I fell behind on posting over the holidays, which I wouldn't too bad about, except that it means I haven't posted about these empanadas yet! These were Melissa's idea for one of our amazing vegetarian lunches. You can see from her post, which is from all the way back in October, just how far behind I am!
Anywho, back to the empanadas! Crispy, buttery, flaky crust. Smoky, creamy, hearty filling. Cool, creamy, vibrant dipping sauce. Yes, yes, yes!
You will need to bake some sweet potatoes, the fastest and easiest way to do this is in the microwave. Then scoop out the flesh and mash it with a fork.
I finally got my act together in time to post for Food 'n Flix, ha! I really need to work on that! Anyway, this month's movie is Butter - hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eats. This hilarious movie is about wealth, race, privilege, power, family, small town America, and (of course) butter. I'd seen it before, and enjoyed it so much that I didn't mind renting it again just to look for food references. Which, by the way, are few and far between other than the ubiquitous butter.
So what was I going to make that would feature butter? I came up with a few ideas, but I kept circling back to these apple dumplings (even though I'd posted about them before). They really are perfect for this movie, though - a little bit redneck, totally unhealthy, and drenched in butter.
The dumplings are actually really easy to make. I like them best when they are fresh and the sugar on top is still crunchy, so I tend to make half a recipe one day and the other half the next day - which is why you will only see 4 dumplings in the photos. Start by peeling and coring an apple, then cutting into 8 slices.
I give full credit to Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) for this idea. I'd heard of cauliflower pizza crust before and thought I should try it, but I never got around to it. So I was really glad when she brought it up and suggested we try it.
It turns out that cauliflower crust is really easy! It doesn't taste or feel like traditional crust, but it is yummy and chewy - I liked it! I was surprised that I could actually pick up a slice and it held together. So whether you are gluten-free, looking for low-carb, or just like to try new things, I highly recommend this pizza crust!
The first step is to pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until very fine. Then place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave to steam. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and transfer to a cheesecloth lined colander to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, twist the cloth and squeeze to release as much moisture as possible. Like really squeeze this thing to death, I'm not joking. You may need to take turns with a cooking buddy like we did.
When you've removed as much moisture as you can, add mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper, salt, and an egg. Use your hands to combine into a dough.
As promised in my last post, today we are talking about Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie. Oh yeah, baby. I have a bonafide obsession with fruit and sour cream pies. That tang to balance out sweetness, and the creaminess - yum.
Just a few ingredients are all that is required - flour, sugar, sour cream, and an egg for the custard; and chopped rhubarb.
We already talked about crust this week, so you know that is going to be good. I like the idea of a crumble topping with this, especially to add sweetness since rhubarb is so tart.
Just look at that beautiful pie! Jewel like pieces of rhubarb in a pink tinged custard with golden streusel. Gorgeous. But before we get into that, we need to talk about crust. Perfectly tender and flaky crust. And for that, we need lard.
I first discovered the wonders of using lard for baking in this recipe. It makes the flavor and texture of pie crust amazing, plus it's so easy to roll out! It also has the benefit of being made from animal fat, which is not toxic like the vegetable oil used to make shortening. Unfortunately, the lard you can buy at the store is partially-hydrogenated, and that is nasty and bad for you. So, what to do? Render your own lard at home! It takes a while, but most of that time is hands off - just letting a slow cooker do it's thing.
I really love authentic Italian pizza. The kind with the thin crust that gets blistered and charred in the wood oven. My favorite place to get it around here is Pizzeria Orso, but I have been trying to make it at home. Step one is to get a pizza stone. I leave mine on the bottom rack of the oven. As long you are heating it with the oven (not sticking a cold stone into a hot oven) it will be totally fine to leave it in there all the time. In fact, heating it frequently will help keep it clean by burning any spills to dust. I've even left it in there on the self clean mode - totally fine and now very clean! It will take longer for your oven to preheat with the stone in it, but it will help keep the temperature even and constant. You will also need a pizza peel to transfer the pizza to the stone.
Step 2 for great pizza - great dough. I have tried many doughs, including whole wheat ones. For authentic pizza - this Jim Lahey dough is the best. It takes a long time to make though, so be prepared. The idea behind this dough is that the tenderness and pocketed texture come from fermenting the dough (for 18 hours, I told you it takes time!), and then handling it as little as possible. That means no kneading!
After letting the dough ferment (like sourdough starter), you carefully remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Then you separate it into four parts and gently fold (not roll, or knead) the parts into balls. Use them quickly or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. This dough is only good for a couple of days so plan to make a lot of pizza!
When you are ready to make the pizza (the oven and stone should be preheated at this point), carefully and gently stretch the dough. Either in the air on your knuckles, or on a floured surface. For some technique tips - check out this video. See those bubbles in the dough, there? That's what you are trying to achieve. Those will blister up and make your pizza awesome. Here's another handy trick - I always have trouble getting my pizza off the peel, no matter how much cornmeal I put on there. So I have started putting the pizza onto parchment paper and sliding that onto the stone. Then after about 2 minutes (you will smell it starting to char), I slide the parchment out from under the partially set dough - easy!