I feel the need to clarify here. One of my friends, (yeah, you know who you are 😉 ) is under the impression that I am a good cook – as in, I can just throw things together and I already know how it will work together, and it will come out tasting awesome.
I am not, and I do not.
I am secretly tickled at the idea that someone thinks I have that skill, but it’s so not true. My hope is that someday that will be me, but for now, I am a recipe collector. Before I even realized I was doing it, I started filling a box, then a file, and now a counter-top lined with several binders (to my family’s chagrin). All of them filled with recipes I salivate over and think would be tasty. Most of them veer towards dishes I feel would fit the tastes of my family, a few of them I know would pretty much only appeal to me but I want to push the envelope a little. Either way, I test them out and wait for the results. Sometimes the verdict is underwhelming, sometimes it’s acceptable, sometimes it’s good, and on rare but blessed days it’s outstanding and we have success.
By “success”, I mean we get at least 10 thumbs up, completely vertical in the air – no tilting (yes, we operate on a thumb scale). The number of recipes I have invented that have collected the top-notch rating of two completely vertical thumbs up (by everyone of thumb-voting age in our house) I can count on one hand. That’s it. And when something I dream up gets that rating, my heart skips a little beat. Oh the simple joy of pleasing other people’s taste buds.
So imagine. I fell in love with the crust on that mushroom potpie. ( I told you it would be making another appearance!) It’s clearly not my recipe, but I started dreaming about ways to use it again and this is my first go-round. Can I tell you something? My little guy actually cried the other morning when I told him these were all gone. That’s how much he loved them. SCORE! (Not that I want him in tears of course, but forget the thumbs – he liked them enough to shed tears!)
So here they are, my very own Breakfast Empanadas (using the crust from The Pastry Queen). They are rich and filling, savory and melt-in-your-mouthy. I happen to think they would be the perfect addition to a holiday brunch. You can make them ahead and keep them in the refrigerator for a quick breakfast on a school morning or for an impressive little breakfast for house guests (and you can breeze around the kitchen like it was simply no trouble at all!)
Breakfast Empanadas (should make 14-16 empanadas)
2 cups firmly packed fresh spinach, microwaved in a microwave safe dish with 1 tsp of water for about 40 seconds on high. Squeeze out excess water, and chop.
1 cup ground or chopped Chorizo
4 eggs + 1 for the pastry wash
Milk for eggs (just a splash)
4 oz. Queso Fresco
1 batch dough for crust (below)
Prepare crust. This can be done all the way up to the stage of cutting your discs, and then refrigerated for up to three days. Recipe below.
Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper, or spray lightly with vegetable oil.
Place dough discs, 7 or 8 per sheet, on prepared baking sheets.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl whisk eggs with a dash of milk. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook Chorizo until just starting to brown. Remove from pan, set aside. Scramble eggs. Cook until just slightly under-done (leave them with some liquid so they don’t dry out too much while baking in the oven). .Remove from heat. Add sausage back to the pan. Add spinach. Stir to combine.
Scoop two tablespoons of the egg and chorizo mixture onto each disc. Crumble 1/2 oz. Queso Fresco on each mound of egg mixture.
Gently fold dough of each disc over the mound to the other side, gently stretching it if you must, to contain the egg mixture. The dough is very workable. Tuck in any egg/sausage that might topple out. Seal edge of pocket by pinching together with fingertips. Complete all pockets.
Beat one egg with a whisk.With a pastry brush (you can get away with a basting brush here – I did!) Gently brush each pocket on both sides with beaten egg.
Bake in oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Empanadas can be stored in the fridge for a few days. You can easily re-heat them in the microwave by wrapping them in a paper towel and cooking on high for 40-60 seconds. Let stand for at least 2 minutes before eating.
Recipe for Crust:
16 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
10 oz. cream cheese, chilled
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 large egg
To make the crust, cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt and pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness (less for these rounds – a little more than 1/8-inch). Cut out dough rounds to be about 5 inches in diameter. You can use a small plate or round lid to be your guide. Lay the dough rounds out on prepared baking sheets.