Thursday 24 May 2012


I am so sorry for not having posted in a while. I have been in the Philippines for the past month to visit my ailing father who passed away peacefully on May 12. Despite my love and loyalty to my blog, I had to deal with this event without any distraction from anything else. I thank the Lord for giving me, my siblings ( three of us had to fly from different parts of the globe), my daughter and my niece a few but immensely happy days bonding for the last time with Tatay (father). A lot of friends and family members were with us throughout it all, and we are all extremely thankful. 

Food can never be absent from any Filipino occasion nor any ordinary day as a matter of fact. Tatay's hospital room was always full of food, most were presents, some bought by us from the neighbouring restaurants.

Although cakes and pastries are the most common food gifts, empanadas were given to us on more than one occasion. So to commemorate my return to blogging, I am posting an empanada recipe that I have made some months ago but never got to post.

Mini pies cross cultural borders. A lot of countries have a version or another of clutchable, portable pies. In the same vein as the English love their Cornish pasties and the Indians love their samosas, countries with Hispanic influence love empanadas. The name is derived from the root word empanar which simply means to wrap or coat in bread or crumbs. Simply put, it is a turnover or pasty. 

The traditional Filipino empanada has whorls of flaky pastry ending in the crisp fluted edges. This results from painstakingly smearing lard on paper thin pastry and rolling tightly before cutting them into rounds. 

I have used a different recipe for my crust which I adapted from a Chinese recipe (from the book Chopsticks recipes, Dim Sum by Cecilia J. Au-Yang). Two types of dough are used for the pastry, one with more fat than the other. The two are rolled, one on top of each other into a very thin sheet. It is then rolled like a jelly roll and cut to expose the spiraled sections. I found it easier to do this process two times to achieve thin flaky layers which is essential in achieving the right texture for the pastry. The process was very manageable and the result was more than satisfactory. I used vegetable shortening instead of lard and still got a very crisp but tender crust. It is very similar to puff pastry but a lot crispier. Despite the absence of lard, the pastry still tasted really good.

This recipe makes 30-35 small empanadas.

Ingredients for the filling:

2 tbsps. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
250 gms. minced pork
1/4 c. chopped chorizo
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsps. paprika
1/4 c. sultanas
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 small potato, diced
1 tbsps. tomato paste
2 tbsps. sherry
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 tbsps. redcurrant jelly or 1 tbsp. sweet pickle relish


Saute the garlic and onions in the 2 tbsps. of olive oil and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. 

Add the minced pork, chorizo and paprika. Saute until the pork is browned and the mixture is dry. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. You have to watch this and stir occasionally. It tends to catch because of the sugar and the sultanas. 

You may add more water, 1/2 c. at a time, stirring well to deglaze the pan each time. A caramelized sauce is what we are aiming for so don't add too much liquid at once as it will dilute the flavour. 

At the end of 20 minutes, if the meat and potatoes are already tender, turn the heat up to reduce the remaining sauce. This only needs to come up to the boil and thicken, then its done. 

Transfer to a dish and leave to cool.

Ingredients for the pastry:

Pastry A:

1 3/4 c. plain flour
1/2 c water
1/4 c. oil

Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until it forms a ball. The pastry will not be smooth. Take out the pastry and gently knead briefly into a smooth ball. Set aside.

Pastry B:

1 1/4 c. plain flour
120 gms. of chilled vegetable shortening

Blitz all of the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture forms a ball.

To assemble:

On a floured surface, roll pastry A and B separately to form rectangles of the same size and measurement. 

Lay pastry B on top of pastry A. 

Roll them together with a rolling pin to a thin rectangle. Roll up tightly like a jelly roll, starting from the narrow end. 

Cut this log shape in half to form two log shapes. Roll with a rolling pin (separately) into thin rectangular sheets. Roll each of these sheets tightly like a jelly roll again. Slice the logs into 1 cm. thick circles.

Flatten each circle with a rolling pin and fill with a tablespoonful of the prepared filling. Brush the edges with water and fold to seal. Crimp and fold to create a fluted edge. 

