Enjoy variety of empanadas

By ANDREW ARMSTRONG / Recipe Columnist

Virginia Beach, Virginia is home to many ethnically diverse groups. When you actually start to venture around the city, you learn this for yourself. It has many stores where you can purchase not only Chinese, Hispanic, and Japanese food, but you can also buy prepared Puerto Rican, Filipino, German, Mediterranean and Ethiopian cuisine.

These different cultures bring not only food, but local legends. Do you know why pineapples have eyes? According to a legend in the Philippines, there lived a gorgeous but selfish young girl named Pina. One evening her mother was very sick and she asked Pina to cook some rice. The girl refused, claiming she couldn’t find the ladle. Her mother who was sick and upset cried out. She told her daughter, “I wish you had a 1,000 eyes so you could see everything.” The mother later realized her daughter was missing, but discovered this new fruit covered in eyes. When she realized that she had cursed her daughter she was mortified. The mother later named it pineapple after her daughter Pina and gave seeds to the whole village. It is said the spreading of this fruit was the only good thing about this girl, because she was truly wicked and cold at heart.

This week’s recipes are part of that ethnic mix. They are empanadas from Spain. These pastries, filled with seafood, meat, cheese, vegetables or fruit, are popular throughout Latin and South American heritage. They are thought to have originated in Spain, where the Empanada Festival is part of Galician culture. The name comes from empanar, or “to coat with bread.” Variations of this portable meal are found in Cornish pasties, Italian calzone or turnovers. There are also sweet ones filled with guava, cream cheese, apple and pumpkin just to name a few. The next time you want to throw a party, kick it up a notch with these authentic empanada styled recipes and have yourself a real “fiesta!”

Follow Andrew M. Armstrong Recipe Columnist on Facebook, and then send your recipes to P.O. Box 693 Leeds, Alabama 35094 to be featured in future additions.

Empanada Dough

1 tablespoon of sugar

3 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon of salt

6 tablespoons of margarine

1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, chilled and diced

½ a cup plus 2 tablespoons of ice water

In a food processor, combine the first three ingredients. Add the butter and margarine, then pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With it running slowly add the water through the feeding tube. Pulse until a ball of dough forms. Place the dough in a plastic wrap. Pat into a 4-inch disk and chill. Refrigerate overnight or two hours, before using.

Beef and Olive Empanadas

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1½ pounds ground beef

2 onions, chopped

2 red bell peppers, chopped

3 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1½ cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth

2 teaspoons sugar

½ cup raisins

½ a cup of black olives, sliced and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté all the ingredients together and drain the grease. Roll the dough to a 1/16-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 48 rounds. Place a tablespoon of filling in each circle. Fold over and press the edges with a fork. Brush with an egg wash and bake at 350 degrees, until golden brown.

Chicken, Apple, Cheddar Empanadas

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of butter

1 red onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cans of chicken, drained

2 teaspoons of rosemary

3 ounces of cheddar cheese, shredded (add the cheese once the mixture cools.)

Egg wash

Sauté all the ingredients together and once the apples are tender, remove the mixture and let it cool. Roll the dough to a 1/16-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 48 rounds. Place a tablespoon of filling in each circle. Fold over and press the edges with a fork. Brush with an egg wash and bake at 350 degrees, until golden brown.

Spicy Beef Empanadas

½ a cup of nuts, toasted and chopped

2 tablespoons of oil

1 onion, minced fine

2 teaspoons of ginger

1 pound of sirloin, chopped

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced

½ a teaspoon of cinnamon

½ a teaspoon of cumin

½ a teaspoon of coriander

¼ a cup of dried fruit, chopped

1 teaspoon of chili flakes

1 ¼ cups of tomato juice

4 teaspoons of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Egg wash

Brown the meat, oil, onions, fruit and seasonings together. Once cooked let it cool. Roll the dough to a 1/16-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 48 rounds. Place a tablespoon of filling in each circle. Fold over and press the edges with a fork. Brush with an egg wash and bake at 350 degrees, until golden brown.