Barbara of Winos and Foodies is hosting a lovely event called A Taste of Yellow. If you visit Barbara´s blog, you will know that she is not only an incredible cook and baker but also a brave woman who has been fighting against cancer. This event is a chance for Barbara to spread the awareness for cancer and honour a brave fighter – Lance Armstrong.
I first encountered cancer as a child when a close friend lost his mom due to this disease. It was so sudden, we were all shocked. Years later, my grandfather was diagnosed. Luckily with a lot of blessing, supports and his own efforts, my grandfather is getting better. And now, a friend of our family is also fighting against cancer.
We all, then, should be aware of this disease and support those who are fighting against it. And this event is a great way to spread the awareness by cooking or baking with something yellow. The possibilities are endless but I have settled down with polenta.
I have used polenta to make incredible pastry dough for empanadillas. The recipe comes from Momo, a famous restaurant located in London. Combining polenta with bread flour, the result is the dough that is half pastry and half bread dough. It has a very interesting texture, almost “sandy” when I first chew it. But the more I eat it, the more I like it.
Now, this recipe is definitely a keeper. The filling is very delicious. I have done several variations (e.g. making vegetarian filling) but always kept the spices portion. It is worth a try although you may find that the dough is stiffer than usual due to the polenta. Extra efforts may be necessary to roll the dough to the desired thickness. Good way to work out your hand muscles!
Based on recipe from Momo Restaurant, as appeared in Delicious Magazine March 2007 Australian Edition
3 tbsp olive oil
500g mince pork/chicken or cubed potatoes for vegetarian filling
2 large onion, finely chopped
2 red capsicum, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbp chopped pickle hot chili pepper (optional)
1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
400g unbleached strong white flour
100g coarse or instant polenta, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup olive oil
50g unsalted butter, melted
75ml dry white wine
½ tsp castor sugar
For the dough, blend all ingredients with ½ tsp sea salt in a processor until the mixture comes together. Transfer to a board; knead with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Add little more if needed – I don´t need any. You need to be patient since the dough will come together slowly. Cover and rest for 1 hour.
For the filling, heat half of the oil in a large saucepan. Add the meat and brown quickly. Remove and set aside. Add oil to the same pan, add capsicum and onion. Cook for 5-6 mins to soften and start to caramelize. Add garlic, parsley and fennel (and potatoes + tomatoes, if using). Cook for further 10 mins. Return meat to the pan with tomato paste and paprika. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the dough into 28-30 walnut-sized pieces (or larger if you prefer). Dust the workspace with polenta and roll out each ball until thin and fairly round in shape. Add the filling (1 tsp for each), fold the dough in half and push the edged with a fork to seal. Trim off the excess. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Preheat the oven to 220C. Sprinkle baking tray with polenta. Place the empanadillas on. Glaze with beaten egg. Bake for 10-15 mins or until golden brown.
Serve hot or warm.