh basil and served with tostones) and Entrana Con Chimichurri(grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce). I didn’t care to try the ceviche, but the chimichurri sauce for the steak was so delicious that I even dipped a couple fries in it!

Overall, Novecento serves good food and has a great atmosphere. In my opinion, it is a little over priced for the simplistic nature of the food (my lunch portion of Milanese was $13) but it is an enjoyable experience and a perfect place to watch the game.

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