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.
Today you will get Gougère from Switzerland! Gougères are cheese balls made from choux pastry. They are super light and airy. If you like eclairs and profiteroles, these are for you, a savory snack made from exactly the same dough, choux pastry is first boiled before eggs are added. If you are interested in sweet choux pastry, how about profiteroles with raspberry filling, black forest eclairs, eclairs with coffee cream or peanut butter filling. Below cheese balls are a wonderful fingerfood, snack, or can be served for any gathering.
Guys, can you believe it, I do have a full category with all Latin American recipes on this blog, but so far not a single Mexican recipe. That’s a shame, because the Mexican cuisine has so much to offer. My favorite Mexican food is tacos and for that reason we are going to make tacos from scratch, the whole thing. Because tacos are super basic, you need three ingredients: cornmeal, salt, and water. So for that reason tacos are gluten-free and also vegan. As always you will find a lot of tips below for your tacos to be successful from the start.
Tacos are as important in Mexico as are arepas in Colombia and Venezuela. However, true Mexican tacos are never “hard shell” as often suggested by the chain Taco Bell, tacos are eaten with your hands and are soft and flexible, they are a small tortilla after all. For that reason you will see them all flat on my pictures, this is how I learned to eat tacos from Mexicans. You only bend them in your hands. Tacos are usually made with cornmeal and not flour. As far as I know flour tacos are only known in the north of Mexico, but the rest of the country uses corn. Tacos are super popular in Mexico and are usually served with some spicy salsa or sauce. But now let’s get started.
Did you watch the Latin American Streetfood Show on Netflix? If you did, you most likely remember choripán, the Argentinian or Uruguayan version of a hot dog. When I watched the show, I remembered eating this hot dog in Buenos Aires lastly in 2016 and I was determined to make a version that also works in Germany. So I first had to find the chorizo sausage. I thought that was going to difficult, but then, surprisingly I found a small version in our regular grocery store. These were the Spanish ones, but I have to say, they taste very similar to the ones I remember from Buenos Aires. So yay to that. Next I wanted to make my own hot dog buns. I knew that they would be so much better. So I set out and tried different recipes. I was surprised when I realized that hot dog buns are much easier to prepare than I originally thought. You basically throw all ingredients together and then have to wait until you form the buns. Really not that hard. So here you go, you got homemade hot dog buns filled with a chorizo sausage (or in my case two as they were so small), the herb sauce called chimichurri (also homemade), and if you want, some red onion slices. Voilá, you have your Latin American version of a hot dog: choripán!
Today I am introducing Polish pierogi ruskie or dumplings with a potato and cream cheese filling! Recently I have had a craving for some of the Ukrainian, Russian, or Polish dishes my grandmothers used to serve. Neither of them are still alive. Thinking back, I have to say, I don’t even know how they did it. Many times when we came to visit, there would be a large family gathering with more than 15 people, yet they would always serve homemade food such as pelmeni, vareniki or pierogi. All of these require a lot of work and are dumplings that need to be formed by hand. I needed half an hour for two people, you can probably imagine how much time it took them for the amount of people visiting. My favorite are either pierogi or vareniki, which are either filled with cream cheese only or cream cheese with potatos. So today I am giving you the traditional pierogi ruskie.
Today I am presenting chicken pot pie, a main course which is perfect for using leftover chicken, goose, duck or similar from Christmas. Obviously you don’t need to necessarily have leftovers, but you can start from scratch. Just saying. You may also go for other vegetables, traditionally chicken pot pie is served with carrots, mushrooms, and peas, but you can use whatever you have at hand and mix it conveniently with the meat. Regardless of how you vary the filling, you will get a very flaky pie crust and a creamy chicken and vegetable filling. This is perfect souldfood for a cold and chilly winter day.
It is one-pan pizza day! Are you in for a pizza with a thick yet fluffy crust? Then this pizza is for you. It reminds me a little of the one you find at Pizza Hut, but better as it is homemade and from scratch. You will need to invest about 25min into the dough as it has a stretching and folding technique you need to repeat every 5 minutes. But other than that it is mostly waiting as this is a typical yeast dough. I also made my very own tomato sauce. You can go with store-bought, but I didn’t mind chopping garlic and onion for this extra delicious sauce. Since this pizza needs to be made the night before and will be chilled in the fridge, I arranged for it to be eaten during lunch as we like to have our main meal during lunchtime. That’s the beauty of this pizza, depending on when you want to eat it, you can schedule accordingly.
Today I am introducing arepas with chicken and guacamole filling. Arepas are Colombian corn flatbread with no gluten and serve as the base for a hearty sandwich. I already introduced one filled arepa on this blog. Arepa boyacense is a popular arepa with cheese filling. Today I decided to make a plain version with a hearty filling. If prepared this way, arepas can serve as the main course, in this instance they are filled with crispy chicken pieces and the famouse avocado cream called guacamole. Many people instantly go to Mexico when they hear guacamole. However, I have learned that actually Colombians are the ones eating most avocados per capita. Every time I visited Colombia, I saw avocado being sold on the street, every bbq would have guacamole served with the rest. But rest assured, Colombian guacamole is much milder than the Mexican version, so this is not spicy at all.
Today you will get Colombian red beans or frijoles, yay! I really enjoy eating these and the recipe below was invented by my husband who tweaked the family recipe to his liking. Red beans are served all throughout Latin America. My friends are often surprised when they realize that Colombian red beans are mild in flavor as many immediately think of spicy red beans from Mexico or Brazil. However, rest assured, these beans are not spicy as they are flavored with cilantro and other equally mild herbs.