Two of our friends were generous enough to put together a private cooking class at Hipcooks. These two are always supporting the local community. They live, eat, and thrive in DTSA. They have even been known to guerilla garden in the city. They wanted to introduce us to this new establishment, so they hosted a party. A group of neighbors headed downtown and were presented with chef hats and aprons before we began the class. Alex and I had actually brought our own aprons: me, my Wonder Woman, and he, his Darth Vader, naturally.
Hipcooks, which is perfectly described by it’s name, is an interactive cooking experience where there is no precise measuring, recipes, or rules. It’s cooking from the hip (that’s my kind of cooking). Tonight we were to make tapas of all kinds.
We started off with Sangria, of course. Red wine, some liquor of your choosing, fruit, et voila… let the party begin. Next we made an arugula salad- tender baby greens, massaged with good olive oil, sprinkled with flaky sea salt and lemon juice. The tortilla was next, which is not the flat flour Mexican bread you are thinking of. This was an egg and potato mixture, first sautéed, and then baked in the oven until set. We concluded by making empanadas. This was a first for me. I never realized they could be so easy- particularly when I found out I could purchase frozen wrappers at the Argentinian grocery store & deli about 3 blocks from my house. #whatafind! (*)
How to be Neighborly: Support the local flavor.
At the end of the cooking, we all sat down at a long table for a community dinner to enjoy the food we had just made for each other. Gracias, D & D! Great friends. Great night. Great food. Great fun.
Here’s my cooking from the hip version of empanadas from my own kitchen (measurements are provided for support, not precision):
Cooking from the Hip Empanadas
- 2 sausage links (I get Argentinian chorizo from the above noted store, but any Italian pork sausage will work)
- ¼ onion, diced
- 8 mushrooms, diced
- 8 sundried tomatoes (Chef Mila’s Oven Roasted Tomatoes, if you have them)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp red wine
- Empanada wrappers/dough (*)
- Egg, mixed
Remove the sausage from the casing, and cook in a frying pan on medium high heat for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, and cook until the onion is translucent but not brown. About 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook about 2 minutes until they start to show a little color. Add the tomatoes, oregano, clove, salt, pepper cumin, and paprika and sauté for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and immediately remove from the heat. Stir until the wine is soaked into the meat.
Place one large spoon full of the meat into a empanada shell and pinch the edges together. To form the edge, bring the corner of the dough up, and pinch, then fold inward, and press down to seal. Continue this motion until it forms a twist all around the edge.
Place on a baking sheet, brush some egg on the top, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 10-12 empanadas.
Garden Chimichuri Sauce:
- 1 c fresh mint
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- Pinch of salt
Put all ingredients in a mini food processor and combine until mint is minced.
(*) Help! I don’t live near an Argentinian grocery store Empanada Dough:
Reprinted From Gourmet 2004- I’ve made this and it’s amazing dough. Very buttery and flakey. It’s actually very easy, and you probably have all the ingredients lying around somewhere. It’s worth a try, even if you do live close to frozen wrappers.
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
Form into balls, and then roll into 4 inch circles.