Friday, August 24, 2012

Sweet and Savory Peach Dessert Empanadas

To download a copy of the recipe for Sweet and Savory Peach Dessert Empanadas, click HERE.

Although it’s probably natural to think of empanadas as Latin cuisine, by one name or another, some variation of empanadas can be found in nearly every part of the world.

It’s easy to understand why this would be. An empanada is a simple, versatile item made by placing a filling – usually meat, fish, or vegetables, but sometimes fruit – onto a circle of dough and folding it over. The filled dough packet is then cooked, usually by frying, and sometimes by baking. (Think “Hot Pocket” except made with recognized food items.) Needless to say, in the recipe below the empanadas are baked.

When made as a dessert item, empanadas usually have a sweet fruit filling. For this recipe, instead of a sweet, pie-type filling, I wanted to add a little more depth of flavor by adding savory elements as well. In fact, if you increase the cook time for the filling to make it softer, you’ll have a pretty good peach chutney. (You might notice in the photos below that I made a double batch of filling; the leftover got frozen for future use as chutney.)

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin:
  • Because these are dessert empanadas, I cut the dough discs a bit smaller than usual, to about 3-1/2”. If you’re filling these with meat and plan to make a meal of them, I’d recommend cutting the dough discs a bit bigger.
  • Also because these are being made into dessert empanadas, I included sugar in the dough. If you want to use this dough for a more traditional meat empanada, I’d recommend omitting the sugar. If you’re really feeling creative, you may even want to add herbs or other flavorings that are compatible with whatever you’ll be filling them with.
  • While we’re on the subject of the dough, some empanada-lovers may prefer not to make their own. Fear not; frozen dough discs for making empanadas can be found at most Latin food stores.
  • As with any pastry, empanada dough handles easiest when it is kept very cold. Accordingly, you’ll see in the recipe below there are several points at which steps are taken to keep the dough as cold as possible using the freezer. (I find that works better than the refrigerator, especially when using reduced-fat butter substitute.)

This recipe makes about fourteen 3-1/2” empanadas.

Place ¼ cup raisins and 1 Tbsp of chopped walnuts for the filling in a bowl of water and let soak while making the pastry. (This makes the raisins moist and draws some of the bitterness out of the walnuts.)

To make the pastry:

Combine ¼ cup of water, 1/8 tsp cider vinegar, and ½ tsp kosher salt the water in a cup and put in the freezer until almost icy. At the same time, place 5 ounces of butter substitute in the freezer to get it very cold, but not frozen.

Combine 3 cups of all-purpose flour and ¼ cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Turn the mixer on for a few seconds to get a good mix.

After the ice water mixture and the butter substitute are chilled, cut the butter substitute into small pieces and add to the flour mixture.

Turn on the mixer till the bowl contents resemble a coarse meal. (A few pea-sized pieces of butter substitute are ok.)

Add the ice water mixture and 1 egg-substitute egg, and blend until the dough holds together.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the freezer while you make the filling.

To make the filling:

In a small saucepan, combine ¼ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of cider vinegar, and bring to a boil.

While the sugar and vinegar are heating, melt 1 Tbsp of butter substitute in a skillet. When it has melted, begin sautéing 1/3 cup of diced onion. When the onion is soft and translucent, add 1 minced clove of garlic and cook till aromatic, about another minute.

Add 2 cups of diced peaches. (Fresh are best as long as you can get good ones. If good peaches aren’t available, canned will suffice.) Cook for about another minute until the peaches have just started to brown.

Add the boiled vinegar mixture, ¼ tsp nutmeg (fresh ground is best); ¼ tsp ground ginger; a pinch of ground cinnamon; ¼ tsp hot sauce; and 2 Tbsp kosher salt. Simmer uncovered for 5 – 10 minutes until the peaches soften slightly. While the mixture is simmering, begin preheating the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix 1 Tbsp of cornstarch with enough water to make a milky consistency.

Add to the peach mixture in the skillet and cook for about two minutes.

