Toast the New Year with Lemon Champ

Happy 2013! by evalottchen, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]

With New Year's Eve only a day away, I've been working to finalize our special dinner menu. We typically ring in the holidays here with a glass of sidra (a sweet sparkling alcoholic apple cider) or champagne; however, it's nice to switch things up a bit now and again. So, this New Year's we're going to toast with a delicious and refreshing champagne cocktail known as Lemon Champ

The first time I ever tried this tasty beverage was at a restaurant here in Necochea called the Taberna Española, where it was listed on the menu as Limonchamp; however, Mr. Google says the more popular spelling is Lemon Champ. Regardless of how you spell it, this drink is a simple, elegant and festive way to ring in the New Year (or any other special occasion).

Along with the typical menu and drinks prepared by Argentines for Christmas and New Year's, a few other traditions are observed as the year draws to an end. In Buenos Aires, some individuals and businesses shred old calendars, magazines and documents from the past year and toss them out the window like confetti. Out with the old and in with the new, I suppose.

Also, many Argentine women uphold the tradition of wearing a brand new pair of pink panties (or red, according to some) on New Year's Eve to bring luck, money, or a boyfriend, in the case of single ladies. These undies must be received as a gift on Christmas, preferably from a female friend or family member, in order to function as a good luck charm.

So, put on your pink knickers, grab a glass of Lemon Champ, and toast to a New Year filled with love, health, happiness and success. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Lemon Champ | Champagne Cocktail with Lemon Sorbet by katiemetz, on Flickr

Lemon Champ | Champagne Cocktail with Lemon Sorbet
Serves 6

Ingredients

1 pint lemon sorbet
750 mL bottle brut champagne, chilled
twists of lemon zest or fresh strawberries, for garnish [optional]

Directions

Remove sorbet from freezer and let soften for about 10 minutes. Scoop sorbet into a large pitcher. Pour half the bottle of champagne over the sorbet, and stir briskly to blend. Pour into champagne flutes, filling each glass halfway. Top off each flute with champagne from the bottle. Garnish each glass with a twist of lemon zest or a strawberry, if desired. Serve immediately.

[Image credit: evalottchen]

Read More......

Recipe File: Pionono de Pollo y Palmitos | Chicken Salad Roll with Hearts of Palm

Pionono de Pollo y Palmitos | Chicken Salad Roll with Hearts of Palm by katiemetz, on Flickr

The pionono, a thin sponge cake filled with either sweet or savory ingredients and rolled up jelly roll-style, constitutes an Argentine classic. Piononos (also called arrollados) frequently appear with a healthy dose of dulce de leche inside, but savory jelly rolls or roulades have their place here too, particularly around the holidays when scorching summer temperatures beg for cold items to be served at dinner. In fact, with a high temperature of 86ºF here on the coast on Christmas Eve (and no air conditioning to cut through the heat and humidity), I was reminded of the idiocy of preparing roasted meats in summertime as my turkey sizzled and browned in the oven. Score one point for a northern-hemisphere Navidad.

Here in Argentina, piononos are so popular year-round that the pre-made sponge cakes can be easily found at any supermarket, ready to be filled and rolled. If you can get your hands on a store-bought pionono, you'll save yourself a few extra steps, but honestly, the sponge cake isn't that difficult to make and the taste of homemade is vastly superior.

I served a chicken salad pionono with hearts of palm for my Argentine family on Nochebuena, and it was a big hit. The hearts of palm and celery provide textural contrast and the chives and pimentos offer up a bit of color and extra flavor. With the light sweetness of the sponge cake and the chicken salad, I think this pionono would make an excellent brunch item as well.

Pionono de pollo y palmitos | Chicken Salad Roll with Hearts of Palm
Serves 8 to 10 as appetizer

Ingredients

For the pionono:

4 large eggs
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
butter, to grease the pan
powdered sugar, for dusting

equipment: 15" x 11" x 1" jelly roll pan

For the chicken salad filling:

3 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
poaching liquid: 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, ½ onion, 1 sprig of tarragon, a few sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon whole peppercorns, and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup (most of a 14-oz. can) chopped hearts of palm
½ cup chopped celery
1 (4-0z.) jar pimento peppers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
mayonnaise, as needed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

optional garnish: sliced hearts of palm, chopped pimento peppers, parsley leaves and mayonnaise

Directions

For the pionono:

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease the jelly roll pan with butter. Line with parchment paper; grease the parchment with butter.

Using a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, honey and salt on high speed until you obtain a thick, pale yellow mixture, about 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully fold in the flour until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and spread gently and evenly with a spatula. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake. Invert onto a dish towel dusted with powdered sugar, and slowly remove the parchment. Roll the cake up in the towel, starting at a short side. Let cool for 1 hour, seam side down, on a wire rack.

For the chicken salad filling:

Add water, celery, carrot, onion, tarragon, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt to a large pot, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, and lower heat to a bare simmer. Skim off any foam that rises. Simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (cut a breast in half to check for doneness.) Once cool, discard the skin and bones, and finely shred the chicken with two forks or using your hands.

In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, hearts of palm, celery, pimentos, chives and enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assembly:

Unroll the cooled pionono, and spread with filling, leaving about a ½-inch border on the sides. Beginning on a short side, carefully roll up the pionono and place it seam side down on a platter. Slice off the end pieces with a serrated knife to neaten up the appearance. Garnish as desired and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Savory Jelly Roll Cake from Argentina: The Pionono by katiemetz, on Flickr


Are you looking for more Argentine recipes? Click here to browse the entire Recipe File, or try out the visual recipe index

Read More......

¡Vamos a La Playa! | Let's Hit the Beach!

With beach season nearly upon us, Argentine vacationers are gearing up for their annual pilgrimage to the coast for a bit of sun and sand. Argentina's beaches are such a draw that even David Hasselhoff can't resist (either that or he really needed a paycheck). Apparently he filmed this tourism spot just a few weeks ago in Mar del Plata.

Ready to hit the beach?

Read More......

Funny Argentine Store Names, Salta Edition

Move over, Home Depot. Ladies and gentlemen, I present your one-stop shop in Salta, Argentina for tools, electrical and plumbing supplies, appliances, and housewares.

Gay Gas, Salta, Argentina [image used courtesy of Jennifer Richardson]

Wait, I know what you're thinking…why's it called Gay Gas if it's actually a hardware store?

Gay Gas, Salta, Argentina [image used courtesy of Jennifer Richardson]

My best guess is that, in addition to their stunning array of picnic coolers, fans and hot water heaters, they probably provide compressed natural gas in cylinders for cooking and home heating in areas where public gas lines don't exist (a fairly common scenario in Argentina).

Gay Gas, Salta, Argentina [image used courtesy of Jennifer Richardson][Sorry, but if you need to hit up Gay Gas on a Sunday, you're out of luck.]

A big thanks to reader Jennifer Richardson, an American expat living in Salta in Northwest Argentina, for these photos!

Read More......

