Pie crust (Recipe: empanaditas)
When I was born, my parents took inventory.
Ten fingers. Ten toes. Eyes, ears, nose.
DNA. RNA. PIE.
Wait a second. PIE?
Right away, my parents sensed that something was missing -- the PIE gene, the one that governs the ability to bake fruit pies, cream pies, sweet or savory lattice-covered perfectly-crimped-edges pies.
After extensive testing, the diagnosis was confirmed; indeed, I lacked the pie gene. Oh, I could make a tasty enough filling, but when it came to marrying filling to pastry, I couldn't quite pull it together. I'd always forget an ingredient, or my pie would look great, but the bottom disintegrated. Or the filling escaped from a hole I didn't create.
For years I suffered the indignity of never being asked to bring dessert to a party or potluck. And when I entertained, I would pooh-pooh pie, telling my guests that I just wasn't in the mood to bake, or that I really preferred ice cream or a fruit salad.
And then, in the refrigerator aisle of my local market, right next to Paul Newman's lemonade, I found help for my affliction. Pie crust, ready to unroll and bake!
Could it be that simple? Yes, it could.
Refrigerated pie crust does have a down side; it contains saturated fat that comes from partially hydrogenated lard, as well as both yellow and red food dyes, to which some people are allergic.
On the up side, it's easy to use, delicious, flaky, and freezeable either before or after baking, for up to two months.
Great for entertaining; make these ahead of time and freeze, uncooked, in layers separated by wax paper. No need to defrost before baking. [Note: you will have half of the picadillo filling left over. Freeze it for future use, or make a quick lunch of quesadillas with picadillo and cheese filling tomorrow.] Makes 20-24.
1 package Pillsbury ready-made pie dough (2 crusts)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup sliced, stuffed green olives
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp capers
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 egg (for egg wash prior to baking)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and green pepper until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the beef and break it up well. Stir in the remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until a good, thick consistency.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick, and cut with a 3-inch cookie cutter or empty can. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each round. Paint the edges of the pastry with water, and fold the round in half. Seal with the tines of a fork. Place on a nonstick baking sheet (or Silpat, or parchment paper, on a regular baking sheet). Brush with egg wash (one egg beaten with one Tbsp water). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Photo from our archives.
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"Thank you and all your elves, helpers, cookers, decorators, delivery people…EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!! who took part in your 6th Annual Drop In and Decorate!! The cookies are awesome, as usual, I tried to look at all the different ones (I only ate one!!) You didn’t bring any broken ones so I HAD too! So many different ones this year; so creative! I really, really appreciate all the kind thoughts and special efforts everyone goes to for this holiday “cookie treat” to be such a wonderful success!" Nancy Johnston, Director of the Foster (RI) Food Pantry