Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shortcuts in the Kitchen

We all cut corners in the kitchen from time to time, right? Or am I the only one who is so lazy that I regularly use a dishtowel instead of an oven mitt to remove a hot casserole from the oven? Or who tries to make muffins by using only one mixing bowl instead of two (one for wet and one for dry)? Well, I've learned my lesson. No more cutting corners for me. least when it comes to de-seeding jalapenos with my bare hands. I thought, "but I only have two peppers to do and the latex gloves are all the way downstairs". Put a big fat "L" for lazy loser on my forehead! Trust me, go get the gloves. That one pair of gloves will save you hours of researching the internet trying every home remedy known to mankind in order to get the EXTREME burning to subside. Sure you might get an education on how to use Colgate toothpaste or baking soda and lemon juice or rubbing alcohol or milk to ease the throbbing, but it's NOT WORTH IT.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, aloe vera gel (yes, the green goopy kind you use for sunburns) worked best....

While you might my little experience may turn me off from jalapenos, you're mistaken. These empanadas are just too tasty to keep me away, even when my fingers were on fire!

Ok, now I have to admit that there is one allowable shortcut I use in the recipe. I buy pre-made empanada dough (thanks for this tip, Margarita! I owe you!). It saves so much time and frustration. I buy the Goya brand from Joseph's Marketplace in the freezer section. The package looks like this. Yes, I realize that they are from Argentina and are therefore not local, but most of the filling ingredients are local, and Joseph's is a locally owned small business, so I've rationalized it.

Shortcut Empanadas
(adapted from Hope's Edge Edible Schoolyard Empanadas)
makes 24

3/4 lb waxy potatoes (yukon gold, fingerlings or red work well), peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
6 scallions, sliced into thin rings
2 jalapenos, de-seeded and chopped fine
1 cup grated cheese (pepper jack or sharp cheddar work well)
3/4 cup diced precooked chicken, optional
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
10-12 pre-made frozen empanada shells, defrosted

1. Cook diced potatoes in simmering water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and cool.
2. Combine potatoes and all remaining ingredients (except the dough) in a mixing bowl. This is the filling.
3. Set out one empanada dough piece and scoop about 2 Tbsp filling into the center.
4. Fold in half and seal edges by pressing with fork tines. Brush with melted butter if you like.
5. Place empandas on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes (until golden brown).

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