Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread

For almost two years now, I’ve been working my way through a wonderful bread cookbook, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, by Zachary Golper. My intent was to work through it completely … and I haven’t quite made it through … because frankly I’ve had enough time to figure out what my favorites are, and I keep returning to those. So someday I’ll finish the book, but in the meantime, here’s my review.

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Empanada Gallega

There is something so inherently satisfying about a good empanada, which I’m used to thinking of as a single-serving delicious turnover with either a savory or a sweet filling. We’ve enjoyed these throughout South America (most notably in Chile and Argentina), as well as in Mexico. On a recent cycling trip in Galicia, Spain, though, we were introduced to the empanada gallega, a single larger “pie” that is then cut into wedges or squares.  Continue reading

Eating Across Spain (and Portugal), 2017 Edition

This June we found ourselves back in Spain by way of Lisbon, Portugal. And once again, we enjoyed old favorites and discovered some new (to us) dishes – a few of which I’m working on making at home already! Highlights definitely include the delectable Pastéis de Nata (or Pastéis de Belém) egg custard tarts in Lisbon; octopus (pulpo) either grilled or in salads (why, oh why can’t I buy octopus at home…); jamón ibérico and its beef counterpart, cecina; wood-grilled cabrito (baby goat); empanada gallega, a larger format empanada with fish (or meat) and vegetables, sliced into squares; paella; and the superb cabrales blue cheese from Asturias. We also enjoyed our fair share of more basic but well prepared fare, including a variety of fried fish croquetaspechuga empanada (pan-fried chicken schnitzel), and even chorizo and eggs for dinner.

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Ratatouille Wellington

Increasingly when we travel, I like to try to get to a cooking class. But I haven’t done much of that when at home. So several months ago I went to a cooking class, called a “puff pastry primer”, at the local community college. I was hoping the class would be about making puff pastry and that I could get a few tips on improving my technique, but it turned out to be things to do with store-bought puff pastry. (Throwing it out wasn’t one of the options. 🙂 ) So while the class was kind of a bust for me, one good thing that did come out of it was watching the instructor make a big showy “wellington”. Continue reading

Empanada Dough

I’ve used different doughs for making empanadas, including buttery doughs and standard pie crusts, and while they were good, I knew they could be better. After scouting around for recipes, I reluctantly concluded that I would have to try making them with lard. I know … eeew … I have never, ever bought lard in my life and truly didn’t want to start. But I have to say, I’m glad I did, at least for this dough. The result was light and flaky, and actually when you consider how much lard is in a batch of dough, eating one or two empanadas isn’t *that* bad for you … depending on your filling.

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Eggnog Ice Cream

Eggnog ice cream is a distinctly wintery, holiday treat…I mean, it would just taste weird in the summertime. This recipe is adapted from the superb ice cream recipes in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer. If you like to make ice cream, by all means buy this book! I have had more success making ice cream with this book than almost any other recipes I have tried (and I’ve tried a lot).

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Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Puffs)

Brazil has a few signature dishes – feijoada and caipirinhas come to mind – but few are as addictive as pão de queijo. Dry and slightly crispy outside, soft and cheesy inside, they are yummy little breads made with tapioca flour. Tapioca flour is made from cassava root, also known as manioc and yuca (yes, one c). We enjoyed these on a recent trip to the Brazilian Amazon, but (despite finding many recipes on the internet) I thought it would be unlikely I’d be able to make these at home; who sells tapioca flour, after all?

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Eggs with Mushrooms and Cream

Technically this is oeufs en cocotte, eggs steamed in ramekins. I’d love to say that I had this in a Parisian bistro while sipping some cafe au lait, but the truth is I saw this on a Jacques Pépin PBS show while I was sitting in a VW dealer waiting room not long ago. It’s one of those recipes that everyone says you don’t need a recipe for – indeed, on his tv show’s website there isn’t a recipe – but I’ll write it out anyway.

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Carrie Hamblen’s Chiles Rellenos

This post is courtesy of Carrie Hamblen, CEO & President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. I had the pleasure of hearing Carrie speak at the recent 2016 Conservation Lands Foundation’s Friends Grassroots Rendezvous in Las Vegas, as a panelist for “How Friends Groups Can Engage the Business Community on Conservation Issues”. She mentioned her chiles rellenos during the session so of course I tracked her down after the panel and asked for the “not-yet-but-will-be famous” recipe. Thanks Carrie! Continue reading