Pork and Pumpkin Empanadas

Larry had his smoker going again over the weekend.  He smoked some ribs and a pork shoulder.  When he pulls out the smoker, he usually smokes a lot of meat at one time.  We are still working on the ribs, and we froze a lot of the pork.  What we didn’t freeze though, I shredded and turned into pork empanadas with pumpkin, spinach and almonds.  I love empanandas and can eat them anytime, any way.  They take some time to make, but they are well worth it when I do.  From Leftovers to Empanadas  With fall just around the corner and the weather being slightly cooler now, I thought it was the perfect time for something with a little pumpkin too.  I served my empanadas with a garlic flan and some rice with corn, onions, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro, and of course, wine.  I chose a red wine to accompany the meal since the the empanadas were a little on the heavier side.

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Pork and Pumpkin Empanadas

The Dough

1 1/2 cups flour

6 TBSP COLD butter, cubed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp sweet & spicy seasoning

1 tsp salt

1 egg

5-6 TBSP heavy whipping cream

 

Mix all the dry ingredients and the butter in the food processor until it is all blended together and crumbly.  Then add the egg and cream and continue to process until the dough forms into a ball.  Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.  When it is ready, roll the dough out to your desired shape on a slightly floured surface.

This is my basic dough recipe, minus the spices, for just about everything I make when I use a crust.

 

The Filling

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1 1/2-2 lbs shredded pork

2 cups spinach, stems removed

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced fine

1/2 onion, diced fine

olive oil

2 cups pumpkin puree

salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp sweet & spicy seasoning, optional

1 tsp chili powder, or garlic chili powder

1 tsp allspice

1/2 cup almond slivers

2-3 TBSP brandy

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Saute the onions, jalapeno and garlic in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are soft and tender.  Then add the almond slivers and continue to cook for about another 2-3 minutes.

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Add the spinach and spices and combine everything together well.

 

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Add the shredded pork and mix everything together well.  Then add the pumpkin and mix well again.

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Once everything is mixed together, add the brandy.  Let the mixture simmer at a low heat for about 5-7 minutes, then let it cool so you can spoon it into the empanada dough.

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As the filling is cooling, roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface and cut to your desired shape.  I made these empanadas larger, since I was serving them for dinner.  If you want them more as a snack or an appetizer, use a smaller cutter.

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I like my empanadas nice and full.  I added about 2 heaping TBSP of filling to each dough round, then carefully folded them over and pinched the edges together.  Then use a fork and press the edges together even more to seal them.

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Once the empanadas are made, make an egg wash with 1 egg and just a splash of either milk or water, then brush over the empanadas.  Place them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking.  You can pan fry them or bake them.  Each is a good method. I have done both, but I usually like them better pan fried.

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Cook them in oil until they are golden brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Then serve them and top them however you like.  YUM!

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This dough is definitely tried and true.  The key is to roll the dough as thin as possible, but yet still strong enough to hold your filling.  They are light, crispy, and flaky and just melt in your mouth.

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May We Never Forget

Eighteen years ago, America suffered the worst tragedy of modern times.  It was Pearl Harbor all over again.  So many innocent people lost their lives because of the most horrible act we’ve ever seen.  Say a prayer for all those who lost their lives on this horrible day in history.  Say a prayer for those of us who survived.  Say a prayer so this may never happen again.  God Bless those who didn’t make it and God Bless those of us who did.

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From Tapas to Pasta

Apparently I am still in a Spanish frame of mine, and am still loving all the Spanish influences in my cooking.  And as you are all aware,  I also hate throwing food away if I don’t have to.  This being said, I had yet another visit from La Reina de la Cocina, the Queen of Leftovers herself, and she and I once again huddled together to be creative.  I had some of my artichokes and ham tapas leftover as well as some cooked chicken.  Those were the only things I had in my refrigerator that were not frozen, plus they needed to be used.   Even combined, they needed something else as well.  Originally the plan was to serve them over potatoes, like a potatas bravas con pollo, which I definitely did, but it still wasn’t enough to actually turn this into a meal.  So all were thrown together and served with spicy tomato sauce over pasta.  Normally, I do not serve potatoes and pasta together, although it is not completely out of order.  I do it every now and then.  It was definitely a hit and probably something I would do again, or as I like to say, a “do-over”.

I went from this ….

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to this in about 30 minutes time.

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I  love to cook simple rustic things, with basic ingredients.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to prepare fancy dishes too, but those usually aren’t everyday dishes.  But for everyday, simple is usually best for us.

