put on your sombrero and grab some queso

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I was about to apologize for not posting in such a long time, but I guess I should first apologize for my title…#sorryimnotsorry #fml #lol

OK, let’s get the fuck down to business. A few days ago I made some empanadas, using this recipe for guidance. Empanadas are baked/fried pastries filled with whatever-the-hell and found in Latin American, Southern European, and Southeast Asian cuisine. The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread (all of this via Wikipedia. Ermahgerd, Werkerperderer!) I’m surprised the translation specifies wrapping something in bread…does that happen so often that it warrants its own verb?

Oh, I forgot about tacos. And burritos.

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Since I’m rapidly progressing in my culinary skills, and also because I couldn’t find any pre-made at the local Kill-Me-Now-Kroger, I made my own empanada dough. I don’t think I did it the authentic way, which I’ve heard involves using lard (I could have finally made use of Cat!), but I did do it the really freaking simple way.

Basically, you mix 3 c flour with a couple pinches of salt, 1 1/2 sticks of cold butter (this one’s for you, Paula Deen), an egg, and 4-5 tbsp. water. I kind of eyeballed everything and mixed it all together with my hands, but I’m guessing a food processor would have been helpful.

I had a couple of friends over to help me cook/eat the food. Stephanie acted as sous chef and took photos. Leanna rolled out the dough with an empty wine bottle (who has a rolling pin?) and, employing the use of her production design skills, grabbed a vase that I had totally forgotten about to cut out small circles.

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While she worked with the dough (which, shit, I forgot to mention—you need to chill it for, like, 30 minutes before handling it), I started the empanada filling.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• 1/4 of a large white onion, diced
• 1 c green peas (the original recipe calls for “fresh shelled,” as well as “twice peeled fava beans,” but I’m not a fucking trophy wife with enough time and money to prance around organic markets in 6-inch heels and buy esoteric beans for my personal chef to peel, not once, but twice, so I bought a can of green peas), for Christ’s sake
• 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
• 1 tbsp. chopped thyme (I didn’t have this…)
• 1/2 lb of asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces. We used a whole bunch, so I had leftover filling that I later used for pasta. Genius!
• 2 tbsp. butter
• Salt and pepper

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Melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the diced onions and cook for a few minutes, then add in the asparagus and, like, half a can of drained green peas. Or thrice shelled mystical fava beans, if you’re a princess. Add in some herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and then mix in the goat cheese. The filling will become creamy and delicious-smelling.

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To assemble, take your little circles of dough, place a spoonful of filling in the center, and then fold the circle in half. Make an egg wash with a whisked egg and some water and brush this around the edges to help seal the pastry. Score around the edge with a fork to finish the packaging process, and brush your egg wash over the tops of each empanada.

If you feel like it, you can also make an empanada-cat. Empanacat. Catpanada.

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Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tops and edges are golden brown. Naturally, my oven charred some of the edges and left the tops baby-bottom white.

Now for the important part. This sauce is crucial. Like, seriously. It’s a balsamic chimichurri sauce that I found on the same blog—super easy to make, fresh-tasting from the herbiness, and totally something that I want to pour over my face and naked body.

Hmm, scratch the last part.

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Here’s all the shit that you need to mix together for the sauce. Try to use it the same day you make it.

• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano (I didn’t have this but used dried instead)
• 2 tbsp. chopped parsley (yes! The parsley I’ve been growing finally came in handy!)
• 4 minced garlic cloves
• 5 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• 3 tbsp. finely chopped green onions (or scallions…aren’t they the same thing? Or are scallions those little oniony-looking things?)

Mix all of these things together, and enjoy. We opted to drizzle it over the tops of the empanadas in a very chic way.

The dough was a little dry, so I would recommend looking for a more authentic recipe or simply buying pre-made dough. Enjoy!

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whatever wednesday

Maybe I can make mac ‘n’ cheese without following a recipe, I thought naively. It was a Wednesday, warm outside and growing darker. I was, as usual, pantsless and watching shows on Bravo about Rachel Zoe/rich housewives/the Kardashians, etc. (I live alone.)

(Well, actually, I live with a 95-lb cat, who if I haven’t mentioned is at all times up for adoption.)

And thus began a new tradition: “whatever Wednesday.” Hopefully by next week this will somehow magically morph into “totally awesome, delicious culinary masterpiece Wednesday,” but not today.

No, this Wednesday I was too lazy to check up on how to make a roux, so I heated up some oil and then added in about a handful of flour. After a while this mixture turned brown and started to separate and smell funny, like burned popcorn. The underdeveloped logical side of my brain kicked in, and I decided to pour this out and start over. With butter and flour. That didn’t really thicken, either.

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Well, what the hell! I added in some cheese, anyway. The mixture became stickier, so I added some milk. Voila—that allowed it to thicken a little. Then I added some random spices (meaning, what I had in my cabinet, meaning, garlic salt) and, well, eventually I added some marinara sauce from a jar because I had stopped giving a f*ck about 10 minutes ago.

The sauce wasn’t awful. I cooked some locally made conchiglie pasta that was really excellent and used the sauce sparingly. Then I watched a pro-vegan documentary on Netflix called Vegucated and decided that I never wanted to eat anything ever again. Or, at least I’ll feel guilty for more than 5 minutes the next time I drunkenly break down and guzzle a bacon cheeseburger.

I have a question for anyone with any domestic know-how: why does water boil over like this when you cook something starchy, like pasta? How can this be prevented? I’ve tried adding/subtracting water, but this doesn’t seem to make any difference.

photo(10)She’s seriously asking a question about boiling water…oh, brother.

special dinner

So, I might have just had a really strong mojito at Rancho Alegre, a great Cuban restaurant in town (on MLK—they have snazzy live jazz music). And now I’m about to prepare a meal, but I figure I can’t be any worse now than I would have been sober. Maybe even better.

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My girlfriend, Gillian, is about to be here for a weekend visit from Hendersonville, N.C. (aka the land where fun goes to die…or where old people go to get ready to die…she’s there because she works at a local outdoors school). I thought it would be charming to prepare a meal for her consisting of some of her favorite foods. Like ribs, even though we are both vegetarians (ironic? Maybe. Sometimes you just crave meat, though. After a few drinks, I always want a bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys. I know, I’m awful). And mashed potatoes, if the potatoes aren’t rotten yet. And biscuits with country gravy.

[As a completely irrelevant side note, my idiotic cat couldn’t cope with the fact that I accidentally placed the lid of the litter box on backwards, so he peed all over the kitchen rug. Is it socially acceptable/legal to euthanize him? Let me know in the comments section.]

Later

The potatoes I had were a little soft and unnervingly sprouty, so I left them alone. The ribs were easy enough to make: pre-prepared hunks of frozen tofu with sauce. I don’t know if preheating the oven and sticking them in counts as cooking. For now, I think so (I’ll get more complex, gradually. Like, I’ll buy things that aren’t pre-made).

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I did make homemade country gravy. This is super easy and super delicious. I think I could slather it on a tennis ball and eat it/choke/not care that I was choking because it would taste so heavenly.

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Here’s how to make it:

• Heat up 1/2 c vegetable oil. (I only had olive oil, and that seemed to work just fine.)
• Whisk in 3/4 c all-purpose flour, half a handful of salt, and half a handful (I added more just because I like it) black pepper.
• Cook this for about ten minutes.
• Add 4 c milk, slowly, stirring until all (or most of) the lumps are gone and the gravy is nice and thick, like an angel’s loogie.

The biscuits were pre-made also, but so yummy. The next morning we had the leftovers with scrambled eggs.

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(Gillian cookin’)

Until next time!