Empanadas were one of my favorite things to eat while living in Argentina. Since Argentina has strong Italian roots, it inspires much of their cooking. A typical evening with friends will include ordering a couple dozen empanadas while sipping on fernet and coke, another local favorite. Most common empanadas are Carne which is typically ground beef with a variety of spices, olives and even hard boiled eggs. Jamon y Queso (ham and cheese), Pollo (chicken), Caprese (tomato, basil, mozzerella), Humita (sweet corn) and one of my favorites is Roquefort y Apio (celery & blue cheese). Empanadas are usually baked (those referred to as Salteñas, from the region of Salta or even Bolivia) and some are fried (those coming from the region of Tucumán). Empanadas are made in most Latin countries differing slightly from each place. Caribbean and Central American empanadas are often served with hot sauce, while in Argentineans tend to not be huge fans of spicy food. (Generalizing here, Latin friends feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!)
I'd thought about making empanadas from scratch, but hadn't been quite as inspired as when I saw Kasey's Beef Empanadas on Turntable Kitchen. She too, had fallen in love with them while on a trip in Argentina. I decided it was time to teach myself the ways and like with most baking, practice makes you better. Its an art form to make any sort of crust look consistent and perfect. Having a previous track record of terrible luck with baked goods, I must say I gave myself a pat on the back for these. While they were far from looking perfect, they tasted delicious. They took me right back to the lovely summers I spent in Buenos Aires, drinking large bottles of Quilmes with friends on the cobblestone streets of Palermo Viejo.
Makes one dozen (6 caprese, 6 celery & blue cheese)
Celery & Blue Cheese Filling
2 stalks of celery
half of a yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
blue cheese (Roquefort or Danish blue cheese)
2 ripe tomatoes
Saute diced onions, garlic and celery in butter lightly till tender, about 4 minutes. Season and remove from heat, allow to cool. Spoon in about 2 tablespoons of filling and the blue cheese. For the caprese, chop tomatoes removing the seeds and discarding any liquid. Place inside and lay a few pieces of torn basil and cubed mozzarella, season.
For Dough I used this recipe from Epricurious Place ingredients in the center of the rolled empanada dough. Fold over dough and pinch the edges with your fingers or a fork to seal. Make two small incisions in the top of the dough. Brush with one beaten egg and place into a preheated 400 degree oven. Bake for 20-25 till crispy and nicely browned. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Que Rico!