Category Archives: Empanadas

Mexican Style Sweet Empanadas~ Pineapple Apple- Toasted Coconut

You know the term “If it’s not broken, why fix it”? For many years I enjoyed the luxury of my Mom’s homemade Mexican style empanadas. Filled with pumpkin, pineapple and cajeta (dulce de leche). I know the dough recipe had few ingredients and that it had the texture of a more dense version of pie dough. By the time I wanted to learn her recipe, I had married and moved a thousand miles away. Mom had recipes written down, but finding them was a different task all together. My first attempts at re-creating her version was not the best. Then for many years I was preparing empanadas with a recipe my tia from Mexico shared with us. One of the main ingredients was beer?  And why not beer? Beer is great for baking breads, why not an empanada. At first I strictly used that recipe for savory empanadas. Then one day I just went for it and prepared a batch of beer dough and filled it with freshly sliced fruit, dark chocolate chips and dulce de leche caramel. Wow! For a few years I became an expert at that recipe filling it with all kinds of fillings, both sweet and savory. I think that it works for both as I  only use a light beer in the dough recipe so it’s not too strong once  baked.

Mexican style sweet empanadas filled with pineapple, apple and toasted coconut. Just add coffee or tea!
Mexican style sweet empanadas filled with pineapple, apple and toasted coconut. Just add coffee or tea!

By 2009, I had lost both of my parents and with that the hopes of having my Mom show me how she prepared her recipe hands on.  In 2011 I was blessed with a return trip to Monterrey, Mexico to visit family. And fortunate for me, I am blessed to still have my Mom’s sisters, three of which live in Monterrey and can bake like nobody’s business! Lol! While I was there I stayed with my tia Miné and we spent many hours cooking together. It was because of those times, that I am no longer afraid to cook using my pressure cooker, ha, ha, ha! I love it! My tia prepared a batch of sweet empanadas with that dough, that dough recipe that I so longed for and wanted to learn all about it. And I did. I came home from Mexico, just off the plane, jet lagged and all and no sooner got back into my kitchen and prepared some empanadas with what I had learned. My tia’s measurements, much like my Mom’s were never quite exact, old school cooking at it’s best! So, as I went along, I experimented with the recipe now and them. I was always happy with the results after baking the empanadas, but the dough itself just was not that easy to work with when filling and sealing.

Fresh fruit filling prepared from scratch
Fresh fruit filling prepared from scratch

Finally, just a few weeks ago, I experimenting one more time. This is it! I love the results of this dough. You still have to be gentle when handling it, but it works much better. I had less cracks while it was baking and they stayed intact. I make it sound like all the other tries simply fell apart, lol! They didn’t, but they just did not look as nice as my tia’s empanadas. They were beautiful even before I baked them.

I was never completely convinced about the empanada dough recipe I had learned a couple of years back, so I kept trying until I found one that I was very happy with!
I was never completely convinced about the empanada dough recipe I had learned a couple of years back, so I kept trying until I developed one that I was very happy with!

