Taco empanadas with taco dipping sauce


An empanada is a delicious thing. There are many variations on filling all over the world. The originated from the Ilberian peninsula in the middle ages during the time of the Moor invasion. I have a favorite, and that’s Taco Empanadas.

30 cups of all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 3/4 lb of unsalted butter cut into 120 pieces, fresh out of the fridge
20 eggs (reserve half for the egg wash)
2 1/2 to 3 cups of water
Egg wash: 10 egg whisked with 10 tablespoon milk

Add flour and salt into a bowl and mix by hand. Add eggs, butter, and water and if you wish it some seasoning, I add cayenne or dried pablano pepper powder and begin mixing until a ball of dough forms. You don’t need to knead. Roll this spiced dough out flat and cut into 200 (yes 200) small circles using a small plate. I refrigerate these stacking them with wax paper between them. Now we make the filling.

5 pounds shredded lettuce
7 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 1/2 pounds chorizo sausage
4 cans of refried beans
10 white onions diced
20 tablespoons paprika
10 tablespoons cumin
5 tablespoons black pepper
10 tablespoons hot sauce (I use this stuff Red Lightning Hot Sauce)
10 tablespoons olive oil

To make the filling get a 20 inch campfire skillet screaming hot and add the oil, ground beef, chorizo, onions, paprika, cumin, black pepper, hot sauce, and let cook 10 minutes stirring, then add in the refried beans and lettuce and stir another 10 minutes until well blended. Remove from heat and let’s fill our empanadas.

Once the mix is cooled we’re ready to start. Spoon some of the mix in the middle of the dough, and fold over pressing out air pockets and brush the edges with the egg wash. Crimp the edges with a fork, I find 1-2 tablespoons of mixture works. Repeat this until you got 200 filled empanadas and no more mixture left over, it’s fine if you do reward yourself. Then we make our dipping sauce before we fry them.

To make our dipping sauce we need: 2 tubs of sour cream, and 4 jars of salsa. The salsa I use can be found here Smoky salsa. Just mix the sour cream into the salsa until well blended with a spoon, leave the spoon on a plate next to the dip, it’s usually a bit too thick for dipping so it’s more of a topping but yummy none the less, it should be deep pinkish red in color.

Now we fry our empanadas. Fry in oil until brown in batches of 5 at a time. Remove once golden with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. Absolutely delicious.

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Enlightenment on sumac


Any time you mention sumac you think of poison sumac also known as poison oak. Sumac while related to poison oak is related to the sumac spice. Sumac is the berry from a shrubby little plant growing in the middle east and parts of Italy. The spice looks black, but the berries when fresh are a brick red. You can buy them ground or whole dried berries. The leaves and bark of the plant was used for tanning leather. It is tart rather astringent and has been used as a souring agent. The spice is rather delicious on grilled meats, fish, ligumes, veggies and even rice. If you’d like to try using it, it can be found in any well stocked middle eastern market place.

Middle eastern grilled monkfish with flat bread dip

2 monkfish filet (about 2 pounds)
4 Tablespoons ground sumac
8 Teaspoons toasted sesame seed
8 Tablespoons thyme
2 Teaspoon fine pink himilayan salt
olive oil to coat fish filets

Wash the monkfish filets under cold water. Find and trim off the blue membrain as it’s inedible. Coat monkfish in olive oil and dredge in the remaining spices. Place on grill of a medium heat (it is ready when you hold your hand 1 inch off the grate and count 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, 3 mississippi, ouch). Allow to cook 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Flat bread dip

1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sumac

whisk together and enjoy with a bread of your choosing.

My country cube steak with saw mill gravy for a crowd


I’ll let you in on a secret. I love red meat. Being a guy one could easily know that but I love bison cube steak when I can find it for a true country breakfest.

Mix together flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Dredge the Cube steak in the flour mix on both sides and set aside until all the yummy cube steaks are covered in flour. In a large camp fire skillet, add oil, garlic, and onions. When onions are clear remove from pan along with garlic. Add butter into pan and allow to melt. Once melted add in cube steaks. Watch them carefully, when the sides get a golden hay like color flip them and give them 1 more minute before removing from the pan. Turn off heat and remove grease by pouring through a fine mesh screen over a funnel into a mason jar.  This filters out the solid particles from the grease. Set this remaining grease aside in the mason jar. It will keep in the fridge for upto a week.

