Empanadas

EmpanadaIf there is something that is truly versatile, it has got to be the empanada. I have been making these for a couple of years now, or should I say since I purchased my tortilla press. The dough could not be easier to make, and they can be stuffed with pretty much whatever you have in mind. For this last batch of empanadas, I stuffed them with shredded barbecue pork, however in the past I have used ground beef, potatoes, and peas, as well as turkey. I say these are versatile because you could use any type of vegetable, meat, fish, etc.

For the dough:

  • 1 cup of Masa Harina
  • 2 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of luke Warm Water
  • Pinch of Salt

EmpanadaThat’s it for the dough! Add all your ingredients and knead it a couple of times. The consistency should be treated like dough. Cover the dough and prepare your tortilla press. For the press, I used two sheets of plastic wrap to cover each side as to prevent the dough from sticking. Take a large pinch of the dough and form it into a ball and place on the tortilla press. Press the dough to form the tortilla shape. Add your stuffing and fold over to make your seal. You could use a fork as well to pinch the edges together. Continue this process until you are out of dough. My dough made about eight empanadas, however if you decided to not use the press and roll out the dough instead, then you can tailor it to fit your own size.

Here is the big dilemma. Do I fry, or do I bake? I have done both, and as they are both good, I prefer the fried empanadas. If baking, heat the oven for 425 degrees, and bake for 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

Enjoy!

Beer Bread with Cheddar and Onion

Beer Bread with Cheddar CheeseLately, I have been experimenting with baking bread, probably due to the fact that the rosemary bread was so delicious. Aaron, one of my coworkers, stated that his wife makes a great beer bread and that he can consume pretty much the entire loaf. I decided to do a little bit of research on making bread, without yeast, and decided to go at my attempt of beer bread. Before reading any further, just go ahead and make this bread. It was amazing.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, or whatever cheese you prefer
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion; red onion would be really good as well
  • 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 12 ounce can of your favorite beer

Beer Bread with Cheddar CheeseNow it does not get any easier than this. First preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While preheating, add all the ingredients, excluding the beer. Mix well. Once thoroughly mixed, slowly begin to add the beer, allowing it to soak through and make a thick batter. Scrape the sides once or twice throughout this process.

Once ready, lightly grease a bread pan (I only have an 8×4 pan), then lightly flour. Add the bread batter and smooth out any edges. Cook for roughly 65-70 minutes. Once done, remove from the pan and let cool.

I served mine with beef stew, and ate it throughout the day. How do you make your bread, yeast or no yeast?

Poutine

PoutineMy family recently traveled to Toronto to attend Pam’s cousin Mike’s wedding. It was a blast, however the traveling time in the car was not all of that. Thirteen hours to Toronto, and 9.5 hours back. Go figure. A recent conversation with my colleague Ryan Rau triggered a dish that he was really excited about, poutine. I felt like a clown not knowing what poutine was, as he stated it was served at most restaurants! We had no clue, as most of our dining was Thai takeout, home meals, and an authentic Chinese buffet.

Ryan informed me that poutine was simply french fries with gravy and cheese. Well, when someone mention s something like that, I cannot get it off my mind. Tonight was poutine night. I loved it, however I am a true fan of fries with cheddar, bacon, and chives, alongside sour cream. Go figure. I love junk food like that.

Ingredients:

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes, or frozen fries
  • Cheddar or any other mild cheese
  • Package of Brown Gravy
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cooking Oil (optional)

If you are using frozen fries, go at it, follow the directions, and depending on how you like your tenderness in your fries, layer the cheese on top about three minutes before you would normally take them out. Use as much cheese as you like. 🙂

On the other hand, if you are wanting the real deal fries, then clean them. That’s right, get the dirt off the skin. I like the skin on. That is where the nutrients are right? Cut the potato in half, then determine the cut of your fry. Depending on the width, continue to cut the potato down. Then, arrange them, and cut them lengthwise again. Once you get as many fries cut as you want, soak them in water for nearly 45 minutes. After the soaking period, drain, arrange them on a baking tray (spray with pam or lightly grease) and place in the oven at 350 degrees for roughly 15 minutes. This process begins to eliminate the moisture, as well as cooks the french fry. During the last five minutes or so of this process, heat the oil, enough to cook the fries. Once the oil is heated, roughly seven minutes or so, on medium-to-high heat, add the fries in batches. Cook until golden brown, remove and let them drain in a strainer lined with paper towel. Salt them at this time. Continue with the remaining batches, and continue with the process of draining and salting.

The next step is to place them back on the baking tray, top with cheese, and on 400 degrees cook until the cheese is melted.

While the fries are in the oven, add your cup of water to your gravy pack, and cook. This only takes a few minutes. Remove the fries, place on a plate, and add the gravy. Add pepper at this time, and get ready to rumble. They were good. Something that you definitely do not want to consume every night, but enjoyable as a snack or after a few beers.

Rosemary Bread

Rosemary Bread

During the Thanksgiving period, I was looking for some great bread to make a panini, or simply eat. This year instead of buying a nice rustic loaf from the breadsmith, I decided to make my own. Bring on the Rosemary bread. This took a few hours, and an overnight process but well worth it. To sum things up, my wife and I ate a loaf as soon as it came out of the oven, with the simplicity of butter. This was outrageous in flavor, however the panini was triple that, especially with Gouda cheese. Let’s get started.

Rosemary BreadThis is my first time making bread, however this is definitely not the first time I have used the same ingredients; flour, yeast, and oil. The cool thing here is to make an agent prior to making the dough and going through that process. The agent is funky. The breakdown:

Ingredients – The Starter (Start the day before)

  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour

To make the starter, combine all the ingredients in your electric mixer. Beat at a medium speed until the mixture pulls from the sides. Transfer to a plastic container, cover with a towel at room temperature, and leave out overnight.

Building the dough is next.

Ingredients – The Dough

  • 2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup of the starter (above)
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour

Rosemary BreadTo make the dough, use the mixer and combine the yeast, starter, and warm water in a bowl. Beat this until it is milky white and begins to foam, roughly five minutes. Change over to a dough hook, then add the olive oil, rosemary, salt, and 3-4 cups of the flour. Continue to beat this until it pulls from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour if the dough gets too soft. Continue to use the dough hook for roughly 10 minutes or so.

Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lighly oiled bowl, making sure to coat. Cover with a lighltly dampened warm towel, and let rise for a couple of hours.

Punch down the dough, divide into two pieces, and shape into loaves, placing on a baking pan. Cover again and let it rise until doubled for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 425, make a few slashes across the bread, and bake until it is golden brown, roughly 45 minutes. Take off and let cool on racks, if you have them.

Serve with pasta, salads, sandwiches, or even plain.