Empanadas de Camote: Yam Turnovers

IMG_0519

Empanadas de Camote are our favorite Mexican pan dulce (pastry). After years of trying different doughs, from cream cheese and butter dough that was delicious but fell apart, to yeast dough that reminded us of Rio Grande valley empanadas,, I hit the jackpot with modified pie dough! Easy to make and easy to use, light and tasty!

Makes 8 large empanadas

Ingredients: 

Dough:

1 cube cold salted butter

1 Tb frozen shortening (Crisco)

Dry ingredients:

3 Tb  granulated sugar

2 Tb  brown sugar

1 2/3 cups  all-purpose flour, divided into 1 cup and 2/3 cup

1/2 tsp  Kosher salt

1/2 tsp  baking powder

1/2  tsp cinnamon

Liquid ingredients:

1 Tb half and half

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Filling:

1 large yam, baked for an hour and 20 minutes until super soft, peeled and smashed

1 Tb  brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

A couple of shakes pumpkin pie spice

A few more shakes nutmeg

2 Tb half and half

Egg Wash:

Reserved egg and cream mixture

A pinch of coarse demerara sugar to decorate

Directions:

Sift 1 cup of the flour together with the other dry ingredients into a food processor, and pulse a few times to mix.

Slice butter and shortening into small pieces. Stir gently into the flour with a fork, so they separate and are coated with flour.

Pulse until butter and flour become a paste.

Break up the dough with a knife and then add the rest of the flour and pulse just a few times so that the flour-coated butter pieces range from from pea-sized to crumbles. Empty processor into a medium-large mixing bowl.

Whisk together egg, cream, and vanilla in a smaller bowl. Set aside 2 Tb to brush on the empanadas.

Add the vinegar to the butter and flour mixture along with 1 Tb of the liquid mixture. Toss with a fork and add more liquid, a little at a time until it’s just moist enough to squeeze with your hands to form a large piece of dough. The dough should not be too dry with cracks nor should it be sticky.

Form dough into a round shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more. This allows the dough to resist shrinkage. If you leave it overnight, let it sit for at least half an hour to soften before rolling.

Form into balls that fit in your hand and place each ball between plastic wrap. Roll each ball in a circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches diameter. Put a 6″ diameter bowl over the dough like a cookie cutter and peel away the excess dough so the circle will have smooth edges. You can also roll out 1/3 of the dough at a time and cut out 2 circles from each piece. Refrigerate the dough circles for 1/2 hour or more.

IMG_0609Mix the brown sugar, spices and cream into the yam.

IMG_0610Whip the yam mixture until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400′

Scoop a ball of yam mixture (about 2 – 3 TB) into the dough circles. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges.

Hold the empanada in your hand. Starting in the center and working your way to the edges, fold dough over to make a half moon. If there’s room for more filling, add it a little at a time before you seal the last edge.

Crimp to seal using your thumb and forefinger, starting at the middle and working your way to the edges.

To make pretty repulgues, fold over the triangular edge of the empanada, then fold the next triangle, continuing all around the edges. Fold the last triangle under. This takes patience and lots of practice!

Brush with reserved egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake at 400′ for 20 minutes until golden brown

 

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Blueberry and Cream Scones

open-scone.jpgBursting with Blueberries and light as a feather, these moist and delicious scones are the perfect way to start your day. Recipe is inspired by Trang’s Lemon Blueberry Cream Scones from her site Wild Wild Whisk: https://wildwildwhisk.com/lemon-blueberry-cream-scones

For best results, mix dough the night before, form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.In the morning, cut up scones and bake them.

Ingredients: (half recipe in parentheses)

blueberries on paper towel

1 heaping cup (1/2 cup) fresh blueberries

1/3 cup (2 Tb and 2 tsp) granulated sugar

Grated zest of one large lemon (preferably Meyer lemon)

2 cups (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the board

1/2 tsp (1/4 tsp) Kosher salt

1 Tb (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder

2 (1) large eggs

2/3 cup (1/3 cup) heavy cream

1 tsp (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400′

Rinse blueberries, then spread out on paper towels to dry.

lemon sugarMeasure sugar into medium bowl. Grate lemon zest into sugar, and rub sugar over the grater afterward to scrub out all the zest from it. Whisk sugar well until it turns yellow and is fragrant with the zest.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into sugar, then whisk well to mix.

blueberries in flour mixAdd the blueberries to the flour mix and gently mix in with a large spoon.

In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, cream and vanilla together until well blended.

Pour all but a tablespoon of liquid into the flour mixture. (You will use the reserved egg mixture to brush on the scones before baking.) Using your hands, gently mix the dough until all the flour mix is absorbed. Dough will be sticky.

sliced round of sconesGenerously flour a pastry board. Place the dough on the board and turn it several times until it is no longer sticky. Mold it into a large disk about an inch thick.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. You can make the dough the night before and have fresh bakes scones with minimal effort in the morning!