2012 Argentina Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas Holiday Packaging by Premier Packaging, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]Treat friends and family to a taste of Argentina this holiday season. Check out these ideas for Argentina-related gifts, and don't forget to take a peek at last year's gift guide for additional suggestions.

Which items would you like to receive from Papá Noel or the Reyes?

Books // Libros

» The Church of Tango: A Memoir by Cherie Magnus
The true story of a woman who suffered incredible loss but kept moving forward thanks to her inherent zest for life and the healing power of dance. [A full review of this book coming soon!]

» Real Reflections: Bringing Recoleta Cemetery to Life by Julie-Anne Cosgrove
Enjoy this collection of unique and haunting images from Buenos Aires' famed Recoleta Cemetery.

» The House on Garibaldi Street by Isser Harel
A fascinating account of the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Isser Harel, head of the Mossad (Israel's Secret Service), details how Eichmann was tracked down and apprehended by Israeli agents in Argentina in 1960.

» In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Author Bruce Chatwin penned this classic travel narrative filled with quirky characters as he roamed Patagonia for a year.

» The Vineyard at the End of the World: Maverick Winemakers and the Rebirth of Malbec by Ian Mount
Wine connoisseurs will enjoy the story of Argentina's rise from enological backwater to one of the best wine regions in the world, all thanks to the malbec grape.

Travel // Viajes

Do your upcoming travel plans include Buenos Aires? If so, check out Endless Mile's well-written and beautifully-photographed travel guides with "walks for the curious traveler."

Food // Comidas

Amazon offers up your favorite Argentine foods, including dulce de leche, yerba mate, mate cocido, Havanna alfajores, dulce de membrillo, and dulce de batata. You can also find mate gourds and bombillas there.

LaTienda.com stocks Argentine-style chorizo and morcilla for your asados!

Music // Música

» Mar Dulce by Bajofondo Tango Club
This album's mix of electronic music and tango hits the mark. [Similar bands: Gotan Project, San Telmo Lounge]

» Tango: Zero Hour by Ástor Piazzolla
A brilliant bandoneón player and composer, Ástor Piazzolla revolutionized the world of tango with his nuevo tango sound. [Similar artists: Aníbal Troilo]

» BabasónicosOne of Argentina's best-known modern rock bands, the Babasónicos make for some solid listening. [Similar artists: Soda Stereo]

» 20 Grandes Éxitos by Chaqueño Palavecino 
A true success story in the genre of Argentine folklore, El Chaqueño packs houses throughout the country with his strong tenor vocals. The fast-paced La ley y la trampa is my favorite track from this album. [Similar artists: Los Chalchaleros, Soledad]

Take a look at this list for additional suggestions of great Argentine music.

Movies // Películas

» Live-In Maid [Cama adentro]
A wealthy woman and her live-in housekeeper must adjust their entrenched routine and relationship when Buenos Aires is plunged into economic crisis. [synopsis by IMDb]

» Son of the Bride [El hijo de la novia]
This magnificent Argentinean film centers on Rafael, a restaurateur whose life is becoming a knot of stress and failing relationships. After Rafael has a heart attack, he realizes he has to change his life—but when he makes changes, he discovers how much of his life he'd been taking for granted, and that he may have cast aside the very things he seeks. The story is full of clever touches, but it never lets cleverness overwhelm humanity. [synopsis by Amazon.com]

» Chronicle of an Escape [Crónica de una fuga]
The goalkeeper of a little-known soccer team is kidnapped by an Argentinean government squad and sent to a detention center during the Dirty War. After months of torture, he plots his escape with three other young men. [synopsis by IMDb]

Wine // Vino

Anuva Wines offers a hand-picked selection of artisanal wines from Argentina, including the famed malbec and torrontés. These small-batch wines are direct-shipped to the customer in the United States from Argentina. Purchase individual bottles or a wine-club membership for the wine lover in your life.

Traditional Crafts //Artesanías

El Boyero Artesanías Argentinas specializes in unique gift items from Argentina including fancy mate gourds with silver or alpaca details, bombillas, silver jewelry, fine leatherwork including belts, wallets, and handbags [including unusual and beautiful carpincho leather], leather boots and shoes, wine accessories, and gaucho accessories such as knives and braided rawhide leather.


Note: Many, but not all, of the links in this post are affiliate links, and I will earn a small commission if you click on them and purchase an item. Thank you for supporting this blog!

[Photo credit: Premier Packaging]

Read More......

Gratitude

Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard by Minnesota Historical Society, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]In the almost four years that I've lived in Argentina, I haven't suffered all that much from homesickness; however, as I began to reflect on last year's holiday season spent in Philadelphia with my family and Daniel, I found the prospects of a turkey-less, North-American-family-free Thanksgiving rather disheartening. Nevertheless, in the days leading up to today, I perfunctorily planned a Thanksgiving feast that was to include my best approximation of the traditional meal.

But it seems that my work responsibilities (and my emotions, to a great extent) have conspired against me.

And so today, I'm giving thanks with my heart rather than with my stomach. Of course, we won't exactly go hungry, but the focus of this year's holiday will not be the food—it will be gratitude. Even without the bird and the trimmings, I am tremendously thankful for my wonderful husband, family and friends; my health; my thriving freelance translation business; and many other small pleasures that are too numerous to list here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family, wherever you call home. May your hearts be full and your blessings many.


Past Reflections on Thanksgiving

2011 Home for the Holidays
2010 Grateful
2009 Let's Talk Turkey (or Lack Thereof)
2008 Thankful

[Image credit: Minnesota Historical Society]

Read More......

Panqueques con Dulce de Leche | Crepes with Dulce de Leche

In celebration of World Dulce de Leche Day 2012, I was invited to contribute a recipe featuring this rich caramel spread. Visit the World Dulce de Leche Day blog for more delicious links to recipes from bloggers around the globe.

Panqueques de Dulce de Leche | Crepes with Dulce de Leche by katiemetz, on Flickr

One of the country's best-loved desserts and a standard on the menu at many an Argentine restaurant, panqueques de dulce de leche positively ooze with thick, luscious caramel. Only those with exceptional willpower can pass up a tender crepe filled with the smooth, sweet spread.

My mother-in-law would be the first to admit that baked goods (and well, desserts in general) aren't her forte, but she can turn out a mean batch of panqueques in no time flat. This dessert makes a great option for those wary of the oven, and it's perfect for entertaining since the crepes can be prepared in advance.

Of course, to make this recipe, you'll need to get your hands on the star ingredient: dulce de leche! Check out my previous posts about how to make homemade dulce de leche [stovetop methods] and crockpot dulce de leche. Of course, if you're pressed for time, just order dulce de leche online. I promise that your secret is safe with me.

Panqueques de Dulce de Leche | Crepes with Dulce de Leche
Yields approx. 10 8-inch panqueques

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cold whole milk
2/3 cup cold water
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted [plus 1 tablespoon to grease the pan]

dulce de leche
powdered sugar [optional]

Directions

Combine the first five ingredients and beat the mixture until smooth using a blender or whisk. Add the melted butter and blend just until smooth. Don't overbeat the batter, as the panqueques will turn out rubbery. Refrigerate the batter, covered, for a minimum of 1 hour. Strain the batter if it looks lumpy.

