Ecuador

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Unusual Fact: The Galapagos Islands are where Charles Darwin noticed the diversity of species and began to study evolution.

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This week we had an Ecuadorian Empanada Extravaganza! My English teacher would be so proud with that alliteration 🙂 Thats right we had four different types of Empanadas, two savoury and two sweet. I made up all the dough the day before and that loosened the stress. But I would still not recommend this as a one person job, you will won’t at least one helper. Also, all the savoury empanadas took about 10 minutes longer than the recipe said but the dessert empanadas were right on track.

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First up are the Beetroot, Swiss Chard and Goats cheese empanadas. These are a delectable vegetarian empanada served with a crème fraîche herb sauce. The sauces are what make the empanadas, you can’t serve them without the sauce. Because we were doing two empanadas that needed goats cheese we bought a cheaper brand and it made a different. It had a slightly different taste that meant you could tell it wasn’t completely authentic. So if I was going to make these again I would use a more expensive brand. We also used spinach that was going in our garden instead of the swiss chard. But the beetroot is sweet and the spinach a bit bitter, a great combination. I put a small piece of dough on top of each of the beetroot empanadas so we could tell which was which.

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Next we did a chicken empanada. You could use turkey instead but we did chicken. This is a great way to use up leftover roast meat and vegetables. Super flavoursome as well. This one is served with a chimichurri sauce which is full of flavour as well. This one was Angus’ favourite. I’ve had the left over filling on pizzas for lunch the last few days and its just as good.

I got all of these recipes from Laylitas Blog, she is Ecuadorian so all of her recipes are authentic.

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Now for the dessert empanadas. Oooooo these were good. The first one was a raspberry, goats cheese and almond empanada. The filling for this was just delicious. But again I should have used better quality goats cheese. You could fill filo pastry with this and it would be just as good. This empanada cries out to be served with some vanilla ice-cream (which we did). By golly it was good, I am drooling just thinking about it.

mmmm

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Our second dessert empanada was chocolate and dulce de leche. We made our own dulce de lech using the same recipe that we used when we did Chile. Unfortunately the dulce de leche ran out of the empanadas but we could still eat it. The pastry for this isn’t heavy, it is just like a biscuit. These don’t need the ice-cream as much but it is nice to have that texture contrast.

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With the empanadas we served the sauces and a simple salsa. We also had a pineapple drink with them. I decided to only do half the amount of sugar as there was in the original recipe as the pineapple was already super sweet. I only put in two cloves, one star anise and one cinnamon quill but the flavour was quite strong. I wouldn’t recommend doing anymore than that. If I had to make this drink again I wouldn’t boil it down as it became a bit too strong. Still a lovely refreshing drink to go with all those empanadas!

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Beetroot and Swiss Chard Empanada

Mum 8

Angus 6

Me 8

Chicken Empanada

Mum 8

Angus 8.5

Me 8

Raspberry and Goats Cheese

Mum 9

Angus 6

Me 9

Chocolate and Dulce de Leche

Mum 9

Angus 6.5

Me 9

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Chicken or turkey empanadas 

Ingredients

    • 12-15 medium sized empanadas discs, using homemade dough or store-bought empanada discs
    • 2 tbs butter
    • ½ white onion, sliced thinly
    • ½ bell pepper, sliced thinly
    • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 tomatoes, diced
    • ½ tsp ground achiote or annatto
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 2 cups shredded turkey or chicken
    • 2 tbs turkey gravy – you can replace this with a combination of broth and butter
    • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
    • ½ tbs fresh oregano – can be replaced with 1 tsp dried oregano
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 egg, yolk and white separated
Serve with Quick Chimichurri Sauce

