Argentina is a surprisingly long country! The North is tropical and the South is icy. The West is mountainous and it has its own desert. With such a wide variety of environments, I expected the cuisine to have more variation than what I found when I was reading up. Food-wise, the staples are beef (barbequed of course), empanadas and dulche de leche. In the absence of barbeque weather this week, we settled for the two latter foods.
Empanadas are about half the size of a Cornish pasty and are either served as a starter or a snack. Anything goes as a filling, but our favourites have been chicken and chorizo and beef versions.
Apparently, Argentinians have a very sweet tooth and dulche de leche (‘sweet milk’) is a firm favourite in the country; it’s served on pancakes, spread on toast, with ice cream or just on its own. It’s made from caramelising condensed milk – it’s so easy to make and stored well. Take an unopened can of condensed milk in a sauce pan, cover with water and simmer for three hours (don’t let the pan boil dry unless you want an explosion on your hands). Using the pressure cooker we got it down to 20 minutes. Take it out, leave it to cool and open the can. You’ll find the most delicious caramel sauce.
I turned the dulche de leche into a cheese cake from the Hairy Bikers’ ‘Ride Again’ book where they visited Argentina. The base is made from two packets of oreos and some melted butter. The filling is made from Philadelphia, vanilla extract, a can of dulche de leche, and an egg.