beef empanadas with green olives and raisins
Often when I tell people about the farm, I find myself talking about time. As quickly as my college days went by, they were structured neatly into classes and midterms and semesters, and time works differently as a farm apprentice. Instead of weekends you have ever-changing days off, so it’s easy to go long stretches of time without knowing whether or not it’s Monday. Each workday is structured in much the same way, so everything tends to link together into one continuous stretch of time instead of the usual weeks and months. As Ross put it jokingly, it feels a bit like you’re “trapped in an alternate universe,” one where you wake up at 6:30 every morning and start easing towards bed every night around 10:00.
All that was an elaborate build-up to saying how unusual it is for me to be up until midnight. Visiting my sister in Berkeley on my days off this week (a Monday and Tuesday—but it felt like a weekend) was a bit like stepping briefly into another life, one where I could happily throw on high tops, a chunky sweater I stole from the couch at the cottage, and enormous headphones and wander around the campus with my sci-fi novel pretending to be a Berkeley hipster. And going to bed around midnight was a thrill indeed, especially since it involved all my favorite elements of Barbour sister-time: eating, trading music, re-watching British tween romantic comedies on youtube, more eating, and Milo (a “chocolate malt beverage” that is ubiquitous everywhere but the US).
Eating is a prominent theme in our family, and Rae and I both took up the mantle with gusto when we chose to go to college in New York City and Berkeley. In my 48-hour visit we hopped from bakery to restaurant to market, our trajectory marked by a fresh honey whole wheat loaf (perfect moistness) that we enjoyed with homemade goat cheese, cardamom rose ice cream, thai bubble tea, fried eggs with thyme, and Dahi Papdi Chaat at my favorite Indian place Viks. And then there were the empanadas, a cooking inspiration that involved just about all my favorite things: pastry, ground beef, briny olives, raisins, and a healthy dose of spice. We ate them hot from the oven and then it was back to part 7 of Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging—just the kind of night to stay up late.
Beef Empanadas with Green Olives and Raisins
(Adapted from SmittenKitchen.com)
for the pastry:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 stick butter
1/3 cup water
1 Tbs rice vinegar
for the filling:
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
red pepper flakes
1 lb ground beef
1 cup green olives with pimientos, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 14oz can tomatoes
To make the pastry, cut butter into small cubes and add to the flour, mushing together with your fingertips until the mixture is light and crumbly. Beat the egg with the water and vinegar and add to the flour mixture, stirring and pressing to form a ball of dough. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
For the filling, chop the onion and saute in a large saucepan with olive oil. Add the crushed garlic, then add the cumin, cinnamon, salt, thyme, and red pepper flakes to taste. When the onions are translucent, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the raisins, olives, and tomatoes and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off and the meat filling is thick and fragrant.
Roll out the dough to your preferred thickness and use a small bowl to cut out rounds. Add a large tablespoon of the meat filling to a pastry round and fold closed, pressing the edges with a fork. Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg before cooking at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.