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Monday, February 17, 2014


Filling a Turnover with Swordfish
Photo by: Lord-Williams
OCat panad, carne en pa, Cat empanada, Eng. pastry turnover. 1. “in bread,” breaded food, food dipped in batter, breadcrumbs and fried or baked. This includes breaded hake, edibles wrapped in dough, eel fritters, pies with lard or other dough on the bottom and covered with leaf-pastry. etc . A simple dough of flour and water was made to wrap around the food like aluminum foil today, which was discarded before serving. The Arabs introduced this concept to Spain. Numerous recipes are documented from Cordova.

2. filled turnovers or pies. They could be filled with a minced stuffing of vegetables, meat or fish. Dishes covered with pastry were called empa or panades, which today they are called empanadas. This was thought to have been the first fast food, finger food invented as pies and turnovers were cooked in bakeshops and sold there or on the street because people normally did not have ovens in their homes.

Empanadillas, small turnovers, consist of dough with a filling, folded over, sealed and fried. They can be sweet or salty. Turnovers in the Middle Ages were made of sweet dough, filled with eggs, marzipan or other sweet and baked or fried. See bollo empanada and casadiellas.

Sealing the Seams of a Turnover
Photo by: Lord-Williams
There were innumerous variations due to the type of dough and the various stuffings. Europeans of all races and creeds loved this Arabian innovation. Anón Al-Andalus, Sent Soví and Nola give recipes for meat and fish turnovers. 

In Narvarra a recipe from 1441 calls for dough was made with flour and eggs, lightly fried before stuffing with fat, margarine, soft cheese, fatty pork, sugar and vinegar. 

A London ordinance of 1379 forbids “garbage” in pies. The Spanish proverb “Don’t let them give you a cat for rabbit” stems from similar abuses in Spain. The English and Spanish served live birds in pies in jest as seen with “five and twenty blackbirds.”

Contrary to popular belief Little Jack Horner, steward of the Abbot of Glastonbury, did not pull out a plum from the pie he was carrying the Henry VIII as a Christmas present from the abbot but plum of a deed to the Manor of Mells. His descendants still live there.

[Ibn Razīn/Granja. 1960:52:21; Anón/Grewe. 1982:CXXXIIII:155-156:CXXXVIII:18:CXXXVIIII:159:ftn 3 etc; Anón/Huici.1966:92:64:93:65:143:97 etc; Carroll-Mann.Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01:Glos: ftn 120; ES: Ronney, Nov 3, 03; Gitlitz. 1999:222-224; Lladonosa. Cocina. 1984:164; Lord. Hispano. May 24, 06; Nola. 1989:xliiii-2:xliiii-3:lv-1 etc; and Serrano. 2008:386]

For about 8 empanadas


Turnovers Ready for Baking
Photo by: Lord-Williams
½ lb swordfish
2 tbsp olive oil
empanada dough
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp ginger
salt to taste
juice from 1 orange or unripe grape juice (about ½ c)
about ½ c rosewater
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp olive oil


An Excellent Recipe for All Occasions
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Clean and wash swordfish. Cut it into pieces or rounds. Fry it with spices.

Make dough for empanadas and cut it into 5” squares.


Squeeze an orange. Put the juice in a measuring cup add rosewater to make 1 cup of liquid. Moisten the dough brushing it with this liquid. Add the fish. Fold the half dough over the other half of each piece.  

Brush the sides with the liquid and fold shut. Brush the edges to seal the dough shut. Beat an egg yolk and brush the top of each empanada with this.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove and let cool 10 minutes. Serve with the orange/rosewater liquid on the side.

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