Tis the season to be jolly… which means lots of holiday parties and get togethers which means… food! It can also mean panic as that party you had circled on your calendar that was WEEKS away is suddenly here. Your brain is already full to overflowing with to do’s and the thought of adding one more thing is enough to send you scurrying to bed with a sign that says “do not wake until New Year’s!!” But since that isn’t an option for most of us, I’ve got some tips and some recipes this week that will help!!
Ok, let’s start first with the tips.
Tip #1 – Stock your pantry, refrigerator and freezer with the following things:
1. Puff pastry and pie dough.
2. 2 – 3 good cheeses – parmesan, gruyere and a good blue would be excellent choices.
5. Nuts - smoked almonds, pecans and walnuts
6. Dried fruit – cranberries, cherries, apricots
7. Unsalted butter and eggs
9. Sugars – white, brown and powdered
10. Flour, baking soda, baking powder
With these basic items on hand, you can create any number of appetizers or desserts. Having the basics on hand saves last minute runs to the market. Many a dish has been derailed by suddenly realizing you are out of sugar, butter or eggs!!
Now on to the “fun” stuff – the recipe!!!
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love little empanadas. There is something about flaky pastry and warm fillings that people can’t resist. They are one of my favorite hors d’oeurves to make and they are perfect for entertaining. Make up a batch and stow them in your freezer. Come party time, just put them on a sheet pan, brush with a little egg wash and bake – viola, hot and delicious appetizers that are no muss and no fuss!!
Alright, so I’ve sold you on the concept… but Butternut Squash and Chorizo?? I know, uncoventional.. but it really works – and your guests will all be trying to guess exactly what is in that delicious little morsel!!
Butternut Squash and Chorizo Empanadas
1/2 lb. fresh chorizo, removed from casings
1 onion, minced
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
1 lb. pie dough (preferably homemade)
flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
- Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and the onions.
- Stir the chorizo, breaking up the large pieces. Continue cooking until the chorizo is cooked through.
- Add the butternut squash and continue to cook until the squash is tender.
- Remove pan from the heat and stir in the grated gruyere cheese. Cool.
- On a floured board, roll out the pie dough to a 1/8th inch thickness.
- Using a 3 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter, cut out circles. Gather scraps and re roll the dough, cutting out as many circles as you can.
- Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- Pre heat oven to 400 degrees (if not making empanadas ahead)
- Lay out the pie dough circles and brush each one with a little beaten egg. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling towards the bottom of the cirle, leaving enough of a border to seal the empanada. Fold the rest of the pie dough over to form a half circle. Using the tines of a fork, seal the edges. Place on the parchment lined sheet pan and repeat with the rest of the circles and the filling.
- Brush tops of empanadas with the beaten egg and bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
- If making ahead complete empanadas through step 9. Do not brush outsides with egg wash. Place empanadas on the parchment lined sheet pan and place in freezer until empanadas are frozen. Transfer empanadas to a plastic container, using parchment to separate the layers of empanadas.
- To bake from frozen state, remove empanadas from the freezer, place on a parchment lined sheet pan and brush with egg wash - they only need to defrost for about 15 minutes. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is hot.