Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An American Mom Makes Argentine Food

     Last year when Allison did a year long study abroad in Argentina, I was thrilled when I got the chance to visit her there.  Caroline and Jennifer went too and we had a wonderful time.  Buenos Aires is the largest city in Argentina and it's full of wonderful things to see and do.  We went to the Evita Museum, Tango Dancing, and Recoleta Cemetery.  We saw the Japanese Gardens and toured the many varied neighborhoods in such as Palermo.  One thing we did a lot of is eat, because the food is fabulous!  About 97% of the Argentine people have a European background and much of the cuisine has an Italian or Spanish influence. Of course the meat is great, but so are the vegetables.  Everything is smaller and tastes better - chicken, lettuce, eggplant.  Even the portion sizes are smaller and frankly, so are the people! 
There was a place about two blocks from Allison's apartment called la Continental.  One restaurant out of a franchise chain, it was like a Panera Bread - sort of fast food only with an extensive menu. Sometimes Allison would meet friends there and they would study while they ate. The girls and I went a couple of times while we were there.  We ordered the typical foods: empanadas, pizza, and milanese. Each type of empanada had its own crimp design along the edge according to what filling is inside.  We loved the cheese and onion ones, but also the meat kind.  Allison's favorite pizza had yellow banana peppers and green olives on it; a surprisingly delicious combination!  The milanesa is similar to eggplant or veal parmesan except very thin steak is used. It's breaded, fried (or baked), and often served topped with marinara sauce, cheese and sometimes ham. Now that she's back in school here in the Midwest, it's senior year career fair-interview time.  I went down to see her last week in order to drop off the standard black business suit, and while I was there I cooked up some of her Argentine favorites.  Since I only had a limited amount of time,  I cut some corners - I used frozen pizza dough, refrigerated biscuits and an easy red sauce. 


For Easy Marinara Sauce:

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

For the Milanesa Steaks

1 pound very thinly sliced sirloin tip steaks

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4 eggs

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil if frying or cooking spray if baking

8 oz. mozzarella cheese

8 oz. sliced ham (optional) 

1 tomato, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons dried oregano


Make the super easy sauce first by combining the tomato sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and let it simmer over medium low heat while you are breading the steaks.

Next follow these steps to prepare the steaks for cooking:


In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder together.  Cut the steak into serving sized pieces.  Use tongs to submerge the steak in the flour so its covered all over.


In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and mustard.  Dip the flour covered steak in it.


Finally, pour the bread crumbs out onto a plate and coat both sides of the steak with them.

Now they can either be baked or fried.  If baking, spray both the pan with cooking spray and the top of the steak.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown.  If frying, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium heat and cook about 10 minutes on each side.  Be careful not to burn the crust and try to turn the steak over only once.

Transfer the steak to a baking pan (if not on already) and ladle sauce onto each piece.  Top with a ham slice (if using), cheese, and a tomato slice.  Sprinkle with some of the oregano.

Place the pan containing the milansea into a 375 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.  These are often served with French fries! Enjoy!


Meat Filled Empanadas

For the meat filling ingredients and directions, please go here: http://yatesyummies.blogspot.com/2012/02/easy-empanadas-for-allison-and-cassie.html

I now use refrigerator biscuit dough because it's so easy to use. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.


I just spread out the dough rounds like a little pizza, fill, and seal with fork tines.

Onion Cheese Empanadas 


2 onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 


Saute the onion in the olive oil until very soft and just beginning to barely get brown.

Fill each dough round with about a tablespoon of onion and a tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese. Fold, seal, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown.  


Allison's Favorite Pizza

Ingredients for two 12 inch pizzas:

1 batch of the easy marinara sauce from above

2 packages of frozen dough for a 12 inch pizza or a premade crust

8 oz. ham slices

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup jarred yellow banana peppers

1/2 cup green onives

1 tomato sliced thinly

2 teaspoons dried oregano



Spread the dough out onto a pizza pan, baking stone, or even a cookie sheet. Ladle the sauce on to the pizza and spread it around.  Top each pizza with 2 cups of the cheese, ham slices (if using), banana peppers, green olives, tomato slices, and a teaspoon of oregano.  Bake on the middle rack at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.


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