Fry in medium hot oil for about 4 minutes each until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

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  1. These empanada sound delicious.

    It's been ages since I made some, but unlike you I use shop bought pastry LOL.

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father and thinking of you at this difficult time.

  2. I'm sorry for the loss of your father, Adora. No apologies necessary at all for being absent from your blog--glad you had those last precious moments to spend with your father. :)

    You empanadas are gorgeous--how perfectly flaky they look! Chilean empanadas are on the agenda for this weekend but I've never made them before so my fingers are crossed that they will turn out half as beautifully as yours. :)

  3. First of all, I am so sorry for your loss, but I am so happy he passed away peacefully with his family by his side. Nothing comes before family. Secondly, these are absolutely gorgeous, as usual! I'll be back for more.

  4. Very sorry for your loss! I find cooking and baking to be theraputic and I'm sure making these empanadas was very meaningful to you.

  5. So sorry to hear about your fathers' passing. I think these are breathtaking and I am going to include them in my Mouth Watering Mondays post this Monday at Cheers, Tara

  6. What a yummy version of empanadas, Adora! So beautifully done!
    Once again, I would like to extend my condolences to you and your family. It was a true blessing that you and your siblings were able to spend quality time with your father before he passed away.

  7. Love this post - so much so that I'm featuring it in this week's Food Fetish Friday series (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I'm always inspired by your creations… Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you very much for the kind comment and for featuring this recipe.

  8. My condolences on losing your dad. I hope you find comfort with your loved ones and friends. God bless, Adora.

    ~ ray ~

  9. I'm so sorry about your Tatay's loss. I sincerely wish to convey my condolences Adora. Francis told me that he saw you. I wish that you'll find comfort with the fact that he is now with the Lord and with your mom. Hugs adora!


  10. I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. Your photos are absolutely stunning and this looks delicious.

  11. Thank you for this after your loss so big a journey and so important. It is good to have family to support us at these times. I am looking for an empanada recipe as they are hard to find here in the UK. Like the filling too but it is the pastry that seems to have a similar texture to the argentian one which is hard to replicate. Saved and buzzed.

  12. Hi Adora, I'm very sorry to hear about your Tatay. Pls have my deepest condolence.

    We called this "curry puffs" here in Singapore and our nearest neighboring country, Malaysia. The traditional fillings are curry potatoes (sometimes are companied with chucks of chicken meat) and chilli sadine fish with big onions. Now with the need to satisfy, or rather, be different from many others to gain more sales, we get to eat new fillings like sweetcorn and yams for people who like sweet foods. For savory ones, there're blackpepper chicken/sadines/crabmeats and many more.

    I have tried most of the fillings and love the sweetcorn and juicy blackpepper crabmeats puffs. Yours look very tasty and I love this kinda crispy crust. I'd love to try making my own in future. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  13. Adora, I am so sorry to hear the loss of your father. You are in my thoughts and I hope you find some comfort from your family and friends at this difficult time. Amazing empanadas, Adora. Sending you my biggest hugs!!

  14. I’m so sorry to hear that your dad has passed away but I’m happy you could spend some time with him and to say farewell. I hope you have some great memories that can bring a smile on your face every time you think of him. I don’t know if you are religious, but a priest once said that our time on earth is just borrowed. We’re here till we are called back home…

    Your empanadas look exactly the same as the one we bought in Singapore! Very pretty and tasty!

  15. Hi there! This is my first time to your blog. Let me just say, your photography skills are STUNNING. I feel inspired, impressed, and a bit envious! Keep up the good work, and thanks for providing a lovely feast for my eyes!

  16. Hi Adora, just found this now. First, so sorry for your loss. My deepest sympathies & condolences. My heart goes out to you right now. But on the other hand, this flaky empanada crust is terrific. It's the "kaliskis" kind which we really love. I bookmarked your recipe and will attempt to try it. Thanks for sharing the recipe & your clear instructions + great photos. How you can put it together inspite of your heavy heart is admirable. But then, food heals all hurts. Take care!


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