Pork Empanadas with Cabbage

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Cabbage you say!  Yep,  I didn’t fancy currants, olives and capers as per the recipe I was looking at, and I knew for certain Mr MWCED was not going to want currants and olives, so I figured best substitution was something fresh from the garden, and cabbage it was.

Usually we make these in the winter, but it was a chilly evening so I thought they would be perfect. And they were.   This recipe is an amalgamation of a couple from the web – the filling (apart from the bits I didn’t use!) came from Emerils.com with the pastry from My Colombian Recipes  (and while you are there check out the amazing recipe for Columbian Black Cake – I am definitely going to try that!)

Search out my post from last year for Rustic Chicken Empanadas for another take.

Enjoy your Empanadas!

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Pork Empanadas

Dough:

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
115 gms butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
¼ cup ice cold water (or a little more if your mixture is too dry).

Mix flour and salt in the food processor then add butter, egg and cold water. Pulse until mixture comes together.   Shape into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for between 30 minutes to an hour (no panic if it is a bit longer).

Filling:

350g pork mince
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon dried oregano (or mixed herbs)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or chilli flakes)
½ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced/chopped (whatever you prefer) garlic
Diced capsicum – about half a cup
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar (can substitute with rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup water
Chopped cabbage (we picked ours from the garden – use as much or as little as you like)

1 large egg, lightly beaten (for brushing finished pastries)

While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.  In a medium frypan over high heat, combine the pork, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, oregano and crushed red pepper and cook until meat is golden brown and cooked through (about 6 minutes) – use a spoon to break meat up if it is forming clumps.  Add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes then add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add the capsicum, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar and stir to thoroughly to combine.  Stir in the water and reduce the heat to medium.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is very thick and flavours have come together – about 15 minutes.   At about the 10 minute stage, add chopped cabbage.

Once finished take off heat and let cool.     Before you roll out the dough and fill the pies, heat oven to around 180 F.

Place the dough on a floured surface and sprinkle with flour.  Roll out to a circle about 1/8” thick.  Using a small saucer as a guide, cut as many rounds as you can.  Press scraps together and knead again to reform dough to cut more.  We got 9 from our pastry, enough for dinner and a couple of freezer meals (1-1/2 pastries each was plenty).

Using a tablespoon, top one side of dough with about 2 tablespoons of the cooled meat filling.  Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of one side of a round with some of the beaten egg, then fold the edges over so that the dough meets to form a half-circle shaped pie.  Using the tines of a fork, press the edges of the dough circle firmly to crimp.

Line a baking tray with baking paper (or use nonstick cooking spray) and place the pies on the tray.  Using the tip of a small knife, cut several small slits into the top of each empanada to allow air escape while baking.

Brush empanadas with leftover egg mixture.

Put tray into oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

I served this with a fresh green salad: frilly lettuce from the garden; tomatoes; blanched asparagus and fresh herbs (mint and basil).   We also had an onion marmalade.

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Thai Beef Salad

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it isn’t very often Mr MWCED or myself eat red meat.  Indeed it’s a rare occasion – and quite honestly I don’t think I have bought a piece of beef for many years (apart from the odd steak when lovely son comes home – just for him).  So interestingly it happened that we were both hankering for some red meat but not a lot of it,  and this salad seemed the perfect solution.

You could use a less expensive piece of steak, in which case I would marinate it overnight.  I wasn’t that organised and the meat was marinating for only a couple of hours.  I cooked the steak in the frying pan and once it was reasonably browned I then spooned some of the marinade over it until it was done.  The marinade caramelises and makes the outer part of the steak very tasty.

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Steak

  • 1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon pre-minced ginger
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder, garlic granules, or freshly chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 500g fillet steak (expensive, but absolutely the best for this dish – and you don’t really need a lot, if there are just 2 of you, you could use a bit less steak)
  • salt

Dressing

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup hot chilli paste (you could also use freshly chopped chilli)
  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Salt (optional)

Salad

  • Salad greens, enough for 2 (I used a mix of cos and curly lettuce from the garden)
  • 1 x carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sprouts (we had some fresh mung bean sprouts on the windowsill, so in they went)
  • ½ cup chopped coriander
  • ½ cup torn basil leaves
  • ¼ cup torn mint leaves
  • ¼ cup finely chopped salted, roasted peanuts, plus more for serving
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

Preparation

  • Whisk ginger, soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Whisking constantly, gradually add olive oil, then sesame oil. Transfer to glass bowl and add steaks. If you can, chill at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours, but you can still do this with an hour or two of marinating.  (As noted above, tougher cuts of meat will do better with longer marinating).
  • Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. Season very lightly with salt. Grill, turning every 2 minutes, until lightly charred all over, and finished to your preference (i.e. medium rare, medium). Instead of grilling you could also cook quickly in a frying pan.  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into 1″ pieces.

Dressing

  • Whisk lime juice, chilli paste, peanut oil, fish sauce, sugar, honey, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Taste and season with salt if desired.

Combine salad ingredients.   Pour 2/3 dressing over them, then add steak and peanuts and pour over rest of dressing.  Alternatively, you can keep some dressing to have on the side.   Garnish with extra coriander and mint.

 

This could also be served with noodles or rice.  Though it was excellent without and plenty for 2 of us.

 

Slow Cooker Asian Style Glazed Chicken

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It is the middle of winter here and we are still enjoying satisfying warming dishes on cold evenings, in front of the fire or watching rugby. (Sadly my team lost last night – I guess there is always next year).     I have been using our slow cooker a lot more this year and really enjoying the simplicity of it.   Last night it was the perfect choice;  we were going out for a short time in the evening and it meant that by the time we got home I only had to cook some rice and beans, and we had a wonderful hot meal.

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I’m also a bit of a sucker for sweet and spicy.    So this recipe was perfect.   This is my mash up of a number of recipes from the net.   Most of them only contained the sauce and meat.    I wanted more vegetables as part of the dish – and even though I cooked green beans separately – it would have been just as good to either add the beans to the slow cooker, or not even have them.    (And use the ‘magic fridge’ to decide what veges go in if you don’t have carrot and zucchini, or prefer a different mix).

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The below was enough for 2 of us (we ate 4 of the 5 chicken thighs – they were not huge).   My preference is for bone-in thighs,  I think you get better taste.   But, hey, go boneless if that is what you have.  And of course you could also make this with many other cuts of chicken; drumsticks; wings; breast.  There was plenty of sauce – though I figure you can never have enough sauce.  I think you could easily cook enough for 6 people in a medium sized slow cooker.

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Ingredients:

  • 500g (approx.) skinless boneless chicken thighs (I usually allow 2 per person – this recipe I cooked 5)
  • 1/3 cup  soy sauce (light soy)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or use fresh) – my ‘teaspoon’ is always generous!
  • 1 teaspoon five spice
  • 2 teaspoons – Siracha (or as much as you want for heat – or even use fresh chillis)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 carrot sliced (I used a couple of baby carrots from our garden)
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 1/4 cup spring onions sliced, to garnish
  • Handful Coriander, chopped, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, brown sugar, garlic, pepper and spices in a bowl.
  2. Place vegetables in bottom of slow cooker.
  3. Add chicken into the sauce, coat well and add both chicken and sauce to slow cooker. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low setting.
  4. When the sauce is simmering (in the last hour of cooking time), whisk the cornflour and water together in a small bowl until dissolved. Stir the cornflour mixture into the sauce; mix it through and cover again to allow to thicken and continue cooking until the chicken is just beginning to fall apart.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.

 

Serve with greens of your choice (or not) and rice; garnish with sliced green onions and coriander.

Enjoy!