Sunday, January 9, 2011

Argentina

Bah.  I need to catch up with all of these.  Hopefully my new fancy blog will help with that.  Right now, it feels like more work for me to do the posts than the actual cooking.  Now that I've started my job, we'll see how long it stays like that.  Anyway, on to the good stuff.

Argentina

Size: 2.8 million square miles - 8th biggest in the world, which is still slightly less than 3/10ths the size of the US
Elevation: Ranges from -105 m to over 6000 m
Population: Over 41 million - 32nd in the world
Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1000 population
Description: They are technically Argentines, not Argentinians.
Cuisine: Heavy influence from multiple European nations that separates it from some of it's South American neighbors.  Very large meat production industry, especially beef.

This is a very special entry this time.  First, it is the first post on the new blog.  Let's see if I keep it up...so far it hasn't really been more friendly.  Second, this is a special on-the-road edition!  Live (or something) from Grand Rapids!  And third, I finally got to use my international cookbook!  Apparently Argentina is important actually be included.

This cookbook has an intro section for all of the countries that have recipes in there.  I remember two things from Argentina: they eat a lot of beef, and they make some unique wines.  Sounds like Kevin's dream country.  :-)

I therefore wanted to choose a recipe that included some of that beef for which they are famous.  After reviewing the options, I chose the recipe "Beef and Potato Empanadas with Chimichurri Sauce."  I was also going to do tamales, but decided that that would be too much.

As for giving you the recipe, I'm not sure that's allowed.  You know, copyright and all.  So I will just talk about the recipe a lot, and you can go from there.

So first, let's set the mood.

The cat is in a kennel, because the thought of driving with him for 11 or so hours one way and having him taunt Chewy was not pleasant.  So we'll have to deal with old photos of him and what happens when he sleeps next to me why I'm crocheting:

 Okay, so there is no cat, but there is a Chewy.  There is also my family.  This is the scene as we get to Grand Rapids.  Anna tries to blend in with the tree, while Sarah-Anne and Patrick are more cleverly hidden.

 Got this all in your head?  Good.  I go from there to the grocery store with my guest chef, Patrick Michael Truskowski!  This recipe specifically calls for beef shoulder, and the person behind the meat counter at Meijer wasn't much help.  So we settled with stew meat.

Patrick, clearly being proud of being the guest chef.  Or something.
Your brief look at the recipe.
So, to begin, we had to make the dough, since it had to sit for a few hours.  This probably should have stopped us from starting so late, but it did not.  To further set the scene for that night...we have Wii Sports Resort.  So almost everyone else was playing.  Including often my guest chef.  Also, I put Kevin in charge of pictures, so I can't be blamed for anything...

So I started in on the dough, and had Patrick start chopping for the Chimichurri sauce.  The interesting part about the dough was that it involve paprika and didn't have any oil.  That part will be important later.  It was very difficult to combine everything together, especially since I doubled the recipe.

Too many cooks in the kitchen?
Slice and dice.
Hard at work.
Wii Sports Resort Update #1.  Anna, at the start of swordfighting.
Anna, after she has started.  It is amazing the TV survives.
The Chimichurri was just chopping a lot of stuff, and there aren't a lot of pictures because someone was playing video games.  Wait, did I just say that?  :-p
Finished Chimichurri.
Yum yum!
At this point, I called in Kevin's help for trying to roll the dough so it would be able to sit for the next few hours.  Let me tell you, it was not easy.
And now things have to sit.
Messy kitchen.
So what do people do?
More...
...Wii.
And then it is time for me to create the filling for the empanadas.  Other that the already mentioned beef and potato there was onion, red pepper, raisin, olive, white pepper, hard boiled egg, and others.  It was quite the filling.
Zachary made Kevin sniff the Red Wine Vinegar.
Beef!
And potato!
My chef came back after some grueling rounds at the resort.
Why must there always be onions?
With the interesting combination of ingredients, in the end it looks absolutely amazing.  Not only from a delicious standpoint, but just the colors even.
Argentines: cooking for beauty.
After this came by far the worst part of the recipe.  You had to pull out the dough, roll it thin, and cut it into circles.  Remember that part where I said there was no oil?  Oil is generally what makes dough elastic.  It allows it to be molded and stretched.  When I was struggling, my dad was happy to let me know that that was probably why.  Oh the things you learn from making pizzas for a living.

Also, at first, I didn't think we had a rolling pin.
Improvisation!  Remember, they were big into wine anyway.
Secondly, we didn't really have anything to make cutting the dough into circles easy.
My family is very creative.  And we always have cookie dough.
In the end, I needed to employ some help.  I did a few, and my arms were already exhausted.  Plus, I hadn't been taking breaks to play video games.
Manly men roll dough.
After the help from Kevin,there wasn't much left to do.  Fill the dough, press them together, and bake.  At this point it has been 4-5 hours, so I am ready for this to be over.
Still continues to look pretty!
Kinda like making pierogi!  Except not as pretty as when Grandma would do it...
The result?
Apparently I couldn't quite get that one closed...


I was a little worried they were undercooked, but went with the amount they said.  I am very glad I did.  Despite still being light, they were just right.  The filling with the dough plus the sauce was delicious.  Probably not the best one we've had, but definitely in the top five.  Good as leftovers too.  Even Anna ate one.  My Aunt Jeanne took one home for her and one for my Uncle Mike.

They were also a LOT of work.  I am torn with how worth it it was.  Perhaps if I had been prepared, it would have been better.  Someday I will learn to read the recipe multiple times before embarking on it.

What about the wine part, you say?  We did buy some Argentine wine and had it the next night.  It was Torrontes.  My book said that that and Malbec are pretty exclusive to Argentina.  It was...interesting.  Very flavorful.  Almost too much going on.
Overall, a success.

Perhaps not for Blogger, though.  Not too impressed yet.  Maybe now that I know a little more of the ins and outs I will be able to use it better.  I also hope to move over the old posts eventually.

You should be able to subscribe it you want to be alerted every time there is a new one.  Feel free to comment.

Happy now, Amy?

I would definitely encourage people to try the bacon-wrapped bananas, or any of the other recipes, on your own.  Let me know what happens!

Next time is already cooked, I just have to get around to writing it.  Maybe soon, since Kevin is gone for work this week and I can't cook the next country without him.

Last time: Antigua and Barbuda
Next time: Armenia

2 comments:

  1. I am happy! I hope you are happy with your new blog. I think it's going to be awesome.

    I'm going to have to make Empanadas again after reading this. They're so nummy.

    It's definitely a good thing you didn't also make tamales, because they take just as long as Empanadas. You wouldn't have been able to eat until four in the morning.

    Also, we have the same plates at my house.

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  2. Hi Danielle! (I'm your cousin via your "new" Aunt Tami) Grandma Hetzel told us about your blog, and I am excited to follow it! The food looks delicious, and we are always looking for new ideas. Keep up the good work, and I hope that it works out to meet you this summer! Love, Sarah

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