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......
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