Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Repost of Empanaditas de Guayaba

 I decided to re-post this recipe since it always reminds me of Halloween.

We arrived in this country in the summer of 1962. One night in late October there was a knock at our door. My mother opened the door to find two boys, dirty and shoeless with their begging hands extended. She quickly ran into the kitchen and retrieved some slices of bread which she tearfully handed to them, blessing them in Spanish and explaining it was all she had to give. Then she sat at the kitchen table to cry.
What's wrong with you, my teenage uncle asked?
I didn't know that in this country there was such misery and hunger. Those poor boys!, my mother bawled.
What? …  They're in costume. It's Halloween!

This was new information to absorb. What concept was this? Children going door to door begging for food? The holiday was explained to her by those who had come years earlier. The next year, my mother was prepared. She baked for several hours the night before and wrapped each Empanadita de Guayaba in aluminum foil.

A couple years later when my sister and I were old enough, my grandmother would walk us from house to house,  Now remember, she taught us,  when the door opens you say the magic words "Treeco Tree Alloween!" Years later we realized the magic words were "Trick or Treat Halloween;" nevertheless, be they in English or Spanglish, we never got a treat as good as our mother's Empanaditas de Guayaba.

The ingredients for this recipe are few, but it is time consuming. You have been warned.

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter or margarine
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
guava paste
1 egg beaten

Let the cream cheese and butter soften. Add the flour and mix together. Use your hands to knead into a ball and refrigerate for a couple of hours. It will be crumbly at first and you will think that I was off my rocker with the measurements, but keep kneading it, it will come together.
Cut up the guava paste into small pieces. (If you've never heard of it or cannot find it where you are, then you can Americanize this recipe with any other kind of fruit paste or jam).

Take a small portion of your dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about  1/8 of an inch or thinner. I know you don't have a ruler in the kitchen and it is ridiculous to try to figure out, so thinner than pie dough will suffice. You can use a cookie cutter or a drinking glass will work well also to form round shapes. Place one piece of guava in the center and fold over. Press the edges closed with a fork. Repeat this process. Put a layer of egg wash over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes (check on them, I don't use a timer and ovens are temperamental). Warning: Filling is hot! Let them cool before you try them.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baked Shrimp

My friend gave me this recipe over 25 years ago. For a couple of decades I had it written on an index card labeled "Katy's Shrimp." In moving up here I lost the index card (I'm sure it will turn up when I least expect it), but of course with a new piece of technology called "the internet," I was able to send her a message requesting the recipe again.... here it is with some adjustments.

2 lbs large shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails on
1/2 cup butter  (I used olive oil)
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup minced parsley (I used cilantro)
a splash of lemon juice
3 large cloves garlic, minced (I used more garlic)
a splash of Worcestershire sauce
a splash of hot sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine all ingredients except shrimp and breadcrumbs in a baking dish. Mix well. Remove 1/4 of this mixture and set aside. Add shrimp to baking dish and mix thoroughly. Combine breadcrumbs with reserved sauce and sprinkle over shrimp. Bake 20 minutes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Empanadas de Manzana

If you want to learn something, teach it! It's immeasurable how much I've learned about ingredients and cooking since I started this blog. By showing you, my readers, what I cook, you have taught me how to become better at it, and have inspired me to investigate and plunge into new areas of cooking.

I have posted several recipes for empanadas this year, each time using a different recipe for the crust.  I felt I had enough confidence to venture off on my own without a recipe at hand and prepare an empanada dough. I managed to make these apple empanadas from scratch using the ingredients I had at hand and my new-found confidence.

For the Dough:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
2 tbsp Crisco shortening
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ice water

In a large bowl mix all your ingredients together using a fork. I know you may think there has to be a certain order to incorporating the ingredients, but that is really not the case, at least not for these. Work the dough as much as possible with the fork before putting your hands in there, gathering it and kneading it to form a large ball. Separate the dough into 2 balls, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (more time would be better, even the next day).

For the Filling:
4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces (I had one Granny Smith and 3 Red Delicious)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 squeeze of lemon juice

Mix all these ingredients in a bowl. Chop your apples finely. (Do as I say, not as I did) because large chunks will break through the dough.

To assemble:
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 350. Take out the refrigerated dough. Unwrap one ball and separate in half, then in half again and in half again so that you have 8 sections. From these into small bowls. Sprinkle flour a clean surface an roll out each small ball into a circular shape (sort of circular, it won't be exact). Place about 1 tablespoon of your apple filling in the center of your empanada. Fold over, press the sides together, then pinch and fold up as you go. (I'm not very good at this, it requires practice, do the best you can.) or you can press the edges together with a fork. Repeat. You will have a total of 16 empanadas (8 from each orginal ball). At this point you can freeze some for baking at another time.

