Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars for Halloween

For our household "Halloween Treat" this year I made one of my favorite pumpkin recipes—pumpkin chocolate chip bars. The recipe is from a special holiday cookie issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, and I haven't changed it one bit. It is very good just the way it is. A quick internet search will reveal that many bloggers have made and loved these bars. For those of you who have never come across these spicy little pumpkin and chocolate gems, you are in for a treat.

As with most bars, these are very easy to make—I will just add a couple of tips. First, the original recipe tells you to line the pan with foil, leaving an overhang so that you can lift the bars out of the pan for cutting. Foil works just fine, but I have always used parchment. It serves the same purpose as the foil, but I find it to be much easier to work with.

Pan, lined with parchment
There is no need to leave the parchment sticking up above the edge of the pan, so I trim it away with a sharp knife.

My other piece of advice has to do with the cutting of the bars. Unfortunately, they are not as easy to cut as they are to make. They are so moist that with each swipe of the knife, the blade comes out coated with a fair amount of cake and soft chocolate. Wiping the blade down after each cut will help some—but it isn't enough. If you want clean, sharp cuts, after each cut run the knife under very hot tap water. Then, wipe the blade clean and dry before making the next cut. The hot knife will slice cleanly through the chips, and since the knife has been wiped clean it won't gather a thicker and thicker layer of cake crumbs after each slice. The recipe recommends using a serrated knife. I prefer to use a very sharp slicing knife.

I guess there is one thing about these bars with which I take issue—they are woefully misnamed. The original recipe is called "Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares" and the implication is that they are "cake" squares. If you make them expecting cake, you might be disappointed. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownie...or Blondie...would do a much better job of conveying the moist and "light, yet dense" nature of these bars. The problem of course is that they are not solidly chocolate—like a brownie—neither are they brown sugar-y—like a blondie. I guess there really isn't a perfectly appropriate name for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars will have to do.   Enjoy.... and have a Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

2 c. all-purpose flour (230 grams)
1 T. pumpkin pie spice (or substitute 1 1/2 t. cinnamon, 3/4 t. ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg and 1/8 t. each allspice and cloves)
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 lb.), room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar (250 grams)
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
1 c. canned solid-pack pumpkin (245 grams)
1 pkg. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and then line the bottom and sides with aluminum foil or parchment paper leaving an overhang on two sides. Butter and flour the foil/paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda & salt; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the pumpkin (the mixture will look curdled).

Add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Add the chips just before the dry ingredients are fully incorporated to avoid over-mixing.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake in a 350° oven until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs—about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.

Using the foil/parchment overhang, lift the bars from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bars (24, 36, 40 or 48).

Cut into 40 pieces (5 by 8), to make bars that are a nice two bite-sized nibble.

(From Everyday Food Collectible Cookie Edition, Holiday 2006)

Printable Recipe

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Butternut Squash, Kale & White Bean Soup

The weather turned cooler yesterday. It is still not what I would call cold, but there is a bit of a damp chill in the air—it seems that soup weather may have finally arrived. Last Saturday at the farmers' market I picked up a bag of beautiful young kale. So as the weather changed, and I began to think about soup, I immediately thought of the kale. Since I always have winter squash on my counter this time of year—and I love squash with kale—I decided I would make one of my favorite variations on the classic soup combination of beans and greens.

Together these two ingredients never fail to produce a sustaining and warming kind of soup.  But somehow the soup this time was extraordinarily so....  It could have been the heightened sense of enjoyment that I experience every season when I taste an old favorite again for the first time that year.  But I think it probably had a lot to do with the color of the soup itself.  Normally a study in cream, beige and muted green, the butternut squash imbues the soup with a soft, warm orange, making it a perfect antidote to a gray autumn day. 

