Happy Birthday Dad: Chocolate Butter Cake, and Spinach & Ricotta Empanadas

It was my dad’s birthday a couple days after I got back from Argentina (strategically planned), and after a month without baking, I was itching to make something! I made a chocolate cake using the same recipe as Charlotte’s birthday cake from a few months back, making adjustments in the decorating. In addition to making chocolate buttercream, I also made strawberry buttercream. Here is what I did.

Ingredients
Strawberries (I used fresh, but you can use frozen), about half a cup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
A few drops of red food colouring

I boiled the strawberries on medium heat until they were very soft and looked like jam. I added the lemon juice, then strained the puree into a bowl to get rid of the seeds and big chunks of strawberry. I added this to a portion of the buttercream, and added a few drops of red food colouring, just to make the colour stand out on the cake.

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For supper I made empanadas, in addition to the roast beef and green beans my stepdad made. Empanadas are a commonly eaten snack or meal in Argentina, and I ate a lot of them while I was there. I had many different kinds, all involving meat: chicken, beef, and ham and cheese. My host mother let me copy some recipes from one of their cookbooks, so I can now make my own in Canada. I decided to make spinach and ricotta empanadas.

Ingredients for Dough
2 cups flour
salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp butter, melted

I combined the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then added the wet to the dry. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes, until it was very elastic. With a rolling pin I rolled out the dough, slathered some melted butter on top, rolled up the dough very tightly, then cut it into about 24 pieces. I rolled each piece into a disc about 3-4 inches round,

Ingredients for Filling
Oil or butter for frying
2 onions, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups spinach, packed
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1 raw egg
salt and pepper to taste

In a frying pan I sauteed the onions and shallots in butter until they were clear-looking. I added the spinach and let it lightly cook so that it shrunk in size, then added the remaining ingredients.

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To assemble, I filled the dough discs with about 1 tsp filling. I brushed the edges of the disc with water and sealed them into a half-moon shape, then crimped the edges. Next time I would also brush the dough with the remaining butter. The empanadas were baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

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They turned out well, and I will definitely be making more in the future. I just need to find a way to make them vegan, as I am about to embark on that journey this summer once I move to Calgary. I will definitely be vegetarian, but being vegan might be a bit more tricky (but that’s the goal!).

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One thought on “Happy Birthday Dad: Chocolate Butter Cake, and Spinach & Ricotta Empanadas

  1. Well, it was all very good. What the girl didn’t mention is that when she was done, there was a bowl with 12 egg whites in it. To this I added a couple of whole eggs, and fried up about a dozen shrimp along with onion and garlic, and we had a massive omlette-like lunch.

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