Faux Pho Empanadas

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I’d been toying with the idea of pho and empanadas for a while before finally getting around to finding the star anise and testing them out. I’d predicted correctly that they’d be delicious!

For the dough:

Mix together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes, 1 egg, 1/3 cup ice water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. It should form a shaggy dough. Knead a couple of times with your hands, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

For the filling:

Brown 1 pound ground beef, then add 1/2 diced white onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 3 thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the zest of two limes, 1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Bring to a light simmer and continue simmering approximately 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the sauce:

Blend together 1 bunch lemon basil leaves (approximately 1 cup), about 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, 4 jalapenos, seeds and tops removed,  green onions, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

When everything is thoroughly chilled and cooled, break off 1/4 cup sized pieces of dough, shape into a ball, and roll out into a flat circle. Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling. Roll over the edges and crimp using a fork or your fingers. You can get pretty fancy with how you secure your empanada edges. I have not gotten that fancy. Brush with egg wash (1 egg whisked together with 1 tablespoon of water) and cook at 400 degrees until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. You can use an air fryer at this step if you have one. Serve hot with generous helpings of the dipping sauce.

Saucy

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In a food processor, crush 1/4 cup raw almonds until finely ground. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 cup packed basil (if you use purple, it gets to be crushed almond purple sauce), the zest of one lemon, the juice of one lemon, three seeded and de-stemmed red jalapenos, and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Process until smooth. You may need to add additional olive oil to get a consistency you like.

Tastes amazing on roast chicken.

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Orange, Earl Grey, and Matcha

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Madeleines are cookies that most folks find impressive but are secretly really easy to make. They are also among my favorite cookies. Of these three recipes, the orange are my favorite!

Preheat oven to 375.

With a mixer, beat together one egg, 2 teaspoons milk, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Add 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Combine thoroughly.

Add 4 tablespoons melted but cooled butter, and whip until thick ribbons are formed by your batter.

For orange: mix in the zest of one orange. For Earl Grey: mix in two teaspoons of Earl Grey tea and the zest of one lemon. For matcha: mix in two teaspoons of matcha powder.

Fill each madeleine mold 2/3 full. Bake approximately 11 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. When cooled, dust with powdered sugar if you feel so inclined. The matcha always end up more pillowy than the others for me, just fair warning.

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Farro Salad

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Bring two cups of chicken stock to a boil, add one cup of rinsed farro. Reduce to simmer, cover. Cook 25 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat. Let cool.

Once cool, add 1/4 cup feta, 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, four diced green onions, 1/2 an English cucumber, diced, 4 pepperoncini, diced, 3 tablespoons finely cut mint, and one tablespoon olive oil. Stir to combine.

You can add diced chicken if you feel so inclined.

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Frenched Southern Biscuits

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Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, stir together 3 3/4 cups flour, 1/8 cup of herbes de provence, 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Add 1/2 cup of butter, cubed, and mix with hands until pea sized crumbles form.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup half and half, and 1/4 cup honey. Add to dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. Transfer dough to a well floured surface and pat into a 1″ thick disk. Using a 3″ cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and transfer to parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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Irish Stew

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Pair with cream cheese gnocchi in lieu of mashed potatoes for a twist.

In a heavy skillet cook 4 slices of diced bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a stewpot, reserving the bacon fat. Do not put the stewpot over heat just yet. Season 2 1/2 pounds cubed boneless beef chuck with salt and pepper, then sear in the bacon fat over high heat, approximately 5 minutes each side. Place beef in stew pot with bacon.

Turn skillet heat down to medium, cook and stir 2 diced onions until lightly browned, or about 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons minced garlic and cook until soft, about 1 minute. Add 15 ounce can of Guinness or other dark beer into the skillet and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour cooking liquid from skillet into stew pot. Stir in 6 ounce can of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons thyme, 3 shredded carrots, 3 stalks finely chopped celery, 3 small bay leaves, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon black pepper and enough chicken broth to cover everything.

Bring stew to a gentle simmer, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer until beef is fork-tender, about two hours.

Remove cover and bring to medium-high heat. Remove bay leaves. Bring stew to a low oil and cook about 15 minutes, or until stew has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

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