Butternut Squash & White Bean Soup with Kale

4 to 5 T. Olive Oil
1 c. White beans (Great Northern or Cannellini are both good choices)—soaked over-night
2 medium onions (about 1 lb.), diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 to 2 t. minced Rosemary or Thyme
8 to 10 oz. Kale (Curly or Tuscan), stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch wide ribbons and rinsed thoroughly to remove any grit
1 medium Butternut Squash (about 1 1/2 lbs.), cut in a scant 1/2-inch dice (about 4 cups)
4 c. Chicken stock
Extra Virgin Olive oil for drizzling
Parmesan (optional)

Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Place the beans in a medium saucepan and add water to cover by an inch. Bring the beans to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the surface. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil and continue to cook the beans at a gentle simmer until the beans are very tender—about an hour and 15 minutes. Add salt to taste when the beans are half cooked. Beans may be cooked ahead. Cool the beans in their cooking liquid and bring to a simmer before finishing the soup.

About an hour before serving the soup, heat 3 T. olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary along with a pinch of salt. Sweat, reducing the heat if necessary, until the onion is very tender, stirring occasionally—about 15 minutes. It's okay if the onion mixture begins to caramelize a bit.

Add the kale and a pinch of salt and cook, turning occasionally, until it collapses. It may be necessary to increase the heat a bit.

When the kale collapses, add the squash and cook another 2 or 3 minutes, turning occasionally.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer. If the soup is too thick, add more stock or water--the vegetables should be snug in the pot, but they should also move freely in the liquid when stirred.

Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup until the squash and kale are tender—about 20 to 30 minutes. At this point, I like to use the back of a spoon to smash some of the squash cubes against the side of the pan. This will give the soup a lovely orange color and a bit of body. Add the beans, along with their liquid. Again, if the soup is too thick, add water or stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Ladle soup into shallow bowls and top with coarsely grated or shaved Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Makes about 2 to 2 1/2 quarts soup to serve 4 to 6.

• Cook 8 to 12 oz. of Italian link sausage in the pot before cooking the onion. When the sausage is browned, transfer to the oven and finish cooking. Slice or dice the cooked sausage, and add to the soup with the beans.

• Add 4 oz. of prosciutto, cut in a 1/4-inch dice, to the pot when the onions are finished cooking. When the prosciutto begins to sizzle a bit, add the kale.

 • Substitute Swiss Chard for the Kale. Chard cooks much more quickly than kale, so wait to add it until the squash is soft and then add it with the cooked beans and their liquid. Simmer gently until the chard is tender—about 10 minutes.

• For a "post Thanksgiving" variation, use turkey stock and add some shredded roast turkey with the beans.

• If you forget to soak the beans overnight, use one of the quick soak methods outlined in my post on White Bean Soup with Sausage & Swiss Chard.

Printable Recipe

Monday, October 24, 2011

Poulet Vallée d'Auge (Chicken with Calvados, Cream, Mushrooms & Apples)

One of my favorite ways to cook chicken is in a classic French sauté. A braised, stew-like preparation of bone-in pieces of chicken, a sauté can be simple and rustic or labor-intensive and refined...or somewhere in between. No matter how rustic or refined, well-executed renditions of these dishes are always flavorful and utterly satisfying—conjuring up idealized images of grandmother's house...and Sunday dinner.  Every region of France seems to have its own special sautés that feature traditional and local products. A little over a year ago I posted a recipe for a refined version of a sauté from the Basque country. Today I thought I would share a sauté from Normandy called Poulet Vallée d'Auge.

The Pays d'Auge is located in central Normandy—the land of butter and cream and apples. Three of France's famous cheeses (Camembert, Livarot and Pont-l'Évêque) come from this region. It is also the home of Calvados (apple brandy), as well as hard cider and Pommeau (a fortified-style apple wine). It is only fitting that a chicken sauté from this region would feature cream, Calvados and apples. 

Poulet Vallée d'Auge goes together in the usual way of a sauté—brown the chicken, remove the chicken and brown the vegetables, deglaze the pan, return the chicken to the pan, add more liquid and simmer gently until the chicken is very tender. I cover the basic steps of the sauté model in more detail in my post on Poulet Basquaise. My Poulet Vallée d'Auge is slightly less refined than my version of Poulet Basquaise—the vegetables cooked with the chicken are not strained out—but the principles behind the two dishes are the same.

