Blog Archive

Friday, July 31, 2015

Empanadas de Rosario

A couple weeks ago, my sister-in-law, Caiti, her husband, KC, and their sweet baby girl, Kaycee Jo, all came to visit. While they were here, I thought it might be fun to make emapanadas with KC. He served a two-year mission in Rosario, Argentina, where my abuela was born and rasied. So we did. :) 

I had the recipe my abuela had given me almost 10 years ago (Oy!), but had only made once. It was clear this was going to be an adventure as I realized only a few items actually had measurements!!! Luckily, KC was there to help and we tasted and added, and tasted some more, until we came up with the perfect measurements for the "Carne Dulce". This post really was a team effort: Thanks KC!


For the Dough:
3 cups sifted flour
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup cold water (salted with 1 1/2 tsp. salt)

In food processor: pulse flour and butter until it becomes a coarse meal. Add water and process until it balls up. The dough shouldn't be too sticky. Turn it out onto a counter sprinkled with flour and knead the dough into a ball. Let it rest while prepping the filling.*

For the Carne Dulce:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 tsp. paprika
7 Tsbp. sugar
4 Tbsp. Cumin
about 1 cup golden raisins
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped

In a large saute pan: Saute the onion and ground beef. Add paprika, sugar, cumin, raisins, salt and and pepper. Mix well. Add the eggs and mix again.

To Assemble:

Knead the dough and roll it out VERY thin. Cut into 6-inch rounds. Put the 1 - 2 Tbsp. of filling in the center. Fold in half, moistening the edge to seal. Press the edge with a fork, OR if you know how, use you fingers to fold a "repulgue". 

Fry in hot oil to cook OR bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes (like we did). 

Makes about 30. 


Make the Carne Dulce up to three days ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry together. Just add the eggs at the end. 

Unsweetened vs. Dutch

This week I learned lots about chocolate. As it is a favorite of mine, there really wasn't much that I read, which I didn't already know. HOWEVER - I did finally learn what the difference is, between all natural, unsweetened cocoa powder, and Dutch process cocoa powder:

For starters, chocolate is naturally acidic. Which, when exposed to other ingredients in a recipe that are basic (as in, they are bases according to ph scale), chemical reactions occur. The most commonly seen, yet taken for granted, is that of leavening. Let's say you're making brownies, or double chocolate cookies. As long as there is enough of a base included with the acidic, all natural cocoa powder, there shouldn't be any problem with the rising and creating of a fluffy texture. But let's say for some "unexplainable" reason, your cookies or brownies turn out flat. The culprit behind the cause could be many things, but the most likely factor could be that you used Dutch Processed cocoa, instead of all natural. Dutch Processed cocoa has had alkaline added to it, making it so that the natural acidic quality of the chocolate has been neutralized. Depending on the other ingredients called for in the recipe, it could be that there was not enough other acidic ingredients to cause a reaction. 

Learning this has been a revelation to me! Giada de Laurentiis, has these double chocolate cookies that, a couple of years ago, I became obsessed with making. The obsession only lasted a few days in all honesty, but I couldn't stop making them because my cookies turned out nothing like Giada's. Giada's were fluffy, light, and had beautifully rounded top. My cookies were flat, crinkled when they cooled, and not even close to having a nice round basic cookie shape, let alone a rounded top. After making about 4 batches in 4 days, I gave up. However, two years later, my memory still recalled those cookies as I was reading the book's chapter on chocolate. I'm excited to try them again, this time hopefully the correct adjustments *fingers crossed* 

For this chapter's assignment, I had to make a similar cookie to Giada's cookies. However, the process by which to make them is completely different than hers.  They did turn out fluffy and full like I wanted, though still not the prettiest cookie on it's own. All things considered, I think I will be sticking with the recipe from MIT from now on (you can find it below), and making modifications for presentation: Drizzling with melted chocolate, substituting Andes mints for the chocolate chips, etc. 

NOTE: At first, I tried melting white chocolate chips for drizzling... uh-uh... didn't' work. It congealed, balled up, and dried out. I'm guessing it's because white chocolate is different in that it is not really chocolate. According to the textbook, On Food And Cooking, by Harold McGee, "White Chocolate" is chocolate-less chocolate," with practically no cocoa at all. It's mostly a mixture of extremely processed cocoa butter (it is odorless and a bit ivory, whereas "real" cocoa butter is more like a eggshell white and has the fragrance of chocolate), sugar and milk solids. It's either for that reason my white chocolate didn't work, or it was just old. 

But me let me tell you: The minute I began melting the good quality dark chocolate squares, it was glossy, smooth, and seemingly didn't need any tempering... although I'm sure tempering still would have elevated the cookie more. 

To learn more about this course, click here: Death by Chocolate.

Friday, July 3, 2015

My Guac actually stayed green!

So this week in my MIT course in Kitchen Chemistry, I just learned a lot about avocados: the basics of their cellular/molecular structure, why they turn brown so quickly, and how to prevent that chemical reaction. So last night, I put it all into practice when Aaron and I made guac to have on our tacos for dinner. 

OH! the creamy, buttery, delicious texture and flavor! We miraculously had leftovers... Imagine my surprise when I looked this morning to find our guacamole remained green! That's NEVER happened to me before!!! So now I eat leftover guacamole and it is SO satisfying.

A basic guacamole recipe is below, along with each of mine and Aaron's variations. You can read the text after the recipes to figure out which ingredient contributed our success. :)

Basic Guac

2 avocados
onion, chopped (I actually left this out 'cuz I don't like raw onion)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
juice of half a small lemon

Aaron's Vartion
4 finely diced jalepeno pepper, with most ribs and seeds removed.

Allyson's Variation:
1 - 2 Tbsp. coarsley chopped cilantro 
1 large roma tomato, diced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
lime zest, to taste.

Combine avocado, salt and lemon juice. Mash with fork (for slightly chunky texture) or Puree in Food Processor (for a creamy texture).

Gently fold in the chopped onion and add-ins.

Enjoy with chips, over tacos, etc. 

TO STORE: Cover tightly with plastic wrap in an air tight container, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Here's a bit of what I learned - 

Chemical Reactions
Part of the physical makeup of an avocado is an enzyme called, polyphenol oxidaise (PO). This enzyme hangs out in the cells of the avocado and is highly sensitive to oxygen. Once an avocado is cut, it's cell structure is broken, thus exposing this enzyme to air. Long story made short (and without too many crazy words that very few will care to read), this PO begins to create chains that link together and creates the brown color you see in an avocado. 
You can do three things to minimize this reaction. A) Cut off it's air supply and wrap it tightly with cling wrap. B) The avo's main enzyme is also sensitive to acid, so adding a bit of lemon or lime juice will slow the reaction. C) Cool temperatures also slow the reaction, so store the exposed avocado in the fridge. To be safe, I would do all three when possible. 

Health Benefits
As a fruit, avocados are unique in that they have very low sugar/starch content, and a very high oil content (the healthy kind of oil) - up to 30%. These oils provide a significant supply of lutein, a protein that is also found in the human body, highly concentrated in the macula of our eyes. Eating avocados has been found to help in preventing age related macular degeneration. As a diabetic, I find this extremely beneficial. Diabetes may primarily effect my eyes' blood vessels, but I also worry about my eye health, in general. So bring on the avocados!

To learn more about this course, click here: Guacamole.