Empanaditas

Did you know empanadas have their own day of appreciation?  May 8th is National Empanada Day and we’ve got two recipes that are Selden family favorites.

Empanadas are found  in Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines, and are essentially a stuffed pastry.

The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Historically they were a portable and hearty meal for working people, but today’s empanada’s can be filled with almost anything from curried chicken to peanut butter and bananas!

The first recipe comes from Marcia’s mother Edilia who grew up in Havana, Cuba.  She was the oldest of 3 girls and a striking beauty.  After winning Miss Cuba, she came to New York to pursue a successful modeling and dancing career which included appearing in several Zeigfeld Follies shows.

Here is the Selden’s 3rd generation empanada recipe.

empanadas-fillThe Filling
1 steak & 4 chicken breasts cooked and cut into tiny pieces
6 large onions – diced
½ stick Butter
Paprika (for color)
Oregano
Salt & pepper
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
½ c. Raisins (soaked)
1/3 c. Ripe Black olives
A Dash of Ground Cumin

First fry meats in butter (1/4 stick).  Sauté onions separately in butter (1/4 stick). Add together, meat, onions, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper, egg, raisins, olives and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The Dough
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water (do not beat until ready to bake)
Make the dough: In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add just enough cold water so dough comes together.

Knead
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide in half. Knead each half 2 or 3 times to form smooth balls.

Roll the dough out (thin) and cut into circles using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a wine glass. The size you cut will depend on what you are using it for. For Hors d’oeuvres cut 3” circles but for larger appetizer or entrée portions, cut as large as 8”circles.

empanadas foldFill
On floured surface, roll out ½ of dough and cut into rounds. Divide filling evenly among rounds, spreading it over half of each and leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Fold
Brush border of bottom halves with water; fold top halves over filling to enclose completely. Press edges to seal with your fingertips, then crimp firmly with a fork. Brush with beaten egg but stop short of the crimped edge. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month).

Bake
Arrange empanadas on the greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cilantro Crema
1 c. sour cream
2 T chopped cilantro
1 t. cumin
Serve on the side. Not typical but a yummy addition.

*Note… If you’re short on time, you may use pre-made pie crust and bake or wonton wrappers and fry.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Empanada
2 C. chopped fresh or frozen cherries
2 Tbs. superfine sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
2 oz. chopped dark chocolate
½ C. whipped cream cheese
1 egg – for egg wash
Cinnamon sugar for dusting
¼ C. toasted sliced almonds for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Combine cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler and combine with cream cheese.  Fold cherries into chocolate cream cheese mixture and set aside until ready to use.

Working with one disc at a time roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut three six inch circles.  Return extra dough to the refrigerator.  Spoon cherries on half the circle leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Fold over the crust to make a 1/2 circle.  Pinch edges together and crease with a fork.

Place on baking sheet.  Cut 2 small slits in the top.  Beat egg in a small bowl and brush the top with the egg wash.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and a few sliced almonds. Repeat until all pies are ready to go.  Bake for 20 minutes until the tops are lightly browned.