Recipe File: Torre de Panqueques

Slice of Torre de Panqueques by katiemetz, on Flickr An Argentine dish traditionally served at Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinners as part of a cold buffet, the torre de panqueques (also known as fiambre alemán or torre primavera) always proves to be a crowd-pleaser. At its most basic, the torre de panqueques consists of alternating layers of ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwiched between thin, lacy panqueques (crepes). To add a little pizzazz—in terms of both flavor and presentation—many home cooks include roasted red pepper, hard-boiled egg, green olives or hearts of palm.

Although the dish makes a perfect appetizer in warmer weather, with the fresh veggies keeping things on the lighter side, don’t let that stop you from preparing it at any time of year. Hosts find the torre de panqueques particularly appealing for a large get-together or holiday gathering because it can be made in advance and refrigerated until your guests arrive.

Torre de Panqueques
Yields 8 portions

Ingredients
For the crepes:
1 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. cold whole milk
2/3 c. cold water
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter, melted [plus 1 Tbsp. to grease the pan]

For the filling:
1 small head Romaine lettuce
5 small tomatoes, sliced thin
8 oz. sliced boiled deli ham
8 oz. sliced deli cheese such as American
mayonnaise
salt and pepper

Optional [any combination of the following]:
strips of roasted red pepper
chopped or sliced hard-boiled egg
chopped or sliced green olives
chopped or sliced hearts of palm

Directions
Preparing the panqueques:
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. Strain the batter if it looks lumpy. Refrigerate the batter, covered, for a minimum of 1 hour.

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 cover the bottom. 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 panqueque turns out badly—this is common.

This recipe yields 10 panqueques. 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 assemble the torre de panqueques.

Assembly:
If you have a springform pan, you can use it as a guide to help keep the panqueques and other ingredients from sliding around. Otherwise, just assemble the torre de panqueques on a serving dish.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over a panqueque, and place it in the bottom of the springform pan (mayonnaise side up). Top the panqueque with a single layer of lettuce leaves and then a layer of sliced tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the next panqueque, and place it in the pan. Top the panqueque with a single layer of boiled ham and then cheese. Alternate layers of lettuce and tomato and ham and cheese until you run out of panqueques. If you choose to add some of the optional ingredients to the torre de panqueques, intersperse a couple layers of those items or use them as garnish for the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving (can be made up to one day in advance).

Remove the torre de panqueques from the refrigerator. Spread a final layer of mayonnaise on the top panqueque and decorate the torre de panqueques with chopped vegetables and/or hard-boiled egg. Remove the springform pan ring and slice the torre de panqueques into portions with a serrated knife.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen.
Torre de Panqueques III by katiemetz, on Flickr
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Recipe File: Panettone | Pan Dulce

Pan Dulce by katiemetz, on Flickr Like clockwork, the holiday staples begin appearing on the shelves of Argentine markets around the first week of December: blue and red foil-wrapped pan dulce, packets of cavity-inducing turrón and Mantecol, and bottles of bubbly sidra. When it comes to baked goods, nothing else says Christmas in Argentina like pan dulce, a sweet yeast bread known to most Americans as panettone. Popularized by Italian immigrants, pan dulce has become an indispensable part of holiday celebrations in Argentina.

To be sincere, I could never get that worked up about pan dulce. The ubiquitous, commercially made version generally suffers from one or more of the following defects: dry, tasteless dough; an excess of unappetizing candied fruits (cherries should never be green in my opinion); and a dearth of the ingredients that I really enjoy, such as walnuts and almonds. The pan dulce available at local bakeries generally raises the bar, but if you’re after customizability, homemade pan dulce simply can’t be beat.

This recipe yields a rich, flavorful dough chock full of nuts, along with homemade candied orange peel and chunks of chocolate. The dough, perfumed with orange blossom water, will make your kitchen smell divine as the bread bakes. Though the recipe is a bit time consuming, I assure you that you’ll never go back to store-bought pan dulce after sampling the homemade version. Feel free to tailor the recipe to your taste. If you love those green cherries, go ahead and add them.

