Monday, December 30, 2013

The recipes

Here are the necessary ingredients for the Colombian hot pockets and Argentina empanadas.

Arepas de Huevo (Egg-Stuffed Corn Cakes)

2 cups precooked white corn flour, preferably Harina P.A.N.
1½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for frying
8 eggs
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

See the previous posts on how to make both these recipes.

Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas)

1 cup water
¾ cup lard
2¾ cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp. kosher salt

⅓ cup olive oil
1 lb. boneless beef shoulder, trimmed and finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1½ tsp. ground cumin
1½ tsp. Spanish hot paprika
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
½ tsp. ground white pepper, plus more to taste
2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and finely chopped

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Completed Empanadas

Well, the dough was stiff.  Since it was just flour, water, lard (but I substituted solid coconut oil) and salt, I set out to make them.

I made two and baked them to see how they would turn out.  If they sucked, we would have a beef mixture for Argentine tacos.  :-).

Again, they did not look great but girl, they tasted yummy!!  So the other eight empanadas are in the oven baking!! I would recommend making the dough when you are ready to bake the empanadas.  Do not let it sit in the Fridge for days.  And the filling tasted pretty authentic.  No need to add cheddar cheese to add flavor.  We like the coconut oil, too.  Yum.  Time for another.

Empanadas de Carne

I have been hankering for empanadas lately so I decided to make my own.  Again, the latest edition of Saveur had an article called lunch at your leisure and empanadas was one of the food items.  Tuesday I prepped the dough so it would have time to chill.  Then I realized it was cleaning day and I hate greasing up the kitchen just after it has been cleaned.  So I blew off a run date (I did have the excuse of snowy, icy weather...) so I quickly drove to market for red peppers.  Yes, that was all that I was missing from my Fridge.  Ugh.  I usually have red peppers so - whatever.  I drove to market.

It was amazing how fast I chopped everything up and fried it in the iron skillet - getting grease everywhere.  Luckily I did not chop any fingers into the mix.  The dough looked great and the filling tasted okay.  It did not taste as yummy as the Puerto Rican, or Colombian or Spanish empanadas I have eaten so I am not sure what is missing as I did not have a chance to compare the other version's recipes.  I will look into it when I do get to make the Argentine version.  I was going to make them Tuesday night and I already forget what happened but it is now Friday and I must them.  The dough is on the counter - actually it is in a cabinet - warming up because it got hard in the Fridge.  If I left it on the counter, my cats would have devoured it as they did the raisin cinnamon swirl bread the other day.

Hopefully I can quickly make some Argentine empanadas like a Rachel Ray show then roll out on the pub cruisers for a First Friday Redux.  The real First Friday in December was a bust because it poured cats and dogs and it sounds like no one when out because Lancaster City is "re-doing" First Friday celebrations and shopping tonight.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Maybe I need to buy a fryer...

Another year has gone by and I did not renew my vows of blogging.  Here I am making a mess in the kitchen wanting to share it with the world.  I have to admit Facebook has crimped my blogging as it is easy to post a picture and make a brief snarky comment about it.  It has allowed me to not be my reflective and philosophical self.   There is always time to start again, right?  Isn't that what New Year's resolutions are for? I just happen to start in December.

Winter forces me to slow down and rejuvenate and it was the off season for me as an athlete.  Although I have not been racing since 2010, I still think of the end of the year as the off season.  Others would say every month has been the off season for the last three years.  My excuses for not consistently blogging... I think I wrote about going back to school (graduate work) in the end of 2009 so that consumed most of my time until the summer of 2013 when I finally earned my masters in education in sport management.  Also, I continued to work out when I could but I directed my attention to school and beer tasting!  I enjoyed a beer or glass of wine in the off season when I raced bicycles but I did not make it a habit, hobby or obsession as it has become in the last few years.  I can blame my obsession with beer on many things.  Mostly good things.

One, I stopped racing which for some doesn't have to happen to enjoy a beer or two.  Two, over the last six years, Lancaster, Pennsylvania exploded with many great places to eat and drink and to partake in the arts. The city organized many events that has revitalized the area and Millersville University's presence downtown has added more cultural activities, too.  Three, I must admit work, school and life got a little hectic and I looked forward to that glass of wine (or beer) after work.  But it wasn't just about taking the edge off.  I enjoy analyzing a beer or glass of wine.  The smell, colors and taste; where it was produced and the story behind the it.  When we travel, we love to eat and drink locally.  What does all this have to do with buying a fryer?  What does this have to do with blogging?  The kitchen makes me reflect on what is important in life. It reminds me to let go, to be flexible and everything does not have to be perfect.  Sometimes priorities have to shift. When one has seen my creations in the kitchen, perfection and beauty is not my strong suit yet the majority of the time they taste awesome!!

So the fryer...I do not own one because I am afraid we would eat too much fried food.  I read an article in my favorite magazine, Saveur, called Hot Pockets.  Arepas de Huevo, fried cakes of corn masa stuffed with soft-cooked eggs.  Brad and I salivated on the way home from Crisfield, MD, one Sunday afternoon as I read the article twice, then I read about Abanian baked lamb and rice and yogurt and also about pecans and Miss American pie (salted caramel apple is on the baking list).  I finally found the corn flour.  Actually, it wasn't hard to find.  It was at our local Grocer (Giant), I just kept forgetting to look for it.  I had all the ingredients packed as we were heading to Crisfield for the weekend and there is not much to do there except drink and eat (cook) and relax.  Crisfield is a fishing town and there is not much happening, especially in the winter.  But the weather and sickness canceled the trip. Arepas de Huevo!

The first mistake was not having enough canola oil.  If I had enough canola oil, maybe I would not want a fryer.  I knead the corn flour, salt, oil and water.  The oil heats up in the iron skillet and I test the heat with a wooden spoon. The corn cakes looked good and fried up okay but where I messed up is with the oil.  I did not have enough canola oil so I had to add olive oil and olive oil eventually burns and smokes up the house. And I did not want to use too much oil because I had to use olive oil and I thought I could get away with less than two inches of oil in the skillet.  So the corn cakes did not get cooked all the way through.  Then I could not slice the corn cake to crack an egg in it and fry it again.  Since that happened, I improvised and cooked the eggs separately and plopped them on top of the corn cakes with salsa verde and hot sauce.  Bummed I could not recreate the Arepas de Huevo but my creation still tasted awesome.  I will attempt to make these again with enough canola oil.