Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Whether it’s a pastel in Indonesia, a calzone in Italy, a gujiya from India, a meat patty from Australia, or Hot Pockets in the freezer section of the supermarket, the root of these delicacies is the empanada. Empanadas, originating in Portugal and Spain, can be filled with meats, fish or vegetables or made as a dessert filled with fruits like guava with cream cheese.

I like to make small traditional empanadas as hors d’oeuvres, or tapas. Empanadas are easy to make and are the perfect party food served standing alone or with a dipping sauce. They may be frozen once made and reheated in the microwave.
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onion, chopped
2 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 pound ground beef
2 teaspoon ground cumin
5.75 oz. jar sliced pimiento-filled green olives, drained
1 c. golden raisins
2 tbsp. honey 
1 tbsp. coarse salt
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
Several dashes hot sauce
2 large eggs, separated and whisked
1 pkg. mini pastry dough (3” squares)
To make the filling, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and then swirl in the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the beef. Cook, stirring constantly to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for another minute.
Stir in the olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Cook until the meat is golden brown, the liquid has evaporated, and the flavors have blended, about 4 more minutes. Cool the mixture completely in the fridge. Stir in the egg whites. This will help bind the filling together while baking.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter or line a baking sheet.
To form the empanadas, unpeel each leaf of pastry dough and lay out on a floured surface. Wet the edges of the dough with water; made from whisked the egg yolk.  Place I tsp. filling on center of dough. Fold the dough over to form a triangle. Pinch the edges of the dough together. Crimp the edges with a pastry crimper or fork. Repeat the process until all the filling is used. The empanadas can be frozen at this point.

Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and chill for a few minutes. Prick each pie on top twice with a fork. When ready to bake, beat the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash over each empanada. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The empanadas can be cooled and frozen to reheat in a microwave. Enjoy, JW

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Over a millennia ago, the only form of food preservation was by drying, salting or brining. It wasn’t until the 1809 that Nicholas Appert invented canning as a new way for NapolĂ©on to feed his troops. Revolutionary for its time, canning was considered a military secret. Commercial canning arrived in the USA in the mid 1800’s but it wasn’t until the Civil War and the invention of the Mason jar that home canning took off. Great for preserving fruit, vegetables, meats and making jams and jellies.

 Here are the items you will need:

1.       A stainless steel double boiler is best.  A ceramic coated aluminum pot can be used, if there are no scratches in the coating.
2.       4 qt. stainless steel or coated sauce pan
3.       A candy thermometer.
4.       A wide mouth canning funnel.
5.       A jar tong, for lifting jars out of the processing pot
6.       Mason or Ball jars with lids.

1 c. seeded green bell pepper, finely chopped or ground
1/4 c. jalapeno pepper, finely chopped or ground, seeded if desired ( or more to taste
4 c. sugar
1 c. cider vinegar
1 6 oz. packet liquid fruit pectin
3 -5 drops green food coloring (optional)


Mix peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, to 220° on the candy thermometer. Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Add pectin and optional food coloring. Return to heat, and bring to a full rolling boil for 1 minute. Ladle mixture into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars with the canning funnel to within 1/2" of top. Wipe tops of jars. Center lids on top of jars, and screw on bands firmly. Half fill the double boiler (or large pot with bottom rack) with water, and bring water to a full boil.

The boiling water should cover jars by at least 1". Reduce heat to a gentle boil, cover, and process for 10 minutes. After processed, carefully remove jars from water using tongs or a jar-lifter. Place upside-down on a rack or thick towels, and let cool without moving for 12-24 hours. Jars will make popping sounds while cooling, if sealed properly. Check seal on each jar by pressing down on lid; if it doesn't push, it's sealed. If it does push down, store in refrigerator until used. Properly canned, you can store this jelly in a cupboard for six to eight months. Refrigerate after opening. Enjoy - JW