Thursday, August 21, 2008

Empanadas and Alfajores


Empanada Dough

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 pound butter, chilled and cut into 1/4" cubes
1 whole egg
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup ice water (as needed)
1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Combine flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. work in the cold butter by hand until it resmbles a crumbly cornmeal with a few small butter clumps.

Add the egg and vinegar and enough ice water to creat a dough that barely comes together.

Flatten the dough out to 1" thick sheet and fold in half. Flatten to 1" again and fold in half. repeat this process two more times to create a dough with layers. Chill.

Roll out to a 1/4" thick sheet and chill while you prepare the filling.

Empanada Filling

1 ½ pound ground beef
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
5 medium boiled eggs, cut in eighths
¼ cup currants, simmered in warm water until plump
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil. Add the ground beef and cook until done. Drain the excess grease and discard. Mix in the plumped currants.

Cut circles out of dough. Brush half of the circle's edge with the egg wash and place filling on half of the circle along with one or two pieces of egg. Fold over and seal well with a fork. Deep fry at 365 degrees or bake at 325 degrees until golden brown.

The empanadas go great with tomato sauce. Luckily, I had some friends invite me down to visit Eatwell Farms last weekend for a tomato sauce party. The farm was giving away 2 tons of tomatos for members of their CSA and friends.
There were lots of people who came to the event fully equipped with all the tools for creating and canning tomato sauce from scratch. So many passionate cooks. The tomatoes were great. Even the Food Diva showed up to create a batch of sauce along with Heather. Too bad Byron could not make it, he was busy representing Pachamama Coffee Coop at the Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland.

Tune: Pachamama by Chancha Via Circuito from his Rodante CD

You can buy Chancha Via Circuito's CD online at TTL or ZZK records

I brought home some glorious green tomatoes. Not unripened tomatoes, but fully ripe green tomatoes. Not sure what kind of tomatoes these were, but they made for a glorious green gazpacho. There were some green zebra tomatos, but some of these green tomatoes were of a different variety. Maybe they were Evergreen, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Green Giant, Green Grape or Grandma Oliver's Grape tomatos?!

Tune: Green Grass by Cibelle is a sweet Tom Waits Cover on Six Degrees Records. The Tom Waits tune is on his Real Gone cd.
"Harp sounds, metal and wood percussion and a backwards guitar track move over a shuffling beat that would make old Tom proud"

Tune: Farm Song by Leon Gardner

Tune: Maggie's Farm by Salomon Burke
did you know that, along with most popular music,
this song was also written by Bob Dylan

Tune: Parchment Farm by Mose Allison
I saw him at Yoshis in Oakland a few years back and he was great.

...more on the green gazpacho in a futuer post

For Tomato Sauce

2 cups tomato concasse
2 Tablespoons onion, minced
a clove or two of garlic, minced
1 twig of oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil. Add the oregano and then the tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. Process in blender until smooth and season with salt and pepper.


For the Cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups maicena (corn starch)
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3/4 pound butter, chiled and cut into 1/4" cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extrct
1 pinch salt

Sift all the dry ingredients and work in the chilled butter along with the lemon zest and vanilla or almond extract by hand. Mix just until dough is formed.

Wrap and chill dough for 45 minutes.

Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into circles.

Bake at 325 for about 2o minutes until baked, but not brown.

Allow the cookies to chill in a cool spot.

All over Latin America, maicena is used for cooking and baking. I remember getting a bunch of recipes in Venezuela that call for maicena and I didn't realize it was the same as corn starch. I took a box home to San Francisco only to realize that it is available as "corn starch" in just about every store in town, and that many Latin supermarkets even carry it as "maicena" here in SF... same thing anyhow.

Tune: La Maicena by the Dominican group La Grena con Mambo from the Mambo mix Super Mambo Supremo 2008

Tune: Dominicana by Tego Calderon from the El Abayarde album. This is one of the few reggaeton albums that really interests me as an entire album. Tego's other albums are all great, but this is my favorite. An essential. You can hear this song mixed with El Gran Combo's Ojitos Chinos and another tune by Jota Mayusculo and mala Rodriguez that uses the same theme in El Cuñado del Beatwalla mix.

