Kitchen Jazz

Dearest Rachel –

Unlike you and your family and their recipes, I tended to improvise in the kitchen – a lot. When we would make spaghetti every Monday evening (and later, once Awana moved to Monday, every Friday evening), I would just brown some ground beef, pour in the spaghetti sauce, dump all manner of spices in there, while you dealt with boiling the spaghetti, and setting the table. I never really kept track. Which means, like they say in Fried Green Tomatoes “the secret [really is] in the sauce.” In fact, it was so much of a secret I couldn’t quite replicate it from one night to the next. Each time was fairly close to the other, but never exactly the same.

The same thing went for our little taco casseroles. We’d make the shells out of tortillas, using some of those ‘as seen on TV’ single-serving pans, while I’d mix ground beef with spanish rice and refried beans, and chili powder, garlic powder and whatever else struck my fancy, all of which we’d spoon into the now-crispy shells, and top with cheese, tomatoes and what have you. All very improvisational. Like jazz, but for cooking.

So about a week ago, I decided that I wanted to make something out of chorizo. I’d gotten some to mix with eggs for breakfast, but I got way too much, and had to put most of it in the freezer. And even then I wasn’t sure how long it would last, so I had to come up with something to use up the rest.

And here’s where things get strange.

You see, about a month ago, on Prime Day, no less, I got it into my head to buy an air fryer. You know, one of those things that Alton Brown just absolutely hhhhates. Well, stuff him, and his Quarantine Quitchen. It turned out it worked really well on breaded ravioli (as long as I didn’t try to keep them in there too long so that it could ‘preheat’ – the thing got plenty hot enough to do them in the recommended amount of time). Daniel and Logan even used it on their own to reheat the previous nights pizza. So it’s obviously simple to use.

What’s not simple is what I decided to make today. You might remember that layover in the Miami airport after our last cruise together. The boys got regular fast food, as I recall, but we went someplace that served empanadas. Lovely stuff, but you can’t find it around here to save your life (sorry about that).

But the Internet is a wonderful thing, and it had a number of basic recipes for building these things. So I decided to try one today. Only it didn’t really follow any of the pre-suggested recipes, apart from using pie crust for the shell.

I decided to start by chopping up an onion, because I figured I would need to caramelize it first, and that would take some time. I expected I would need to throw it in with the chorizo, so I wouldn’t need to add any more oil or grease to fry the onions in.
Honestly, the picture makes the chorizo look like a roast. I had left it thawing in the fridge when I went shopping for the pie crust and the onion and so forth…
… but it took a lot of hacking away at it to get the meat so where it could brown up. Lesson learned, I’ll have to defrost it sooner, or use the microwave beforehand, if I want to try this again
Eventually it got to this point, and it looks pretty good.
I then added a bunch of vegetables, because Daniel had bought mixed vegetables for Chompers’ dinners a while back – only carrots aren’t particularly good for him (although he’s more than willing to eat them) and corn… well, corn, the old boy has no idea what to do with. So, once again, this was something that needed using up.
Finally, I tossed in some hash brown potatoes. Nothing absorbs the salt like potatoes, after all.
So I took the piecrust, and cut circles in it. With what? you might ask. Well…
…would you believe a brand new onion keeper? Yeah, I probably went a little overboard while shopping, but hey, multi-use item. So there, Alton!
So I piled each circle with the chorizo and vegetable mix…
… added some cheese – because what such a dish wouldn’t benefit from a little extra cheese?
And pinched them around the edge to seal them up. Some of them didn’t seal particularly well.
And you wouldn’t know that I used anything, to look at what was left in the skillet. Oh well, maybe I’ll put it on my eggs tomorrow.

After all that recap, I stuck my head out of the kitchen to discover that Daniel had fallen asleep. Well, when I had suggested to him that I wanted to do this (after all the work he’d done up in his room) he admitted that he actually had a preference for lunch today, and would I mind picking up Chipotle on my way back from the store? Well, I’m not offended.

No, honestly. It’s a weird new recipe, and Daniel doesn’t like jazz…

Anyway, time to put them in the fryer, ready or not
And I still haven’t figured out how to get this thing to run at 350° instead of 400°. I mean, I did the whole ‘down temperature’ thing, but it’s still went back up to 400° when I hit the ‘on’ button.
Although now that I look at them, it doesn’t seem to have done any harm.
In fact, they look absolutely delicious, if a little irregular. Hey, it’s my first time; give me a break.

Well, here we go. Moment of truth.


Wow, these are really tasty. Maybe I should have used about half as much potato, but otherwise this is really good. Although I don’t think I could eat all of these before they get cold; maybe I ought to wake Daniel and give him a couple of them.

Yup, he likes ’em, too. Hand-made Hot Pockets. We’ll have to do this again some time.

Sorry you had to miss out. Well, save some of the marriage supper for us when we get there, honey. I’m sure it’s better than this… but still… mm…

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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