The components of Poulet Vallée d'Auge vary surprisingly little from recipe to recipe.  There are of course the three signature ingredients (Calvados, cream and apples).  And most versions will also include shallots, mushrooms, thyme and bay.  The greatest variation occurs in the liquids that are used.  In addition to the Calvados and cream some recipes add even more liquid—hard cider or chicken stock are typical.  I added stock to mine, but if you have access to a nice dry, hard cider, it would be entirely in keeping with the integrity of the dish to use that instead of or in combination with the stock.  You will even find some recipes that add no liquids other than Calvados and cream.  

If you don't keep Calvados on hand (it is fairly expensive), I think it is perfectly acceptable to use plain brandy. Certainly it would be better to use brandy than to bypass this wonderful dish just because you didn't have any Calvados. You will also notice in the recipe that it directs you to return the chicken to the pan before you add the Calvados. This is a bit of a departure from most sautés. The usual method is to deglaze the pan with wine (or possibly stock) before the chicken is returned to the pan. It is just easier to do the required boiling and scraping of the bottom of the pan without large pieces of chicken to work around (I also think it probably doesn't do the chicken any favors to expose it to hard boiling). In this dish, a lot of the work of deglazing is accomplished by the mushrooms before the Calvados is added because the mushrooms release some liquid when they are first added to the pan and before they begin to brown. Also, since the Calvados is flambéed (instead of boiled for reduction) there is a school of thought that holds that by flambéing the Calvados around the chicken, the chicken is infused with the aroma of the Calvados.

Apples are added to Poulet Vallée d'Auge at the end as a garnish. Sometimes they are simply sautéed and served alongside the chicken and its sauce. But I like to add the sautéed apples to the cream sauce for a brief simmer at the end while the sauce is reducing—this insures that the apples are tender (make sure you choose an apple that holds its shape when cooked) and it also allows them to contribute their flavor to the final sauce.

Caramelized apples

Apples simmering in reducing cream sauce

Since we are in the middle of apple season, now would be a perfect time to sample this dish.  And if you have never tasted a French sauté, this one would be a good place to begin.  Maybe it could be the centerpiece of your next Sunday dinner.

Poulet Vallée d'Auge
(Chicken with Calvados, Cream, Mushrooms & Apples)

1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1 3 1/2 lb. chicken, cut up (see note) or 3 lbs. chicken parts of your choice
8 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large shallot, minced
1 T. picked thyme
1/3 to 1/2 c. Calvados (or brandy)
1 c. chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 T. unsalted butter
2 to 3 medium apples—Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold or Braeburn—peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
1 c. crème fraiche or heavy cream
Salt & Pepper
lemon, if necessary

 Melt the butter with the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large straight-sided sauté pan or a wide enameled cast-iron pot. Pat the chicken dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and brown all over, in batches if necessary to keep from crowding the pan. Regulate the heat as necessary to maintain an active sizzle. When the chicken is golden brown and the skin is crisp and well-rendered, transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off all but a tablespoon or two of the fat.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté until soft and browned—about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and thyme to the pan (adding a bit of butter if the pan seems dry) and cook until soft—a couple of minutes.

Return the chicken pieces to the pan, remove the pan from the heat and add the Calvados. Return the pan to the heat and carefully flambé (either by lighting with a match or tilting the pan if you are using a gas stove). Shake the pan, continuing to cook until the flames subside. (If you prefer not to flambé, simply simmer the calvados until it is well-reduced and thick and bubbly.) Add the stock and the bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer.

When the white meat pieces are cooked through (after about 15 to 20 minutes), remove them to a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm. Continue to cook the remaining dark meat pieces until very tender and cooked through—another 15 minutes or so.

