Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Empanadas de Atún (Argentinian Tuna Empanadas) #FoodieExtravaganza


Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month.

Posting day for #FoodieExtravaganza is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board!

This month Sue of Palatable Pastime is hosting this month's #FoodieExtravaganza. She asked us to share our favorite empanada recipes for National Empanada Day which is April 8th.  Here's the list of our empanada creations...


Empanadas de Atún 

I will say that my boys love empanadas. It's really one of the first things they were really excited to learn to make. Empanadas Mendocinas - made with meat, hard-boiled eggs, and capers - is the kind we made most often, as it's the family favorite. But we've also enjoyed Empanadas de Carne which has a decidedly more flaky crust. But the recipe I'm sharing is probably my personal favorite.

Ingredients makes 8
Empanada Dough
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • freshly ground salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1/4 C water

Filling

  • 2 tuna filets
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 C sliced black olives
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground paprika
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten for finishing empanadas

Chimichurri
  • 1/4 C parsley
  • 3 T vinegar (I prefer sherry vinegar)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T oregano leaves
  • 1 t thyme leaves
  • 2 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • freshly ground salt, as needed

Procedure
Empanada Dough
Stir all of the ingredients together to form a kneadable mass. Remove it to a floured work surface and knead until silky smooth, approximately 5 minutes. Add a little flour if it is too sticky. Cover it with a towel and let it rest at least 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, make the filling.

Filling
Preheat 400°F. Place tuna filets on a baking sheet. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes. Let cool, then flake the fish with a fork.

In a large flat-bottomed pan, sauté sliced leeks and sliced black olives in a splash of olive oil until the leeks are translucent. Season with paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the flaked fish and stir till coated with oil and seasonings. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Chimichurri
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, drizzling in the oil until desired texture; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let stand for, at least 30 minutes. If you are making this ahead of time, place in a lidded jar and keep in the refrigerator. 

Empanadas
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the rested dough into 8 equal portions; you can certainly make smaller one. Lightly flour a work surface and roll each portion out into a 6- to 8-inch round.

Add about 1/4 cup of filling to the center of the pastry round, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Wet the edges with a finger dipped in water, fold over into a half moon and seal the edges with the tines of a fork or by rolling them up into a scalloped edge. Lay out on a baking sheet.


Brush tops with an egg beaten with a little water.


Place in the preheated oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until browned on top. Serve warm with chimichurri sauce on the side.


That's it for this month. Next month, I am hosting and I have invited the #FoodieExtravaganza bloggers to share their favorite pickle recipes ahead of International Pickle Week the third week in May. Stay tuned...

Crackled Ginger Cookies + Bonus! Ice Cream Sandwiches #RedBook


So, have you been baking like mad during this current shelter-in-place order? I have! So much so that I ran out of flour not once, but twice already. And we've only been sheltered in place for less than two weeks. Thankfully one of my best friends gave me a bag as an anniversary present. I know that sounds silly, but seriously, it was amazing!

Thanks, Pia!!

I was able to bake my own anniversary cake last week: Celebration Tea Layer Cake...and then a ton of other baked goods.

The other thing I've been doing, besides baking and cooking, is cleaning. And, in one cabinet, I uncovered both molasses and candied ginger. That meant one thing - gingerbread!

At least that was my plan until Jake requested ginger cookies. My ginger snaps are always a favorite, but he wanted to try them rolled in sugar. Done. He declared these 'red book' worthy, so I'm reviving that designation. That's a story for another day though.

Ingredients 
makes approximately three dozen 2" cookies

Cookies
  • 2-1/4 C flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground cloves
  • ½ t ground cardamom
  • ½ t ground allspice
  • ½ t pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ C butter, softened
  • ¾ C organic granulated sugar + more for rolling
  • ¼ C molasses
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ C crystallized ginger pieces, diced

Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • favorite (or just available!) ice cream


Procedure

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats; I used baking stones for these.
  
Beat together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until lightened and creamy. Beat in the molasses and egg. 

Sift the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the crystallized ginger and gently knead the dough into a ball. You can chill the dough for easier handling; I didn't for this batch.


