Sunday, January 20, 2013

Beef Empanadas

These are truly a labor of love, but the payoff is delicious (also, they freeze well). You could make these with any meat (ie shredded chicken) or even just potatoes or cheese. This uses hot water pastry crust, which rolls out like a dream and holds up well to chunky fillings. The dough I used for these is slightly different than my previous version, so I will post the full recipe.

The yellow pepper paste (ají amarillo) I used adds a very nice medium spicy flavor to the filling. I found it at Sun Foods, and it is probably available at most Latino markets.

Makes 50 6" empanadas

Beef Filling

2-3 lb beef chuck roast
4 medium red potatoes
1/2 c. frozen peas
6 green onions
1c + 2 c. beef bullion
2 packets unflavored gelatine
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. aji yellow pepper paste (optional) OR
2 Tbsp. tomato paste + 3 Tbsp. hot water + 1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. black pepper
Optional additions:
Hard boiled egg slices
Black olives

Sear the chuck roast on the edges in hot lard or oil. Add 1 c. beef bullion and pressure cook for 45 minutes. Remove and shred. Place in the fridge while you complete the next steps.

Boil the potatoes in salted water and then cool and peel. Dice into 1/4" cubes.

Slice the green onions into small rounds and add to the beef. Mix in the potatoes, peas, parsley, and spices. Dissolve the gelatine in 2 c. warm beef bullion and stir into the beef mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste. Allow to cool overnight or at least while making the dough (cold filling will load easier).

Hot Water Pastry Dough

9 c. all purpose flour
1 c. lard
4 eggs (reserve 1 yolk for egg wash)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2+ c. hot tap water

Heat lard in a saucepan until almost smoking. Place the flour in a very large bowl and slowly pour the hot fat over the flour a few tablespoons at a time. Mix in well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. the fat should be hot enough that it sizzles when it hits the flour and browns slightly. Continue pouring in the fat and mixing, until the flour has a granular, sandy texture (some lumps are ok). Once the flour/fat mixture cools enough to touch, beat together the eggs, sugar, and salt. Pour into the flour and mix in well. Mix 2 water and vinegar. Pour the water gradually over the flour and mix until a dough begins to form. Add more hot water as needed to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes at room temperature before using.

To roll out, cut off pieces of dough about the size of a softball. Roll to 1/8" thickness on a floured board. The dough should be elastic enough that it will not stick to the board. Cut into circles using a large biscuit cutter or sharp-edged bowl (tupperware works well). Each handful should make eight or nine 6" rounds. You can re-use the dough from between the circles, but it will make tougher pastries (so I usually throw it out).


Heat the oven to 500 F and line several baking sheets with parchment or tin foil. Beat 1 egg white with 2 Tbsp. milk, 1/2 tsp sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Place ~3 Tbsp. filling on a 6" pastry round. Add egg slices or olives now. Wet the edge of the pastry with water and fold over, ensuring that no filling breaks the seal. Press the edges together gently with your fingers. Crimp the edge with a fork (I used the bumpy edge of a meat pounder). Prick each empanada with a fork.

FREEZER DIRECTIONS: If you are freezing some, place on a flat surface in the freezer until frozen through. When hard, place in a ziploc. To cook, bake frozen pastries according to the directions below, adding 1-2 minutes baking time.

Place on the baking sheet and  bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the egg wash mixture. Return to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until a slight amount of filling bubbles through the top holes and the pastry is beautifully golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool slightly and eat! Very good with aji sauce, which is almost identical to cilantro chutney and similar to chimichurri.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


This is an essential element in Moroccan cuisine, especially during the festive month of Ramadan, when it is used to break the daily fast, following dates and perhaps milk. This is a hearty tomato-based soup with considerable versatility, depending on the ingredients that you have on hand and the flavors that you prefer.

- olive oil
- 1-2 onions, diced
- parsley and cilantro, a handful of each, minced (these can be stored in the freezer to keep them on hand)
- celery, if on hand, about one stalk diced
- tomatoes (I like to use at least 28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes for convenience. If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, then remove the skins first, and then dice them. To remove skins, I would drop tomatoes in boiling water for about a minute, until the skins start separating by themselves.)
- red pepper, black pepper, salt, ginger, cinnamon (optional: saffron, cumin, turmeric, ras al-hanut Moroccan spice mix)
- chicken, beef, or lamb (optional - you can add a vegetable or other broth if you prefer, and you can adjust the ratio of broth, water, and tomatoes according to your preferences)
- water to taste
- chickpeas, if on hand
- lentils and/or rice, if on hand
- capellini pasta, if on hand