Jeanne’s Spanish Tapas Inspired Pasta

2 cups cooked chicken strips (I sauteed them in garlic and olive oil with some red pepper flakes)

1 cup artichoke hearts stuffed with Spanish cheese and Serrano ham Tapas in Spain/Tapas at Home – Part 2 – Tapas from Madrid

1 lb red potatoes, rinsed and quartered

1 large shallot, sliced very thin

1 TBSP garlic

olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

2 TBSP red wine

1 tomato, diced

3/4 jar of pasta sauce

5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed

1 TBSP fresh basil, chiffonade into thin strips

Parmigiano or Spanish cheese, optional for topping

 

Pan fry the potatoes in enough olive oil to get them slightly crispy.  Just as the potatoes start to brown, add the shallots and garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and tender.

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Once the potatoes have browned and the shallots are soft and tender, add the wine.  Make sure to really gather up all the drippings from the bottom and incorporate them well and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates.

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Add the chicken and artichoke hearts, combine well, then add the pasta sauce and mix thoroughly.  Mix in the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes too.

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Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes at a low heat.  Right before serving, add the fresh herbs and incorporate into the sauce.

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When the sauce is finished, you can serve it over either rice or pasta.  I served it over pasta.  Top with more of the basil and cheese if you like, add a little bread and the same wine you used to cook with and the meal is complete.  Desfruitas!

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Are They for Breakfast or Dessert?

I get my ideas and my inspiration from numerous sources all the time. Some of those sources are from other foodies, like a lot of you.  I got this idea from fellow food blogger and friend, Gail, from snapshotsincursive.  Gail has many fantastic ideas and she always presents them so beautifully too.  Gail had posted her recipe for her nutmeg and cinnamon popovers and the recipe just spoke to me.  I knew I had to make them right away.

I love popovers of all kinds, and we both love foods with cinnamon and nutmeg too.  I make popovers all the time.  For this recipe, I followed Gail’s recipe to the tee (mostly), which is very unusual for me, but my popovers, though still very tasty, did not turn out as pretty as Gail’s did.  The first thing Larry said when I took them out of the oven and finished them was “they don’t look like they do in the picture”.  Thanks Larry.  Really.  They did at first, but then they sank a bit, which tends to happen with a lot of delicate rising breads and pate a chouxs here in Colorado, at higher altitudes.   I should have listened to my instincts, but instead I chose to follow the recipe.  So, for those of you who live in higher altitudes like me, the things to remember are to use slightly more flour, a little less sugar, turn the oven temperature up a bit more and cook a little longer.  I simply did not follow my own rules of advice here.  I guess I was just to excited about following Gail’s recipe to think properly.  🙂  “These things, they do happen”, to quote Carlotta from Phantom of the Opera.

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Once we got past the fact that my popovers were not as pretty as Gail’s, we had to give them a test try.  As expected, they were light and fluffy and delicious, despite the fact that they sank a bit after taking them out of the oven.  We enjoyed them for breakfast, just out of the oven, before I had to run off to work.  Then we enjoyed them in a slightly different way later, for dessert.

Cinnamon and Nutmeg Popovers

Again, this recipe only calls for a few simple, everyday items that most of us have on hand at any time.

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Preheat the oven to 400* F or 200* C, unless you live in higher altitudes, then preheat the oven to 425* F.

Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.

 

The Popovers

6 eggs

2 cups cream, I used heavy cream, but you can also make it a little lighter, by mixing 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 cup of milk

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 tsp almond extract

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

3 TBSP sugar – 2 TBSP in higher altitude

2 cups flour – because I live in a higher altitude, I always use a high altitude flour.  Also use about 2 1/4 -2 1/2 cups of flour if at a higher altitude too.

 

Gail mixed everything together in the food processor, which I did too this time, but usually, I mix the dry ingredients together first, then mix the wet ingredients together and add them separately.  Both methods work just fine.  Mix just until all the ingredients are well blended and there are no lumps in the mix.

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Then pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup only about 2/3 full.

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If you live in lower altitude areas, bake the popovers for about 30 minutes, and if you live in higher altitudes, bake them for about 40 minutes or until they are golden brown.  DO NOT open the oven door while there are baking.  This will also make them sink and deflate.  Once they are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 2 minutes, then top them with the butter, cinnamon and nutmeg topping.  The tops were still a little bland here, but the bottoms were golden to perfection.

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The Topping

2 TBSP melted butter

1 TBSP cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

 

Mix the cinnamon and nutmeg together in a separate dish.  Brush the popovers with the melted butter then roll them in the cinnamon-nutmeg mixture and completely cover the popovers with the topping.

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These wonderful popovers are delicious as is or …..

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You can heat them up a bit and serve them with ice cream and a little extra cinnamon nutmeg topping later.  Either way, they just melt in your mouth.

