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Entries in beef (7)

Wednesday
Apr252018

Dad's Empanadas

The best thing about making Dad’s Mexican mince is leftovers. Leftovers = empanadas.

These aren’t really traditional Argentine empanadas – the ‘Mexican’ is clue there – but I grew up with them, so they are my fave.

I ate my body weight in empanadas twice over when I visited Argentina in 2009. Empanadas vary hugely from region to region. The best I found were in Cordoba, where they were beefy, salty, juicy and fried. Further North they start adding more sugar or fruits, like raisins, which I am not a big fan of in savoury foods.

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Wednesday
Apr112018

Dad's Mexican mince

I had a craving for my Dad’s Mexican mince recently. We used to get so excited when we were little and came in the door to that unmistakable smell of stewing meat and spices.

Before I moved to the UK it was one of several recipes I made my Dad make in front of me so that he couldn’t “forget” any ingredients. To this day, I still haven’t quite managed to master his “benchmark aioli” and I have always thought that maybe there is something he is not telling me. The Mexican mince, on the other hand, I watched him make step-by-step so there was no room for items to be lost in translation.

Apart from the optional ingredients, this is to the letter. That isn’t to say that it is traditional – I have no idea, my Dad isn’t Mexican – but it tastes damned good and better than any I’ve tried elsewhere, but I have to admit that I haven’t been to Mexico so, until then, I will reserve judgement.

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Tuesday
May312016

La nonna Pettineo's ragu

For my 30th birthday my friend, Geraldine, sent me a care package from the USA, which included a handwritten recipe and photos of her nonna’s ragu. Like everyone with an Italian grandmother, she says hers makes the best. And like every Italian grandmother, hers doesn’t follow a recipe, so you have to watch her to learn it.

A few years ago, Geraldine and I got into a friendly debate about what constitutes the best ragu and what one should call it. (You can read about that here). I argued with her about it, but mostly for the sake of it. Actually, I was very keen to learn her nonna’s secrets.

When she next visited her, she watched her make it and wrote down all the details step-by-step. The recipe is written in Geraldine’s beautiful cursive handwriting and comes with lots of notes and tips:

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Friday
Apr262013

A traditional ragù from Bologna

“I hate the way they call it ‘Bolognese’ here. It’s not Bolognese, it’s ragù.  That is what they call it in Bologna" says my friend Geraldine as we peruse the lunch menu in Arbutus.

She’s French, but her father is Italian and so, more importantly, is her grandmother.

I once tried to argue with her about whether or not water must be at a rolling boil before putting pasta in it. I can’t remember what the correct answer was. I presume it was that it should be and that Geraldine was right. In her words:

“Well, I know you know a lot about food, Vicky, but I think I am going to listen to my Italian grandmother over you.”

It was a valid point, which I only admitted to her now, at least 10 years later.

Geraldine and I like to disagree. It is what our friendship was founded on. Each as stubborn as the other, and always looking for a good argument. So I had replied:

“Well, your grandmother probably makes her pasta from scratch. We’re just using dried pasta.”

Or I wished I did. I can’t remember.

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Tuesday
Feb072012

Albondigas árabe – my Moorish meatballs

 

It is a bit cheeky of me to give my meatballs this name, because they are exactly that – mine. They are neither traditionally Spanish nor from the Moors, but they are packed full of Moorish spices and these are used a lot in the south of Spain where the Moorish influence is most prevalent. Indeed the Spanish are rather quick to add this suffix; a little pinch of cumin or all spice seems enough to mark a dish Moorish and so I am following suit. Oh, and a double whammy of alliteration in both languages was too much to resist.

I started out with the intention of making traditional Spanish albondigas, but even those would rarely involve chorizo or paprika, despite these both being typical Spanish ingredients. Then I got carried away and decided on a Moorish theme adding all spice, cumin, nutmeg and ground coriander too. The result was spicier than the meatballs you would typically get in a tapas restaurant in Spain, but it was wonderfully hearty and warming and the chorizo and paprika gave it a deep, smoky flavour. If you prefer something milder you could tone it down by using sweet smoked paprika and skipping the chilli. And for something smoother with less intensity, you might like to try adding thyme in place of the fresh coriander.

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