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The Primal Games 6 | Hasselback and Egg-Stuffed Potatoes

Well, that time of year is coming up again… Christmas! I’ve been eating a lot of stodge recently, mostly in the form of sugar, chocolate, and cheesecake… so I thought I’d share something that isn’t in that form… for now! This is definitely the sort of stuff I love to eat over the winter period; tonnes of vegetables, starch-y goodness, and lashings of gravy, so thought I’d share a recipe for some potatoes (a definite winter staple!). Having these with pork and apple chips definitely makes for a real treat (breakfast!) to dip into the egg. 🙂

This past week has been pretty busy, rather stressful, and a bit naff since my previous blog post, which spoke about Recession Proof Body coming to CrossFit Plymouth. They posted a link to that particular blog post on Facebook, and I had a flurry of people come onto the blog again – how lovely. 🙂

And, to top it off, the Primal Games 6 (held at CFP) was a few weekends ago, and it was SO MUCH FUN! Not only did I equal my snatch PB of 60 kg (I had only done it once before and was pretty surprised that I managed it in a comp this time) but got my first ever bar muscle ups! 🙂 The team I was with were also super fun and encouraging, and it was an amazing day all around… it left me buzzing for the WHOLE WEEK afterwards! It was great that everyone seems genuinely supportive of one another, regardless of what level of fitness or ability, it was just an amazing environment.

I was quite surprised about the bar muscle ups, considering how little I’d ever practiced trying. But I was the only member of my team not doing them, and I think that the sheer desire to want to contribute to some points and help them out was my driving force. Never have I ever been more determined to get over the bar or do something as I was then; usually, when snatching heavy weight or doing movements like muscle ups, I get quite scared at the prospect of injuring myself or the movement going wrong, but during this instance I never thought once about injuring myself, I just thought about getting to the end of the movement. It goes to show how the real desire and intention to do something makes that something happen!

In September, I went to the Particulate Systems Analysis and conference and UKPTF, and whilst in Manchester I stopped off at an amazing box called Train Manchester (the home of Samantha Briggs!). I managed my first real muscle ups there (i.e. starting with straight arms at the bottom)… I reckon it was because Samantha Briggs’ touched the rings, and some of the magic transferred to me! I’m not amazing at muscle ups, but even though deep down I knew I had the ability to do them, I didn’t really believe it… until I did just the one… then I did four more afterwards. When I got home, I then did an OMEM drill, and managed fourteen muscle ups, one every minute for fifteen minutes… I failed one once, but still, that’s a big improvement from zero, to being able to do them overnight!

It’s nice to be busy with so many projects going on, but I cannot believe that I’ve hit the ripe old age of twenty-five; where has the time gone? I absolutely cannot wait for Christmas, where the time will hopefully slow down a bit and I can catch up with some important people. Even though times can be busy, stressful, emotional, etc., personally, I feel stronger mentally and physically than I have in a long time; I used to be scared of getting older, and of course, I still am, as we all are, because the future is never certain or guaranteed, but as I get older I learn more and more, and life keeps getting better and gives me amazing gifts. So although getting older is sometimes seen as a negative (i.e. ageing, more responsibility, less time, etc.), it’s actually something to be proud of, and to simply enjoy (unfortunately, some don’t get the chance to be older). In some ways, I can’t wait. 😀

♪ Hasselback… hasselback POTATO ♫

Egg-stuffed potatoes
Adapted from: Cheese and Chocolate

• pre-baked potatoes
• eggs (as many as you have potatoes)
• butter
• salt and papper
• various other fillings (my favourites being bacon, sausage, spinach, broccoli, roasted garlic, cheese, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Find where you potato stands upright, and slice off the top to make a lid. Scoop out enough of your potato to make room for your fillings (you can save the flesh to mash up and have as mash another time).

Add some salt and pepper to the inside of your potato, place some of your fillings in, and crack in your egg. Sprinkled with more salt and pepper, and add some cheese.

Bake for about 25 minutes, although the baking time depends on how you like your eggs, and serve.

Hasselback potatoes
Adapted from: BBC

• white potatoes
• butter
• pepper
• salt
• parmesan cheese (although I like cheddar)
• breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Wash the potatoes well, and dry. Score the top of the potatoes ¾ of the way through. You can slice through the potato whilst it’s sitting in a large serving spoon to prevent slicing cleanly through the potato. Put a lump of butter on top of each potato and pop in the oven for 5 minutes. Then bast using the melted butter and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Return to the oven and bake for 45 minutes. When done, remove, sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs, and return to the oven for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the crust is browned a little.

Bacon would also be a nice addition. Even without the cheese and breadcrumbs, these potatoes offer a different texture to a regular baked potato, mashed potatoes, or roast potatoes.

Empanadas Argentinas |

My parents have really got me into enjoying the sitcoms/soaps Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens. There’s one episode of King of Queens, however, that I can directly relate to this post (season 6, episode 15). Basically, Carrie ends up meeting and becoming good friends with this girl called Trish, who also turns out to be a girl Doug used to date! But in the end, Trish really gets on everyone’s nerves with her annoying habits (like saying “literally” all the time), and Carrie only stays friends with her so she can get cheap clothes.

Anyway, Trish came over to Carrie’s for lunch one day, and Carrie invited another girl called Holly just so she didn’t have to be alone with Trish! Trish brought with her some empanadas, and asked Holly if she’d been to Argentina. After Holly indicated that she hadn’t, Trish immediately exclaimed “You haven’t been to Argentina? Seriously, you have to go to Argentina. It’s literally the best. Go to Argentina.” Ok, so it’s not that funny reading it, but if you’re a fan of the series you’ll know what I’m talking about!

