Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas

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Monsoon therapy with rustic Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas – pure joy! The rains lashing against the window panes, steaming cup of coffee and empanadas – perfect rainy afternoon. Dreamy yummy creations which is bursting with flavors. You have to be crazy to not enjoy these savory pockets!

If that wasn’t enough to lure you to try these out, probably your childhood memories surely will. Remember those vegetable patties and pies you enjoyed at the neighborhood bakery store… oh so delicious! The crisp and flaky pastry and the absolutely gorgeous stuffing…I am already dreaming about it while writing this post. While I was in the US, I often missed those patties until I stumbled upon these hot pockets filled with sumptuous stuffing called empanadas from a famous food truck in San Francisco. It ticked all the boxes for the things I was missing. Homely and satisfying.

I was trying my hands to make empanadas at home and guess what, I  was bursting with ideas. It almost took 1 week for me to calm down and decide about the filling. You can fill the dough with all your favorite things and enjoy these wonders.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes around 14 – 15 pieces)

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour + extra for dusting and rolling out the dough
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 grams butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 120 ml ice water
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 200 grams button mushrooms, chopped
  • 200 grams cottage cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup spinach, blanched and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp chili flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

For the dough:

  • Take all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt in a bowl and whisk it.
  • Using a pastry blender/ 2 forks or using the tips of your fingers, blend the cold butter into the flour mixture until it forms a coarse crumb like mixture.
  • Beat 1 egg, ice cold water and white vinegar in a bowl and keep aside.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour-butter mixture and using a fork combine the entire mixture. Do not over knead it.
  • Generously dust the kitchen top with flour and transfer the dough on to it.
  • Bring together the entire dough together by gently kneading it.
  • Divide the dough into 2 halves, cling wrap it tightly and refrigerate it for atleast 1.5 hours.

For the mixture:

  • While the dough is resting, take a saucepan on medium heat. Put oil in it.
  • Once its hot add 1 tsp chili flakes and saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add chopped onions and saute it for a minute until it turns translucent.
  • Add mushrooms to the mixture and let it cook for a minute.
  • Now add the remaining chili flakes, salt, black pepper and basil leaves and saute the mixture for couple of minutes,
  • Once done take it from the stove and allow it to cool completely.
  • Once cooled add grated cottage, spinach and mozzarella cheese and form a mixture using a spoon.

To Assemble:

  • Preheat your oven to 230 C for atleast 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep aside.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge. Take some dough and roll it out on a flat surface into round discs of similar sizes ( approximately 6 inch diameter)
  • Take the stuffing and place it on one side of the circle.
  • Take the other end of the dough and form a semi circle. Seal the edges as shown in the picture or by making knife impressions.
  • Once all the pies are formed, beat one egg and using a pastry brush, egg wash the top of the empanadas before they go into the oven to bake.
  • Place the pies atleast 1 inch apart and put it into the oven to bake at 200 C for 18 – 20 minutes, until the empanadas a golden brown and crisp.
  • Serve it hot with a yogurt dip and enjoy!

Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

stuffed tomatoes

I  have always been a great fan of stuffed vegetable side dishes. Be it stuffed mushrooms, stuffed peppers or stuffed tomatoes. Among them, stuffed tomatoes is my favorite. These charming little side dish unfolds a lot of my childhood stories. My family often visited this famous restaurant in Kolkata which served amazing sizzler. The stuff tomatoes were an integral part of the whole experience. Years back getting to eat sizzlers so often was an epicurean delight.

And then came a phase where the restaurant closed down and those dinner trips came to a sudden halt. Forgotten were those stuffed tomatoes and sizzler plates until my mum tried to make it on my birthday. It was one of the best birthday gift ever. And then i tried to learn it from my mumma. She taught me how to play with ingredients and provide an element of surprise in these stuffed veggies. I am no where close to how well she can cook but I strive to improve myself everyday.

This dish is really refreshing because of the juicy tomatoes and the flavorful herbs that go into its stuffing. Its visually appetizing and a easy to make party dish where you can do all the preparations before your guests arrive. No standing in the kitchen for long hours in this unpleasant weather and no missing out on the fun with your friends. So next time when you have a house party or potluck dinner/lunch, these stuffed tomatoes are a must do dish in the menu.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 – 4 people)

  • 6 medium to large size red tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1/2 medium sized onion, diced
  • 1/2 green capsicum, chopped finely
  • 1/4 yellow bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 cup boiled rice (85% – 90% boiled)
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried mint powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh cream
  • 1/2 cup grated processed cheese or mozzarella
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • Slightly cut the tomatoes from the bottom to form a stable base. Now cut the top of the tomato, scoop out the flesh and keep the remaining tomatoes aside to be filled later.
  • Take the flesh and puree it in the blender and keep aside.
  • In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 C for atleast 10 -15 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, pour the olive oil. Once heated add in the chopped garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped onions and sauté for a couple of minutes until they turn translucent.
  • Add in the chili flakes at this stage.
  • Now add the green capsicum and yellow bell pepper and sauté it well.
  • Add in the pureed tomatoes and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the peppers are halfway cooked.
  • Add in salt, black pepper, chopped parsley and dried mint and mix well.
  • Now add the boiled rice to this mixture and mix gently, without breaking the rice.
  • Add in the cream and half of the grated cheese to the mixture and mix well.
  • The filling is ready. It’s now time to assemble the tomatoes.
  • Take the tomatoes kept aside in step 1. Fill it with the filling made above.
  • Top it up with generous amount grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Serve hot and enjoy.