Monday, April 27, 2009

Empanada recipe (i.e. The Secret to their Success)

So, it turns out that the key to Dave's fabulous empanadas from battle egg is that he buys the dough already made! Who knew? Here's the recipe, below.

Cilantro-infused egg, chorizo, and cheese empanadas:

The shells are round, come in large and small sizes, and are sold by a couple of brands - Goya being the main one. They come 10 shells to a package, and they're easy to find—just check the freezer aisle of a non-yuppie supermarket.

This recipe makes enough filling for 20 shells.

1 package of frozen empanada shells
2 large chorizo sausages (approx 1/2 lb. total by weight)
a few tablespoons chopped onion
a few teaspoons minced garlic
5 large eggs
a bunch of cilantro
a few tablespoons olive oil
a few tablespoons milk
1/4 lb. grated montalban cheese
(similar to manchego, but made of a mix of cow, sheep, and goat milk)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the filling, remove the chorizos from their casings and brown the meat with onion and garlic. Once cooked, set aside.

For the eggs, make a cilantro infusion by blending cilantro, olive oil, and milk. Whip the infusion into 5 eggs, then scramble the infused eggs. When just about done, add back the chorizo and then about 2/3 of the grated cheese.

Once the meat, eggs, and cheese mix is done, remove from the heat and let it cool a bit. Your filling should be completely cooked.

Keep the shells frozen until about 20-30 minutes before use. They're easier to use when still a bit stiff. Defrost them (still in the package) in a bowl of water until they're soft enough to bend from moderate pressure. Then, roll each shell with a rolling pin to thin them a bit - not too much.

Add a couple tablespoons of the egg mixture and a little more grated cheese, fold, and seal the edge with a fork. They're easy to form unless you over stuff them. After the first couple you'll be able to arrive at the proper amount of filling for your size shell. Place the formed empanadas on parchment paper while forming the remaining shells.

Spray your baking sheet or use parchment paper to prevent sticking. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or so until golden. Paint the shells with an egg wash for more color—once when first put into the oven, and once more about half way through. (To fry, like we did in Battle Egg, fry for about 2 minutes a side. Since the fillings are cooked, all you're really doing is browning the shell.)

Serve with pico de gallo and avocado crema—the recipes are below.

For the pico de gallo:
2 vine tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, chopped
a teaspoon of garlic,
a bunch of cilantro, minced
the juice of half a lime

Mix together all ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

For the avocado crema:
One ripe avocado, mashed until smooth
1/4 cup of fat-free milk
1/4 cup sour cream

Stir together all ingredients, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: Since the pico was spicy, we kept the crema very mild and cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

College students do it, too.

Beth brought to our attention this article on Harvard's alumni magazine about a campus Iron Chef competition. These Harvard kids have clearly outclassed us with their outfits: Maybe we should get ourselves some toques and matching aprons for Battle Onion! Also, cute team names are surely in order.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Battle Egg

On April 19, two teams competed in Iron Chef Brooklyn. Dave, the champion of Battle Pork, along with his partner Sachiko, challenged Sam and Beth in Battle Egg. It was just after Easter, and the judges were intrigued to see which celebration of the egg would prevail. Dave and Sachiko went first.

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #1: Spicy Egg Salad with Homemade Mango Chutney

This egg salad amuse was served on cracker topped with Canadian bacon. It packed a lot of heat. While the judges were intrigued by the complicated layering of flavors and the interplay of influences, many also cleaned their plate. Most judges would have dropped the ham, but both the egg salad and the chutney had nuts—walnuts and macadamias respectively—and that may have been the dish's saving grace.

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #2: Steak and Eggs

Here, steak was marinated in ponzu, ginger, and honey and seared, then topped with asparagus and green beans and a poached egg. "The meat is cooked perfectly," the judges agreed. Unfortunately, the eggs were overcooked—but the judges still gave them props for attempting such a difficult dish.

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #3: Chorizo and Egg Empanadas

These flawlessly fried empanadas were filled with cilantro-scrambled eggs, montalban cheese, and mild chorizo, then topped with pico de gallo and rich, cool avocado crema.

