Monday, December 26, 2011

Vegan Corn Filled Empanadas for Christmas!

I should have known better than to start a blog right in the midst of the holiday season.  Of course I would flake out and not post for a month.  What else would I do?  It's not that I haven't been cooking.  I have.  A whole heck of a lot.  I've made so many falafels, chickpea patties, soups and stews, cookies,  and loaves of bread.  So.  Much.  Food.  But after I would make said food, I would veg out and watch Christmas movies with the best woman in the world, J.

Today though, I started a new Christmas tradition and felt that it was certainly blog worthy.  J and I have begun our Latin food Christmas tradition...the tradition I have been asking for upwards of seven years.

I made the dough for the empanadas on Christmas Eve so there would be less work for me on Christmas Day.  The morning of Christmas, J and I woke up early to open presents, eat the overnight apple french toast I fixed and then watch It's a Wonderful Life which we both fell asleep to while cuddled on the couch.  After we woke up I slowly went about preparing our dinner.  I rolled out and cut the dough (with J's help since she is much more patient than I am), I prepared the creamy corn filling (which is more like a corn porridge), I fixed up the spicy chimichurri, and I made some simple rice and beans to accompany it.  Both the empanadas and chimichurri are recipes from Terry Hope Romero's amazing Latin food cookbook Viva Vegan!.

If you love Latin food (which, of course, you do if you are a friend of mine) you will love these empanadas.  Yes, the dough takes time.  But it's totally worth it.  This recipe made us eight of them and we could only eat one a piece which leaves us with more than enough leftovers.  I encourage you to try these.  Seriously.  They are so good and so, so worth it...especially if you have a little chimichurri on the side to add some zing.

Empanada Dough:
3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. chilled vegan shortening
2 Tbsp. chilled vegan margarine
3/4 ice cold water (add a little more if necessary)

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add 1/2 inch chunks of the shortening and margarine to this mix and pulse until everything resembles fine, sandlike crumbs.  Think beach sand here.  Very fine.

Pour the flour mixture in to a large bowl and stream in the ice cold water while mixing with your hands.  Add enough water that you can press the mixture together to form a soft and stretchy dough.  Briefly knead a few times, divide into two balls and flatten each ball out to a circle about an inch thick.  Chill the dough for at least four hours and up to overnight.  (I highly recommend overnight so you don't literally spend a whole day making empanadas but it's totally up to you!).

After dough is chilled, tear about 10 pieces of 7 inch waxed paper and have these ready by your work station.  Lightly dust a large, stable rolling surface and a rolling pin.  Roll one of the dough rounds out to about 3/8 inch thick.  Then take a 6 inch in diameter bowl and use it to cut out 6 inch dough rounds.  Place the rounds on wax paper as you cut them out.  Once you have gotten as many 6 inch rounds from the dough as you can, wrap them up tightly and put them back in the fridge until your filling is ready.

Creamy Corn Empanada Filling:
3 Tbsp. vegan margarine
3 Tbsp. finely chopped chives or green onions
1 tsp. dried basil
5 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
3 cloves diced garlic
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup soy creamer
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
Large pinch of cayenne
Black pepper to taste
1/3 cup soy creamer for brushing the emapanada dough

Melt the margarine over medium heat and saute the chives/green onions and basil in the butter for about two minutes.  In a blender, pulse the corn kernels, garlic, corn starch, soy creamer, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and black pepper into a thick batter.  Pour this mixture into the pot containing the chives and basil and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture resembles a thick porridge.  Remove from the heat and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take the dough out of the fridge.  Gently stretch out one round by it's edges.  Brush one side of it with soy creamer and then place about 1/3 cup of the corn filling on the center of the same side.  Spread the filling over half of the side, leaving about a 1/2 inch of space along the edge of the dough.  Fold the unfilled half over the filled half and pinch shut with your fingers.  Seal the empanada by taking a fork and pressing along the edges.  Place the empanada on the prepared baking sheet and brush with a bit of soy creamer.  Repeat this with the remaining dough rounds.

Bake the empanadas for about 24 to 26 minutes.  Let them cool for about 5 minutes out of the oven.  Then serve them up with your favorite sides and sauce and enjoy!