I’ve always had a challenging time making empanadas. So far, I’ve made them a total of three times. The dough I make from scratch is always thick because I have a problem rolling it out properly. One time, I tried to make a dessert empanada. I had a different kind of problem with the dough. Instead of too thick, it was too sticky. Ugh! My empanadas tasted good but not very good-looking. Since I always seemed to have a challenging time making the empanada shell, I stopped making them, even though I love to eat them.
When Rebecca of From Argentina with Love announced a food blogging event called Empanadas of the Month, which she was hosting, I decided to rise to the challenge again. In this monthly event, Rebecca provides a new empanada recipe for us to make. The first recipe is for a classic Mendoza-style empanada. Rebecca’s husband and friend, Carina, are from Mendoza, Argentina.
According to Rebecca, Mendoza-style empanadas are baked, instead of fried. They are filled with seasoned ground beef, green olives and a slice of egg. Then the empanada is sealed with a special technique called ‘repulgue’, where the edges of the empanada are folded and pressed repeatedly until they create a decorative pattern.
Rebecca provided a video with her friend Carina narrating, in Spanish, how to seal the empanadas using the repulgue technique.
"¡Perfecto!" (Perfect!), "¡Muy bien!" (Very good!), "¡Eso!" (That’s it!), Carina would encourage as Rebecca performed a perfect repulgue style technique on the empanadas. At the end, Carina and the video guy applauded Rebecca for her excellent work.
I would have loved my own cheering empanado-making team with me. With that in mind, I tried to recreate what I saw on the video. I even imagined that Carina encouraged me. "Perfecto, Paz!" "¡Muy bien, Paz!" "¡Eso, Paz!" "Applause!"
*sigh* It didn’t quite work out well. You should have seen me trying to do the repulgue technique. It was quite hilarious, actually. I think the technique I performed was something that could only be called the ‘Paz Pathetic’ technique. I think I’ll have to go to Carina’s kitchen for a personal lesson. In the meantime, I did the best I could.
So, here are my humble empanadas Mendocinas. They didn’t turn out bad at all.
Oh! By the way, I used the ready made, store-bought dough for the empanadas. Interesting note: Rebecca calls them ‘tapas’ but when I went to the store asking for ‘tapas’, everyone gave me a strange look and one store employee flat out told me he didn’t know what I was talking about before turning his back on me. After searching on my own, I found the dough, which was called ‘discos’ (para empanadas)/disks (for empanadas). Ahhh! Interesting! I suppose they have different names for the dough in different places.
The dough tasted fine but I like the idea of making my own, which I think would tasted much better. So, I’ll start practicing how to make it again, one of these days.
All in all, I’m happy about my Mendoza-style empanadas. I’m ready for my applause.
Thanks Rebecca. This was fun.
Ed. Note: Rebecca has posted a roundup of the works of those who participated. You can find delicious-looking empanadas here.
Receta por Empanadas Medocinas de la familia Oliva-Quiroz
Mendocino Empanadas from the Oliva-Quiroz family
For the filling:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup shortening or lard (you can add less or omit this if necessary)
2 lbs. onion
3 Tablespoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
green olives, pitted and cut into slices, as many as is necessary
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into rounds
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
For the construction: A glass of water 1 egg, beaten flour for the pan The meat can be made a day in advance. Put the onions, sliced finely in rounds, in a frying pan and salt them. Add the ground beef and cook, then add salt and pepper to taste. Next add the lard and mix well, so that it’s incorporated-the lard, the meat and the onion together. when it’s all cooked, add the crushed red pepper (to taste) and the cumin and mix well. When the mix is ready, let cook and add the paprika and stir well.
The assembly: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the tapas on a flat surface, lightly floured. With a tablespoon, put a little of the meat filling in the center of the dough round. Add a slice of the olive and a piece of the hard boiled egg.
