Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mommas Empanadas

It is time to bring in some more southern cooking to our list of adventures.  We took it way down south this week to Argentine cooking!  Our wonderful mother was born in Argentina, later to come to the United States as a young girl.  This week she was in town visiting us!  She showed us, and now all of you, how to make our childhood favorite, the Empanada.
Empandas come in all shapes and sizes and are a major part of the Latino cultures.  In Brazil, my brothers and I enjoyed them by another name, pastel.  Found in most of south America, southern Europe and even parts of Asia, they are enjoyed by all.  Sweet or Savory they come in all different varieties.  The word originates from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap in bread.
With that introduction I will say one last thing about the Hispanic culture and our experience in their cuisine because we have spent a lot of time eating their food.  There seems to be no real set recipe.  Everyone is different.  I asked my mom for the recipe to put on here and she said, "Pauli... Just taste it, if it taste good then put it in and eat it!"  So the recipe is as follows:
Ham and Cheese Empanadas
Pastry dough

Meat Empanadas

Ground Beef (elk, venison, whatever!)
Pastry Dough
We will stick to tradition and say that all these amounts are "to taste."

I will try and do these simultaneously as to not have this post be super long.  First thing is get everything cut and ready.  Cut up the cheese and ham in to manageable size pieces, slice the onions and put them to sweat in a pot.  Put the eggs to boil.


Add the meat and spices to the onions...

After the ground meat is cooked, it needs to cool before you add the eggs and olives.  You will see a lot of the liquid still in there from the onions and the meat.  You can drain a little of it but most of it needs to stay to keep the empanada moist.  After it cools add olives and eggs. Add whatever else "to taste."

Now time to empanar! We have a little South American grocer near us that we buy these pastry packets.  There are two kinds, baking ones, and frying ones.  We went with the baked (easier and less fatty than frying).


OK, now put a a reasonable amount of filling inside each little pastry round.  Not too much because we can't have any holes in the dough or they will explode!


 Add water to one half of the dough, and fold it over on itself.  Press the dough shut.


After it is nice and sealed you can make any design you want, this is my moms, start your own empanada folding tradition and make your own!

Put them on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25min or until golden brown.


This recipe might look like it is for a lot.  We used about 6 lbs of ground beef, 12 eggs, 2 onions... well you get the picture.  Last insight into the lovely Argentine culture... we LOVE to eat.

(We made 108....)

We like them plain... you enjoy them however!!

Thanks Mom for treating us!!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Curing Chamber - How to Cure Meat at Home

Curing meats and aging cheeses is an age old process.  It requires very strict temperature and humidity regulation to get it right.  We will show you how to make an easy in home chamber to do it.
Aging cheeses is one of the most beautiful things on the planet.  Natural bacteria takes over and gives rise to thousands of different flavors.  There is no end to what the bacteria can do.  With the right chamber there is no stopping us from our creations!
Curing meats  is a very delicate process.  It is used as another way to preserve meats for long time storage.  We have already shown one form, smoking meat.  Another common form is salt packing (we will discuss this later).  Curing meats uses nitrite/nitrate components to aid in the preservation process.  Discovered long ago in the early 1800's saltpeter (a form of nitrites) was used to start curing their meats.  It was preferred (and generally is still today) over salt packing because the nitrites give the meat its characteristic red color.  To bring this in perspective, Slim Jim's, salami, pepperoni, longaniza, etc.  Its all cured and we just made a chamber to do it!!
First thing you will need is a space to do it in.  We live in Utah (feels like the driest state in the country) which is not good for maintaining humidity levels.  Some of you might get away with using a cold basement or pantry (might get away with it in New Hampshire).  So we went to our local appliance store and got a great deal on an old refurbished fridge.

 The fridge doesn't need to be fancy.  We couldn't find a good full fridge so we have a freezer component.  You can put your drinks up there to chill while you are aging your goods for later.  We gutted the whole bottom portion of all the drawers and racks.  You only need to keep the top one to hang the meats and have a place to let the cheeses sit.  A fridge is great for a curing chamber as well because it is normally insulated very well.  It also is very easy to get in and out of (If you're us we practice about 50 times a day).

Now for the equipment!!!  We have chosen these two products for our humidifier and temperature control device.  First, a humidifier for the addition of humidity.  Most meats and cheese cure and age at a constant humidity of around 80%.  We read up on tons of humidifiers because none were getting good reviews.  This one seemed to be the best.