Even Tego says he's got maicena "Mamazota muévelo pal suelo olvida las penas
Que lo que traigo es maicena"
Tune: Cosa Buena by Tego Calderon from the El Enemy de los Guasíbiri

Tune: Elegante de Boutique is another tune from the Enemy de Los Guasibiri album. This song takes a vallenato sound and gives it the Tego reggaeton/ hip-hop funk touch. His lyrics are great and the sound is fresh. Tego has always been a favorite here at Soul Cocina. Go pick up some of his new music today.

Ni Fu Ni Fa video from last years album El Abayarde Contraataca

Here's a classic Tego Video from El Abayarde

Here's some bhangra ish for your Tego fix
Tune: Furia de Mentira

So here are the alfajores cookies made from maicena, all purpose flour, plenty of butter, ground almonds, salt and powdered sugar. After they cool to room temp, they are ready to fill with dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche

8 cups milk
2 cups sugar
pinch baking soda
1 each vanilla bean
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Tablespoon salt

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and combine with the milk, sugar and baking soda in a stainless steel pot.

Cook over medium low heat so the mixture reduces, thickens and caramelizes.

Stir occassionally with a wooden spoon. After 2-3 hours of slow cooking the mixture should be caramel color thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Alternative "quick dulce de leche" recipe

3 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup cream
1 each vanilla bean
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Tablespoon salt

Scrape the vanilla bean and add seeds and bean to the cream in a small pot. Heat the cream and steep for 1/2 hour. Remove the bean. Keep this vanilla cream warm.

Combine the sugar with 1 cup of cold water and cook over medium heat in a stainless steel pan. Cook the sugar to a golden caramel without mixing. When the caramel becomes a dark golden color, slowly add the warm vanilla cream and whisk over medium low heast for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and salt. Pour the caramel onto a pan to cool to room temperature. The cooler it gets, the more it will set up.

Fill dulce de leche into a pastry bag and chill for a few minutes to firm it up. Pipe a little dulce de leche between two cookies.

Tune: El Caramelo by Los Aguakates. I bought this CD on the beach in the Dominican Republic.. I'm pretty certain that this group is different than these guys who also seem interesting.

Tune: Chupando Caramelo by Salvador Gonzalez y sus Estrellas Del Tropico Canta La Jarochita

to finish the alfajores:
Dust with powdered sugar or roll in dried, shredded coconut.

Enjoy with coffee or tea or just by itself!

Tune: Chinelos Breaker by Funketron from Mexico

If you had a chance to download the Cumbia Clandestina mixes here at Soul Cocina then you have heard plenty of Cumbia Villera by way of Los Pibes Chorros

Yerba Brava, Damas Gratis and Guachín are more Cumbia Villera Groups from Buenos Aires

La Danza del Tablon by Guachín

Tune: Atrevida by Damas Gratis from the recent album La Gota que Rebasó el Vaso

Canibal by Fauna from ZZK Sound Vol 1 (Cumbia Digital Sampler)

Tune: Riddim Dancehall Villero by Hijo de La Cumbia Vs Sizzla
More music from HDC here
Tune: Limited time cumbia beats wav file

Tune: more wav file cumbia beats that won't be here for long go buy the album.

Tune: mas

Tune: y mas

For more cumbia beats stay tuned to Bay Area DJs like Juan Data, who just put out a nice mix called Koombia Mestiza. And the Baylando crew. Kool Kyle has some great Hip Hop Cumbia mixes for download on the Baylando myspace page. And go check them out live... Don't sleep.

