Chile: movies, books, fruitflies, late night and empanadas

This week, we are in Chile. All I know about Chile is it’s a long skinny country in South America, it’s government was ousted and that it is all somehow related to author Isabel Allende or vice versa.

I had read the chapter during the week and planned out a menu:

plantains, salad with grapes, empanada with pembre
plantains, salad with grapes, empanada with pembre

Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup)

Empanadas de papas (potato pastries)

Pebre (salsa)

Empanadas de Peras (pear pastries)


I thought I’d be all prepared this weekend to cook. On the spur of the moment we decided to go to the movies. It was supposed to be a 12:30 movie, but my husband took longer than expected to do “one little job in the basement.” So it was a 3:30 showing of the Great Gatsby, which I loved! It ended around 5:40 pm.

I started getting ready to cook around 6:30 pm. I threw all the veggies (I keep a bag of frozen veggie discards: onion and garlic skins, onion and tomato tops, carrot peels, tips of asparagus and green beans, etc in the freezer) into the pressure cooker with some water to make the broth. The damn little yellow button never popped up!  Well, no matter it’s just broth let it boil and cook anyhow. I then instructed my husband to peel and chop the potatoes. I boiled these for the empanadas. There were the fruit flies hovering over the peeled vegetables! They just keep multiplying. My refrigerator is full because I can’t keep anything out. I moved my indoor compost bin to the freezer. I have set traps and still they keep multiplying! I shake my head at my husband who keeps trying to kill them with his hand. There are just too many. Them and the damn ants! I am now forced to be a clean-as-you-go-and-don’t-keep-anything-out person, which I am not by nature.

compost bin in the freezer
compost bin in the freezer

The empanadas are supposed to be vegetarian, but I threw in some ground beef as a bonus for my son and husband. I had bought green bell pepper earlier in the week. There wasn’t any left. I also didn’t have any corn or pimento. I just omitted these and added Trader Joe’s Pepper and Eggplant spread to the filling mix. I finished sautéing the filling and started on the pembre. This is just a salsa. Mix everything together and refrigerate. I used my chopper to chop onions, cilantro picked from my herb garden, tomatoes, and garlic with oil and vinegar. I then stirred in hot sauce, lemon juice and salt and pepper. I used the tip in the recipe of sprinkling the chopped onions with salt and letting them sit for a few minutes, then pressed them in a sieve and rinsed well in running water. This is supposed to minimize the “bite”. It really wasn’t worth the effort and I sort of missed the “bite” in the sauce.

ingredients for pembre
ingredients for pembre
pembre and chips
pembre and chips

My son came into the kitchen and ate a kitkat. I looked at the clock. It was almost 8 when I yelled that this was insane and it’ll never be ready. So, I fed my son a sandwich and my husband and I ate the garlic soup. For the soup:  I toasted the bread with some oil and crushed garlic. Placed it in the bowls, put a sliced tomato on top and added the broth to cover. Yum! I did mention I love garlic?

While my husband went up to bathe the boy and put him to bed I continued with the meal, which was now postponed for tomorrow’s dinner. I made the dough for the empanadas and the dough for the pear turnovers. I blended the ingredients for the pear and added it to the caramelized sugar to stew. It looked way too watery. I let it sit some more. I then rolled the dough out and divided into 8 balls. I put the dessert dough in the fridge to chill.

empanada dough balls waiting to be rolled and filled
empanada dough balls waiting to be rolled and filled

The boy called for me to come read to him. I went up to continue the story of Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, by William Joyce. My husband went downstairs to roll out the empanadas. He loves to roll and fill up the empanadas. Usually, I just use Goya Discos for the dough. We used to make these monthly using fake meat for the filling. I’m trying to cut out that fake vegetarian stuff and this is the first time we used real meat, even though it wasn’t called for!

When I came down he was just about finished. He had a lot of left over filling and wanted to use the dessert dough. I didn’t think it was a good idea, so I used the filling and some leftover cookup rice to make a rice casserole dish. I figured since the oven was on and hot might as well get all I could in and not have to cook during the week. I also threw in a lasagna that I promised to make for my Garfield fanatic son. It’s super easy if you use the Barilla No Cook Lasagna noodles. Just layer a pan with sauce, add noodles, more sauce, and then I made a filling using the ground beef I had already sautéed for empanadas and the extra mixes of cheeses I had shredded for the empanadas, another layer of noodles, sauce and more cheese. Then bake. I didn’t have any ricotta on hand, but that’s ok.

The recipe for the empanads calls for you to fry until golden brown. This is both messy and heavy. I placed the empanadas on a greased cookie sheet and baked at 350 for about 20 minutes. The pear mixture was not thick enough to make empanadas with. In my haste, I poured too much pear juice in the blender with the cut pears and also probably didn’t let the sugar and water reduce down enough. So I had my husband roll them out into circles and I tucked the dough into texas-sized muffin cups and filled with the pear filling. I put this in the oven to bake along with the rice casserole, lasagna, and empanadas.

IMG_1709 IMG_1710 IMG_1712

In the meantime, it was now past my bedtime and I began sweeping and wiping the counters down with vinegar all the while mumbling about ants. I sent my husband to bed, he was hovering and I hate hovering!

The next day, I went to the liquor store to buy a  chilean wine to go with the dinner. I bought a Pinot noir and a Carmanere. We chose the Carmenere, which was an excellent choice. I also fried up a plantain I had leftover. It’s not chilean, but I couldn’t leave it at the mercy of the fruit flies and it complemented the meal perfectly!

1. after dipping in hot oil, place plaintain in this
1. after dipping in hot oil, place plantain in this
2. close to smash
2. close to smash
3. Open and peel off and return to pan to fry until golden
3. Open and peel off and return to pan to fry until golden

* all recipes come from the book Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant


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