TUCSON -- When it comes to food trucks, this much is true: If the Airstream's a-rockin', do come a-knockin'.
That just means all kinds of goodies, from street-food tacos to fancy-schmancy escargot puffs, are being prepared inside.
The mobile food phenomenon that's swept the country is the subject of Heather Shouse's "Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes From the Best Kitchens on Wheels" (Ten Speed Press, $20).
Shouse is among the authors who'll be featured at the culinary tent at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 9-10. Cookbook writers and local chefs will do demonstrations and talk about their favorite topic - food. Shouse is scheduled to appear March 10.
The paperback has some recipes, but it's mostly an homage to the mobile movement with plenty of color photos. Engagingly written, it's as much about the people behind the trucks as the food they're serving.
One interesting anecdote: The guy behind Maximus/Minimus, a pig-shaped rig that roams Seattle serving pulled-pork sandwiches, joined the wide world of food trucks after selling his stake in the family's multimillion-dollar printing business.
Shouse takes you behind the scenes and even offers maps to some of the more food-truck intensive hot spots.
Sadly, we can't magically transport you to Oahu to feast on freshly caught shrimp. But we can offer a take on a Southwest favorite: empanadas, from Tanguito, a San Francisco restaurant on wheels.
Makes: 12 empanadas
. 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
. 1/2 cup margarine, at room temperature
. 3/4 cup water
. 2 tablespoons corn oil
. 3 onions, diced
. 3 cloves garlic, minced
. 1 pound ground beef
. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
. 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
. 1/2 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
. 1/4 cup chopped green olives
. 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
. 1 tablespoon raisins (optional)
. 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle flour on it.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with 1 teaspoon of the salt, 6 tablespoons of the margarine, and the water, stirring with a spoon and then using your hands to thoroughly blend the dough. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4 inch, then spread the remaining 2 tablespoons margarine on the dough's surface.
Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour, fold it in half and then in half again, then roll it out again to a thickness of 1/16 inch. Cut out about 12 circles from the dough using a 5-inch ring mold.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onions and the garlic. Stir in the ground beef and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, parsley and oregano. When the beef is lightly browned, add the bell pepper. Increase the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the beef is fully cooked. Let cool, then stir in the olives, hard-cooked eggs and raisins.
Put 2 tablespoons of the filling in the middle of each dough circle and fold the dough in half to form a half-moon, pressing the edges together firmly and pinching them all around or pressing them with the tines of a fork to seal. Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and brush them with the egg yolk. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
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