Here’s another recipe. Like I’ve said before, this isn’t as authentic as your abuela’s, but it’s better than Taco Bell, okay?
1 lb. ground beef
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup salsa of your choice
1 can pinto beans
1 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese
1 small onion, chopped fine
½ green pepper, chopped fine
1 small handful cilantro, chopped
20 small flour tortillas
Spices to taste: achiote, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder – Don’t be afraid of the lack of measurements. My recipes are very flexible. Just add a little bit at a time and taste as you go. You’ll be fine. And to the pobre achiote-less people up in Canada, don’t worry about that. Just skip it.
(Look how the sun shines on my ingredients… as if they are fresh from burrito heaven…)
1. In a large pan over medium high heat, cook onion, green pepper and ground beef in a little cooking oil, until beef is cooked through. Add all spices to taste.
If you don’t like one of the spices, don’t use it – no importa. For example, my Suegra hates cumin and chili powder, but she was mean to me today so I added an extra dash. Oh, sí, I had my revenge… venganza, picante venganza.
2. Add rice, beans, cheese, salsa and cilantro to the mixture in the pan. Stir just until combined and everything is heated through. Remove from heat.
3. Put a generous scoop into each tortilla. Fold closed and spray both sides with cooking spray. Place the burrito on the comal seam side down, (or in a frying pan). Cook over medium heat, turning to brown on each side, (about 2 minutes each side.)
4. Serve with additional salsa, sour cream, cilantro, shredded lettuce or whatever you like. Makes 20 burritos.
(See the ones on the left? That’s what happens when the niños distract you… They were still tasty though.)
Okay, you all had so many questions about Achiote, so here we go.
A few choice facts from Wikipedia:
• Achiote is a shrub or small tree from the tropical region of the Americas. The name derives from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, achiotl.
• It is best known as the source of the natural pigment annatto, produced from the fruit. The plant bears pink flowers and bright red spiny fruits which contain red seeds. The fruits dry and harden to brown capsules.
• While it has a distinct flavor of its own, it can be used to color and flavor rice instead of the much more expensive saffron.
• The seeds are ground and used as a subtly flavored and colorful additive in Latin American, Jamaican and Filipino cuisine.
Here is what they look like in the package:
Every Latino market I’ve been to has these in the spice section. It might be a different brand name, but they’ll have it.
Here is what they look like out of the package:
The Achiote Molido (powder) you use just like any other spice – just sprinkle it in while cooking. The Achiote Entero is different. You have to extract the flavor/color from it first. There are different methods but I usually make Achiote Oil.
Simply put a few tablespoons of cooking oil in a small pot over medium heat. Mix in about a tablespoon of the Achiote Entero. Mix while it’s cooking and watch the color of the oil. You will see it turn sort of yellow-ish, then orange-ish, and when it starts to turn from orange to red, remove from heat! … Do not allow the Achiote to turn black (burn) – that means you cooked it too long. It only takes a minute or two to cook.
Once the oil has cooled, you can remove the Achiote by pouring the oil through a sieve into a jar, or by simply fishing them out with a spoon. You can use the oil right away or store it, (though I don’t know if this should be stored in the cabinet or refrigerator or for how long it will keep. I always use mine right away.)
Alright, chicas, I hope you appreciated this post. My Suegra watched me take photo after photo of Achiote. If she didn’t think I was a weird gringa before, she certainly does now.
I won’t claim this empanada recipe was passed down from my great-grandmother, (She was Russian and probably never even saw an empanada let alone made one.) I won’t claim these are authentically Salvadoran/Mexican/Argentinian or of any other national origin either. (I made this recipe up from looking over empanada recipes from all of Latin America, and picking and choosing what I like.)
Besides, even when I make “authentic” recipes, I am not that nationality, so doesn’t that automatically make it not authentic? (Makes you wonder about the kitchens of all those fancy French restaurants in New York. You do know it’s Mexicans and Salvadorans cooking your Bouillabaisse and Coq au Vin, right?)
Anyway, here is what I will claim. These empanadas are really good. So if you’re looking for authentic, look elsewhere, vato. But if you’re willing to trust a gabacha who doesn’t do too badly in the kitchen, I’m your girl and here’s your recipe.
First let me start by saying that empanadas are not an exact science. Feel free to substitute what you have on hand. You can fill them with almost anything.
2 cups of cooked meat of your choice (I used leftover steak this time), diced in small pieces
3 small cooked potatoes, diced in small pieces
1 cup of cooked green beans, diced in small pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon achiote seed (annatto)
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa (homemade or from a jar)
salt and pepper to taste
In a small pan over medium high, heat the oil and achiote seed. When the oil turns an orangish-red, remove from heat. (Don’t let the seeds turn black!) Let cool and remove achiote seed and discard. Return pan to stove. Place onion in the achiote oil over medium heat and cook until tender. In a large bowl mix the achiote oil and onion in with all remaining ingredients. This is your filling mixture. Set aside.
Note: For those not familiar with achiote seed (annatto) and achiote molido (annatto powder), it’s awesome. It not only adds vibrant color to the food, but it has a very unique subtle flavor as well. Look for it in your local Latino market in the spice section. If I post more recipes in the future, chances are my amigo achiote will be along for the ride. I use it in a lot of recipes these days.
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon achiote molido (annatto powder)
1 cup butter, diced into pieces
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and achiote molido in a large bowl. Drop the diced butter pieces into the bowl all at once and work into the flour with your hands until combined to make a fine crumb texture. Mix water in, little by little until you can form a dough ball that is neither dry nor sticky.
On a floured surface, roll the dough out as if you’re making sugar cookies. The dough should not be thick, but be careful not to make it so thin that it tears easily. Using a drinking glass or cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough.
Now to put them together!
In each circle of dough, place a small spoonful of the mixture. Do not overfill them or the dough will tear and they won’t be pretty. Dip your finger in water and wet the edge of the dough circle before closing into a semi-circle. Use the tines of a fork around the edges to seal. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat until you run out of dough and/or mixture.
(Optional: Brush each empanada with egg yolk before placing in the oven.)
Put in the oven at 350 F for about 30 minutes until the dough is solid enough that it can be more easily handled. Now, you can continue cooking in the oven until you feel they’re ready but I prefer to brown them a bit in the frying pan with cooking oil over medium heat. Drain on paper towels and serve. Makes about 20 empanadas. (Serves about 4 people.)