Pinch off dough pieces and roll them into walnut-sized balls, approximately 1-1/4 to 1-1/2-inch balls. Roll balls in sugar. 


And place them on your baking sheet about two inches apart. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 12 to 14 minutes for a crispy cookie. 


Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheet or wire rack.


If you know me at all, you know that I don't have much of a sweet tooth, despite all my baking.


But these smelled so good. I actually ate two!


Bonus! Jake wanted to turn them into ice cream sandwiches and I had a pint of honey ice cream. So, we did.

Smash one scoop of ice cream between two cooled cookies. Press cookies together to flatten the ice cream scoop slightly. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Man'oushe + Château Musar Lebanon Jeune Red 2017 #WinePW


For  April's Wine Pairing Weekend event, Nicole of Somm's Table is inviting the blogging group to look at Ancient World pairings. When I sent her a quick note about the parameters she had in mind, she replied, "my thoughts had been to highlight areas that have claims to oldest evidence of winemaking -- Georgia, the Middle East (Lebanon, Israel, Iran), Armenia, also Greece and Sicily, China also has good claims." Then she pointed me to this article about the History of Wine on Wikipedia that summarized what she had in mind. Sweet! Her invite isn't live yet, but based on my exchange with her, I sourced some wines and started testing pairings.

I have already shared my tepid thoughts on the Kouneli Stifado + Gaia Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina pairing I did. For this post, I am sharing a Lebanese flatbread with a Lebanese wine.

In the Glass

I have poured a bottle of the 2012 Château Musar Lebanon Jeune Red back in 2016 when I hosted #WinePW and asked the bloggers to explore a new country, new varietal, or new vintner. I posted Lubyee Bi Lahmi + Château Musar Jeune for #winePW, sharing the story behind that dish for me and my husband. Well, I got my hands on a bottle of the 2017 vintage and decided to make a couple of new-to-us Lebanese dishes.

Château Musar is a Lebanese winery in Ghazir, Lebanon. The winery is located about 15 miles north of the Beirut while the Musar grapes grow in the Bekaa Valley, located about 25 miles east of the city. On their website they share that wine-making is an ancient tradition dating back six millennia in the high altitude Bekaa.

By 3000 BC, the region now known as Lebanon was the center of the wine production under the control of the Phoenicians who traded wine from Biblos, Sidow, and Tyre all around the Mediterranean. Flash ahead to the 12th century when the Hochar family (pronounced Hoshar) arrived in Lebanon with the Preux Chevalier during the period of the Crusades. And forward ahead even more to 1930 when Gaston Hochar returned from a visit to France and established Château Musar in the cellars of the 18th century Mzar Castle in Ghazir. 


From the beginning Château Musar embraced a 'natural, non-interventionist wine-making philosophy' and their 2017 Musar Jeune Red is a blend from organically-certified vineyards. It's a blend of old vines, including 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the glass, the wine poured a clear garnet red and had enticing aromas of smoke on the nose. On the palate there was a hearty concentration of spice and fruit with a crisp acidity and mild tannins. What a lovely wine! And it went well with the Man'oushe and Dawood Basha (Lebanese Meatballs Braised in Tomato Sauce) that we made. But it's the recipe for the Man'oushe that I'm sharing today.

Man’oushe

Man’oushe, a za'atar-laden flatbread, is normally eaten just as is, but you can serve it as an appetizer with olives and feta cheese. Or it can be part of a heavier Middle Eastern meal composed of hummus, baba ganoush, meatballs, and salad. I asked my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf to make the dough while I was at work. He let it ferment all day. I just came home, shaped it, and baked it. I love having helpful, well-trained kitchen elves!

Ingredients makes 4 large flatbreads


Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that I always have on hand. It's a breeze to make and adds something fabulous to olive oil for dipping and - I've just discovered - as a spice rub on any kind of meat! My za'atar recipe makes about 5 tablespoons. If you have any leftover (you will), keep it in a sealed jar for future use.

Dough 
  • 3 C flour + more for rolling, as needed
  • 1/2 t active dry yeast
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1-1/2 C warm water
Za'atar
  • 2 T fresh thyme, pulled off the stem and minced
  • 2 T sesame seeds, toasted (I use both white and black sesame seeds)
  • 2 t ground sumac
  • 1/2 t flake salt
Assembly
  • olive oil
  • Also needed: baking stone, rolling pin

Procedure

Za'atar 
In batches, blend and crush the spices with a mortar and pestle. Leave some sesame seeds whole.

