Empanadas, Arepas & Tostadas
I absolutely love food and especially Mexican food so when Craftsy offered this class, I was very excited.
The Instructor, Sandra Gutierrez is really quite fun to watch. She grew up in Latin America so her recipes are all very authentic. In addition to her sense of humor she provides lots of advice throughout her classes for utilizing things you already have on hand in your kitchen (so you don’t feel you have to run out and buy equipment). She also gives lots of tips on making things ahead of time so you can plan a menu for more than four people.
The recipes included with this course are delicious and well worth the cost of the course. I was also pleased to find that there are additional recipes on her website – Sandra’s Kitchen Studio.
Any level of cooking experience can follow this course.
Technically there are no special tools you need for this class. Ms. Gutierrez is really great at giving you advice on how you can make all her recipes using common everyday things you already have in your kitchen.
I did elect to purchase an 8″ cast iron tortilla press because I knew it was something I would definitely use in the future.
All of the recipes used in the class are provided in the printable class materials.
I was able to find all of the necessary ingredients for this class in my local grocery store, Walmart, Whole Foods, and a local Mexican Grocery/Butcher Shop called Carniceria La Sierra #1.
I want to talk about the empanada recipes in this class especially because I’ve made empanadas in the past. Of course I’ve never met an empanada I didn’t like, but I have had a few that left a bit to be desired. Ms. Gutierrez’s empanada recipes however are true crowd pleasers – and I know this for sure because I served them to a crowd.
There are lots of recipes out there for empanada dough and you can even buy pre-made empanada discs. I’ve had dough that is pre-made and while it works just fine, it’s not the greatest. It is convenient yes, but flat tasting and a little chewy.
Ms. Gutierrez’s Pasta Frolla recipe results in a buttery, light and flaky empanada dough. I made it several times and every time it came out perfectly.
In the past, I’ve made a Chilean empanada which is very similar to the Empanadas Cordobessas recipe in this class. This recipe is from Córdoba, Argentina and, even though the ingredients are just about the same, I feel it has more flavor.
The other empanada I decided to test was the Membrillo & Cream Cheese Empanadas. These are absolutely delicious! They melt in your mouth.
I found the Membrillo (quince paste) in the cheese section of Whole Foods but you can order it on-line.
Arepas are found in many different areas of South America but tend not to be something that your average Mexican eats – at least not the average Mexicans I know (but honestly, I don’t really know all that many).
Suffice it to say, I did look around a bit for Masarepa and was only able to find the P.A.N. brand of masa flour.
It is imperative that you use this special flour. Cornmeal is not a substitute. Another fantastic thing is that arepas can be grilled, cooked in a dry skillet, or fried in a small amount of oil and butter. Your choice.
Arepas are really good and can pretty much have anything stuffed in them. When I did my first test run, I did it in the morning so figured I would just have an egg sandwich. It was really good. Now I know that if I’m ever out of bread, I can whip up a couple of arepas for breakfast and completely forgo the toast!
My only advice is that if you are making these for company and you’ve never made them before, do a test run first. You will see that my initial arepas had a few dry spots in them. I didn’t use enough water and this is what happened.
Of course, it is always a treat when someone who grew up making arepas makes them for you – as was the case with my friend Nhora. Nhora is from Colombia and she made arepas for me the way she makes them for her family.
While they were similar to Ms. Gutierez’s, they were slightly different. Of course, I make this point because it goes to show how you can actually alter the recipe to suit your tastes.
The difference you ask? Well, Nhora added melted butter and some grated cotija cheese to her arepa dough. Everything else was the same. Of course everything is better with butter added to it so that’s a no-brainer and the cheese. . . well, everything is better with cheese added to it. So I guess that’s a no-brainer too.
The next photo is of the same “arepa” which in this case, is technically called a gordita. It is arepa dough with cotija cheese cooked inside. So good.
At the beginning of the tostada lesson, Ms. Gutierrez goes through her process for making corn tortillas. Since I have the Essentials of Mexican Cooking class with Rick Bayless as well, I decided to watch both instructors making the tortillas, prior to making a thing.
The recipes were the same but both instructors had different techniques for cooking the tortillas. If you are interested in seeing my adventures in tortilla making, you can read my review of Rick Bayless’s class here.
Ms. Gutierrez had more trouble shooting techniques and she gave some really good advice for making the tortillas several days ahead of a party – also for re-heating and storing the tortillas during the party.
To be honest, I still need to make a tostada. I have no doubt however that the tostadas are not difficult to fry. And the toppings – well, here again, the brilliance of Mexican food (in my opinion), is how you can pretty much do whatever you want. But again – the recipes in this class will save you from having to ponder that question.
¡Gracias por leer! V
(thanks for reading)