Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Chicken Pastilla (or Something Like It)


I have had filo dough in my freezer FOR EVER. Sometime back in August, our fridge died, so we took everything we had to a neighbor's, bought a smallish temporary replacement fridge, moved everything back into it, then had a week long power outage so moved everything back to the neighbor's, then moved everything back to the smallish fridge, then FINALLY got our new fridge and the filo dough made every one of those journeys. 

It took months, but I finally found a recipe worthy of it. Chicken pastilla can be Moroccan, but I sort of mixed up a few recipes and that was that. I'm an absolute mess working with filo but as I kept telling the kids, it's going to taste delicious, who care how it looks.

CHICKEN PASTILLA (more or less)
inspired by:  the Zahav cookbook, The Delicious Crescent and From the Grapevine both of whom have much more authentic recipes but I made do with what I had on hand, definitely look at Delicious Crescent for a proper how-to with the filo.


1lb ground turkey
1 onion sliced
.5 t turmeric
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
.5 t ground black pepper
1 t cinnamon
1.5 t grated fresh ginger
1 T brown sugar
.25 C almonds, roasted, roughly chopped
.25 C dates, chopped finely
3 eggs (at least? I might try 4 next time) whisked well
1 package filo dough (approximately 20 sheets)
6 + T olive oil (for the filo!)
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Thaw the filo dough on the counter, but don't let it go too far, if you take it from the plastic and leave it out too long it will dry out.

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large pan, heat a small amount of olive oil (1T) and cook the onions until just soft and translucent (5-10min).  Add the ground turkey and brown it. Once all the pink is gone, add all the spices and the brown sugar. Cook until done, adding a T or two of chicken stock or water if it appears dry. When the turkey is fully cooked, remove from heat to a separate bowl and mix in the almonds, dates and eggs.  I made the turkey ahead and added the eggs right before I was ready to assemble the pie.

Grab a cast iron pan or large ovenproof skillet. Paint the bottom and sides with olive oil. Begin assembling the pie. You'll use 9 sheets on this first section. Paint your first sheet of filo with olive oil and then place it in the pan, so that one edge is pulled to the bottom inside of the pan and the other hangs over the side of the pan. Continue placing the sheets like this, after basting with oil, overlapping so they go all the way around. It may be a complete mess, mine certainly once. Dump half the chicken mixture in and fold all of those outside sections back over the pie like you're tucking it in. Start again and repeat the process with the next 9 sheets of filo. Really please go to Delicious Crescent and see how she does it. Dump the rest of the chicken mixture in. Fold the filo over again and add the final two sheets to the top. Make sure it's all nice and olive oily. 

Pop it in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the filo is golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and very carefully cover the pan with a plate and flip the whole thing onto the plate. Dust the top with confectioner's sugar. Slice and serve!


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Apple Yogurt Coffee Cake in the Time of Coronavirus

We've all been trapped inside for weeks now. Only neighborhood walks and essential store visits are allowed, and even those only when absolutely necessary. Obviously I'm baking. Cakes and pizza doughs, biscuits and cookies. I get worried when my flour runs low and I get worried when I buy flour that I might be taking it from someone else who needs it.

This was meant to use up product. Just to try to save the very last of the Northern Spy apples slowly wrinkling in the back of the fridge. To use some of the containers of plain yogurt I'd bought knowing they could help stretch my milk since you can bake with yogurt sometimes. And so I sort of Frankensteined this recipe together. Googled a recipe for Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake, stared at my own recipe for coffee cake and improvised a bit. I didn't take notes. I never do any more now that I never blog anymore.

But it turned out incredible. Like, I'd pay good money for that at a bakery and go back and order it often incredible. So I'm making an attempt to record what I did before I forget it entirely, in the hopes that I can make it again someday. Why is it so good? The secret is the spice blend from La Boîte (linked below). It is out of this world.

inspired by: Love & Olive Oil and Mrs. Krantz's Coffee Cake


For the cake:

1/2 C butter softened (1 stick)
1 C granulated sugar
2 eggs (or was it 3 eggs? I CAN'T REMEMBER)
1 C plain Greek Yogurt (I used non-fat)
1 t baking soda
1 3/4 C all purpose flour (plus extra for the apples)
1 1/2 t baking powder
pinch salt
1.5 T vanilla extract (do you measure your vanilla? I never measure vanilla, I just pour it in)
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced. I did not do a fine dice, I made it reasonably chunky.

For the streusel:
1/2 C brown sugar tightly packed, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 C chopped walnuts
3 T butter
1 t cinnamon
1 t Reims N.39 Spice Blend from La Boîte NY

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a springform pan. Love and Olive Oil recommended a parchment at the bottom too but mine came out well with the butter and flour combo.

Cream the butter and sugar together in your stand mixer (or a large bowl). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add the vanilla.

Add the baking soda to the Greek Yogurt, mix and set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well.

Add the flour mixture and the yogurt mixture alternately to the creamed butter mixture.
When it is all combined, toss the apples in a bit of flour - maybe 2-3 T, then gently fold into the batter.

Make the streusel: Combine all streusel ingredients. Use your fingers to work the butter through.

Pour half of the batter in the pan. Distribute half the streusel over the batter. It will be a bit clumpy and it won't cover the whole layer of batter. Just try to make sure it's evenly dotted. Pour the rest of the batter. Distribute the remaining streusel over the top. Then use extra brown sugar, gently sprinkled over the top to make sure the top is completely covered.

Pop it in the oven and bake for 45-55 min. Mine was done around 50ish I think. It will be done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean of batter. It may have some moisture on it because of the apples, but it shouldn't have batter. Cool in pan on a cookie sheet for 5-10 min. Then run a knife along the edge and gently open the springform. Remove the metal collar. Using an offset spatula gently separate the bottom of the cake from the pan. You can then transfer it to a plate or cake stand.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Welcome to the Weekend

It's the beginning of February vacation in these parts. We have no plans to decamp to warmer climes, not for a weekend, not for a week. So instead I baked up a little sunshine: lemon poppyseed cake. I was way too lazy to whip up the glaze so I just dusted the top with confectioner's sugar. 

Recipe from Cooking Light

Friday, February 17, 2017

We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Ranting...

I'm on Twitter these days a lot. In theory because of my book blog, but bookish twitter doesn't talk books much anymore because well, the world is burning. So my Twitter feed is largely news articles and calls to action and when it is talking about books, it's talking about which of the latest bestselling authors is defending their latest racist book rather than apologizing and taking notes. So it's awfully nice when something wonderful pops up there. This time it was a Guardian article by The Little Library Cafe* with a beautiful picture of these breakfast rolls which are filled with jam. And in an instant I knew exactly what I would be baking next. They are soft and delicious, like a challah or sweet bread and inside is whatever sweet jam your heart desires. 

*OMG HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COOKING BLOG? She is amazing! It's like the perfect intersection of book loving and delicious food and [insert more gushing here]!

adapted from Food in Books: breakfast rolls from the School at the Chalet
I strongly recommend you follow her recipe, but as it's written using metric measurement,  I've written the substitutions and equivalencies I used below, just in case it helps you.

~2/3 C of whole milk (150 mL)
~ 7 T total of butter  - split into a teensy bit over 5 T for the recipe and 2 for brushing the tops of the buns ( Recipe calls for 110g total, weighing of 8 sticks revealed most sticks were between 114/115 g)
scant 1/4 C of white sugar
7 g active dry yeast (this is 3 tsp, which is easier to measure if you are using a jar as it's more than just one packet but less than 2)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
175 g white flour
150 g bread flour (I tried to measure the flour out for you in cups, but honestly, it's really hard, because it's so variable based on how tightly packed the cups are. It would take a lot of recipe testing to be absolutely sure what the best cup measurement is.) If at all possible weigh your flour. My entirely unscientific measurement yielded 1.5 C of loosely packed white flour and somewhere between 3/4 C and 1 C bread flour (tightly packed) but yeah, just weigh your flour.
8 t jam (I couldn't find the plum she calls for so I used Four Fruits instead)
1 T confectioner's sugar.

DIRECTIONS: Please see her recipe - but OVEN TEMP should be 355 F.

Believe me. Making and eating these may only take your mind of politics for a few minutes, but it will certainly give you something sweet to look forward to.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Stress Baking the Presidency

In times of trouble, we all have our coping mechanisms.  As it would turn out, mine is baking.  And also, eating the things I bake. Most of my days are spent watching my two adorable boys.  But it's also spent calling Senators and my Representative, trying to refresh my knowledge of how the US Government is supposed to work, and basically doing what I can to #Resist.  I don't know if I would have guessed that I'd be a political person, but here we are.

As many of you know, I am also an anxious person. The kind of person who lies awake in the middle of the night turning over worst case scenarios and wondering if one day my completely teensy-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things social media rabble-rousing will bring jackboots to my door. So like many others I've been trying to balance my craving for information with some self care. Self-care in the form of deliciousness.

I can't promise new recipes or even high quality photos, but I am going to try to document how I'm using flour, chocolate, nuts, sugar, WHATEVER to get through this.*

*Please note, I am incredibly privileged that the current presidency has marked an uptick in my concerns about my immediate family. I am aware that many have been struggling for much longer (um, centuries?) to try to achieve the rights and comforts that my family is able to enjoy even with the country in crisis.

Just to bring you up to date, in the past 16 days:

SNICKERDOODLES - such a comfort food cookie

RASPBERRY WALNUT BARS - these are IDEAL for making with kids, they can grease the pan, pat the shortbread down, spread the jam on (incidentally, I used up the ends of about 3 different jams by mixing strawberry, cherry and raspberry) and whisk together the final topping.

CHALLAH -  That's my 3 year old helper finishing up the braid and painting on the egg wash.


What about you? Any stress related baking going on in your kitchen?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chive Talkin'

These are not my actual chives. Mine were flattened in the last driving rain.  I got the pic off Wikimedia Commons.
 It's by Jerzy Opiola.

You need to get some chives.  Don't buy them from the grocery store.  Go to a nursery or farmer's market or farm stand that sells that sort of thing and buy an actual chive plant.  They're listed as zones 3-9 which basically means you've got a shot at growing them pretty much anywhere in the continental US.  Also they're annuals which means basically, you ignore them when they unceremoniously die in winter, because come spring, they will come right back up and you will have fresh new chives. 

But this is not a plant blog.  I most definitely do not have the gardening skills for that.  This is a food blog.  Which means the main reason I am urging to go out and get some chives is because they are delicious.  I have been eating them nonstop for the past week and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

So far I have made:
Scrambled eggs with cheddar and chives (also a cheddar and chive omelette) - Amazing
A salad dressing with chives, chervil and dill - So fresh and delicious
Mashed potatoes with cheddar and chives - MMMMMPHGRRR GIVE ME ALL OF THEM
Egg salad with chives - chives+eggs 4eva

Next on the agenda:
Chive biscuits - Ina Garten's got a recipe I'm eyeing
Chive butter  - when the season starts to wrap up, I'm going to make sure I make a ton of chive butter and freeze it.  Making an herb butter is actually pretty simple. You just soften the butter (in this heat that can't be too hard), fold in your snipped herbs, roll the whole thing into a log (basically, put the blob on plastic wrap and use the plastic wrap to roll it), pop it in the fridge.  Here, Martha will explain: Compound Butter

What do you do with chives?  

Friday, June 12, 2015

What to Make for EVERY BBQ This Summer

If you have a grill, there is a very good likelihood that at some point this summer, you will be called upon to cook things on it.  For other people.  Now, you can go with hot dogs, or your standard pre-formed burger patties or maybe even some soon to be dried out sausages.  Or you could make these incredible wings.  They are spicy, crispy and will have people quite literally licking their fingers.  The rub is easy and versatile, you can use it on thighs or a whole cut up chicken if you prefer.  It hasn't failed me yet and I've been making these nonstop for the past year.

enough for 40 wings

40 wings
1 T +  t kosher salt
1.5 T paprika
1 T brown sugar

1 T cayenne

I have a gas grill, so I preheat it and make sure the grate is clear.  I like the temp to be between 400 and 450, but I keep an eye on it.

Inspect your wings.  Make sure they are cut up as it will only be messier once you add the spices.  Wings will either have one or two joints.  If they have two joints, the scrawny little end is a wing tip and can be thrown in a plastic bag and tossed in your freezer for later use making chicken stock. If there is only one joint, just cut there.  Many wings are sold already cut, so that makes life easier.  If they're cut, just trim off any weird ook or feathers and you're good to go.  Pop them in a large bowl (give yourself enough room to toss them).

In a small bowl, mix together the kosher salt, paprika, brown sugar and cayenne.  Sprinkle this over the wings while tossing them to coat completely.  Pop the wings on the grill and leave them there for 7 minutes.  Flip them and leave them there for about 5.  Do a quick temperature check, I look for around 165, but you can check poultry standards elsewhere if you like.  When they are done (juices run clear, temp is correct), pull them off the grill and serve.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nana turns 90

Only a few days after Christmas, my grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday.  It was lovely having her for the holidays and for her special day.  You would never ever guess she is 90; she spent the visit watching and playing with the little one and hopefully, eating well.

My mother was kind enough to cook the main course, steak, since I have such limited experience with it.  I'm pretty sure we had mashed potatoes (there you go, it's been less than a month and already I have no memory) with it.  And I provided the brussels sprouts.

altered only slightly from the amazing Balaboosta cookbook - I can't wait to use more recipes from it!

1 lb Brussels sprouts
1/4 C honey
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 gala apple, peeled cored and grated
2 T olive oil
sprinkle of kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 425.  The original recipe calls for 400 but my oven needed to be hotter.
Cut the bottoms off the brussels sprouts and then peel off the outer leaves.  This takes a reasonable amount of time and also reduces the amount of brussels sprouts you have by a lot.  I gave them a good rinse too.  Then I patted them dry, laid them on a sheet pan and tossed with the garlic, honey, olive oil and then sprinkled them with salt.  I added the apple last because you really don't want the fruit on the pan, if you do it that way, it will just burn on the pan.  If it's on the sprouts, it drips down its juices which is much better.

Pop the tray in the oven and roast until tender.  The outside will get a nice crisp on it, but they shouldn't be super crunchy throughout.  I tossed them a few times to get more of a crisp on the outside and to make sure the apple-y parts were okay.  The recipe called for a shorter cooking time than I used. Mine needed at least 40-45 minutes to be finished, so watch yours and taste test frequently.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Dinner (belatedly)

I very much meant to keep up with my posting but I'm afraid I got buried under and avalanche of hosting and cooking duties.  And toys, never forget the toys. I even neglected my photography, so you're getting recycled everything here.

Our menu was:

Duck Breasts
Scalloped Potatoes 
Roasted Carrots, Turnips and Fennel (with Bonus Parsnips)

It sounds fancy.  It tastes fancy.  But it was actually very simple to make.  The potatoes and roast veggies tend to themselves in the oven while you make the duck breasts so you really don't have to
split your focus.

Recipe Alterations:
I added an extra potato to the scalloped potatoes and therefore it needed to cook longer.
I didn't check the carrot and turnip recipe before going to the store and remember it as carrots and parsnips instead.  So I had to go back out for turnips and fennel and then just added the parsnips anyway.  It was still delicious.

What did you serve on Christmas (or eat, if you're not the chef)?  Also, do you have a traditional menu that you have every year or do you change things up?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Morning Coffee Cake

 Given the collective cooking skills of my mother's side of the family, it should not be terribly surprising that our "family recipe" for our traditional Christmas morning sour cream coffee cake came from one of my mother's neighbors, Mrs. Krantz.  My mother made this coffee cake every year until I was 16.  I have made it every year since.  But it just isn't Christmas without our coffee cake.


for the cake 
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 C sugar
1 1/2 C sour cream
4 eggs
pinch salt
1 T baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla extract
3 C flour
for the streusel
3 T butter
1/2 C packed brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 C chopped nuts (we usually use walnuts, but sometimes use pecans)

I often make the streusel ahead since I make the cake on Christmas Eve, so I'll do the streusel that morning and then do the cake at night, just to save a bit of work.  So basically you just put it in a bowl and mix it together (I use my fingers) until everything is evenly distributed throughout.  Then I set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs mixing after each one, then add the vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream and mix to make it a batter.

Spray or butter a bundt pan thoroughly.  Sprinkle the bottom of the bundt pan with some of the streusel (maybe a third of it?).  Then add half the batter, sprinkle the rest of the streusel to create an even layer over the batter in the bundt.  Add the rest of the batter.  Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes back clean and the cake springs back a bit at the touch.  When you cut into it, the streusel should make a nice sugar swirl through the cake.


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