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.
The Secret Recipe Club may be over, but the Fantastical Food Fight is just beginning! Instead of being assigned a blog, secret Santa style, we are given a theme (similar to the Improv Cooking Challenge that I also participate in). For our first month, the theme was deviled eggs - yum!
I knew that I wanted to do a fun take, and while I looked at Caesar Salad, Curry, Mexican Street Corn, and Crab Rangoon variations, I was really drawn to a Smoked Salmon idea. Filled with the flavors of a traditional Lox bagel, this twist is as delicious as it is pretty.
It's Secret Recipe Club Reveal time! This month I was assigned Cookaholic Wife, written by Nichole. We are both married, in our 30's, on the East Coast, and cat moms. I feel a connection! We also must have similar tastes, because I saved more recipes than I have with any other SRC blog. So bear with me for a bit here, and know that this is the edited down list!
Other sweets that I liked the sound of were Sugar Cream Pie, Stone Fruit Eton Mess, Limoncello Cheesecake Bars, Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, Lemon and Sour Cream Doughnuts, and Coconut Lime Cookie Bars.
But the overall winner, the one I knew I had to make as soon as I saw it, was this Breakfast Risotto. Creamy risotto with white wine and shallot, finished off with crispy pancetta, Parmesan, and a poached egg. Simple and amazing.
There aren't a ton of ingredients here, just simple classic flavors. And while risotto is a bit labor intensive (you gotta stir, stir, stir to release all that creamy starch), it isn't particularly complicated. I love the bacon and eggs take on this that is reminiscent of carbonara; and who doesn't want breakfast for dinner? Enjoy!
These started off as peanut butter and jelly, I'm not even kidding. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I had been having a bit of a rough week and hadn't planned anything for our weekly get together. So that morning we just wanted to keep things simple and focus on getting our cats to be friends (long story). We were thinking - let's just make PB&J or store-bought ravioli.
But then - she said she was craving salmon, and I said smoked salmon and goat cheese with crackers was easy and good, she said what about nice bread and an egg. Then there were herbs and kale and shallot and good lord we can't keep it simple! And I wouldn't have it any other way. Fresh, gorgeous ingredients (including some from Mel's garden) turned into a lovely lunch for us, even while wrangling a baby, a toddler, and 2 kitties in an un-childproofed house (mine).
This year for Valentine's Day we decided to stay in, and we both agreed that I should make Beef Wellington - a very special occasion dish of filet mignon and mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry. You can find many recipes out there for this dish, but mine has some secret weapons to keep the puff pastry from getting soggy, the beef from getting overcooked (look at how nice and pink it is, even after 20 minutes in the oven), and to add extra flavor. It is not difficult, but it is time consuming with many steps - which is why it is a special occasion dish (plus it's soooooooo rich). So read on!
First up, sear the filet. (I made 4 servings because it would use a whole package of puff pasty - I have never had good luck with refreezing it.) You want to get a nice sear on all sides, including around the edges, but don't cook the steak all the way. Remove the filets to a plate and allow to cool a bit, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. This step is what will keep the beef from overcooking in the oven.
Earlier in the month, I helped Melissa of Smells Like Brownies with her Secret Recipe Club recipe - Prosecco Poached Salmon. (My October SRC post is here.) It was so delicate, creamy, and yummy that I wanted to make sure to share it with my readers as well!
First, make sure that you are using good quality salmon. I refuse to eat farmed Atlantic salmon, and wild caught Alaskan can be expensive. So I usually opt for the farmed Norwegian or Icelandic, which never fails to be thick and fatty - yum.
First you will cook shallots in butter, then add Prosecco and thyme to make a poaching broth. Then, you will carefully place the salmon into the broth and spoon hot liquid over the top until cooked to your liking (Melissa and I both prefer medium).
Looking for yet another side to go with your Bacon Bourbon Sweet Potatoes? Check out this pork loin glazed with Dijon mustard, apple butter, and cider and roasted over veggies and sage. It's moist, tender, savory, sweet, and easy to make - plus it's pretty healthy!
I came up with this dish because I needed a protein to go with leftover sweet potatoes, and because I wanted to try out the recipe for the apple butter glaze. We are members of the Frog's Leap wine club, and they sent us a little jar of apple butter along with our last shipment of wine. They also included a recipe for a savory glaze using the apple butter, Dijon mustard, apple cider, shallot, and garlic - it sounded great!