Heat an 8-inch non-stick frying pan [or crepe pan, if you happen to have one] over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with melted butter.

Pour ¼ cup of batter into the center of the pan, and then tilt the pan to evenly coat with batter. Cook about 1 minute, or until lightly browned and lacy on the bottom. Flip the panqueque with a spatula, and cook briefly on the other side [it will look speckled]. Remove the panqueque to a wire rack or plate to cool as you continue making the rest, stacking successive panqueques one on top of the other. Don't get discouraged if the first [or second!] panqueque turns out badly—this is common.

Once cooled, the panqueques can be stored in the refrigerator in a ziptop plastic storage bag for several days if you're not ready to use them.

Spread an even layer of dulce de leche over the panqueque. Use room temperature dulce de leche, or warm it in the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to spread. Fold the panqueque in quarters [or roll it up] and then sprinkle it with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warmed or at room temperature.

Panqueques con Dulce de Leche by katiemetz, on Flickr


Check out my other recipes containing dulce de leche:
Tarta de Coco y Dulce de Leche | Coconut and Dulce de Leche Tart
Alfajores Marplatenses | Chocolate-covered Sandwich Cookies with Dulce de Leche

Read More......

Sightseeing Bus Tours in Necochea and Quequén

Necochea Sightseeing Tours [image courtesy of ENTUR]

The Necochea Tourism Board (ENTUR) is now offering guided bus tours of Necochea and neighboring Quequén. The three-hour sightseeing tour highlights the two cities' natural, historical and cultural attractions such as Plaza Dardo Rocha, the Quequén River, Hipólito Yrigoyen Bridge (known as the Puente Colgante), historic homes including Casa Carballido, Villa Maris, Casa Güiraldes, and Chalet Astelarra, the Falkland Islands War Memorial, the Quequén Lighthouse, the port, the casino, area beaches, Miguel Lillo Park, and more.

This is a great opportunity to see the city, especially if you're visiting without a car!


Cost: $45 pesos per person
Schedule: Saturdays, 2:30pm to 5:30pm and Sundays,10:30am to 1:30pm
Starting point: Tourist Information Office (OINTUR), Avenida 2 and 79, Necochea

For more information or to book a tour, contact:

Tourist Information Office (OINTUR), Avenida 2 and 79, Necochea 
Phone: (02262) 43-8333 or (02262) 42-5983
Email: ointur@necochea.tur.ar

[Photo credit: ENTUR]

Read More......

The Envelope, Please

Friends, the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest has drawn to a close. Thank you to everyone who participated by voting, commenting, and spreading the word about the recipes and the contest. And of course, a huge thanks goes out to our participants, Daniel, Vivi, Ana and Norma, whose delicious recipes were all worthy of first place in my book.

So, without further ado, I'd like to extend my congratulations to the contest winner, Norma Torres of Platanos, Mangoes and Me! Her recipe for tarta pascualina (spinach pie) captured the top spot with 37% of the vote [complete results here].

Tarta pascualina | Spinach Pie II by katiemetz, on Flickr

Norma will receive her choice of a special food prize from Argentina. I happen to know that she has a soft spot for Mantecol… ¡Felicitaciones, Norma!


Previous Posts about the Recipe Contest:

2012 Argentine Recipe Contest
Happy 4th Birthday to Seashells and Sunflowers! [contains list of finalists]
Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu
Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone | Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart
Pollo relleno de Inés | Inés' Stuffed Chicken Roll
La famosa tarta pascualina de mi amiga Marta | Marta's Famous Spinach Pie
Vote for Your Favorite Argentine Recipe 2012!

Read More......

Vote for Your Favorite Argentine Recipe 2012!

Voting by KCIvey, on Flickr [image used under Creative Commons license]We're nearing the end of the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest. We've seen all four finalists' entries, and now it's up to you, the fine readers of this blog, to vote for your favorite recipe! The winner will earn bragging rights and a delicious food prize from Argentina.

Before casting your vote, please refresh your memory with a brief visit to each of the mouthwatering entries:

Daniel Tunnard [Buenos Aires, Argentina]
Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu

Vivi Rathbon [Buenos Aires, Argentina]
Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone | Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart

Ana Astri-O'Reilly [Dallas, Texas, USA]
Pollo relleno de Inés | Inés' Stuffed Chicken Roll

Norma Torres [New York, New York, USA]
La famosa tarta pascualina de mi amiga Marta | Marta's Famous Spinach Pie

Voting takes just a moment, and there's no sign-up required!


[If you can't see the poll embedded in this post, please click here.]

Voting ends on Monday, September 10, 2012 at noon (Argentina time).

Good luck, Daniel, Vivi, Ana and Norma!

[Image credit: KCIvey]

Read More......

La famosa tarta pascualina de mi amiga Marta | Marta's Famous Spinach Pie

Tarta pascualina | Spinach Pie III by katiemetz, on Flickr

The fourth and final entry in the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest comes from Norma Torres of New York, New York, USA. Norma, a Latina blogger with ties to Spain, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, offers up her take on Latin cuisine at her blog Platanos, Mangoes and Me!

Before I present Norma's recipe, I'd like to say a few words about Norma herself. I first connected with her in May 2010, thanks to our mutual blog friend Joan of Foodalogue. Despite our frequent online contact, with the significant distance separating us, the opportunity to meet in person had never presented itself. Last year, when Norma learned that I would be visiting my hometown of Philadelphia at the holidays, she very graciously extended an invitation for me to stay at her home in New York City for a couple of days. With the Big Apple merely a hop, skip and a jump away from Philly, I just couldn't refuse.

Norma struck me as your stereotypical New Yorker; she's a bit brash and in your face. She drinks. She smokes. She curses. She's funny and self-assured. And I quickly confirmed what I'd already surmised from the mouthwatering posts on her blog: Damn, this woman knows her way around the kitchen.

I eventually came to the conclusion that Norma is the Latina version of Anthony Bourdain.

Yet it's apparent that, like me, Norma's love of food, family and friends lies at her core. She's got a heart of gold, and she treated me like a queen during my visit. I was wined, dined and sent home with a goodie bag filled to bursting, and more importantly, I left with tons of great memories and the joy of having turned an online friend into a real-life one. If you'd like to check out photos from my Manhattan foodie adventures with Norma, take a look here.

Norma and Katie at Mexico Lindo, NYC by katiemetz, on Flickr

If you're a long-time follower of the blog, you may remember that Norma participated in last year's recipe contest with her delicious version of matambre arrollado. This time, she offered up a recipe for tarta pascualina, a hefty spinach pie packed with vegetables, ricotta cheese and eggs.

Tarta pascualina enjoys popularity in both Argentina and Uruguay. Italian immigrants who voyaged to South America to gamble on a new life brought with them the recipe for this tasty and filling pie. The tarta pascualina's origins lie specifically in the region of Liguria, Italy, where the dish can be traced back to the 16th century.