While the chicken simmers, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Increase the heat to medium high and when the butter foam subsides, add the apples. Sauté, turning occasionally and reducing the heat if the apples threaten to burn. After the apples have begun to take on some color, season with salt & pepper. Continue to cook until the apples are golden and just tender (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove the apples to a plate and set aside.

When the dark meat is cooked through, remove to the plate with the white meat. Remove the bay and discard. Add the cream and the sautéed apples to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. If using heavy cream instead of crème fraiche you may need to add a little lemon to lift the flavor a bit. Reduce the heat to very low and return the chicken to the pan along with any resting juices. Cover the pan and briefly allow the chicken to heat through. 

Poulet Vallée d'Auge is traditionally served with rice, noodles or steamed/boiled potatoes. Serves 4 to 6


The chicken may be cut into 4 or 8 serving pieces (or you may use parts, as noted in the recipe). It doesn't matter how the chicken is cut up as long as all of the pieces are the same size. For these "Sauté-style" stews, the French traditionally cut the chicken into 8 pieces—2 legs, 2 thighs and 4 breast pieces. The four breast pieces are obtained by taking each split breast and cutting it cross-wise into 2 equal pieces. The other way to cut the chicken is to cut it into quarters—2 leg-thigh joints and 2 breasts. For both methods, the first joint of the wing may be left attached to the breasts.

Like all stews/braises, this dish can be made earlier in the day, or the day before. The cream sauce should not be fully reduced during the initial preparation as it will reduce further during the reheating process. To reheat, place the whole dish in a 350 degree oven and heat through...or gently warm on the stove top over low heat. If you prefer, when you make the dish ahead you could make it just to the point of adding the cream and apples, and then start from that point when you are ready to serve (Store the chicken in the cooking liquid and then reheat the chicken and liquid. Remove the chicken and add the cream and apples, reduce and then return the chicken to the pan as usual.).

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn Salad with Apples & Shaved Fennel

For the past few weeks I have been working on some recipes for a new Fall class featuring apples. One of the recipes is for a salad that includes thinly sliced apples and shaved fresh fennel. I frequently add shaved fennel to my salads—I love its subtle crunch and mild anise flavor. Its sweet and aromatic presence compliments a wide array of foods, but it is particularly nice with apples (I posted a recipe that featured cooked fennel and apples earlier this month). If you haven't tried fennel, this salad—with its friendly profusion of apples, dried fruit and nuts—would be a great introduction.

To prepare fennel—whether it is to be cooked or eaten raw—cut the stalks off flush with the top of the bulb. The leaves or "fennel fronds" can be saved and used just like any fresh herb. The stalks are tough and stringy and should be discarded (or perhaps used in a stock, where they will contribute flavor before they are strained out). Trim what remains of the root flush with the bottom of the bulb. Remove and discard any of the outer layers that appear to be dry, tough or badly scarred. What remains is ready to be halved and cored.

If you want to shave the fennel for a salad, simply use a mandoline to thinly slice the halves cross-wise.

For the apples, you can use just about any favorite snacking apple as long as it is crisp and juicy. I have used Cameos, Jonagolds, a mix of Cortlands and Haralsons (while visiting friends in Minnesota) and Braeburns. I imagine it would also be pretty tasty with Pink Ladys. My preference is for an apple that has a "sweet-tart" flavor profile—I think these make for a more interesting salad—but you could of course choose something sweet (like a Gala or Fuji) or something tart (like a Granny Smith).

To me, a good salad is all about a lively interplay of flavors and textures—and the remaining ingredients in this salad have been chosen with this in mind:

Dried cranberries echo the sweet-tart taste of the apples and also introduce some nice texture. Golden raisins could be used in place of the dried cranberries and would be a particularly good choice if you are using a very tart apple.

The bitterness of the endive and walnuts provides some needed contrast, depth and balance. Arugula makes an interesting substitution for the endive—instead of tossing it with the fennel and apples, dress it separately and use it as a "bed of greens" for a mound of the dressed apple and fennel.

