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.

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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Pillowy Pretzels and Better than Pub Cheese

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Sometimes you just need a cloud of a pretzel and a gooey cheese in your life. May this fill that need. I recommend starting the pretzels first, prepping the cheese ingredients while the dough proofs, then beginning to heat the cheese ingredients when the pretzels go into the oven. That should get your pretzels and cheese done at just about the same time.

Pretzels:

Combine 1 1/2 cups room temperature water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast (1 packet) in a large bowl. Let sit 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to wake up. Add 4 1/2 cups flour, and 4 tablespoons of melted salted butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Remove to a lightly floured surface to knead by hand or by stand mixer, approximately 5 minutes. If the dough is too wet, dust a tablespoon of flour over it and knead in. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of a bowl or from your hands easily.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm room or atop a heating pad set to warm for about an hour, or until dough has about doubled in size.

When dough has doubled, divide into about 12 even pieces and roll into a ball. Separately, beat one egg and a tablespoon of water together for an egg wash.

Bring 5 cups of water and 1/3 cup baking soda to a rolling boil in a pot. Boil each dough ball approximately 40 seconds in the mixture, then remove to a parchment or silicone covered sheet pan. Brush dough balls with egg wash. Top with large grain kosher salt or pretzel salt. Bake about 15 minutes at 450 degrees, or until pretzels are dark golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool about five minutes.

Chipotle Cheese Sauce:

Start with a 2-cup bag of shredded cheddar cheese and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Zip the bag shut and shake to coat the cheese with the cornstarch. Pour this into a non-stick frying pan along with one 12 ounce can of evaporated milk. It’s really important to get evaporated and not condensed milk. Begin to melt together over medium heat. Use a blender to blend three chipotle peppers and two tablespoons of liquid from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Pour this into your cheese and evaporated milk mixture. Add 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. You can also use mild green chiles or diced jalapenos if you’re not a fan of chipotle. Continue mixing together over medium heat until the cheese has melted. Serve hot.

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Controversial California Clam Chowder

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Listen, here’s the thing. I know there are some ingredients you wouldn’t find in clam chowder very often. Like goldfish crackers and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. I also know you usually would cook this with fresh clams, but I like the smoked flavor you can get from tinned clams and that you don’t have to fight anyone to rinse off sand. So if I acknowledge that this could be controversial and label it as Californian, perhaps I won’t offend diehard New England chowder aficionados.

First, we make a roux. Melt two tablespoon butter in a small pan then add in two tablespoons of flour. Allow to cook for about five minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add 1 large diced onion, 3 finely sliced stalks of celery, one finely diced leek, greens removed, 1/4 cup minced garlic, 3 bay leaves, one large carrot, peeled and shredded, 1 russet potato, washed, peeled, and diced, 4 strips of cooked and diced bacon, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Stir frequently and allow vegetables to soften, about five minutes. Add 1 3/4 cup half and half and 2 tins smoked baby clams. Cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups clam juice (two 8 oz. bottles). Cook 15-20 minutes, then stir in roux. Cook at a gentle simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Finally, remove bay leaves and stir in 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.

Pour into bowls and top with Goldfish crackers in lieu of oyster crackers. Trust me.

 

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