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I am from Mendoza, Argentina. The ancestors of my two grandmothers and of one of my grandfathers were Italian. Many generations of anonymous and talented cooks. My mum´s cooking was always a reason to feel proud.
At home, everybody was welcome to share our meal. She always cooked far more food than needed, for that reason. Something that I also got used to do and still do today.
I don´t remember my mum teaching me formally to cook. I remember instead the casual comment while she was busy doing something else and I was very young: “Liliana, could you stir the stew and check if it is ready, please?” Or,” Why don´t you try the sauce, you think that it needs more salt?” And so on.
Empanadas (from Mendoza, Argentina)
Makes about 36
Guest Cook from Argentina

Liliana Marquesini

for the filling:
500 g mince beef
1250 g white onions
50 g butter
50 ml vegetable oil
salt and black pepper
paprika, ground (pimentón dulce)
3 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
green olives, pitted
for the dough:
600 g plain flour (all purpose)
150 g butter, soft
250 ml cold water
20 g butter, melted
flour to work with
2 egg yolks
Cut the onions transversally. Separate the onion rings.
Bring a medium size pan to a moderate heat. Add the butter and oil.
When the butter is melted, add the onion rings.
Cook until soft.
Add the mince beef and mix with the onions.
Cook until meat gets brown. Season with salt, black pepper, and abundant oregano, cumin and paprika. Remove from heat and leave it to cool down.
In a bowl, place the flour and the soft butter.
Add some water, approx. 1 cup (200 ml) until obtaining a dough.
Knead the dough for few minutes until homogeneous and leave it to rest in the fridge for 30’-60’ covered in cling film.
Preheat oven to 390F (200 C). With a rolling pin flatten the dough to obtain an approx. 12-inch x 6-inch (30x15cm) shape.
To make a very basic puff pastry, divide “in your head” the length of the rectangle in three parts. Brush some melted butter on the first third of the flatten dough.
Fold the other two thirds on top and brush more melted butter on top of the second third.
Fold the last third on top.
Brush more butter on top and fold again. Repeat this step.
Brush more butter on top and fold again. Repeat this step.
Take to the fridge for about 30’. Separate about half of the dough and roll it out until obtaining a not-too-thin flat dough. Use a cutter (or cup) to cut disks of about 12cm diameter.
Half or slice the pitted olives, cut the egg slices by half, and put some 50 ml water in a small bowl.
Place about a teaspoon of filling in a disk, add some egg and olive pieces.
Add some water with your fingers in half the border of the disk to help sealing.
Fold the other half of the border over to form a half-moon shaped empanada. Press the borders firmly.
To make the repulgue, pinch and twist the edges of the empanada...
... bit by bit until reaching the other end.
Place the empanada on a floured baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Brush the empanadas with the whisked egg yolks.
Bake until golden brown. Serve the empanadas straight from the oven, keeping them hot.
(from Mendoza, Argentina)
Gradually, I become a good cook myself, without even realizing and without any fuss. It seems the more normal thing in the world!
I was a very committed student, and for many years I fully focused on my studies. As time passed by, I got married and had my first two boys and followed my husband to Singapore, France, Singapore again and finally UK where my third (and last) boy was born. All that time I managed to continue with my further degrees and career as a scientist.
Until one day I decided that I had achieved what I wanted in those fields and that I really needed to slow the pace because I wasn't´t enjoying it anymore. It was then that I started working freelance and having time again for other things, and specially, for more cooking!
Now, all my friends in Bristol identify me with food, and I am the official cake maker of the group, the school, my rowing club...
My cooking has evolved obviously with my travels, since in every destination I had the opportunity to travel extensively around. That´s how I ended up adopting new methods, styles, ingredients and flavor.
I almost never followed a recipe properly, but instead I take it just for inspiration. With few exceptions, these Empanadas for example, which have been prepared following Mendoza´s traditional recipe.

Liliana ‘s Web-site:

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