Learning to Cook like a Porteรฑo

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I have done my fair share of eating in Buenos Aires but if I was going to learn what it was like to live as a Porteรฑo I needed to know how to cook like one.

With food being my first love I have taken many cooking classes, not only one-off classes but semesters at a culinary school.

When I was in Thailand, like others I took a cooking class in Chiang Mai and it was a highlight of the trip.

woman cooking over oven

Stephanie found Norma’s class online after I had given up finding classes in South America.

Norma is a psychotherapist during the week but loves food so much she teaches the classes on Saturdays.

I liked Norma right away.

Before we did any cooking we sat around a table to get to know everyone a bit better.

I learned that Norma was already listed in Lonely Planet, but unlike most people who are listed, she didn’t jack the class prices up.

empanada ingredients

Empanadas

Although I have eaten empanadas all throughout South America I must confess they are the best in Argentina.

I have been addicted to the spinach and cheese ones using the excuse I need more green in my diet to combat all the steak in San Telmo.

folding empanada

Folding the empanadas was the most difficult part of the class.

Norma showed me a few times and Stephanie’s first attempt was perfect. Mine was okay…let’s just say I prefer taste over presentation.

Add some chimichurri and no one knows any better!

empanadas on baking sheet

When Norma heard we also loved caprese empanadas (tomato, cheese, basil) she also showed us how to make those.

She also explained that each variety has its own traditional way of folding.

empanadas on a plate

I was pleased to see that cooking the empanadas hides your lack of folding abilities.

taking photo of alfajores

Alfajores

Alfajores are two round cookies filled with dulce de leche and decorated with coconut. Sometimes they are also dipped in chocolate or other coatings.

I’m not a big sweets person so making alfajores wasn’t a big deal for me.

In fact most of my experiences with them involved gross, processed cookies that they give you on the bus that you know are disgusting but eat anyway and then lament over why you eat something just because it’s free.

But making alfajores was dangerous because the cookies were delicious with just enough dulce de leche wedged in between them to make them sweet enough to make them again.

locro soup

Locro

I was most excited to make locro.  A traditional stew, it is one of the few dishes made with pork.

In this case two kinds – chorizo and pancetta.

This is my kind of soup.

Norma’s recipe is a bit more modern as she has tried to make it more healthy.

Traditionally you just throw some leftovers of the pig into the stew to flavour it but understands not everyone wants some pig’s ear in their bowl.

locro soup

Argentinean Locro Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

A classic soup from Argentina, using hominy, pancetta and chorizo.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups hominy (soaked overnight in water)
  • 1.5 cups dried beans (soaked overnight in water)
  • 200g diced pancetta
  • 2 sausages, sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 1 kg squash, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste or 1/2 cup of tomato puree
  • 2 cubes of stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin

Instructions

    1. Put corn and beans in water, bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Add squash and carrots.

    2. Saute onions, scallions, peppers and garlic. Add to pot with tomato paste and stock cubes.

    3. Cook pancetta and sausage, discard fat and add to pot. Simmer 30 minutes.

    4. Check spices and consistency, adjust as needed.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 339Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 556mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 6gSugar: 12gProtein: 11g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although BaconisMagic.ca attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

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Afterwards we had a great lunch with wine and salad and Norma gave us a booklet with all of the recipes along with others including how to make spinach empanadas!

If you are coming to Buenos Aires this is a really fun afternoon.

Join the Conversation

  1. Oh yum! Love the look of those empanadas, especially the cheese/basil/tom ones! Such a simple yet scrumptious combination. The soup sounds pretty good too.

    Am soo putting this on my list for Buenos Aires!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Meeting Norma is definitely a must-do as far as I am concerned.

  2. Christy @ Technosyncratic says:

    I’ve never seen an empanada before it was closed up and cooked! How interesting to see the tomato and basil laid out in it like that…

    And of course I’m going to try that corn stew recipe asap!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The stew was amazing, but anything with bacon in it is stellar.

  3. Now this is what I’m talking about- awesome! I’d fall in love with Norma too if she was cooking for me!

  4. MMM, I love empanadas!! I like the photo where she’s folding them, she really does get them looking perfect. I usually use a fork to close mine…haha, I guess I’m also taste over presentation! Ahh, simply delicious!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Ahh yes she did mention the fork method, I will likely do that when I get home as well.

  5. Gillian @OneGiantStep says:

    I loved the empanadas in Argentina. I laughed at the eating the cookie on the bus b/c it’s free comment! So true – I always felt compelled to eat it even though I knew it would disappoint!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It gives you this weird plastic, oily taste inside your mouth, you know it but you still eat it.

  6. Wow, delicious. I’d love to take a cooking class! Those cookies are mouth-watering and I’ve never seen empanadas with tomatoes, basil and cheese. They look delicious. Also, I need to stop reading your blog when I’m hungry.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Some of the better ones here, my favourite are actually spinach and cheese, the green vegetable makes me forget all the artery clogging cheese grease!

  7. You’ll have to teach me empanada’s when you’re back.

    I laughed when I seen the diced hard boiled egg in the empanada filling. Crazy porteno’s.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      eggs in everything!

  8. Are those green olives and raisins and & hard boiled eggs in the empanada filling? The finished ones do look perfect! What a fun class. I’m going to try making the locro.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah they are also very common in chilean empanadas, a nice mix of salty sweet.