Start by placing a few carrots and an onion in a roasting pan, top with a few sprigs of sage, then pour in a little bit of apple cider (to keep the meat from drying out). Season the pork loin with salt and pepper, and set it on the vegetables and roast it on high heat for 15 minutes.
Then take it out, spread the glaze over the top, and return it to the oven at a lower temp for 45 minutes. And that's it! Rest and slice and you're ready to serve. This is a great dish for fall with flavors that pair with lots of seasonal side dishes. Enjoy!
I grew a monster dill plant - I'm talking like 3 feet tall with stems as thick as pencils. So I went to Melissa and begged her to help me use up a ton of dill. We brainstormed for a bit and came up with this salmon recipe. I mean, what goes better with dill than salmon?
This recipe couldn't be easier - pour melted butter over a flank (or filet) of salmon, spread on minced garlic, top with dill, lemon slices, salt, and pepper. Then just pop into the oven for 10 minutes, for a regular sized fish. I picked up salmon from my favorite fish shop (MediterraFish at Mosaic, if you are a local), because their Norwegian salmon is healthy, sustainable, fatty, and HUGE. Like really, really thick. So it was more of a 15 minute fish (though I cut off a piece for me a bit early because I like my salmon medium - not quite opaque in the center, but still able to flake).
The house smelled Ah. Maze. Ing. while this was cooking, and just a few ingredients imparted a lot of flavor. It would have been just fine on it's own, but we also made a sauce with sour cream, horseradish, lemon, shallot, and dill that took it to the next level. So good, simple, and summery - get on it, people, and make this! Stay tuned for the side dish recipe - Greek style zucchini salad.
It's time for another collaboration with Smells Like Brownies (although we actually made this back in June, oops!) - not vegetarian this time, but rather pescetarian. A hearty tomato based broth filled with all kinds of seafood - Cioppino. Melissa actually chose this dish for her blogging group, the Secret Recipe Club. For more info on that, check out her post here.
Making the broth takes up the most time in this recipe, but you want to let it simmer and develop deep flavor, so it's worth it. Olive oil, garlic, shallot, oregano, and a bay leaf go in first; followed by bell pepper, tomato paste, and red wine. Oh yeah, and red pepper flakes - watch it here, this is where you determine your spice level. Next comes canned tomatoes in their juices, clam juice, lemon juice, and veggie broth (not stock). Let it do it's thing for 30 minutes before adding in some mussels.
I meant it when I said this soup was full of all kinds of seafood. While the mussels simmer away; prep the rest of the seafood - scallops, red snapper (or something similar, like halibut), and shrimp. Who knew a bunch of raw seafood could look so pretty?
After the rest of the seafood is cooked through, top with fresh basil and parsley and dig in. Serve with some crusty bread for dipping and eat right away! This Italian stew is perfect for any time of year - hearty and warming, but not heavy - so enjoy!
The January pick for Food 'n Flix is the 1987 Danish film Babette's Feast (now included in The Criterion Collection), chosen by Culinary Adventures with Camilla. This is the story of two deeply religious and puritanical sisters who live on the remote coastline of 19th Century Denmark. They give up much in their lives in order to live the way that they were raised and to help the people of the village. Late in their lives, a French refugee comes to stay with them for many years and cooks them a fabulous meal to thank them. The sisters and villagers are afraid to give in to the decadence of the meal, but it ends up healing many of their wounds and rifts. It is a story about the healing power of food and how it can show love and thanks.
The food cooked in the movie is quite extravagant and I didn't think I could take on turtle soup or quail stuffed with foie gras and truffles, so instead I decided to just go French in general. I must have been influenced by all the soup that the Danish villagers ate (and the stew meat in my freezer), because I made a French stew with beef and red wine - cooked low and slow in a crockpot.
Beef is seasoned with salt and pepper and placed into a bowl with onion, garlic, shallot, celery, carrot, thyme, bay leaves, and lemon zest.
This is the fun part - a whole bottle of red wine is poured over the ingredients and then left to marinate (refrigerated) overnight. The wine is the stock for this stew, and the flavor permeates everything. So make sure that you use a good one! I suggest a Cotes du Rhone for this.