Well, I said I wasn’t going to post many recipes on this blog, but when someone asks, it's my pleasure to oblige! Recipes are a lot more fun if you can post photos, too, so here are some photos of my new friends Gail and Nancy making empanadas at our house.
Gail’s husband, Rick, was in charge of making scrambled eggs for the gang that morning. Has anyone out there ever made scrambled eggs for 30? Well, he did a great job!!!
Evie, Jonny, Tekla and Cameron enjoying “Mexican Pop-Tarts”
Here’s the recipe:
3/4 cup lard/shortening
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
The only special equipment you need is a prensa (tortilla press). You should be able to find one at any Mexican grocery store, BUT if you just want to make a few without purchasing a press, just roll the dough-balls out with a rolling pin to a scant 1/4 inch thickness.
For the filling:
I use strawberry jam which has been thinned a little with water (store-bought jam will need to be thinned, home-made stuff will probably be thin enough to spread well without thinning). Any flavor of jam will work and some folks like piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) as a filling. IMO piloncillo is a pain to work with and the kids all prefer jam, so…
For the dough:
Cream together shortening and sugar
Add eggs and vanilla and mix well
Combine flour and baking powder and add slowly to egg mixture. Mix well.
Mixture should look like soft sugar-cookie dough.
[Note: Add the 5 cups of flour in two additions and stir to mix so that dough doesn't become too stiff. Depending on the weather, you may need more or less flour. If dough is too soft, knead in equal parts sugar and flour. If you happen to get it too stiff and crumbly...try adding an egg or let it sit in the sun for a few minutes.]
Form the dough into balls about the size of a fat golf-ball or a racquet-ball. If you’re using a rolling pin, roll the dough-ball out to a circle about 6 inches in diameter and a thin ¼ inch thickness. If using a tortilla press, lay a piece of waxed paper down on the press (or thick plastic wrap works, too), place the dough-ball on the waxed paper, cover it with another piece of waxed paper and gently press flat. (Just so you know: unless you have some special, high-dollar press, your circle of dough will be thinner on one side than the other. Don’t worry about it. Just make sure the thin part is no less than 1/8 in thick so it won’t burn.)
Now is the tricky part – this takes practice, so don’t get frustrated. Even ugly empanadas taste good!!! Take your flat circle, which is encased in waxed paper and gently remove the top paper. Flip the circle onto your cookie sheet WHERE YOU WANT IT TO BE WHEN IT COOKS. You won’t be able to move the circle once you place it on the sheet, so flip it well! Remove the other waxed paper.
Spoon about a tablespoon of filling into the center of your circle and gently fold the circle in half. Lightly pat the edges together (you can press them with a fork if you want) to seal in the filling. One empanada is ready to go! Yes, this is a time-consuming labor of love, but it’s so worth it! Place your next dough circle about an inch from the first. These pastries don’t expand a lot, but they do poof a little. Remember that if they’re too close DON’T TRY TO MOVE THEM TILL THEY’RE COOKED.
Bake in a moderately hot oven – 350 degrees or so – for about 10 minutes or until the edges begin to turn slightly brown. Viola!!! Empanadas! Let them cool in the pan only a moment and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely (that is assuming your kids let them cool!) Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!!!
Let me know how your first batch turns out!!! Once again – ugly empanadas still taste good!!! :^)