French Onion Soup Empanadas

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On numerous occasions on this blog I gushed about my love of French Onion Soup. It’s somewhat of an obsession.

One of my other loves in any food that’s wrapped in dough – be it puff pastry, filo, pasta, etc. I’ll travel the culinary world for a good dumpling, pierogi, patty, lumpia, pita, etc. Of course, empanadas are no exception.

Last weekend a good friend of mine sent a snapchat of some empanadas he was frying up, and I was smitten, realizing it had been a long time since I made them myself. His sister’s Ecuadorian in-laws noddingly approved of his frying skills. I instantly knew I wanted to achieve similar greatness.

Apparently the secret was Goya empanada wrappers. I bought some the next day and saved them in my freezer until inspiration struck.

A few days later the idea of French Onion Soup Empanadas came to mind. I had two additional inspirations on top of that snap chat – a French Onion Soup Casserole I saw on Pinterest and the famous French Onion Soup Dumplings at The Stanton Social.

By not making empanada dough from scratch, these were super easy to make.

FRENCH ONION SOUP EMPANADAS
3 large Sweet or Vidalia Onions, sliced thick
1 stick Butter
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 tablespoon Beef Better than Bouillon (or 1 Beef Bouillon Cube)
2 tablespoons Flour
1 cup White Wine (or Brandy)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 ounces Jarslberg Cheese, sliced into small squares
1 packet (12 each) Goya Empanada Wrappers
Vegetable or Corn Oil for Frying
Sugar and Parmesan Cheese

  1. Remove wrappers from freezer and allow to thaw while you prepare onions.
  2. In a heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven (I used my Staub coquette), melt the butter. Add onions and spices. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until onions are brown and a little syrupy.
  3. Add flour and stir for a couple of minutes until well incorporated.
  4. Add wine and cook mixture for about five more minutes, until onion mixture has thickened and excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and spread on a cookie sheet or pan to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, heat oil in pot (I cleaned and re-used my coquette). Use a candy thermometer and allow to heat between 320 and 350 degrees.
  6. Assemble empanadas – use about two tablespoons of onion mixture and 1-2 squares of cheese. Fold in half and crimp edges closed with fork.
  7. Fry empanadas for about 3-5 minutes, until golden brown to brown.
  8. Remove from fryer and drain on a paper towel. While still hot, sprinkle with a pinch of Parmesan cheese and sugar.

 

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Lent Time

Two years ago I took the traditional Greek Orthodox path and gave up eating meat for Lent. It was actually an enjoyable and obviously spiritual time coming up with nutritious meat-free meals instead of just eating pizza, pasta, and prepackaged Morningstar Farm meals every day. I’m going to attempt it again this year, as Greek Orthodox Lent started yesterday. It’s gonna be sad to give up FOS, but I can always make a vegetable broth based version…

FOS – When Onions Become the Foundation of a Healthy Relationship

When I was in high school, I loved comedian Paul Reiser’s book, Couplehood. There was a chapter in the book that discussed going out for coffee. It was a pretty elaborate chapter and I wish I still had my copy of the book to accurately quote what he was talking about, which was essentially there isn’t anything beyond coffee that people could meet up for without it sounding odd or complicated. By going out for coffee, the name coincides with the event, you know what you will do when you get there. I want to show Mr. Reiser how this has evolved and you can in fact get together for more than a coffee date and less than a full meal – the answer lies in soup. French Onion Soup, specifically. Or, how I like to refer to it and hope it takes over the world, FOS.

This very food has formed the foundation of one of my friendships, the man whom I also commissioned for the graphics of this blog and one of my Starbucks partners, Mr. Eric Shine. We didn’t hit it off when we initially met and he was just a customer in my store, it was upon interviewing him and offering him a job that everything fell into place. Now Eric and I are in very different places in our lives, not just because of our 14+ year age difference. I am practically mid-career and focused on settling down and finding someone to share my life with. Eric’s life, in a way, is just beginning – he’s finishing up high school and starting college in the fall. Over time, we discovered we had quite a bit in common, such as our sharp wits, love of technology, entrepreneurial spirits, and a love of food. All of these commonalities were slowly discovered bowl after bowl of French Onion Soup…and we didn’t have to be hanging out to bond over the soup. It got to the point that we would just inform each other when one party was eating said soup somewhere, and the rest of the conversations follow. As Eric would say, when we met, onions cried…

Eric has an un-quenching thirst for the combination of savory broth, sweet caramelized onions, French bread, and gooey melted cheese. It is just one of those dishes that he endlessly craves. Up until about three months ago I had never even attempted to make it at home, it had never crossed my mind, but over time and knowing Eric, I was up to the culinary challenge.

Since my first attempt, I feel I have perfected my recipe, though I will continue to meet for FOS.

It all starts with an onion

Slice about 5 - 6 large onions to begin...

Melt about a stick of butter in a large stock pot, preferably one with a heavy bottom. Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

After about half an hour of stirring around the onions, they will start to brown and caramelize. Once they are brown, soft, and syrupy, you can add your seasonings.

For seasonings, I went with thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and some parsley

Add about two quarts of beef stock, and allow to simmer for an least an hour. Soup can be served immediately, or cooled to be reheated and served later.

When you're ready to serve...in oven-safe soup bowls, ladle in some hot soup.

Add your French bread...I had rubbed a bit of garlic on the bread and toasted it first.

Add your cheese. Gruyere, Gouda, and Swiss all work well. Here I have Gouda. Place the bowl under your broiler. I have mine on a sheet pan to make it easier to place in and take out of the oven.

In 3 - 5 minutes, you have your own French bistro fare, worthy of the finest of friendships.

Ice Cream Cake, Part 2

Last night I was having some friends over for a FOS date, plus an excuse to have someone to watch Glee with. Having three guests also gave me the delightful opportunity to make my Ice Cream Cake.

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