Empanadas, pastel, hand pies, pasties or patties……..

Empanadas with picadillo and Jamaican Patties with curried beef.

Empanadas with picadillo and Jamaican Patties with curried beef.

It doesn’t matter what you call them, whether its empanadas, pasties, patties, hand pies or pastel. The various names for empanadas really depend on where you’re eating them. But essentially they’re all the same thing, packets of dough filled with either sweet or savory fillings that are baked or fried. Empanadas are designed for portability, they’re popular street food throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

I find that just about any pie crust recipe can be used to make empanada dough. The key is to roll the chilled dough to ¼” thick. You can find empanada presses at kitchen supply stores. You can also use discos. They’re pre-made pre-rolled rounds of dough and come in two varieties, plain wheat and annato flavored. The annato variety are orange in color. The recipes below will easily fill 10 discos with 1TBS of filling each. They come frozen, so you’ll need to thaw them in the fridge for at least 24 hours before using them.

Recipes

Jamaican Style Curried Beef
½ LB ground beef
1 finely minced scotch bonnet pepper (or whatever type of chili pepper you like)
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 bunch of green onions finely chopped
cilantro
3 TBS Jamaican Curry
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of thawed discos or pie dough of your choice.

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients together except the beef and set aside. In a large skillet, on mediam high, brown the ground beef. Once the beef has browned pour off the excess fat and add the veggie mix. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put meat mixture into a bowl and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Place a tablespoon of meat into the center of the discos, brush the edge lightly with water. Fold the discos closed and crimp the edges with a fork. Turn over and crimp the edges with the fork. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes or until golden brown. I’ll usually flip these over about halfway through the cooking time. You can also fry them.

If you’re using an empanada press, place the dough into the press, there’s usually a depressed section in the center, fill that with meat, brush the edges with water or egg wash and press closed. Press the handles together firmly to seal the edges. Make sure that you don’t overfill them, or else they will not stay sealed during baking/frying.

Picadillo
½ LB ground beef
1 small sweet potato or yam diced into ¼” pieces
¼ cup raisins soaked in warm water
3 TBS Recaito (see note)
¼ cup green olives chopped
1 TBS capers (brine drained)
1 TBS cumin
1 envelope of sazon
2 tsp tomato paste
1 TBS Adobo or you can use ¼ tsp each, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and ground oregano
1 10ct package of Goya Discos (thawed)

Soak the raisins in warm water for about 15 minutes, drain and set aside. Boil sweet potatoes in salted water until tender drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. Brown the beef in a large skillet until browned and drain off the excess fat. Add the sofrito and all the other ingredients, cook together for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Follow the steps listed above for filling the empanadas and cooking.

*Note
Recaito
2 medium green bell or Cubanelle peppers, seeds removed
2 medium onions, peeled
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 bunch culantro or cilantro (if available) leaves
6 ajies dulces (small sweet chile peppers)
Preparation:

Chop and blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.

(Sazon, Adobo, and Recaito are available on the ethnic/international aisle of most grocery stores. Discos can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Here in the NE I know that Wegman’s, Stop ‘n Shop and Shoprite all carry discos, sazon, adobo and recaito. Elsewhere, Safeway, HEB, Publix, Albertson’s and the commissaries on US Military bases carry them.)

Crazy, crazy, busy week and getting a little jerky.

I work close to 30 hours a week and go to school full time. Its a crazy hectic time at work, so I’ve not been around the house to cook or to eat. My meals have come from places like Wawa, Taco Bell (yeah, I eat Taco Bell and I feel ashamed) and the campus cafeteria. Side note: I wrote a column for the campus newspaper about the 5 best things to eat from the campus cafeteria. You can read it here.

In celebration of surviving my crazy hectic schedule, we decided to have a nice sit down dinner. Earlier in the summer we experimented with jerking lamb chops. The experiment was a success. The lamb chops were moist, tender and most importantly well seasoned and flavorful. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a lot of great food in my life and I’d have to say the jerked lamb chops were probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

I love spicy food and jerk is a great combination of salty, sweet, and spicy and easy to make. A blender is a handy tool for making jerk marinade. Just throw everything into the blender and whiz. For my marinade I put half a can or so of pineapple juice into the blender, 2 bunches of chopped scallions, a bunch of cilantro, whichever type of chili you like, I use a couple of whole serrano chilies, 5 cloves of garlic, a quarter cup of soy sauce, quarter cup of brown sugar, tablespoon each of allspice berries and peppercorns, a dash of ground cinnamon, and a couple of nickel sized coins of ginger. Blend it up until everything is pulverized and well incorporated.

You can use this marinade for fish and chicken or just about any type of meat. Marinade over night and then grill if you’re lucky enough (or allowed) to have one or roast in the oven.

