Me with Esperanza and her two daughters back in 2005.
This last Sunday I was reminded of many good memories with my Ecuadorian cooking friends because I once again found myself as the student learning from another skilled latina cook. Every week our church here in Costa Rica offers a post-service snack. The food ranges from different typical costa rican dishes to chinese fried rice to tacos (costa rican style), and sometimes even ice cream. Every once in awhile they serve up hot, delicious, freshly made cheese or bean empanadas. They are very tasty and I had decided that I would love to learn to make them.
They may not look like much, but they are packed with flavor!!
Ethel preparing the dough.
When it comes to any kind of dough, it's especially helpful to have a practiced cook teaching you. Here's the dough ready for making the empanadas.
This is genius. Jim and I always wondered how they got their empanadas to be the exact same size! We were convinced they had to be factory made, but they are not. To make the empanada, you take a golf ball size piece of dough and put in this contraption.
They come out looking like this every time!
So much easier than rolling out each one with a rolling pin...
Then you fill it with cheese,
fold it over and put it in the fry pan.
I'm thinking this empanada press-dealy
would make a great souvenir of our time here...
But if you don't have one, Ethel showed me how to make a perfectly formed
empanada without it. I was blown away by how quickly and evenly she formed that disc.
I personally stuck with the press so that it wouldn't be SO obvious which empanadas were
made by the gringa and which were made by Ethel.
The finished product, ready to serve to
hungry members of the congregation.
I'm sorry I didn't meet Ethel sooner, but I do hope to continue to deepen our relationship over the next ten weeks. She is such a sweet woman and I look forward to pursuing similar relationships with women in Ecuador, too...ones that will be able to last a long time and build up from the passion for cooking that God has laid on our hearts!!
Ethel and I in the kitchen at church... ...and of course, Kaia helped us, too!