Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2010

This week I’ve been talking about Valentine’s Day with a number of my friends both coupled and single… the overarching theme was that no one really likes Valentine’s Day…  I think everyday you should tell the people you love how you feel and I’m not the only one. In my family, we almost always say I love you before hanging up the phone, going to bed or leaving for the day.  We are a very expressive family.

However, Valentine’s Day can be a lot of fun. In high school, I went all out- wearing my favorite hot pink boa and red sequined dress to school, eating lots of chocolate and doing fun things for my friends.  It was fun!

Now that my love lives miles and miles away- I used Valentine’s as an excuse to do something special for myself… I made a nice lunch, poured a glass of champagne and relaxed for a bit…   Some good bread with ricotta and roasted red peppers.  The red pepper recipe comes from good family friends that were our neighbors in Switzerland.  I haven’t seen them in so long but it is always nice to have memories when you make a certain dish.

It is important to keep things in perspective!

Roasted Red Peppers
(recipe from good friends)
Place a whole red pepper on a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Broil until they char, turning to char all sides of the peppers. Remove from the pan and place in a brown paper bag. Fold the bad top down to close and live for several hours until the peppers are cool. Then slip the skins off, open the peppers and remove the seeds and core material. Slice thee peppers in strips. In a frying pan, put some good olive oil and minced garlic. Add the peppers and saute. Add a pinch of sugar.

P.S. Stay tuned… My next post will introduce my lovely new blogging mentees!

Empanadas…

March 11th, 2009

One night, I was out with my friends and all of a sudden we lost a friend of ours.  We stop on the sidewalk, trying to figure out where he went and all of sudden, he appeared with a bag in his hand.  He had found some empanadas!  I had never tried one but that night I had my first taste of a chicken empanada.  It was delicious!

This summer, J’s mom taught us (J, his sister and her boyfriend) how to make different types of empanadas: beef, corn and ham, spinach and cheese.  The making of empanadas is fun… Standing around in the kitchen, we made fun of each other as we attempted to fold them… J’s mom is excellent at folding but the rest of us need a bit of practice.  All the types were really good.  I think I liked the corn and ham the best.

While in Argentina, J introduced me to the beautiful thing that is delivery empanadas… yes, that is right!  They deliver delicious, hot empanadas right to your door.  We tried about every type possible.  Overall, my favorite is onion and cheese… can’t get enough of them!

Argentine Empanadas

(from J’s Mom)

To make an empanada you need to make a dough and a filling. After they are put together, you can bake or fry them.

Dough

1 cup shortening, melted

2 eggs

2 cups of flour

2 teaspoons of salt dissolved in 1 cup of warm water

  1. Mix all together with hands.
  2. Leave for an hour at room temp.

In order to prepare the dough into empanadas, you need to make circles with 5 ½ in diameter. In the middle of the circles, you will place a tablespoon of filling.  There are two methods to make the circles.

Method #1:

  1. Divide into little balls
  2. Roll out with rolling pin into circles

Method #2:

  1. Roll out into one big piece
  2. Cut into circles (Diameter 5 ½ in). Use a bowl to be a guide
  3. Keep rolling out the dough and cutting circles until the dough is all used up.

Fillings

You can fill the empanadas with the same type of fillings or play with a few variations. Each filling recipe will make about 15 empanadas. After the preparation of the filling, you must let it cool. You can prepare the filling the day before and put it in the fridge.  You can even freeze it and thaw it when you want to make it.  

Beef Empanadas

  1. Fry 2 chopped onion and 1 crushed garlic clove with 2 tablespoon oil until tender
  2. Add 1 chopped red sweet bell pepper
  3. Mix in 1 lb ground beef
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Add 2-3 chopped hard boiled eggs, ½ cup olives, ½ cup raisins and 1 teaspoon cumin.

Tuna or Chicken Empanadas:

  1. Fry 2 chopped onion and 1 crushed garlic clove with 2 tablespoon oil until tender
  2. Add 1 chopped red sweet bell pepper
  3. Mix in 1 lb ground chicken or canned tuna (2 10oz cans)
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Add 2 fresh chopped tomatoes, 1 teaspoon Basil, and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper.

Ham and Cheese Empanadas:

  1. Fry 1 chopped onion and 1 crushed garlic clove with 2 tablespoon oil until tender
  2. Mix in 1 lb ham (cut into little pieces or strips), 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 lb Ricotta cheese and 1 cup shredded provolone/mozzarella.

