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Archive for April 27, 2017

FOOD FUN: Hand Pies Grow Up

Gourmet Hand Pies

Raspberry Hand Pies

Hand Pie, Ham & Cheese

[1] Hand pies plated as a gourmet dessert at Sirena Cocina Latina in San Diego (alas, now closed). [2] Use cutters to make prettier pies, and crimp the edges with a fork (here’s the recipe from Driscoll’s Berries). [3] A ham, brie and fig jam hand pie with grainy mustard sauce (here’s the recipe from Cooking On The Front Burner).

 

Like pie? Like savory pie? Like fancy desserts?

Combine the two with plated hand pies. The pies, meant to be eaten without plate or fork, taste even better with a bit of glamour.

Sweet Hand Pies

Restaurant Sirena Cocina Latina in San Diego plated fruit pies with dessert garnishes (photo #1):

  • Mango purée (use your fruit of choice)
  • Berries (use fresh, caramelized or grilled fruit of choice)
  • Ice cream (substitute crème fraîche, mascarpone or whipped cream)
  • Cookie crumbs (under the ice cream)
  • Any garnish you like, from chocolate shavings to edible flowers
  •  
    Savory Hand Pies

    For an appetizer or first course, you can make meat, cheese or vegetable hand pies—or any variation combination (photo #3).

    Choose savory garnishes:

  • Chutney
  • Dairy-based: horseradish cream, flavored sour cream or plain yogurt
  • Gherkins or other pickled vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Sauces (cheese, marinara, tomatillo, whatever)
  • Herbs or microgreens
  • Small salad: Asian slaw, cucumber salad, dressed mesclun, etc.)
  •  
    TIP: Sweet or savory, use your cutters to create a shape at the top of the pie (photo #2).
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF HAND PIES

    Since there was dough, something to fill it with, and something to bake it on or in, there have been hand pies—beginning with savory pies.

    Cultures around the world have what we now call hand pies: portable meals that could be stuffed with leftovers or any variety of kitchen ingredients. Empanadas, a popular Mexican street food, Jewish knishes and and Jamaican meat patties are hand pies.

    Until someone in the U.S. called them hand pies (if you know who, raise your hand), these grab-and-go mini-meals were called meat pies or pasties (rhymes with nasty, not tasty).

    In our own culture, they trace their origins at least to 19th-century England, where they were a convenient lunch for Cornish tin miners—but not as we eat pasties today.

    For miners, the pastry casing kept the filling warm and dirt-free. Holding the edges, miners would eat the filling and discard the dough.

    Cornish immigrants to northern Michigan brought the tradition to the U.S. [source] The concept engendered fruit versions among America’s home pie bakers, and corner sweet shops sold them to enthusiastic fans.

     
    Sweet hand pies traveled south, where they became popular in New Orleans (Hubig’s bakery made theirs in a half-moon shape, with fruit, custard and chocolate fillings). Hand pies became a Southern snack staple, made for church bake sales, picnics and home treats.

    They’re portable, requiring no plate or fork, and can sit in the heat without melting. Give us a good crust, and we’re in!

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Chilaquiles

    Instead of Huevos Rancheros on Cinco de Mayo, how about chilaquiles (chee-la-KEE-lace)?

    While there are numerous regional variations of this traditional Mexican breakfast or brunch dish, the basic recipe tops quartered, fried corn tortillas with salsa or mole sauce, and crowned with fried eggs.

    Pulled chicken can be added; the dish is topped with shredded queso fresco and/or crema, Mexican sour cream. Sliced raw onion, avocado or other garnish can be added. A side of refried beans typically completes the dish, which you can see in this recipe.

    Chef Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar in Miami sent us her own twist on the recipe. Forget the pulled chicken: She uses beef short ribs.

    We’ve broken her recipe into three separate ones, since you can use each in combination with other ingredients and dishes.

    RECIPE #1: SHORT RIB CHILAQUILES

    With Queso Fundido & Pickled Red Onion

    Prep time is 10 minutes; bake time is 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef short ribs
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325F. In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the agave, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in another small bowl. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the salt mixture, then place on lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

    3. BAKE the ribs for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Pull out and brush both sides with some of the agave glaze and bake for an additional hour. Remove the foil, brush with remaining agave glaze, and bake another 20 minutes.
     
    RECIPE #2: GREEN CHILE QUESO FUNDIDO*

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon yellow onion, chopped and roasted
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup oaxaca* or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup corn tortillas, quartered and freshly fried†
  • ________________

    *Oaxaca cheese, pronounced wah-HOCK-a, is called the Mexican mozzarella.” It can be purchased in a ball or a braid. Fundido, the Spanish word for molten, refers to melted cheese.

    †The quick substitution here are tortilla chips or strips. It’s not authentic, but it works.
    ________________
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Combine the jalapeño, onion, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt, honey, and oil in a blender and set aside.

    2. BAKE the cheese in a small ovenproof dish for 15 minutes or until bubbling.
     
    RECIPE #3: PICKLED RED ONION

    You may want to make quadruple the recipe: These pickled onions are a delicious garnish for just about anything.

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Short Rib Chilaquiles

    Raw Short Ribs

    Oaxaca Cheese

    Chilaquiles

    Pickled Red Onions

    [1] Short rib chilaquiles (photo courtesy Chef Adrianne Calvo). [2] Raw short ribs (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Oaxaca cheese (photo courtesy Cheese.com). [4] Traditional chilaquiles (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). [5] Pickled red onion (photo courtesy Inspired Taste).

     
    1. BRING the ingredients to a boil in a small pot, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes.

    2. ASSEMBLE: Place the tortilla on a clean work surface. Layer with short rib, queso fundido and the green chile. Top with pickled onion and fresh cilantro.
     

    CHILAQUILES HISTORY

    The name derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word chilaquilitl, meaning herbs (or greens) in chili broth.

    A traditional Mexican peasant dish, it provided a way to use stale corn tortillas, a staple food of Central America which are fried as the base of the dish. Chiles, too, were native to the area and readily available.

    The simplest form of chilaquiles simply topped them with a salsa to soften them somewhat prior to eating: an easy way to fill the stomach. Their cultural significance is as a versatile staple for peasants [source].

    As the dish evolved, it incorporated inexpensive ingredients, including leftovers, to make it a main dish: bits of meat, cheese, or eggs.

    As with most dishes there are regional versions: in sauce (green, red, white sauce), in protein (cheese, chicken, pork, shrimp), garnishes (avocado, beans, cheese, onion, radishes), seasonings and spiciness (epazote, hot chiles), consistency and so on.

    Mexico City is known for using a spicy tomato sauce and always tops each serving with an ample sprig of .

    While the dish may be centuries old in Mexico, the first published recipes found in the U.S. are from a cookbook dating to 1898: El Cocinero Español (The Spanish Cook), by Encarnación Pinedo [source].

      

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