Sunday, September 11, 2005

Empanadalicious (or, Large and in Chard)

Friday night is generally my most ambitious cooking night of the week. Friday and Saturday are my days off, so there's plenty of time. Plus, because Mark and I work opposite schedules, those are the only two nights we can actually eat dinner together at home. Granted, there's something to be said for cooking for oneself--Nigella Lawson has a great essay about it--but these days I get damn well about enough of that. So, I'm happy when there's someone around to eat the food I make without having to just take it out of the fridge and nuke it, alone, several hours later.

This Friday I made black bean, sweet potato and corn empanadas and sauteed red chard. I cheated and used frozen puff pastry, so it was much easier than it sounds. The filling was sort of made up as I went along, so I'm not sure of exact amounts. I sauteed some green onions, garlic, and lime zest with cumin, coriander, oregano, some red pepper flakes and a teeny bit of cinnamon, sort of "deglazed" the pan with a little veggie stock when things started to stick, then added black beans and roasted red pepper. I took it off the heat, salted and peppered, and added some cilantro and lime juice. I transferred all that to another bowl, added a cubed, cooked sweet potato, and mashed that all up together (leaving some larger chunks for texture--don't put this in the food processor, just manually smoosh it up a bit). Then I stirred in some corn kernels.

Incidentally, this is my favorite little kitchen gadget at the moment: a citrus zester.

For citrus peel, it works so much better than a box grater or even a microplane, I think. With other graters, the zest just seems to get stuck in the grates. I find myself adding lemon or lime zest to all sorts of stuff now, and it really perks up a lot of dishes. Pasta primavera with a little lemon zest? Mmmm good. Anyway, back to the empanadas.

While I was doing all that, my frozen puff pastry was defrosting on the counter. After making the filling, I rolled out a sheet of dough so it was a little bigger than normal (a 12-inch square, I'd guess?) and cut it into four pieces. I beat an egg, thinned it with a little milk, and brushed that on the edges of the square (yes, this is me using the washing machine as a prep surface--our counter space is a bit scarce):

Then I put about 1/4 cup of filling in the center of each and topped with some queso fresco cheese. This is a crumbly, mild Mexican cheese that I'm newly infatuated with.

Then before I fold it up, I top each with a little bit of butter. Gilding the lily? Hell yes. But c'mon! It's butter! Butter good! Oh, and about now you'll want to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pull two corners together so you have a big triangle and seal the edges by pressing them down with a fork, like so:

Make a couple little slits in the top so they don't explode in the oven. Put those on a greased cookie sheet and stick that in the fridge while you repeat the whole deal with the other sheet of puff pastry (they come two to a package, so you should have 8 empanadas in all). Take the ones that have been chilling, brush them with the egg wash so they come out all shiny, and bake about 20 minutes while you let the other batch chill. Voila!

To go with it, I cooked some red chard. I boiled it first for about 10 minutes to soften it up (I know the current trend is to undercook most veggies--I do it too--but trust me, this is good). Then I sauteed for a couple minutes in olive oil and garlic. I salted and peppered and added a squeeze of lemon:

Dee-lish! We had a nice riesling to go with it. A satisfied diner:


Blogger Sarah said...

Whoo hoo! More food porn from Tara!

The last time I had empanadas was at a foreign language teachers' retreat; the Spanish profs had a session where they prepared a meal for the rest of us. While those may have been authentic, Tara's look even better!

7:03 PM  

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