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Posts Tagged ‘meat’

Many years ago my family lived in an apartment building on the second floor and my parents became friends with the couple across the hall who had three kids. They were from Chile and the husband/dad worked for Motorola and was transferred to Canada (I believe he was an electrical engineer but I can’t be sure because I was only 8). The kids were, Edward, Malu and Christina; my brother fell in love with Christina (the youngest) and asked for her hand in marriage — they were 6 years old. Edward was my age but we were never interested in each other, after all, he was a creepy boy and I was certain he had couties! Malu was a year younger than I and we became friends. We were family friends for several years…7 or 8 I believe, and one day we came home to find that they had moved out without a single word or forwarding address. We haven’t seen them since. How weird is that? Have you ever had such a strange experience?

My dear Mom was always ready to try anything and when the opportunity arose, she would arrange to swap dinners with her Chilean friend. Mom also did that with an Indian friend and a Jamaican friend! This was our introduction to the family love of food. My Mom’s Chilean friend made us Empanadas which are a South American meat patty, often changed up from country to country by the spices added and the type of meat used. Last year when we were in D.C., we had Empanadas at a great little Spanish restaurant and they put their own twist into this delicious patty…they added soft cheese! Boy was it good. It was deep fried and the casing was soft and crispy and the centre filled with wonderfully spiced ground meat and a delicious soft cheese. When I realized that in my 7 years of blogging, I have never posted an Empanada recipe I decided that it was darn time! Shame on me because they are so easy to make and freeze very well. Pop a couple into the oven or microwave and you’ve got a delightful snack or appetizer or light lunch.

A couple of weeks ago, our lovely neighbours invited us for a tapas cocktail afternoon and she made a version of Empanada that got my attention (with chorizo) but for this recipe I shall post my dear Mom’s traditional Chilean friend version for the  filling. To be honest, I never really liked Mom’s recipe for the pastry so I made my neighbours pastry recipe instead and I think it’s pretty darn perfect. The pastry is a cross between bread dough and pie crust; the exterior is firm but the texture when you bite into it has some elasticity so the patty doesn’t fall apart. This time I made small one-bite sized patties and a slightly larger 3-4 bite luncheon patties. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Empanadas2

It’s an optical illusion, the front ones are about half the size of the back ones!

Empanadas

Makes about 48  mini 5cm (2 inch) Empanadas AND 32 larger 15 cm (3.5 inch)

Ingredients, filling:

  • 1 kg ground meat (could be mixed veal with pork and beef)
  • 5 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped black olives
  • 1 cup of golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
  • Salt to taste (but be careful because the olives are quite salty)
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella or Manchego, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch pieces)

Directions, filling:

  1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven. Cook onions until soft.
  2. Add the spices and heat until you can JUST smell them.
  3. Braise the meat until completely cooked, add the raisins. and the chopped black olives.
  4. Allow to cool completely before filling dough.

Ingredients, dough:

  1. 6 cups all purpose flour
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1/2 cup milk
  4. 1/2 cup olive oil
  5. 4 tsp baking powder
  6. 4 tsp salt
  7. 2 eggs beaten with about 1/4 cup water
  8. 1 cup sesame seeds for garnish

Directions, dough:

  1. Pre heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine all dough ingredients until it forms a soft dough (kitchenaid is fine).
  3. Roll out dough to about 1mm thick (I used the #3 setting on my pasta maker) and cut with a round cookie cutter (small 1 bite size should be no larger than 5 cm or 2 inches and larger luncheon versions should be about 15 cm or 3.5 inches).
  4. Brush some of the egg wash all around the edge of each circle. Into the centre of each dough circle, add about 1‐2 tbsp meat mixture, making sure you have some raisins and olives in each circle. Add one square of cheese per round.
  5. Fold dough over filling so it is a crescent and seal the edges.
  6. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each crescent top with the egg wash for shine and sprinkle with sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm and enjoy with a bit of jam or compote or mustard.

    They are pretty darn tasty.

    They are pretty darn tasty.

Notes:

  • These freeze very well, just pop them into a zip-lock baggy and freeze, use one at a time or as needed.
  • The recipe may be successfully halved or quartered.
  • If you don’t like black olives, leave them out, same with raisins but you will miss the salty and sweet combination.
  • We used fresh mozzarella because we could not find Manchego cheese. Regular mozzarella may be too hard so I would avoid it.
  • In hindsight, the cheese almost completely melted out of the empanada, so next time I doubt I’ll add it.
  • May 2017 update to recipe;
    • I increased the liquid measurement in the dough by 1/4 cup each.
    • JT wanted larger empanadas, so I used #1 on the pasta maker and a 10 cm (4 inch) diametre cookie cutter to make more luncheon-sized versions. We got about 35 out of the batch, but had a bit of the meat mix left over.

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Hi! Remember last fall I mentioned I had a surprise? Well, I can now talk about it! I was invited to participate in the taping of this episode of Canada’s Top Chef Season 2! The premise was a baby shower and the contestants had to make food representative of a boy and of a girl. We had to dress baby showery, pretty colours, heels (you know how I would hate that ;-)) and we were able to walk around and try all of the food. I can’t say that I remember much of the tastes, but the video sure brought back some memories and the opinions of the judges. Fortunately, I ended up on the cutting room floor, so I have no idea what I would look like on TV! Was that my 15 minutes? I thought this was a perfect segue into today’s post.

Second place on Top Chef Canada 2011, chef Rob Rossi’s Bestellen did not disappoint! Only open a month or so, the kitchen did not seem to exhibit any of the growing pains new restaurants are so famous for. The wait staff are friendly, professional and courteous and seem genuinely happy to work with Chef Rossi. Our waiter spoke very highly of Chef Rossi.

The décor is warm and comfortable with a huge meat mural on the west wall; there is a windowed meat curing room off to the right as you entre through the bar area. We were seated at the back near the kitchen, usually not my flavourite place, but we were curious on the workings of the kitchen; they were serious yet smiling, seems like a good place to work. Chef Rossi ever present checking and cooking! My only complaint would be the fluorescent bulb in the kitchen (yes I know they have to see what they are doing) which poured disgustingly bright light into the dining room; had they lowered the bulkhead between the kitchen and dining room about 30-40cm, it would have completely missed shining right into my eyes. Perhaps it still can be corrected! They played a great mix of the old jazz crooners and some cool old fashioned rock. For some lovely photos and an intro article, please click here.

Now the food. A decidedly meaty menu, I started with the grilled octopus; delicious, and perfectly cooked with a touch of char. I would have complimented it with a bit more sauce, as it was scarce, the little black olives (usually my favourite) were tasteless. My husband had the salad and said it was just OK. My main was the steak tartar! I exclamation marked it because it was most likely the BEST steak tartar I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot! Nicely seasoned and did I taste a bit of chopped pickle? A very European addition. The deep fried quail egg did nothing for my particular taste. JT had the burger and thought it was incredible! They served it with sweet potato fries (YUM) with a smoked paprika ketchup that was TO DIE FOR! We will be back, particularly when I’m in the mood for a perfect tartar, but next time, we will ask to be seated more toward the front out of the fluorescent glare.

I have reviews of this restaurant, and several others on Yelp.ca, Trip Advisor, Open Table and Google. Do you review restaurants and if you do, which website(s) do you participate in reviewing.

PS. I couldn’t help but think of one of my lovely readers, Lorraine, of famed Not Quite Nigella, who has blogged about a roasted whole suckling pig a while ago; Chef Rossi also serves a whole pig as a family-style feast and you have to order it three days ahead and enjoy it with a minimum of eight people.

Overall rating of Bestellen (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 2/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

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