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Some healthy food and an empanada obsession

After last week’s Ham and Leek Empanadas I was dying to find more things to stuff into pastry dough. I wanted to see if we could do a dessert empanada and we had lots of ricotta cheese, so the Strawberry and Ricotta Mini Pie with Chocolate Sauce was born.

Strawberry and Ricotta Mini Pies
Strawberry and Ricotta Mini Pies

These were easier to make than the other empanadas in part because after making a certain amount of empanadas you start to get a rhythm. It was a regular assembly line. They were also more simple in the filling. Juicy strawberries and creamy ricotta cheese- simple, but elegant. Remember those strawberries and cream lifesavers from back in the day? Wrapped up in a puff pastry triangle!

Strawberry and Ricotta Mini Pies with Chocolate Sauce

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puff pastry (use the recipe from the pot pies)- alternative is Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, 2 sheets 

1 quart fresh strawberries, diced and pat dry

1.25 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

3/4 c. sliced almonds

2 T white sugar plus more sprinkling

1 egg

For the chocolate sauce

1.25 cups heavy cream

2 T butter

3/4 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 t vanilla

1 t instant coffee, unmade

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Mix the ricotta cheese with 2 T of sugar and set aside. Beat the egg with 1 T of water and set aside. Cut the finished, chilled dough in two. Save one half in the fridge for now. Roll out the dough to between 1/8-1/4 inch. Cut into 6 equal squares. Place 1.5 T of the ricotta mixture, 1/12 of the strawberries, and 1/12 of the sliced almonds on one half of each square. Brush two edges of the square with the egg mixture. Fold over the other half of the each square (the sides not brushed with egg wash) and seal the pie with a fork, pressing down on the seam. You may want to dip your fork in flour to keep the dough from sticking. Repeat the whole process with the other half of the dough.

Using a large spatula, transfer the empanadas to cookie sheets. Brush each one with the egg wash and with a sharp knife cut 2-3 small slits in the top. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

To make the chocolate sauce: Heat the heavy cream and butter until just before boiling. Lower the temperature and add the chocolate. Mix until almost completely melted and combined and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and coffee and mix until all the chocolate is melted and the other ingredients are well combined.


In the spirit of healthy eating and maybe to make up for the empanada overload we decided to do some fish. We got 2 whole fish snappers from the local seafood shop and roasted them with rosemary, potatoes, carrots, and lemons. Alfonso fileted them and we roasted them with the heads and tails (which we will eventually use for seafood stock). Remember the shrimp by Ina? We froze the shells and will add them to the fish- it should make the broth delish!

Roasted Whole Fish Snapper with Potatoes and Carrots

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2 whole snappers, scaled, cleaned, and fileted

1 T olive oil

1 T salt

1 t pepper

1 sprigs of rosemary, pulled from the stalk

1 onion, sliced very thinly

2 potatoes, sliced very thinly

1 lemon, sliced

2 carrots, small diced

juice of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the onion, potatoes, lemon, and carrots in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 T salt. Lay the fillets of fish, skin side up and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with the rest of the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the filets are cooked through. Remove from the oven and squeeze lemon juice over the whole dish.


 

For New Year’s Day we made sure to eat our green veggies for lots of money and health in the new year! In the South (everywhere?) collard greens and black eyed peas are traditional for a New Year’s meal. They are supposed to bring wealth for the coming year. I believe in using up the fridge and we had green beans, so they stood in as our lucky green dish this year. The recipe really came about quickly just by looking around and seeing what things we had and had to use up. A little parmesan, the last of the bag of pine nuts, lemon. It’s a meal! Look around your kitchen and see what you can make without having to buy anything at the grocery store. The further away from your last grocery trip you are the more creative you have to be!

I decided to do a repeat of last week’s beans to go with the snapper because they were so good!

Parmesan Green Beans with Pine Nuts

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1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and rinsed

2 T olive oil

3/4 t salt

3/4 t pepper

2/3 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1/4 cup pine nuts, dry toasted

zest of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 lemon

Boil a large pot of water. Add the green beans and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place immediately in ice water to stop the cooking. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the beans for 5-7 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Add salt and pepper and combine well. Add 1/2 of the parmesan cheese and mix in for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and mix in the lemon zest. Plate and top with the rest of the parmesan, the pine nuts, and the lemon juice.


 

We hope this post find you healthy and happy in the New Year. Tomorrow is Spain’s Día de los Reyes magos which is the day they exchange Christmas presents with each other and the Wisemen (los Reyes magos) bring the children gifts a la Santa Claus. Alfonso and I will be celebrating so look forward to a good breakfast dish soon, which we will eat while opening presents!

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