Dip a large sharp knife into the flour and cut the circle into 8 pieces. Coat the knife before each cut. You may need to cut twice.

scones on baking sheetLine an insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. This is an important step to prevent blueberry juice from making a mess on your cookie sheet! Using a metal spatula, arrange the scones on the paper lined pan so that they are not touching. Use a pastry brush to brush the reserved egg mixture on the top of each scone.

Bake for 22 minutes until golden brown. Transfer parchment paper onto a cooling rack and let scones cool until you can’t wait any longer.

 

Pumpkin Banana Muffins topped with Pepita-Yam Streusel

muffins with yam streuselHere’s an upgrade to my Pumpkin Muffins with Pepita Streusel Topping

recipe. I  subbed bananas for the applesauce for an banana bread-pumpkin bread combination and added  yam pieces to the streusel for a sweet chewy goodness. Where in the world did I get that crazy idea? From eating Cheeseboard’s pizza topped with yam pieces, which was really good.

banana pumpkin

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I use Trader Joe’s brand)

2 eggs

½ cup brown sugar

1 Tb olive oil

3 Tb soft butter

¼ cup honey

15-ounce can pumpkin puree

½ tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 speckled bananas, mashed

1/3 semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)

¼ cup pecan pieces

¼ cup pepitas

yam

Streusel: 

2 TB  softened butter

¼ cup yam peelings

3 TB  brown sugar

2 TB white flour

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp cinnamon

a couple shakes sea salt

1/3 cup pepitas

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F

Make the streusel:

Peel about 4 inches from a yam. Then use peeler to make strips from the yam until you have about ¼ cup. Cut these into pieces about ½ inch long. Mix the softened butter into the yam pieces.

Sift together the dry ingredients and whisk well in a small bowl. Mix in pepitas. Add softened butter and yam, and mix it with your fingers until it comes together when squeezed. Cover it and freeze until ready to use.

Make the batter:

Sift both flours, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice into a medium bowl and whisk well.

Mash bananas with a potato masher or fork in a shallow bowl until soft.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add brown sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy. This is called making a ribbon.

Pour 1 TB oil into a ¼ cup measure and coat it well, then add the oil to the egg mixture. Now pour the honey into the same measuring cup and it will slide right out into the mixer!

Add the vanilla, softened butter, mashed bananas and  pumpkin puree and mix well.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts, pepitas, and chocolate chips until they are just combined.

Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. If you choose to make a pumpkin bread loaf, line it with parchment paper and spray it with non-stick spray. Spoon batter into tins or loaf pan.

Putting the streusel on:

Remove the streusel mix from the freezer. crumble it up with your fingers. Sprinkle a little bit on each muffin top so it comes out evenly. Press it down just a tap onto the muffin.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 45- 50 minutes, muffins for 35 – 40 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Let pan cool on a rack a few minutes.

split muffin with yam streusel

Buckwheat Whole Wheat Blinis

on dish.jpgBlini are Russian crepes. They can be made full size and wrapped around sour cream, lox, and if you have the money, caviar. You can also make them silver dollar size for canapes, and top them with piped sour cream and lox (and if you can afford it, caviar.)

I love the yeasty taste and spongy texture of blini. I added whole wheat flour to the traditional mix of buckwheat flour and all purpose flour for extra nutrition. The sugar helps offset the bitterness of the buckwheat.

Makes about 40 small blinis or 10 large crepes

Have ingredients at room temperature

Sponge:

1/2 cup warm water. Be sure it’s not too hot to kill the yeast!

2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup active dry yeast (not instant yeast)

1/4 cup all purpose white flour

Batter:

1 cup milk (I used 1% but most recipes call for whole milk)

2 Tb butter

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup all purpose white flour

1/3 cup buckwheat flour

1/3 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp salt + a few shakes to add to egg whites

2 Tb sugar +a pinch to add to egg whites

Directions:

Stir 2 tsp sugar into warm water until it dissolves. (I found that 20 seconds in my microwave heats the water). Sprinkle in yeast and stir again. Let it proof for 10 minutes.

sponge

Then whisk in 1/4 cup white flour. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let the sponge rise for an hour until bubbly and doubled in size.

While sponge is rising,  prepare the ingredients for the batter:

milk n butter unheatedPour milk into a heatproof container, such as a Pyrex measuring cup. Add chopped butter.

heated milk and butter Microwave for a minute and stir until butter melts and milk is warm, but not hot.

Separate eggs, pouring whites into a mixing bowl. Stir egg yolks into milk.

After the sponge has risen and is bubbly, whisk in milk mixture, flours, salt and sugar until smooth. Cover with parchment paper and a clean dishtowel and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for an hour.

egg whitesBeat egg whites with a few shakes salt and a pinch of sugar until stiff.

batter with egg whitesFold them into the batter.

fryingHeat a cast iron skillet and wipe it with oil on a paper towel. To double your production, use two skillets (if you can keep up and not let the blinis burn!) With stove on medium, pour spoonfuls into the pan to make silver dollar sized pancakes.

flippedWhen holes form, flip them over and cook until they are golden brown.

