Lo spritz… in my pants

spritz... in my pants

Today, kiddies, laura and marina™ will teach you the art of Lo Spritz (pronounced spreeeeeeeetz).

So Marina got way into drinking these when she was living in Florence.  All the time. Even before she had to teach a group of well paying adults the mindblowingly beautiful language that is English (pronounced Eeeeengleeesh).  She came back to the United States (to be with Laura) thinking, stupidly, that the main ingredient necessary to make these libations was available stateside.  It isn’t.*  So she called up her super-fly aunt Denise who flies to Rome frequently, and asked her to bring back a bottle.

*Wait…yes it is. It available everywhere, basically.  Just not in the first and only store that Marina checked.

The main ingredient, Aperol (pronounced Aperol).

Aperol is a bitter, syrup-y liquid that would probably be disgusting by itself.  But mixed with a delicious bottle of dry, sparkling white wine, it’s the best thing you have ever put in your mouth.  

First, laura and marina™ garnished their sticks with orange, lemon and an olive!

the garnish.

the garnish on the stick, the aperol, the sparkling white wine, and the glasses.

laura and marina™ put ice and the garnished sticks into the glasses, and then got to pourin’.

two parts Aperol, three parts sparkling white wine, ice, and garnished sticks.

when they were done they shared the goodness with Rocky…

Rocky rocking the Spritz.

laura and marina™ realize that the phrase “garnished sticks” was used far too many times in this post.
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Reunited and It Feels So Good

laura and marina™

This whole “living on different continents” thing wasn’t working for Marina and Laura. So they decided to rectify the situatiton, reconvening in the most glorious of all places. Yes, that’s right. New Jersey. And all is right in the world again.

However, this means that the general premise of this blog must change. Not longer separated by the Atlantic and multiple time zones, Laura and Marina can no longer claim to be embarking on anthropological explorations of Argentina and Italy, respectively. And by “an anthropological exploration” they meant “a culinary, sartorial, and aesthetic pleasure cruise.” But never you mind. That’s over now. They’re not really sure where they’re going to take this blog now. But they’re figuring it out. And they already know it will be awesome.

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pumpkin-adas

after she deemed her first attempt at empanadas a success, laura decided to expand her repertoire and try a second batch. in keeping with the halloween theme, she chose pumpkin empanadas. also, she likes dessert.

ingredients:

  • pumpkin (purée can be used if you’re lazy)
  • cinnamon
  • sugar
  • salt
  • sunflower oil
  • ginger

laura cut the pumpkin into small chunks and cooked it over low heat with rock salt and sunflower oil until it began to soften. (be careful not to add too much salt. laura did and then had to compensate by adding lots and lots of sugar, which her thighs really appreciated.)

then she dumped in a bunch of sugar and cinnamon and threw in some fresh ginger. she used a spatula to mash it all together, because that was clearly the best tool for the job. when it had the consistency of baby food, she knew it was perfect, so she put down the spatula and let the concoction cool before gently encasing it in the pouches of doughy goodness that would become its home.

 

cinnamon-y pumpkin-ada crust

to make sure that the pumpkin-adas didn’t stick to the pan, laura put some flour on the cutting board where she was stuffing the emps but, check it, she added cinnamon to the flour to make them more dessert-y.

laura put them in the oven for about 15 minutes until they began to brown and then took them out to let them cool. while she admired her creation, her stomach dropped. she realized that it would have made so much more sense to carve faces into these empanadas, as they were pumpkin-filled and jack-o-lanters are created using said member of the squash family. and all of a sudden she could feel her carne-filled jack-o-nadas sneering at her from inside the fridge. so she ate them to show them who was boss.

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happy halloweenie: a jack-o-lantern and sea salted caramel pears.

antonio's jack-o-lantern

testing, testing… 1…2…3… is this thing on?

greetings from siena, italy! halloween here is super duper pathetic even though the italians claim that they have started to participate in the festivities in recent years.  this is false. so marina decided that she wanted to do something fun and festive on her birthday to get into the halloween mood. this halloween adventure yielded some delectable results including buttery roasted pumpkin seeds and some sea salted caramel pears!

pictured above its the very special Jack-O-Lantern that was made from a very expensive little pumpkin that they found in their local COOP supermarket!

marina did all the heavy lifting so to speak.  she cut the top off of the pumpkin, she cleaned out its’ innards (yuck.), she separated the seeds and she left the rest to mr. tony.

he outlined the eyes, nose and mouth with a pen and began making the necessary incisions to create what has turned out to be a pretty darn cute little jack-o.

while tony was making mr. pumpkin head, marina made some very mouth-watering buttery roasted pumpkin seeds.

ingredients:

  • pumpkin seeds (separated from pulp, washed well with cold water and dried)
  • good butter (marina recommends Lurpak or President)
  • sea salt

marina placed the washed and dried seeds into a pan that was on medium heat and dry roasted them for about 10 minutes or just until they start to lightly brown and pop. she then took the pan off the heat, let the seeds cool for a minute and then added a small pad of butter to the pan.  she mixed the seeds and butter just until they were all lightly coated and then transferred them to a plate to cool. sprinkle sea salt over the seeds and enjoy!

then marina made her sea salted caramel pears!

ingredients:

