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.

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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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Roasted Garlic and Chipotle Sauce

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Roast four heads of garlic (instructions available here). When cooled, remove roasted cloves. In a food processor, combine roasted garlic, 1 can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, zest of two limes, juice of one lime, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Pulse to combine.

This recipe is incredibly easy but the flavor payoff is equally incredible. Because the canned chipotles are pretty mild, this isn’t spicy- just flavorful! I like to use it on the roast chicken, but it tastes amazing on eggs and most savory foods. I’m drizzling the leftover sauce over nachos tonight!

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Mango-a-go-goes with Lime

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I often find that graham cracker crusts are a bit heavily flavored for me and then pies have to be sweeter to hold their own. Plus, the idea of a citrus fruit with shortbread makes me think of Scottish lemon curd on shortbread, which I love together. This tart is my answer to a cheesecake, but this feels a lot lighter and less sweet but still very flavorful.

Shortbread tart:

Combine 1 cup salted butter, 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. When thoroughly combined, press into a pie pan, tart pan, or a springform pan, as I used. Press as thin as you can, and leave a bit going up the walls of your dish, to hold the tart filing later. Cook at 350 for 17-20 minutes. Leave inside your baking dish.

Mango Lime filling:

Puree the flesh of two mangoes, then press the puree through a fine mesh strainer so you’re getting the smooth juice. To that juice, add the zest and juice (about 3 tablespoons) of two limes, one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, 4 egg yolks, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk that all together, then pour into your tart shell. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Cool on a rack for an hour, then in the fridge for two hours. Serve alone or with whipped cream.

Tajin Whipped Cream:

In a bowl that’s been in the freezer for at least 20 minutes, use a hand or stand mixer to whip 1 cup of cold heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon Tajin or chili powder.

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Savory or Sweet Ricotta Pizza

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Pizza dough:

Combine 3 3/4 cup bread flour (you can use all-purpose if you don’t keep bread flour on hand), 1 teaspoon honey, 1 packet instant dry yeast, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in bowl of a stand mixer. With mixer going, stream in 1 1/2 cups warm but not steaming water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Your dough should combine into a solid ball. If it looks too dry, add an additional tablespoon of water. Dump out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently. Grease large bowl with olive oil, place dough inside. Cover with wrap, let sit in a warm place for 1 hour. If it’s never warm where you are, place it on a heating pad set to warm. Makes two 12-14″ crusts.

While the dough is proofing, thinly slice one fennel bulb and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium for 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Ricotta topping:

Combine one container of ricotta cheese (approximately 1.5 cups) with the zest of one small lemon, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

When ready, roll your dough out into two crusts and top with the ricotta mixture. Add fresh arugula, dried tarragon, sauteed fennel, and sliced peppadew peppers. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and a bit of pepper and a light pass of Parmesan. Cook at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

If you don’t keep arugula or fennel on hand (or don’t like them), omit the red pepper flakes and Parmesan. Instead, top with shaved Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and pomegranate seeds; serve with a squeeze of honey over your slice.

 

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Easy Chicken

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After cleaning a whole chicken, thoroughly dry with paper towels. Inside and out. I know, it’s icky. You can do it. On occasion, you’ll find a bit of a quill left in the skin. It’s easiest to grasp them using a paper towel so you have enough traction to pull it out.

A lot of recipes will call for lemons or butter. We’re going to avoid those so the chicken can get nice and crispy! And who doesn’t love a recipe that calls for just three ingredients?

I like to let the chicken come to temperature and dry one more time. Add salt and dried thyme into the cavity and place the chicken in a pan. You don’t want the pan to be so large that your chicken is floating out in space. I like to use our trusty Dutch oven. Then truss the chicken. This just means you’re going to use a bit of baker’s or butcher’s twine to tie the chicken legs together to cover a portion of the breast, and it helps the chicken stay juicy.

After trussing the chicken, tuck the wings as close to the body as you can manage. You don’t want them to get too dry, either. Lightly sprinkle dried thyme over the chicken. Now, for the magic. With a heavy hand, salt the chicken with kosher salt. Add a second pass. That salt is going to be where your flavor comes in.

Bake at 450 for an hour. Double check the internal temperature of the breast meat- it needs to be at least 165. Let cool for ten minutes, carve, and serve. Tastes great with a whole grain mustard or Dijon for dipping. Pairs really well with blistered carrots with labneh.

Be sure to save the bones and scraps for chicken stock!

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*the link to the Dutch oven is an affiliate link; it doesn’t increase your price, but a portion of the proceeds come back to me.