Alternatively, you can pour enough into a pan to make a full sized crepe, turning the pan until it is covered with batter. Wipe the pan with the oiled paper towel between batches.

many

Put blinis on parchment paper and place a piece of parchment between the stacks of blinis.

Spread crepes with sour cream and a few slices of lox. Roll them up and serve.

servingOr pipe sour cream over the pancakes with a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and top with a piece of lox (and or caviar) and sprinkle with dill weed.

 

 

 

Chocolate Banana Bread

chocolate banana bread

I added cocoa to my recipe for 4 Bananas Low-fat Banana Bread or Muffins and achieved the perfect balance of rich banana and chocolate flavor that’s not too sweet. I used four soft, speckled bananas to add natural sweetness to this delicious bread with minimal oil and sugar. The bananas and just one tablespoon of olive oil make this bread very moist.

I used whey from plain yogurt instead of the milk and lemon. But you can go either way. (Pun intended).

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk or a combination of whey and milk

1 tsp lemon juice or 1/4 tsp white vinegar

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

3/4 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Valrhona cocoa, available in bulk from Berkeley Bowl)

A dash each of nutmeg and cinnamon.

2 eggs

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tb turbindo sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

4 bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 Tb olive oil

½ cup walnut and/or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Add lemon juice or vinegar to milk or milk/whey combined. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk or just whey instead if you prefer).

Sift both flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add brown sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Mash bananas with a fork or potato masher. Add them to the egg mixture, along with olive oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts and strawberries until they are just combined.

Spray a loaf pan or muffin tins with non-stick spray. (because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray paper muffin cups with non-stick spray if you choose to use them.) For extra buttery flavor, wipe a smear of butter at the bottom. Pour in batter. Sprinkle the top with turbindo sugar if desired.  Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 50 – 55 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes,  just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out somewhat dry. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a rack before slicing.

 

 

Peachy Challah Bread Pudding

 

bread pudding serving1I made this with Challah left over from our Rosh Hashanah dinner. I stirred together the custard and bread the night before and let soak overnight in the fridge. The second time I made itn for the Yom Kippur break the fast dessert, I only had 15 minutes to soak the bread, and it was fine.  Either way, it made a yummy breakfast and dessert. If your challah is fresh, toast it lightly so it can absorb the custard. I put in seasonal fruit – in this case fresh peaches. You can also add blueberries or other soft fruit. The chocolate chips add a gooey richness.

challah braided in circleIngredients:

Canola nonstick spray

4 eggs, whisked well

2 cups warm milk (I used 1%) I drink lactose free milk, so that’s what I used.

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tb sugar

a few shakes salt

1 tsp cinnamon

A few shakes each nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice

1 Tb bourbon whiskey

About 1 1/2 cups leftover challah, torn into 1 inch pieces

2 Tb semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup pecans

2 large peaches, sliced

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1 tsp butter for topping

1 tsp coarse sugar such as Demera

Directions:

Whip eggs well in a mixmaster or large bowl. Warm the milk in microwave, then stir in sugar, salt, vanilla, bourbon, and spices. Whisk into eggs. Stir in challah pieces. Cover bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. If you don’t have time, it will still work to soak the bread about 15 minutes.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350′ Set a large roasting pan in the oven with about 2 inches of warm water on the middle rack.

peaches n pecansSpray a flat casserole dish with nonstick canola oil spray. Cut up peaches and stir with blueberries, chocolate chips, and pecans. Spread in the bottom of the casserole dish.

bread pudding before bakingPour soaked bread and custard into the dish. Cut 1 tsp of butter into tiny pieces and scatter across the top. Sprinkle 1 tsp of Demera sugar over the top.

Carefully place the casserole dish into the the water bath in the roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm (but it’s also good cold).

bread pudding serving

Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcake on plateSpringtime brings juicy sweet strawberries that are wonderful just on their own. But sometimes an occasion begs for something fancier – in this case dinner with an old friend. I sweetened my recipe for Light as a Feather Cream Biscuits and added vanilla and a squeeze of lemon juice, spread them with freshly whipped cream and sliced ripe strawberries.

Makes 6 strawberry shortcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/2  Tb baking powder

1/8 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

2 Tb sugar

3/4 cups cold cream. I put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before mixing it in the dough.

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp melted butter, cooled

For cream:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tb sugar

1 pint strawberries (Organic is best. Farmer’s market organic is even better!)

Preheat oven to 450′

Melt butter and let it cool. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add cream, vanilla and lemon juice and slowly stir until the dough is shaggy.

Oil a cookie sheet. I use the insulated kind. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool until you can handle them, then split horizontally.

open biscuit

Add vanilla and sugar to 1/2 cup cream.  Whip until thick. Spread on biscuits. Slice strawberries and put atop the cream.

open strawberry shortcake

Cover and enjoy!

strawberry shortcake on plate