Corn Empanadas:

  1. Fry 1 chopped onion and 1 crushed garlic clove with 2 tablespoon oil until tender
  2. Add ½ lb ham (cut into pieces or strips) and 1 lb corn
  3. Season with Salt and pepper
  4. Mix in 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  5. In 1 ½ cups milk dissolve 2-3 tablespoons flour.
  6. Mix in with the corn mixture.

Spinach Emapandas:

  1. Fry 1 chopped onion and 1 crushed garlic clove with 2 tablespoon oil until tender
  2. Mix in 1 lb mushrooms or 1 lb spinach and 1 cup of cheese.
  3. Add 1/2 lb ham and/or hardboiled egg, if you want.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Onion Empanadas:

  1. Fry 2 chopped onions and 1 crushed garlic clove with 2 tablespoon oil until tender
  2. Mix in ½ lb ham and ½ lb of shredded cheese
  3. Add two eggs to pull it together
  4. Season with salt and pepper

Putting them together

  1. Lay each pastry on a flat surface
  2. Place 1 tablespoon in the center of the circular dough
  3. Fold dough over in half, wetting the edges a little with water and make edges meet in a semi-circle over the filling
  4. Press edge with fork or fold over with fingers.

To see how to fold properly check out here.

In Argentina, they fold the empanadas by folding over with their fingers.  This is called Repulgue.  The empanadas come with a guide so that you know what type you are trying.  If you make different fillings of empanadas, then you can differentiate them by a different fold or design.  What we did was poke holes in the empanadas with a toothpick in order to differentiate the types.  For example, 2 for spinach, 3 for corn, and 4 for beef.

FRY:

  1. Heat 3 cups of oil in medium high heat. Be careful with frying because it is very hot and you can burn yourself.
  2. Put empanadas in hot oil until gold.
  3. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb the oil.

BAKE:

  1. Spray with vegetable spray
  2. Bake at 350° for 20 min until golden.

My Second Dollar Dish: Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo

May 4th, 2008


My dad always makes the Fettucini Alfredo in our family. Once, I walked into the kitchen to discover my mother making Fettucini Alfredo for dinner. It puzzled me. How did she know what to do? It was Dad’s recipe. I asked her about it and she looked at me like I was crazy. But in my young mind, only Dad could make Fettucini Alfredo.

In my family, we can all cook. Even my sister, who has now made her fame through Ramen, bakes amazing orgasmic Pots du Chocolate. Due to work, my father rarely has time to cook but he has invented some delicious dishes such as his famous ham-cucumber stuffed pork chops. Today, as I was craving his creamy alfredo sauce, I began to think about how my father has influenced my culinary development. He has always encouraged me to do what I love, be creative and push myself to do well. These values have spilled into my kitchen and impacted my own cooking. In my dad’s honor, I decided to tweak his original alfredo recipe by making a Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo.

I, also, really wanted to post another Dollar Dish since tomorrow is the deadline. I had bought ingredients to make stuffed red peppers for under $5 but I could not get excited for the dish. Instead, I found myself craving this alfredo sauce. So, I hope you will forgive me but this sauce was not exactly under $5 but it is possible. When I first created my Dollar Dish Duel, I went to the dollar store to check out what kind of food one could find for a dollar. I stumbled across a huge jar of roasted red peppers but I did not have any cash on me and paying a dollar with a credit card seemed silly. So when I had this idea for the alfredo today, my options were to either waste gas to go back to the dollar store or use the red pepper that I bought last week. I opted for roasting my own pepper. If you factor in the dollar jar of roasted red peppers with the whipping cream ($1.25), 1 cup of Parmesan (about $1), and pasta ($1), the dish comes to about $4.25. The dinner was great and there are leftovers for me to take for lunch tomorrow! There is still time to enter the duel…email me your submissions by tomorrow (May 5th). For details, click on the logo…


Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo

1 roasted Red Pepper, chopped
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1 box of pasta

Staples:
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Prepare pasta according to directions.
2. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted.
3. Saute garlic and red pepper in butter.
4. Add pasta to the saucepan.
5. Stir in whip cream and paremsan.
6. Cook until thickened and season with nutmeg.

P.S. How to roast a pepper? Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Please the pepper on a baking sheet and roast until the top begins to blacken. Rotate the pepper until all the sides are blackened. Remove from oven and place in a brown paper bag to cool. This helps the skin come off easily.