Posted November 24, 2018 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Beef, Ethnic

Almost every culture has its own version of a savory filling cooked inside dough – ravioli, dumplings, pasties, dosas, etc. This is South America’s contribution to the mix. There are probably as many empanada recipes as there are cooks, and there are plenty of creative ways to vary the recipe such as cooking small potato cubes with the beef or placing a slice of hardboiled egg on top of the filling. They are meant to be finger food, and can be frozen after assembly then thawed and baked at a later date. This recipe makes 20-24 empanadas

The dough

6 c all purpose flour (appx)
2 c water
2 tsp salt
1/2 c lard (preferred) or butter, plus a little extra

Bring the water, salt, and lard to a simmer and stir to melt the lard. Let come to room temperature. Add the flour a cup at a time, mixing to get a firm dough. You may not use all the four. Knead for a minute or two until smooth, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The filling

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 c pimento-stuffed green olives, cut in thirds
1/3 c dried currants or raisins
2 tsp dried oregano
A few grindings of black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB tomato paste

Saute the ground beef in a little oil until just browned. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 c broth or water and add to the pan along with the olives, currants, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Simmer slowly for a few minutes. Taste and correct salt if needed. If necessary, add a bit more water or broth to get a moist but not soupy mixture. Set aside to cool (may be refrigerated overnight at this time).

The assembly

Bring the filling to room temperature if needed. Break off chunks of the still-cold dough and form into balls about golf bell size or a little larger. Roll into 4-5 inch circles on a floured surface and place 2-3 TB of filling in the center. Moisten the edge with water and fold over, sealing by pressing with a fork. The goal is to trap as little air as possible inside. If the sealed edge is wider than you want you can trim a bit off with a sharp knife. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Oven at 375.

Final prep and baking

Use a pointy knife to cut a small slit in the top of each. Melt the extra lard or butter and brush over the surface. Bake for 15-20 min until nicely browned. Serve warm.

Pork and cabbage with Madiera

Posted October 13, 2018 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Pork, Uncategorized

The sweetness and grapey flavor of the wine is a perfect note in this dish. The recipe is quite simple and lets the pork and cabbage flavors come thru. Fresh cabbage makes a big difference. I made it in an InstaPot but surely it can be adapted for other methods.

1 2-3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c diced onion
1/2 c Marsala
1 c chicken or beef stock, divided
2 quarts cabbage in 1-2 inch chunks
5-6 boiling potatoes, peeled or not per your preference, cut in half

In the morning, salt and pepper the roast and let sit all day. Put a bit of oil in the insta-pot and heat on the sauté setting. Pat the meat dry and brown on all sides. Add the veg and stir for a few minutes. Turn off the pot and add the wine and half the stock. Cover and cook on the high pressure cooker setting for 1 hour. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 min then release the rest manually. Remove the cover and check the liquid level. If there’s at least an inch, you’re OK. If not, add the remaining 1/2 c stock. Add the cabbage and potatoes and stir in. Pressure cook on high for another 10 min. Turn pot off and let the pressure release naturally for 15 min then release the rest manually. Eat!

Jamaican Fish Stew

Posted April 22, 2018 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Uncategorized

This is a winner on many fronts. Very flavorful, it is a good way to feed fish to people who aren’t fond of fish in simpler presentations. Leftovers do well, also. You can use pretty much any white-fleshed fish: cod, haddock, mahi, etc. as long as the fillets aren’t too thin. Serve with white rice.

2 lbs fish in 2 inch chunks
2 limes
1 large or 2 small onions
4 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper such as Scotch bonnet
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3 TB tomato paste
4 tsp white or cider vinegar
1-1/2 tsp sugar

Dust the fish with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the juice of the limes. Set aside.

Coarsely dice the onion and slice the garlic. Put in a skillet with a bit of oil and the whole pepper (see note below), pepper flakes, thyme, and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the onion is just starting to color. Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, vinegar, and sugar and cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Add fish and any remaining marinade. Stir and cook slowly until fish is cooked thru, perhaps 5-7 minutes. Adjust salt and add a touch more vinegar and/or sugar if you think necessary. Remove whole pepper and serve.

Note: For more heat, cut the pepper in half before adding.


Congee with chicken, scallion relish, and crispy shallots

Posted March 24, 2018 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Uncategorized

Congee is Chinese comfort food at its best. At its simplest it is, like fried rice, something to do with your leftovers – cooked  rice, some shreds of meat and vegetables, cook in broth until the rice is soft and soupy. But it can be made as a more formal recipe, as this one, and is worthy of serving to guests.