Revised Empanada Dough Recipe

*For Sweet Baked Empanadas

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
~~~~
1/2 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup shortening
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds

You will also need
3 cups of filling. It should be thick and not runny at all.
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

This is my newest mix for empanada filling. Fresh pineapple, tart apples and toasted unsweetened coconut. Tasty!!
This is my newest mix for empanada filling. Fresh pineapple, tart apples and toasted unsweetened coconut. Tasty!!

Pineapple, Apple and Toasted Coconut Filling

4 cups pineapple, finely diced
2 cups tart apple, finely diced
1 cup brown sugar or piloncillo
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
* make a slurry of cornstarch and water. Mix until smooth.

Directions For Filling

Add all of the ingredients to a skillet, minus the cornstarch and water. Heat to medium. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for a good 40 to 50 minutes. Taste for sugar along the way. Once it has broken down and reduced, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Cook for 5 more minutes.  You know your filling is thick enough when you can run a spatula down the center of pan and it stays on either side of pan without running back to the middle. Remove from heat and let cool. This recipe is enough for about 40 small empanadas more or less. Freeze leftover filling in a heavy freezer bag.

*You can use this same formula to make the filling using a variety of fresh fruits, such as mango, pears, blueberries, raspberries….. You can search my blog for different variations to empanada recipes.

I really enjoy mixing in different fruits to create a new flavor.
I really enjoy mixing in different fruits to create a new flavor. Pineapple, Apple and Toasted Coconut.

 

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to visit with my family in Mexico a few years back. I was able to re-discover some of my Mom's recipes which are family recipes.
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to visit with my family in Mexico a few years back. I was able to re-discover some of my Mom’s recipes which are family recipes.

Directions For Empanada Dough

1. Sift the flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add 1 cup shortening and work in with hands or pastry cutter until you have small crumbles.

2. Heat the water for 3 minutes in the microwave. Add the sugar and anise seeds, stir until sugar has dissolved. To the flour mixture, mix in the egg until well incorporated. Gradually add in the water mixture  a little at a time until dough forms. You may not end up using all of the water. If it seems too dry, add a little more water as you knead dough for 5 minutes.

3. When ready, roll 24 dough balls. Place in bowl or on a plate, cover and let set for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Line a tortilla presse with a plastic storgae bag, cut down to size.

5. Before pressing dough ball, knead it for about 30 seconds and shape it back into a flat disc. Press one disc at a time to a 3 1/2 to 4 in circle. The edges will look slightly jagged. Fill with  about 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, pinch edge and fold over. Do not over fill.  Do this all the way over the opening to seal. Bake for 30 minutes, then place under broiler to brown the tops a little. Just about 1 minute. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute. While they are still warm, gently dredge through cinnamon/sugar mix. Yields 24 small empanadas.

This version of dough was alittle easier to work with as far as molding and sealing the edges.
This version of dough was alittle easier to work with as far as molding and sealing the edges.

Piña-Fresh Pineapple~ Sweet and Savory Recipes

I am sure you knew that eventually there would be a blog post about one of my favorite subjects. Piña, Pineapple! I grew up enjoying fresh pineapple. I loved it as a kid and I love it even more as an adult. It is always on my weekly grocery list of must haves. Pineapples are a great source of vitamin C and filled with antioxidants to boost your immune system. Besides the health benefits, fresh pineapples can be used to prepare both sweet and savory recipes. Included in this blog post are a few of my favorite recipes with fresh pineapple as the main ingredient. Check out the promotion from Del Monte Gold for Gold Treasure Hunt at the end of this post for a chance to win a whole pound of 24K gold. To participate and enter at the links  provided below, at the end of this blog post.
 
Empanadas de Piña (Pineapple Handpies)
These perfect little empanadas filled with homemade pineapple filling is a family recipe that was shared with me by my Tía Minerva. On my last trip to Mexico, in 2011, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a whole month with her. We cooked together and she told me stories of my grandparents and their life together that I had never known. These family recipes hold a very special place in my heart.
 
Yields 24 small empanadas
Empanadas de Piña Dredged in Cinnamon and Sugar
Empanadas de Piña Dredged in Cinnamon and Sugar
For Dough
3½ cups flour
1¼ cups shortening
½ cup water
½ teaspoon anise seeds
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sugar, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for dusting
 
For Pineapple Filling
2 cups finely chopped, fresh pineapple
¾ cup or to taste, dark brown sugar or piloncillo, if available
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup cold water

1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Cooking with Fresh Pineapple
Cooking with Fresh Pineapple
Cooking the pineapple low and slow until most of the liquid is absorbed and it becomes thick.
Cooking the pineapple low and slow until most of the liquid is absorbed and it becomes thick.

 

Directions: 

1. Combine the anise seeds, cinnamon stick, and ½ cup of water.  Heat  (cook) in the microwave for 1½ minutes, strain and set aside. Melt the shortening in a microwave-safe bowl, add the tea and stir gently stir. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, until the dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need to add a little more flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest.

2. While the dough is resting, make your pineapple filling. In a large nonstick skillet, add the fresh pineapple and heat to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, stir well to combine. Lower the heat and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. In a small bowl, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water. Mix together, making sure there are no lumps. Add the slurry to the cooking pineapple, stir well and stir often so it does not burn. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Let filling cool.