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium size frying pan.
  2. Add the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, achiote, and cumin. Cook for 10 minutes over medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Mix in the shredded turkey and stir well.
  4. Add the turkey gravy and balsamic vinegar; continue cooking over low heat for another 5 minutes.
  5. Let the turkey filling cool down, and then add in the chopped oregano.
  6. To assemble the empanadas spoon the turkey mixture on to the center of the each empanada disc.
  7. Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, you can also use water but the egg white acts as a natural “glue” that helps seal the empanada.
  8. Fold the empanada disc and seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers. To seal the edges further you can use a fork to press down and finish sealing the empanadas.
  9. Let the empanadas rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake, this will help them seal better and prevent leaks.
  10. Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when they bake.
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, exact time will depend on the size of the empanadas and your oven.
  12. Serve warm.
Quick chimichurri sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups fresh parsley leaves
  • 6 basil leaves
  • Leaves from 3 oregano sprigs
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole or crushed
  • 3 tbs vinegar, can use white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tbs of oil
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder, more or less based on your preference
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the blender (or mini food processor), mix until you have a smooth sauce. For a more rustic chimichurri, blend all the ingredients except the oil and then stir it in at the end.
  2. Taste and adjust salt/pepper or chili powder as needed. You can also adjust the amount of vinegar based on the acidity level that you prefer.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use (but should be used the same day).
Empanadas de acelga, remolacha y queso de cabra or swiss chard, beet and goat cheese empanadas
 Yield: 12-15 medium size or 20-25 small empanadas
 Ingredients
    • 12-15 medium size or 20-25 small empanada discs, use homemade empanada dough for baking or store bought)
    • 4 small beets, cooked, peeled and diced
    • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, chopped
    • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
    • ½ white onion, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, can also use dried oregano
    • 1 egg, yolk and white separated and lightly whisked
    • Salt to taste
Serve with: Crème Fraîche sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped Swiss chard and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from the heat, cool down and mix with the diced beets, crumbled goat cheese and chopped oregano.
  4. To assemble the empanadas spoon the stuffing on to the center of each empanada disc.
  5. Brush the inside edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, this is will help them seal better and keep the filling from leaking while baking.
  6. Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges, use a fork to help seal the empanadas.
  7. Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give a nice golden glow when they bake.
  8. Chill the empanadas for at least 30 minutes, this will help them seal better and prevent leaks.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  10. Serve warm with the mint crème fraiche sauce.
Spicy mint crème fraiche sauce
 Yield: A little over 1 cup of sauce

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces crème fraiche – can also use sour cream or yogurt
  • 1medium sized bunch of mint, about ½ cup coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 Serranos or other hot peppers, deveined and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, about ½ lemon
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients in the blender and blend well, but be careful to not over blend or you will get small buttery lumps instead of a smooth sauce.
  2. The sauce will be very liquid after you blend it, but if you return it to the refrigerator it will thicken.

Chicha de Piña

(makes ca. 2.5 litres)

  • the leftovers (skins and core) of 1 pineapple
  • 500 g unrefined cane sugar (panela or jaggery)
  • cinnamon sticks, all spice, cloves, anise, to taste
  • 500l of pineapple juice

In a pressure cooker or large pan, combine all the ingredients apart from the pineapple juice with 2 l of water and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes in the pressure cooker, or one hour in the pan.

Remove from the heat and let it cool down. Before serving, add 500ml of pineapple juice. Serve with ice and sparkling water to taste.

How to make sweet empanada dough
 Yield: 15-18 medium sized empanada discs or 25-30 small empanada discs

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼- ½ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks butter or 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/225grams), cut into 16 pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-4 tablespoons of cold water

Instructions

Making homemade sweet empanada dough:
    1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.
    2. Add the butter, eggs and water until a clumpy dough forms.
    3. Knead the dough for a few minutes.
    4. Form dough into 2 balls, flatten into thick discs, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    5. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas, use round molds or a small plate or cup as a mold, you can choose how large based on whether you want small or medium sized empanadas .
    6. Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer to use later.
Assembling and baking sweet empanadas:
  1. To assemble these sweet empanadas or dessert turnovers, place the filling of your choice on the center of each empanada disc. Don’t add too much filling since it makes it harder to close or seal the empanadas when they’re overstuffed.
  2. To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. If needed, you can brush the inside edges with egg white, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. You can do a final seal by pressing the top of a fork against the edges. You can also try a curl type seal, called repulgue or churito, by using your fingers to twist the curl the edges – this is harder with sweet empanadas than with regular savory empanada dough.
  3. For best results, refrigerate the empanadas for at least 30 minutes before baking – this also helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
  4. If you want your empanadas to have a nice golden finish, then you can brush them with egg wash (a whole egg whisked or egg yolk plus a few drops of water whisked). After brushing the empanadas with egg wash, you can sprinkle sugar (I prefer brown sugar or demerara) on top. You can also sprinkle them with regular or powdered sugar after baking.
  5. Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated oven. I usually bake them at 375F/190C. The baking time will vary based on the oven and size of empanadas, and should be in the range of 18-25 minutes – the empanadas will be ready once they are golden on top.
Raspberry, goat cheese and almond empanadas

