Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 8: Baked Ham with Pineapple Day &National Empanada Day

Baked Ham with Pineapple Day

Whole Foods didn't have ham with pineapple,
so enjoy a picture of ham with cranberries instead.
Since today is Easter, it is also known as Baked Ham with Pineapple Day.  I have no idea why ham is associated with Easter - or why pineapples got involved.  There are many ideas about why Easter are paired together in the US, none of them are the same, and not very many are backed by historical fact.  (I'm sharing them anyways because I was amused by all these theories.)  All About Jesus Christ says that ham is associated with Easter because it's a holdover from when Christianity absorbed a lot of "heathen" practices and that Easter ham has its origins in the myth of Ishtar and Tammuz.  Goddess Gift provides a slightly different version of the story of Ishtar, puts forth the idea that ham is a Christian meat and that ham is associated with Easter because that would be the last of the cured meats people in the old days would have on hand.  History Channel (probably the most reputable source I could find) seems to agree that ham became associated with Easter because it was ready at the right time.  Over at Chow, the Chowhounds get into discussing ham as an Easter food and Slashfood serves up its own thoughts on ham as an Easter food.

What amused me most while searching for the history of  ham as an Easter food?  Coming across this story about George and Martha Washington and how they were famous for their hams

National Empanada Day

This almost became a "Oh, no, I failed!" day.  I looked up a bunch of empanada recipes and picked a dough recipe.  I messed up that batch of dough and almost gave up.  My roommate came to the rescue with an empanada recipe dating back to her high school days.  I used the dough portion of her recipe, but made my own filling.

Empanada Dough Recipe

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp salt
0.25 cup shortening
1 egg
0.25 cup milk

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles crumbled cornmeal.  Beat egg with milk and add to flour mixture.  Stir until combined, using hands if necessary.  Form dough into a ball, cover and chill in fridge for an hour.  Roll dough out onto lightly floured surface until about 0.25 inch thick.  Cut into rounds (I was able to make 10 using a 4.5 inch diameter bowl as a guide) and use immediately for empanadas.  When empanadas are filled with filling of your choice and sealed (see the rest of this post) brush with an egg wash (one egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water), bake on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until a light golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Everything cooled and waiting
to be put into an empanada.
For my filling, I wanted a vegetarian filling.  (I feel like I've consumed way too much meat and sugar these last few weeks- I need to start making a smaller food footprint.)  I chopped half an onion, a small head of garlic, one large carrot and cooked those in a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan until the onions were turning golden.  Then I chopped half a red bell pepper and half a green bell pepper and added those to the frying pan.  I finally added one can of drained and rinsed chili beans, 2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper, and 1 tablespoon of chili for some protein and extra spice.  I had some leftover filling but I'll probably use that in a breakfast scramble.

Now, the important thing about empanadas?  Repulgue, the technique for giving empanadas that nice edge.  There are many different repulgue techniques and some restaurants use different techniques to help identify what filling is inside the empanada.  You can just use a fork to get a pretty seal.  I tried the most common one which is similar to the braiding technique used on pizzas.  I didn't quite get it down this time, but I improved as I went along.  (You can easily tell which ones were the first empanadas I sealed.)    This YouTube video, while out of focus for some shots, gives you a good idea of the typical repulgue method.  

There are so many different types of empanadas, you're sure to find one you'd like to try.  Empanadas can be sweet (using fruits as a filling) or savory (meats as a filling.)  Empanadas Mendocinas seem like an intriguing flavor combination - ground beef, green olives, and hard boiled egg?  Definitely not a flavor combination I would have thought of. 

No comments:

Post a Comment