Sunday, February 19, 2017

Curry Pork Empanadas





















Living in Texas, I love me some Mexican food, or Tex-Mex, as we call what traditional Mexican cuisine has morphed into here in the Lone Star State.  Things like this happen when a cuisine gets exported from its homeland to another place.  Chinese American cuisine is quite different from what is served in China; Same deal with Italian American.  Pretty much everywhere, local chefs put their creative stamp on whatever cuisine comes their way.

This tasty little dish is sort of like that--a fusion, a hybrid, something that might have occurred if Mexican cuisine had made it to the Far East.  We've taken a traditional Mexican dish, the Empanada, a little baked meat pie, and exoticized it with the addition of some South Asian ingredients like curry powder and soy sauce.  The result, well--taste it for yourself.  It's simple to make and ready in a flash. Maybe we'll call it Thai-Mex.  Better yet, let's just call it delicious.


Dough Ingredients

16 oz Cream Cheese
8 oz Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3 Cups All Purpose Flour


Filling Ingredients

1/2 Pound Ground Pork
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion
1 Clove Garlic
1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cardamom
2 Tablespoons Marsala Wine
1/2 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
1 Egg

For the dough:

Mix the room temperature cream cheese, room temperature butter, salt and flour until dough forms. Refrigerate for one hour.

Brown the ground pork.



Reserve.

Dice your onion



Add the olive oil to the skillet and then the diced onion.  Cook onions and, a few minutes later, add the minced garlic.



 Add curry powder



and the cardamom.



Stir and cook for a minute or two.  Return meat to pan.



And stir this up until everything is well mixed.  Add the Marsala wine



soy sauce



cumin



and sugar.  Mix cornstarch with an ounce of water and stir it in to thicken the mixture.  Chill the mixture in a bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.

Now for the dough.  Roll it out to a thin layer on a cutting board, somewhere between an eighth to a quarter of an inch thick.



and use a three inch biscuit cutter to cut rounds.



Place the rounds on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.  Spoon a tablespoon of the meat mixture into the center of the dough rounds.



Brush the edges of the rounds with egg wash



and fold over to seal and form a pouch.  Use the tines of a fork to press down the edges of the empanadas.



Spread them evenly on a baking sheet



and brush them with the rest of the egg wash.



Bake in a 375F oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.



They will be flaky and delicious.  The crust, will all that cream cheese, is light and tangy in flavor.


The filling, spicy and exotic.



Serve em' up hot and they'll be gone before you know it.


Until next time,


¡Adios Amigos!


Chris



Monday, January 9, 2017

Halibut Poached in Bacon Broth

























So I have to say that I love love love seafood.  I have ever since I was a kid, when we would go to a local seafood restaurant called Seven Seas that was all decorated up so that it seemed you were dining 'under the sea.'  (you know, paper Mâché cave walls with fake crabs, lobsters, starfish, treasure chests and even mermaids and King Neptune decorating the place)  Why don't they have restaurants like that any more?

Oh well, despite my love of seafood as a kid, I didn't discover halibut until I was an adult.  And I have to say, it has become one of my favorite fruits of the sea.  It's startlingly full flavored for a whitefish, which are usually sort of bland.  (I'm looking at you, Cod)  No, halibut is meaty and buttery and savory and practically melts in your mouth.  That is to say, it doesn't need much adornment.  I usually just grill it and serve with a little lemon/butter/caper sauce and that's that.

But, my wife got me a new cookbook for Christmas--a bacon cookbook of all things.  In it was this little recipe, which I've modified slightly, but I can affirm that bacon and halibut were truly a match made in heaven, or perhaps 'under the sea.'

Ingredients

8 strips bacon
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 onion
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh dill
10 black peppercorns
4 halibut fillets



Fry four of the strips of the bacon until crisp.



Reserve.

Quarter and peel your onion



And brown it in the bacon grease with the chopped carrots and celery



Add white wine and deglaze pan.



Get yourself a handful of peppercorns, no more than 10-12.



Add peppercorns and fresh fill


Enjoy that fresh dill aroma that wafts up from the pan.

Add chicken broth



With the flat of a kitchen knife, crush your garlic cloves and peel.



Add peeled garlic cloves to stock.

Add four uncooked strips of the bacon along with the crumbles from two of the cooked bacon strips.  (reserve the other two for garnish)



Brintg to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 1 hour, covered.



Strain broth into a container and discard solids.  You should have about a two cups of broth.



Note the fat that has separated and is floating on the top of the broth.  You can skim this off for a leaner dish.  Also, if you make the broth early enough, refrigerate it for an hour and the fat will solidify and be easier to remove.

Add skimmed bacon broth back to skillet


Heat it to a gentle simmer.  Enjoy aroma--this stuff is fantastic--I hope you've tasted it by now, because it is wonderful, bacon-y and savory and so on and so on, with a rich brown color.  



Poach Halibut fillets in broth until done



I use a food thermometer and cook them to just to 145 degrees F.  By this time the fillets will have absorbed some of the broth as you can see here:



Serve with some of the thickened broth as a sauce.  You can thicken it with a little cornstarch or just reduce the sauce over high heat.



Until next time,


See you 'Under the Sea,'


Chris




Saturday, November 12, 2016

Greek Orzo Salad




















So that time of year has rolled around again, that time of year that every foodie loves so much, yes Thanksgiving is nigh at hand.  Bring on the turkey,. the dressing, the cranberry sauce, the Greek salad.

Rrrrrrrrrrrrpt.  That's me making the record player needle scratching sound.  Yes, this is my Thanksgiving month post but this month I'm going non-trad for a side offering.  I like to do this from time to time, pull a fast one on the family and serve something they're not expecting.  Oh, we still have the usual stuffing and mashed potatoes and such, but sometimes a little variety is merited.

So, give this simple pasta salad a try, for T-day or just for a Greek night anytime of year.  I'd go great with my Greek Lemon Chicken with Dill Sauce.



Ingredients

12 oz Orzo Pasta
6 oz Artichoke Hearts
1 Tomato
1 Red Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
8 oz Feta Cheese
4 Oz Kalamata Olives
1/2 teaspoon Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Pepper
Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon


Cook pasta according to directions on box.



Drain and cool.



Coarsely chop tomato, onion and bell pepper.  Note, a cucumber, instead of the bell pepper, would be more traditional, but I'm not a big fan of raw cuke, so I've subbed the bell pepper for my greenery.  Feel free to sub a cuke back if you don't want to anger the Greek gods.



Place in food processor with artichoke hearts



Pulse until finely chopped



Add this mixture to the orzo



And blend thoroughly.

Coarsely chop your kalamata olives



Add olives and Feta to the salad


Add seasonings.  Note these include a tasty little seasoning blend called Cavenders Greek Seasoning.


This stuff tastes great, and I never seem to use it as much as I would like.  Really reminds me of the Peloponnese.

Don't forget the lemon.  I like to use Meyer lemons for this when I can get them.



But regular will work fine if you must.  Add the juice to the salad:



Mix and serve, maybe with a few more olives for garnish:



Until next time, Opa! And Happy Thanksgiving...

Chris