It’s tough being an entrepeneur. Ever since we presented Sweet Buenos Aires to the public, it’s been non-stop tours, meetings and brain-storming sessions. And we couldn’t be happier.
During these tours, people usually ask us “Why did you start Sweet Buenos Aires?” and well, one of the reasons was to share our passion for great Argentine food. For us, the best food comes from the heart – doesn’t matter if you have a culinary degree or a super-fancy kitchen, if you don’t put your love into that food, it’s not going to taste good. And who knows better than anyone how to put love into her food? Grandma, of course.
Damián Messori, co-founder of Sweet Buenos Aires, and I both share a deep admiration for our grandma’s cooking. He remembers his grandma’s puchero, homemade pasta and berenjenas a la escabeche. I always think of my grandma’s Christmas cookies and pies and my great-grandma’s bread and butter pickles.
To honor all grandmothers, we took some time to whip up our childhood favorites, and exchanged jars of pickled goodness.
Pickled Eggplant (Berenjenas al escabeche)
Pickled eggplant is a common appetizer you find on many tables in Argentina. When it’s done properly, it should have a slight tang to it (from the vinegar) and light notes of garlic and herbs. It should also be study enough to grab it with a fork, and not fall apart into a mushy mess (this is achieved by not boiling too long, exactly 5 minutes, no more, no less.) These are great as a snack on a piece of toasted country bread with gruyere, or also on top of home-made pizza!
4 medium eggplants
3 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
1 tablespoon of oregano
a few bay leaves (to your taste)
garlic (to your taste)
Wash and dry eggplant. Slice them an inch and a half thick (with skin) and place on a rack, with a pan underneath to catch the water that comes out. Sprinkle with coarse salt and let stand one hour. Rinse them well and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat water with vinegar. Bring to a boil, add the eggplant and cook 5 minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon and let cool.
Place the eggplants in the jar, alternating with garlic, oregano and bay leaf. Add the oil to coat the eggplant. Close the jar and take it to the fridge.
Note: these are best after a day or two resting in the fridge! And they last up to a few weeks.
Bread and Butter Pickles
Bread and butter pickles are sweet and tangy, and I like them best with slight crunch. You can get this by cutting the cucumbers a bit thicker. These are much lighter than pickled eggplant, because they don’t contain oil. Which means there’s no shame in eating them straight from the jar! You can also chop them up and toss them in your tuna salad, or jazz up any sandwich with them.
adapted from smitten kitchen
1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/8 cup table salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well.
Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours.
In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil.
Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil.
Remove from heat and cool. Store in fridge for up to three weeks.
Note: these will taste pickled after a few hours, but are best the next day.