Archive | January 2016

Mexican Food for a Snowstorm

I don’t know about you, but really terrible weather makes me want to eat food from warmer places, like Mexico or the Middle East/North Africa. This past weekend was no exception. Like the rest of DC (and much of the East Coast) I got snowed in by the monster storm over the weekend. So before the storm hit I made sure I had everything I needed for something tasty and sort of fusion-y Mexican empanadas. Yes, I know empanadas are a South American thing (I certainly ate a lot of them in Chile) but I decided to make a more Mexican-inspired filling for them.

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4-1/2 cup water
1-2 tablespoons wine vinegar

Dump the flour in a bowl. Mix the water and vinegar together and pour most of it in with the flour and add the butter. Mix until a ball of dough forms, adding more water as necessary. Cover and set aside while you make the filling. It should be pliable, but the vinegar will make it even more so as it sits.

2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 yellow onion, diced
1/2 a yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
2 ounces queso blanco or queso fresco

Saute the onions and garlic in oil for a few minutes. Then add the bell pepper, then the zucchini, salt, pepper and cumin. Once all the veggies are done, stick into a bowl and mix in the crumbled queso.


Roll out the dough as thin as you can without it tearing. Use a biscuit cutter, jar or small bowl to cut out circles in the dough. Heat oil for frying in a large pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons-ish of filling into each circle. Fold it into a half-moon, sealing the edges. Stick in the pan and fry until both sides are golden brown and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Serve with salsa.

Mex empanadas.JPG

This was a really really tasty recipe. There was something immensely satisfying about eating it while the storm raged outside. Beyond that, I just really liked the way it tasted, although I should have added chiles. When you make it you should probably add chiles – that will only improve the recipe. I has this with Anchor’s winter wheat beer, as I really love the combo of wheat beers and Mexican-esque foods. And this was a super Californian thing of me to make, so an SF beer is only appropriate. Song of the Week: Just Like Heaven by The Cure. To be honest, there isn’t any song I was obsessed with or felt strongly about this week, so I decided to just go with a classic.

Sauceless Goat Cheese-Kale Pizza

So I’ve been back to trying to do more and different things with kale for the past several weeks. And I came across this recipe which seemed interesting. Now I wasn’t interested in the exact way they prepared the “grandma’s pie” thingy, but I was curious about the way they decided to prep the kale so I decided to combine it with pizza dough and make a fairly simple sauce-less pizza recipe.

Two large kale leaves, ripped into bit sized pieces
Lemon juice, about ½ lemon
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces goat cheese

Stick the kale in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set on the counter and let it sit for at least an hour and a half. While the kale is sitting, make the pizza dough.

1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4-1 cup flour

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water, and let it sit til the yeast gets all foamy, about 10 minutes or so. Add the olive oil, and then mix in the flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough ball forms. Knead the dough until it is elastic, then set aside to rise for like an hour. This recipe will make either two little pizza-tarts, or one larger one.

Once the dough has risen, divide it into half, and roll out the dough into a circle. Stick it on a pizza stone. Stick the kale mixture on top of the dough, and then cover with the crumbled goat cheese. Stick in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so at 400. Serve warm.

kale pizza

This was actually really tasty. It’s also easy and the actual cooking takes very little time. Letting the kale sit for so long meant you could still taste the lemon a bit, which I thought was a nice touch. As you can see from the picture, I had this with Anchor’s Winter Wheat beer, which is really good and paired really well. Song of the week: Late in the Evening by Paul Simon. I’m a big Paul Simon fan and this is a lesser known but really fun song; great to groove to while walking or cooking.

Eggs and Red Wine Sauce on Toast

This recipe came about due to an alcohol-buying mistake. I had an open bottle of red wine that had a weirdly smoky aftertaste, so I didn’t want to keep drinking it. But it was perfectly good wine, so I figured I should at least cook with it. Annoyingly for me, most recipes calling for a red wine sauce involve meat. But then I found this recipe for poached eggs in wine sauce and decided to give it a try. Albeit with a less complicated sauce.

1 cup or so red wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 pinches dried thyme
1 tbsp flour

Melt some butter in a small saucepan and saute the leek and garlic for a few minutes.  Melt a bit more butter and mix it with the flour into a paste. Add the thyme, stock, and red wine. Mix so the butter-flour paste is thoroughly dissolved in the liquid. Simmer the mixture until the volume has reduced by about half. I boiled mine a little too long I think. It started getting vinegary-tasting so I added a bit more red wine and that fixed it. Set aside. Poach however many eggs you intend to cook. To poach an egg you (in theory) crack open the shell and gently slide the egg into the water, where you boil it for a few minutes until the desired done-ness. Well, keeping the egg a coherent blob is surprisingly difficult, but you can use a spoon to try to gather the white which will spread out in the water. Once the eggs are done, stick an egg on a piece of toast and spoon the sauce on and around it. Serve warm.

Ok, so this wasn't quite as pretty as the picture I saw. But it has character.

Ok, so this wasn’t quite as pretty as the picture I saw. But it has character.

This turned out pretty well actually. It looks a bit messy, but its actually tasty, and I like the sauce with all the leeks and garlic in it. Those are always good things. I didn’t actually toast my bread first, and that was a mistake – toasted bread will be better. So, if you have red wine you want to cook with, or just want a non-meat accompaniment to it, I would suggest trying this recipe out.  Obviously you serve this with more red wine, and a nice green salad to make a decent meal. Song of the Week: Moscow Nights by the Red Army Choir. Last week was Russian (Orthodox) Christmas (for which my family eats Chinese food – long story) so a Russian song felt appropriate. And while Tchaikovsky is my favorite Russian composer and one of my top three favorite all time composers, I decided to share something different. I also really love this song, and I think its a beautiful rendition.

New Recipe for a New Year

Happy New Years! So this week I wanted to do a healthier take on something delicious. I, probably like most of you, have promised myself that at least for January I’m going to eat less, exercise more and lose the weight that I gained over the holidays. Well, we will see how that goes with the food blogging, but at the end of the day, I still love food and cooking and drinking, and will honestly never give up butter or wine. So, no real idea how I’m going to address these seemingly incompatible goals, but hey, that’s why I have new recipe day. But, I found a really great stuffed yams recipe so that’s what I did this week, with my own adjustments.

Feta Stuffed Yams
1 large yam
1-2 ounces feta cheese
pinch of salt
1/2-1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Handful of pine nuts, toasted

Roast the yam in your oven at 400 for at least an hour, until it is thoroughly cooked. I highly suggest you roast instead of microzapping it, even though it takes forever. Once the yam is done, scoop out most of the insides, leaving a little so that the skins remain in their shape. Mash the yams with the butter, a little salt, brown sugar, then mix in the feta (honestly, you can probably omit the salt, feta is a salty cheese. Stick the filling back in the yam skins and sprinkle the pine nuts on top. Bake at 400 for like 10 minutes, and then serve warm.

stuffed yam

This was so good. Not too sweet but not intensely salty/savory either – it hit the right balance. Have this with a small green salad and a glass of red wine and you have a perfectly respectable, filling and tasty winter meal. Stuffed yams don’t sound healthy, but this makes 2 servings, so you’ve got maybe 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 a tablespoon of butter per serving. The most caloric bits are the yam itself (which is high in fiber) and the pine nuts. I am definitely going to make this more often, as my other yam recipes call for a lot more butter and this one is just as tasty as those. Song of the week: Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones. Starting the new year off with a truly great classic.