Most recipes for tarta pascualina call for the ricotta to be combined with the spinach, but in this recipe, the ricotta stands as a separate layer. The recipe also incorporates carrots, which I had never seen included in this dish. I must say that the results were quite pleasing, and I could barely keep Daniel away from the spinach pie while I was photographing it! He had two large helpings at lunch, and he seriously thought about a third. The leeks and garlic really boosted the flavor, and the carrot provided a little pop of color to break up all that green and white.

Here's what Norma had to say about her recipe:

A very dear friend used to make this tarta pascualina for me many years ago. I have been meaning to make this but never had a chance until you decided to do this contest again. I lost my friend to cancer, and it's a way to remember her.

Tarta pascualina | Spinach Pie by katiemetz, on Flickr

La famosa tarta pascualina de mi amiga Marta | Marta's Famous Spinach Pie

Ingredients

2 leeks (white and light green parts only), cut into thin rounds
6 cloves garlic, chopped
a few tablespoons of olive oil
2 lb fresh spinach
2 carrots, peeled into ribbons [I used 1 large carrot.]
2 lb ricotta cheese, drained in a fine-mesh sieve
2 packages puff pastry or 1 package tapas de hojaldre para tarta
8 eggs (6 for the pie, 1 to mix with the cheese filling, and 1 for the egg wash)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the leeks and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted. Allow the spinach mixture to cool, and then remove as much liquid as possible by draining in a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Add the raw carrot ribbons to the spinach mixture, and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta and 1 egg. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a springform pan with baking spray.

Roll out the dough, joining together 2 sheets of puff pastry for the bottom crust [not necessary if using tapas para tarta]. Carefully line the springform pan with the dough, leaving about an inch overhang.

Spoon half of the spinach mixture into the pan, and then add all of the ricotta mixture. Smooth out the ricotta, and make 6 deep, evenly spaced depressions in the filling. Crack an egg into each hole [hold back a bit of the white if it looks like it will overflow]. Spoon the remainder of the spinach mixture over the cheese and eggs.

Roll out another sheet of dough, and cut it into a circle that fits into the top of the pan [not necessary if using tapas para tarta]. Cover the filling with the second piece of dough, and seal the crust by crimping it or making a decorative edge. Vent the crust with a sharp knife, and decorate the top with leftover pastry. Brush the crust with beaten egg.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown [Note: My edges were browning faster than the rest of the dough, so I covered them with aluminum foil to keep them from burning.]. Allow the pie to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving, or enjoy it at room temperature.

Tarta pascualina | Spinach Pie II by katiemetz, on Flickr

Stay tuned for contest voting instructions—coming up in the next post!


Previous Posts about the Recipe Contest:

2012 Argentine Recipe Contest
Happy 4th Birthday to Seashells and Sunflowers! [contains list of finalists]
Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu
Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone | Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart
Pollo relleno de Inés | Inés' Stuffed Chicken Roll

Read More......

Under the Weather

Mercury-in-Glass Thermometer by Andres Rueda, on Flickr [image used under Creative Commons license]I'd love to tell you about the final entry in the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Recipe Contest. There's just one problem: I haven't made it yet.

The flu bug hit me on Saturday, and I tell you, boy, does this strain pack a wallop. I would have happily played in the kitchen, preparing and photographing Norma's recipe for tarta pascualina, but I've been too busy this week with my tissues, tea with honey and lemon, and blankets, tons of blankets…well, except for when I was dripping in sweat from the fever. 

*     *     *     *     *

Amusing side note: The first time Daniel ever handed me a thermometer to take my temperature, he looked a bit surprised that I'd stuck it in my mouth. I noted the strange expression on his face, and I shrugged and mumbled, "What?" with the glass thermometer firmly wedged beneath my tongue. He replied, "Well, it's just that we don't normally put the thermometer in our mouths." I blanched for a moment, imagining the absolute worst of the alternative temperature-taking sites, and I cringed slightly in anticipation of his response. "We usually place it under the arm."

All I can say is that I'm glad he'd thoroughly cleaned the thermometer with alcohol before he gave it to me.

*     *     *     *     *

I'm feeling reasonably better today, which has lifted my spirits, as I'm supposed to travel with my chorus to an event in Chajarí, province of Entre Ríos, at the end of the week. I just hope my voice returns soon, otherwise the only group I'll be singing with is the chorus of frogs living in the Río Uruguay just outside of town. Ribbit.

For now, entertain yourselves with this humorous post from the archives about Argentine cold remedies. I promise to be back next week with our final recipe…and then it's on to the voting!

[Photo credit: Andres Rueda]

Read More......

Pollo relleno de Inés | Inés' Stuffed Chicken Roll

Arrollado de pollo | Stuffed Chicken Roll by katiemetz, on Flickr

Our third entry in the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest comes courtesy of Ana Astri-O'Reilly, author of the blog Ana Travels. Ana is a native of Buenos Aires, but she currently lives in Dallas, Texas, USA with her British hubby.

Ana sent in a recipe for pollo relleno or stuffed chicken roll, and here's what she had to say about this dish:

This is one of my mum's go-to recipes. She usually makes it for Christmas because it can be prepared in advance and is eaten at room temperature, which is great since it can get quite warm in December.

As Ana mentioned, pollo relleno (also called arrollado de pollo or matambre de pollo) is a popular option for cold buffets at the holidays. Like other southern hemisphere dwellers, Argentine families celebrate Christmas and New Year's in summertime, and so, many opt for dishes like salads and platters of cold meats at their parties and get-togethers at this time of year. I tried this dish both hot and cold, and I enjoyed it both ways. If you choose to serve it Argentine-style, take it out of the fridge a bit ahead of time so it's not stone cold.

I loved the simplicity of Ana's (or rather, Inés') recipe. It's perfect for entertaining because it doesn't take a lot of effort to prepare yet looks impressive. The prunes provide a touch of sweetness to balance out the saltiness of the ham, and if you like, you can use a sharp cheese to further boost the flavor.

Pollo relleno de Inés | Inés' Stuffed Chicken Roll
Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer

Ingredients

1 (4-lb) whole deboned chicken, skin on
8 oz. sliced deli ham
8 oz. sliced cheese [I used a mild Argentine cheese, but provolone or Swiss would be nice.]
8 oz. pitted prunes
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Place the chicken skin-side down on a clean work surface, and season with salt and pepper. Top each slice of ham with a slice of cheese and a prune, and roll up [Note: I put three prunes in each roll-up]. Line up the ham rolls down the center of the chicken, and fold over the sides to close. Truss the chicken roll with butcher's twine. Place in a large roasting pan, and season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Roast, uncovered, for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes (prick the thigh end and check that the juices run clear, or wait for chicken to reach an internal temperature of 160ºF). Allow chicken to cool, then place in the refrigerator. Carve into slices and serve.

Tip: Get your butcher to do the dirty work. Call in advance and ask the butcher to debone the chicken for you.

