As the old adage goes, "patience is a virtue". Why is a patient person more virtuous than the average person? Because no one has any patience, or at least patience is something that has to be cultivated, not a natural-born trait.
So often, part of our human nature leaves us with a nagging question in the back of our minds: "What else?" Like, is this...it? As an American, it seems even more present in my mind--we're focused on success, the perfect house that is always tidy and pretty, the coolest car, the next vacation...and we forget to be happy with all that we already have. We are doing instead of being.
I often find myself wanting to be in the opposite place of where I am. If I'm working too many hours, I miss my kids. We start remodeling, I want it done yesterday. I seem to want it all, all of the time. But really, it would be much better if I could enjoy where I am at any given time. We really do have so many choices, attitude being the most important one.
The exception to my impatience is cooking. It grounds me, makes me slow down and be present in the moment. I know that each step is an important part of the process. Each step affects the outcome, which is true with everything--care and patience is required in all things, from painting a wall to writing an article to child-rearing.
Can I claim that cooking makes me a more patient mother? Maybe not. But I know that when I'm grounded and centered, I can stop and enjoy little Nora's smile, and Esteban's all-boy busy energy. The mess and chaos don't seem that important, and neither does the car/house/vacation.
This empanada recipe is one I featured in my last empanada workshop. What I like best about it, besides the fact that it is amazingly delicious, filled with gooey cheese and fried, is that it comes together rather quickly. So something that usually seems daunting when you're a little pressed for time, like making empanadas, suddenly seems doable and satisfying. Perfect for someone who's a little impatient, you might say.
Fried Cheese Empanadas
Empanadas Fritos de Queso
makes 16 empanadas
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup milk
< ¼ cup water
16 oz. jack cheese (or other, like mozzarella)
About 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
In a food processor, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar. Add the vegetable shortening into the flour and process until fine. Heat the milk and water in the microwave in separate containers and heat until very hot, about 1 and a half minutes. Pour the hot milk into the flour mixture and process. Add half of the water and process. Add more water (1 tablespoon at a time) if mixture seems too dry/crumbly, or add in more flour if mixture is too wet. When the mixture is combined, remove it from the food processor and turn out on to a floured work surface. Knead until a smooth, silky and maleable dough is made.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, covered with a linen towel so it doesn’t dry out . Chop the cheese into ½ to 1-inch cubes. Roll each ball of dough into a 4-inch diameter circle. Place 3-4 cubes of cheese in the center of each dough circle. Fold dough in half over the cheese to form a semicircle. Press down firmly along the edges to seal. Using the twisting repulgue technique, press along the edges to seal.
Heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a deep skillet, pot, or deep fryer. Fry empanadas in batches, turning until golden brown all over. Drain empanadas on a paper-towel lined plate. Optional: dust in sugar before serving. Empanadas can be kept warm in a 200 degree oven for up to 1 hour before serving. Serve warm.
Tip: If your frying oil is too hot, it will cause the dough to open and the cheese to ooze out. Lower temp also ensures nice, melty cheese inside.