Thursday, December 17, 2009


Empanadas are half-moon shaped turnovers, usually small enough to be eaten in two to four bites and full of either sweet or savory fillings.  They originated in Spain and now are made all throughout Latin America.  They are either fried or baked, and because of the amount of work involved to prepare them, they are mostly served for special occasions. 

We tried two different kinds of dough for the crust today in class;  one with cream cheese, and one was a traditional pie crust.  Here is the recipe for the cream cheese dough, which is easier to make and more rich in flavor:

16 oz cream cheese
8 oz (one stick) butter
1 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

 - Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, until well blended. 
 - Slowly add in the flour, mixing until incorporated.
 - Form two balls (it will be easier to work with 2 separate pieces of dough), then flatten each into a disk. Dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling:

1 lb. sirloin beef (either strips, cut into small pieces, or ground)
3 shallots, diced small
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms (or any mushrooms you prefer), chopped 
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped to small pieces
8 oz can small diced tomatoes, drained
8 spanish green olives w/ pimento, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper

-  Saute shallots in oil over medium low heat until starting to brown. 
-  Add garlic and meat, stirring until meat begins to brown, then add mushrooms.  
-  Cook for two more minutes then stir in spices and raisins.
-  Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool before adding tomatoes, olives and eggs.
-  Taste for seasoning, and add more of any you like.

When dough is ready to roll, preheat oven to 375.

On a lightly floured, smooth, clean surface, roll out one of the dough rounds to a thin 1/8-inch thickness. (If refrigerated for more than an hour, you may need to let it sit for 10 minutes to soften it enough to roll it out more easily.) Use a round biscuit cutter or a glass or plastic container with a 4 to 5 inch opening to cut out rounds. Place them on a baking sheet.
During this and the next step, if the dough becomes too soft and therefore difficult to work with, put whatever you are working on in the refrigerator to chill for 5 or 10 minutes.
Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the inside edge of the rounds with egg wash (to help the empanadas seal). Place a teaspoon of meat inside each round. Fold the round over to and press the edges to seal shut. Use the tines of a fork to flute the edges

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  If dough seems too soft, chill empanadas for 5 or ten minutes before brushing with eggwash and baking.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for at least five minutes before eating.

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