Category Archives: Freezer-friendly

Empanadas de Pino (y Pollo)

empanadas_de_pino

Every culture has its own version of empanadas, and for good reason — what could be better than a portable, sturdy crust stuffed with any number of sweet and/or savory fillings?

Unfortunately, most of the empanadas I’ve had here in the US are deep-fried, oozing affairs that require the use of a knife and fork. My sister, on the other hand, spent a considerable amount of time bicycling in South America and as a result is something of an empanada connoisseur/fanatic. And so I was a little intimidated when she challenged me to make her favorite, “empanadas de pino.”

Empanadas are basically a sturdy pie crust made with plenty of lard*, and a savory filling. They can be baked or fried, but I see no need to involve a deep fryer in this recipe (or in most recipes, if I’m being honest). Empanadas de pino are the standard Chilean version, filled with a mixture of beef, olives, raisins, and hard-boiled egg — and they are more delicious than any description could possibly convey.

empanada_assembly

*I used lard that I rendered myself from a piece of whey-fed pork fat I got from Windsor Dairy; you can find sources for responsibly raised lard here

I also made a version with chicken, since we had leftovers from one of our boys that I roasted earlier in the week. I went all savory with the chicken-and-egg empanadas, leaving out the raisins and adding some chopped jalapeño-and-garlic stuffed green olives. These were also extremely tasty, and I can’t think of a better use for those last shreds of meat I pull off a chicken before it goes in the stock pot.

assembling_chicken_empanadas

Virtually every food is more delicious empanada, but anything saucy/cheesy/greasy tends to soak through the dough and make a mess. So it’s best to stick with fillings that are on the dry side.

crimp_the_edges

And the best thing about empanadas? Apparently, you can make a whole bunch of them, and then put some in the freezer instead of the oven. I had every intention of trying that with this batch, but they all disappeared. Maybe next time.

brush_with_egg_and_milk

Empanadas de Pino

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: About 8-10 large empanadas

Empanadas de Pino

This is the most traditional empanada filling used in Chile, and it is delicious. It's best when allowed to rest in the fridge overnight before being made into empanadas.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (grass-fed works best)
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup beef glace or good-quality stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives
  • 3 eggs, hard-boiled (if using fresh eggs, make sure they're at least a week old)
  • Empanada dough (recipe follows, this amount of filling uses roughly 1/2 batch.)

Instructions

    Hard-boil the eggs:
  1. Put eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 inches cold water. Partially cover pot and set over moderate heat, occasionally rolling the eggs with a wooden spoon to keep the yolk centered. When the pot boils, cover and set a timer for 30 seconds. Then, remove the pot from heat and let stand covered for 15 minutes. Remove eggs and immediately put under cold running water for 5 minutes (this keeps the yolk from turning green). Dry and refrigerate for 30 minutes before peeling.
  2. Make the beef filling:
  3. Brown beef with onions in a large heavy skillet. Add flour and cook another 5-10 minutes longer.
  4. Let cool, and refrigerate overnight if possible (or up to 2 days).
  5. For each golf-ball-sized bit of dough, use about 3 tablespoons beef filling and top with a few raisins, sliced olives, and a slice of hard-boiled egg.
http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/empanadas-de-pino-y-pollo/

Empanada Dough

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes about 12 large empanadas

This all-purpose dough is perfect for wrapping around your favorite savory (and sweet) fillings.

Ingredients

    For dough
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 12 tablespoons good quality lard, chilled (I used whey-fed pork fat from a local dairy, which I rendered myself)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup cold water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • For egg wash:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  1. Sift flour, salt, and sugar together into a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, blend the butter and lard into the flour mixture until well-combined and the largest lumps are pea-sized.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cups water. Gradually stir in the water/egg mixture with a fork, adding a bit at a time, and add more water if necessary to make the dough come together. It should look a bit shaggy until it's thoroughly chilled. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least an hour, or up to a couple days.
  4. Roll dough into balls about the size of golf balls, and roll out with a rolling pin into a 6-7" round. Place about 3 tablespoons of filling in the center and wet 1/2 of the edge with a finger dipped in water, then carefully fold the dry edge up and over the filling, pressing it against the other edge to seal the empanada. Use your fingers to roll and crimp any excess dough to reinforce the seam. Use a fork to gently poke a few holes across the top.
  5. The empanadas can be frozen at this point and baked later, if you wish.
  6. Beat egg yolk in 2 tablespoons milk, and lightly brush on finished empanadas before baking. Bake at 350F for about 35-45 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. NOTE: Lard is wonderful, in part, because your pastry will get nice and brown and crisp but will take forever to burn. However, the egg wash on these can make them appear browner than they actually are. Don't be too quick to pull your empanadas out of the oven, and be sure to take a peek at the underside when you check them.
http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/empanadas-de-pino-y-pollo/

