When I was 17, I traded the Belgian weather for sunny blue skies in Formosa, Argentina. As an exchange student, I spent a year with an Argentine family that taught me Spanish and the life lesson that being loud is totally OK. I remember saying ‘si’ to every question (life hack: don’t do that), being the best math student they ever had (are you reading this, high school teacher from Belgium?), being overwhelmed by the sight of Iguazu Falls (gets my everytime) and forging friendships that have taken me all over the world. I can rave about any and every thing the country has to offer, but that would take us to far. Instead, I urge all of you to take a plane to Buenos Aires, don’t come back for at least a week and please have a coffee and sandwich for me in Las Violetas.
Most of all, I remember the food. Not only because it’s still sticking to my hips 10 years later, but more importantly because it was SO good. How good, you ask? Open up a tab of Google Images. Brace yourself and your taste buds and search for asado, chipa, sopa paraguaya, pizza Argentina, milanesas, medialunas, alfajores. Wipe the saliva from your chin. Now google ’empanadas’. Drool all over it again.
It’s tradition. On days when I miss this home away from home, empanadas are all I can think about. It usually doesn’t go any further than daydreaming because I’m too lazy to knead the dough. It’s totally worth it though, so some days I push myself to chase my dreams and get the flour out of the pantry. Last time I made empanadas was when the FIFA World Cup was on. I made a shitload of cheese and ham goodness and watched the game while holding en empanada in one hand and the Argentine flag in the other. The Albiceleste lost anyway, but in culinary terms, I won.
Last week I found myself in the kitchen with ham, cheese and homesickness. There was only one cure. Vamos Argentina!
Empanadas de jamón y questo
400g all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
170g unsalted butter in cubes
4.5 tbsp cold milk
100g shredded mozarella
150g shredded emmental
100g cream cheese
100g ham in cubes (or more if desired)
Oven: preheat at 200°C.
Empanada shells (‘tapas’):
- Mix the flour and salt
- Add the butter cubes and knead together
- Add the egg and gradually add the milk until a dough forms
- Roll out the dough and cut out round shapes for your empanadas
- Mix the cheeses and the ham together in a bowl and season with pepper and salt if desired.
- Put some filling on the center of every shell and seal the empanada by folding it and pressing the edges together.
- You can close the deal with a fork or a beautiful ‘repulque’ if you’re an eager beaver. Watch this video by ‘Paulina cocina’ to become a pro. Or if you’re like me, an amateur that doesn’t give up.
- Bake the empanadas on an oven sheet for 20-25 minutes.