  9. Jan Ross says:

    Everything looks wonderful! I never thought of taking a cooking class when I travel; it’s a great idea. And I can totally relate to eating the free stuff – I always eat the free stuff they give you on a plane (although it’s not much now) even though I don’t really want it – hey, it’s FREE!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Once I ate one alfajore and lamented at how awful it was but then when they gave me another one an hour later I ate it anyway?!

  10. Mark Wiens says:

    Wow – even the recipe! That locro looks incredible, as do the empanadas! I’m on your side, taste over presentation.

  11. Looks yummy this. Normally, I prefer for someone else to do the cooking, but in two weeks I’m off for a cooking class in Italy as part of a press trip. My kids have high hopes for when I return ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Italy press trip with cooking class? The jealousy begins now!

  12. These look delicious, I love the empanadas with the little flags on top ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. Big BOys Oven says:

    a definitely an incredible cooking experience! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Debbie Beardsley says:

    Stop it! Its only 9L30 am and I’m starving now ๐Ÿ™‚ Empanadas, wow! cookies sound amazing but that stew I might just make it this weekend!

  15. Traveling is always a conduit for learning things that you would probably not be exposed to within the safe confines of home. I see it as a never ending classroom where so much is absorbed in such a short span of time. It’s experiences like this that make me smile inside because it’s so simple, yet it leaves an indelible, lifelong impression.

  16. I can summarize it by saying… yummmmm… this made me drool! ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. The Travel Chica says:

    It is funny how I can fold an empanada perfectly on my first try, but I know very little about cooking. I think I am better at assisting in the kitchen.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Just shows you have raw talent waiting to be used!

  18. Jeremy Branham says:

    Well not directly related, I said this is one of the 3 vacations I wouldn’t take – a themed/cooking vacation. I know some people love this stuff but I don’t cook at home much less when I travel! Just not something I care about experiencing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Hehe yet another reason we’ll ever meet up on the road ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Dalene Heck says:

    Oh man, I forgot how much I love caprese empanadas. I DO miss that about Latin American food. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Although, I really hate dulce de leche, and that made it hard for me with desserts in Argentina. It is all over everything!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s a bit too sweet for my liking as well but these alfajores made me change my mind about it.

  20. I want to take cooking classes so badly. Everywhere I turn they are $100+. Kills me. I LOVE some good food.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know I really wanted to take some in Oaxaca but could not find anything affordable.

  21. Claire (Travel Funny Travel Light) says:

    I have never, ever turned down an empanada!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Nor have I, especially here where they make them with spinach!

  22. Ayngelina, you are so lucky! I wish I could take those cooking classes! The folds on those empanadas look so uniform! I am curious about the caprese empanadas – they are left open before baking? My kids would love that one! Thanks for sharing your experience – I love learning about other countries’ cuisines.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes each empanada has its own fold, and while the caprese ones can be closed up we left them almost as tarts and cooked them open, really delicious!

  23. Those empanadas look so nicely pleated. You are so fortunate to be able to take these cooking classes – wish I could be there! I love learning about all different cuisines.

  24. I would love to travel & take amazing regional cooking classes like this!

  25. Margaret says:

    Sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon to me. No wonder you enjoyed it!

  26. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    Learning authentic local cooking techniques sounds like one of the best ways to really immerse yourself in an area. I’m a big fan of empanadas!

  27. I need to do some sort of cooking class I think, they sound like they could be a lot of fun. Not to mention getting to eat what you make.

  28. Jozef @ Where Now says:

    This looks so great! Kind of regret not taking any authentic cooking courses in South America now

  29. Wow! Looks fantastic. I bet the empanadas were fun to make.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      More fun to eat!

  30. Dear God, dear God, dear GOD – I’m always in heaven with your food posts! And I can’t even begin to tell you my love affair with empanadas. Bookmarking this one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. Justin Hamlin says:

    We have some great friends back in California, she is Colombian, he is Argentinian, so needless to say, their cooking was amazing, even their different takes on Empanadas and things like that.

    Now you just made me miss their cooking (and the authentic hispanic food you can get in California) even more ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. For 91 Days Travel Blog says:

    Those Alfojores look amazing, send us some! Nom Nom Nom ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. caprese empanadas! Say what!>? Too much deliciousness here.

  34. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) says:

    That class looks great! I love alfajores and agree, Argentine empanadas are the best. Espinaca is my favorite too ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Jen Gresham says:

    No one we get along so virtually well–food is my first love too. And thanks for including the lorno recipe. I’m gonna save that for when I get to London and want something warm and comforting.

    I think we would make great travel partners. You could go to cooking classes and I would eat whatever you made! LOL

  36. yum look those fresh made food. so delicious looking.

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  38. Cornelius Aesop says:

    I can never properly fold empanadas or pastelitos and I always over stuff them too.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would overstuff them as well…

  39. Wanderingtrader says:

    Your pictures are seriously good.. what kind of camera are you using?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Canon 40D with a 50mm 1.4 but a lot of times I also just use my Sony Cybershot on the macro setting.

  40. I think this is a fab idea – I wish I could get my kids more interested in cooking (as opposed to just eating) so we could try something like this when we travel. Maybe I’ll just have to start sneaking away. Thanks for sharing the recipe – it looks yummy.

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  42. oh, YES!! Love taking cooking classes while traveling!! those empanadas are beautiful! when i make it to BA, definitely will need to take her class!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      She’s great. If you need any other advice on BA just let me know!

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