It has a built in hygrostat (measures humidity levels) and turns off when it gets to the desired humidity.  The reviews on this humidifier , and all the others for that matter, were mediocre.  We think that people were trying to humidify a whole room with this little guy and getting upset when it would turn off.  For a small fridge this one is perfect! 

Remember to always try and use filtered water and clean the machine out well.  We don't want to introduce new bacteria into the chamber.  Also we used this humidifier because it uses the superfine cool mist.  We don't want hot or boiled humidity or big droplets.  The fine mist allows for better aging and curing conditions.  Let us know if you like another but this was our choice!

Next tool is a temperature regulator.  A standard fridge will maintain a temperature of around 40 degrees.  This is not optimal for curing.  It needs to stay at around 55 degrees.  So there are a lot of these out there but this is the one we decided to get based on reviews and performance.

 The fridge gets plugged in to it and then you set the temperature you desire.  It will turn on and off the fridge to maintain a higher temperature required for curing.  You can see the copper wiring in the pictures... this gets put into the fridge to measure internal temps.

Assembly is easy.  Plug everything in, and make it look as pretty as possible.  The wire gets threaded through (we just put it through the hinge of the fridge door).  Turn everything on and done!  This is what ours looks like!

Our Beautiful Curing Chamber!

Let us know what yours looks like!  Ask us any questions on products too!  We did way too much research for our own good!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for our aged cheeses and cured meats!!
Thanks Jay and Roos for building it with me,


All you need to know about barbecue

Smoked Pork Carnitas!

Ok… so you’ve made your pulled pork, everyone loved it, but now you have the left-overs. What do you do with them? I’ve tried a lot of different things, I’ve tried sprinkling some of the meat in an omelet, mixing it in some baked beans, obviously sandwiches are always good a second day in a row as well.
I wanted something different though, I was done with the easy leftover meals. I wanted something I could use my pulled pork leftovers with and still get that “wow factor”. I chose to try my hand at some Smoked Pork Carnitas…. I chose correctly, these are to die for.
This is a really easy recipe, get out your cast iron pan (if you don’t have one, seriously, you need one) and throw a little Crisco in there (you don’t need much, enough to coat the bottom of the pan), heat the pan slowly and melt the Crisco.
Throw in the pork and fry everything up until everything is sizzling and crispy, remove and serve.
 Remember, the pork already has a lot of flavor from the smoke and the rub, if you would like, you can add more flavorings (Marjaoram, Thyme, Mexican Oregano, Chili Powder etc.) while you are frying, but I find that it comes out just fine with the original flavorings.
This method of using your leftover pork is great; it brings a whole new dimension to the previously smoked pork. If it lasts long enough (this will be tough because you’ll be picking at it as soon as you can) throw it on a tortilla with a diced onion, some good salsa (maybe a tomatillo salsa), a little guacamole and some cilantro and you’ll be in Mexican heaven. Enjoy!

All you need to know about barbecue

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Safety Razors and Shaving Brushes: PART 1

One of my absolute favorite pastimes is the art of wet shaving. That sounds a bit crazy, calling shaving a pastime. However, with fragrant oils, antique blades, and diagrams of the directionality of facial hair growth, there are as many things to get into with shaving as there are famous athletes in sports.  I hope to show you with this post that not only is wet shaving a great way to relax and wind down.
Lets start off with the basics. The skin is at times a very complex organ. We all have different types of skin. Some dry, some oily, some flakey, some rough, etc. No matter the skin type you posses, it is nearly guarunteed that the skin on your body most sensitive to tempurature and hydration change is found on your face. For this purpose it is important to prepare your face for shaving every time you shave.
This can be done in several ways. There are many creams,  conditioners, oilsand gels and so much more. Depending on your skin type, you may like oils better than creams. You may like a conditioners more than gels. It is even possible that that best things for your skin is a cheep shaving lotion found at Wal-Mart. Whatever the case may be, its important to be aware (especially with this kind of shaving) that there are many different materials you can use to prepare your skin for the ideal shave.
Once we have applied a generous coat of pre-shave material, the next step is to open the pores of the skin with a hot towel. This also serves to make the skin moist and supple. Opening the pores allows the oils and creams to protect the skin as they are able to penetrate more. These towels are great and are actually barber grade face towels. Simply fill your sink with hot water, soak the towel, ring it out a bit and place it on your face for a few minutes. You will feel the towel start to get cold after a while you can repeat or just start shaving!

Thanks Russ