Pollo relleno de Inés | Ines' Stuffed Chicken Roll by katiemetz, on Flickr


Previous Posts about the Recipe Contest:

2012 Argentine Recipe Contest
Happy 4th Birthday to Seashells and Sunflowers! [contains list of finalists]
Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu
Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone | Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart

Read More......

Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone | Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart

Tarta de dulce de membrillo y queso mascarpone // Quince Paste and Mascarpone Cheese Tart by katiemetz, on Flickr

Our next entry in the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest comes courtesy of Vivi Rathbon, author of the blog My Beautiful Air. Vivi is a native of Boise, Idaho, USA, but she's called Buenos Aires home for the last three years.

Vivi submitted a recipe for tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone (quince paste and mascarpone tart). I was drawn to her recipe because I saw it as a novel twist on a staple offering at Argentine bakeries, pasta frola, a shortcrust tart featuring a filling of ruby-red dulce de membrillo or quince paste. Vivi talks about the inspiration for her recipe in a blog post:

Although I had always enjoyed dulce de membrillo, I had never considered cooking with it, until the enlightening discovery of David Lebovitz’s Easy Jam Tart recipe, which is also made with quince jam. 

I elected to attempt his jam tart using dulce de membrillo and add my own addition—mascarpone—a mild cream cheese to serve as a creamy complement and balance to the sugary jam. I was intrigued about Lebovitz's use of cornmeal in the crust and thought this recipe could make for a great cooking adventure and culinary union of French patisserie and Argentine simplicity.

The mascarpone added a pleasant creaminess, but the real star of this tart for me turned out to be the crust. I loved the light crunch and subtle corn flavor provided by the polenta. I would definitely consider using this dough again for pasta frola.

I also found that the filling firmed up a bit more by the next day, which made the tart easier to slice and serve, though something tells me that most won't be able to wait that long to take the first bite.

Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone | Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart

Ingredients

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
dash of vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
dash of salt
dash of baking powder [I added ¼ teaspoon.]
1 ½ lb quince paste [I didn't use the full amount.]
1 (8-oz.) container mascarpone cheese

Directions

In a mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla, and mix thoroughly until you achieve a uniform consistency. [Note: I creamed together the butter and sugar first and then added the eggs and vanilla.]

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients—the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly until you have a sticky dough. Roll the dough into a large ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour until the dough is firm.

Reserve a portion of the dough for the top layer [Note: roughly 1/3 of the dough]. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of an ungreased tart pan with a removable bottom.

Using a fork, mash half of the quince paste to a spreadable consistency, and spread it over the dough for the bottom layer of the tart. Then spread the mascarpone over the quince paste. Cut the remainder of the block of quince paste into thin slices and arrange it on top for the final layer of filling.

Using the reserved portion of dough, roll out small balls and flatten them, and place them on top to form an upper crust. Sprinkle with sugar. [Note: I forgot this final step!]

Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven. [Note: I allowed the tart to cool to room temperature before serving.] 

Tarta de dulce de membrillo y queso mascarpone // Quince Paste and Mascarpone Cheese Tart I by katiemetz, on Flickr


Previous Posts about the Recipe Contest:

2012 Argentine Recipe Contest
Happy 4th Birthday to Seashells and Sunflowers! [contains list of finalists]
Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu

Read More......

Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu

Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu by katiemetz, on Flickr

The first entry in the Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest comes from Daniel Tunnard of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Daniel originally hails from Sheffield, England, and he's the author of a blog and forthcoming book entitled Colectivaizeishon, which chronicles his quest to ride all the buses in Buenos Aires.

Daniel submitted a recipe for estofado de carne, a classic Argentine accompaniment to pastas and gnocchi. This rich, slow-cooked sauce, known in English as beef ragu or ragout, features chunks of tender beef in a robust tomato base. Here's what Daniel has to say about his recipe:

"The inspiration [for this dish] was the Cervatillo II café in Barrio Norte (Ayacucho, between Sante Fe and Arenales) where I used to go for lunch in my first four years in Buenos Aires when I worked at the William Blake Institute, which is now the Apple Store (boo!). It was there that I learnt about minutas, the culinary staples of Buenos Aires. This is my estofado de carne, one of my (ahem) signature dishes, which I cook the same way as beef curry, without the spices. This recipe is all about slow cooking."

I decided to make Daniel's estofado de carne for a family lunch. After three hours of cooking, the tomato sauce had taken on a deep, hearty flavor, and the chunks of beef were practically falling apart. I prepared the sauce a day in advance of the get-together, which allowed it to develop even more flavor. I served the estofado over a bed of bowtie pasta with some grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. My husband's family praised the meal, and everyone commented on the tenderness of the beef.

Daniel's recipe yielded gratifying results, and I liked that I didn't have to babysit the food. The sauce slowly bubbled away for three hours in the kitchen, and I only popped in every half hour or so to check on it and give it a stir. I don't own a slow cooker, but I imagine this dish would make for a perfect crock-pot recipe.

As a final note, if you're preparing this dish here in Argentina, Daniel recommends that you use a cut of beef such as paleta, tortuguita, or rosbif. I opted for paleta, which comes from the shoulder/chuck region of the cow.

Estofado de carne | Beef Ragu
Serves 6

Ingredients

2 large onions, chopped
a few tablespoons of olive oil
2 (14-oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 (18-oz.) can tomato purée
1 cup red wine
½ head garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 lb. chuck roast, or similar cut for braising/stewing, trimmed of some fat and cut into large chunks
[Note: I added a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.]

Directions

In a clay pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion in a few tablespoons of oil over medium heat for 10 minutes, until soft and translucent [Note: I added a pinch of salt to the onion]. Add the whole tomatoes [break them up with your hand], tomato purée, red wine, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper, and bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, and add the beef. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer the sauce for 2 to 3 hours or until you can cut the beef with a spoon. Remove from the heat, and let the estofado stand for 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta and a lengthy siesta.

Estofado de carne II


Previous Posts about the Recipe Contest:

2012 Argentine Recipe Contest
Happy 4th Birthday to Seashells and Sunflowers! [contains list of finalists]

Read More......

Happy 4th Birthday to Seashells and Sunflowers!

Birthday Cupcake by Joe Shlabotnik, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]Seashells and Sunflowers, my little corner of the Internet devoted to all things Argentine, turned four last week!

If you've been keeping up with the blog via feed reader or email subscription and you haven't visited the actual site in a while, please stop on by, kick the tires a bit, and check out the archives. Who knows what you might discover!

You can also follow the blog through the Seashells and Sunflowers Facebook fan page. In addition to blog updates, I post comments and links to interesting stories related to Argentina or the Spanish language. Please show your support and "like" Seashells and Sunflowers, if you haven't already.

I'd like to say thank you to everyone who takes the time to read, comment, share and email. This blog is a true labor of love, and your comments and emails keep me motivated to write about life here in Argentina. So, if you've never posted a comment on Seashells and Sunflowers, I invite you to take a few moments to say hello.

