This is Xinia — she teaches the cooking classes at our Spanish school. We saw her zoom past us the other day on the back of a moto while we were stopped on the side of the road gaping at a monkey balancing on telephone wire.
We’re technically not students this week, but last week she told us we could come to cooking class anyway. Hurrah! Tonight’s recipe was empanadas con arroz y carne.
Empanadas have been different in every country we’ve been to so far. Empanadas in Chile, for example, are on the larger side, typically oven-baked and filled with a mix of ground beef, onion, hard-boiled egg and olive. Empanadas in Argentina were smaller, but had more variety in fillings.
Xinia made the dough, then got each of us to take turns kneading it. Afterwards, she rolled it out into a big log and cut it into 20 pieces that we flattened, filled and closed.
Here’s how they looked after she fried them:
See that bottle just to the right? That’s Salsa Lizano. It’s a typical Costa Rican condiment that tastes a little bit like a mix of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce to me. It’s delicious! A lot of rice dishes are seasoned with it, and it made a great addition to our finished empanadas.
We love, love, love taking cooking classes, and not just because we love food. Food is such an integral part of a culture and it’s a great way to learn about the way of life.
After class, Xinia started cooking more beef and rice filling because she wanted to make some empanadas for the woman who comes to clean the school every night. We also said good-bye to some of our classmates who were leaving for other locations.
One of the things we can’t wait to do when we get back is cook for our friends and family. We’ll start taking orders now.