Chocolate Covered Mints

homemade_junior_mints

I’ve always been a fan of soft, chocolate-covered mints — Junior Mints, Peppermint Patties, I love them all equally but don’t much venture into the candy aisle these days. However, they’ve been lurking in the back of my brain’s “to make” file for years now. I finally caved when, during a night of Christmas baking, I realized that I had TWO bottles of good quality peppermint extract taking up space in my cupboard.

Dip_in_melted_chocolate

I turned to two of my favorite cookbooks for inspiration. Both were in agreement on the basic proportions, except for the most important flavor — one recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract to 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, and the other a full tablespoon per 2 cups of sugar (for the record, the latter also says you can use peppermint oil but I haven’t tried it). I settled for 1/2 tablespoon of extract and found it to be perfectly minty.

humble_ingredients

Just ignore that corn syrup lurking behind the more wholesome ingredients.

I generally avoid corn syrup, but this is one of a few cases where I use it in a recipe because there wasn’t a reliable substitute available (and hey, it’s only a tablespoon). I considered trying a batch with honey instead, since it’s hygroscopic like corn syrup, but thought it might change the color and flavor too much (if you try it, I’d love to hear how it turns out!). However, I did have excellent luck replacing the shortening in the original recipes with extra-virgin coconut oil. That counts for something, right?

scraping_the_bowl

heart_shaped_patties_not_recommended

For my trial run, I tried to make patties with a little heart-shaped cookie cutter but their shape didn’t hold up well during a brief trip through melted chocolate (a 1″ round might work better). I soon realized I couldn’t eat the entire batch in the name of quality control, and moved on to Plan B — rolling each heart into a little ball. They were much easier to coat in chocolate, if not as cute.

fresh_minty_balls

The finished candy can be stored in the fridge or freezer, layered between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container. I recommend storing them near the back, where they won’t be as visible.

layer_in_airtight_container_and_hide

Chocolate Covered Mints

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: About 25 bite-sized mints

Chocolate Covered Mints

Cool, creamy and refreshing. These homemade treats are like Junior Mints or Peppermint Patties, but way better than anything you'll find in the candy aisle.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin coconut oil, softened
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups good quality dark chocolate chips or pieces

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine sugar, salt, corn syrup, oil, peppermint extract, and water. Form a workable dough using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, or kneading by hand, adding a bit of extra water if necessary.
  2. If making balls, a metal measuring spoon works well to divvy up the dough (I used 1/4 tsp). Roll pieces of dough into balls by hand and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours. If making patties, place the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and roll out to about 1/4 or 1/2 inch thickness, then freeze for 30-60 minutes before cutting out the patties. Place cutouts on a cookie sheet to freeze for at least 2 hours.
  3. Heat chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely-simmering water until it melts, let it cool to about 80F, and then heat it once again -- this tempers the chocolate and gives you a nice shiny coating on your candy.
  4. Let the chocolate cool for a few minutes, then take the mint centers out of the freezer a few at a time. Use a fork to quickly roll them in the chocolate, then tap off the excess and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Freeze until hard, then give the cookie sheet a shake to release the mints. Some may stick and lose pieces of their chocolate shell, you can just reheat the leftover chocolate and patch them (or better yet, eat them immediately).
  5. Store mints between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container, in the fridge or freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving, or enjoy them frozen.

Notes

Adapted from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It (by Karen Solomon) and Gourmet.

http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/chocolate-covered-mints/

Allen Lim’s Rice Cakes

wrapped_stack

If you know me in real life this won’t be news to you, but I love bikes. Whether I’m exploring country roads or rolling across singletrack, I’m happiest on two wheels. It’s so much fun that it doesn’t feel like exercise, but it counteracts the cake and keeps me from needing to buy larger pants.

use_6x9_inch_rectangle

And with it being Tour de France season, it’s a perfect time to share with you my very favorite bike snack, also a favorite in the pro peloton (or so I’m told.) This is adapted from The Feed Zone Cookbook, which I’d highly recommend if you’re any sort of athlete, or just looking for portable snack ideas.