Pan Dulce
Panettone | Pan Dulce

Ingredients
For the sponge:
5 tsp. active dry yeast or 2 packed Tbsp. fresh yeast [also called compressed or cake yeast]
1/2 c. warm milk [100ºF to 110ºF]
1 Tbsp. sugar         
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
        
For the dough:  
5 eggs
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
a few drops of almond extract
1 1/2 Tbsp. orange flower water
1 Tbsp. malt extract [substitute molasses if unavailable]
5 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 sticks of butter, softened
1 pinch salt
3/4 c. sugar

For the filling:
1 c. chopped almonds, toasted
1 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
1 c. chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1 c. chopped candied orange peel [see recipe here]
1 c. chocolate chunks

Other
melted butter
1 beaten egg yolk
powdered sugar for dusting
1 large, 2 medium, and 1 small paper panettone molds
 
Directions

Combine the ingredients for the sponge, and leave the mixture to rise and bubble in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, roughly 30 minutes. Place the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, almond extract, orange flower water, and malt extract in a medium bowl and mix well. In a food processor or in a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, butter, salt and sugar. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix. Add the sponge to the mixture, and stir to incorporate. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with your hands. Use up to 1 cup of additional bench flour to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands, about 15 minutes. Shape dough into a ball, and place in a greased bowl, covered with a kitchen towel. Allow dough to rise in a warm, humid place, until it doubles in volume.

Note: The richness of the pan dulce dough (high sugar and fat content) as well as the large quantity of nuts, chocolate, etc. results in long proofing times. Be prepared for the dough to take several hours to proof, especially in the case of the first rise.

Punch down the dough, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Using your hand, flatten the dough into a large rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with the nuts, candied orange peel and chocolate, and knead the dough briefly to evenly distribute the add-ins. Form balls and place them in paper panettone molds that have been brushed with butter. The dough should fill half the mold. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let the dough rise in a warm, humid place until it doubles in volume.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cut an ‘x’ in the top of the dough with a very sharp knife. Brush the dough with melted butter and beaten egg yolk. Bake the large pan dulce for about 1 hour, the medium one for 45 minutes, and the small one for 30 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, cover loosely with aluminum foil. The pan dulce is done when it is brown on the outside and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. Allow pan dulce to completely cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen
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Recipe File: Vitel Toné

Vitel toné (also spelled vitel thoné or vitel tonné), a classic element of holiday spreads at Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in Argentina, fulfills the Argentines’ craving for meat with a dish that manages to be flavorful, yet on the lighter side, when the mercury rises during the southern hemisphere summer.

A massive wave of Italian immigration at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century made a profound impact on Argentina’s culture, language and, of course, cuisine. Immigrants from “The Boot” brought this dish, known as vitello tonnato in Italian, with them from their homeland. The dish originated in the Lombardy and Piedmont regions of northern Italy in the 19th century. Today, vitel toné enjoys widespread acceptance throughout Argentina.

Usually served as a cold appetizer, vitel toné consists of slices of veal in a tuna sauce. It’s generally garnished with capers, but some like to dress up the dish further with chopped hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped pickles, and/or olives. While veal and tuna may seem like an odd pairing, I assure you that the creamy and slightly tangy sauce really does complement the meat, and the assertive flavors of tuna and anchovy are mellowed by the cream and the mayonnaise. Give vitel toné a try, and savor some of Argentina’s Italian heritage in every bite.

Vitel Toné by katiemetz, on Flickr

Vitel Toné
Serves 8-10 as appetizer

Ingredients

For meat:
1 (2- to 3 lb.-) veal eye of round roast [known as peceto in Argentina]
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
1 scallion (green part only)
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. kosher salt

For sauce:
1 (5 oz.) can of tuna, packed in water
6 anchovy fillets
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cream
reserved poaching liquid, as necessary

For garnish:
1 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. capers

Directions

For poaching the meat:
Trim fat and silver skin from meat. In a deep, heavy pot, add onion, carrot, celery, scallion, parsley, garlic, bay leaf, black pepper and salt along with enough water to cover the meat. Cover pot, bring water to a boil, then add meat. Return to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and gently simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from heat, set aside, and allow meat to completely cool in the poaching liquid. Strain and reserve the poaching liquid. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (overnight is best).

For the tuna sauce:
Drain tuna and put into a food processor with anchovies and vinegar. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Add the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Process until it becomes a creamy, beige-colored sauce. Add the cream, and pulse lightly to incorporate it into the sauce. Add a few tablespoons of poaching liquid from meat if you need to thin the sauce a bit.

