I have a Luxembourgish friend who refuses to eat paella outside of Spain and pizza outside of Italy. She told me that she’s only ever disappointed by how badly these culinary icons get translated onto the local menu so she’d rather just not go there. Ever. I had to convince her that the wood-fired pizza at the Bondi Beach cafe restaurant we ended up at for lunch earlier this year was not going to be horrible. We ordered some and she agreed. But clearly she has had better.
So how about tapas? I haven’t had the real deal in Spain as yet but enjoyed a lot of it both in Australia and London. I don’t doubt that a good lot of what ends up on a tapas menu here in Perth isn’t 100% auténtico but if we simply focus on tapas as a style of eating rather than what should be on the menu then I think most of Perth’s tapas bars are right on the money. Still, I do have some expectations and menus that include croquetas, empanadas and sardines tend to get my biggest tick of tapas approval.
I had a stab at making croquetas some time ago and still some types I want to try making before the end of the year. This week however, I was in the mood to try something completely new so the empanada became my next victim. I like to do a little research on things I am unfamiliar with before making them. With empanadas I quickly discovered that they are the dumpling of the Spanish speaking world. There are as many variations in fillings, cooking methods and overall preparation as there are Hispanophone countries. And that’s a lot! Thus the question of what is an authentic empanada recipe seemed moot. I could make a Spanish empanada but it would differ to what Mexicans expected. Maybe I just needed to do my own thing.
Channeling the one Hispanic person I most related to (Dora the Explorer, hands down), I decided to just get in the kitchen and give the empanada a go. The Gourmet Traveller recipe for empanada dough was easy to make and a delight to work with. For a filling, I sauteed up some mediterranean vegetables in the Thermomix and finished it off with a chunk of Boursin cheese (it’s a Hispano-Franco empanada OK?) before wrapping up the empanada in a most questionable fashion. Well it kinda looks like one…
I don’t have a deep fryer so I had to bake my empanadas which meant the pastry didn’t get all flaky and crisp and ended up being more bread-like. They were still nice nonetheless and not too awful to eat the next day either, even when cold.
A fun experiment but looking forward to getting out to Mondo Markets to try empanadas made by people who know what they’re doing!
3 tsp dry yeast
180 ml (¾ cup) milk, warmed
1¾ tsp white sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
465 gm (3¾ cups) plain flour