Dough
Mix all of the dough ingredients together in a large bowl. The texture will be a wet, sticky dough. Cover and let ferment for as long as you can - between six and twelve hours.

Assembly
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Divide the dough into quarters. Roll the dough out onto a baking stone or baking sheet, using a bit of flour, if needed, to about 12" x 4". Sprinkle each bread with the za'atar and drizzle with olive oil.


Place in the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes until the crust is crisped and golden. Remove the flatbreads from the oven when the crusts are golden brown and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Matcha Coconut MOffins #MuffinMonday


Last month, I saw a post from one of my favorite bloggers - Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm - and I realized that they've been having a muffin party for years without me. LOL. I emailed the host, Stacy of Food Lust People Love and got the scoop: "...last Monday of the month and no themes. We've been baking together since August 2015! Only one rule, you must use the muffin method (folding wet ingredients with dry - no creaming butter and sugar, etc.) to bake muffins."

Oh, my goodness...is that the muffin rule? That makes total sense. But I had no idea.
In my house we've always said that if it's 'naked' as in frosting-free, it's a muffin; if there's frosting, then it's a cupcake. Turns out there's more to it than that. In any case, I jumped in. This is my first month participating with the #MuffinMonday bloggers. Here's a little bit more info, since this is new-to-me...

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all of our lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page.

And here's this month's line-up...

Matcha Coconut MOffins

I dug my 'muffin top' molds out of my baking bin and I whipped up these MOffins for my boys one morning. I have been doing a lot of baking during our shelter-in-place orders. Oh, that is not a typo. I do not mean 'muffin.' I do mean MOffin. A MOffin is just a muffin made with mochi flour. Mochi + Muffin = MOffins

Ingredients
  • 4  eggs
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 can (14-ounces) coconut cream
  • 1/2 C coconut water
  • 1/2 C turbinado raw cane sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2 T matcha powder
  • 1 box rice flour (Mochiko)

Procedure
Mix the eggs, olive oil, coconut cream, and coconut water together in a large mixing bowl. Then fold in everything else until just moistened. Spoon the batter into greased muffin hollows or the muffin molds. Place on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 375˚F till the top of the MOffin is slightly browned and slightly cracked. Let cool for 5 minutes before turning the MOffins onto a cooling rack.

And just in case you want to order your own adorable muffin molds, I'm including an affiliate link below. We love them!


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more, but if you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Restaurants On the Edge: Local Foods, Memories, and Inspiration #ShelterinPlaceCooking


With our shelter-in-place order in full force, I've streamed quite a few shows in recent days. I never watch this much television. But in just a few days, I watched all six episodes of the Netflix series Restaurants on the Edge. The premise is simple: A restaurateur (Nick Liberato), a chef ( Dennis Prescott), and an interior designer (Karin Bohn) travel the world to rehab restaurants that have great views but lousy food. Once you watch more than two episodes - and there are only six! - you see the formula. But it doesn't make the show any less appealing.

I was intrigued by the ways in which Prescott embraced the local food traditions and helped (re)infuse the restaurants with their cultural roots. Each episode made my mouth water, reminded me of food memories, and put a place on my travel list.

Malta
The trio traveled to Marsaxlokk, Malta where Justin Haber, Maltese footballer and goalkeeper, has a failing seafood restaurant. I loved how Prescott visited the Xuereb family on Gozo’s rugged northern coast where they keep the tradition of ancient salt-harvesting alive. Prescott, then, incorporates a salt-crusted fish into Haber's refreshed menu.


Back in 2013, I interviewed a local-to-me salt maker who was using solar dehydration to create artisan cooking salts. That's the Carmel Valley salt in the photo above. I have never been to Malta, but after this episode, it's definitely on my list!


