Honestly, anyone who already knows me is well aware of the fact that I love all things food-related. I enjoy cooking, and I enjoy the fruits of my labor even more, as evidenced by my ample waistline. But my interest in food is not limited to its consumption. I take pleasure in reading and trying out recipes, learning new cooking techniques and discovering great places to dine out. I even belonged to a cooking club when I lived in Philadelphia (hello ladies!).
Before I left for Argentina, I promised my cooking club compatriots as well as other interested foodies that I would post recipes on my blog from time to time. So here I present to you the first recipe card for the file: chipá.
Chipá is a type of cheese bread most commonly prepared in the northern provinces of Argentina and Paraguay. The word "chipá" comes from Guaraní, the language of an indigenous group of the same name based in this region. I found an excellent description of these tasty rolls on the food blog The Traveler's Lunchbox:
"...these little breads are fundamentally different from the majority of cheese-bready things around the world in that they are naturally and completely gluten-free.... They're made entirely with tapioca starch (the fine, white powder extracted from cassava roots), which gives them a texture quite unlike anything else."
In northern Argentina and Paraguay, where the cheesy little rolls enjoy enormous popularity, vendors called chiperos walk the streets with large baskets of chipá for sale. The cries of the chipero are a familiar sound in these parts, and people flock to him to buy chipá to accompany their breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Daniel's stepdad Tomás is a truck driver, and many years ago he was sent to make a delivery to the city of Clorinda, located in the Argentine province of Formosa just a stone's throw from Paraguay. Close to his final destination but feeling drowsy, Tomás stopped and parked his truck to get a little shut-eye. At roughly 3am he was awakened by the sound of someone knocking on the door of his truck. Slightly alarmed, he got up and peered out the window only to be met by the weathered but smiling face of a vendor asking, "¿Chipáaaa, señor?" I'll let you imagine what Tomás' response to that question was at 3am.
This recipe for chipá has been adapted from my friend Gabriel's blog, Live from Waterloo.
[Eggs, cheese and tapioca flour for the chipá]
4 cups tapioca flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick butter, melted
3 cups shredded gouda or jack cheese [or the Argentine cheese pategrás]
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
milk, as needed [approx. ¾ to 1 cup]
Mix the tapioca flour and salt in a bowl, and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and melted butter. Mix thoroughly to incorporate. Add the cheeses and then gradually add milk as needed, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead lightly to fully incorporate the ingredients. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, covered with a dish towel or plastic wrap.
Form the dough into balls about 1½ to 2 inches in diameter. Bake at 400ºF for approximately 20 minutes, or until the dough has puffed and the cheese bits have browned.
Chipá are best enjoyed straight from the oven, as they tend to harden as they cool.
[Fresh from the oven]
Chipá make a great accompaniment to mate or coffee. ¡Buen provecho!
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