Place your empanadas on a baking dish and brush on your egg wash. Pinch them on top a couple of with a toothpick.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Papitas Rellenas con Jamon • Breaded Potato & Ham Balls

I made these strictly by chance with leftovers. Over the weekend I had ground some ham in the hopes that I would get enough impetus to make croquetas. I had made mashed potatoes for supper the night before and had plenty left over. My will to make croquetas quickly faded. That night I stared at the ham and the mashed potatoes. Ah ha! I will join these two in matrimony and make little papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes), but to stuff them just seemed sooooo time consuming.... It couldn't hurt to mix the ham into the potatoes after I sauteed some onions and put it all together? Indeed it couldn't, and thus I proceeded.

  • 1 1/2 cups ground ham (this is appoximate, I wasn't thinking blog, so I didn't measure)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups mashed potatoes made a day before (not too soft –– again I didn't measure)
  • flour
  • 1 egg, beaten with a couple tablespoons of water add
  • bread crumbs (but alas, I had no breadcrumbs... I had oat meal flour and it seemed appropriate)
  • oil for frying
Sautee your onions and mix in your ham. Let cool in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and mix. Form small balls in the palm of your hands with about one tablespoon of your mixture. Refrigerate these for at least one hour.

Take out three bowls. Pour flour into the first, the egg wash into the second and your bread crumbs (or in my case, oatmeal flour) into the third. Pass your potato ball through each, completely coating all around and transfer to a plate. You can refrigerate them at this point, freeze them or fry them.

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Drop your potato balls in one by one turning with a slotted spoon until golden. Fry these in batches. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Yummy. Crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Since I didn't think I was headed anywhere with these, I didn't take pictures at the beginning, but you get the gist from theese.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Meatless Monday: Roasted Acorn Squash and Onions with Long Grain and Wild Rice

Calabaza, Calabaza
todo el mundo
pa' su casa!

This is a simple, delicious and healthy recipe. I went ahead and enlisted some help from a box of Zatarains Long Grain and Wild Rice.

1 acorn squash (I don't really know how big it was or what it weighed but it yielded about 3 cups of squash)
4 small white onions or 2 large ones quarted.
olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
coarse sea salt

1 Box Zatarains Long Grain and Wild Rice.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 F. Cut your squash in half and take the seeds out using a spoon. Peel the squash and cut into chunks about 1inch square. Toss your squash and onions in  a bowl with your olive oil along with a liberal shaking of sea salt. Transfer onto a baking dish leaving space between the pieces. Roast for about 40 minutes, turning the veggies halfway.

In the meantime, prepare your rice according to package directions. Transfer your rice onto a large bowl and add the roasted squash and onions. Lightly toss together and serve.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Full Moon Last Night

Here's a picture of the moon from last night. Where are the food pictures and the recipes? Ahh, I've been lazy, not of cooking but of writing it all out. This blogging business gets tiring, but I do have some pictures in the camera and something sitting in the fridge.  Check back soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meatless Monday: Garbanzo Fritters and Cilantro Dip

Yes, I buy vegetable oil by the gallon. Some people may think that I'm always frying something, and I usually always am. Growing up in our Cuban household there was always a side dish of something fried, usually plantains, yuca or boniato but many times fritters.

For the Fritters:
15 oz canned garbanzo beans, drained
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 egg
1 tbsp all purpose flour

In a food processor or blender puree the garbanzo beans with the onion and garlic and egg, mix in the cumin and salt and cilantro. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the flour. Heat a skillet with about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil. Take a tablespoon of your mixture and form it into a small ball in the palm of your hand. Drop it into the oil and brown on all sides. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Do this in batches. It should yield 12-14 fritters.

For the Dip:
2 heaping tbsp mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
dash of lime juice

Mix these ingredients together.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Arroz con Puerco y Chorizo

This is just another one of those variations on yellow rice. I had a couple of pork chops in the freezer and a Spanish chorizo in the pantry, and 6 people to feed. With a side salad and some bread, dinner for six.

1 large yellow onion or medium red onion
6 cloves garlic, pressed
2 pork chops, diced
1 Spanish chorizo, diced
2 cups long grain rice
4 1/2 cups water
dash of Bijol (annato for coloring)
chicken flavor bouillon (optional)
salt to taste (if necessary)
olive oil

Spanish chorizo has a lot of flavor so it is not necessary to use many spices for this.

Sautee your onion and garlic in olive oil, add your pork and chorizo, sautee a bit. Add a cup of water and simmer until the pork is fully cooked and tender (about 30 minutes). Add 3 1/2 cups water, your bouillon (optional) and bring to a boil. Add the 2 cups of rice, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Check in 15 minutes, stir. Add water if needed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bring a Bib: Enchilada de Langosta for Two

How do you like my Spanglish title?
So I was at the supermarket a couple of weeks ago looking for shrimp when I spotted packages of frozen (I know) lobster claws on special. I haven't had lobster in forever so I snatched up a bag.  I'm used to Florida lobster which has no claws, so I wasn't quite sure what to do with these. I opened the bag and there were seven of them. Doing a little math I figured it was only enough for 2... my daughter and me, and we like them enchilada.  For those of you who have been following my blog you've seen me make this sauce before, but what the heck? Here we go again.

