Friday, May 13, 2011

my semi-homemade empanada & california iced tea

I love empanada but so far, I have not chanced upon any store here that sells empanada. This makes me miss my home more because in Muntinlupa, we are just a few steps away from Red Ribbon and I can always buy a steady supply of meat or chicken empanadas if I have too. It was a good thing that I happen to chance upon several empanada recipes that made use of Pillsbury biscuits (the one inside a compact roll that makes anyone jump when they open it).

My empanada turned out well but it looked more like a Jamaican patty than an empanada. Still, it tastes really good!

For my crust, I made use of Pillsbury buttermilk biscuit. Inside the tube, there are 8 biscuits and from it you can make either 8 small empanadas or 4 big empanadas.

For the filling, I made use of a roll of Jimmy Dean's hot breakfast sausage but anyone can use regular ground beef. I sauteed some crushed garlic (6 cloves) and chopped onions in 2 tbsps of vegetable oil. After that, I added the sausage and seasoned it. Once it's all browned up, I put in a little salt, cumin and paprika. After that, I added my leftover pasta sauce, but you can use tomato sauce too. Then, I added some raisins and 2 tbsps sugar (my husband likes it a little sweetish). While it simmers, I added red pepper flakes because we like our empanadas with a little bite. Let it simmer and then turn the heat off after 7 minutes.

The tricky part was the merging of the biscuit and the filling. It is easier to put more filling when making big empanadas because you have a flattened biscuit on the bottom, at least 2 tbsps of filling in the center and another flattened biscuit on top to cover the whole thing. If you're making the small empanada, you can only put a tablespoon of filling in the middle and you need to be sure that the biscuit is flat enough and wide enough to enclose and secure the filling. Based also on my experience, it would be best to let the filling cool down.... not a bit but a lot! It is easier to put in the filling when it's fresh from a cold sleep in the refrigerator. Suggestion: make the filling first, let it sleep in the fridge and just assemble the whole empanada the next day.

Arrange empanada on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake inside a preheated oven set at 350 degrees F for 20 - 25 minutes or until it's golden brown.

I like to dip the hot empanada in cold sour cream with chopped chives and the perfect drink to pair this with is the California iced tea. I learned this recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa. She sad that this drink is part lemonade and part iced tea.

For the California iced tea, I steeped 5 bags of black tea in 4 cups of boiling water. Then, I extracted 1 cup of lemon juice from 6 medium size lemons.

In a glass pitcher, I put in the lemon juice, added the black tea, 1 cup of sugar (more if it's still too tart) and more water. Mix well. Taste first then add lemon slices for garnish. Let it cool down in the refrigerator and pour it on ice-filled glasses. So refreshing and taste way better than the powdered mixes!

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