This Saturday Aug 30th join Soul Cocina at Bollyhood Cafe with DJs EKG and Rajah plus special guest MC SANTERO


A few weeks ago at Mission Bombay, Amar pulled up a favorite of mine that I almost forgot about.
Tune: Usti, Usti Baba by Señor Coconut Vs Koçani Orkestar takes a cumbia beat to a Gypsy brass banger.
and he also played a new mash up by Radio Hiro that combines
Punjabi MC Snake Charmer AC/DC Back In Black Radio Hiro Bang Your Bhangra Lembhar Hussainpuri Jah Mela Chalaya [Tigerstyle Remix] Willie Dixon/Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love Radio Hiro Junta Jazzy B feat Dj Kendall Chargai Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Chile Radio Hiro Steppin'Out

Tune: Bang Your Bhangra mixed by Radio Hiro

Don't miss Amar at The Soul Cocina Family Meal as he heads the Electric Vardo Troupe through a Gypsy circus fiesta.

and now-stereotypes

Tune: La Lampara de Aladino by Fraider Castro "El Pocho" from Las Estrellas de la Terapia (thanks afrocolombia blog)




At the fabric8 record sale this summer I found this record in J Boogie's bin. 2 bucks! I knew the Capelton tune well and was happily surprised to find other heavy hitter artists pon the Muslim riddim. Now I have to find the Cutty Ranks tune on this riddim. Don't miss J Boogie at the Soul Cocina Feast Afterparty.

Tune: Yuh Look Good by Chaka Demus and Pliers on the Muslim Riddim

Tune: Alms House by Capleton on the Muslim Riddim

Tune: Don't Touch by Cocoa Tea on the Muslim riddim
"Touch a this and touch a that don't them a ever touch your pepper plant"

also check the Cocoa Tea Obama tune.

Tune: Simmer Down by Dirtsman on the Muslim riddim

Tune: Hot This Year by Dirtsman from the Tuff Gong 7"

Tune: Vengo Caliente Este Ano by Tito

Also check out Buju Banton on the same riddim with Mr. Bad Mind

Check out Wayne and Wax on Buju Banton

tune: Tire toi vite feat Buju Banton by 113 from 113 Degres album

Hip Hop in Africa

Islamic Hip Hop In Africa

This is a heavy hitter from Nigeria with his massive tune Mama Oyoyo. His name is Lil Jojo and he is big time.


I Love Hip Hop in Morocco

and a few from Mozambique

Mad Level


Philharmonic Weed



Check out this video: "EL JAZIRA" - Karkadan original fan

There is a restaurant in San Francisco Tenderloin district that serves Tunisian and Yucatecan cuisine!

Tune: Ain't That Peculiar featuring Sly Stone and El Debarge from the upcoming album George Clinton and his Gangsters of Love

There is also a Yucatan Vietnamese restaurant on Mission Street in SF.
Yucatecan and Tunisian are actually two of my favorite cuisines. Too bad they did not have any of the Tunisian items available when I went for lunch the other day. I ordered one salbute, one panucho, one taco and a tamarind agua fresca. The meats were chicken, carne asada and poc chuc. It was not bad, but the Yucatecan restaurant on 16th street in SF, Poc Chuc is way better.

You can find some cumbias song in the Mayan language of Yucatan in this Soul Cocina post from a few years ago. I'll reload the mp3 files on request if anyone is interested. I'd be impressed if you are still reading this at all... what a run on post!

For breakfast this morning I prepared one of my favorite south Indian dishes using a staple of North Africa. Upma is made with course semolina. Cous Cous (not a grain, but a tiny pasta made from semolina) works great for upma!
Cous cous Upma with Poached Egg
I saute onion garlic and ginger in ghee then add carots and red chillies. Then I add the cous cous and some of those great Eatwell Farms tomatoes, chopped. Then I add water and tumeric and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat to absorb the water and cook the cous cous. Then I heat a pan with coconut oil and add mustard seeds, more chillies and grated coconut. The coconut toasts and the mustard seeds pop. Then I add curry leaves to toast. Then turn up the heat for a second on the cous cous upma, toss in some chopped cilantro and then put it into a mold of a coffee cup. Meanwhile I poach an egg in tumeric water. I unmold the upma onto a plate and cover with the coconut/ curry leaf/ mustard seed mix and serve with cucumbers tossed in lemon juice and sea salt under a poached egg.

Inspired by the upma at MTR Bangalore. They serve fantastic udupi meals. And they are still top notch even though they "sold out" last year for 80 million bucks. Thats a whole lotta lakhs and crores of rupees. My upma is in the photo above. The Upma below is a picture I took of the MTR upma in Bangalore a while back. My upma had better tomatoes! Only thing my upma missed was the cashews.