Pelmeni or pelemeni are dumplings from the former Soviet Union. Today they are considered the national dish of Russia and are eaten among a lot of Slavic countries. Traditionally they are filled with meat, I took a mix of beef and pork. My dough contains butter, which makes is easier to work with. We will first “burn” the flour, which may sound a bit crazy, but bear with me, I tell you, even beginners managed to make the most beautiful pelmeni. Pelmeni require a lot of work as they are small and are prepared by hand, often an entire family will sit together and form these. But I promise, they are worth the effort.
Onion tart (Zwiebelkuchen) with a loooot of onions nestled into a thin pastry dough and covered with a cream and eggs mixture. This is exactly how I like it. It may be something savory, it may be sweet, but I always want more filling than dough, that is for sure. That’s why I created this recipe. This onion tart is traditionally served in September with the first wine of the season. This wine is called “federweißer”, it is only partially fermented and is pretty sweet. When I lived in Dresden, I was sure to visit the wine festivals (the wine from Radebeul is pretty popular) and eat my share of Zwiebelkuchen. It is divine! The version below contains caramelized onions mixed with some bacon, a dough similar to pie pastry and is then topped off with an egg and cream mixture. I am telling you, this is sooo delicious!
Tomatoe tart or tarte tatin with tomatoes, pizza margherita with puff pastry dough, I don’t really know how you want to call this beauty, but you will find tomatoes simmered in caramel, baked with the dough on top and then turned upside down. Sprinkle with additional mozzarella, pine nuts and basil, and you can dig into this summery dish. I had the audacity of eating the entire thing in one go, approved of it and therefore decided to put it on the blog.
Guys, these gluten-free arepas with plantain are a dream come true! Try to think of a flatbread with a touch of sweetness from the plantain, which is filled with mozzarella. I tell you, of all the arepas I have eaten, this is by far my favorite. Since I am married to a Colombian, I have had my share of arepas. Just as bread is extremely important in German culture, arepas are a staple in Colombia. Of course I posted the basic arepa recipe, some from the region Boyaca, which are slightly sweet, and arepas with cheese filling, which have become popular after the movie Encanto. In Venezuela arepas are commonly filled and stuffed, I introdcued arepas with chicken filling and today, finally, let me introduce arepas made with mashed plantains.
I am going to teach you about empanadas today, these are the famous turnovers from Latin America. Empanadas are, I dare say, THE snack of Latin America. Empanadas do require quite a bit of work, first you have to prepare the dough and then the filling, then you need to fill and seal each empanada before it is baked or fried. As many dishes, empanadas are originally from Spain. However, Spanish empanadas have little resemblance with the empanadas from Latin America. Spanish empanadas are similar to a pie. The empanada from Galicia for example is big and round, like a pie, usually filled with chicken and champignons. Often the pie topping has some braided elements and is decorated in some kind of way. This is very different from the empanadas from Latin America. In this article we will have a look at how empanadas are made in Latin America. Of course I will give a lot of recipes at the end of this article.
Pascualina is a savory pie from Uruguay prepared with spinach and eggs. “Pascua” translates as Easter, thus this pie is usually eaten during the holy week or “semana santa”. As many Uruguayans have Italian ancestry, many Italian dishes were adapted to what was available in Uruguay. In Italy pascualina is normally prepared with ricotta and Parmesan cheese, however, Uruguayans like to infuse flavor with bacon and additional veggies such as bell peppers. Other dishes include milanesa, cutlets, which already tell you the origin. Another is the quince tart named pasta frola, which is very popular in Uruguay.
Let me introduce the perfect snack from Latin America to you: empanadas! Empanadas are turnovers with many different types of fillings. This version is with beef and potatoes from Argentina. But the options are endless. Of course I have introduced empanadas from different countries on my blog. How about Uruguayan empanadas with beef filling, Bolivian chicken empanadas, which are called salteñas, empanadas from Colombia, which are traditionally fried, or sweet empanadas with dulce de leche filling. Empanadas from Argentina and Uruguay are often made with wheat flour and are usually baked. I personally like this version the best. Empanadas can be easily frozen, you just need to make sure to bake them longer, they will taste just as freshly made.
I think it is about high time to get something savory in between all these sweets here. Today I brought something from Bolivia, chicken turnovers or salteñas how they are called locally. Normally turnovers are called empanadas in Spanish. However, for some reason, the Bolivians decided to call these salteñas. Of course I have presented empanadas on this blog. First I showed you the typical beef empanadas from my country Uruguay, followed by classic Colombian empanadas that remain to be a hit. Bolivian “empanadas” differ slightly in the sense that a) the dough is sweetened, and b) gelatine is used for the filling in order to ensure that it remains juicy and moist. When I tried them for the first time, I was a bit surprised that I liked them much better on day 2. I had prepared two batches, one which was baked immediately, and one which was baked after the fully prepared salteñas had chilled in the fridge overnight, tightly covered. Maybe it was the fact that the ingredients could get friendly with each other, I don’t know, but I loved them on day 2.
Warning, these classic empanadas from Colombia are a labor of love. If you are going to make everything from scratch like I did, you will need a few hours. However, one of the good things about empanadas is that you can prepare a lot in advance. You may wish to make the filling and/or the dough one to two days prior and then “only” need to fill and fry the empanadas the following day. But before we get into the details, what are empanadas exactly? Empanadas are dumplings, each Latin American country has its own variation, heck, every region and city will be proud of their particular empanadas. Since I was born in Uruguay, I am used to empanadas made with wheat flour. The traditional filling in Uruguay is beef (duh) and they are usually baked in the oven. Yes, of course I have a recipe for Uruguayan empanadas on my blog. Colombian empanadas on the other hand are made with cornmeal, if using the right one, they will be gluten-free. Most of the time they are not baked in the oven, but deep-fried. The filling varies, some use a piece of meat that is later pulled apart, I simply decided to use already minced meat. One particularity of Colombia is the “guiso” or “hogao”, this is a thick sauce made of tomatoes, spring onions, onions and herbs that are typically mixed with the meat filling. This makes them Colombian.
Today I am introducing Colombian tamales. This means an assortment of meat and corn mash, which is steamed in wrapped banana leaves for about an hour. I don’t think you can imagine how nervous I was when I found out that the local produce owner here in Munich actually could get me fresh banana leaves. So far I had only eaten tamales on vacation in Colombia. Usually they are served for breakfast and devoured with Colombian hot chocolate. However, since this is a savory dish, it will also taste great as the main course for dinner. I had often wondered whether it was possible to make them in Germany. But since I had not seen banana leaves being sold anywhere, I had not attempted Colombian tamales. This was over now! Finally I got hold of banana leaves! And I quickly learned why tamales are usually prepared by the entire family and not one person only. Preparing the tamales definitely was a full-family business. I had listened to stories of Colombians who had nothing else to do than to put their index finger on the yarn so that the designated mom/grandma/aunt could be sure that the tamales were sealed all proper. That was their entire job for the small children, nothing else. Since making tamales does require quite a bit of work and contains many components, usually they are made in large batches, anything below 15 tamales is not worth the effort. And if you keep in mind that Colombian families are large and include many more people than only the nucleus family, it does make sense to prepare 30 or more. Making Colombian tamales felt to me like an accolade of the highest nature and thus I was nervous of whether I could achieve this as a German who happened to be married to a Colombian.