Empanadas de Camote: Yam Turnovers

IMG_0519

Empanadas de Camote are our favorite Mexican pan dulce (pastry). After years of trying different doughs, from cream cheese and butter dough that was delicious but fell apart, to yeast dough that reminded us of Rio Grande valley empanadas,, I hit the jackpot with modified pie dough! Easy to make and easy to use, light and tasty!

Makes 8 large empanadas

Ingredients: 

Dough:

1 cube cold salted butter

1 Tb frozen shortening (Crisco)

Dry ingredients:

3 Tb  granulated sugar

2 Tb  brown sugar

1 2/3 cups  all-purpose flour, divided into 1 cup and 2/3 cup

1/2 tsp  Kosher salt

1/2 tsp  baking powder

1/2  tsp cinnamon

Liquid ingredients:

1 Tb half and half

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Filling:

1 large yam, baked for an hour and 20 minutes until super soft, peeled and smashed

1 Tb  brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

A couple of shakes pumpkin pie spice

A few more shakes nutmeg

2 Tb half and half

Egg Wash:

Reserved egg and cream mixture

A pinch of coarse demerara sugar to decorate

Directions:

Sift 1 cup of the flour together with the other dry ingredients into a food processor, and pulse a few times to mix.

Slice butter and shortening into small pieces. Stir gently into the flour with a fork, so they separate and are coated with flour.

Pulse until butter and flour become a paste.

Break up the dough with a knife and then add the rest of the flour and pulse just a few times so that the flour-coated butter pieces range from from pea-sized to crumbles. Empty processor into a medium-large mixing bowl.

Whisk together egg, cream, and vanilla in a smaller bowl. Set aside 2 Tb to brush on the empanadas.

Add the vinegar to the butter and flour mixture along with 1 Tb of the liquid mixture. Toss with a fork and add more liquid, a little at a time until it’s just moist enough to squeeze with your hands to form a large piece of dough. The dough should not be too dry with cracks nor should it be sticky.

Form dough into a round shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more. This allows the dough to resist shrinkage. If you leave it overnight, let it sit for at least half an hour to soften before rolling.

Form into balls that fit in your hand and place each ball between plastic wrap. Roll each ball in a circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches diameter. Put a 6″ diameter bowl over the dough like a cookie cutter and peel away the excess dough so the circle will have smooth edges. You can also roll out 1/3 of the dough at a time and cut out 2 circles from each piece. Refrigerate the dough circles for 1/2 hour or more.

IMG_0609Mix the brown sugar, spices and cream into the yam.

IMG_0610Whip the yam mixture until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400′

Scoop a ball of yam mixture (about 2 – 3 TB) into the dough circles. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges.

Hold the empanada in your hand. Starting in the center and working your way to the edges, fold dough over to make a half moon. If there’s room for more filling, add it a little at a time before you seal the last edge.

Crimp to seal using your thumb and forefinger, starting at the middle and working your way to the edges.

To make pretty repulgues, fold over the triangular edge of the empanada, then fold the next triangle, continuing all around the edges. Fold the last triangle under. This takes patience and lots of practice!

Brush with reserved egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake at 400′ for 20 minutes until golden brown

 

Mexican Wedding Cookies with Anise: Pastelitas de Boda con Anís

IMG_0278Bizcochitos are anise studded Mexican sugar cookies. I combined this idea with the recipe for  Mexican Wedding Cookies I found in Joy of Cooking. It made a tasty cookie even more delicious. These are a special treat at Christmastime which melts in your mouth with a lovely anise flavor.

Ingredients:

Anise

1 cup shelled pecans

2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar plus 1/3 cup for rolling the cookies in

1 Tb vanilla

1 teaspoon anise seeds

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

raosted pecansSpread pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes. Let cool on a plate. Run in food processor until they are in tiny pieces, but not powdery or oily.

whip butterBeat softened butter, add salt, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed until it is fluffy. Gradually add pecans and anise and beat until they are incorporated into the butter mixture.

