Thursday, September 27, 2012

Empanada Gallega Feast or Failure?

Okay so for starters I LOVE empanadas, the Cuban kind that I have had in the past, pastelitos. Flaky deliciously filled; so I was very excited about this months Daring Bakers challenge...
Blog checkin lines: Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

Now I gave this a single try so that means that I realize that I could have had a different experience had I tried a second time, but I did not. I was actually more worried about running out of time this month. We were suppose to be going to New Orleans this week, that fell through with recent storm. In addition to possible traveling work has been incredibly stressful this month and so my sleep has been highly necessary.

I wanted to try some of the more exotic fillings that Patri had suggested on the challenge but I stuck with a less exotic one of ham and cheese, now I did stick with Spanish cheese and used Manchego because I LOVE it. Anyway you can find Patri's recipes here, who knows maybe one day very soon I will try the salt cod or tuna version.

So the dough was a beautiful dough, which I used my Kitchen Aid mixer and dough hook to make. I really think that had I worked the dough with my hand I would have actually had a softer dough. For me I felt like the dough was somewhat tough and it was very crisp when it was baked. I do not know if that is how it is suppose to be or not. I would have preferred a more delicate dough.

So the night we had the empanada gallega I made a wonderful salad to go along with the empanada, Ashley had two pieces of empanada because his hunger was not satisfied from the first piece. I making this again though with some modifications, in addition to trying one of the other fillings, if I do a ham and cheese version again I will add a lot more ham and a lot more cheese, possibly something not as fancy as Manchego. Here are some photos.

 As you can see it looks like it baked well, however the filling is a bit thin.
While the experiment was fun and it tasted okay I feel like I failed the experiment in the fact that I was not thrilled with the results. I guess that is what part of this process is, success and failure, learning things I would do differently. I know I at least enjoyed the time in my kitchen, hope you will enjoy yours a bit more. Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Little Tango on the tongue!

Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!

OH my, anyone who knows me knows that I love to experience cultures through their foods! I will host entire dinners around a menu complete from one country at a time, so this months challenge fell right into my love of this kind of travel. This month we were challenged to try our hand at Paella. I have made paella only one other time, and that was with a big group for a dinner party, so this time the challenge I added into the dish was to make it small enough so Ashley and I would not be eating Paella for the rest of our lives. I was fortunate enough to find a recipe that I wanted to use that would allow for such a thing. I will add that our hostess offered a suggested menu that was smaller in portion as well. I however went the route of finding one on that was presented by Tyler Florence, Paella with Seafood, Chicken, and Chorizo. Now there were suggestions from our hostess to not use onion because her family reports that it "agglutinate(s) the rice." I had to look this term up to ensure that I knew what it meant, I had suspicions because I had thought I had heard the term before, but was not certain, the term means essentially that the the onion could cause the rice to stick together. Regardless of what the term meant, it seemed something to try, leaving the onion out, though I do love some cooked onion. So the modifications to the paella I made included leaving the onion out, I did not use jumbo shrimp because they are far too expensive, and the little neck clams were not used. I was so excited to use clams, and I was going to have Ashley try them I think maybe for the first time, however I got to the grocery and the clams in my store looked terrible, the young woman behind the counter suggested that I use frozen precooked clams, UM NO WAY! So we were clam less as well. To go along with our paella I made a Spanish olive tapanade from Epicurious that I have made many times before, and LOVE, with toasted baguette to go along with it. Because the dish begged for a salad with a citrus feel I made a grapefruit and avocado salad to go along with everything else. It was all so good, and I had grand plans to cook more paella however the days got away from me and well exhaustion won out. Here though are the photos of my paella experience.

The chorizo and the chicken, a very blurry photo. 


This is the rice browning with the tomatoes and the fat from the chorizo.



The liquid added after the rice has browned a bit.


No for the meats and shell fish to be added to the pan.

The final outcome was amazing!

I could almost lick the screen it all looks so wonderful. I have to share too that my sister was the one who gifted me with both the paella pan for Christmas last year as well as the saffron. What a wonderful gift she gave me, and now I know that I can make paella a regular dish. I will be trying this again very soon, maybe even rabbit the next time, now if I can just find a good place to get rabbit around here. Enjoy your kitchen a bit more!