It is time to head to Argentina in the Maisons-Laffitte round the world cooking marathon. Mila treated us to empanadas with different fillings and the most amazing dessert – maybe stop reading when we get to dessert if you are concerned about sugar! Not to worry too much as it is a really labour intensive dessert that you would make for a special occasion. Something with a wow factor for a party or an alternative to a cake for a birthday.
First the fillings for the empanadas, which needed to cool down before being enclosed in pastry. Mila made two base fillings – one meat and one vegetarian.
1kg of frozen, diced onions, 1.5kg of frozen minced beef, generous teaspoon of round white pepper, sweet paprika and cumin put in a pot with 200g passata or tomato coulis. This was put on a high hear with the lid on for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. It needed to be dry enough to spoon into the pastry parcels and seal them. A portion of the meat was put into a bowl and mixed with a generous handful or two of raisins. Ingredients like olives could be added instead.
Another filling Mila suggested is ham, cheese and egg mixed together. Really, let your imagination run wild and you could fill these little pastry circles with lots of different filling.
Next the veggie filling:
This was sweetcorn bound together with a thick cheesy bechamel sauce. Mila made her sauce by melting approximately 25g butter, sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of flour into the melted butter to make a roux. She then added about 300mls of milk to get a thick sauce. She then added 1½ 300g cans of sweetcorn well drained and a generous handful of grated emmental cheese. On our first session, we learnt the term ‘au pif’ meaning doing things intuitively – there was a lot of ‘au pif’ going on here!
It is essential that the consistency is spoonable, that you can put a blob on the pastry and seal the empanada.
Each session we have had an ingredient or two that is not easy to get a hold off. Mila had her empanada pastry imported from South America!! Here in France, Herta do a comparable product in some bigger supermarkets. I am guessing that making a batch of Cornish pasty pastry and using a saucer as your size guide, in absence of pre-made authentic empanada pastry circles, this would work perfectly. Very labour intensive – get a friend round to help roll out the pastry and fill empanadas. Make enough to freeze loads.
Once the fillings were cool (we made the dessert as they cooled) it was time to make empanadas – just like mini pasties and Mila demonstrated why she was so good at crimping the pasties:
I think you can spot which empanadas belong to Mila! Eda marked hers with a dot and I think she may have been practising at home!!
These were put into a pre-heated oven at 200C and cooked for about 15min until golden. We made loads, enough for Mila to freeze some.
Now for dessert. This was a stack of thin egg pastry sheets, layered with dulce con leche and decorated with meringue. Certainly a dessert for someone with a sweet tooth!
First task was to make the pastry sheets. For this we needed 400g plain flour, 10 eggs (yes 10!) – 1 whole egg and 9 egg yolks (keeping 5 egg whites aside for the meringue) and 3 tbspns milk.
Separate the eggs, add the one whole egg to the 9 yolks and add the flour and milk. Mix until it just is beginning to come together and tip it out onto a floured work surface. Bring the dough together more and then shape it into a long thing oblong that can be cut into 9 pieces. Keeping the surface well floured, roll out the pieces into circles until they are really thin. They each need to be baked at 200C until golden brown and crisp – between 8-10 minutes.
The layers were then spread with Dulce con Leche – we used confiture de lait – and they were stacked ready to be crowned with meringue.
To make the meringue, the 5 egg whites were mixed with 250g of sugar and a dash of water in a bowl suitable for standing in a bain marie. The bowl stayed in the bain marie until the sugar was dissolved. Then the meringue was whisked until stiff peaks were formed. This was spread over the stack of pastry and dulce con leche to create the spectacular end product. It looked amazing and was enough to feed a fair few people.
Thank you Mila for a fabulous day and lots of yummy food. I certainly ate a fair few empanadas – they were delicious. Next on the list is a Canadian breakfast with Tracey. I can’t wait. I am loving this taste of other countries.