Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turkey Empanadas with Mint Sour Cream Sauce


Eating the empanada at the Dupont farmers market inspired me to try and make my own for the first time. Days I sat, pondering over what ingredients I would use for the stuffing and it finally came to me. I wanted something refreshing and not too heavy due to the high temperatures but at the same time, would fill me up and keep me satisfied.

Using my pallet, I made this recipe in hopes it would turn out as wonderful as I imagined. And boy did it! Give a try!

Turkey Empanadas with Mint Sour Cream Sauce

Ingredients
  • 4 cups cooked ground turkey
  • 1 ½ cups chopped mint (divided)
  • 1chopped mango
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 17.3-ounce packages frozen puff pastry (3 sheets), thawed
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon cold water (for glaze)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 lemon

Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large bowl, mix in cooked turkey, half of the mint and chopped mango.
  • Cut each pastry sheet into fours.
  • Spoon on roughly 4 table spoons of the filling onto the center of each pastry square and top with a tablespoon of goat cheese.
  • Grab two opposite corners of the pastry dough and pinch above the filling. Holding on to that, slowly pinch down each side of the dough until the filling is in the center and you’re left with a large triangle. Use a fork to pinch the seam shut and cut a hole in the top of each empanada to release steam.
  • Paint each empanada with the egg white glaze and bake for 15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine sour cream, the remaining mint, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.


The simple mint sour cream sauce really made the mint in the empanadas pop out. It was a perfect combination of sweet and salty combined with the crunchiness of the puffed pastry. I noticed, that no matter what I did, the puffed pastry wouldn’t stay together at the seams but not much of the filling leaked out and the light texture of the pastry married well with these refreshing ingredients. Bon app├ętit!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fried Squash Blossoms with Basil Ricotta Filling

Finally, I had them; soft, delicate and ready to eat, my first squash blossoms.  Now, I usually like to try food before I attempt to make it but this, I knew, was going to be a success. I used the basis of a recipe I found in Epicurious, I tweaked it a little by substituting basil for the mint. I didn’t have a deep fry thermometer so I had to use my instincts, which taught me a very valuable lesson.

When frying anything, make sure your oil is hot enough. If you don’t have a thermometer sprinkle some of your batter in the heated oil and watch closely how it reacts. If the desired consistency appears within a few seconds, your oil is hot enough. If you’re too eager, like me, and put the blossoms in too soon than the oil is absorbed into the batter rather than cooking the outside of the blossom and developing a crispy outside layer.

Looking at this recipe, I was surprised to see that it called for seltzer/club soda instead of milk or water for the batter. When frying, I found out why. Using carbonated water encourages the batter to separate and become lighter and fluffier. With such a delicate vegetable, this is a desirable consistency rather than the greasy batter used in fish and chips. When frying the blossoms, you can see bubbles in the batter forming which creates a lighter, crispier coating.

Another thing I used to save time and prevent a messy situation is a piping bag to fill the blossoms with the ricotta filling. When I pictured myself trying to gently spoon the filling into the blossoms, I could foresee a lot of cussing, ripped blossoms and a big mess. If you have a piping bag, this is an opportune time to get reacquainted with it.

I sincerely hope this recipe encourages you to try something new next time you run across it, you never know when you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Happy experimenting!

Fried Squash Blossoms with Basil Ricotta Filling

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
6 large zucchini squash blossoms
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
About 1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Equipment:
Deep-fry thermometer
Piping bag


Instructions:  
Stir together ricotta, yolk, basil, 1/3 cup parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Carefully open each blossom and pipe in ricotta filling, gently twisting end of blossom to enclose filling. (You may have filling left over.)

Whisk together flour, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl.
Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip half of blossoms in batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season with salt.

** If you’re inspired by this recipe and would like to try squash blossoms, check out Chef Jose Andres’s restaurant, Oyamel, in DC for his Squash Blossom Festival going on from August 1st through August 14th.