So, empanadas are little pastries filled with meat and/or vegetables, and very similar to Cornish pasties. They can be sweet, too.

Last summer I went on placement in Buenos Aires. The residencia I stayed in was situated in San Telmo, the old part of the city. In this residence I met some people from all over the world! Quite a lot were from France, as they were on internships and placements with the same company. I met people from China, Brazil, Sweden, and Finland, and they were all really cool, not to mention could speak many languages! I felt like the average Englishman; only able to speak English, and Spanish not so well.

One night, within the first couple of weeks I arrived, some of us made empanadas for our supper one evening. There were so many that I had 5! I saved my leftover ones for lunch and supper the following day. 🙂

The bottom left is La Casa Rosada; the President’s house.

So, I decided to give empanadas a go for the badminton league match we played against University B team last night. I often get asked why I play against the university I attend; well, I didn’t attend the university badminton club because it was too overcrowded, and found another club where they asked me to play for them. I went to the university badminton club at the beginning of this year, and they asked me to play for them too. But I couldn’t play for more than one team in the same league, so I kept my loyalty to the Mayflower Wednesday Badminton Club instead.

According to Laylita, empanadas Mendocinas (Empanadas from Mendoza, Argentina) are distinctly different from other styles of empanadas because:

  • There are no raisins in this empanada recipe.
  • The paprika/picante/spicy peppers give flavour and a red colouring to the empanada.
  • The dough is made with milk, which makes it softer and creamier than the standard empanada.

    I have to say actually, that my empanadas did have a slightly red/orangey tint to it; partly because of the free-range egg yolk I used (from our next-door-neighbour’s chickens), which instantly turned the flour yellow, and also because of the paprika. The dough is extremely beautiful to handle, especially when it’s warm from the milk! It’s one of the easiest pastry doughs I’ve handled. It’s not sticky at all, and I managed to roll it out on a surface without any extra flour.

    A good way to roll dough thinly without ripping it and to get an even thickness is to do it in sections. It does take longer, but the results are worth it: when you’ve rolled the dough and have come to the point where it’s not stretching out any further, that’s the time to flip the dough and roll it on the other side. It really works, and you continuously flip the dough until you have reached the desired thickness.

    Here’s a another tip that’s particularly useful: if you accidentally break some egg shell in your egg, use the rest of the egg shell to remove it. It’s a lot easier than using a spoon or your fingers, as the egg shell seems to repel these. And when separating eggs, it’s a lot easier to break the egg, and then use the two halves of the shell to transfer the yolk backwards and forwards, letting the whites drip into a bowl. It really works!

    On a final note: it was really time consuming to make these. The dough and beef filling didn’t take long to prepare and cook at all; it was the rolling, cutting, filling, folding, brushing and baking of the empanadas that took ages! But, the love showed through and I got compliments all around! I have to say so myself, they were pretty darn good!

    Empanadas Argentinas
    Source: Laylita’s Recipes
    Makes 20-30 empanadas (I made 27)

    Masa de empanada (dough):
    • 3 cups (~520g) flour
    • 1 x egg yolk
    • ½ cup (~115g) butter
    • ¾ cup (160ml) warm milk
    • ½ tsp salt

    Relleno de picadillo de vacuno (beef picadillo filling):
    • 500g ground/minced beef
    • 2 x onions, diced
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2 tbsp paprika
    • 1 tbsp hot chilli powder
    • 1 tbsp dried crushed chillies
    • 1 tbsp oregano
    • ½ tbsp ground coriander
    • 1 bunch spring onions
    • 3 x hard boiled eggs
    • ¼ cup (~50g) green olives, diced
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 x egg, separated

    For the dough:
    Sieve the flour into a large wooden bowl and add the salt. Give a quick stir with a wooden spoon, and add the melted butter. Mix well with the wooden spoon until it starts to form lumps.

    Add the egg yolk and the milk, and give a mix until it all comes together and is nice and homogeneous. Then use your hands to knead it for a couple of minutes before separating into two discs, wrapping in foil and popping into the fridge for half an hour.

    For the beef filling:
    In the meantime, put 2 tablespoons of butter into a large heavy-bottomed dish, and pop over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Then pop in the paprika, chilli powder, oregano, coriander and crushed chillies, and mix in the beef.

    Cook until the meat is finished (make sure there’s no pink left at all), mixing it every now and then.

    Leave the mixture to cool a bit. Slice the spring onions and olives, then mix in the with beef.

    Assembling the empanadas:
    Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out thinly. Use a sharp knife to trace around a small bowl as a template for the empanada discs. Make sure they’re not too thin; approximately 1/8″ thin.

    Pop a tablespoonful of mixture onto each disc, and then a piece of egg on each. Brush a thin layer of egg white around the edges of the disc (this glues them together naturally), and then use your fingers to fold the disc in half and to press down on the edges to seal the beef inside. Then fold the edges over slightly, and press down with a fork.

    Baking the empanadas:
    Preheat the oven to 200°C. Whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl, and brush over the top of the empanadas. Make sure it’s a thin layer, as you don’t want baked egg on top of them! The thin layer of egg yolk makes them turn brown in the oven. Bake them for approximately 25 minutes, and serve warm with chimichurri. 🙂

    ¡Buen Provecho!