Drain the raisins and walnuts and stir into the mixture. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the filling cool slightly and thicken while you work with the dough in the next steps.

To make the empanadas:

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut in half. Re-wrap one of the halves and place it in the refrigerator until ready to use

Roll the other half-dough to about 1/8” thick. (Be careful not to make the dough thicker than this, or the empanadas will lose their lightness and become too crusty for the amount of filling.)

Using a cookie cutter or a small plate, cut out circles of the desired size. (About 3-1/2”- 4” diameter is recommended.)

Place some filling on one half of each cutout.

Apply some egg-wash around the edge and fold other the other half of the cutout, pressing down to seal.

Crimp the edges using a fork or your fingers.

Place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon sheet. Brush egg wash onto each empanada.

Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Bake until golden, about 15 – 20 minutes.

Trim away any baked seepage using a kitchen scissor.

Let the empanadas cool on a rack, and serve at  room temperature or warm.

To download a copy of the recipe for Sweet and Savory Peach Dessert Empanadas, click HERE.

Hope you enjoy these full-flavored, totally delightful sweet-and-savory treat! And that you’ll come back for another delicious, kitchen-tested recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Herbed Beer Breadsticks/Rolls

To download a copy of this recipe for Herbed Beer Breadsticks/Rolls, click HERE.
[Please note: If you’ve experienced problems in the past trying to download recipes from Kissing the Cook, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve changed to a different cloud site that should work a lot better. Give it a try!]

In the photo accompanying last week’s recipe post, the Steamed Carrot Noodles with Bolognese was shown served with a very tasty herbed, beer batter breadstick. As promised, this week I’m glad to share the wonderfully simple recipe for making the breadsticks or, if you prefer, dinner rolls. (As you’ll see in the recipe below, the difference between making a breadstick and making a roll is just one simple step that takes but a few seconds.) Aside from being easy and delicious, beer breads have the added advantage of being a lot faster to make than yeast breads since there’s no rising or proofing required.

Here’s another nice thing about these breadsticks: varying the herbs and the beer can customize the breadsticks to the dish with which you’re serving them. I made them using  sage and rosemary, but substitute any other herbs that suit your needs. (For pairing herbs with food and with each other, a site I’ve found useful can be found at

For the beer, select one that, if you were drinking it, would go well with the dish you’re serving. Many beer manufacturers have web sites that help pairing a beer with your food. (For example, information for the Sam Adams line I often turn to for its quality and the wide range of flavors available can be found at

This recipe makes 12 breadsticks or dinner rolls.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Sift together 4 cups of all-purpose flour (not bread flour which, in this case, would make the bread too heavy); 2 Tbsp baking powder; ½ Tbsp kosher salt; and ¼ cup sugar.

Add ¼ cup of chopped fresh sage.

Using a fork, cut in ¼ cup of cold butter substitute.

Add 12 ounces of room temperature beer and mix until a dough forms. (Be careful opening the beer. At room temperature, it can sometimes froth up when first opened. We don’t need to discuss how I found this out.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon sheet.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide in half. While working with the first half, cover and refrigerate the second half.

Divide the half-dough into six equal parts. On a floured surface, roll each part into snakes about 10” long.

For breadsticks, you’ll use the snakes “as is.” If you prefer making rolls, first tie the snake into a loose overhand knot…

…then tuck in the ends.

Place the snakes or rolls on the baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil.

Sprinkle with chopped rosemary. (You’ll need about ¼ cup to do all 12 breadsticks/rolls.)

Bake till lightly browned, about 16 minutes, turning the baking sheet half-way. (Don’t bake until dark brown bread as you would with some other breads or it will be overdone.)

Repeat the cutting and baking steps with the second half of the dough. Serve warm.

To download a copy of this recipe for Herbed Beer Breadsticks/Rolls, click HERE.

Fresh bread doesn’t get much easier than that! You can experiment with different herb combinations, as well as with different beers. Have fun with it!

