Empanadas are popular throughout Latin and South America. When we lived in Ecuador, a favourite treat was a crisply fried fresh cheese empanada purchased from a woman creating them on the street. Because they were fried in hot oil, they were safe to eat.
There are many varieties of empanadas, which literally means "wrapped or coated in bread." Cheese, onions, fruit, meat - almost anything can be used.
These particular empanadas give a nod to Argentina with their beef filling. They are small, and baked, not fried. I use a cream cheese pastry that is easy to handle, but any pastry will work.
8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
1. Beat together cream cheese and butter.
2. Mix in flour until dough forms.
3. Form into 2 flat disks, wrap well (I use waxed paper and then slip them into a plastic bag), and chill for 1 hour.
Note: I use my food processor for this recipe and it comes together in a flash.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons minced onion
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, well drained
2 Tablespoons chopped raisins
2 Tablespoons chopped green olives
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 Tablespoons (or so) sesame seeds
1. Heat oil in skillet (medium high heat), add ground beef and onion. Scramble fry until browned. It's important to break apart any clumps - the mixture should be quite fine.
2. Stir in the tomatoes, raisins, olives, Worcestershire sauce, salt and oregano. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Taste a bit and adjust seasonings. I like to add a bit of pepper, and usually, more salt and oregano. There should be a lot of flavour. Cool to room temperature.
3. Stir in chopped egg.
4. Remove pastry from fridge. I usually have to let it warm up a bit - 30 minutes or so, before rolling. Roll pastry to about 1/8 inch thickness (fairly thin) on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 3 inch rounds.
5. To fill, I find it easiest to pick up a round in my hand, moisten one half of the edge with the beaten egg, then add 1 teaspoon or so of the filling. Fold in half, press with fingers to seal well. For an extra firm seal, you can press the edges with a fork tine.
6. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Cut small slits in the top - I poke twice with a fork. Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds.
7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until browned. Serve hot. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen pastries.
8. These can be frozen either before or after baking. I usually freeze them after, then heat them up in the oven just before serving. They're good served with a bit of salsa.