The chicken:

2 large chicken thighs with bone and skin (about 1 lb)
1 tsp black pepper
1 TB oil
2 c low salt chicken stock
5 scallions, white and green parts, in 1 inch lengths
2 inch piece ginger cut into coins (no need to peel)
4 garlic cloves, halved (no need to peel)
1/4 c Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
1/3 c soy sauce
2 whole star anise
2 tsp Chinese hot pepper paste

Heat the oil in a soup pot and brown the chicken well on all sides. Remove excess oil from the pan. Turn chicken skin-side up, add all remaining ingredients, then simmer gently for 60-90 minutes until the meat is very tender. Remove chicken from the pan and take the meat off the bones, discarding bones and skin. Set aside. Strain cooking liquid thru a fine-meshed strainer. Set the broth aside and discard the solids. Shred the meat and set aside.

The Relish

5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 fresh hot red pepper such as a Thai bird chili or a ripe jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c unseasoned rice vinegar

Mix all ingredients and set aside

Crispy shallots

Thinly sliced shallots, about a cup
2 c vegetable oil

Place oil and shallots in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle bubbling and stir occasionally until golden brown. Strain and spread on a paper towel, salting lightly.

Note: Strain the shallot-cooking oil thru a paper coffee filter and save it. It can be used for frying again or as a tasty change to your salad dressing.

Final prep

1 c raw short-grained rice
Chicken cooking liquid
4 c water
2 c low salt chicken broth
Shredded chicken

Put all except the chicken in a heavy bottomed soup pot and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 1 to 1-1/2 hour, stirring frequently, until the rice is very soft and soupy. Add some more water if needed. Remove from heat, stir in the chicken, and serve in bowls, passing the relish and shallots separately.

Instant pot black bean soup

Posted March 11, 2018 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Soups

This hearty winter fave is ready in little more than an hour.

1-1/2 c dry black (turtle) beans, rinsed but not soaked
8 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 tennis ball-sized onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell  pepper, seeded and chopped
1 or 2 jalapeño pepper(s), seeded and chopped
3 large or 4 small cloves garlic, peeled and mnced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp white pepper (or use black pepper)
6 c chicken or vegetable broth
2 tb chopped cilantro


More chopped cilantro
sour cream

Using the pot’s saute setting, cook the bacon until just starting to brown. Remove most of the rendered fat, leaving about a TB behind. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and continue to saute, stirring, for another 5 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except cilantro, stir, and seal the pot. Pressure-cook on high pressure for 40 min, then let the pressure release on its own. Stir in the cilantro, adjust salt if needed, and serve with the garnishes.

Thai Red Curry with Tofu and Lentils

Posted February 2, 2018 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Uncategorized

This dish is very flavorful and loaded with protein from the tofu and lentils. Its main flavoring is Thai red curry paste, which fortunately you can get already prepared. Making it yourself, which I tried once, is a huge hassle because it contains a lot of obscure ingredients such as galangal and lemon grass. But excellent commercial versions are available (I recommend the Mae Ploy brand) and you can freeze what you don’t use for another day. This recipe is flexible, for example, substitute parboiled green beans or broccoli for the snow peas, or perhaps add some cubed potato. I like this served on jasmine rice.

1 lb firm tofu
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers
6 oz snow peas
1-1/2 TB Thai red curry paste
1 TB red miso paste
1 c lentils (not red lentils, but pretty much any other kind will work)
3/4 c coconut milk
1/2 c fresh basil, slivered
1 TB lime juice
1/2 c slivered scallions

Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch slabs and place the slabs on a cutting board. Place another cutting board on top and weight it with a couple of books or cans of food. When much of the water has run out, cut the tofu into 1/2 cubes and toss with a bit of salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Trim and seed the pepper(s) and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Set aside. Take the strings off the snow peas and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 TB of vegetable oil and then add the curry paste. Sizzle gentle for a minute or so, until fragrant, and add the miso, lentils, and 2 c water. Stir well, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer slowly for about 1/2 hour until the lentils are tender and most of the water has been absorbed.

Add the coconut milk, tofu, peppers, and snow peas. Simmer for a few minutes until the veg are crisp-tender. Stir in the basil and lime juice and serve, topped with the scallions.



Chicken “shakshuka”

Posted January 13, 2018 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Uncategorized

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish that, in a nutshell, consists of eggs poached in a well-spiced tomato sauce. It is great! I was making it the other night and to my horror discovered that I had no eggs–but I did have some boned, skinned chicken thighs. I subbed the thighs for the eggs and the result was very tasty. Serve with toasted pita bread and a salad.

6 boned, skinned chicken thighs
1-28 oz can of peeled plum tomatoes
4 fresh Anaheim chilis
1 medium onion
4 large or 6 small garlic cloves
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 TB paprika, either sweet or spicy, your preference
1 tsp black pepper
Chopped parsley

Stem and seed the peppers and peel the onion. Chop both. Peel garlic and slice thinly. Put tomatoes and their juice in a bowl and crush with your fingers.

In a deep skillet, saute the peppers and onion in a little oil for a few minutes and then add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. Stir for a minute then add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes. Taste for salt, then add the chicken and stir around until the chicken is well covered by the sauce. Cover and keep at a low simmer for 30 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley.

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