Beef Empanadas

Jim: Uh, you guys are going to love these. So, empanadas on me. You guys gotta try them.

Creed: Usually I’m a burrito guy, but if you won’t tell, I won’t. Wink, wink.

The Office, “Jury Duty”

The Culinary Institute of America, a renowned culinary school that happens to be close to my home, offers day-long cooking classes for non-students. When I was younger, I took a couple of the classes. One was pretty useless, but the other provided me with recipes that I still use years later. It was in the International Cuisine for Teens class that I learned to make beef empanadas—I honestly can’t remember when I took this class, but I was probably young enough that I would have been eating beef at the time so I may have even eaten beef empanadas. These days, I eat “beef” empanadas, or, if you want to get technical about it, “meatless crumbles” empanadas.
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Chicken Fajitas

Ross: The only thing weird would be if someone didn’t like Mexican food, because I’m making fajitas!

Joey: I do like fajitas.

Friends, The One Where Ross Is Fine

This week I didn’t really know what I wanted to cook. I figured I was due for something with chicken, but I wanted to put off chicken parmesan since I made an Italian meal fairly recently. Eventually, I landed on fajitas. My memories of fajitas stem from experiences at a restaurant, long since closed, called Fresnos in my pre-vegetarian days. Waiters would walk to the tables with sizzling skillets of fajita filling, with a cloud of smoke following behind them. When you left Fresnos, you smelled like fajitas.
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Meeting My Meat and Losing My Appetite

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I’ll accommodate them, I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a “vegetarian plate,” if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.

Anthony Bourdain

I generally do my cooking each week on Thursday, or Wednesday if I’ve really got my act together. This Wednesday and Thursday found me in Minnesota, however, so this week I am posting some general musings in place of a recipe. During my trip to the “land of 10,000 lakes,” the subject of my being a vegetarian came up several times, as I was traveling with a handful of carnivores that I did not know very well and had, as a result, never broken bread with before. The questions I fielded covered where I get my protein from (nowhere, basically, because I am an unhealthy vegetarian), how long I’ve been a vegetarian (ten-ish years), and why I became a vegetarian. The last question is just as easily answered as the others (because my love for animals and outrage at the scenes I witnessed in a PETA video overcame my appetite for meat), but it leads me to ponder a different question: why am I still a vegetarian? I can’t answer that question presently, but I had begun thinking about it before my trip to Minnesota. What follows is an essay that I’ve written on this subject (instead of the short post that I promised).
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