Thursday, April 10, 2014

Matilde's Classic Beef Empanadas

From one of my very favorite bedtime-reading cookbooks, Gran Cocina Latina, by Maricel E. Presilla (Thanks, Mom!). I by-golly LOVE these empanadas. I have made them twice (with generous help and slight variability). Argentine brother Ignatius was like 'eh, it was pretty ok.' I haven't quite gotten the knack of making them juicy enough for him. Also, Argentine brother Ignatius generally shows his approbation in an 'eh, what's up doc' kind of a way, so who knows? Anyway, I LOVE them.

The first time I assembled them as written, with a wedge of egg and an olive. The next time, on Ignatius' suggestion, both eggs and olives got chopped and incorporated. I liked it both ways. The consensus of the group was, if I remember correctly, wedge-and-olive; I think I will argue on the side of incorporation. Also, I like cheap black olives, and no foodie will talk me out of that love.

Maricel Presilla provides a recipe for dough, which I am sure is delicious, but she also includes the note that "you can use 30 La Saltena frozen dough disks for flaky empanadas (hojaldradas)" so I do that.

Makes 30.

30 La Saltena frozen dough disks for flaky empanadas (hojaldradas)

8 oz ground beef
1 T plus 1 t salt
2 medium white onions (about 1 lb), peeled and finely chopped (about 2 c)
2 T butter
2 T corn oil
1 1/2 t freshly rendered suet or lard (I think I used bacon fat both times)
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 1/2 t sugar
1 1/2 t AP flour
1 t black pepper
1/2 - 3/4 t aji molido or crushed red pepper flakes
30 green or black olives, drained and pitted
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into 8 wedges each
2 large eggs, beaten with 1/2 t water, for glaze

Making the filling: Boil 2 qts water and 1 T salt over medium heat. Reduce to low, add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes. This will stink up the house. Empanadas are worth it. Drain.

Return onions to the pot, add the meat, 2 T butter, oil, suet/lard/fat, oregano, sugar, flour, both peppers, and the remaining 1 t salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through but has not browned-- it must remain juicy. Taste for salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Cover the filling with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

Assembling: Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 F.

Check the filling for seasoning and salt if needed. Place the olives and eggs on a plate.

Lay one dough disk on a work surface and place 1 T filling in the center. Top with 1 olive and 1 egg wedge. Fold into a half-moon, and pinch the middle of the edges together. Seal the empanada by pleating it-- the true decorative pleat is called a repulgo, and my brothers can do it and I cannot. They will be delicious anyway. Place on baking sheets at least 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with all empanadas. Brush with egg wash.

Baking: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, switching position of baking sheets after about 12 minutes, until the empanadas are golden and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom. Serve hot, she says, but I love them cold for lunch.

Wasabied Steak & Noodles

Mom made this recipe from a recent Penzey's catalog last week. I knew I would enjoy it-- I love all the components! But I was worried no one else would, and I would feel guilty, somehow, that only I was enjoying this dish that not only took a big expensive hunk of beef but also the special purchase of wasabi. I was very happy Mom would try it though, since the description excited me. Turns out everyone liked it! Or seemed to. And I really liked it! I will note, in true recipe-review style, that she quadrupled the beef, doubled the noodles-- and tripled the sauce as a sort of compromise. Also, we used fresh garlic (5 cloves) and a 1 1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger, minced, and fettucine. This base recipe makes only 2 servings, which is pretty perfect for me, but the blurb notes that it is easily multiplied.

Wasabied Steak & Noodles

8 oz strip steak
1/4 t minced ginger
1/4 t granulated garlic
1/4 t pepper

4 oz egg noodles, wide or extra wide
2 t olive oil
granulated garlic, minced ginger
2 t rice vinegar

1 t wasabi powder
1 T water
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t white sesame seeds
1/2 t black sesame seeds

Bring 4 c water to a boil for pasta. Season both sides of steak with ginger, garlic, and pepper. Heat a stovetop grill, grill pan, or heavy duty fry pan over medium-high heat. Cook beef until medium-rare-- usually 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steak. Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest while cooking the noodles. Cook the egg noodles in the boiling water. Drain, and toss with olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic and ginger. Add rice vinegar to the noodles and toss. Mix the wasabi with water, and stir to blend. Then mix with soy sauce and sesame seeds. Cube steak and add to noodles. Drizzle with wasabi-soy mix and toss again to combine and blend flavors. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie

From the New York Times, November 15, 2006

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
¾ cup maple syrup
2¼ cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust (see recipe).

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with pouring spout. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
3. Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
Yield: One 9-inch pie, 8 servings.