My cousin, Paula, recently invited Jessi and I to join her in seeing Evita at The Kennedy Center. First, to introduce Jessi to the story and songs, we planned a movie viewing at our house and invited a couple of friends along.
I happen to really love the movie, especially the singing of Madonna and Antonio Banderas and it was nice to share that with the younger generation.
I'm happy to say that Jessi and her friend had good questions throughout the movie and J was singing the songs after seeing both the movie and the theater performance (though she probably didn't lose any sleep the night after seeing the performance because she was singing and singing and singing and couldn't get the songs out of her head. No, that would be me! Ha!).
Watching the movie again after all these years piques my interest in the history and life and times of Eva Peron so I browsed Amazon and just added this biography to my wish list. I still have Dan Barber's The Third Plate finish, and then one about the Secret Service and the first family detail, and probably Leon Panetta's memoir, but it's still good to have it in mind when my to-read list clears off.
I planned a few Argentinian-inspired snacks for us to nibble on during our movie watching.
It started with chimichurri, the spicy, vinegary, and verdant condiment native to Argentina, usually used on their steaks. I knew I wasn't going in that direction and instead took the path lined with butternut squash empanadas.
You can make the dough and the filling a day or two ahead of time and pull the dough out about 30-40 minutes before you will work with it.
It's rolled out about 1/8" thick. The first time I made these, I made the circles smaller so they'd be more snack size but they were such a hit that Ryan asked to have some more for dinner the next week. For the second time, I made them larger so they'd have a larger filling-to-crust ratio. I even made one of them into a tart, for those that also happen to like tartines better than sandwiches most of the time (yes, that would be me).
It's easy to over-stuff these as they only require a little bit of filling, as I discovered again and again.
Kids can very easily help out with this, both the rolling of the dough, filling the empanadas, and painting the egg-wash on before baking.
I searched online for another Argentinian food that I could serve (that's was vegetarian) and one that kept popping up was a corn pudding so I gave it a try. It's starts off beautifully enough with some bright colors that get sauteed together in the pan before baking along with a pureed corn and milk mixture.
I just happened to have one Argentinian Malbec in my wine inventory to serve with our snacks.
Butternut Squash Empanadas with Goat (or Mexican) Cheese and Chimichurri Sauce
Recipe barely adapated from Give Me Flour and Sprouted Kitchen
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 stick of cold unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp heavy cream or yogurt (more if needed)
- Place flours, butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. You want to keep some visible pieces of butter.
- Add eggs and 3 tbsp of cream to the mizxture and pulse, stopping when the the dough begins to come together. This should happen in under a minute. If yours isn't coming together add one more tablespoon of cream and pulse again.
- Remove dough from food processor bowl and combine to form a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
Empanada Filling & Assembly
Dough from above
1 small butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoons ground chipotle powder (or sweet paprika if you like it more mild)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped green herbs (a combination of parsley, cilantro, and thyme)
5 oz. goat cheese or shredded cheddar cheese (my cousin doesn't care for goat cheese)
egg wash (1 egg and a splash of water, well mixed)
Chimichurri sauce for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Drizzle it with the olive oil and rub it into the flesh. Sprinkle with some salt and the cinnamon and roast for about 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- While the squash is cooking, saute the shallot in a bit of olive oil on medium heat until just browned, about 6-8 minutes, then add the garlic and let cook for another minute or two being careful to not let the garlic burn.
- When the squash is cool, scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add another pinch of salt, the chipotle powder (or paprika), nutmeg, the sauteed garlic and shallots and the green herbs. Use the back of a fork and mash everything together well. Taste the mix and adjust for salt and spice.
- Turn the oven down the 350 degrees. Prepare a parchment lined baking sheet. Roll out the dough to about 1/8'' thickness on a floured work surface and press out the circles for your empanadas. You can use 4'' cutters for small ones, or 6-8'' for a larger size. Leaving plenty of space around the edge, put a spoonful or two of the squash in the center, followed by a spoonful of cheese, and fold the circle over. Press the edge with your finger to seal and then press along the edge with the tins of a fork. Don't worry if this gets a little messy or if your dough breaks. It will still be delicious!
- Lay the empanadas on the baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes or until just golden.
From Gran Cocina Latina
Note: To help make this come together with greater ease, this dipping sauce can be made ahead of up to a week ahead of time, even longer if you plan to keep it refrigerated (up to 3 weeks).
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
1/2 - 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup distilled vinegar
1/2 cup safflower or other neutral oil (extra-virgin olive oil can be used as well if no neutral oil is available)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to a coarse puree.
The Argentinian Corn Pudding recipe can be found here at Vegetarian Times.