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Come Party With Me: Graduation - Menu (Meat Appetizers)

When planning a menu for a graduation party, the first thing you need to think about is what the person of honor, the graduate, likes to eat. Much like a birthday party, this party is all about the person, so go straight to the source and ask what she wants to serve at her party. Even if the suggested dishes aren't your personal favorite, what you had in mind, or new exciting recipes that you've been wanting to try out, make them anyways. After all, you want your grad to be happy.

After living in Buenos Aires for a year, Trish (my sister) has taken a liking to empanadas. These savory pastries can be filled with just about everything, and are the perfect bite-sized appetizer to pair with a glass of bubbly or a cool beer. I'll be offering two kinds: one filled with sherried mushrooms and another filled with beef picadillo. You want the recipes?! Well,



Sherried Mushroom Empanadas
Modified from Gourmet magazine

2 medium onions, chopped fine
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, chopped fine
2 small red bell peppers, chopped fine
a 6-ounce piece serrano ham* or prosciutto, trimmed and chopped fine
1/3 cup cream Sherry
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, washed, spun dry, and minced
3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
a 17 1/4-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets (2 pastry sheets), thawed
an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon water
*available at specialty foods shops

  1. In a 12-inch heavy skillet cook onions in butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in mushrooms and bell peppers and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mixture begins to brown.
  2. Add ham and Sherry and cook, stirring, until liquid is evaporated.
  3. In a bowl stir together mushroom mixture, parsley, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste and cool, uncovered.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 pastry sheet into a 14- by 10-inch rectangle. With a three inch circular cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.
  6. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the mushroom filling on 1 half, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around.
  7. Brush edges of mushroom-topped pastry with some egg wash and fold over the dough to create a half moon pastry.
  8. Crimp edges of dough together with fork tines and cut an x slits in the empanada with a small sharp knife. This x will allow you to distinguish the mushroom empanadas from the picadillo empanadas.
  9. Carefully transfer empanadas with a spatula to a large baking sheet, and brush with some remaining egg wash. Repeat making empanadas in same manner with remaining pastry sheet, filling, and egg wash.
  10. Put empanadas in middle of oven and reduce temperature to 375°F.
  11. Bake empanadas until golden, about 35 minutes.
  12. Empanadas may be made 1 day ahead, cooled completely on a rack, and chilled, wrapped in foil. Reheat empanadas, uncovered, on a baking sheet in a preheated 375°F. oven until hot, about 6 minutes.

Serves 8-10.


Picadillo Empanadas
Modified from Food Network Kitchens

2 tablespoons corn oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded (if you like it hot include the seeds) and minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
4 whole peeled canned tomatoes, chopped and about 1/4 cup of their juices
3/4 pound lean ground sirloin beef
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
a 17 1/4-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets (2 pastry sheets), thawed
an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon water

  1. Put the oil, onions, garlic, and spices in a medium skillet, season with salt and cook over medium to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes, and their juices and boil to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the beef and chicken broth, adjust the heat so the mixture simmers and cook until the beef is cooked through and the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in cilantro, taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  7. On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 pastry sheet into a 14- by 10-inch rectangle. With a three inch circular cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.
  8. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the picadillo filling on 1 half, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around.
  9. Brush edges of picadillo-topped pastry with some egg wash and fold over the dough to create a half moon pastry.
  10. Crimp edges of dough together with fork tines.
  11. Carefully transfer empanadas with a spatula to a large baking sheet, and brush with some remaining egg wash. Repeat making empanadas in same manner with remaining pastry sheet, filling, and egg wash.
  12. Put empanadas in middle of oven and reduce temperature to 375°F.
  13. Bake empanadas until golden, about 35 minutes.
  14. Empanadas may be made 1 day ahead, cooled completely on a rack, and chilled, wrapped in foil. Reheat empanadas, uncovered, on a baking sheet in a preheated 375°F. oven until hot, about 6 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

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Join The Conversation
chiefdishwasher chiefdishwasher 8 years
.I think I will treat my family to these on Wednesday night. They both look great and I will make each
The_coffeegirl The_coffeegirl 8 years
I like empanadas.
The_coffeegirl The_coffeegirl 8 years
I like empanadas.
The_coffeegirl The_coffeegirl 8 years
I like empanadas.
CestLaVie CestLaVie 8 years
All the grad parties I have been to are around 50-100+ people so these would be a lot of work. Catering works too! :)
rb24 rb24 8 years
Sounds great. I love Empanadas
crispet1 crispet1 8 years
Empanadas are always delicious, and these recipes look great!
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