Monday, November 27, 2006

Fun With Filo!

As I lay in my bed yesterday afternoon hung over from a fabulously delicious Christmas Party the night before (by-the-way I walked home with my hubby in the snow up our hill in high heeled shoes and lived to write about it) I had lots of time to think about and pour over heaps of magazines to inspire me for the upcoming season. All of a sudden I was inspired, thanks to the culinary blog, Chocolate and Zucchini which was born in Paris, to make a filo pastry roll stuffed with whatever my refrigerator gifted me. All I've ever heard about was that filo was hard to work with. I've determined that it would be hard if you are somewhat of a perfectionist. Unlike me, I didn't mind accidentally ripping a few slices and coddling and molding it into the roll with the help of a little olive oil - which is also deliciously therapeutic for dry hands! After a few sips of wine and a damp tea towel I was able to make friends with this sensitive pastry and handle her with the same kid gloves one might do with a high maintenance member of the family. Since I come from a long line of high maintenance folk, I instinctively knew how to handle filo. So I took some filo pastry out of my freezer and let it thaw out for a few hours.

Once thawed I carefully unrolled one slice at a time, with of course a generous work space (remember, this pastry needs her space). Pardon me for saying, but filo aka (her) isn't so tough but instead rather a rather sensitive, flimsy and fabulously low in fat and calories. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl first: 1/2 cup of Ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of peach chutney, 1/2 cup of mixed cheese, 1 tbsp. pepper, 1 tsp. of salt (I used Kosher), 2 cups of cut up chicken, 2 sliced green onion, 1 small onion sauteed with butter. Once the mixture is ready, carefully lift your first layer of filo and lay it over your workspace. ****Remember to cover the waiting filo pastry with a damp tea towel. With each layer cover in 1 tsp. of olive oil. I continued layering an additional four layers, spreading each layer with olive oil, before spreading the mixture. Once your layers are down begin spreading the mixture beginning in the centre and moving outward leaving one to two inches around the sides. Then top with another four or five layers of filo repeating the same process. Now, wrap it all up like a jelly roll and cover once again in a little olive oil and transfer it to a baking sheet. Bake in a 400 deg. oven for about 20 minutes or until nice and brown. Make sure you put the seam side down or else the filling could leek out. Here is another nice filling you might want to do:

1/2 cup of Ricotta cheese, 2 cups of sliced artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup of oily drained sun dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup of sliced olives.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Easy Gnocchi Dinner

Talk about an easy dinner and perfect for a cold autumn night. I was craving some tomato gnocchi yesterday after seeing a gorgeous Parmesan laden gnocchi dish in my Bon Appetite magazine. I picked up frozen gnocchi at an Italian deli and a magnificent loaf of black olive bread. This olive bread was moist with olives and had been rolled up like a jelly roll. I want to know how to make this, but it was the perfect accompaniment with my gnocchi dish. Simply toss frozen gnocchi in a pot of boiling water, then wait for all of these potato morsels to rise to the top of the pot before draining. I let the gnocchi cool a bit and then baked it plain in the oven for a few minutes to dry it out just a little. I then added 1/2 a jar of Ragu together with 2 cups of ricotta cheese and voila - the most delicious sauce. Then I added a can of whole pitted black olives and two cups of oily artichokes to this dish. Of course then I added a generous sprinkle of black pepper and fresh Parmesan cheese and baked it all in a 350 oven until it was blended and baked perfectly - about 20 minutes.


Foods with Wine

My hubby and I went to our good friends' home the other night for an evening of wine tasting. We each had to bring a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc. I was a little worried about picking out a Sauvignon Blanc as one description recounted it's taste as "cat piss on gooseberries." I don't know about you, but this depiction wasn't all that appealing to me. I'm not a huge fan of white wine any way; though I was when I was about 20 years younger when all the rage was Chardonnay. My mother-in-law is a Chardonnay fan and I got a kick out of her ordering a glass of Chardonnay in the Legion one time. "What?, the bartender asked. All we got here he said is what comes out of this hose." I love Cabernet Sauvignon! I picked up one bottle each of a California Cab and a Sauvignon Blanc, and brought along an appetizer to go with the Cabernet. I came up with a "Steak Crostini." What better to go with a Cab than a nice juicy rib eye horderve. Every single one of the steak crostini was devoured. I highly recommend this appetizer with a nice glass of red - whatever that might be.

Steak Crostini: I used a left over ribeye steak from the night before. I also bought a gorgeous loaf of baguette from Costco. It was a nice crusty artisan bread from Quebec. Here is the recipe:

Chop up 1 cooked Rib Eye Steak nice and fine because it will be sitting on your baguette toast. Then chop up one whole onion fine and put both the steak and the onion into a pot with a couple of tablespoons of butter and saute. You know I like to use butter because it adds a smooth texture to the onion and keeps the steak nice and succulent. Then add 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup of garlic flavored white wine vinegar, and 1/4 cup of red wine and simmer. I then added 4 finely chopped figs, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of pepper, and 1 tbsp. of Splenda or you can use sugar. I also added a tbsp. of pink pepper corns for a little kick and because they are so pretty, and 1 tbsp. of white truffle oil. Reduce the concoction until most of the liquid has evaporated and let cool. When you make a steak crostini, obviously add whatever it is that you would like for ingredients. I often use whatever I have on hand. I added truffle oil to give the steak a nice mushroomy taste - but of course you could just saute some mushroom in this instead. Also, use whatever vinegar you like for the reduction. I like balsamic because it adds a rich syrup like taste and glaze to the steak. I also ran out of garlic so I used the garlic white wine vinegar I had on hand. Taste your steak as you go and decide what you would like to add. I think a nice Brie cheese or gorgonzola or even a blue cheese would be a fabulous addition to this.

Cut up the baguette toasts and put on a tray in a 300 degree oven until they are just lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool. Spread each toast with a generous dollop of Boursin cheese or cream cheese and top with the steak fusion and a nice shaving of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!