*     *     *     *     *

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for… Last month, I invited readers to submit their favorite Argentine recipes for the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send in a recipe. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of entries I received, and admittedly, a bit overwhelmed at the thought of narrowing things down to just three finalists. So in the end, I decided to choose four finalists in honor of my four-year blogiversary. What the hell…it's my blog. I'm allowed to bend the rules a bit.

And so ladies and gentlemen, I now present, in no particular order, your three four finalists for the coveted title of Best Argentine Recipe 2012:

Ana Astri-O'Reilly [Dallas, Texas, USA] of Ana Travels
Recipe: Pollo relleno de Inés // Inés' Stuffed Chicken

Daniel Tunnard [Buenos Aires, Argentina] of Colectivaizeishon
Recipe: Estofado de carne // Beef Ragu

Vivi Rathbon [Buenos Aires, Argentina] of My Beautiful Air
Recipe: Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone // Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart

Norma Torres [New York, New York, USA] of Platanos, Mangoes and Me!
Recipe: La famosa tarta pascualina de mi amiga Marta // Marta's Famous Tarta Pascualina

Beginning on Wednesday, August 1st, I will feature each of these four recipes on Seashells and Sunflowers, along with a brief description and photos. At that point, it will be up to you, the readers, to vote for your favorite Argentine recipe!

[Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik]

Read More......

2012 Argentine Recipe Contest

Pastel de zanahoria con naranja y canela by etringita, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]

In the spirit of sharing delicious Argentine recipes (and a bit of friendly competition), I'm pleased to announce that I'm now accepting submissions for the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest! Perhaps your recipes are scribbled on napkins or tucked away in the pages of a yellowed, dog-eared cookbook. Or maybe the only place they're noted is in the recesses of your mind. No matter where your favorite Argentine recipes are found, I'd like to see them!

Last year, our three participants wowed us with their submissions:

Tarta de Cebolla y Queso | Onion and Cheese Quickbread
Budín de Pan al Caramelo | Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Matambre Arrollado | Argentine Rolled Stuffed Flank Steak

In the end, Aledys Ver of From Argentina to The Netherlands, For Love! emerged victorious with her recipe for bread pudding. If you think you've got what it takes to come out on top, read on for more information!

The 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest

Send me your best Argentine recipe, whether it's an old family favorite or a more recent culinary triumph. I'll announce my top three picks, and then I'll prepare all three recipes, along with a brief description and photos. At that point it's up to you, the readers, to vote for your favorite! The winner will earn bragging rights and a delicious food prize from Argentina.

Please include the following information in your entry:

  • Your full name
  • Your place of residence [optional]
  • The recipe
  • The source of your recipe and any interesting background information about the dish
  • The URL of your blog or website [optional]

Submit your Argentine recipe via the "Contact Me" button in the menu at the top of my blog, and be sure to include "2012 Argentine Recipe Contest" in the subject line. Contest entries will be accepted in both English and Spanish. The contest is open to participants around the world.

The deadline for contest submissions is Monday, June 25th at 12pm (Argentina time).

Please note that by submitting an entry, you consent to the recipe's full reproduction, with attribution, on Seashells and Sunflowers.

[Photo credit: etringita, used under Creative Commons license]

Read More......

Linguistic Camouflage: Learning to Blend In

Over the past several years, I've worked hard to perfect my Argentine Spanish. I've learned a fair bit of the lingo and tried my best to adopt the cadence and accent of an Argentine from the province of Buenos Aires (after all, there are many accents in Argentina!). I'm far from perfect, but I usually manage to fool native speakers for at least a minute or two. Even once they've realized I'm foreign (usually because of those pesky American r's), they have a hard time believing that I learned to speak Spanish as well as I do without having been born in Argentina or having Argentine parents.

This hilarious video (it's subtitled, by the way, so even you non-Spanish speakers can enjoy it) by an American reenacts a typical first-time exchange with an Argentine. It cracked me up because I swear I've had the exact same conversation with people here.

[Click here if you can't view the embedded video.]

Can you fool a native speaker with your accent?

Read More......

Foul Language in the Argentine Workplace

[Note: The following post contains foul language written in Spanish. If such things offend you, please visit this post with pretty pictures instead.]

Memo by miss mass, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]Memo from an American Company to its Argentine Staff

It has been brought to our attention by several officials visiting our office in Buenos Aires that offensive language is commonly used by our Spanish-speaking staff. Such behavior, in addition to violating our policy, is highly unprofessional and offensive to both visitors and staff.

All personnel will immediately adhere to the following rules:

1. Words like "carajo," "la puta madre," "me da en el quinto forro" and other such expressions will not be tolerated or used for emphasis or dramatic effect, no matter how heated a discussion may become.

2. You will not say "la cagó" when someone makes a mistake, or "lo están cagando a pedos" if you see someone being reprimanded, or "qué cagada" when a major mistake has been made. All forms and derivations of the verb "cagar" are utterly inappropriate and unacceptable in our environment.

3. No project manager, section head or administrator under any circumstances will be referred to as "hijo de mil putas," "mal parido," "es una mierda" or "es una bosta."

4. Lack of determination will not be referred to as "falta de huevos" nor will persons who lack initiative be referred to as "cagón de mierda," "pelotudo" or "boludo."

5. Unusual or creative ideas offered by management are not to be referred to as "pajas mentales" or "pendejadas."

6. Do not say "cómo hincha las pelotas" nor "qué ladilla de mierda" if a person is persistent; do not add "cagó fuego," if a colleague is going through a difficult situation. Furthermore, you must not say "cagamos" (refer to item #2) nor "nos rompieron el orto" when a matter becomes excessively complicated.

7. When asking someone to leave you alone, you must not say "andate a la concha de tu hermana" nor should you ever substitute "May I help you?" with "¿Qué mierda querés?"

8. Under no circumstances should you ever call your elderly industrial partners "viejos chotos."

9. Do not say "me chupa un huevo" when a relevant project is presented to you, nor should you ever answer "sobame el nabo" when your assistance is required.

10.You should never call a partner "puto de mierda" or "vieja tortillera"; the sexual behavior of our staff is not to be discussed in terms such as "viejo trolo," "la mira con cariño" or "mariquita."

11. Last but not least, after reading this note, please don't say "me la paso por las pelotas." Just keep it clean and dispose of it properly.

Thank you.

[Source: Text extracted from the BANewcomers' mailing list. Author unknown. // Photo credit: miss mass]

Read More......

Argentina iPhone Apps Worth Checking Out

What's on your iPhone home screen? by Tony Buser, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]I still enjoy thumbing through the paper editions of travel guides, but there's no doubt that technology has ushered in a new era of trip planning and research. Travel-focused apps often provide access to in-depth information about places that traditional guidebooks barely even mention, and without the constraints of traditional publishing, they can be updated on a more frequent basis as well. You can carry around the equivalent of hundreds of paper guidebooks right there on your lightweight mobile device, another distinct advantage of going digital, especially if you're visiting multiple cities and/or countries. Lastly, the accessible price points of these mobile applications make them hard to resist!

But like everything else, not all apps are created equal. So, today I'd like to recommend a pair of quality, Argentina-related apps, both of which I have personally tested on my iPod touch. These apps function on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Recoleta Cemetery by Endless Mile
Author: Robert Wright
Price: $5.99

Recoleta Cemetery contains more than just a collection of ornate mausoleums; it contains the history of a nation. "Thanks to its occupants and their eternal sense of style," the cemetery figures prominently on the list of Buenos Aires' must-see attractions. With Endless Mile's Recoleta Cemetery app, you're free to tour the cemetery and take it all in at your own pace.

Truthfully, I can't imagine anyone other than Robert Wright authoring an app about the cemetery. I've been following Robert's blog Afterlife—the definitive English-language resource for information about Recoleta Cemetery—for years now, and his attention to detail, enviable research skills and passion for history have always impressed me. He's managed to condense the wealth of information accumulated in his blog into a slick, well-organized app highlighting the 25 most interesting mausoleums plus the meaning of common funerary symbols and a general overview of the cemetery.

A virtual map leads you through the cemetery to the tombs of some of Argentina's elite. At each point on the route you gain insight into Recoleta's incredible architecture, historical figures and urban legends through text presented with beautiful photos and illustrations. Fans of Evita, the cemetery's most famous resident, will even find a section of the app dedicated to her.

While I fully recommend the mobile app, Robert packs even more information into his 22-page Recoleta Cemetery PDF guide ($9.95). I suggest this option for those with unlimited time to explore and an intense interest in the cemetery's history, since the PDF guide details information about 70 different tombs. The PDF is also the way to go if you'd prefer to print out the guide to carry with you or if you don't own an Apple device.

Argentina Travel Adventures by Sutro Media
Author: Wayne Bernhardson
Price: $2.99

As the man behind the blog Southern Cone Travel and author of Moon Handbooks for Argentina, Buenos Aires and Patagonia, Wayne Bernhardson is eminently qualified to tackle Argentina "from the top to the tip, the city to the campo." The writing featured in the Argentina Travel Adventures app truly reflects Wayne's years of travel experience and knowledge. In addition to information about major attractions, the app offers practical information and cultural tidbits touching upon food, transportation, culture, and health and safety.

The app includes a number of attractive photos, most of which were provided by the author. They look good on the iPod touch, but I imagine they really shine on the larger display of the iPad. An interactive map with markers allows you to visualize each of the recommended spots, and you're able to conveniently filter results by category. You can even ask the author questions or suggest additional information about an attraction. How's that for interactivity?

The app is useful and well-designed, but it only scratches the surface, providing a brief overview of Argentina's most popular destinations. Each entry gives you just enough information to pique your interest. If you're looking to explore second-tier cities or locations off the beaten path, I'd consider a different resource; however, for first-time visitors or those sticking to the main tourist circuit, I think Argentina Travel Adventures more than fits the bill.

Have you tried either of these apps? Can you recommend other useful Argentina-focused apps?

Disclosure: Although Robert Wright and Wayne Bernhardson both provided complimentary downloads of their apps, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

[Photo credit: Tony Buser]

Read More......

7 Super Shots: Adventures in Argentina

Lucky number 7 is at it again! Last year, I unearthed a few special posts for the My 7 Links challenge. This time, I'm taking part in the HostelBookers 7 Super Shots game to showcase some of my favorite photographs. I'm happy to find an excuse to share these photos from the archives, especially since a couple date to my pre-blogging days.

I dusted off these seven photos—all from my adventures in Argentina—for your consideration:

[1] A photo that…takes my breath away

Modesta Victoria at Bosque de Arrayanes, Patagonia, Argentina by katiemetz, on Flickr[The Modesta Victoria docked at the entrance to the Bosque de Arrayanes, Patagonia]

Offering amazing vistas at every turn, the region of Patagonia in southern Argentina is, without a doubt, one of the most breathtaking places I've ever visited. On my most recent trip to Bariloche, I snapped this photo of the historic vessel Modesta Victoria, with the Andes Mountains rising majestically in the background. [View large]

[2] A photo that…makes me laugh or smile

Un Encuentro Fortuito | A Chance Encounter by katiemetz, on Flickr[Near the beach in Necochea]

Daniel and I are driving along the coastal road just south of Necochea one evening when we happen upon this paisano riding toward us along a dusty trail. Daniel stops the car, and I politely ask the man if I may take his picture, trying to contain my excitement. Had he merely paused and allowed me to take his photo, I would have been content; however, with true gaucho flourish he signals to his horse to paw the ground, creating a swirl of dust about him. After I click the shutter, Daniel and I erupt in applause and thanks, and the gaucho continues along that same dirt path. [View large]

[3] A photo that…makes me dream

Golden Afternoon on the River [Río Quequén, Necochea, Argentina] by katiemetz, on Flickr [Golden afternoon light reflected off the Río Quequén, Necochea]

I've seen the river near my home at all times of day and in all conditions, yet I find nothing more enchanting than the late afternoon when the sun's rays light up the pampas grass and lend a golden hue to the water. [View large]

[4] A photo that…makes me think

Contrasts | Contrastes by katiemetz, on Flickr[Plaza del Congreso, Buenos Aires]

Privileged lawmakers sit inside the Argentine Congress located just steps away from where this man, down on his luck, sleeps on a park bench. [View large]

[5] A photo that…makes my mouth water

El Gran Asado | The Great Barbecue [Necochea, Argentina] by katiemetz, on Flickr[Plaza Dardo Rocha, Necochea]

Each year, the city government of my adopted home of Necochea organizes an enormous asado (Argentine barbecue) in the main square to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the city. Chorizo sausages, huge slabs of beef and cross-cut ribs, and whole pigs are splayed out on large iron crosses, where they're left to cook for hours by a wood fire under the watchful eye of the asadores (barbecue pit masters). The meaty smokiness of the asado permeates your hair, your clothes, everything—but just one bite of that Argentine beef makes it all worthwhile. [View large]

[6] A photo that…tells a story

Los Asadores by katiemetz, on Flickr[Plaza Dardo Rocha, Necochea]

These two pit masters take a break for a round of mate and a smoke while minding the sizzling barbecue. They're sitting atop the massive pile of firewood needed to keep an enormous asado fueled for hours on end. [View large]

[7] A photo that…I am most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)

View from Cerro Campanario, Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina by katiemetz, on Flickr[View from Cerro Campanario, Bariloche]

A few years ago, National Geographic selected the view from Cerro Campanario in Bariloche, Patagonia as one of the top 10 most scenic views in the world. I'd say it's pretty damn stunning. [View large]


So now I'm passing the torch to five other bloggers in the hopes that they too will post their 7 Super Shots. For rules and guidelines, click here.

Gabriel at Live from Waterloo
Ana at Ana Travels
Aledys at From Argentina to the Netherlands, For Love! 
The Thorny Rose at La Gringa 
Elizabeth at Fotos Eli

Read More......