A salty cheese (like a blue or maybe some Feta or Ricotta Salata), scattered over the plated salad, gives a nice piquant finish. But I have served it without the cheese and the salad was still very good.

The salad is dressed with a tart vinaigrette that I spiked with more sweet apple-y flavor in the form of a small amount of cider reduction (cider simmered until it is thick and syrup-y). If you prefer a creamy vinaigrette, the creamy Dijon dressing I posted with a pear salad last January—made perhaps with a little extra lemon juice—would be very nice.

I hope you will try this salad—or some variation thereof.  All of the ingredients are coming into season now and will continue to fill the markets through the winter.  For me, this salad is a perfect seasonal antidote to the abundance of substantial and rich foods that will fill our tables during the months ahead.    

Autumn Salad of Apples,
Shaved Fennel & Belgian Endive

For the vinaigrette:
1 T. cider reduction (optional)—see below
2 T. White Balsamic Vinegar
2 T. freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
2 t. Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/2 c. Olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk the cider reduction, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil in a thin stream to form an emulsion. Taste and correct the seasoning—adding more lemon juice if necessary.

For the salad:
3 or 4 crisp sweet/tart apples—Braeburn, Pink Lady, etc. (about 1 pound)
2 medium heads of fennel, trimmed
3 or 4 heads Belgian Endive (about 12 oz.)
2 T. minced Italian flat leaf parsley
1 T. minced chives
1 T. minced Tarragon
1/2 c. Dried Cranberries—plus more for garnish
1/2 c. coarsely chopped toasted walnuts or pecans—plus more for garnish
4 oz. Blue Cheese (Roquefort, Stilton or Gorgonzola) or Feta—optional

Halve and core the apples. Use a mandoline to slice the apple halves very thinly lengthwise. Place the sliced apples in a large bowl.

Halve the fennel lengthwise and cut out the core. Using a mandoline again, shave the fennel very thinly crosswise and add it to the bowl with the apple.

Halve and core the endives. Place the endive halves cut surface down and cut on an angle into quarter inch wide strips. Add the endive to the bowl with the apples and fennel.

Add the herbs, dried cranberries and nuts and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add enough dressing to generously coat and toss well. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Mound the salad in the center of individual serving plates or one large platter. Crumble the blue cheese over all and garnish with more cranberries and nuts, if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

• The apples, endive and fennel will all oxidize if cut too far ahead. The fennel is more stable than the apple and endive—it could be shaved an hour or two ahead—but the apple and endive must be cut right before the salad is to be served.
• If you prefer, you may use all parsley (and omit the chives and tarragon).

Cider Reduction: Place a quart of apple cider in a saucepan. If you like, you may add a piece of cinnamon stick, a clove and a few black peppercorns (or any combination of spices you prefer). Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a bare simmer until the cider is thick and syrupy—you will have about a half cup of reduction. As the reduction gets thicker, reduce the heat even more to keep it from scorching.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chicken & Chorizo Empanadas

After my post on how to make tender and flaky short crust pastry, I thought it would be appropriate to post a recipe that uses short crust pastry. So today I'm sharing—without too much comment—a recipe for Chicken Empanadas that I found several years ago in an article on Spanish Tapas in Gourmet magazine. The original recipe was made with a yeast dough instead of pie dough...but since I love empanadas made with short crust pastry, that's how I have always made them and that's how I will pass the recipe along to you.

This is one of my favorite empanada fillings. It is moist and loaded with flavor. The recipe may seem a bit complicated (the list of ingredients is a bit long)—but with a little organization and planning it is fairly easy to make. If you are familiar with the technique of braising, you will recognize that this filling is just a simple braise. I hope to write a tutorial on braising this winter—and when I do, I will post the link here. But until then, if you carefully follow the method as described in the recipe you should not have any problems.

There are a couple of things in the recipe that are worth emphasizing. First, make sure that the liquid that remains in the pan after the chicken has finished cooking is reduced to the consistency of heavy cream. If the liquid is too runny, the empanadas will be soggy.