"Ooh—I can't believe I am eating green eggs and ham, and loving it!" said one judge. "These are amazing!" said another. And then they kept eating. "This is their best dish by far—so far."

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #4: Orange-Berry Sabayon

Orange supremes, raspberries, and blackberries were topped with a Grand Marnier sabayon and a sprig of mint.

"This is another ambitious dish," said one judge. "And it's so fluffy and boozy!" said another.

The judges felt like it got less boozy as they ate it—but then maybe that was just the booze talking.

Dave and Sachiko did well, but was it enough to win? Only time would tell.

Sam and Beth, Dish #1: Curried Stuffed Eggs

The deviled eggs were topped with cilantro and served on a bed of frisée and green apples.

"The apple frisée slaw helps cut the richness," explained a judge, as he downed the rich treat.

Sam and Beth, Dish #2: Egg Drop Soup with Five-Spice Wontons

The soup was delicate and laced with cilantro, and the wonton stips were a fried, crispy delight.

"I could eat these wontons all day," declared one judge. "But, then maybe I would be bored with the soup once they were gone."

Sam and Beth, Dish #3: Tortilla Española

This Spanish tortilla was topped with a homemade sriracha aioli and drizzled with even more sriracha.

"My mouth is on fire—in the best way."

Sam and Beth, Dish #4: Meringue-Sorbet Sandwiches Served in a Chocolate Easter Egg

This "original" dish was a "nice finish" and "so well done," that even those who "don't normally eat meringue, couldn't get enough."

It was a sweet end to an otherwise heavy meal of eight egg-celent courses.

So who won the egg-citing conclusion? It was a tie! Our first in Iron Chef Brooklyn.

And we determined, after much debate, that ties would, from this day forward, be determined by which team had the winning dish of the day. The answer? Dave and Sachiko won because the empanadas won the judges' hearts. (And who can blame them? You know you wish you could eat one right now.)

Now, they move on to play Dave and Carol in battle onion. Look for the results next month!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An ode to home cooking, from a surprising source

Mark Bittman sounds off in The New York Times about the difference between home cooking and cooking on TV. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Everyone Loves Banh Mi

We've all loved Vietnamese sandwiches for a long time. (In Battle Pork, Jeff created his ode to the perfect sandwich—a classic, yet unforgettable, banh mi.) Now, according to The New York Times, and New York magazine the trend is official: The whole city hearts these tasty treats.

Battle Egg is Almost Here

Danielle pointed out this posting on this morning: The Bowery Whole Foods is out of ostrich and emu eggs. Strange coincidence? Or does this have something to do with our competitors preparing for Battle Egg? We will find out soon enough...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cuban Sandwich Recipe

Jeff kindly shared his secrets for what makes his Cuban sandwich, in our opinions, the best in Brooklyn. (We were addicted—and heartbroken that we might never have one again!) Now, I can assure you that I won't be the only one from Iron Chef Brooklyn making this myself! The trick, you'll see, isn't just about sourcing the right ingredients... it's also about restraint.

Bread: Pan cubano from Mas Que Pan (or whatever it's called now) at 5401 5th Ave. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Pork: Pork carnitas from Trader Joe's

Ham: Prosciutto Cotto from Salumeria Biellese in Chelsea (bought at Stinky Bklyn on Smith St., though)

Salami: Sopprasata was from Biellese as well

Cheese: Emmentaler cheese from Stinky Brooklyn (brand unknown)

Pickles: Trader Joe's Garlic Dill pickles (refrigerated)

Mustard: Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard

Mayo: Duke's - the best mayo in the US (usually only available in the south), but I'd bet Kewpie brand would work great

The key is to layer and not put too much of any one thing on it. (We went with one thin layer of everything and pre-heated the carnitas before pressing.) Butter the outside of the bread (most places butter the inside, too, but I'm not a fan of that) and press in a sandwich press until the bread is crispy but not darkened.