Friday, November 16, 2012

I Am Not Original

Heck, I'm not even at the leading edge.

I've been on a Spanish (vinegar, garlic, herby, eggy) kick with New World influences (pumpkin/squash, corn, pine nuts, walnuts/pecans).  I know that sounds "Mexican" or "Central American" but Spanish cuisine and Mexican are so different, they can be their own fusion genre.  Spanish still owes much to the continental French lead style.   

So as I've been messing with Spanish potatoes (recipe and comments on my failures upcoming) and pumpkin and meat mixtures (pumpkin beef tomato Empanadas upcoming as well, and the pumpkin chile is in development), and looking ahead to Thanksgiving, I thought, OoooooHhhhh! Turkey Pot Pie.  

Now being barely competent in the pocket pie arena, I peek about the internet for Empanadas, and why not Pot Pie Empanadas?

Well, not only are there tons of recipes for Pot Pie Empanadas, they are a convenience food that has been made in such massive quantities that they have been made badly enough that some need to be recalled.

  • 10-lb cases each containing 4 boxes of 27 count “MOLLY’S KITCHEN MINI CHICKEN POT PIE EMPANADAS," with the product code of “953397” and best before date of “Aug. 30, 2012.”

Yup.  They've been thought of, and are being mass produced in boxes of 27 (27? How is that a sensible number?) distributed in 10lb cases, and screwed up enough to be recalled. 

On the other hand this proves this is a great idea.  Lots of people have thought of it, done something with it, and made people happy with it.  So I'm going to run with this (and so much else).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Greens in Your Freezer

So I keep nattering on about how you can eat the greens off your beets, radishes, turnips.  But there's a problem with that - if I bought the beets because I want beets, what do I do with the greens so I can eat them later?  Because THEY are going to go bad way before the beets.

Or what about the over abundance of greens that happens at different points in the season?  I have TONS of greens now, and I can't eat them all!

Blanch and freeze my friends, blanch and freeze.  The two biggest reasons why: a) they take up much less space (1lb = about 1C) and b) they won't rot on you while you are distracted by life, pie and that other thing.  The other reason to blanch and freeze?  You can take an overabundance now - and carry it over to lean times later.  (That was the purpose of sauerkraut, kim-chi and other fermented pickles back in the pre-refrigerator/freezer days).

So - chop off those beet tops, gather up the kale, trim the rest of those hardy mustard greens and chard, and lets roll this out.

Blanch - for Freezing
Wondering what to  for what to do with the frozen goodies?  
Check out Dawn's Spinach
It works for all the greens after they are blanched, frozen and rethawed

large pot w/ lid
sink or giant bowl of water - for washing
bowl or similar for placing cleaned leaves - if you are working through a bunch
large bowl - for cold shocking
retrieval utensil - tongs, slotted spoon, small sieve on a long handle - something for pulling the leaves out of the hot water
salad spinner - optional
small freezer safe containers - zip-top freezer bags are especially nice
sharpie pen for labeling

lotsa' leaves
ice cubes

Fill the large pot about 2/3 full with water, cover it and place over high heat to bring it to a boil.
Wash your leaves, and move the cleaned ones to a holding area (no need to dry them).
If the stems of the greens are edible, leave them in.  If they are woody (like kale or collards), grasp one end of the stem and use the other hand to strip the leaf off the stem.
Fill the large "cold-shock" bowl half way with ice cubes.  Add water to about half full as well.

Once the water comes to a boil, add about a Tbs of salt, and put about 2 very-large handfuls of leaves into the water.  Use the retrieval device (tongs, spoon, etc.) to push them under.  After about a minute*, fish them out with said device and move them to the ice water. 

When they are chilled and clearly no longer cooking, move them to the salad spinner, spin them to a dry-ish state.
Place appropriate amounts in the small containers.  Label them.
Pop them in the freezer for future use.  IF you are really thinking, freeze them flat in the zip top bags.  Then they can be stacked or line up in your freezer.

*How long to blanch different leaves:

Spinach - 45 sec.
Chard - 1 min
Kale - tender/flat - 2 min
Kale - curly/thick - 4 min
Mustard Greens - 2 min
Mystery greens - use your judgement based on how tough it seems to be.
Brussels Sprouts - whole 5 minutes, half about 2.5 min. (Gets rid of the "stinky" and makes them friendlier to bake, sauté, (batter and deep fry!?)
Green Beans - 3 minutes
Snow Peas/edible Pea Pods - 2 minutes
Shelled Peas - 1 minute
Fava Beans (and similar old world "shelling beans") 2-3 minutes (depends on the size - when they slide  out of the membrane around the bean easily they are ready)
Broccoli - 1-2inch size florets - 4-6 min (larger - a bit longer.  Go by color change)

Gotta go clean out MY freezer,  it is a serious source of chaos points.
Not choosing a freezer I can't put a half sheet pan in.