Secondly, make sure the filling is cold before building the empanadas. If it is warm, it will melt the butter in the pastry. The filling is also much easier to handle when it is cold. I find that it works best to make the filling the day before I need it—not only will it have plenty of time to chill, but the flavors will have a chance to blend.

As with almost any empanada recipe, you can make these in any size that will suit your needs—from small "two-bite" sized empanadillas for tapas or appetizers to larger turnovers more appropriate for an entrée portion. The only changes you need to make are the oven temperature (450° for smaller empanadillas and 400° for empanadas) and the cooking time (12 to 15 minutes for the smaller size and 20 to 25 for the larger).

Whatever size you make them, they can be frozen—in their baked or unbaked form. If you freeze them before baking, they should be placed directly in a preheated oven from the freezer. They will only take a few moments longer to bake than they do when they are baked from fresh. And when you pull them piping hot from the oven—for your next party...or for a quick meal on a busy weeknight—after having made them weeks before, this will seem like one of the easiest and most convenient recipes in your repertoire.

Chicken & Chorizo Empanadas with Olives & Raisins

2 to 2 1/2 lbs. whole chicken legs, including thighs
1 t. salt—or to taste
1/4 t. black pepper—or to taste
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in a 1/4-inch dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
2 oz. finely diced Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage, casings discarded if desired)
1 t. Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/3 c. chopped green olives
1/3 c. golden raisins
3/4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 recipe short crust pastry (below)
1 egg

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning over once, about 15 to 20 minutes total, and transfer to a plate.

Sauté onions, garlic, and bay leaves in fat remaining in skillet, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to caramelize, about 15 minutes.

Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add wine, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, and reduce by half. Add olives, raisins and broth and bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender and cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a clean plate. (Sauce in skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if it’s not, briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the bones and cartilage and finely chop the meat and skin.

Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Chill the filling before using.

To form the empanadas, bring the dough to room temperature. Roll a sixth of the dough out on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into 3-inch rounds. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of filling in the center of each round.

Paint edges with egg, fold dough over filling and pinch to seal. Transfer formed empanadas to parchment lined baking sheets and brush with more egg wash. Gather the scraps and combine with another sixth of the pastry. Roll out, cut and form more empanadas as with the first batch of dough. Continue to form and roll, incorporating the scraps each time until you have used all of the filling. Chill the formed empanadas for at least 30 minutes. (See Spinach Empanada post for detailed instructions and pictures of rolling dough for empanadas). Bake at 450° until golden brown—about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm. Makes about 60 empanadillas.

Note: These freeze very well. After forming and placing on parchment lined sheets, freeze until hard. Transfer to freezer bags. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the total cooking time.

To make larger empanadas for a light entrée (to serve with a salad): Roll dough out and cut 12 5.5- by 5.5-inch squares or 12 6-inch rounds. Place 1/12 of the filling (about 1/3 cup) on each of the squares (or rounds). Paint edges with egg, fold and seal. Brush with more egg wash and cut 2 or 3 vents in the top of the empanada. If you have larger appetites, serve two per person, or cut larger squares/rounds of pastry and make 8 empanadas with 1/2 cup filling each. To bake larger empanadas, reduce the oven temperature to 400° and increase the cooking time to about 25 minutes. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling through the vents.

Printable Recipe

(Empanada filling recipe from Gourmet Magazine, January 2005)

Short Crust Pastry

4 c. all-purpose flour (454g)
1 t. salt
3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (340g)
1/2 to 3/4 c. ice water

Combine the flour and the salt in a medium-sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Drizzle 1/2 c. ice water over the flour/butter mixture. Using your hands, fluff the mixture until it begins to clump, adding more water if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a counter and form into a mound. Using the heel of your hand, gradually push all of the dough away from you in short forward strokes, flattening out the lumps. Continue until all of the dough is flat. Using a bench scraper, scrape the dough off the counter, forming it into a single clump as you do. Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press into a disc. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.

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