Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Spicing it Up with Butternut Squash Empanadas

Like many kids in the 1970s, I grew up with a mostly bland diet. Pepper was an exotic seasoning and the spices my mother had were a wedding gift. Paprika was red dust and garlic was a four letter word.

My children love sriracha and cumin and only use freshly ground pepper. So the Taste Buds Kitchen new partnership with the premium spice company Spice Islands makes sense.

At an event at Taste Buds Kitchen, a cooking school, we got to sample dishes made with the spices.

Spice Islands has four key components in its products: source, spec, volatile oil and process.

They source from around the world, so they have things like Saigon Cinnamon, which is bit spicier than most cinnamons.

Spec if specification, the company's standards, and process means that spices are ground here, then quickly bottled so they last longer.

Volatile oil refers to the natural oils in species. At an event where we tasted and sniffed different species, I was surprised by the snap and scent of Spice Island bay leaves. They seem like they would actually impart flavor to food.

I got to take home a few spices, including smoked paprika. This flavor bomb enhances chili, roasted chickpeas and hummus.

At the event, we helped make a few dishes, including these vegetarian Butternut Squash Empanadas.

Butternut Squash Empanadas Recipe:

2 cups                   all-purpose flour
¼ cup                    cornmeal
1 tbsp.                  Spice Islands® Dried Oregano
2 tsp.                     sugar
2 tsp.                     Spice Islands® Paprika
2 tsp.                     Spice Islands® Salt
6 tbsp.                  unsalted butter, cold
2                              eggs
½ cup                    water (more or less as needed)

7 oz.                       butternut squash, roasted and mashed
2 tbsp.                  frozen corn
¼                             red bell pepper, diced
¼                             onion, diced
2                              garlic cloves, minced
2 oz.                       cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup                    vegetable stock
2 tbsp.                  olive oil
¼ tsp.                    Spice Islands® Garlic Powder
1 tsp.                     Spice Islands® Cumin
Pinch                     Spice Islands® Salt and Pepper

Egg Wash
1    egg
 2 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients for the dough; flour, cornmeal, Spice Islands Oregano, sugar, Spice Islands Paprika and Spice Islands Salt. Cut butter in and mix until if forms pea size pieces. Then add eggs, mixing one at a time. If mixture is dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until it just comes together as a dough that forms a ball and is not sticky to the touch. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
While the dough chills, make the filling. Saut—ź onion and red pepper until soft, then add minced garlic until fragrant. Add to a medium mixing bowl with mashed butternut squash, corn, grated cheddar cheese, vegetable stock, olive oil, Spice Islands garlic powder, Spice Islands Cumin and Spice Islands Garlic Powder, Spice Islands Salt and Pepper. Mix thoroughly until combined.
Once dough is chilled, cut into individual portions, about 1.7 oz. each. Roll out the dough portions between 2 pieces of parchment paper about ¼” thick, into 4: circles. Then place a heaping spoonful of butternut squash filling into the middle of each round (be very generous with the filling). Fold dough circle in half, over the filling and seal with fork.
Place on prepared baking sheet and brush each empanada with egg wash (egg and water whisked together). Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

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