  • 4-6 medium sized  pears
  • sugar
  • butter
  • heavy cream
  • sea salt

*one of the many things that marina and laura have in common is that neither of them measures, they eyeball.  we have found that it results in superior product.

first, marina washed the pears very well, dried them, and placed them near her caramel dipping station (a.k.a. the stove). also near you dipping station, place a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle some sea salt on it.

make sure that your pears are still slightly crunchy!

then, she started to make the caramel! put a mound of sugar (about 1 cup)  in  a pan on medium-high heat. on top of the mound, place two generous pads of butter.

the sugar on the edges of your mound will start to turn a lovely brown color after a few minutes. at this point, you want to direct that part back toward the rest of the sugar mound. eventually it will all start to melt and turn into caramel! keep stirring!

stir, stir, stir!

your butter should be bubbling a little and eventually all of your sugar granules will melt and you will have some very delicious looking caramel.

you have to be focused at this point for two reasons.  the first is that you need to be paying attention to the temperature of your caramel.  move it on and off of the heat to make sure that it doesn’t burn. as soon as it starts to get too sticky and hard to manipulate, move it back to the heat so it loosens up. the second is that you must be very careful when making caramel because it will burn you. badly. sugar melts at a much higher temperature than anything else so take care to make sure that there are no little children around and that you are not doing this after you have enjoyed a few glasses of loo’s mulled vino. marina knows this from personal experience.  while making banana tarte tatin last year there was an incident, and she ended up having to sleep with toothpaste on her finger. be careful.

ok! now you are ready to dip your pears! marina spooned most of the caramel over them because it was more successful than dipping.  carefully place your caramel apple on the wax paper with the sea salt on it, and sprinkle a little sea salt on the pear immediately because your caramel will set very quickly!

yum.

when you caramel has cooled, enjoy your pear!

marina promised laura some pumkin risotto with crispy sage and lemon butter. guess what’s for halloween dinner?

alla prossima!

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halloween treats

since october 30 is not only her roommate’s birthday, but marina’s birthday too, laura realized she had to do something special. as it is basically halloween, she decided to whip up a little something related to the holiday/the fall season in general… even though it’s spring in argentina… whoops. anyway, after much consideration, she settled on argentine empanadas (with a super neat halloween twist!) and mulled vino (that’s wine in spanish).

supercute carne empanadas

Note: there are many ways to make carne empanadas. laura chose a simple one because, although she is an empanada-eating whore, she is an empanada-making virgin.

ingredients for filling:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 kilo ground beef
  • 1/2 onion
  • rock salt
  • sunflower oil
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • red wine

*laura doesn’t measure things. she just eyeballs it.

first, laura chopped the garlic. she read on the internets that you get more health benefits if you chop it and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before heating it. and laura believes everything she reads on the internets.

then she chopped the onion. but only half of it.

next she began to cook the ground beef. she threw in some sunflower oil and some rock salt. then she added the onions. when the moment felt right she sprinkled in some cumin and paprika. and when things looked like they were getting serious, she added a splash of red wine. once that was done, she let it cool for a few hours.

a bit later she took the took the empanada dough out of the package. you can make the dough from scratch if you want, but she didn’t. you can get the recipe here, overachiever.

then she put a bit of the filling on one side of the dough, folded the other half over and used a fork to crimp the edges together. (flour the outsides so they don’t stick to the pan!) she put them in the oven at high heat for about 15 minutes.

she’s not gonna lie. the first batch turned out a little rough. the one on the bottom looks like it should be in Guernica, no?

detail from picasso's guernica

guernica empanada

but she’s happy to report that things improved steadily from then on. no more war-torn empanadas in her kitchen.

remember how she told you that these empanadas would have a halloween twist? of course you did. well here it comes…

she carved faces in them! like they were pumpkins! get it?

jack-o-nadas? emp-o-lanterns?

ok, moving right along…

every meal is better with wine, so laura mulled it over for a bit before deciding to make some mulled wine (hahahahahahahah. isn’t she witty?).

ingredients:

  • 1 bottle red wine (she chose malbec)
  • sugar
  • cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • orange zest

 

no measurements were taken in the making of this mulled wine

you should probably put the peppercorns, bay leaves, and orange zest in a tea ball or some cheesecloth, but laura lives in the third world and doesn’t have access to such things. just kidding. she was just too lazy to go out and look for them.

she put the concoction over low heat for, eh, 5 minutes and then drank a glass of it. alone. while watching the break up. jealous? she’s not surprised.

anyway, laura was pleasantly surprised by how her birthday/halloween treats turned out. even though she can’t sent her jack-o-nadas to florence, she’ll make some for marina when they’re home in january (don’t fret, boo). and she hopes you make and enjoy these sexy latin treats (because everything latin is sexy, duh).

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explain something to me…

breakfast. healthy.

when laura was in the states, she would NEVER have pastries for breakfast. ok, not never, but not that often. yet in buenos aires, she eats them with the reckless abandon of a crackhead looking for a fix. what you see to the left is not what she has on special occasions or even on weekends.  it is was she has every single day. black coffee, 3 medialunas (argentine croissants) if she’s not that hungry, and whatever cookies the cafe decides to throw in for good measure. today it was alfajores, which are delightful argentine treats created by sandwiching dulce de leche between two shortbread cookies. why does she do this? why does she think it’s ok? if you have any ideas, please let her know.

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