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Tagged With: Alderwood Smoked Salt

Ancho Chili Beef Empanadas

Who doesn’t love food that you can hold in your hand?  The beauty of empanadas is that the rich, buttery dough can be filled with almost anything - sweet or savory. Our Ancho Chili Powder is mild-medium in heat and adds magnificent depth to the beef and vegetable filling we chose. Ancho chiles have a wonderful, darkly sweet flavor, so we added a little Alderwood Smoked Salt for just a touch of smoky contrast. They can be served either hot or at room temperature; we like ours with salsa,  sour cream and a Hibiscus Margarita.  They freeze well, so make a bunch and plan to enjoy them another day, or surprise yourself at how quickly your guests devour the extras.

Ancho Chili Beef Empanadas

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Ancho Chili Beef Empanadas

Yield: 24 empanadas

Ingredients

For the Dough
4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
2 large eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
For the Filling
1/4 cup olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 1/2 teaspoons Alderwood Smoked Salt
3 tablespoons Ancho Chili Powder, ground
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
1/2 cup sliced black olives
For the Egg Wash
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water

Instructions

    To Make The Dough
  1. Sift flour into a large bowl. Add salt and chilled, cubed butter. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, mix together until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, chilled water and vinegar and add to flour mixture.Combine until well incorporated.
  3. Empty onto a lightly floured surface and knead just enough to bring the dough together. Cut dough in half and form each half into a rectangle. Chill for at least 1 hour.
  4. To Make the Filling
  5. In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Add onions, red bell peppers and garlic and saute until softened. Add Alderwood Smoked Salt, Ancho Chili Powder and Mexican Oregano, and saute for about 1 minute.
  7. Add ground beef, breaking up any lumps and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add olives and mix well. Taste for seasoning, adjust as needed. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
  8. To Assemble the Empanadas
  9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  10. Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator. Cut each rectangle into 12 pieces. Form into discs and cover with a towel.
  11. On a lightly floured surface, take one of the pieces and roll it out into a circle (about 1/8 inch thick). Holding the circle in the palm of your hand, place 2 heaping teaspoons of the chilled filling in the center.
  12. Fold the two edges of the circle together over the filling. Press the edges to seal. Using a fork dipped in flour, crimp the edges so the filling won't escape.
  13. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling. Lightly brush the empanadas with egg wash.
  14. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. They are done if they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  15. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes.
  16. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/ancho-chili-powder-beef-empanadas/

Categories: Caribbean, Latin America, Main Meals, Recipes, Snacky Bits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gourmet Salts: The Spice Merchants’ Need-to-Know Basics!

Salt Offerings

Salt Offerings

“Salty” is one of the five basic flavors that the human palate can detect, along with sweet, sour, bitter, and “umami.” A baker might tell you that salt makes “sweet things, sweeter,” but more specifically, salt clarifies all flavors. The human mouth is saline, or salty, to begin with, so in order to begin to taste the more nuanced flavors in our food, the salt level in the food first has to match that in our mouth. The wisest of chefs know that the goal with a sprinkle of this prized mineral is not necessarily to achieve a salty flavor, but to elevate and complement all of the flavors in a dish. Here are a few of our favorite varieties, and what we find to be their best uses!

We love Alderwood Smoked Salt, arguably the most dramatic of our offerings. Fine grains of Pacific sea salt are cold-smoked over locally-harvested alder wood chips to achieve a charcoal grey color, and a distinctive smoky aroma and taste. Shop visitors consistently describe Alderwood Smoked Salt as a “campfire in a jar.” The spice team finds that Alderwood Smoked Salt makes meat dishes somehow “meatier,” and enhances grilled flavors both inside and out. We also love it on heartier vegetables like eggplant and squash.

Murray River Flake Salt is another shop favorite. This flaky, apricot-colored salt is harvested from a dry river bed in Australia. The flakes are delicate, and almost crispy when eaten whole. We love to bake with this salt, as it mostly dissolves easily, but often leaves just a smidge of crystal behind, so one stumbles upon a tiny bit of salt as they make their way through dense banana bread or peanut butter cookie.

From left: Alderwood Smoked Salt, Murray River Flake Salt, Sel de Mer, Black Lava Flake Salt

From left: Alderwood Smoked Salt, Murray River Flake Salt, Sel de Mer, Black Lava Flake Salt

Sel de Mer, the aged scotch of salts! This French grey salt is light grey in color, and its medium-sized crystals tend to clump together with its high moisture content. The subtle flavor is deep and earthy, and is right at home atop fish of all kinds. We also prefer it over all others on our caprese salads, for the great contrast in texture between the crisp tomatoes, the creamy mozzarella, and the crunch of the salt, not to mention how well the heartiness of the flavor plays against the sweetness and acidity of the balsamic vinegar.

Black Lava Flake Salt is as delicious as it is visually intense. The pyramid-shaped crystals are black in color, rendered so because of natural charcoal deposits. This salt is best used as a finisher, as all of what makes it unique would be lost once dissolved. We like its assertive flavor sprinkled on slices of fresh cucumber seasoned with a dash of sweetened rice wine vinegar, as well as a whimsical addition to a fresh watermelon and mint salad- the crystals appear to be watermelon seeds at first glance!

As we often remind you, there are no wrong answers in food! (Well, okay, sometimes…) Any of these salts could lend a fun update to a standby dish. Salts are a wonderful way to break in to the world of experimental cooking and seasoning, and make a great gift for both the seasoned (yes, pun intended!) chef, and the novice foodie alike. Happy cooking!

Categories: Global Cuisines, Hot Topics, Notes from the Field, Spice Notes | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment