Local food and wine pairings – a unique event | TheUnion.com

Local food and wine pairings – a unique event

On Friday, the Northern Sierra Wine Country Association presents a unique opportunity to pair fine local food with fine local wine.

The Winter Wine and Food Masquerade starts Friday evening at the Nevada County Fairgrounds with a 10-course dinner hosted by 15 restaurants and 13 wineries. Guests can select their meal and which wine to pair with each dish.

It kicks off the 7th Annual Foothill Celebration, which continues Saturday and Sunday with more food, wine and live music in downtown Grass Valley.

An example of fare that will be offered at Friday’s masquerade dinner is Empanada de Queso con Salsa de Berenjena, or Cheese Pastry with Eggplant Sauce, by June Henriquez of Diego’s Restaurant. Empanadas are enjoyed throughout Latin America and are considered a national dish in Chile, especially on their Independence Day, Henriquz said.

“The dish itself is neutral and can be made sweet or savory depending upon the sauce you serve,” Henriquez added.

Her recipe below offers suggestions for variations depending on what you have available.

“Stroll the green grocery section of your favorite supermarket and be inspired by the wholesome flavors of the fresh vegetables and herbs,” Henriquez suggested. “Make them a part of your recipes. Have fun with food!”

At the Friday event, the wine consumed with any dish can affect the overall flavor of the meal. Locally produced white wines include viognier, sauvignon blanc, tocai friulano, pinot grigio, chardonnay or a premium blend with the Russian grape rkatsiteli.

A dry white wine would be a good choice for the savory eggplant sauce, but a light-bodied red wine also would complement the toasty flavors in this empanada. Local vintners offer sangiovese, corvina and grenache or a variety of rose`as possible light red wine choices.

Try this version of Henriquez’ recipe at home, or come to the Winter Wine and Food Masquerade and try all 10 courses. Call 1-866-355-9463 or visit http://www.nswinecountry.com.

Diego’s Empanada de Queso con Salsa de Berenjena

(Cheese pastry with eggplant sauce)

Yield: 6 servings of 2 to 3 empandas each

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

For the empanadas:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 package frozen puff pastry

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

1/2 cup Monterrey jack cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten for a wash

Optional additions to filling include chopped green olives, pesto, chopped and cooked chorizo sausage or other chopped vegetables and herbs of your choice.

Mix cheeses.

Follow the instructions on the pastry package and defrost the dough.

With a floured 3-inch diameter rim of a cutter (metal or sturdy glass), cut out 12 to 18 circles of dough. With a floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll the round pastry into an oblong shape (one gentle roll should do it).

With the oblong shape facing away from you, place a full teaspoon of cheese filling onto the lower half of the pastry. Apply the eggwash in a “u” shape around the edges of the pastry with a pastry brush.

Tip: Only apply eggwash to half of the pastry. This will help it adhere to the other half and prevent the pastry from becoming soggy.

Fold the upper half of the pastry oblong over the filling and seal the edges. You can press with a fork or crimp the edges like a pie crust.

Brush tops of empanadas with eggwash and pierce top with a toothpick to vent while cooking. Place pieces on nongreased baking tray, leaving enough room so they won’t touch while baking.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

For the sauce:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Roughly cut the following vegetables prior to roasting:

1 sweet onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

4 garlic cloves

1 firm Japanese eggplant, mostly peeled – leave little strips of skin for taste

1 teaspoon olive oil

Pinch of kosher salt and pepper to taste

1/4 – 1/2 cup capers, with 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid from jar

Roll vegetables in oil and salt and pepper and distribute on roasting tray. Cook for about 15 minutes or until just toasted by the heat. Cool to the touch. Reserving the natural juices, dice the vegetables. ( A quick pulse or two in a cuisinart will give a smoother blend, if desired ). Add capers and caper liquid & mix.

Serve the empanadas warm or cool with the accompanying sauce.


You can reach Marilyn Chrisman of Avanguardia Wines at 274-9482 or visit the Web site at http://www.avanguardiawines.com.

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