Monday, March 30, 2009


The area in which Bob and I live is often called the Emerald Valley. It's gorgeous, but our achingly beautiful spring is tempered by rain and fog that can cause melancholy and produce a cabin fever that makes the pacing of caged tigers seem tame. No doubt about it, you have to learn how to deal with the weather. One tactic is to head toward Mexico for the rainy season. Another, and the one we've chosen, is to forget about it. Umbrellas, except for the most formal occasions, become excess baggage and yellow slickers or Gortex become one's armor in the war against the elements. Once the temperature hits the mid 50's we are out of here. Last week we picnicked, stream side, in the canyon of a creek that meanders, sometimes forcefully, through protected forest land. It is breathtaking. It's still too wet for campfires, so I pulled empanadas from the freezer and baked them for an alfresco feast that included mugs of tomato soup, ginger tea and damp rear ends. The empanadas are not hard to do, but they do require planning. Every country in South America has its own version of these half moon pies. Some are deep fried, some are baked. I can't get my head around deep frying what is essentially pie crust, so I bake mine. These are a bit unusual in that turkey and hominy (hulled corn with the bran and germ removed) are among the ingredients used to make the filling. I use cream sherry to boost the sweetening power of the raisins. They make a great snack and older children love them. You'll need about an hour and a half to get these puppies on the table, so plan accordingly. Don't let the ingredient list turn you off - the empanadas require a lot of readily available herbs and spices and you'll have most, if not all, of them in your pantry. They empanadas can be frozen in their unbaked state. I think you'll enjoy these. Why not give them a try?


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, minced
12 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons gried oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 pound ground turkey
2 cups sliced crimini or button mushrooms
1/3 cup creamed sherry
1 can drained hominy
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup pitted, coarsely chopped pimento stuffed olives
1/4 cup plumped raisins
Pastry Dough:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup cold water
1 egg
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup chopped pistachios or pepitas

1) To make picadillo, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add red pepper, onions,garlic, fennel, oregano, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and pepper flakes; cook until vegetables are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Add ground turkey; saute until brown. Stir in mushrooms and cream sherry; cook until sherry is absorbed, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in hominy, cilantro, olives and raisins. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside
2 ) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
3) To make dough, Place flour, butter,salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Add water and egg; pulse until dough forms a ball.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Working on a floured surface, roll each piece into a 7-inch circle. Put 1/2 cup filling in center of each disk and fold in half. Seal edges with a fork. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets.
4) To finish, beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush tops of half moons with egg wash. Sprinkle with pistachios and paprika. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Yield: 6 empanadas.


Donna-FFW said...

WOW!! These empanadas look so delicious. The filling ingredients alone are just spectacular. What an excellent choice, Mary!

Netts Nook said...

Mary: Oh I agree about your beauty of where you live. I am going to make your recipe for sure. I shared my fist empanadas a few weeks ago I am trying yours next. Have fun in the rain as I shovel the drive.

Jennifer said...

I have never made empanadas and you are tempting me.

Allie said...

These sound amazing I wouldn't be able to eat just one! I've got this bookmarked for sure.

Cathy said...

Oregonians are amazing people. Rain or shine we're outside enjoying our beautiful area. But, geez, where is the sun! I'm ready for a few nice days.

Empanadas are a great idea. I'm always looking for something hearty I can take out of the freezer for a quick meal for one. Thanks for sharing.

Pam said...

I love empanadas but have never made them before - they look great Mary.

Mary Bergfeld said...

These are really nice to keep in the freezer. If you have teenagers be forewarned --- you won't be able to keep them on hand.

Laura said...

I love empanadas--these look great. I sympathize with the need to get out of the house this time of year. Now that I have small kids I am even more stir crazy.

Kiezie said...

Oh yum. I think the last time I made empanadas was around 1978. LOL!!! I have wanted to make them many times since and these are just proof of why I need to!! I have an award for you as well today, as a way of thanks for such a wonderful blog!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Bliss, thank you so much. I'm honored.

Maria said...

Never made empanadas before. They look wonderful, I will be trying them now!

La Bella Cooks said...

The empanadas look amazing! I can only imagine how gorgeous it is where you live.

Karen said...

Your picadillo sounds delicious. I love empanadas but I really like them when somebody else makes them! LOL What a gorgeous picture of the stream :)

Mary Bergfeld said...

It is really gorgeous here in the springtime. Name a shade of green and you'll find it on our hillsides - along with all its other cousins.

NKP said...

What a lovely land you live on, just beautiful. Your empanadas look so tasty, I have only tried making them once and really should do it again. I really liked them. Your choice of fillings sound so inviting.

Arlene Delloro said...

I dearly love empanadas. Yours look wonderful.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Arlene, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you'll come again.

Heather S-G said...

Hi Mary...just found your blog through chefBliss...and yes, I love it, too! These empanadas look so delicious. Looking forward to reading more :)

Mary Bergfeld said...

hey, girlchef! We love company. I'm glad you found us. Now my job is to keep you here. Hope to see you soon.

Allie said...


Lori said...

One of my favorites. I just love empanadas. Sometimes I cheat and buy the Goya discs from the market. Mwahaha. But of course homemade is always better.

The Cooking Photographer said...

Your empanadas as much more beautiful than mine. These look organic in the sense of art and life, earthy, and fresh.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Thanks Laura. We try to photograph the food as other folks would see it in their kitchens.

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