Hong Kong
The group headed to Tai O, a Hong Kong fishing village where a waterside restaurant is more abandoned gift shop than anything else. Using feng shui principles and a complete reinvention of the space and menu, the Banyan Tree is reinvigorated. Prescott embraces the alacrity and variety of the local street food, trying snake soup, curry balls, and more. If you follow my blog at all, you know that all four of us love street food and, often, choose food trucks when we travel over sit-down restaurants though, my first choice is always to hit the local markets and cook for myself. We hit The Bite in Tumalo, Oregon a few times during our trip there. The Bai Tong food truck offered a variety of traditional Thai dishes. You can see one of the coconut soups I had above. Okay, it's not made with snakes, but it was tasty, filling, and fast. I was also inspired to see if I can make my own version of XO sauce. Seriously, that looked umami-azing!

Tobermory
In Tobermory, Canada, the team took a tired harborside tiki bar from floundering to festive with a fresh Caribbean menu and an updated tiki patio. I am still not sure how a restaurant survives with a six-week tourist season. But, if anyone can, Coconut Joe's looks like it will.


Costa Rica
In Costa Rica’s Playas del Coco, the trio of experts resuscitate a flailing seafood restaurant by turning up the pura vida. Years ago we traveled to Costa Rica for Fall Break and loved visiting the local markets, picking guavas straight from the trees, and adventuring all around the country from the Pacific to the Caribbean.


We didn't remember if we visited the Guanacaste region when we were there, but I was excited to learn about Blue Zones. More on that soon. But that was definitely a trip we still talk about.


Austria
Arlberg Boutique Eatery is located in Pettneu, a village in the Austrian Alps, in the state of Tyrol. And, for the most part, it sits empty because it features a global menu that's far too eclectic to survive. The experts add in more regional fare and more cowbell. Seriously. This episode showcases foraging and schnitzel. I have been lucky enough to have a friend who lived in German for many years make me a traditional schnitzel dinner. Read my post - Feasting for Sankt Nikolaus Tag: German Sips, Schweineschnitzel,Spätzle, and Sauerkraut.

St. Lucia
This episode resonated with me the least for some reason, despite having visited St. Lucia after I graduated from college. In any case, Karin, Dennis, and Nick transform a literal hole in the wall to a chic Caribbean shack that matches the beautiful view and honors the owner's mom.

What are you binge-watching while we wait out the coronavirus? Anything worthy of sharing?

Celebration Tea Layer Cake #ShelterinPlaceCooking


On Wednesday, Jake and I were celebrating two decades of marriage. And while we normally wouldn't have gone out for dinner anyway, I wanted to make a special dessert as we sheltered in place for our 20th wedding anniversary.


I don't know about where you live, but people have been making a run on flour and eggs here on California's central coast. Seriously. I keep asking myself, "Did people decide they were going to teach themselves how to bake during this ordeal, or what?!?" Thankfully, Pia gave me a bag of flour and Lin gave me eggs. That's the perfect anniversary presents for a sheltered-in-place baker by the way!


So, I started looking at cake recipes and was intrigued by the London Fog cake recipes I stumbled across. Basicially that's an Earl Grey chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. It sounded divine. But I decided to use the Celebration Tea I had on the shelf from The Republic of Tea instead of Earl Grey. And I added brewed tea to my buttercream as well.

Ingredients makes one three layer 9" cake

Celebration Tea was doubly fitting because it was created to for The Republic of Tea's 20th anniversary as well. According to their website: "A Cup of Celebration - We created this elegant blend in honor of our 20th anniversary. Ceylon black tea leaves from the Court Lodge Estate in Nuwara Eliya on the island of Sri Lanka, along with full tea blossoms and white wine grapes from the Orange River Vineyard in South Africa, create an exquisite, light-colored cup with a fruity, floral profile. Infused with the essence of champagne, this blend is a true cup of celebration." That description doesn't mention them, but there are also dried cornflower petals in there and cornflowers are one of Jake's favorite flowers. Perfect fit!

Cake

  • 2½ C all purpose flour
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ t baking powder
  • ¾ t baking soda
  • ½ C olive oil
  • 1½ organic granulated sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 t pure lemon extract
  • 1 t pure almond extract
  • 1½ C whole milk
  • 1 C hot strong-brewed tea (I used the Celebration Tea from Republic of Tea)

Buttercream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 C strong-brewed tea (I used the Celebration Tea from Republic of Tea)
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T organic agave syrup
  • 2 C butter, softened
  • 1 t pure lemon extract

Chocolate Ganache Drizzle
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chipped
  • 1/2 C organic heavy cream
  • 2 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T butter

Procedure

Cake
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Grease and line three 9-inch cakes pans with parchment papers. Set aside. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.

