Friday, January 12, 2018

Dough It Right.

Hey there friend, long time no see. Yeah, so the past year(s) I've been a no-show and I apologize for that. You know how it is... depression, being sick, loss of inspiration, the world becoming a "shithole", blah blah blah. Life has a way with making you feel small and insignificant. My love for food is always there, however sometimes my mind has a hard time showing it. I forget that this is a way to express that passion and express myself through food and that everything else is just a bonus. So to you I say this; Thank you for being here and sharing this love of food with me. Having readers is a very lovely bonus. I promise to try and stick around a bit more regularly this time. xoxo

Sooooo..... now that we got all of those damn feelings out of the way let's talk about food. Here is a fact. I am not a good baker. I think it all comes down to the fact that I am a very sense driven cook. I like to improvise. Also, not gonna lie, I hate being dirty and covered in flour. Too damn prissy to bake. Yeah, I am that brand of virgo. Add in being slightly impatient and you have all the makings of a terrible baker.

But one in a while you come across a recipe that is too damn easy to not screw up and before you know it you just baked something that doesn't resemble the usual concrete block you are so adept at making. So yeah, the night before last I had made my favorite comfort food, picadillo. Then the next day I made empanadas stuffed with leftover picadillo. Then I baked and ate them. And guess what, it was super damn delicious. They were flaky and juicy and savory. So damn good. So yeah, let's make Cuban Empanadas. Start with this:

Cuban Picadillo 

2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and medium dice
1 large green bell pepper, seeds/stem removed and medium dice
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 ½ pounds ground beef
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
2 teaspooons Goya Adobo seasoning (optional)
2 bay leaves
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup pimento stuffed Spanish olives, sliced

In a large, heavy pan set over a medium-high heat add olive oil.  Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and stir. Cook until the onions and pepper have started to soften, approximately 10 minutes.

Move the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and brown the beef. Add tomatoes, vinegar, cumin, bay leaves, pimentón, adobo, olives, and raisins and stir to combine. Lower the heat, and let the stew simmer, covered, for approximately 30-40 minutes. Adjust seasoning, remove bay leaves, and serve over white rice. Top with a fried egg if you are so inclined (aka always).

Old terrible photo of my Cuban Picadillo
I make this dish whenever I am sad or feeling off. It brings me back to when I was a kid and my abuela aka Aba or mom would make this for me. I hated the raisins when I was little but now I think they are delicious. Kids are weird. I was especially weird.

So yeah, make picadillo. Make enough for leftovers. Then make the empanadas dough. Here's the recipe I used and tweaked:

Empanadas Dough

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoon ice water
1 tablespoon white Champagne vinegar

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Add the flour, salt, and cold butter into a food processor. Pulse 10 or so times or until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, stirring with fork until just incorporated.
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently with your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Quickly form dough into a flat rectangle and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


1/2 cup white Champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse it all for a few seconds in a food processor. Season. That's it.

Cuban Empanadas with Chimichurri

empanadas dough, thinly rolled out & cut into 6" rounds (recipes above makes about 12 empanadas)
leftover picadillo
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. On a lightly floured clean surface roll out a dough round to thin it out a little. Add about 2 tablespoons of cold leftover picadillo to the center of the dough round. Wet the edge of one side of the dough with a dab of water. Fold the dough over and press to seal. Use a fork to press down the edges. Place empanadas on baking sheet covered with parchment. Brush empanadas with butter. Bake for 40 minutes. Eat while hot. 

Hey Vegan!
I sees you. Make it meatless. Here are some subs for you:
* In the picadillo instead of using ground beef use a block of firm tofu that you marinated overnight in some soy and garlic powder. Also add a cup of chopped sauteed shiitake mushrooms to make it "meatier".
* Use vegan "butter" for the empanadas dough.

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