Every so often, I attend social events in Denver for media folks hosted by MediaBistro, a professional organization based out of NYC. It was at one of these events several months ago that I met Rebecca, a food and travel writer, and the blogger behind From Argentina With Love, a delightful blog about the food and culture of rural Argentina, where her husband is from. We’ve become fast friends, and over the last two months, she’s offered Kelli and me wonderful insights into the world of blogging as we worked to get No Gluten, No Problem off the ground.
All the while, we thought it would be fun to try a simul-blog, overlapping the food interests of From Argentina With Love and NGNP. Well, here it is! And empanadas are the modus operandi. Rebecca’s blog features an Empanada of the Month, a popular feature that always looks delicious. At their most basic, empanadas are a dough stuffed with different fillings. The dough is reminiscent of pastry dough, and is usually formed into a thin circle, which when folded over becomes a semi-circle. Fillings can range from savory to sweet.
When I asked Rebecca for a recommended empanada version to make, she suggested the Margherita Empanada, which is filled with mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and tomatoes. “That sounds awfully Italian!” I wrote back. It turns out that Argentina has a very strong Italian heritage, and so one shouldn’t be surprised to see such influences in the food. I learn something new every day it seems.
Empanada dough can be store-bought, already pre-cut into convenient discs, but of course those aren’t gluten-free. The trick for us was to create a gluten-free empanada dough. We modified an empanada dough recipe from Gourmet magazine, which looked unbelieveably similar to Kelli’s grandmother’s recipe for pie crust. Gluten-free pie crust or pastry dough has been our toughest challenge to date – it’s difficult to create, and even harder to work with (it’s very fragile). This time was no different, but we were very happy with the results, which tasted great.
The most important judge of any food is the taste, however. And by that measure, our empanadas were a success! We’re confident that, with a little practice, our repulgue technique will improve, we’ll remember to save an egg for the egg wash, and our empanadas will only get better. But if our starting point is any judge, we’re on the right track. In the meantime, if you’re looking for empanada inspiration, or simply looking to journey further through the cuisine and culture of Argentina, I hope you’ll take the time to peruse From Argentina With Love. And who knows…if you create your own successful GF empanada, just maybe it’ll earn a spot as an Empanada of the Month!