Then moisten the edge on the top half of the round with a little water on your finger. Fold the bottom half of the dough up until the edges meet and seal with your fingers by pressing down. The empanada should have a half-moon shape.
Use the palms of the hands to pack the filling firmly in the center. Next, fold the edges with the Repulgue: using your fingertip, fold one corner of the empanada over, pressing down firmly. Go to the edge again and repeat, pressing firmly each time. Go around the edge of the empanada and you’ll get a spiral pattern.
Beat an egg in a shallow dish and paint the top of each sealed empanada so that when they bake, they have a shiny, golden shell. Spread flour lightly over several cookie sheets, and place the finished empanadas on top. Put the empanadas in to bake for 12 to 15 minutes-they should be sizzling and very golden brown on top. Take out and eat very carefully while hot!
June 2, 2008 | Filed Under Argentinean Recipes, Cuisines, Eggplant, Fellow Bloggers, Foods I Never Liked Before Until I Started to Cook, From Argentina with Love blog, South American Cuisine, Vegetables | 14 Comments
Lately, I’ve been enjoying a relatively new food blog by Rebecca of From Argentina with Love. It’s a lovely blog that gives her experience in Argentina and mouth-watering recipes, and mesmerizing photos.
In one post, she wrote a story about how she and her husband got into an accident with a truck driver. Interestingly enough, later, the truck driver shared his lunch with them — marinated eggplant, which his wife had made for him. Rebecca described it as the best eggplant she’d ever tasted. I very much loved the story and the look and sound of the meal that I decided to make it.
Well, I’m sad to write that my marinated eggplant dish did not turn out well at all. It seemed relatively simple enough to make, but I apparently took some wrong turns on my cooking adventure road. I cooked the eggplant too long and I think I left the fire too high that the poor eggplant practically fell apart. It didn’t look appetizing at all and unfortunately it tasted even worse. I kept it in the fridge for five days before finally acknowledging that it really belonged in the garbage.
Later, Rebecca posted another interesting and easy-sounding eggplant recipe — Berenjena Asada/Grilled Eggplant. I could handle that, I thought to myself. I set out to make it. This time, it was smooth sailing for me. No problems. And my grilled eggplant tasted delicious! Yes!
I’m definitely going to try making the marinated eggplant again. I’m pretty sure that I’ll do a better job the next time around.
2 eggplants, washed and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
crushed red pepper
Put the eggplant rounds in a roasting pan and sprinkle abundantly with salt. Let them ‘sweat’, and then drain them. Drizzle generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano and crushed red pepper. Place on the grill, over indirect heat, until soft in the center — they will appear juicy and have grill marks.
The marinated eggplant that was not meant to be. I will try to make it again.
In the meant time, go here to see what it’s really supposed to look like.
Hot chocolate with whipped cream
I mentioned in an earlier post that Elizabeth (The House in Marrakesh) and I stopped at the Viennese inspired café at Neue Galerie. It reminded us of Merisi’s Vienna for Beginners. The café serves authentic Viennese specialities, traditional Austrian dishes, and patisserie like strudel and Linzertorte. An extremely cold day, we both ordered hot chocolate with whipped cream. Mmmm! That certainly hit the spot. Elizabeth ordered ham on country bread with crispy crusts with mustard spread. Very delicious.
We arrived at the café early and it was a good idea because a short time later, it became crowded. Hours later, a line formed to dine at there. Next time, I’ll make sure to go there with a big appetite.
Open ham sandwich on country bread
This Sunday’s New York Times has an article out on dining in Austria, and our friend and fellow blogger, Angelika of The Flying Apple is a major part of the article. She recently opened her own restaurant, which she has blogged about on her site.
Quite some time ago, she sent me an Austrian cookbook (recipes from the Austro-Hungarian Royal Kitchen). I hadn’t been able to try out any of the recipes, although I’d picked up the cookbook to look for something to make after recently watching The Sound of Music (which takes place in Austria). I never had time to prepare my Austrian meal.
