Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pork and Bell Pepper Pie (Page 77)


  • Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Mike M, Teresa, Matty, Lars, and Andrew
  • Recipe Rating: B

This recipe came off the list generated by the random number generator. I started by making the empanada dough (see post below). Then I worked on the filling. I marinated strips of pork loin in a mixture of thyme, oregano, paprika, saffron, parsley, garlic, salt, and olive oil for three hours. Then I cooked onions and green bell peppers in oil until tender. I removed the veggies from the skillet and added the marinated pork. I cooked it for a couple minutes, then threw in some white wine, the veggies, and some salt and pepper and removed it from the heat. I rolled out the dough into a big rectangle (with the help of my special gentleman -- the dough was extremely hard to roll out) then folded it in thirds and cut it in half. I rolled out each piece into a big circle then I put one of them onto a baking sheet brushed with water. I put the pork filling on it and topped with the second circle of dough. I sealed the edges, gave the pastry a little egg wash, then baked until golden. This recipe was a mixed bag. On the one hand, the filling was excellent. It was delicious before going into the empanada, and still delicious once it had been baked. The spices were perfectly balanced and complemented the meat and peppers wonderfully. There was a high ratio of green peppers to meat, but it worked! On the other hand, the dough was not so good. As I explained in the post below, it wasn't great to work with, and it didn't come out particularly flaky or tasty. It wasn't bad, but as pastry crusts go, it was not one of my favorites. This filling is definitely worth making again, but next time I will be putting it in a different pastry shell (or eating it with no pastry at all!).

This recipe isn't online.

Math is a very precise thing, and mathematicians tend to be very careful about what they say. Accuracy is important in math, and even in everyday conversation most mathematicians are very careful to only make claims that they are sure about. I realize this about math people, and as a consequence when a mathematician disagrees with me, I often assume that I am wrong, even if I am not. I know this about myself, but it struck me the other day that maybe this is a bad thing. Here's what happened:

I was at a conference and it was someone's birthday. The organizers went out and bought a bunch of cake. One of the cakes was Red Velvet and that's the one I headed toward when it was time to eat. Someone near me in line for cake asked what Red Velvet cake tastes like. I responded, "It's tastes a bit chocolatey because it has cocoa in it." Another person present "corrected" me, "No it doesn't," he said, "It's just white cake that they dye red with food coloring." He was right that Red Velvet cake often has red food coloring, but wrong about the cocoa. Any reasonably traditional Red Velvet Cake has cocoa in it -- in particular the one we ate that evening certainly did. A reaction between the cocoa and the acidity of either buttermilk or vinegar (two other common Red Velvet ingredients) causes a slightly reddish color that was thought to have inspired the addition of the food coloring. I know all this. I have made Red Velvet cake. But here's the thing that is bothering me. Not only did I not stand up to him, but I assumed I must be mistaken. He's a really smart guy, and he was making a claim with confidence. So I assumed I was wrong. Later, back in my room, I looked it up. The fact that I had been right only made me angry -- not at him, he's a perfectly nice guy -- but rather at myself. There was no need to correct him, but I should have at least believed that I was right! If it had been a conversation about anything else, it would have been excuseable, but this was a conversation about cake! I love cake. I know a lot about cake. There was no reason to doubt myself.

Something to work on...


mikeyC said...

With regards to red velvet cake, yes, of course, you are right that red velvet has some cocoa powder.

In another sense, though, the guy was right in that I have pretty much never actually tasted any chocolate-y flavor in any red velvet cake or cupcake I've had. They probably all have some cocoa powder, but pretty much every red velvet cake I've had tastes like nothing (except for the cream cheese frosting, which is what makes it delicious!).

Liz C said...

I know what you mean - even just a BS in math was enough to train me to be very careful about what I claim I 'know'. Glad to hear it's not just me.

Teena said...

In my experience Red Velvet cakes made in the South seem to have more chocolate flavor than those up North. In particular the one I ate in North Carolina had a nice chocolate flavor to it!

Liz: Yeah, studying math gives you a whole new perspective on what it means to "know" things.