Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tapping into Tapas

A few years ago, I purchased a tapas cookbook that I found on sale at the book store; it wasn’t a New York Times best seller and it didn’t carry the name of any big time chef or television personality, but it stood out to me (though they tell me I shouldn’t, I can’t help but to judge (actual) books by their covers—especially when there is a pretty picture of food on the cover). Boring story, I know. But as random as it was, that last-minute, cheap impulse buy turned out to be one of my favorite cookbooks and one that I always look to for inspiration.

It is no wonder I am drawn to tapas, the small appetizer and snacks served in the bars of Spain. I am one who would rather get full on tasting a bunch of little things than one big meal any day. I think I could live off of the crostini, marinated vegetables, cheeses, olives, croquettes and other various fried things which tapas menus are made of; in just one or two satisfyingly delectable bites, they are just enough and more than you could ask for all at once.

I was recently flipping through the pages of my trusty cookbook, when a recipe for empandillas caught my eye. Empandillas are a smaller version of the baked or fried turnovers, empanadas. What I enjoyed most about the recipe was that it used frozen puff pastry dough. To make, you simply thaw the dough, roll it out, cut out circles, prepare and add the filling, fold into a crescent and crimp the edges to seal; 15 minutes in the oven, and done. How ridiculously easy is that? I love it. Plus, there’s definitely something therapeutic about folding and crimping those miniature pockets of deliciousness.

You can stuff the empandillas with any creative filling of your choice. My version includes goat cheese, diced prosciutto and caramelized onions. I think I found a new “go-to” recipe and hope that I introduced one for you too. Make frozen puff pastry a freezer staple (always handy to have anyway) and prepare this whenever you need a quick appetizer or snack for guests. I served them on the side with the feast that I cooked up for Christmas. They are best warm and crispy straight from the oven.

Empandillas with Goat Cheese & Prosciutto
Yield: 16-18 empandillas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1box (2 sheets) prepared frozen puff pastry, thawed
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 egg, beaten
• Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 30-40 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 3 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
• In a medium bowl, mix together the caramelized onion, goat cheese and prosciutto until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
• On a lightly floured surface, roll out the thawed puff pastry dough. Using a medium-large round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out circles. Add a teaspoon of goat cheese filling to the center of each circle. Dampen half of the circles with a little bit of water, then fold the dough over the filling to form a crescent; pinch the edges to seal, then press with the tines of a fork to secure. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
• Using a sharp knife, make a small slit in the top of each pastry. Brush with the beaten egg to glaze. Bake until risen and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.


S.V. said...

These sound amazing.... I always have puff pastry in the freezer as well its perfect for so many last minute things. I love the combo of goat cheese and proscuitto.
I'm headed to Spain in Feb and I think I will be one happy foodie.

Rosemary said...

I've always loved tapas. A wonderfully practical way to get little tastes of a lot of things without overdoing. Some of the best cookbooks are finds like yours.

Claudia said...

If I didn't have a big and tall husband who needs a proper dinner, I would live on tapas. Prosciutto and goat cheese? Yes!

Karen said...

I'm with you on lots of little things versus a main dish. We usually order several apps instead of a dinner item. They're so much more fun!
I love these empandillas...perfect size and the filling sounds so good.

Victoria said...

Yummy! I love tapas too and actually purchased a bargain tapas book which I love. They are so versatile. This is a great recipe :)