Jerk Lamb Chops

Jerk Lamb Chops

And if you’re not so inclined to make your own jerk seasoning, here’s a pretty tasty alternative. Its also available in a spicy version.

Grace Jerk Seasoning, this happens to be mild flavor it also comes in a spicy version.

Grace Jerk Seasoning its available in both spicy and mild.

Next up… homemade energy bars

Ramen, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. Ramen the best street food ever.

Ramen with miso broth, nori,   roasted pork, mushrooms, surimi, scallions, boiled egg and baby kale

I’d be willing to guess that for most Americans their knowledge of ramen starts and stops with the little cello packets that can be purchased by the gross at the local warehouse store. Or, its one of the things that they lived on while in college along with canned tuna and boxes of cheap mac and cheese.

Ramen is believed to have made its way to Japan via China and the word ramen is thought to be a variant of the Cantonese word lo mein. Ramen has been a popular street food in Japan for over a century. Instant ramen was introduced to Japan by Momofuku Ando of Nissin Food Products Ltd. in 1958. The first flavor was chicken and now there are several flavors available. Instant ramen became popular in the states in the early 70s and is still widely consumed today.

Because of its instant food status is associated with cheap low quality food many people have not experienced ramen in its true street food form. Ramen is still one of the most popular street foods in Japan where there are numerous regional variations.

As with any soup, ramen is only as good as the broth. Some common flavors are, miso, shoyu, beef bone, pork, chicken and seafood/shrimp and within those flavors there are variations. As with the broth flavors the toppings and condiments are also varied. Scallions, corn, boiled egg, nori, fish cake, and greens are all popular.

Now for the ramen part of ramen, or rather the noodles. In a pinch I will use the instant noodles but will make my own broth and discard the season packet. My local market has fresh ramen noodles in their refrigerated section, short of buying (or rather having a source for) hand-pulled noodles this is a good alternative.

My favorite combination is a miso based broth topped with char sui (bbq pork), nori, fish cake, baby spinach or baby kale, scallions, boiled egg and mushrooms. Then I like to finish it off with a splash of chili oil and some fried garlic.

Best Street Food Ever! Sonoran-Style Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Here’s another entry in my street food series. Sonoran hot dogs are popular in the Southwestern U.S. and were probably brought here by immigrants from Sonora, Mexico. What’s not to love in a bacon wrapped hot dog? Sonoran hot dogs are like a chili dog turned up to eleven. They’re usually served on hoagie style rolls and topped with spicy pinto beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions and peppers and then finished off with mustard, green salsa and lemony mayo. You may add ketchup if you’re so inclined.

This is a fairly quick meal to put together, though I’ll acknowledge probably not something you’ll want to indulge in on a regular basis. It just requires a little bit of chopping for the veggies, you can use canned chili beans. Then its just a matter of wrapping the hot dogs in bacon and cooking. The hot dogs are also very easy for those finicky eaters in the family to personalize to their taste.

Falafel is the Best Street Food Ever: Millions throughout the Middle East Would Agree.

Falafel with tomato cucumber salad

Falafel with tomato cucumber salad

Falafel is a popular street food throughout the Middle East. Its a great meat replacement and its high in protein, flavorful and healthy if fried in a heart healthy oil like grapeseed oil or first press extra virgin olive oil.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or fava beans are the two most common beans used to make falafel. The beans are ground up with onions, herbs and spices then formed into ping-pong sized balls or patties.

Falafel’s eaten as a convenient on the go kind of meal. Its often served in a highly portable warm Pita with a variety of condiments. Popular condiments are shredded lettuce, pickles, onions, hot peppers, radishes hummus, tahini, tomato cucumber salad or yogurt garlic sauce.

The beans have to soak in water overnight so this isn’t something that you can decide to make at the last minute. Once the beans have soaked and have softened its just a matter of putting all the ingredients into a food processor until everything comes together and can be formed into balls or patties. I’ll let the mix chill in the fridge for an hour or so before I form into balls and fry them up.

Falafel Recipe
1 cups dried garbanzo or fava beans
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic crushed
4 green onions chopped whites and greens
1 jalapeño minced (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp each, pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground cinnamon and ground cardamom
1/2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp corn starch

Strain the garbanzo beans and put into a food processors with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse the ingredients until everything comes together. It should look like bread crumbs. Don’t over blend or you’ll make humus. Heat fryer to 350 form falafel into balls or patties and fry in batches until golden brown then drain on paper towels. If you find that your falafel isn’t cooked through you can finish them in the 350 oven for about 10 minutes.

Yogurt Sauce
1 TBS Lemon Zest
Juice from 1 Lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
16 oz Greek style yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything into a food processor and blend until everything is well incorporated.

Tomato Cucumber Salad
2 Medium sized tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 medium sized red onion diced
1 English-style cucumber, diced
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 cup coarsley chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to serve.

Next up…energy drinks