Savor the Flavors


Produced by Brett Levine

Food styling by Lily Plauch´e

Photography by Alison Miksch

Few dishes say winter warmth more than savory pies, and these three recipes can bring the flavors of the season to your table. For a handheld wonder, try some beef empanadas with chimichurri. Frozen pastry dough makes these easy to prepare, and the combination of ground beef, onion, and bell pepper is a perfect foundation for the spicy topping packed with garlic and parsley. For a comfort-food  classic, try a skillet shepherd’s pie. Ground lamb, peas, and onions are topped with mashed potatoes that get browned to perfection in a hot oven. You will savor every bite. For a crisp and cheesy treat, make some spinach phyllo pie. Frozen phyllo dough is easy to work with and bakes to a beautiful golden brown in the oven. Packed with spinach, feta, and creamy ricotta cheese, this dish makes every mouthful a delight. So this winter, think of pies as oven-to-table sensations, and make one or all of these savory wonders.

bmetro_jan_003Beef Empanadas with Chimichurri

Makes:  20 pies


1 tablespoon olive oil,

¾ lb. ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne

¾ cup low sodium beef broth

¼ cup green olives, sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

2 (14 oz.) packages frozen pastry dough for empanadas/turnovers, thawed (such as Goya brand)

Vegetable oil, for frying


¾ cup flat leaf parsley leaves

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons oregano leaves

¼ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large deep skillet over medium high. Add beef and cook, stirring to crumble meat, 6 minutes or until done. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add salt, cumin, paprika, and cayenne and cook 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add broth and cook, stirring occasionally, 6 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in olives and oregano. Cover and chill at least 3 hours or until very cold.

2. Working with one at a time, place 2 tablespoons filling in center of empanada wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water. Fold wrapper over filling, pressing edges to seal. Crimp edges tightly. Place on parchment lined tray. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

3. Pour vegetable oil to a depth of 2 ½ inches in a Dutch oven and heat to 350F. Cook empanadas in batches 4-6 minutes, flipping occasionally, until golden brown. Let drain on paper towels.

4. Place parsley, garlic, and oregano in a mini food processor and pulse until chopped. Add olive oil, vinegar, salt, and red pepper, pulsing to combine. Serve with empanadas.

bmetro_jan_001Spinach Phyllo Pie

Serves: 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

10 ounces baby spinach

1 egg

1 cup ricotta

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon cayenne

6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, 10 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add spinach in batches and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until wilted. Drain, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.

3. Combine egg and ricotta in a medium bowl, stirring well. Add feta, dill, salt, nutmeg, cayenne, and drained spinach mixture, stirring to combine.

4. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Brush an 8-inch cake pan with some of melted butter. Line pan with phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with melted butter, and leaving excess hanging over the edge. Spoon spinach mixture into pan. Fold edges of pastry over filling. Brush with melted butter. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.


bmetro_jan_006Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

Serves: 6


1 ½ pounds russet potatoes

¼ cup whipping cream

¼ cup unsalted butter

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives



1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground lamb

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup low sodium beef broth

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup frozen peas


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes into ½ inch pieces. Place in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and return to pot. Add cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until desired consistency. Stir in egg yolk and chives.
  3. Heat canola oil over medium high heat in a 9 or 10 inch ovenproof skillet. Add onion and carrot and cook 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and lamb. Cook, stirring to crumble meat, 5 minutes or until browned. Drain. Return to skillet. Add tomato paste and beef broth and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in rosemary and peas.
  4. Spread potato mixture over the top of the warm filling. Bake on a foil-lined baking sheet 25 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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