Sift the flour over the top and slowly beat until well blended.

Grease cookie sheets. Roll 1 inch balls between your palms and place them on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake the sheets one at a time at 350′ for 12-15 minutes until tinged with golden brown. Rotate the sheet halfway through for even browning.

Place sheet on a rack to cool until the cookies begin to firm. Then remove the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

roll in powdered sugarRoll cooled cookies in 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar to coat them.

 

 

 

 

Huevos Rancheros

Hevos Rancheros with frijoles

Huevos Rancheros con frijoles pintos is my favorite hearty Mexican breakfast. I like to make a batch of beans the night before and let them slowly cook in the crock pot overnight. Then I pour them over the huevos rancheros and sprinkle them with salty cotija cheese or queso fresco (fresh cheese).

tortillas on comalIngredients: (serves one)

2 corn tortillas

nonstick canola oil spray

2 tsp butter

2 eggs

2 Tb warm salsa

2 teaspoons cotija cheese or queso fresco

about 1/4 cup frijoles pintos

Directions

Warm eggs in warm water for about 5 minutes.

Heat the comal. Spray comal and both sides of the tortillas with nonstick spray and heat over medium.

fried eggsMelt butter in a nonstick skillet. Fry the eggs. When the whites begin to harden, divide the eggs so the whites are not touching.

Pour salsa on eggsWhen tortillas begin to crisp, transfer them to a plate. Carefully place the eggs on top of them, Pour heated salsa over the eggs.

eggs-with-salsa-and-cheese.jpg

Sprinkle with half the cheese (about one teaspoon).

Hevos Rancheros with frijolesLadle beans over eggs and on the side if you wish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the beans. Disfrutalo!

 

 

 

Black Beans with Yams

serving black beans and yamsSlow cooked black beans brightened by chunks of yams in a rich, slightly chocolaty sauce will warm your winter chill. Thanks to CHEFS student Maria for inspiring this recipe from her vegetarian chili.

Ingredients:

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped, seeds and ribs discarded

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans

8 cups cold water

1 Tb cumin

1/4 tsp ancho chili powder. Add more if you like spicy beans.

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp oregano

3 large Diane yams, peeled, thickly sliced and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces

about 1 Tb salt. Add a bit at a time until it’s to taste

Instructions:

Fry onions and bell pepper in olive oil until the skin begins to char. Add garlic and fry for a minute more. Remove from heat.

Rinse beans and discard imperfect ones. Add to cold water in a large pot. Stir in seasonings and bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Add fried vegetables and chopped yams to water and bring to boil again. Pour contents of pot into a slow cooker. Add more water if needed to cover the beans. Set cooker on low and cook all day or all night, depending on whether you start in the morning or evening. It could take at least 8 hours until the beans are soft. Salt to taste, stirring in salt a bit at a time. Freezes well.

 

Spicy Salsa Verde

salsa-in-chili-serving-dish

This is an excellent spicy salsa to dip your chips in. You can mix it into a couple of smashed avocados for an tasty guacamole.

I doubled this salsa and added broth to it to make enchiladas verdes

Ingredients: Makes about a pint of salsa

ingredients

5 large tomatillos (about ½ pound), husks removed

½  small white onion, peeled

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 poblano chili

1 jalapeño pepper and 2 Serrano chili peppers (This will make a spicy sauce. Use less chilies if you want a milder sauce)

3/4 tea. salt (to taste)

juice of one lime

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, plus a few for garnish.

3 Tb pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

1/4 tea. dried oregano

Preheat oven to 425’ Spray a baking pan with non-stick olive oil spray. Place tomatillos, chilies, garlic, and onion on baking pan.

Bake for 10 minutes, remove garlic and tomatillos, and flip other vegetables. Bake 10 minutes more, until chilies are charred and soft and onions begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool in a bowl or container. You can do this part a day ahead and pop the container in the fridge.

