Empanada Bakefest

We were supposed to get together for our regular bakefest the other weekend, but after helping Shannon and Matt move, we were more inclined to eat pizza and drink beer than to do anything useful. Which is what we did. And then I took a nap. And we didn’t get around to making these delicious empanadas until Wednesday night, when the group cleared two trays of them in no time flat – which is why the only photo I have is of the leftovers, or, more properly, leftover:


I’m pretty sure that I first encountered empanadas in Champaign – there is photo evidence of empanadas being consumed at the Capricorn birthday dinner at Radio Maria. We discovered the empanadas from Manolo’s right before we left town – in fact, the below photo is from the yard sale we held two weeks before Shane left Champaign for good. Our loss, truly.

Day 21 - 8/13/07

In general, I’m a fan of food in pockets. We made totally delightful pop-tarts at a previous bakefest. I had a serious calzone problem when I lived in Rockford – either take-out from the Logli pizzeria after a long day at Barnes & Noble, or with a beer at Old Chicago while working on the World Beer Tour. When we were serious about losing weight, we both ate A LOT of Lean Pockets, as they were an easy way to take lunch to work and control calories. I’ve never gotten into pierogies, but I loved filled pastas of all sorts. It’s hard to screw up the pocket formula: take something good, wrap it up in sweet or savory dough, bake it for a bit, and then enjoy.

Tonight’s empanadas were no exception. The dough was crumbly at first, but rolled out beautifully in Olivia’s capable hands. Shannon conveyed the discs of dough from roller to kitchen, while Susie played the very important role of cat cop. Shana and I filled the flattened rounds with a few spoonfuls of a savory chicken-chorizo stew, then rolled and crimped the edges, brushed on an egg wash, and popped them in the oven.  25 minutes later, we sat down with the boys and other friends for a fantastic spread: two dozen empanadas (including a few stuffed with sweet potato and feta), roasted asparagus with sea salt, a fantastic salad with beets and candied nuts, home brew and rosé, and ice cream eaten straight from the pint.  A fine start to the Wednesday night potluck season, and yet another successful bakefest.

Chicken empanada with chorizo and olives from Smitten Kitchen

0104 Quick Omelet with Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Spinach

I don’t need to tell you about the tired that accompanies the first day back to work after an extended vacation.  You know.  Today was one of those days – after 10 days off and only 3.5 days at the new job, the first day back was especially rough.  I tried to take that into consideration while planning meals for this week, leading off with our second attempt at this recipe from Jamie’s Dinners.

Our notes from the last go-round indicated that we’d had some trouble with the chorizo, so I sliced it thin and fried it up in a bit of olive oil while Shane whisked the eggs together.  I tossed in some sliced grape tomatoes and the last of a bag of spinach, then swirled in the eggs.  Jamie bills this as a “Five Minute Wonder”, and while the prep and cooking took a bit more than 5 minutes, in under 15 minutes from start to finish we were sitting down with a generous omelet, warmed bread, and the last of Sunday night’s wine.  What initially looked like too much food turned out to be just right, and my foul work mood had dissolved by the end of the meal.

0104 Quick Omelet with Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Spinach

Chorizo and Tomato Omelette
from Jamie’s Dinners