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Please stop by snapshotsincursive too and see Gail’s beautiful cinnamon-nutmeg popovers too.  Thanks Gail for this fabulous recipe, even if mine “did not look like yours”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Herb Ahi Tuna

Ahi tuna is one of my favorite types of seafood.  I just love a good, thick ahi tuna steak, seared to perfection.  We eat this quite a bit.  For whatever reason though, I tend to do something with an Asian theme more so than not when I cook ahi tuna.  I don’t know why I do this because there are so many wonderful tuna recipes available, but I’ve noticed this is a trend of mine.  This time, however, I did not cook my tuna with an Asian theme.  I went more Mediterranean instead, and opted for a lemon herb sauce for my tuna.  I’m glad I did.  It came out very, very good.  As you all should know by now, I love to cook and eat all kinds of foods, in many different and various ways.  I hate getting stuck in a rut, and love to walk on the wild side and be as creative as I can.  This sauce was super simple to make and only consisted of a few everyday items that are part of my normal pantry.

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Lemon Herb Ahi Tuna

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You can use any kind of herbs you like.  This time I used fresh thyme, basil and some lemon verbena from our ever-growing, endless supply in my backyard.  I meant to put in some oregano as well, but the store did not have any at the time, and as usual, I was pressed for time, so I did not get any.

1  Ahi tuna steak – any size

1 TBSP garlic

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1-2 tsp lemon pepper

2 tsp black pepper

1 TBSP each fresh herbs of your choice, chopped fine or chiffonade into thin strips

4 oz butter

 

Mix all the ingredients together and pour about 1/2 of the sauce over the tuna as a marinade.  Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking, but no more than an hour, since them lemon juice will “cook” the fish.  Once the tuna is ready to cook, place it on a hot grill and cook for about 7 minutes per side.  If you like the middle cooked more, cook it for a little longer.  I love it nice and pink on the inside and just seared on the outside.

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With the remainder of the sauce, cook it down in a hot skillet until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Once most of the lemon juice has evaporated, turn off the heat, add the butter, and swirl it around until it is completely incorporated into the sauce.

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IMG_8842Once the tuna is cooked to perfection and the sauce is ready to go, serve it up and eat.  I served ours over wild rice with green beans topped with mushrooms, garlic, onions and tomatoes, some warmed bread with an olive oil dipping sauce, and a light, crispy citrus sauvignon blanc that had hints of lavender in it as well.  The wine is locally grown, from our grapes and vines out in Palisades, Colorado, which is on the Western Slope, about 4-4 1/2 hours away from us.  The Fruits of Palisade

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The whole meal was a perfect meal for a late summer day, enjoyed out on our deck.  Delicious!

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Rozina’s Green Spinach Cake

It is a new month, and that means we have a new guest chef.  This lovely lady is Rozina.  Rozina is originally from Iran but now lives in Scotland.  Rozina lives a very busy and interesting life.  She is a photographer, a cooking teacher and is very interested to introduce Persian and Azerbaijani meals, desserts and beverages to people from different cultures.  She loves to try food from all over the world.  She also loves photography or as she calls them, “hunting moments”,  so she and her camera are very close friends. I like that phrase.  I would say I am very close friends with my camera as well.

Rozina loves to cook and is very passionate about cooking for her family and friends; friends who come from all over the world.  She says every meal has a story behind it and she loves to share these stories with her guests about her food and her cooking.  I would love to have dinner with her and hear all her stories.  That would be so fascinating.

Rozina has presented us with this beautiful and exotic looking Iranian cake. She has submitted quite a few really delicious looking and sounding recipes, but this one, for her green spinach cake, was the most fascinating to me.  Part of it’s appeal is that it is so different and exotic.  I mean after all, who would think of a “cake” with spinach.

Rozina’s Green Spinach Cake

Ingredients

  • 320 g all purpose flour
  • 250 g fresh spinach leaves, steamed and drained
  • 250 g white sugar
  • 200 ml sunflower oil
  • 50 ml double cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 16 g baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for filling

  • 500 ml whipped cream
  • 75 g icing sugar
  • 4-5 bananas, sliced lengthwise
  • 3 tbsp chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180*C degree.

    Add, cooked spinach leaves, cream and oil to the mixer and make it smooth and purée.

Next, add eggs and sugar to the blender and blend them until light.

Add eggs mixture, vanilla extract, baking powder and flour to the spinach purée.