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Toast pepitas on a comal or heavy frying pan over medium heat until they begin to pop. Let them cool, then grind them in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder. If you don’t have a grinder, you can run them in a food processor.

Remove stems and seed pod from chilies. Keep some seeds for extra spiciness

Remove stems from tomatillos over storage container or blender container since they will make a mess. Add roasted vegetables and liquid from them, ground pepitas, lime juice, oregano, cilantro, and salt. Blend until smooth.

 

Chili-Cheese-Bacon Cornbread

piece of cornbread

This rich, moist cornbread is flavorful with charred poblano chili, sharp cheddar cheese and bacon grease. The guilty pleasure of bacon grease is balanced by the healthy addition of olive oil! Sweetened with applesauce. Bake in the cast iron skillet used for frying the bacon.

baked pan of cornbread

Ingredients:

chili cheese
1 cup 1% milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 large poblano chili
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp paprika
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup unsweetened applesauce (I buy the little plastic containers.)
2 Tb bacon grease, melted but not hot, made from 3 slices bacon.
2 Tb olive oil
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425◦ and place rack in middle position.
Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

sweating poblano chili

Place poblano chili on comal or heavy frying pan over high heat, turning so that it burns in places. Place in a small covered pot to sweat.

While chili is sweating, grate 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.

bacon frying

Fry 3 pieces of bacon in a cast-iron skillet. Eat the bacon or add it to frijoles pintos, but save the grease. It should yield 2 Tb of bacon grease. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Cool while preparing the other ingredients.

Sift white flour with baking powder, salt, paprika, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal until well combined.

miniced poblano chili

Remove poblano chili from pot and scrape off the blackened skin. (Don’t rinse it, since you’ll be rinsing away some of charred flavor.) Mince the chili. Include the seeds if you like more heat.

Whisk eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then whisk in applesauce and bacon-oil mixture, including the browned bits of bacon.
Stir in minced poblano chili and ¾ cup cheese.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Slowly mix and fold with a large spoon, only until batter is combined.

sprinkle cheese on top

Pour batter into the skillet that you fried the bacon in. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

cornbread and frijoles

Excellent served with frijoles pintos.

Tinga de Pollo Adobado (Shredded chicken stew with adobo style chipotles)

Tinga de Pollo Adobado (Shredded chicken stew with adobo style chipotles)

chicken tostadaMy colleague, Gabriela Pingarron, brought this to our last potluck for tostadas.  I loved the flavor. It is so easy to make too, especially using boneless chicken breasts. Gaby made it with whole chicken as well, but I imagine she spent a bit more time separating the chicken from the bones and skin.

Chipotles in adobo sauce are smoky chipotle chili peppers cooked in tomato puree, onion, vinegar, garlic, spices and salt. Opening the can is easy, but I’ve also seen some recipes on the web to make it from scratch.

Ingredients:

2 Tb olive oil

1 onion, finely sliced

1 package of 6 chicken breasts

1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

7 oz can chipotles in adobo sauce

3 cups chicken soup. You can use homemade broth, such as Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup, or commercial broth

5 bay leaves

Rinse breasts and trim any fat. Cut into quarters. Pour oil into a medium-large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir the onions with a wooden spoon until they begin to soften. Add the chicken breasts, salt, and garlic and stir until they begin to brown.

Pour the can of chipotles en adobo into a blender. Add 3 cups of broth. Blend for a few seconds. Pour the blended mixture over the chicken and add enough broth to cover it. Add bay leaves and stir to separate chicken. Bring to boil, then lower to medium and cook for 20 minutes.

Fish the chicken out of the soup with a fork. Let it cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken by hand. Discard bay leaves.

chicken in pot

Add the chicken back to broth. Stir over medium heat until chicken absorbs almost all of the broth.

Serve as tostadas, or use as filling for tacos or Enchiladas Rojas. You can add the leftover chicken and broth to tortilla soup

chicken taco