7 lobster claws
1 cup onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup dry sherry
salt to taste
olive oil
a few sprigs of parsley, chopped

Make sure your lobster is cracked. Heat a pot with about 2 tbsp olive oil. Sautee your onions and garlic. Add the water and the lobster. Add your soy sauce, hot sauce, Worchestershire sauce, ketchup, sherry and salt. Simmer on low for about an hour for the flavors to meld and the liquid to reduce. Add your chopped parsley in the last 15 mintues.

Halfway through the cooking process I thought I should test the lobster, so I pulled one out and realized that the shell was so hard that I was going to have to crack it further; otherwise, the mess at the dinner table would be tremendous. I ended up taking them all out and cracking them to expose the claw meat which ended up better in my opinion because the sauce saturated the lobster meat even more.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meatless Monday: Sopa de Ajo • Garlic Soup

The first time I had Sopa de Ajo was 25 years ago in a well-known restaurant called Las Cuevas de Luis Candela in Madrid, Spain.  It was so filling that I did not order an entree. This is a simple peasant soup that is easy to make and very tasty.

4 thick slices of day old bread such as French or Italian
6 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced
4 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
5 cups vegetable broth (traditionally it should be beef, but I'm making this vegetarian)

Heat a skillet with your olive oil and lightly cook your 'til aromatic, do not let it burn! Remove the garlic. In the same skillet with the oil, brown your bread slices and set aside. In a large pot heat your vegetable broth with the olive oil from the skillet, the garlic you set aside and the paprika. Add salt to taste. (Traditionally, the next step would be to drop your bread into this pot and let it all cook for about 15 minutes at which point you break open your eggs and drop them in one by one until cooked – about 5-10 minutes)  I'm going to prepare the soup in individual servings because I'm only going to serve myself. (I can freeze the leftover soup broth and add the bread and egg when ready). So, to make individual servings, heat your oven to 350F.  Place a cookie sheet in the oven. Using individual oven proof soup bowls, place a slice of bread on the bottom of your bowl, add your broth, and drop your egg on top. Place your bowls on the cookie sheet and heat for about 10 minutes until the egg is cooked. Carefully remove your soup bowls and enjoy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Petit What?

I had every intention of making petit fours. I figured I'd practice now, so that I could astound everyone during the holidays, but you know how you get an idea in your head and you rationalize: "It can't be that difficult." Then you convince those around you –– "Hey, it'll be fun!" ... HA! I'm not even going to tell you the mess, the time, the expense and how much frosting was wasted on what turned out NOT to be petit fours, but small, not very attractive little cakes. Either way, my daughter, niece and I had a fun afternoon and although these little cakes aren't even worthy of this display, they are quite delicious! Enjoy your Sunday.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cuban Shepherd's Pie???

I've been meaning to make this for a while. It's difficult for me to make all the recipes I would like to  because of the likes/dislikes and food restrictions of my family. My daughter can't eat dairy... that eliminates a lot, no cheeses, no creamy sauces, no mashed potatoes! My mother can't eat eggs or red meat.... yeah, I know! My husband doesn't like olives, peppers or raisins... and here I am going to make a meat dish (which my mother can't eat) with olives, peppers and raisins (which my husband doesn't like) and mashed potatoes (which my daughter can't eat). The only ingredient that suits everyone on is the sweet fried plantains that lay on the bottom layer! Here we go.

First we are going to prepare our PICADILLO. I have posted this recipe before, but I will repeat it again here as I'm adjusting it slightly.

1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 cup tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup Sherry
about a dozen pimento stuffed Spanish olives
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup water
1 carrot, sliced
salt to taste

Brown and strain the ground beef. Set aside. Warm olive oil on medium heat and saute onions, peppers, and garlic until limp. Add the bay leaf. Add the ground beef, tomato sauce, sherry, water, cumin and Sherry. Add the olives and carrots and salt. Cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes.

You can used instant mashed for this if you like, prepare enough for about 8. Otherwise, while your picadillo cooks, peel 5 large red potatoes, slice and boil. Prepare your mashed as you normally would. I mash mine until creamy with milk, butter and salt.

I cheated and bought a couple boxes of GOYA frozen sweet plantains that only require frying. It's difficult for me to find ripe plantains here, but if you have access to them you need to buy some that are turning black (if they are black they may be too soft and fall apart). You will need about 3 plantains.  Peel them and slice them diagonally about 1/2 inch thick and fry them in vegetable oil. (see picture) Let them sit on a paper-towel lined plate 'til ready to assemble.

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a rectangular baking pan place your plantains in a layer at the bottom. (I was a little short on plantains, it's best to have enough to fully cover the bottom of the pan). Next, using a slotted spoon (you don't want too much liquid) transfer your picadillo in a layer on top of your plaintains. Next comes the potatoes, smooth them out with a spoon to cover the picadillo completely and form a seal to the edges of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes. (I turned on the broiler for the last 5 to brown the potato top).