Take 9 tablespoons of this grease, 9 tablespoons of flour, 3 cups of half and half, and 1 pound crumbled breakfest sausage. Sift the flour into this remaining grease in the same pan you fried the cube steak. Stir it until it gets brown, I like a straw brown color. Pour in the half and half slowly while stirring constantly. Add in crumbled breakfest sausage, and stir until it’s thickened. At this point I add black pepper, about 3 tablespoons.  The breakfest sausage can be anything. Jimmy dean is good, or what ever you happen to have.

Serve with a side of mashed potatoes.

My secret baked onions


This is not really a recipe….but it’s the best baked onions you’ll ever have. There really isn’t much to this. All you need is olive oil, and whole onions. You cannot use red onions for this, they get very bitter. You need white or yellow onions, like vadalia and Spanish onions.

Other onions I like are the italian onions:

Onion Tonda Musona Bianca
Onion Rossa Savonese
Onion Ramata di Milano
Onion Dorata di Parma
Onion Borrettana

I recommend Italian Seeds and Tools for these onion seeds.

You will need wild fennel, also from Italian Seeds and Tools.

I pour 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Italian olive oil in a small sauce pan, add in a chopped tablespoon of wild fennel. Then drizzle half of this this over TWO WHOLE ONIONS.  Pop these into the oven, with the tops and roots intact unpeeled. The skin and the top act like aluminum foil. It traps and seals in the juice baking/boiling/roasting it from the inside out, the olive oil browns the outside. I bake two onions for 1 hour.  I’ve done it with up to 6 onions. Once they are come out, they should be wrinkled and brown on the outside and fork tender, like a baked potato. Slice off the tops and bottoms and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. They are as sweet as apples with a intense fennel flavor. Absolutely delicious. If you want, add the sliced tops back onto the onions when you serve them to your guests, they can peel the outside and remove the top themselves providing an interesting eating experiance and they can get that good onion, fennel and olive oil scent that’s been building under the onion top. Soft and delicious. Absolutely delicious give it a try without the fennel and olive oil next time if you’d like to do it without growing any herbs or your own onions.

Grilled salmon with lemon mint butter


I love lemon, I love mint, and I love butter on my grilled salmon. It’s just lovely.

 

  • 6 (6-oz) pieces center-cut salmon fillet (about 1 inch thick) with skin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lime zest
  • 6 tablespoons lemon mint butter (recipe below)

Lemon mint butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon mint diced
  • 6 tablespoons butter

To make lemon mint butter, slowly melt butter add mint and lemon juice and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Shut off heat and keep warm.

Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

Season salmon all over with salt and pepper, then grill, flesh sides down, on lightly oiled grill rack (covered only if using gas grill) 4 minutes. Check for grill marks, then turn fillets over and grill indirect heat (covered only if using gas grill) until just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes more. Once done remove from grill leaving skin behind, sprinkle with lemon mint butter and your ready to enjoy.

Beer can chicken my way


We’ve all had beer can chicken. Well I love my beer can chicken. I have partaken in many different beer can chickens. They are yummy a favorite when tailgating. Unfortunately some are better then others. There is one that I make that just blows the rest completely out of the water. It all begins with the beer. You want a beer that pairs well with chicken and your flavors. Please for the love of god think outside the box. Corona, bud, and michelob are fine but you want to seperate yourself from every other beer can chicken your friends are making. Make sure it’s a good beer. Keep in mind the styles.

Brown ales tend to work best with gamey dishes, beef entrees or brown gravy over chicken. It depends how it works but I’m grilling mine so, any lighter lager or pilsner or brown ale or pale ale will work.

I like to use Brooklyn Brown Ale and Alpine Glacier Lager.

Now you may ask how do I get a beer bottle into a beer can chicken. Well I like to use a funnel. That’s right I have an empty beer can for my chickens.