3. When filling is cool and dough has rested, form  20 to 24 (1½-inch) dough balls and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Take one dough ball at a time and press in tortilla press lined with wax paper, fill with 1½ to 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, and using a fork, or your fingers, press edges together to seal empanada.

4. Transfer empanadas to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl combine 1 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. While still slightly warm, roll in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Yields 24 small empanadas. 

Pineapple Handpies-Empanadas de Piña made with Fresh Pineapple.
Pineapple Handpies-Empanadas de Piña made with Fresh Pineapple.

 

Tips~ I like to place the empanadas under the broiler just long enough to brown the tops of the empanadas before removing from oven.

 

La Piña en La Cocina
La Piña en La Cocina
Tarta de Piña (Rustic Pineapple and Chocolate Tart)
Tarta de Piña-Rustic Pineapple Chocolate Tart
Tarta de Piña-Rustic Pineapple Chocolate Tart

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1¼ cups shortening
6 ounces of light beer, cold
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
1 cup dulce de leche “La Lechera” brand
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1½ cups fresh pineapple, diced
¾ cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons natural cane sugar (turbinado)

Tarta de Piña-Rustic Pineapple Chocolate Tart
Tarta de Piña-Rustic Pineapple Chocolate Tart

Directions:


1. In a glass bowl, melt the shortening in the microwave, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add the cold beer and salt, stir gently. Gradually add in the flour until the dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.


2. After an hour, preheat oven to 395ºF. On a flat surface dusted with flour, roll out the dough, about 14 inches round. Transfer the dough onto a large baking sheet.


3. Spread the dulce de leche, leaving a 1-inch rim around; add the chocolate chips, pineapple and gently spread the apricot preserves to cover. Fold up the rim towards the inside of tart. Brush the exposed dough with egg wash and sprinkle the cane sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing and serving. Can be cut into 6 to 8 slices.

La Piña en La Cocina
La Piña en La Cocina

 

Tacos Con Sabor Al Pastor

Con Sabor Al Pastor
Con Sabor Al Pastor

 

For The Pork

4 to 4½ pounds pork butt, fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces (boneless pork)
1 cup fresh pineapple, finely diced
1 tablespoon chile ancho powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
½ tablespoon oregano, crushed
½ tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

 

For Chile sauce:
2 oz annatto paste
4 chile ancho, stems and seeds removed
2 chipotles in adobo
1 medium white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
2 teaspoons oregano, crushed
1 tablespoon Knorr chicken bouillon (powder)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper

Con Sabor Al Pastor
Con Sabor Al Pastor

Directions:

1. Combine all the dry spices and season the pork evenly. In a large pan, heat the oil to medium/high heat, add the seasoned pork to the hot oil, and cook until all sides of the meat are seared well.

2. Transfer the ancho peppers to a glass bowl, cover with water and cook in the microwave 6 to 7 minutes. Let cool slightly, set aside. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce into the blender. Drain the chile anchos and add them as well. Blend on high until smooth, taste for salt.

3. Add the fresh pineapple and sauce from the blender to the pork, stir well to combine. Once it come to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook, stirring often, for a good 2½ hours or until pork is tender. Taste for salt and add a little water if it gets too dry. Serve as-is, with rice and beans, and warm tortillas. Garnish with guacamole, salsa, diced onions and cilantro. Yields up to 8  servings.

Note: This does make a lot of pork if you are just making tacos, so you could cut the recipe in half if it is for a smaller family, or you can freeze the leftovers, once completely cooled. The pork will cook down slightly.

Tacos Con Sabor Al Pastor
Tacos Con Sabor Al Pastor
La Piña en La Cocina
La Piña en La Cocina

 

Blackened Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa 

Blackened Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa
Blackened Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa

Note: This recipe can be prepared in your kitchen with a large griddle for the stove top. If the weather is suitable, you can do it on an outdoor grill as well.

 For the Shrimp:

1 pound uncooked shrimp, cleaned with tails on
1/4 cup homemade or store-bought dry rub
Olive oil
Lemon wedges

For the Pineapple Salsa:
2 cups fresh pineapple, finely diced
1 Habanero pepper, minced
1 red cherry pepper, minced, optional
1/3 cup diced white onion
7 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Cooked Pineapple Habanero Salsa
Cooked Pineapple Habanero Salsa
Directions:1. Start by prepping the shrimp. Take a couple of paper towels and press down lightly onto shrimp to release excess moisture. Season lightly with salt, then add your dry rub, making sure all shrimp is covered. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.2. For pineapple salsa, in a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring so it does not burn. Add the peppers and cook for 1 more minute. Add the remaining ingredients, 1 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper. Lower the heat and let it cook down for a few minutes. Taste for salt. Transfer to a dish and let it cool at room temperature. If not using right away, chill in the refrigerator.

3. To cook the shrimp, I like using a large griddle that covers both the front and back burner on the stove top. But, you could also skewer and grill the shrimp, just make sure you brush it with oil before you grill it. If cooking on the stove top, preheat the griddle to medium heat for a few minutes. Drizzle olive oil to cover evenly. Lay the shrimp, but do not overcrowd or it will steam and not blacken. Cook for just 2 minutes per side or when shrimp turns pink. Transfer to bowl and cover to keep warm.

4. Serve as-is with lemon/lime wedges as an appetizer or with warm corn tortillas for tacos. I served it with some shredded cabbage, radishes, green onions, cilantro, jalapeño, that was lightly seasoned in a little rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper. 

Blackened Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa
Blackened Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa
 
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Del Monte Gold for Gold
Del Monte Gold for Gold

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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