Whisk together olive oil, sugar, eggs, tea, milk, and extracts until well-combined. Gently fold in the flour mixture in two batches. Stir until everything is just moistened.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans. Place in the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the cakes. Invert cakes onto the wire rack and cool completely. 

Buttercream
Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl and beat on high until they are thick, pale, and ribbon off the whisks.

Combine tea, sugar, and agave syrup in a small saucepan. You can attach a candy thermometer to the side; I just kept testing until it reached soft-ball stage. If you're using a thermometer, heat until it reaches 240 degrees F.

Once the syrup is ready, remove it from the heat. While one hand holds the mixer, use the other hand to pour the syrup into the yolks. When all of the syrup is added, turn the mixer up to high and beat until the yolks have doubled in size and have reached medium peak stage. The bowl should be cooled and just lukewarm to the touch. Mine took about 9 minutes.

Begin adding butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. The more butter you add, the more firm the buttercream will be. Once your buttercream resembles what you think of as buttercream. Add in the lemon extract and beat until well combined.

Chocolate Ganache Drizzle
Place everything except for the cream in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Pour the cream into the mixing bowl, making sure that the chocolate is completely submerged. Let sit for 3 minutes. Whisk till smooth. Cool until desired thickness for drizzling.


For Serving
Once the cake layers have cooled completely, place the bottom layer on your serving platter. Add a dollop of buttercream and spread to the edges, then place another layer on top. Repeat, then smooth the buttercream over the top and along the sides.


Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle the ganache along the rim of the cake and let it drip down the sides. I also made an organic looking heart on the top.


The boys enjoyed this Celebration Tea Layer Cake with milk. Jake and I did a tasting of our dual bottles of single malt scotch! It was quite a celebration. Cheers...and happy anniversary to me!!


This was as close as we came to a family photo that night: me, Jake, the photo bomber, and the reflection of the photographer!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Homemade Corn Tortillas #ShelterinPlaceCooking


One thing I will say about this shelter-in-place order: I sure am digging deep into my cabinets and using up ingredients that I didn't even remember that I had!


In any case, Jake requested fish tacos for our 20th anniversary dinner last night. So, I went to a local fish market - we are allowed to go out for groceries! - and picked up petrale sole and rockfish. Then I had the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf make a fresh salsa; and the Precise Kitchen Elf cranked out some homemade corn tortillas with a bag of masa that I had in the cupboard and the rabbit stock I had simmering on the stove from when I made Kouneli Stifado (Greek Rabbit Stew).


 Ingredients makes about twenty 4" tortillas

  • 3 C masa harina
  • 2-1/4 C warm liquid (you can use water or stock)
  • 1 t freshly ground salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • corn meal for rolling
  • oil for cooking
  • Also needed: waxed paper or parchment paper, tortilla press (if you don't have a press, you can use a rolling pin...it just won't be as uniform)

Procedure

Put masa flour in a large mixing bowl. Add warm liquid, salt, and olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix all of the ingredients together. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Knead the dough to form a smooth ball. If the dough seems too dry, add more liquid; if the dough seems too wet, add more masa. Once the dough is ready, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.


Pinch off a piece of the masa dough and shape it into a ball the size of a plum, or slightly large golf ball.


Take two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper and lay one on the bottom of the tortilla press. Place the masa ball in the center. Place another piece of wax paper over the masa ball. Gently close the press and press down, until the dough has spread to a diameter of 4 to 6".


To Cook
Heat a griddle or a large skillet on high heat. Grease your pan. Working one at a time, hold a tortilla in your hand, carefully removing the wax paper on each side. Allow the tortilla to rest half on your hand, and half hanging down, and gently lay the tortilla down on to the skillet.

Cook the tortilla on the hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The tortilla should be lightly toasted and little air pockets forming.


These were delicious as a base for our petrale sole soft tacos.

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