So this is what we’ll need:

  • 1 can (12 ounces) beer
  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons seasoning (at end)

First we need to marinade over night. To do this mix together the day before

  • 1/8 cup of each beer (1/4 cup total)
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

If you don’t have a empty can of beer like me, well open a beer pour it out drink it, and put an additional 3 holes in the top. Then pour in 6 ounces of each beer. Remove any thing inside the cavity. I take these and just throw them in a pan and cook off any grease I can get for the gravy.

Now that we’re ready drizzle the chicken with olive oil and rub it all around. In a bowl mix the following:

  • Garlic powder (2 teaspoon)
  • Cayenne, ground (2 teaspoon)
  • Onion powder (2 tablespoon)
  • Oregano, dried (2 teaspoon)
  • Sage, ground (2 teaspoon)
  • Black pepper, freshly ground (2 tablespoon)
  • Paprika (2 teaspoon)
  • Coffee ground fine (2 teaspoon)

Ssshhhh don’t tell anyone about the coffee. Rub this mix all over the chicken front and back over the legs and the wings. Sprinkle a little inside. If you got extra great save it, it’s excellent on steaks.

  • Half pound bacon

I love charcoal grills for this place a aluminum pan in the center of the grill, pile coals evenly on both sides. Light your coals. When the grill gets hot dip a paper towel in olive oil and oil the grill grate. I like to soak cherry wood in brandy a half hour before. Check your coals, with a hand 2 inches above the grate, 1 tomatoe 2 tomatoe OW! usually tells you it’s ready. You’ll want the chicken over the drip pan. Spread the legs of the chicken wide apart. Suck the marinade into an injector and slowly inject into the chicken in several places throughout the chicken. Slowly lower the chicken onto the top of the beer can. Lift the grate and toss your soaked chips onto the coals.Wait until you begin seeing smoke. Sit you chicken onto the grill over the drip pan.

Pull the legs forward to form a tri-pod. Tuck the wings behind the back (called Akimbo) to prevent from burning them. Drape the half pound bacon over the top of the chicken. Close the lid and let the chicken roast 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. During the cooking process you will have to add you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour. If the skin gets to browning too much, tent with foil for the rest of the cooking process. Once done remove carefully off the grill with tongs. Place it on a flat plate and let people awww at it. You can wait for it to cool and then remove the bacon and beer can from it. Though it probably will not last that long.

 

Italian zucchini flowers fried


That’s right! Zucchini flowers stuffed and fried. Delicious. What do they taste like you may ask? Well they don’t really have much flavor at all on their own. In Italy they are very popular that at any market there is always a few stalls selling just zuccini flowers. I love stuffing them with many things. I try to make combinations of things to stuff them with. Sometimes they leak out some of the stuffing but that’s perfectly ok. If you really wanna make sure it don’t fall out. Refigerate after stuffing for an hour, toss with flour first then the egg, then the breading. Here we go!

 

72 Fresh Zucchini Flowers
9 ounce Log Goat Cheese
9 ounce feta cheese
16 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Chives
3 Cup Ricotta Cheese
Sea Salt & Pepper
12 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cup Milk
9 Cups italian Breadcrumbs
1 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese
1 pound pancetta sliced thin
Oil For Frying

Gently rinse your flowers and pat dry with paper towels and remove the inner bits from each.
Mix together the ricotta, feta, chives and goat cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Put ricotta mixture in a small plastic bag and clip off one bottom corner.
Place some thin strips of pancetta into each flower.
Squeeze a good teaspoonful of the mixture into each flower.
Toss the flowers in the flour now.
Beat the eggs with the milk until light and foamy.
Dip the flowers into the egg wash and allow it to drip off.
Roll the flowers in the breadcrumbs and place on a tray.
Repeat with all the flowers.
Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Heat oil in a wide saucepan until very hot (375 degrees F.)
Fry the flowers in batches on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
Place the fried flowers on a platter covered with a couple of layers of paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Once all fried lay on a plate sprinkle a bit of sea salt and put on the side some marinara sauce.