Category Archives: Food Stalls around London

Tucuman Empanadas on Brick Lane



The Sunday markets around Spitalfields and brick lane…

are great for vintage clothing, handmade jewellery and gifty stuff, but also foods from around the world. The Sunday Up Market is fantastic, a carpark during the week, turns into a bustling market at the weekend as trendy east Londoners search for a bargain, it has also just opened up an extra bit around the food area so you can sit down, relax and enjoy your delicacies. It was just outside on Brick Lane that I spotted Mr Bernado Neville and his Argentinean empanadas stall, and how could I refuse a tasty Argentinean Snack at only £1.50??

A cross between a calzone and a pasty, this delicious snack has a spicy meaty yummy centre of beef and fragrant spices, and sometimes boiled egg which was in this Tucumán version. Other varieties can also use minced meat, but in Tucuman it is more traditional to use small diced meat. Apparently these little pies are often served at large events such as football or festivals, or brick lane markets.

So of course I wanted to figure out how they were made, after quizzing Mr Neville, I set out to experiment my recipe, here’s the finale:


 Makes 6

For the Dough

225g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

60g lard or vegetable shortening

chilled water, enough to form dough

For the empanada filling

2 tbsp olive oil

200g rump steak, shopped into about 5mm cubes

1 onion, finely chopped 

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

1 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp red wine

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 egg, hard-boiled and diced

To make the dough, melt the lard on a low heat, place the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle, pour the melted lard into this well and gradually incorporate the flour and the cold water until you have a formed a dough.

Leave this to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Whilst you are waiting for the old resting process, I suggest you crack on with making your empanada filling by frying the onion and garlic and red pepper in the olive oil, when soft and translucent turn up the heat and add the steak. Once all the steak is cooked add the red wine, spices and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, stir in the hard-boiled egg and chill in the fridge until needed.

Take the dough out of the fridge and on a well floured surface roll out a thin sheet. Use something round to a diameter of about 5 inches to cut out even circles, have a look around in your kitchen, maybe a saucer/bowl? When you have your circles cut out place about a tablespoon of the cooled empanada mixture in the middle, fold in half and then fold the edges over so that your empanada resembles a pasty.


When you’ve shaped all your empanada, grill on a high heat until golden, turning over to allow to cook on the other side (about 7 minutes on each side).

I had this with roast carrot and cumin salad, and tomato salsa.


Sweet Basil’s Risotto Ball Stall


I visited Spitalfields market on a Sunday morning (it was in the afternoon, but seen as I had been awake only a few hours I class it as morning) due to my overwhelming hunger and over-whinging stomach, I was greatly appreciative of the small stall that had been temporarily constructed outside the Italian restaurant, Sweet Basil, serving up delicious Arancini and pizza. I opted for the former,  a delicious risotto ball, fried to give a crisp outer crumb, stuffed with bolognaise sauce and gooey mozzarella… so here’s how I made it…

If you are making a bolognese sauce there is no point in making enough for the Arancini alone as they only need a small dollop, so make a batch as you would do normally and take what you need from it before perhaps freezing the rest for another day. I’m going to presume that everyone reading this knows already how to make bolognese so there’s little point putting the recipe up.

This makes 2 large balls or 3 smaller ones.

¾ cup of alborio or risotto rice

Knob of butter

½ onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

about 1 Pint stock (chicken or vegetable)

4 tbsp of your bolognese sauce

¼ ball of mozzarella

Handful of polenta or fine breadcrumbs for a crispy crust to the arancini

A lot of vegetable oil for deep-frying


After making your Bolognese sauce, take out about 4 tbsp, placing on a sheet of cling film and wrap up into a firm sausage. Place this in the freezer whilst you make your risotto as it will make the stuffing part a lot easier.

To make a simple risotto gently fry the onion and garlic in a little butter on a low heat for a few minutes to soften, then add the rice turning up the heat for about 30 seconds for the rice to toast a little, then add the stock ladle full at a time stirring as you do whilst the rice slowly absorbs it as it cooks. I’d advise to make the risotto to a slightly more stodgy consistency than usual as this will help the risotto balls hold together more firmly. Set aside from the heat and if you are in a rush onto a baking sheet to cool quicker.

Whilst you are waiting for the risotto to cool prepare you mozzarella by cutting into about 1x2cm chunks, and place the polenta in a bowl ready for coating the balls.

Once your rice is cool enough you can start assembling into balls, take the Bolognese out of the freezer and cut into about 2cm rounds. This is the messy bit…and you’ve just got to get stuck in with your hands! Take a good handful of the risotto, compressing into a tight ball, then make a bit of a well in the middle with the outside being quite well-formed. Poke the mozzarella and Bolognese into the well as deep as you can without them coming out of the bottom or side, if you got some space put a little more in. Now grab about a desert spoon size of the risotto and put on the top like a lid, completing the ball into its well deserved round shape. 

Arancini assembled and ready for cooking, fill a deep pan with the vegetable oil, and bring up to a high temperature. If you have a spare grain of rice around drop it into the oil to see if its hot enough, i.e. comes to the surface and bubbles. once that happens you are ready to deep fry. Depending on the size of the pan, place 1 or 2 arancini in at a time using a large spoon,  have a plate with kitchen roll on at the ready, and once the balls are nice and golden transfer them on to the plate to drain excess oil.

Now they’re ready to be enjoyed, delicious as a snack on their own or serve with a side salad and a little roast tomato sauce as a tasty starter.