Have Potatoes, Will Focaccia

 
I have this tendency to buy potatoes and not use them before they get gross.

Even though we’ve been experiencing 80+ degree days here in New Jersey, I was feeling the urge to bake.

  
One of my go-tos that I don’t do often enough is focaccia. It’s a pretty easy pantry staple because all you really need is flour, oil, salt, sugar, and yeast. It’s a quick bread to make – about two hours to do, and about 90 minutes of that is just hanging out and waiting.

For a moister, fluffier center and chewy-crunch crust, potatoes are also used. My inspiration for this focaccia came from a Bon Appetit recipe from a few years ago. I modified it this time around, omitting the seasonings/toppings. I opted for a Rosemary-rich Italian seasoning blend and Parmesan cheese. 

Focaccia also makes a great Accidental Pantry Project Recipe – you do not need potatoes, but they do make a better bread. The rest is pretty much stuff you have around – flour, yeast packets, sugar or honey, oil, and water. 

Follow the rest of the recipe accordingly.

Homemade Coconut Oil Chocolate with Fleur de Sel

  

I have been on a huge coconut oil kick lately. I first learned about the benefits years ago when I was a writer for the eco-living site Ideal Bite. It is truly a superfood.

Lately I have been using it more as a supplement and in my cooking as it is supposed to be a metabolism booster. I use it to make popcorn, I’ve had it in coffee, and I like a little in my morning smoothies. It appears to be working because I find my jeans being looser without a drastic change in diet.

I came across this chocolate recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a try, but I took it a step further with cacao nibs instead of organic cocoa powder. The main reason being while I had both nibs and powder at home, I had more nibs than I knew what to do with.

  
The goods – coconut oil, honey, cacao nibs, vanilla extract, and fleur de sel. 

 I pulverized about a cup of nibs in my food processor. The texture was still grainier than I wanted so I mixed in about 1/4 cup of honey.
  
The honey made the mixture much smoother and I hoped the heat from the oil and stove would help smooth it out.

   
 

I heated the oil until warm (I was scared the chocolate would fry) and whisked in the cacao and honey mixture. It was not incorporating as much as I wanted and it wasn’t sweet at all. I ended up using the full amount of sweetener the recipe suggested – 3/4 of a cup (I mixed maple syrup with the honey), and it helped it all come together like a sauce. I added in about a tablespoon of vanilla. I love vanilla and always use more than a recipe calls for. 

  
I was now ready to cool it. 

 
I lined a pan with plastic wrap and poured out the chocolate.

  I then let it set for a moment and sprinkled it with the fleur de sel.

   Chocolate is ready to cool and harden in the fridge!

 
Texture is slightly fudgier than I intended. Next time I will lesson the oil and increase the cacao. 

French Onion Soup Empanadas

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On numerous occasions on this blog I gushed about my love of French Onion Soup. It’s somewhat of an obsession.

One of my other loves in any food that’s wrapped in dough – be it puff pastry, filo, pasta, etc. I’ll travel the culinary world for a good dumpling, pierogi, patty, lumpia, pita, etc. Of course, empanadas are no exception.

Last weekend a good friend of mine sent a snapchat of some empanadas he was frying up, and I was smitten, realizing it had been a long time since I made them myself. His sister’s Ecuadorian in-laws noddingly approved of his frying skills. I instantly knew I wanted to achieve similar greatness.

Apparently the secret was Goya empanada wrappers. I bought some the next day and saved them in my freezer until inspiration struck.

A few days later the idea of French Onion Soup Empanadas came to mind. I had two additional inspirations on top of that snap chat – a French Onion Soup Casserole I saw on Pinterest and the famous French Onion Soup Dumplings at The Stanton Social.

By not making empanada dough from scratch, these were super easy to make.

FRENCH ONION SOUP EMPANADAS
3 large Sweet or Vidalia Onions, sliced thick
1 stick Butter
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 tablespoon Beef Better than Bouillon (or 1 Beef Bouillon Cube)
2 tablespoons Flour
1 cup White Wine (or Brandy)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 ounces Jarslberg Cheese, sliced into small squares
1 packet (12 each) Goya Empanada Wrappers
Vegetable or Corn Oil for Frying
Sugar and Parmesan Cheese

  1. Remove wrappers from freezer and allow to thaw while you prepare onions.
  2. In a heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven (I used my Staub coquette), melt the butter. Add onions and spices. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until onions are brown and a little syrupy.
  3. Add flour and stir for a couple of minutes until well incorporated.
  4. Add wine and cook mixture for about five more minutes, until onion mixture has thickened and excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and spread on a cookie sheet or pan to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, heat oil in pot (I cleaned and re-used my coquette). Use a candy thermometer and allow to heat between 320 and 350 degrees.
  6. Assemble empanadas – use about two tablespoons of onion mixture and 1-2 squares of cheese. Fold in half and crimp edges closed with fork.
  7. Fry empanadas for about 3-5 minutes, until golden brown to brown.
  8. Remove from fryer and drain on a paper towel. While still hot, sprinkle with a pinch of Parmesan cheese and sugar.