Hope you enjoy making this delicious – and very useful – bread with your meals. Please come back and visit again next week for another recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Steamed Carrot Noodles with Ground Turkey Bolognese

For a copy of this recipe for Steamed Carrot Noodles with Ground Turkey Bolognese, click HERE.
Our mission this week: rearrange the parts of classic recipe into something different, but just as good. Today’s recipe, Steamed Carrot Noodles with Ground Turkey Bolognese, takes a classic beef stew and transforms it in several ways:
  • The beef is replaced by ground turkey to reduce the fat.
  • The carrots that are normally part of the stew have been pulled out, cut into ribbons (“noodles”), steamed until tender and mixed with regular pasta noodles.
  • The remaining stew ingredients (minus the potatoes, which are no longer needed since we’re using the noodles) are used to make a Bolognese that will top the combined noodles.

The end result is a hearty meal that’s colorful and fun, and so good it not only might get you some new Facebook friends, it might even get someone who unfriended you to come back. ;-)

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin.
  • The steamed “carrot noodle” concept was inspired by seeing Alton Brown use raw carrot noodles in a very nice looking cold carrot slaw. It got me wondering what could be done with them if they were cut down smaller and cooked to a texture similar to that of pasta noodles. Thank you, Chef Brown!
  • In the recipe and photos, I’ve made a the amount of noodles needed for four servings, but about three times as much Bolognese as is needed. The simple reason behind this is that Bolognese is one of those highly useful items to keep on hand in the freezer for future use. Make the extra, and you’ll find what to do with it. (If, after all this, you still want to make only the four servings you need, just reduce the quantities of the Bolognese ingredients proportionately. However, if you do that and sometime soon find yourself wanting to use some Bolognese  in a recipe, don’t’ say I didn’t warn you.)
  • In the photo at the top, the carrot noodles with Bolognese are shown served with an easy-to-make beer batter herbed bread stick. That recipe will be featured in a very near future post.

This recipe makes four servings, plus the extra Bolognese.

First, we’ll prepare the carrot noodles.

Trim and peel 8 large carrots. Cut in half lengthwise, and then into pieces about 2” long.

Using a mandolin, slice the carrots on the thinnest setting.

Working in stacks, cut the sliced carrots in half to make the carrot “noodles.”

Set aside till ready to cook.

To make the Bolognese:

Prepare your mise en place: 8 cloves garlic, minced...

2 green peppers, chopped...

2 medium onions, chopped; 6 large stalks of celery, chopped; 2 Tbsp fresh thyme; and ½ cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish.

Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet. When it is heated, add the onions and saute till translucent.

Add the garlic and cook till aromatic, about another 30 seconds to a minute.

Add the green pepper and celery and cook until tender and slightly browned, about another eight minutes.

Add 2 pounds of ground turkey, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire, 2 Tbsp kosher salt, ½ Tbsp fresh ground black pepper, and 1 tsp hot sauce. While cooking, use a ladle to drain some of the fat if it seems excessive.

Cook till the turkey is browned, about 25 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot.

Add 5 cups of tomato sauce, one 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (including the liquid from the can), 3 bay leaves and the thyme, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

When done, cover and remove from heat.

Making the combined noodles:

While the Bolognese is simmering, cook 8 ounces of pasta noodles as per the directions on the package.

Place a colander in a bowl and drain the noodles. Transfer enough of the hot noodle water to steam the carrots back into the pot; discard the rest of the water. Put the noodles into the bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and set aside.

Using the hot noodle water, steam the carrot noodles over high heat until they are about the same texture as the pasta noodles. Check them often; the cooking time will vary widely depending on the exact thickness of the carrots and other factors.

Combine the noodles and the carrots. Season and drizzle with olive oil.

Divide the combined noodles into four servings on plates.

Top the noodles with the Bolognese. (Remember to remove the bay leaves first!) Add some chopped parsley for garnish, and you’re all set!

For a copy of this recipe for Steamed Carrot Noodles with Ground Turkey Bolognese, click HERE.
Hope you enjoy this delicious twist on a classic beef stew! And that you’ll visit here again next week for another great recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)