School is finally out and I find myself in the kitchen more and more these days. Long hours of cooking, baking, dinner making, and filling in order after order after order. These days, I wake up and the first thing I do is cook while the last thing I do before bed is cook. It isn’t a bad thing. No. On the contrary, it’s a good thing. It’s exciting. It’s inspiring. Summer and winter are the semesters when I love being in the kitchen the most because I do not have to go to school. This gives me more time to experiment and try out new recipes that I’ve been dying to test. It gives me an excuse to make extravagant meals, solely because I have more time for such pleasures. Sure when I’m being a student during Spring and Fall, I still cook every night. But during those times, I do it more because I have to. Because I need fuel in order to focus on school work, projects, and studying. I need nutritional substance to be able to balance and juggle everything I have on my plate-pun intended. During the fall and spring semesters, however, I lazily make dinner in a fast pace with an eagerness to eat so as to finish all the other ten million school tasks I have to do before bed. Before having to go to sleep to only do it all over again the very next morning. I do not particularly care for the kitchen during school, of course not discrediting the few days I play hookie (shh..don’t tell anyone) or on the occasional and very much embraced weekend where I have nothing to do. When those rare weekends fly by me, I make sure to grab them and hold on tight to every second I can. I enjoy school very much, don’t get me wrong. I especially enjoy it more these days now that I’m nearing the finish line. The light at the end of the dark tunnel is finally coming closer and you better believe I’m following the light happily. And without hesitation. What’s more, I’m looking forward to the next semester. Fall semester will be my favorite semester of all because it happens to be my last. Two classes left before I officially join my sisters up on the ol’ lady’s wall of college diplomas that her children have granted her. A spot that has been burning a hole just waiting for me to finish. Years. Months. Weeks. Days. Just waiting for me to say Yea I graduated college too. No biggie, as I dust off my shoulders. A few congratulations, a couple pats on the back, maybe even a few envelopes with money (wouldn’t hurt) and I’m good to go. But don’t lets get ahead of ourselves. That’s all still a few months away-six months to be exact but who’s counting? Let’s focus on the now. And right now is summer vacation. Summer vacation before my last semester. In a way, I guess we can say this is my last summer vacation.
Yes, summer break is in full swing and there is nothing I want to do more than to cook. To blast on some music-and the AC because let’s face it, summer is almost here and the heat in Southern California is steadily rising day by day-and just cook my days away. There are people out there, like those on the HGTV shows, that look for homes with big backyards. Living rooms that are spacious-enough so, so that their family gatherings go without a hitch. You know the shows. The one’s where the perfect family, dad, mom, 2.5 kids are going from home to home taking their time to determine which house to call home. Most of the time, their deciding factor is whether or not the backyard is big enough or has a pool or if there are enough bathrooms. To me what’s important is not the size of the home. It’s not whether or not there is a bathroom attached to my bedroom. And it surely isn’t whether there is a pool or not. Just give me a decent kitchen with granite counter space for days and I’ll be as happy as a clam. So I do not really need a huge kitchen that can fit a sofa and still have space. I’ve been managing with a shoebox all my life and it hasn’t stopped me yet. The kitchen is the center of the home. It is where everyone gathers around. Have you ever thrown a party and noticed that at some point during the evening-maybe even several points-there are a number of guests gathered around in the kitchen? Laughing and having a good time? No? Well I have. I’ve catered numerous parties and each and every time, without question and without fail, everyone ends up in the kitchen. The reason is simple. The kitchen makes people happy, even if they do not know how to cook. It brings families together and makes memories worth keeping.
The most complicated and fanciest of dishes do not necessarily need to come out of the kitchen. Just simple good food from the heart. There was one thing my mother would always tell me as a child, and that was that you had to cook with love because it’s what makes food taste so good. Cooking at an early age gave me the opportunity to hone-in on my cooking with love technique. And believe you me, she always knew then and knows now, when I do not cook with love. She’ll know when I made something fast and without much thought. And at the same time she knows perfectly well when I’ve taken my time and poured my heart and soul into a meal or dessert. I say the best food out there is the simplest kind. The food that you grew up with and have made numerous times. The food you know will always turn out good. It will never let you down. For me, it’s empanadas. Potato and beef empanadas that of which defined my childhood. And still make me happy. When people find out about my baking/catering business, or stumble across my blog, or see my food photography work for school, I’m always asked the same question. What do you enjoy making most? What’s your speciality? In reality and in all honesty, I enjoy cooking more. Baked goods however, sell more. People respond a lot more to my baking. But if given the chance I’d prove that savory cooking could be just as good to look at and eat. My answer to that question is always the same, just with different savory dishes each time. But I think that the real answer has always been there. Empanadas are my favorite thing to make. Not because they are easy, because yes they are, but because the possibilities are endless. You can fill them with anything your heart desires and the best part is they are portable. A food on the go, all wrapped up in an edible envelope. The perfect snack or meal. What’s your favorite thing to make?
We start by making the dough for the edible envelopes.
An empanada dough is probably the easiest dough to make.