These rice cakes are a great “real food” replacement for bars or gels, and the sweet-and-salty combination is just what I need for the return trip of a long ride. They’re fast-burning and easy to digest, and they taste like bacon, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Can you imagine anything better?

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Beer-basted Chicken + Chicken Stock

My sister and I ate General Tso last week, and he was delicious, though the cooking part didn’t exactly go as planned.

The original plan was to do an Asian-style tea smoked chicken, which is delicious but hasn’t graced my kitchen in a few years (I have a feeling it will soon, though.) But that plan shifted when we made a shocking discovery:

The General only had one testicle. And it was enormous.

To give you some perspective, a chicken’s brain is about the size of my thumbnail. The General’s lone gonad was nearly the size of my fist. Suddenly, his aggressive behavior made a lot more sense.

So back to the recipe. We’d talked before about making Beercan Chicken, mostly in jest, because we used to have a Speckled Sussex hen named Beercan. But now we had to, because of a favorite local beer: One Nut Brown Ale.

Unfortunately, Oskar Blues had One Nut on tap but not in cans or growlers. I briefly considered ordering a pint at their restaurant and smuggling it out, but instead I settled on the next best thing:

old_speckled_hen

Only, the Beercan Chicken idea didn’t work out so well either. I decided to try doing it in the oven instead of the grill since it was getting dark outside, but the can slid around on the cookie sheet and collapsed. I tried for a few minutes to get the whole mess balanced, even using a different size can and spilling most of the beer in the process, but I soon gave up. It seemed disrespectful somehow, trying to balance a chicken impaled on a beer can. I can’t imagine why.

So instead, I laid the whole chicken down in the spilled beer (about half a can’s worth) and rubbed it all over with olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped fresh thyme. Then I added a few pats of butter and some chicken stock to the pan and put it in a 325 degree oven until the thigh meat reached 165F (this took about an hour and a half for a nearly 4 pound bird.) I turned it over halfway through the cooking process, and basted every 15 minutes or so.

general_with_herbs_and_butter

The meat was tasty, and not at all tough (partly because we let it rest in the fridge for a couple days, partly because Speckled Sussex roosters are slow to mature.) The recipe I based mine on used a lot of pepper, and that plus the beer flavor was a bit overwhelming — I wouldn’t necessarily do it the same way next time, but it was still the best chicken I’d ever eaten because I grew it myself.

The leftovers were made into frozen burritos, assembly line style. And everything else went into the stockpot, soon to become several pints of rich, velvety chicken stock.

chicken_stock

To make stock, I cover the carcass with filtered water (add in any unused giblets, too) and throw in a bunch of carrots and onions. We have a huge lovage plant that comes back every year, so I use that in place of celery (but you can use anything you like.) This time I also threw in a few handfuls of thyme, tarragon, and whatever else needed to be cut back in the herb garden.

I boil it for as long as I can (about 9 hours, this time) then strain it into glass jars. Once cool, I freeze it in plastic tubs and then vacuum seal the frozen stock so I can reclaim the containers. Then I have chicken stock whenever I need it — for soups, or as a vehicle for poached eggs.

Stock is infinitely better when made at home, and it’s a perfect way to make use of every last bit of the chicken (and fill your house with delicious smells in the process.) So please, never throw away a chicken or turkey carcass — why would you want to waste all that, especially when it’s so easy? If you don’t have time to make the stock right away (I usually don’t) just seal up the carcass and stick it in the freezer.

 

Lentil Soup with Kale

As they say, “It sure is a lovely Winter we’re having this Spring.”

I’m a sucker for snowstorms.  Maybe I’m alone in this, but I love waking up in the middle of the night to hear a Winter Storm Warning crackling over the weather radio. Especially when I don’t have to drive anywhere, and I can just stay home and enjoy the snow.

winter_wonderland

We’re in an active weather pattern — finally — after a couple years of horrible drought and wildfires. So I’m celebrating each snowflake that much more. We got about 15″ yesterday, much of it melting right into the ground (and undoubtedly making the rows of seeds I planted last week almost as happy as it made me.)

buried_garden

But after venturing out to the coop to collect eggs, I was chilled to the bone. So I warmed myself up the best way I know how:

bacon_and_veggies

cook_lentils_in_broth

To me, this lentil soup is comfort in a pot. I based it (loosely) on a recipe in the yellow book that called for italian sausage and escarole — and it’ll probably be delicious with whatever you have on hand, too.

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