Cooking and Baking with Coconut Oil~ Empanadas, Tortillas and More

 

Pineapple Mango Empanadas prepared with coconut oil. Coconut oil is all the rage on the food scene right now. Said to be a healthier alternative than most oils, I have incorporated it into several recipes to test it out.  This morning I was preparing a batch of empanadas for a friend and I remembered the coconut oil in my pantry. This was not the usual white version, but a bright orange/yellow coconut oil that is great for popcorn on the stove top! There really is no difference between the white and the yellow. The yellow coconut oil is colored with natural colorings according to the list of ingredients on the jar. I am always up for an experiment in my own kitchen. Again, I must give a shout out to my friend Kim who owns the local bulk food store for stocking quality ingredients like the coconut oil and the chipped unsweetened coconut that I love so much. In the next couple of weeks I will add the links to a few of the other recipes I have tried with coconut oil, like flour tortillas and various other baked goods. A coffee break and the other half of my empanada is waiting for me. Enjoy!

Pineapple Mango Empanadas with Toasted Coconut Baked into the Dough
Pineapple Mango Empanadas with Toasted Coconut Baked into the Dough

Dough Recipe Yields 12 to 14 empanadas

For the Filling

2 cups fresh pineapple, diced

1 cup fresh mango, diced

1 cup pure cane sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Fresh pineapple, mango and lemon juice...simple ingredients fot the best homemade filling!
Fresh pineapple, mango and lemon juice…simple ingredients fot the best homemade filling!
Cooking the filling low and slow until the liquids evaporate. A little cornstarch to thicken and this is how is should look when you run your spoon down the center.
Cooking the filling low and slow until the liquids evaporate. A little cornstarch to thicken and this is how is should look when you run your spoon down the center.

For Dough

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour

¼ cup pure cane sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut

¾ cup coconut oil (with natural yellow coloring)

¼ cup lukewarm water

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract

*extra pure cane sugar for dredging

Notes: The filling is enough for two batches of empanadas. You could freeze the extra in an airtight container or prepare a double batch of dough.

I prefer to use unsweetened coconut for my recipes. My crepe pan worked perfect for toasting.
I prefer to use unsweetened coconut for my recipes. My crepe pan worked perfect for toasting.
Coconut oil with natural coloring replaced the shortening I would typically use for preparing empanada dough. Half cup of toasted coconut was mixed into the flour.
Coconut oil with natural coloring replaced the shortening I would typically use for preparing empanada dough. Half cup of toasted coconut was mixed into the flour. The dough will feel a bit more oily than the usual pie dough, but it works. The origianl recipe goes way back in my family.
Mu trusty tortilla press lined with plastic work great for this dough recipe everytime.
My trusty tortilla press lined with plastic work great for this dough recipe everytime. You could also use a flat bottom plate. Just make sure you use the plastic for the balls of dough on a flat surface.

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, combine all of the ingredients for the filling, minus the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook at medium/low heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture reduces. Use a potato masher to break down any large pieces of fruit that remain. Whisk the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water together until smooth. Stir into fruit mixture and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

  2. For the dough: Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together the wet ingredients and gradually mix them into the dry ingredients until dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 395 degrees F. Line to baking sheets with parchment paper. Line a tortilla press with a plastic storage bag cut down to fit. Roll 6, golf ball size, dough balls and set aside. One at a time, gently press the dough ball to about 4 inches in diameter. Fill each with 1 full tablespoons of filling down left/center. Fold over and use fork to seal edges. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. While they are still warm, gently dredge through 1 cup of pure cane sugar. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. 3 to 4 day shelf life.

  4. This coconut oil is sold near the popcorn is most country or bulk food stores. It has natural coloring and can be used to replace butter, oil or shortening in your recipes.
    This coconut oil is sold near the popcorn is most country or bulk food stores. It has natural coloring and can be used to replace butter, oil or shortening in your recipes.
    Pineapple Mango Empanadas with Toasted Coconut
    Pineapple Mango Empanadas with Toasted Coconut

 

Spicy Creole-Mex Chicken Stew~ It’s a Fusion Thing!

Spicy Creole-Mex Chicken Stew. For many years I have been fascitnated with the whole New Orleans vibe. Ok, Ok, it’s the food that really sparked my interest, I must confess. The history is vibrant and colorful, much like that of Mexico. The trend today and for a while now is fusion cooking. Some of the most popular restaurants and food trucks out there are serving up the most wonderful, complex and flavorful dishes.  I have experimented with a few recipes in my own kitchen, usually pairing Asian and Mexican. For a couple of years I was teaching cooking classes and my good friend Suwanee, who is from Thailand was also one of the teachers. She taught and shared some of the most delicious Thai recipes I had ever had. They were so clean and simple, but so delicious! During our time there, I realized that there were many ingredients that were very similar in our recipe. Even though mine were Mexican and hers were Thai, there were many similarities. The Creole recipes caught my attention because I found them to be similar to the low and slow stewed recipes I love so much from Mexico. A tomato based sauce with aromatics, herbs and spicy cayenne. Right up my alley! I had a few chicken drumsticks and andouille sausage that I smoked on my charcoal grill. Instead of just eating as is, I decided to create this spicy stew with both Creole and Mexican flavors.   

 

My friends at the “Trupp Cooking School” are creating and developing beautiful and tasty dishes.  Check out their line up of cooking classes by clicking on the link below.

The Melbourne cooking classes are available in ‘sit-down’ and ‘hands-on’ formats, with intimate classes being the norm.
A fusion of Creole and Mexican flavors with the bonus of smoked chicken and andouille sausage.
A fusion of Creole and Mexican flavors with the bonus of smoked chicken and andouille sausage.



Olive oil
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red fresno pepper, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 cups fire roasted tomatoes, crushed
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
6 large basil leaves, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 large lemon
Hot sauce

Prep ahead, prep ahead, prep ahead..I cannot say that enough...
Prep ahead, prep ahead, prep ahead..I cannot say that enough…
Fusion cooking is one of my favorite ways to creat and develop new recipe. Creole ans Mexican flavors make up this rich and tasty stew.
Fusion cooking is one of my favorite ways to creat and develop new recipe. Creole ans Mexican flavors make up this rich and tasty stew.

TIPS *I smoked and grilled 5 chicken drum sticks and the sausage before adding it to the recipe. I also grilled the tomatoes (6roma), hot peppers, sweet onion and garlic before adding them to the recipe. It added so much more flavor!

Directions

1. In a large heavy pot, preheat 3 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, fresno and jalapeño. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, broth, cilantro, basil, oregano, thyme, cumin, worcestershire, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add the chicken and sausage and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning,

4. Add the butter, green onions and juice of half a lemon. Cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice. Garnish with hot sauce and lemon wedges.Yields up to 6 servings.

The perfect steamed rice with a touch of Sazon seasoning with annatto was perfect for this spicy stew.
The perfect steamed rice with a touch of Sazon seasoning with annatto was perfect for this spicy stew. Was not hot enough for me, so I had to add some of my quick pickled habanero slices.

 

It's a little Creole, it's a little Mexican...Spicy!
It’s a little Creole, it’s a little Mexican…Spicy!