Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A Taste for Adventure: Empanadas al Cafayate

This month for our Cook the Books foodie book club selection, we read Anik See's A Taste for Adventure. (Also published under the title A Fork in the Road)
Anik See is a Canadian writer, currently living in Amsterdam, who is now practicing her love for printing and design. In this book she takes us along with her as she pedals across lands we only dream of. Malaysia, Singapore, Patagonia, Thailand, Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Indonesia, Northern Argentina, Iran, Mexico and British Columbia.

I really enjoyed the book, and seeing the world through Anik's rose-coloured glasses. She recounts only the most positive of experiences, leaving one a little suspicious that there must have been another side to the coin.. but the book was a lot of fun regardless.
She enjoyed beautiful hospitality and family feasts wherever she biked, describes wondrous landscapes and environments, and includes 40 recipes in the book.
For my Cook the Books dish I made Anik's empanadas from Argentina. Hers are small, snack size, I made mine a little larger and served them for dinner. Delicious! This is my first time using lard in this manner. They were fun to make and fun to eat. Give them a try!

Empanadas al Cafayate
from A Taste for Adventure
Anik See

Empanadas can be found all over South America. In Chile, they are large and eaten as a meal. By the sea, they are often made with tuna instead of meat, and in the desert, they can be found filled with cactus fruit of prickly pears. In Argentina, they are generally made into smaller, daintier pockets and eaten as a snack. Anik See.

2/3 cup water
1/2 cup lard
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 red or green chili, chopped
3/4 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
6 green olives, pitted (I think more would be good)
1 potato, peeled, diced and cooked
a handful of raisins

Heat the water and lard together in a saucepan over medium-high heat until the lard has melted. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and slowly add the lard mixture, incorporating it until you have a smooth dough. Cover the dough and let it rest for an hour or so at room temperature.
In the meantime, make the filling: Heat the oil, cumin, paprika, and chili powder in a frypan over high heat until the cumin seeds start to pop. Add the onion, garlic, and chili and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the beef and salt and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the beef is nicely browned. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the olives, potato, and raisins. Set aside and let cool 20 minutes or so.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
To assemble the empanadas, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, each about the size of a ping-pong ball. Roll out a piece of the dough into a 5-inch circle. Place a tablespoon of the meat mixture into the center and top with a sprinkling of chopped egg. Fold one edge over the other to make a half-moon shape. Roll the edges up or press them firmly with the tines of a fork to seal the pastry. Repeat with the remaining dough and meat mixture. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.. great food for traveling!
Makes 16 Argentine-sized empanadas, serving 4 as a good snack or light lunch.

*I made 8 hand-sized empanadas and served them with a salad for dinner*