Recipe File: Butternut Squash and Ricotta Gnocchi, Two Ways | Ñoquis de Zapallo y Ricota, Servido de Dos Maneras

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Walnut Cream Sauce by katiemetz, on Flickr We're celebrating one of Argentina's most beloved Italian imports, gnocchi! At their most basic, gnocchi take the form of small dumplings made from potato and flour, but with a bit of imagination, you can transform any number of ingredients into gnocchi. Add a luscious sauce of your choosing, and you've got one satisfying meal.

Last year, my blogging pals and I joined forces to spread the love about alfajores. This time, at the initiative of Aledys Ver at From Argentina to the Netherlands, For Love!, we decided to team up again to tackle gnocchi. At the bottom of my post, you'll find links to visit everyone's recipes. Follow the gnocchi trail and decide which recipe tempts you most!

Ñoquis del 29

Whether in neighborhood restaurants or at home, Argentines typically enjoy a heaping plate of gnocchi (ñoquis in Spanish) on the 29th of each month. The Gnocchi Day tradition supposedly came about because these cheap and filling potato dumplings were the only food struggling Italian immigrants could afford come the end of the month, just before payday. In the hopes of attracting prosperity and good luck, a one peso coin was placed under diners' plates while eating; however, these days, with inflation running rampant in Argentina, we've resorted to $2 or $5-peso bills.

San Martín Eyeballin' the Gnocchi by katiemetz, on Flickr[San Martín's eyeballin' my gnocchi. I guess even independence heroes have to eat.]

Humorously, government workers in Argentina have also been given the nickname "ñoquis." Elected officials frequently placed friends and family in positions within local government, but these ghost employees never put in an honest day's work. Nonetheless, they would show up like clockwork at the end of the month (around the 29th) to collect their pay, and as a result, civil servants came to be known as ñoquis.

Tips and Tricks for Preparing Gnocchi

Cooks and food bloggers routinely employ the phrase "little pillows" to describe perfect gnocchi. They should be light in texture and actually taste of potato, squash, spinach, beets—or whatever other ingredient you've chosen as your base—rather than flour. I've eaten my fair share of gummy, tasteless gnocchi, even at restaurants, which goes to show that for a dish with a relatively short list of ingredients, gnocchi can be a challenge to prepare well.

Close-up of Velia Shaping Potato Gnocchi by katiemetz, on Flickr Velia Shaping Gnocchi by katiemetz, on Flickr
[Daniel's grandmother shaping classic potato gnocchi with a gnocchi board]

And so I set about my first solo attempt at making gnocchi, a combination of butternut squash and potato, determined to achieve the ethereal, much sought-after pillows. Let's just say that the results of round one could only be described as little pillows if I tacked on "filled with lead bricks." Although my family ate the gnocchi with gusto (they're not the most discerning lot) at our weekly Sunday get-together, I was disappointed in my dumplings. They were floury. They were tough. And boy, were they heavy. I swear they were still doing somersaults in my stomach four hours later.

My initial failure prompted me to read up on the ins and outs of gnocchi, and I came away with this sage advice.

The Enemies of Good Gnocchi

» Moisture: The wetter your ingredients, the more flour you'll have to add to the dough. And too much flour leads to heavy gnocchi [trust me on this one]. Baking, rather than boiling, your squash or what have you helps on this front.

» Warmth: Warm squash/potato/etc. will require more flour to form a workable dough, so let your ingredients cool sufficiently. Later in the process, chilling the formed dough also cuts down on the stickiness and makes it easier to handle.

» Over-handling: The dough needs a gentle touch. If you overmix it, you'll wind up with tough gnocchi.

Uncooked Gnocchi by katiemetz, on Flickr[Light-as-a-feather butternut squash gnocchi]

Determined not to let a few lumps of dough get the better of me, I prepared to do battle once again, this time working off a different recipe that swapped out the potato and incorporated ricotta instead. The results were sublime—tender, pillowy (!), flavorful gnocchi. I chose to use butternut squash, but feel free to experiment with other types of pumpkin or winter squash. I've included two different recipes for sauces, a walnut cream sauce and a butter sage sauce. They're equally lovely with the gnocchi, so choose whichever appeals most to you (or try both!).

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Walnut Cream Sauce [Close-up] by katiemetz, on Flickr

Butternut Squash and Ricotta Gnocchi | Ñoquis de Zapallo y Ricota
Adapted from a recipe by Biba Caggiano
Yields 4 servings

Ingredients
1 medium butternut squash
vegetable oil, for brushing squash
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. whole-milk ricotta, drained
¾ c. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus 1 Tbsp. for boiling gnocchi
1 1/3 to 1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Lightly brush each half with vegetable oil, and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast the squash until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly and scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin. Puree the squash until smooth in a food processor. If the squash puree seems watery, transfer to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until liquid evaporates and puree thickens. Measure 2 packed cups squash puree, and chill in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl, mix the squash, egg, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and 2 teaspoons salt with a wooden spoon. Gradually fold in 1 1/3 cups flour, taking care not to overwork the dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and, using your hands, gently knead the dough, adding up to 1/3 cup more flour if the dough sticks too much to your hands and to the work surface. Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour, and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

To form gnocchi, tear off a piece of dough about the size of your fist, returning the remaining dough to the refrigerator while you work. Flour your hands and the work surface lightly. Using a gentle back-and-forth motion, roll out the piece of dough into a rope about the thickness of your pointer finger. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. Using a floured gnocchi board or a fork, lightly press with your thumb and roll the gnocchi to form ridges. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the gnocchi have been formed. Transfer gnocchi to a lightly floured baking sheet, keeping them in a single layer. Chill the gnocchi in the refrigerator while you boil the pot of water.

Bring a large pot of water and 1 Tbsp. of salt to a boil. Add the gnocchi in batches, and cook until they float to the surface. Let cook for an extra 30 seconds, and then remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon. Drain off any excess water, and add the gnocchi to the sauce of your choice.

Walnut Cream Sauce

Ingredients
4 Tbsp. butter
1 c. chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ c. heavy cream
¼ c. grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions
While waiting for the water to come to a boil, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the cream and stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes, just until sauce slightly thickens. Transfer the gnocchi to the pan with the sauce, and season with parmesan, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Gnocchi with Sage Butter Sauce by katiemetz, on Flickr

Sage Butter Sauce
Adapted from a recipe by Biba Caggiano

Ingredients
4 Tbsp. butter
10 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions
While the gnocchi cook, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter foams, add sage, and stir 1 minute. Transfer the gnocchi to the pan with the sauce, and season with parmesan, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Serve immediately.


Arugula Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce a la Ana Roasted Beet Malfatti Gnocchi alla Romana Ñoquis de Espinaca Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi

Follow the Gnocchi Trail!
Arugula Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce a la Ana from Ana at Ana Travels
Roasted Beet Malfatti from Meag at A Domestic Disturbance
Gnocchi alla Romana from Aledys at From Argentina to the Netherlands, For Love!
Ñoquis de Espinaca [link in Spanish] from Paula at Bee My Chef
Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi from Rebecca at From Argentina With Love

Read More......
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...