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Monday, April 30, 2018

Chilean Corn Beef Pie - Pastel de Choclo

Definition of Comfort Food
Source: Adopted from En Mi Cocina Hoy
Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 4 (out of 5)

For the beef:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 kg / 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 cup water or beef broth
- 3 onions, diced
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp flour
For the corn mixture:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 10 cups or 1 3/4 kg frozen corn
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold milk or water
- 10 basil leaves or 1 tbsp basil paste
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/4 tbsp black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp parprika
- 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled, cut into quarters
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pulled with fork
- 10 olives halved
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Serves: 8-10 people

For the beef (to be prepared at least one day before serving):
1. Preheat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onions until golden brown, stirring from time to time. About 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan, and leave to cool.
2. In the same pan saute the beef for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices, the salt ant the pepper and stir for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the water and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring. After the first 10 minutes add the onions. If someone in your household does not like the cooked onion texture, grind the cooled onions before adding them to the beef).
4. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning as needed, stir in the flour and leave to cool.
5. Cover and refrigerate or freeze if you don't plan to use it within the next day or two.

For the corn:
6. In a large pot with a thick bottom, melt the butter over medium-high heat, add the frozen corn, cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add milk, basil, salt, pepper, and paprika and continue to cook for 10 more minutes, stirring.
8. With a hand blender, blend the corn trying to not to go uniform, leave some chunky parts. Add the dissolved cornstarch and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It will thicken slightly.

To assemble the pie:
9. Greeze a 13x9 inch baking dish
10. Spread the beef on the bottom of the dish. On top of the beef add chicken. Above the chicken layer add the eggs and the olives. You can also add raisins.
11. Pour the corn mixture on the very top. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake at 400F in a preheated oven for 45-60 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

- This is a traditional Chilean dish. In Chile it is usually baked in clay pots, but if you don't have a large enough clay pot, a pyrex will do.
- This pie is really hearty and flavorful. It's perfect for a dinner on a colder night, but in Chile they eat it for lunch in the middle of the hot summer day, so I suppose it works for any time of day and year. Traditionally served with a salad of lettuce, onions and tomatoes.
- You can prepare all the dish in one go, it will probably take you about 1 hour, just the prep, plus one more hour to bake. But you can also prepare the different parts in advance, for example, you can prepare the meat mixture and freeze until the day of serving.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Cranberry Crunch Cookies

Gooey and crunchy cookies. Perfect with milk, coffee, or as an ice cream sandwich.
Source: slightly modified from Better Homes and Gardens
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)
Taste: 5 (out of 5)

- 1/2 cup of margerine
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 200 g of Post Cranberry Cornflakes (or similar cereal)
Total: about 30 cookies

1. Beat the margarine in a mixer on high speed for about 1 minute to soften. Add the sugar and the vanilla extract and beat for 2 more minutes. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
2. Mix in the flour and the baking powder just until incorporated (no more than 30 seconds, you don't want to overmix the flour).
3. Crush the cereal either with the fingers or in a food processor (5-10 pulses). It should not be powder, just smaller chunks. Add the flakes to the batter and mix.
4. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 baking sheets, if not so large) with parchment paper. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop out the dough onto the baking sheet. The cookies will significantly spread (to about double the area), so space them generously. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 10-15 minutes until the cookies start getting firm. They will remain rather pale, so no need to wait for the golden color.
5. Let the cookies cool on the sheet before eating. They can be stored in an airtight container for about a week (but you will probably finish them sooner).

The batter is a bit gooey and the cereal is crunchy, so overall you get a little bit of every texture. And the yummy taste of Cranberry Crunch. 

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