Blend all ingredients on a low setting, until well combined and you have a smooth batter.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Then pour in the batter. Bake it for 15-20 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare the cream. Using a mixer and combine whipping cream with icing sugar until fluffy.
When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let cool. Pour in 3 tbsp cold milk all over the cake. It will give the cake a very moist texture.
Cut and trim four sides of the cake and crumble it and set aside.
Place the cake in a platter. Cover top of the cake with half of the prepared whipped cream.
Sprinkle chopped walnuts on the cream.  Next, place lengthwise cut bananas on the cream.
Cover the bananas with the remaining whipped cream.
Finally for the topping, sprinkle pieces of the crumbled cake on top of the cream.  Then add some beautiful, brightly colored pomegranate seeds on top for decoration and extra pizzazz.
And voila!  The cake is ready to eat and enjoy.  In Rozina’s own words, “🍰 This cake is just stunning. You have to try and will know what I am talking about”.
Rozina even provided all the instructions in her native language, Persian, as well.
کیک اسفناج

سلام دوستان – آیا از رنگ سبز خوشتون میاد؟؟ مثلن بین نوشیدنی ها چای سبز – یا پسته نظرتون در باره کیک سبز چیه؟؟ منظورم کیک موچا چای سبزییا کیک پسته نیست – بااینکه این کیک ها هم خیلی خوشمزه هستند ولی نظرتون در مورد کیک اسفناج چیه؟؟ بله درست شنیدید کیک اسفناج

یک کیک زیبا و خوشمزه ی سبزرنگ و کاملن متفاوت با کیک هایی که قبلن امتحان کردید –

حالا قبل از اینکه طرز تهیه رو توضیح بدم یک خاطره بامزه بگمدر کشورهای اروپایی به کتلت ماهی یا

هر کتلتی گاهی از کلمه کیک استفاده میکنن و میگن کیک

ماهی یا یا کیک قارچ برای همین یکبار در رستوران وقتی در بین لیست غذاها دیدم نوشته کیک ماهی خیلی تعجب کردم – تو دلم گفتم اه اه کیک ماهی دیگه چیه ولی بعد متوجه شدم که همون کتلت هست.

حالا در مورد کیک اسفناج هم این کیکی که من درست کردم واقعن کیک کیک هست پر از شیرینی و خامه و با کیک اسفناج که غذا هست فرق داره.

طعم بسیاررررررررررر خوشمزه و بینظیری داره.

مواد لازم

سیصدوبیست گرم آرد

دویست پنجاه گرم اسفناج تازه – آبپزو آبکش شده

دویست و پنجاه گرم شکر سفید

دویست میلی لیتر روغن مایع

پنجاه میلی لیتر خامه سنگین

سه عدد تخم مرغ

یک ق غ عصاره وانیل

شانزده گرم بیکینگ پودر

کمی نمک

مواد لازم برای میانه کیک

پانصد میلی لیتر ویپینگ کریم

هفتادوپنج گرم پودر قند

چهارپنج عدد موز

سه ق غ گردوی خرد شده

طرز تهیه

فر را روی ۱۸۰ درجه سانتیگراد گرم می کنیم

داخل یک‌کاسه اسفناج آبپز شده – خامه و روغن مایع را ریخته و با مخلوط کن به صورت پوره ی یک‌دست در می آوریمتخم مرغ ها و شکرا را هم با همزن برقی مخلوط میکنیم تا به صورت یک مایه روشن در آیدسپس مخلوط تخم مرغ ها – عصاره وانیل– بیکینگ پودر– و آرد را به مخلوط اسفناج افزوده و همه ی مواد را هم می‌زنیم تا کاملن با هم مخلوط شوند.

داخل سینی فر را با کاغذ روغنی می پوشانیممایه کیک را داخل سینی ریخته و در فر قرار می‌دهیم تا به مدت ۲۰۱۵ دقیقه بپزددر زمانیکه کیک در حال پخت می‌باشد مواد میانی کیک را آماده می کنیمابتدا وینپینگ کریم را با پودر قند همزده تا به صورت خامه فرم گرفته در آید.

وقتی کیک آماده شد از داخل فر خارج کرده و سه ق غ شیر سرد را روی تمام سطح کیک می‌ریزیم تا بافت کیک مرطوب باشدچهار گوشه کیک را مطابق تصاویر زیر برش داده و آن‌ها را به صورت پودر در آورده و کنار میگذاریم برای مرحله آخر.

کیک را داخل ظرف مورد نظرمان قرار می دهیمنصف خامه آماده شده را روی سطح کیک پخش کرده و روی خامه را با گردوی خرد شده می پوشانیمسپس موز ها را به صورت طولی برش داده و روی سطح خامه چیده وبا باقیمانده خامه روی موزها را می پوشانیمدر مرحله آخر با پودر کیک روی خامه را پوشش می دهیم.

 

You can find this recipe, and many more of Rozina’s dishes on her website and blog at https://rozinaspersiankitchen.com.  Thank you Rozina, for this fabulous recipe and beautiful dish.  I am looking forward to many more interesting and fabulous dishes yet to come.