If there is one thing I have never dared to try in Canada, it is baking.
Almost all my Canadian friends are such good bakers. I am not only referring to the fabulous pastries they make, but also the baked meat and fish dishes that are so tasty.
In the Philippines, ovens and ranges are very expensive. Plus the fact that a common household in our country utilizes a Liquid Petroleum Gas stove.
Although it is not environment-friendly and a fire hazard, it is the most economical source.
Baking ingredients are also quite pricey in the Philippines.
We prefer to purchase baked products from commercial bake shops and confectioneries.
Even my Filipino friends, here in Canada, have discovered the “wonders of baking”. Most of them have tried baking our popular pastries from back home.
I would like to introduce some of our best-loved pastries in my upcoming columns.
I am yet to attempt this feat so I decided to try a simple but delicious Filipino favorite snack, the “beef empanada”.
This is a type of beef turnover. It is a stuffed pastry or bread that is baked or fried.
It is believed that the empanada was introduced to us by the Spanish in the 17th century. The name “empanada” came from the Galician word “empanar” meaning “wrap or coat in bread”.
This pastry is very similar to an Italian “calzone” or a Cuban “picadillo” and the Canadian “perogy.” The empanada is a flaky “pastry pocket” with meat filling.
Besides beef, the Filipino empanada can be filled with pork or chicken, potatoes, onions and raisins wrapped in a sweet, wheat flour bread. It can be cooked either by baking or frying.
The empanadas made in the northern part of the Philippines, particularly in Ilocos Norte are quite different.
They use a dough that is thin and crisp as they use an orange coloured rice flour. The “annatto” seeds gives it the “orangey” hue.
Every year, the City of Batac in Ilocos Norte celebrates an “Empanada Festival” on the 23rd of June. It is the city's most famous product.
The festival features competitions in the preparation, cooking and eating besides the traditional street dances and programs.
As always, I found the recipe done by Vanjo Merano of “Panlasang Pinoy” (“A Filipino Taste”) to be the simplest yet most accurate online guide on how to prepare the empanada.
INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING:
1 lb. ground beef (85 per cent lean)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup green peas
1 small yellow onion, minced
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
INGREDIENTS FOR DOUGH:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 parts
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
6 tablespoons ice cold water
3 cups cooking oil (for frying)
Make the filling by heating 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a pan.
Saute the onion and then add the ground black pepper.
Put-in the beef and then cook for 5 minutes.
Add the raisins, paprika, sugar, and salt. Stir and then pour-in the beef broth.
Cover and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the cover and let the liquid evaporate.
Add the green peas. Stir and then cook for 2 minutes.
Turn-off the heat and set aside.
Prepare the dough by placing the salt, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Use a wire whisk to mix the ingredients.
Put the butter pieces in the mixing bowl along with the cold water. Mix using a pastry blender. If you don’t have one, use 2 kitchen knives instead. You should mix like you are cutting the dough in several pieces.
Grab about 3 tablespoons of the mixture and then shape it into a ball.
Do this until all the dough is consumed.
Refrigerate the dough balls for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Flatten the dough ball by gently pressing the center with your hand against a clean flour-dusted flat surface. Use a rolling pin to spread the dough and make a flat circle about 4 to 5 inches in diameter.
Arrange about 4 to 5 tablespoons of filling in the middle of the dough.
Lock the edges by folding or by pressing the tip of a fork in both sides.
Meanwhile, heat about 2 to 3 cups of oil in a cooking pot. Deep fry the empanadas for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the color turns golden brown.
Remove from the cooking pot and then arrange in a plate lined with paper towels. Let the excess oil drip-off.