With news of Angelika’s article in theTimes, I had to prepare something Austrian in her honor. For a Sunday morning, I decided to prepare the Kaiser Pancakes. The ingredients were readily available to me, except for plum purée. I bought blueberry preserves to use as a substitution for the plum puree. However, by the time I’d finished making my pancakes, I was starved and couldn’t wait to eat my food. I forgot all about the preserves. Next time.
Anywho, my Kaiser Pancakes didn’t turn out badly at all. In fact, I loved them. It tasted really good. As I closed my eyes and savored the taste of my pancakes, I imagined I was part of the royalty enjoying my meal. My imagination lasted, until I had to get up and wash my own dishes.
Congratulations, Angelika on a very nice article and all your accomplishments.
Kaiser Pancakes (Kaiserschmarren)
Imperial Austrian Cuisine by Renate Wagner-Wittula
200 g (7oz) cake or pastry flour
50 g (1 1/2 oz) sugar
250 ml (8 fluid oz) milk
pinch of salt
40 g (1 oz) raisins
confectioners’ sugar (powdered)
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Thouroughly mix the yolks, sugar, milk and flour. Whisk the egg whites, add a pinch of salt and continue whisking until stiff. Now, carefully fold into the egg yolk mixture. Melt butter in a large pan, pour in the mixture and sprinkle in raisins. Let cook on one side for a few minutes, turn over and tear into pieces with a fork. Now let finish cooking (ideally in a buttered pan in a preheated oven(. Be especially careful not to overcook the pancakes, otherwise they will dry out. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with plum purée.
In the mood for shrimp (and always in the mood for rice), I found the above-titled recipe that satisfied my mood. So, I went out to buy some shrimp. There was a time when I felt intimidated to buy seafood (I’ve never really cared for food shopping in general). I never knew which fish to pick or what size shrimps to choose, etc… But since I started cooking, that discomfort has now passed. Now, I’m more confident food shopping. Strangers actually ask me food questions while I’m picking my groceries and I actually know what to tell them. Wow! It’s a miracle!
So, I pointed to the shrimps I wanted and the fish guy (what do you call him? Fishmonger? Way too formal for me.)? picked them out and weighed them for me. I bought my rice and green peas and I was on my way to cooking.
After knowing how to cook, only, with salt and black pepper, I’ve been having fun learning to cook with other spices. The spice of the week for me is garam masala. Until this recipe, I’d never used it before. Oh, how I love the smell of this spice. Put it on the list of ingredients that will make me doing my kitchen dance as soon as I get a whiff of it. I only used a tiny bit of the garam masala, as the recipe called for. Yet, it was sufficient to make the rice fragrant and special. It blended well with the other spices.
My rice turned out really well. Delicious. The only thing I didn’t care for, while preparing this meal, was peeling and deveining those damned shrimps. It took forever. Grrr! Perhaps next time, I should buy them already deveined and peeled. Of course, that’s at an extra cost… Hmmm… I’ll have to think about it. I guess, at least, I have the option.
Once the shrimps were deveined and peeled, there were no problems cooking. Putting the cooked shrimps and rice together, I was able to enjoy my meal. Not bad at all.
Prep Time 15 min (plus marinating)
Cook Time 5 min
3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
1½ pounds large large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1. In a large bowl, mix together half the scallions, the garlic, coriander, cumin, cayenne and turmeric. Add the shrimp and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring constantly and seasoning with the salt, until nearly opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and continue frying until the shrimp are cooked through, about 1 minute more. Top with the remaining scallions.
Prep Time 5 min
Cook Time 30 min
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon garam masala
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1½ cups long-grain rice
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garam masala and tumeric and stir to combine. Stir in 3 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and salt and return to a boil, stirring briefly to break up any clumps. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer, without disturbing, until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, about 18 minutes.
2. Uncover the pan and mix in the peas while fluffing the rice with a fork; cover and set aside for 5 minutes, until the peas are heated through.