Tag Archives: salt

Venison Empanadas

This recipe makes eight large empanadas—I’m freezing four for later—but you could easily make smaller, snack-sized empanadas. I used half venison and half ground beef in the filling, but you could substitute any other ground meat combination, or even a filling with no meat. Because you need a cool filling, you should make it early in the day or the day before, so it has time to cool before filling the dough—this also cuts down on the commotion of rolling and filling dough at dinnertime.

For the dough, I’m using the one from Martha Stewart’s “Basic Empanadas” recipe. I recommend this simple dough, which is buttery and tender and easy to handle, considering all the rolling and shaping you need to do. I recommend watching the video on the page, especially if you haven’t made this sort of a hand pie before. The one thing I did differently was to use the food processor instead of mixing by hand—even with that, the dough remained tender. I felt, though, that I had to add way more than the one cup of cold water in the recipe for the dough to come together, maybe as much as an extra half cup. The video tip to let the dough rest before rolling seemed like a good idea, keeping the dough from trying to shrink as you roll it. Here are the simple ingredients for that dough (follow instruction on the site):

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup cold water
  • egg wash for sealing and for brushing on tops


Venison Empanada Filling

  • Servings: enough for 8 large servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 lb ground venison
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced
  • 2-3 roasted red peppers, diced
  • about 6 canned plum tomatoes, diced, plus enough of the juice (maybe 1/2 cup) to moisten the meat
  • Spices:
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed or ground dried juniper berries
    • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
    • 1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cilantro
  1. Brown the venison and beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Use oil if you think you need it, but the beef should provide plenty of fat. Remove any excess fat, so the final mixture is not greasy.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they begin to soften.
  3. Stir in spices, red peppers, and tomatoes. Bring to a low boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Remove to a large low dish, like a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. If you think the mixture is too wet, remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Most of my liquid cooked off.
  4. Cool the filling, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to fill the empanadas.

Baking: The filled empanadas bake for 30 minutes at 400° on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Frozen ones will take about 40 minutes and do not need to be thawed first.

Pecan Sandies

We used to love the popular commercial version of this cookie, but they changed the recipe years ago, like so many other popular foods did, and ruined them. This recipe comes pretty close to what we remember, and it doesn’t use any odd ingredients. It is your basic 1-2-3 ratio cookie, with a few items added to highlight the pecan flavor. They have become one of our favorite cookies.

I roll the dough in balls and press them flat with a glass, but if you want a more perfect round, roll them into logs and slice them before baking.

Pecan Sandies

  • Servings: makes 3 dozen 2 inch cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  • 4 oz sugar—1 tablespoon dark brown sugar plus enough granulated sugar to make 4 oz.
  • 8 oz butter (2 sticks)—I used salted butter
  • 12 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons milk if dough is too dry to form into balls and press
  1. In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in salt and vanilla.
  2. Slowly incorporate flour until combined. As mentioned in ingredients list, the dough could be too crumbly to roll into balls and press, depending on such factors as temperature and humidity. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until dough holds together well, but is not sticky or too wet. Today I only needed 1 tablespoon.
  3. Mix in nuts until well combined.
  4. Form into small balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
  5. With a flat-bottomed glass or other flat object dipped in flour, flatten each ball of dough to about 1/4-3/8 inch thick. Don’t press them too thin or they will be too crispy.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes or until edges are beginning to brown. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.

Spicy Skewered Meatballs

It was one of those what-to-do-with-ground-beef days. I almost, in desperation, fell back on grilled burgers, even though it was only 54° outside, then wondered if I could do something different with meatballs—and I mean different from all the meatball recipes on this site (which is 5). I still used the grill, after I put on a flannel shirt, and decided to use a combination of spices that I haven’t used with beef before. The only method I could figure out for grilling meatballs, was to put them on skewers, although I’m sure if they are big enough not to fall through the grate you could turn them individually—that sounds like too much work.

We ate them on flatbread with a sour cream-lemon-chive sauce.

Spicy Skewered Meatballs

  • Servings: 16 large meatballs
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1 egg

Optional: 2-4 tablespoons milk or other liquid if the mixture is dry

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried cilantro

1 tablespoon parsley paste (a timesaver)

1 tablespoon grated or minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

  1. Mix all ingredients together with hands. You’re trying to achieve a mixture that will hold its shape, so you don’t want it to be too soft or moist.
  2. Divide mixture into 16 portions and roll into balls.
  3. Carefully slide meatballs onto skewers then place on a large tray. You could refrigerate them at this point until ready to cook.
  4. Grill over direct heat, turning to brown on all sides, closing the lid after each turn. Even with flat skewers, the meatballs will turn on the skewers, but it’s still pretty easy to turn the whole skewer, keeping your tongs close by. They cook pretty quickly, in about 15 minutes, but you can use a thermometer to test for doneness.
  5. Remove from skewers and serve in flatbread with a sour cream or yogurt sauce.

This is something you could make with a variety of meats and spices. I found the meatballs to be moist and tender, and a nice change from burgers.

Parmesan Crackers from Pie Crust

Several years ago, I made a terrific blue cheese shortbread to take to a gathering, but I didn’t write down the recipe and haven’t found one on the web that seems like it, but I keep looking. I’m sure I’ll just improvise on a basic shortbread recipe someday, but today I’m making crackers by adding cheese to basic pie crust dough. Adding cheese surely changes up the results you would get if you just baked pie crust cutouts, because cheese is another fat and you already have butter in the dough. I’m not sure how that will work. Then, I’m going to add cream instead of water to the dough, just because I have some on hand and it will add another layer of richness. What I’m hoping for is a rich, flaky pie crust texture that is a little more tender than crisp. As usual, this is a test.

I started with Michael Ruhlman’s basic 3-2-1 pie crust, substituting cream for water and adding cheese without taking any of the butter out.

The results? Salty, buttery, cheesy, flaky, tender. Very nice.

Parmesan Crackers from Pie Crust

  • Servings: makes a lot of crackers
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print

12 oz all purpose flour (weighed in at about 2 1/3 cups today)

3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cut in small dice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground

1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream

sea salt for topping

I made the dough in a food processor. Preheat oven to 400° when you take the dough out of the refrigerator.

  1. Place flour, salt, pepper, and cheese in food processor, pulsing briefly to mix.
  2. Add butter and process until combined. I processed it until the butter was cut into a small grain size, but I’m sure you could pulse it to have larger chunks of butter. My thinking was that I wanted a more uniform rising in the crackers. Even with all that processing, the crackers are still very tender and flaky.
  3. Add the cream, or whatever liquid you decide to use, through the processor chute while processing, until the dough begins to form a ball. I think you want a dough that holds together a little better than some crumbly pie doughs, but that’s always my preference. I don’t have any trouble working with a moist dough, as long as it’s not sticky.
  4. Scrape out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, shape into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap completely and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
  5. Remove chilled dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/8 inch—the crackers will rise quite a bit, to 1/4 inch. I tried to roll out my dough evenly, but didn’t. Don’t obsess over it.
  6. Rolled dough can be cut with cookie cutters or with a pizza cutter or crimping tool. I used cutters for the rounds and a pizza wheel for the squares (they’re kinda square, anyway).
  7. Place cut dough on baking sheet lined with parchment. You can make a design in the crackers with a fork or the point of a skewer.
  8. Sprinkle with sea salt or some other topping that won’t burn in the 10-12 minutes of baking.
  9. Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes. Cool on pan for a few minutes before removing to rack to cool completely.

I’m very happy with the tender, flaky texture of these crackers. If I want a crisper cracker in the future, I might try leaving out most of the butter and using water instead of cream, but these are terrific.