Carefully cut the meat into uniformly thin slices. Spread some of the tuna sauce on the bottom of a serving platter, and then layer the meat, slightly overlapping the slices. Cover the meat with sauce, and continue layering meat slices and sauce. Repeat until all the meat is used. Leave enough sauce to cover top layer. Garnish with capers and chopped parsley. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to develop. Remove from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes prior to serving to take a bit of the chill off the dish.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen.
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Recipe File: Clericot

Holiday parties in the northern climes typically feature belly-warming tipples such as warm, fragrant mulled wine or rich, creamy eggnog; however, as I mentioned in my previous post about arrollado primavera, many here in Argentina prefer to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with lighter food and drink given the hot and humid temperatures at this time of year. To that end, one of the most popular beverages here around the holidays is a light and refreshing drink known as clericot (sometimes spelled clericó).

Clericot was popularized in Argentina and Uruguay by the British (read more about the British influence in Argentina). Originally known as “claret cup,” this summertime drink featured claret (red) wine, sugar, lemon juice and carbonated water. Recipes were then personalized to include liqueurs, fruits, spices, etc. The story goes that the drink was invented by British expats living in the Punjab region of India during the mid-nineteenth century. Looking for a beverage to tame the heat, the British whipped up this sweet and fruity concoction, and thus the claret cup was born. When the British arrived in Argentina with their refreshing drink, Spanish speakers modified the pronunciation of claret cup to clericot.

These days, the Argentine version of clericot generally contains white wine instead of red. Similar to white sangria, a basic clericot features chunks of in-season fruits, a nice white wine, and a touch of sugar. I like to use a Torrontés, as this is the signature white grape of Argentina. The beauty of a recipe like this is that you can feel free to play around with the ingredients and make it your own. Choose whichever fruits look best at the market and adjust the recipe to your preferences.
Clericot

Clericot

Ingredients
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 peach, diced 1 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 pear, diced 1 tangerine, peeled and sliced in half moons
a large handful of strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar
100mL club soda/seltzer water
50mL triple sec or Cointreau liqueur
750mL bottle of chilled white wine (preferably a Torrontés)
ice cubes

Directions
In a large pitcher, add the fruit and then sprinkle it with the sugar. Allow the fruit to macerate for at least 10 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. Serve in a highball glass with ice.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen. Read More......

Recipe File: Pionono or Arrollado Primavera

For most of those celebrating the holiday season in the northern hemisphere, decorations and traditions directly reflect the harsh weather outside. Children and adults alike hold out hope for a white Christmas, and warm, comfy sweaters are normally the order of the day. Families customarily gather and sit down to an elaborate holiday meal featuring rich, heavy foods designed to ward off the chill of winter.

In contrast, below the equator, the holidays fall smack-dab in the southern hemisphere’s summer. It routinely reaches 85ºF or more in Argentina at the end of December, so as you can imagine, a calorie-laden, gut-busting meal is not as welcome here on Christmas. Most Argentines can claim roots in Italy or Spain, and some folks do indeed succumb to the pull of European tradition, with its more substantial holiday spreads; however, the majority of merrymakers opt for lighter fare at Christmas dinner.

Arrollado primavera—made with a thin, lightly sweetened sponge cake typically known as a pionono in Argentina—is filled with ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, roasted red peppers and mayonnaise and rolled up jelly roll-style. As a dish that incorporates ingredients that go down a bit easier in the heat and humidity of late December, pionono or arrollado primavera is frequently found on holiday tables in Argentina.

Piononos, both savory and sweet, are common here, so it’s easy to find pre-made sponge cakes at the supermarket or a local bakery. If ready-made piononos aren’t available where you live, follow the link below for a simple sponge cake recipe.

