Empanadas Step by Step

One of my favorite dishes to make for special occasions are empanadas, or meat pies.  They are a traditional food in my family during the Christmas season and are always a big hit at parties and pot luck dinners.  When my son was in elementary school his Spanish class looked forward to them every year.  These tasty little meat pies are easy to make and you can tweak all the seasonings to your own taste.  The best part is you can do all the prep work the night before and fry them when everyone’s ready to eat.

Here I’ll take you through the process step by step:

empanadas step by step

Step 1:  The first step is to make the sofrito – this is the seasoning in which you will cook the meat filling.  You can use these measurements as a guide, there are no strict rules when making sofrito – at least not for me!  If you like a little more red bell pepper than green or more cilantro than flat leaf parsley, go for it!

2 red bell peppers

2 green bell peppers

1 Spanish onion

3 Roma tomatoes

2-3 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup  cilantro

Sea salt

Pepper

Ground coriander seed

Ground cumin

Packet of Sazon

I use the food processor to dice the veggies and then add the spices to taste.  I like to make a big batch of this and freeze it in small quantities (about 4-5 tablespoons) for use in soups, stews, beef and chicken dishes – I added 4 tablespoons to a pot of arroz con gandules (yellow rice with pigeon peas) I made for Christmas Eve dinner and it was delicious.

Step 2:  Now for the meat filling.  Start with 1lb. of ground sirloin or meatloaf mix, seasoned with salt and pepper or adobo.   Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan; when it’s sizzling add about 4 tablespoons of sofrito.  Stir that for about a minute and then add your meat, breaking it up and stirring until cooked through.

Step 3:  I use Goya Dough Discs for Empanadas to make the pies.  They’re readily available in most major supermarkets and should be easy to find.

Steps 4 & 5:  Place a disc on waxed paper on a cutting board to keep it from sticking.  Place about a spoonful of meat in the middle of the disc as shown.

Step 6:  Fold over the disc into a crescent shape, pressing down on the edges of the disc with your fingers to seal.

Step 7:  Press the sealed edges of the empanada with the tines of a fork to secure the seal.

Step 8:  Here’s what your empanadas should look like. I usually make them ahead up to this point and put them in the refrigerator until I’m ready to cook them, and make between 12 – 20 empanadas at a time.

Step 9:  When you’re ready to fry them, add enough canola oil to a heavy frying pan to cover the empanadas; heat the oil to sizzling and carefully place the empanadas in the oil; fry until each side is golden brown as shown.

Empanadas also make great appetizers:  cut the dough disc in half, fill and fold into little triangles as shown below.  They are easy to tailor to any taste level from mild to spicy and are always a welcome addition to any table – maybe add them to your Super Bowl menu this year!

empanadas final

California Roll – The Gateway Sushi

Ah, summertime and the living is easy.  In between play dates, lazy afternoons at the pool,  assorted day trips and movies, my son and I ducked into the local Barnes and Noble to escape the summer heat.  Ignoring my gentle suggestions and the selections on his 6th grade reading list, my kid walked out of the book store with James Patterson’s Middle School, Get Me Out of Here! and. . . a sushi making kit.

My son loves sushi.  Okay, technically he loves California rolls, which perhaps for the true sushi aficionado is not really considered sushi; like the fortune cookie, the California roll is an American invention.  Created in the early 1970s by a sushi chef in Los Angeles, it consists of crab, avocado and cucumber wrapped in rice and nori (seaweed) and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  But, I like to think of it as a gateway sushi – if he’s enjoying this now, maybe as he gets older he’ll move onto a tuna roll or some hardcore sashimi.  Anything that expands a kid’s culinary horizons is fine by me, and $10 is a small price to pay for his delighted enthusiasm.

The Sushi Making Kit from Mud Puddle Inc. provides the essentials – recipe book, rolling mat, rice paddle, and two sets of chopsticks.  Most of the  ingredients are readily available at the supermarket in the Asian foods section, and I found the crab sticks at our neighborhood produce market.  The sushi rice is easy to prepare, and once all the ingredients are cut up and the rice has cooled,  you’re (literally) ready to roll.

My son quickly took charge, and following the easy instructions, here’s how it turned out:

The ingredients

Spreading the rice on the nori

Adding the filling

Roooolling along. . .

A little chunky but good!

Ready for slicing; he used a serrated knife

Nice!

Ah, summertime – and the sushi is easy!

All photos courtesy of Mom Meets Blog