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Archive for October 16th, 2008

Being under the weather, I’m trying to think of things that are comforting.  For some reason, my Nana (my maternal grandmother) has been on my mind a LOT lately.  Maybe her spirit is trying to soothe me.

Nana always had something on the stove that filled her humble little house with the BEST aromas! She was well-known in the little border town of 10,000 I grew up in.  Every Sunday she would prepare mass quantities of food to be sold after the services to those hungry souls who’d fasted before coming to church.  My grandmother never had a car but never needed one as someone would stop and give her a ride when they saw her walking to and from the grocery store or other destinations.  Her hobbling gait that could best be described as being like the back and forth motion of a metronome,  made her easy to spot as people were driving.  I was amazed at her ability to prepare these huge pots of menudo (tripe soup), breakfast burritos, and delicious machaca (shredded beef) burritos along with homemade salsa and chorizo (mexican sausage) .   Her energy level always left me in awe.  You know, they tasted EXACTLY the same, week after week.  I strive to have that consistency but she set a high standard that I have yet to meet.

Recently I made my “budget” empanadas that were just like the machaca-filled ones that my Nana always made but I filled them with picadillo (pronounced peek-ah-THEE-yo) which is a hamburger, potato, onion, green pepper mixture that fills the stomach and doesn’t empty the pocketbook.

Look tempting?  Here’s how you make ’em…

 

Little dough balls are prepared and kept moist under floursack towel

Little dough balls are prepared and kept moist under floursack towel

Filling is added leaving a 1 1/2" margin for crimping
Moisten the edges & crimp edges

Moisten edges & crimp

 

Ready to hit the hot oil

Ready to hit the hot oil

My sweet Nana

My sweet Nana

 

I’ve seen some amazing food blogs and I feel a little inadequate because I don’t purport to be a great photographer OR writer.  I just want to share my love of food, much in the same way my Nana did.  I can’t invite you to my home to share, so I hope you enjoy these pages!

Empanadas

 

3 cups of all purpose flour (LA PIÑA brand is preferred)

1 tsp. salt

3 Tablespoons Crisco shortening (original recipe called for lard)

1/2 c. warm water

1/2 c. milk

 

Spoon flour lightly into measuring cups. Add salt to flour. Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter or fork until mixture resembles small peas.  Add milk/water mixture a little at a time until the dough holds together. Knead it just a little to get it soft and smooth. If it’s not, add a little more shortening to the palm of your hand and incorporate into dough to make it a soft dough. 

 

On a large wooden cutting board, form little balls about the size of a ping-pong ball.  Cover them with a dampened flour sack dishtowel and let them rest for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out into a circle about 5 to 6 inches across and place meat mixture in the center.  Leave a 1″ space around the edge.  Moisten with water and fold the bottom edge over the top and keep crimping all the way around to make a good seal.  Fry in hot oil or Crisco.

 

The hamburger (picadillo) filling can be made whatever way you choose.  The basic ingredients are 1 1/2 lbs. hamburger, 2 medium-size finely diced russet potatoes, 1/4 cup finely diced green pepper (or Anaheim chili) , 1/4 cup finely diced onion, 1/4 c. tomato sauce (if you can find El Pato brand, it adds a little kick to the meat) salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste.  Some people add olives to their picadillo or jalapenos, or raisins and other spices.  Feel free to come up with your own favorite!

 

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