1. Pour olive oil into pressure cooker. (Alternatively, one can use a pot or dutch oven, but it will need to cook longer.)
2. Soften onion in pot. Add parsley, cilantro, and celery. Then add tomatoes and seasoning. Allow to cook about 10 min. on medium heat.
3. Add meat if desired. Add water and/or broth to cover all. Bring to a boil, and leave to cook about 15 min.
4. Add handfuls of chickpeas (I don't add any more than 1 cup), lentils, or rice. (I use about 1 c. of lentils, and I don't use rice. Some people do, and some people add eggs or beans too!) Close pressure cooker, and leave about 45 min.
5.  Uncover pressure cooker, and turn heat to low if everything seems to be sufficiently cooked. Add pasta (I add about 1 cup). To thicken, you can add some flour mixed with water, and then stir constantly for about 10 min.
6. Cook about 30 min. more with occasional stirring.
7. Serve hot, in a soup tureen if possible. You might like lemon slices on the side.

* Please feel free to post variations for accommodating particular dietary preferences.

Roasted Cauliflower Yogurt Dip

1 head cauliflower (2 lb), cut into florets
2 Tb olive oil
1/4 tsp whole cumin seed
red pepper flakes
1 cup plain yogurt (I use Greek yogurt)
1 Tb lemon juice

1) Heat oven to 425 F. On a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle florets with oil and sprinkle with cumin seed, salt, and red pepper flakes.
2) Roast, stirring once, until golden brown and tender, about 25 min. Let cool.
3) In food processor, purée cauliflower with yogurt and lemon juice. Season with salt.
4) Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Serve as dip with radicchio or endive (separated), carrot sticks, crackers, etc.

* This dip only gets better as the flavors meld. Store in refrigerator for about five days.
* Nutrition Information: This recipe serves 4. Per serv. 142 cals; 8 g fat (2 g sat fat); 5 mg chol; 13 g carb; 135 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hatomugi Porridge - aka Boatmeal

I've been bugging mom for ages to give me this recipe, only to find out a) it doesn't actually involve hatomugi, and b) it's super simple and easy.

Combine the following ingredients in a slow cooker, set to cook for 10 hours or so overnight:
1/2 part barley
1/2 part oats
4 parts water (maybe a little more depending on cooking time, mine got a little dried out sitting on warm for an extra few hours)

Serve with brown sugar in the morning. Really sticks to the ribs.

Served with brown sugar

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sweet and savory kale

This sounds a little weird perhaps, and there are some haters out there who can't abide sweet with savory. But haters gonna hate, and this side dish turned out really well - I served it with roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and it added that sweet element you get from cranberry sauce without being quite as overwhelming.


1 head kale, coarsely chopped

2 shallots, minced
1/4 onion, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, split into 2 pieces each
2 Tbsp olive oil for sauteing

1/2 cup chicken (or veggie) broth
1-2 Tbsp sweet-tart berry preserves to taste (I used blackcurrant because that's what I had)
1-2 Tbsp dried cranberries
2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar


In a heavy bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid , saute the shallots, onion and garlic over a low flame until soft. Add kale and broth, jam, cranberries, vinegar, S&P. Cook until kale is tender, 30 minutes or so, adding water if needed to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pan.

The ingredients aren't listed in exact quantities because they'll need to be adjusted based on your tastes. I ended up adding more jam because it wasn't originally as sweet as I'd hoped, but be aware that a little goes a long way. The type of jam will change the character of the dish - strawberry I think would be way too sweet, though cherry might work. Rhubarb jam would be fantastic, and sweet jalapeno would probably be out of this world.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tea Eggs

These should really be called dinosaur eggs! These are a beautiful and simple accompaniment to a meal. They can be stored for several days. Make them with Congee to add some protein if you are feeling under the weather.
Looks beautiful after 1.5 hrs simmering! They would have been darker if I let them steep overnight.

Eggs with delicious congee. Perfect when you need something comforting and easy to digest.

This is a simple recipe but it takes time. Scale up as needed for more eggs.

6 eggs
2 Tbsp. of black tea leaves(I used pu-erh)
1/4 c. light soy sauce
2 pieces star anise
1 small stick Vietnamese cinnamon
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
Plenty of water

First pre-cook the eggs: Place eggs in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then put the lid on turn the heat off. Let sit, covered, for 11 minutes if eggs were room temperature or 13 minutes if they were cold. This will make PERFECT hard boiled eggs with pure yellow yolks (no green!)

Cool the eggs in cold water. Remove from saucepan and use the back of a knife to crack them evenly on all sides. Do not crack so much that the peels come off. Return the cracked hard boiled eggs to the empty saucepan.

Fill saucepan with remaining ingredients, and top off with water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1-2 hours. Eat now or leave eggs in dark water overnight for more color. Store peeled eggs in a tupperware to eat all week.