Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something I Know, Something I Don't Know

Wow. That A-Z Blogging challenge kicked my ass. I didn't know just how much until I went to post a blog and found I couldn't. I was spent. Doesn't help that I have the sprogs all to myself this week as husband is out of town on business. Now I'm ready to blog again.

I have to start thinking about the conference I'm going to in 10 days. I can't just show up to something without mentally preparing myself. I mean, I have to imagine myself there, imagine myself going to workshops, remind myself to bring pencils and business cards. Do some deep, calming breathing. I'm a nerd. Correction, I'm a nervous nerd.

I've never gone to a full on conference, just a one day event last year. I don't know what to expect and that makes me squirrely. I don't want to waste the opportunity, but I just don't know how to approach it. I need help.

But I'm not holding my hand out to y'all without something in return. Something valuable. Yes, my empanada recipe. That's the something I know, and you can read it in full after the jump. What I want from YOU is survival tips on conference attending. And, if you are attending the Pennwriter's Conference in Pittsburgh next week, will you be my beer buddy? Thanks!

Empanada Recipe (Uruguayan style)
There are probably 4 gazillion styles of empanadas, but this is the one we make in my family. Also, I'm a great cook, but lousy at following directions. My recipes consist of a lot of vague terms like 'some of this' 'a couple of shakes of that' and 'add until it tastes good'. Experimentation is your friend.

You will need:
1) Goya empanada shells (discs). They look like this.

They come frozen. Defrost them for a day in the fridge. They work best if they are cold but not stiff. Each pack comes with 10 discs. Get two packs just in case. If you can get them, get the larger discs as they hold more yumminess.
2) Meat. I've tried it with turkey, chicken, soy crumble, and butternut squash. But the classic recipe is for lean ground beef. A pound or so is about right.
3) Hardboiled eggs (optional) chopped roughly
4) 1/4 cup of pimento stuffed olives (optional) chopped roughly
5) 1/2 cup of raisins (optional)
Let me explain. My nephew doesn't like the raisins. My daughter picks out the eggs. My mom says it would be better if I'd included a chopped onion. My entire immediate family disagrees on the onion front so I leave it out. Stick to your gut
6) Cumin (my brother in law doesn't like cumin, but he's crazy, so don't listen to him)
7) salt & pepper to taste
8) one shallow bowl of warm water
9) one egg, lightly beaten (only if you are baking them)

Make the Filling
Heat a large sauce pan with a little olive oil. Saute the ground beef until well browned. Add: eggs, raisins, olives.
Salt, pepper and cumin to taste.
Once everything is cooked, let it sit for a few minutes until room temperature - this allows the raisins to plump up with yummy meat juices and all the flavors to mingle.

Fill the empanada shells
Sprinkle a little flour on your workspace so your shells don't stick.
place on shell on your workspace and, using a tablespoon, spoon some filling into the center of the shell. Dip your index finger into the warm water and run your finger in a half circle around the edge of the shell. The water will help seal the dough when you get to crimping.
take one half of the shell and fold it over to the other half, pressing down until you have a half circle.

Here's the hardest part of making empanadas:
Crimping the edges. My mother only recently told me I was doing it right. After making the suckers for decades.
Starting at one corner use your index fingers to press then turn over the edge of the empanada, repeating as you go down along the seam. Press, turn over, press, turn over. You can also take a fork and use the tines pressing into the side to crimp it. However you do it, as long as you make a good seal, you're good. It doesn't have to look pretty, it just has to stay closed.

Once they are all done you can coat the tops of them with beaten egg and put them in the oven at 400 until they are golden-y brown (they go in the oven really to cook the pastry, the meat is already cooked)
Or you can be super decadent and deep fry the suckers. for that you need a large wok or saute pan filled with cooking oil that's super hot, like when you flick a little flour in there it sizzles up. Putting empanadas in hot oil makes the pastry bubble up and get flaky BUT you must do a stellar job of sealing them because if they open up and spill their contents into the hot oil, you get yucky empanadas.
Make sense?
Enjoy with beer. I like to eat them room temperature.
I've made vegetarian ones before with corn and butternut squash and black beans - also very yummy


  1. I made empanada's one year for Cinco De Mayo. Lets just say they turned out GREAT but..I learned that if you work with habenaro peppers...wear gloves. While the party enjoyed my yummy empanada's I was soaking my hands in a bowl of milk, downing benadryl and weeping. LOL.

  2. Haha, I agree, the challenge was a toughie. Thank you for the recipe! Tips? Get a blurb ready. Even if you haven't finished your WIP, when someone asks what you write it's always awesome to rattle off a compelling blurb (you never know who might be listening).
    My Blog


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