Pionono or Arrollado Primavera by katiemetz, on Flickr
Pionono or Arrollado Primavera

Ingredients
1 store-bought pionono or 1 recipe for jelly roll/sponge cake
mayonnaise, as needed
½ lb. sliced boiled ham
½ lb. sliced deli cheese
1 tomato, cubed
½ of a small head of lettuce, finely shredded
1 large red pepper, roasted and chopped
a pinch of freshly ground pepper
Optional: chopped green olives, chopped hard-boiled eggs

Directions
Unroll the pionono and spread an even layer of mayonnaise over the top. Layer the ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce and red pepper over the cake. Sprinkle with a pinch of freshly ground pepper. Carefully roll the pionono into a tight spiral, and slice off the ends with a serrated knife. If desired, spread another layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the pionono and decorate it with pieces of red pepper, olives or other vegetables. Using a serrated knife, slice the pionono into 1-inch thick pieces to reveal the “pinwheel” design and colorful ingredients inside.

This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen. Read More......

Foreign Tourists Permitted to Marry in Buenos Aires

Foreign Tourists Permitted to Marry in Argentina [photo by Genaro | www.orengophotography.com, used under Creative Commons license]Foreign tourists are now allowed to marry in the City of Buenos Aires, thanks to a resolution [full text, in Spanish] passed in May 2012. Both straight and same-sex couples visiting the capital city can get hitched with just a few days' notice. Gay marriage was legalized for Argentine citizens in 2010, and now the right has been extended to tourists as well.

I know this news isn't exactly hot off the presses, but I've received a number of emails from readers seeking information about the possibility of getting married in Argentina as a visitor. The change in the law no doubt makes Buenos Aires a more attractive location for those considering destination weddings, since partners can now be joined in a ceremony that is more than purely symbolic.

Tourists wishing to get married must request an appointment at the Civil Registry Office, which, under the law, must be granted in no more than five days. Couples must present a certified photocopy of their passports with a valid tourist stamp and provide an address, albeit temporary (this can be a hotel or friend or family member's home in Buenos Aires), and the length of their stay. Couples will be married at the Civil Registry Office that corresponds to the temporary address they provided.

In addition to Capital Federal, two tourists can tie the knot in the provinces of Santa Fe, Tierra del Fuego and Buenos Aires.

For information about marriage between a foreigner and an Argentine citizen, please see my post "Getting Married in Argentina."

Have you gotten married in Argentina while on vacation? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

[Photo credit: Genaro | www.orengophotography.com]

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Worshipping at "The Church of Tango"

The Church of Tango: a Memoir by Cherie MagnusDuring my first two years or so in Argentina, the opportunity to read an English-language book was something of a luxury; however, all that changed in 2012 thanks to my Kindle. I read a number of interesting and engaging stories last year, and I'd like to share my thoughts about one of them, The Church of Tango: a Memoir by Cherie Magnus.

I first met Cherie, a retired librarian and former belly dancer, a few years back when she traveled to Mar del Plata on a visit with her partner Rubén. We had initially connected through our blogs and thought it would be great to meet in real life. Cherie struck me as a joyful person, someone with a true zest for living, an impression that was further strengthened through subsequent meetings. She spoke about her old life in the U.S. in a wistful sort of way, but I chalked that up to standard-issue expat behavior, that is, until I read her book.

I never would have guessed that the vivacious, smiling Cherie I'd come to know had experienced so much loss in her life and, well, just plain bad luck. But there is life after loss. Cherie's story proves that.

Katie & Cherie in Mar del Plata by katiemetz, on Flickr

Although the title may indicate otherwise, the main focus of this memoir isn't really on the tango. It tells the story of a woman who had built a beautiful life for herself and then watched it all crumble as fate cruelly dealt her one blow after another. Yet, in spite of the death of loved ones, battles with illness, and betrayal, Cherie shows us that even in our most broken moments, we must keep moving forward. By literally putting one foot in front of the other, dance, and more specifically, the tango, gave her the strength to put one foot in front of the other in a metaphorical sense, too. In the hopes of regaining some of what she'd lost, Cherie's journey takes her from Los Angeles to France, then Mexico, and lastly, Buenos Aires. Here she finds solace in the Argentine capital's many milongas (tango dance halls), and she begins to build a new life for herself through the tango.

It's clear to me that Cherie possesses an indomitable spirit, but much like the haunting strains of the tango, I also see in her a touch of melancholy and nostalgia for the past. Perhaps that's why she finally found her home in Buenos Aires.

If 2012 was a difficult year for you, pick up The Church of Tango and be inspired.

Disclosure: While the author did provide a complimentary review copy of this book, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This post also contains an affiliate link that helps support this blog.

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