I always loved Palm Sunday when I was little. There was something about getting those palm fronds that felt important. For once I had a focus for my fidgeting, and I’d spend the service shaping and reshaping them. Last Sunday, though I (somewhat guiltily) didn’t attend mass, I fussed with hearts of palm instead. Read more
Posts from the ‘Empanadas’ Category
I only really became aware of el Dia de los Muertos a couple of years ago but then it was love at first sight – the papel picado, the calacas that would be frightening if they weren’t so eerily famliar, the food welcoming spirits home as though no time has passed. There’s an easy tension to the way it’s celebrated – a balance between the pre-Columbian and post-Discovery, the corporeal and the spiritual, the seen and unseen – that’s lovely to live in for a couple of days. In the past, I’ve made pan de muerto but this year wanted to try empanaditas de calabaza. Families may start their vigil with the ofrenda, but they see the spirits back to the cemetery. Whatever I made, I wanted it to be filled with fall spices, comforting, and most importantly, portable. Read more
With the holidays coming fast and furious, I had the uncharacteristically practical thought that it was time to make empanadas, an easy way to use leftovers. So sensible, but after a poor initial batch involving sirloin tips and too-buttery dough, I had to start from scratch. I was looking for something in a chicken, baked not fried, and maybe a little sweet. That’s when I found Anya Von Bremzen’s recipe for pastela moruna, Moorish chicken with dried fruits and Read more
This past week was my older sister Cami’s birthday, so I have been wound up planning an informal, low-key picnic in Central Park for 40 people. When I sent out the evite, I was worried that people wouldn’t be able to make it. When the RSVPs climbed, I was worried they all meant it when they said they were. I did my best to anticipate any logistical problems – were the bathrooms at the Delacorte Theater open, were leashed dogs allowed on the Great Lawn, were you allowed to hang a piñata from Central Park’s look-but-don’t-climb trees? (Answers: Yes, Yes, and Not if they see you). I prayed for sun but when I woke up to a gray Saturday morning, I was overwhelmed by the enormous number of things left to do for a picnic that was so obviously going be awash in early afternoon thunderstorms and soaked donkey piñatas.
I wanted Cami to have the classic Cuban spread – cangrejitos (crab-shaped puffs filled with sweet ham), crispy croquetas, meat filled empanadas, bocaditos (small white bread sandwiches filled with flavored cream cheese), and pastelitos de guayaba. Armed with 4 sheets of puff pastry, 3 bricks of cream cheese, ham and picadillo fillings, and the last of the homemade guava paste I’d brought from home, I set to work. To add a further complication, I was also settling in my mother and Chiqui who had arrived the night before for a two week stay (Chiqui being the 8 pound chihuahua who has replaced me in my mother’s affections).
The few hours I had given myself to prepare evaporated between finding extra closet space, outlets for chargers and rolling out emapanada dough. With just an hour to go, it seemed hopeless, and I started weighing the evils of less food versus having friends wandering the park looking for a spot that hadn’t been staked out. Then someone, probably Chiqui, set my iTunes to Celia Cruz. Now while listening to Celia cannot solve every problem, it does make unhappiness almost impossible. Somewhere Between Cao Cao Mani Picao and Oye Mi Rumba, time slowed enough for me to finish my first empanadas and my mother to cut the crusts of my sister’s favorite tuna bocaditos. By the time I climbed up the subway stairs to 81st Street & Central Park West with a box full of Cuban treats and five minutes to spare, I could finally see the blue skies I first felt when Celia started singing.