Yield: 15-18 medium or 25-30 small sweet empanadas

Ingredients

  • 15-18 medium or 25-30 small sweet empanada discs made from basic sweet pastry dough for empanadas
  • 12 ounces of fresh raspberries
  • 10-11 ounces of plain goat cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 egg, yolk and white separated and lightly whisked
  • ¼ cup demerara sugar to sprinkle on top

Instructions

  1. Combine the goat cheese, sugar, vanilla, orange zest in a bowl, mix well.
  2. To assemble the empanadas place a spoonful of the goat cheese mixture, a couple of raspberries and a few almond slices on the center of the empanada disc.
  3. Brush the edges of the empanada disc with the egg whites.
  4. Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges, use a fork to help seal the empanadas.
  5. Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when baked.
  6. Sprinkle the almond slices on the top of the empanadas, do this immediately after you brush them with the egg yolk, it will help the almond slices stick to the empanada.
  7. Sprinkle each empanada with a little bit of the demerara sugar.
  8. Chill the empanadas for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake, this will help them seal better.
  9. Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated oven at 375 F for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  10. Serve warm.

Notes

If you don’t like goat cheese or don’t have any available, you can replace it with cream cheese.

Chocolate dulce de leche empanadas
 Yield: 24 empanadas

Ingredients

Chocolate empanada dough
    • 3 cups flour (all purpose)
    • ¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
    • ¼ – ½ cup sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder – optional (if you want a hint of cinnamon)
    • 2 sticks of unsalted butter or 8 oz/226grams, cut into small pieces
    • 2 eggs
    • 4-6 tablespoons of water, milk, or coffee
Dulce de leche filling and assembly
    • 2 16 oz jars of dulce de leche, store bought or homemade
    • Optional: Dash of salt if you like the salted caramel flavor
    • 1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water to be used as egg wash
    • ¼ cup demerara sugar to sprinkle on top of empanadas
To serve:
  • Sprinkled with cocoa powder
  • A scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

Instructions

Chocolate empanada dough
    1. Place all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder and salt in a food processor and mix well.
    2. Add the butter pieces and pulse until mixed.
    3. Add the eggs and 4 tablespoons of water/milk/coffee, mix until a clumpy dough forms. Add the additional liquid one tablespoon at a time if needed.
    4. Remove the chocolate dough from the food processor and knead it a couple of times.
    5. Form dough into 2 balls, flatten into thick discs, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    6. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a thin sheet.
    7. Cut out round disc shapes for empanadas, use a round dough cutter as a mold. If you don’t have a dough cutter you can also use a small plate or cup and then use a knife to gently cut around. You can also you other shapes (hearts, etc). Choose how large based on whether you want small or medium sized empanadas.
    8. Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can also layer them with wax paper and freeze to use later.
Chocolate dulce de leche empanada assembly
  1. Place a spoonful of the dulce de leche on the center of the empanada disc.
  2. Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges gently with your fingers, then use the tip of a fork to further seal the edges. You can also try to make a repulgue or churito which means to twist and fold the edges gently with your fingers, however sweet empanada dough is more fragile than savory empanada dough and it’s much easier to use a fork to seal the edges.
  3. Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg wash; this will give them a nice golden glow when baked.
  4. Sprinkle each empanada with a little bit of the demerara sugar.
  5. Chill the empanadas for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake, this will help them seal better.
  6. Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated oven at 375 F for 15-20 minutes. The exact time will vary based on your oven and size of the empanadas.
  7. Serve the dulce de leche empanadas warm. They are still good served cold, but taste much better when eaten warm. You can sprinkle them with a little bit of cocoa powder and I highly recommend serving them with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

 

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