Fairway Market – Review of the New Latin Table Line

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It’s no secret that Fairway Market is one of our favorite stores; we mention it often here at House of Bedlam. So when I got an email asking if I would be interested in reviewing their new product line, Latin Table, I was thrilled to do it. 

What is the Latin Table Line?

The Latin Table Line consists of tamalas and empanadas, available in the deli pack-out section. Precooked, fresh food, that only needs to be reheated and are ready to serve. Available in the following flavors:

Tamales: beef, chicken and black bean

Tamales

Empanadas: Argentine-spiced beef, chicken and spinach-Portobello mushroom

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When I got to the store to pick up the food samples, the manager mentioned that the line had literally just hit the shelves that day. In fact he hadn’t even had a chance to see it yet. When we got to the section, the empanadas were already almost sold out. As we were in for a major snowstorm that night, I took the one flavor left (Argentine-beef). Although I was disappointed about missing out on the spinach-Portobello mushroom, I had a feeling my little crew wouldn’t mind since it had spinach in it.

Both the empanadas and tamales are packed in a convenient portable container, which includes two sauces, a chipotle dip and an avocado-tomatillo sauce. The empanadas, priced at 4.99, are medium size, and come two to a package. The tamales, priced at 3.99, come four to a package but are smaller. Each would be a perfect amount for lunch or dinner, with a side of veggies.

What are they made of?

I was very happy to see the ingredient lists on both the tamale and empanada were all-natural and free of any preservatives. If you would rather not serve your kids processed foods these are a great option for a quick easy dinner. Plus, the overall price was less than we would typically spend on take-out for our family of five.

Are they hard to cook?

The cooking instructions on the tamales were easy and fairly straightforward. They can either be micro-waved or steamed. We did both and if you have the time I would recommend steaming them. I don’t have a steamer so I just put them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and covered them. The microwave dried them out a tiny bit but it was a lot easier and meant no pan to clean. Always a positive in my book.

The package of empanadas did not list any cooking instructions. I chose to microwave them but regretted the decision as it made them soggy. I would definitely recommend popping them in the oven on a baking sheet to reheat them.

Overall, both items are super-easy to reheat and serve.

The Tasting

The kids were very excited about tasting these. They’ve had empanadas before but tamales were new for them. Of the three tamale flavors the beef and chicken were their favorites. I thought the bean was delicious but they did not agree. As for the empanada, the Argentine-spiced beef was a huge hit.

The spice level was pretty mild on both the tamale and empanada but the sauces made up for it. Before I could stop him, Matthew took a huge taste of the chipotle dip. Much to the amusement of his brothers, this caused him to jump up from his chair and run from the room. Even I had trouble with this one but Brian didn’t even flinch. I much preferred the avocado-tomatillo dip which was spicy but in a good way. After Matthew had fled the room it was a losing battle to convince the younger boys to try either one of the dips.

Next time I would serve separate dipping sauces for the kids, probably a mild salsa and some sort of creamy avocado dip.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “The empanada is the best” “ I don’t like the seaweed on the tamale”

Liam (age 4): “Too spicy, no thank you”

Dylan (age 4): “This looks good! Chicken best, not eating the bean, too yucky”

It might seem obvious but if your child has never had a tamale, it is best to remove the corn husk for them! How was I to know they would actually try to eat it?

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Would we buy these in the future?

Absolutely. Based on my children’s verdicts I would stick with the chicken and beef varieties. But for Brian and myself I would purchase all flavors. I would also buy these to serve at a dinner party as a fun appetizer. And the empanadas are the perfect size to pop in a lunchbox. Since they are precooked, it would be fine to eat at room temperature in a lunchroom setting. Anytime I can find something for my kid’s lunchbox that is quick and healthy, I am sold!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

Where’s the Ghee?

It’s Season 5 on Top Chef Masters and the much anticipated episode of Restaurant Wars did not disappoint. Any fan of the show will tell you this is the week worth watching. The chefs get separated into two teams; each team must create a concept for a restaurant and have it up and running in less than 24 hours. It is usually a recipe for disaster and therefore makes for entertaining television.

Spoiler alert! The winning dish came from Chef Sang Yoon, Strip Loin w/Broccoli Two Ways, Puffed Tendon, and Black Bean Ghee, a twist on Beef with Broccoli. The judges loved his dish and he took home the win.  After the judge’s reaction, I had to find out what this Black Bean Ghee was all about. I started my recipe search on the Bravo website and ended up at Chowhound.com where I found a whole thread devoted to Chef Sang’s ghee, along with some amusing commentary on one of the judges’ hair. Apparently I was not the only one interested in the Black Bean Ghee, several people had already posted questions about it.

Eventually the mystery was solved; the recipe was discovered. Most of the ingredients were pretty obscure, doubanjian, Lao Gan Ma spicy chili crisp and black vinegar among them.  I was fairly confident I wasn’t going to see these on the shelves of our local Stop & Shop. In fact, they probably don’t even carry ghee, which would be a major component to leave out.

Although I could have gotten these ingredients with minimal effort, would my little tasters appreciate the dish more with, or without, them? Without a doubt, they wouldn’t have noticed, or cared. So I decided on making my own twist on Beef w/Broccoli and leaving the Black Bean Ghee to Chef Sang.

I’m no Top Chef Master, my kids call me a cooker, but I think I had a winning dish this week.

Beef and Broccoli One-way

Ingredients:

1 Head of Broccoli, cut into small florets

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Coarse Sea Salt

 

1 lb. Ground beef (ground turkey or ground chicken)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp ginger, grated

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/3-cup rice wine vinegar

1/3-cup dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp soy sauce

 

Directions:

For the broccoli:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the broccoli on the paper and coat well with the olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and roast in oven until crispy and caramelized, about 25-30 minutes, turning once. Remove from oven and set aside.

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For the beef:

In a medium-mixing bowl, combine beef, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Do not overmix.

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Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add meat mixture and cook until no longer pink. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix rice vinegar, brown sugar, and cornstarch.

When meat is cooked through, drain excess fat, then add the vinegar mixture to the skillet and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sugar has caramelized. Add the soy sauce and roasted broccoli, and cook for another minute or so.

IMG_6092 Serve over rice or noodles. With chopsticks if you don’t mind a mess (and a fork just in case).

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “How do you get good at these chopsticks?”

Liam (age 4): “I’ll only eat the broccoli”

Dylan (age 4): “More broccoli! I think I might eat all of this!”

Roasting the broccoli was obviously worth the extra effort… And for anyone interested in the Black Bean Ghee recipe see below. If you try it let me know how it goes!

Black Bean Ghee

2 ounces garlic, microplaned

2 ounces ginger, microplaned

1 ounce doubanjiang (Chinese bean sauce)

3 ounces Chinese sweet soy sauce

1 ounce black vinegar

1 pound ghee, melted

7 ounces black beans

5 ounces Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp