Miryam’s Amazing Strudel

I have to say I was a little intimidated when Victoria gave me this recipe. I once saw strudel being made and they had stretched this piece of dough until it was as big as a dining room table and thin enough to read the newspaper through. However, her mom’s method had the dough being divided into four pieces, so it didn’t have to be stretched so much. I found stretching it 18 by 12 inches was sufficient to make thin layers. And, because, I was dividing it into fourths, I decided to add a classic apple filling to half of them (leaving the others with her mom’s classic cinnamon raisin nut version).

Most recipes I read recommended using a high gluten bread flour, so I did that, as the original recipe only specified flour. I also soaked the raisins to soften them for about 5 minutes in hot water before draining them and patting them dry. As I’m allergic to walnuts, I used pecans instead but left walnuts in the recipe.

I used a food processor to make the dough, although you can mix everything together in a bowl and knead until a smooth dough forms. I also divided my dough in half before resting – I did half the dough after the four hour rest and the rest for brunch the next morning.

Sesame coated cinnamon raisin nut strudel

Miryam’s Amazing Strudel

Strudel Dough

4 cups bread flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons white vinegar

 

Cinnamon Raisin Nut Filling (makes two)

1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1/2 cup plumped, well drained raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted

  

Apple Nut Filling (makes two)

3 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup plumped, well-drained raisins (optional)
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted

  

Strudel base

1 stick butter, melted

  

Toppings

1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar
1 egg

  

Place butter, water and vinegar in a bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the flour and and process until the dough is smooth. Remove to a well buttered bowl and cover. Let rest in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. If you let it rest overnight, let it warm on the counter for an hour or two before attempting to roll out.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

For Cinnamon Raisin Nut Filling: Combine all the filling ingredients together.  

For Apple Filling: Toss the prepared apples with the lemon juice. Stir together with the rest of the ingredients. If it is super liquidy, add 1 tablespoon corn starch and stir well.

Divide each filling into two portions and set aside while you prepare the dough.

Divide dough into 4 parts. Take off any rings, bracelets and watches and have your arms bare to the elbow. Pat the dough into the shape of a rectangle. Set the piece of dough on the center of your work surface and roll out in each direction with a rolling pin. Let the dough rest for a few minutes. Lifting up a section, gently stretch the dough out on the sides, using the back of your hands and working your way around the entire rectangle. It should be semi-translucent in some places, but be careful not to tear it. Don’t worry too much if you do, though, as the many layers will hide the rips.  

Drip butter onto the dough – it is too delicate to brush with butter. Place dollops of one portion of filling on the buttered dough and gently spread out, being careful not to tear the dough. Brush exposed ends with melted butter, fold in sides of dough, then gently roll dough into a cylinder. Seam should be on the bottom.

Score the top of the strudel in portion-sized sections before you put it in the oven. The knife marks will make a clean slice easier after the strudel is baked.

Brush an egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water on top of the cylinders. Sprinkle with sesame seeds on the cinnamon raisin nut filled ones and with cinnamon sugar for the apple filling.

Bake on a greased baking pan for 30 minutes, rotating once midway through baking. Begin rolling out the dough for the next strudel while one is cooking. Follow above directions for filling and rolling and baking.

Slice when hot. Serve with ice cream or with coffee/tea and it is even better served cold the next day.

 

Cinnamon sugar coated apple strudel

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Turmeric Brine and Rub for Chicken

I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) again this year and thought I could use some brain boosting to help get me started on writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Turmeric, with its curcumin content, has a number of health benefits (especially when paired with black pepper to assist your body in absorbing it), including helping fuel your brain. It also tastes good and adds a pretty golden color to food, so what’s not to like?

Turmeric Buttermilk Brine

1 quart buttermilk
1 quart water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
10 lbs chicken leg quarters

Combine buttermilk and seasonings in a large container. Add chicken. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight. Remove chicken and discard brine.

Drain chicken and pat dry. Place in a single layer in a large pan. Place in the refrigerator until ready to build your fire.

Turmeric Rub

4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix with your fingers to break up any lumps. I needed to double the recipe for 10 lbs of chicken. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken at least 1 hour before grilling.

Grill over indirect heat until the internal temperature registers 165 F. I usually put it skin side down for the first 20 minutes and then flip it over for the next 40 or so minutes, placing the drumstick closest to the heat.

Steakhouse Sweet Potato Fries

Michelle had a good harvest of sweet potatoes from her garden this year and she’s been resting some in her cool room for two weeks. I was grilling burgers and we needed a side dish, so I grabbed a couple and tossed them with some seasonings before baking them. Yum!

I had seen Guy Fieri do something similar with sweet potatoes a while ago on one of his shows and knew it was missing cinnamon. With experimentation, I learned that also using real salt and a little chili powder could make them even better.

Steakhouse Sweet Potato Fries

4 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place sweet potatoes in a bowl and stir to coat with butter. Combine all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and then sprinkle some over the sweet potatoes. Toss and then add more seasonings as necessary. Save remaining seasoning mix in an airtight container.

Spread the wedges on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t overlap. 
Bake for 20 minutes, then flip potatoes. Return to oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until done. Serve immediately.

Remembrance Cookies

It is All Hallows Day. While we remember loved ones who have transitioned, we might as well enjoy a cookie or three, too. Even though we made them in the shape of skulls, the recipe below isn’t for the traditional Mexican sugar skull cookies for Day of the Dead.

Instead, we made Rosemary Remembrance Cookies. Rosemary is an herb that has long been associated with memory and fidelity and is a symbol for both weddings and funerals. As Ophelia recites:

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5

The original recipe is by Callie Watts with the addition of more rosemary as regular readers know I’m mad about the rosemary!

We had fun finger painting them after they cooled

Remembrance Cookies

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, almond extract, and rosemary until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture, a 1/2 cup at a time until combined.

Beat until dough forms, refrigerate for an hour. After the rest, remove from the fridge and divide in three pieces.

Roll out one portion to 3/16 of an inch on a floured surface. Use biscuit or cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used.

Bake for 7 minutes. Cool on wire racks before eating as is or using decorator icing to make designs. Store in an airtight container.

 

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Joy

After I had bought Halloween candy, my sweetie mentioned how her favorite treat is Almond Joy (of course, not one of the ones I purchased). So we decided to make a homemade version. I used a chocolate macaroon recipe I had in my files (I think it came from Martha Stewart Living) and we made the chocolate bittersweet, the coconut sweetened, switched creme de cacao with the vanilla and added pecan pieces (plus a single semi-sweet morsel for whimsy).

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Joy

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon creme de cacao
Pinch of salt
20 whole pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a double boiler, stir until chocolate is melted, and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine cooled chocolate, cocoa, sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and salt. Use your hands to mix well, completely combining ingredients.

Dampen hands with very cold water. Form 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet with a whole pecan on top. Repeat with remaining mixture, placing macaroons 1 inch apart.

Bake until just firm to the touch but still soft in the middle, about 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven to a wire rack, and let cool on baking sheet.

Sweet and Nutty Turkish Cigars

Along with the savory recipes (see previous post), I also made some sweet versions. In some Middle Eastern cultures, these are known as Bride’s Fingers instead of Turkish Cigars. Not a fan of the name but definitely a fan of the finished product. Unlike baclava, which is a mess to make and eat, these are easier all the way around.

By the way, eating syrup and honey is believed to make life sweeter. Not sure what adding the chocolate means, other than chocolate makes everything better.

As mentioned before, cutting the filo sheets in half to form a square and then diagonally to form a triangle is the best way to prep. Use three layers of filo triangles per cigar, and a small amount of filling per cigar yields the best results. The cigars stay intact and the filling doesn’t burst through the center. By not going to the edge with the filling and folding in the edges there meant they looked like cigars without compromising filling integrity. I also found that buttering each filo layer individually was unnecessary. Brushing interior layer near the filling and the top of the cigar after rolling is sufficient.

Sweetly Nutty Cigars

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds or a mix)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
1 lb filo dough, thawed

In a medium saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir well and continue to boil for 15 minutes. Bring the temperature up to 220 degrees F. Remove from heat and stir in the honey and orange blossom water. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine nuts, cinnamon and the orange honey syrup in a large bowl.

On a clean work surface roll out the thawed sheets of filo dough. My sheets measured 9×13, so I cut the sheets in half to form squares and then cut each half on the diagonal to form triangles. Start by taking out three pieces of the filo dough. Cover the rest of the dough with a damp kitchen towel (otherwise they will dry out and be impossible to work with).

Place three sheets of filo triangles on a flat work surface. Brush with melted butter. Place about 1 tablespoon of the nut mixture on the fat end of the triangle. Tuck in the edge and roll up like a cigar. Place the rolled pastry seam side down on a baking sheet. Brush the top with melted butter.

Transfer to oven, and bake until crust and nuts are evenly golden, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool

Chocolate Cigars

1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup chocolate (I used Andes creme de mint baking chips but any kind of chocolate such as white or dark or milk chocolate can be used)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Filo Pastry Sheets, thawed

Coarsely grind pistachios, sugar and chocolate in either a food processor or blender. Set aside.

Thaw the filo sheets as per the package instructions. Place three filo sheet on a clean working surface. Brush with melted butter. (Note: As you are working with one filo sheet at a time, cover the remaining sheets with kitchen towel to prevent drying.)

Cut the sheets in half to form a square and then each half along the diagonal to form triangles. You will have four sets. Place 1 tablespoon of chocolate-nut powder on the fat end of one set. Tuck in the edge and carefully roll the sheet towards the narrow edge. Place on greased baking sheet. Continue until all sets are used and then repeat with another three sheets.

Brush the cigars with melted butter. Bake at 350 degree F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the filo turns golden brown.

Savory Meat and Cheese Filled Turkish Cigars

I made two kinds of savory appetizers from the Middle East as part of Victoria Avilan‘s cookbook project (see my next post for the sweet versions). In Turkey, they are called sigara bourek. I made two savory (one of meat and one of cheese) versions and both were a hit with my tasters.

I did several tests with this recipe and found that a 350°F oven, three layers of cut filo per cigar, and a small amount of filling per cigar yields the best results. The cigars stay intact and the filling doesn’t burst through the center. By not going to the edge with the filling and folding in the edges there meant they looked like cigars without compromising filling integrity. I also found that buttering each filo layer individually was unnecessary. Brushing interior layer near the filling and the top of the cigar after rolling is sufficient.

Meat filled

Sigara Bourek

1 onion, diced
2 lb. ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon tumeric
juice of one lemon
1 stick butter, melted
1 lb box filo dough, thawed
Preheat the oven to 350°F

Sauté the onion with the ground beef in olive oil. Add garlic and spices and cook until browned—about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the moisture has completely evaporate. Let it cool down to room temperature. Stir lemon juice into meat mixture.

On a clean work surface roll out the thawed sheets of filo. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo in half to form a square and then diagonally to form triangles, leaving you with four equal-sized triangle shaped sets of dough. Take three triangles and cover the remaining filo with a damp towel. Lay out the triangles on your work surface and brush the top layer with melted butter.

Place one spoonful of the ground beef at the wide base of the dough and, tucking the edges in, roll into cigars. Brush the top of the cigars with melted butter. Continue to fill and roll until filling is used up.
Bake in a greased pan at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm or room temperature.

Cheese filled

Turkish Feta Cheese and Olive Rolls

4 ounce feta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
2 tablespoon pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 stick butter, melted
1 lb filo dough
Pulse together in a food processor the cheeses, egg, onion and olives. Stir in thyme and pepper. Place mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use as it will be easier to form when chilled.

Using three pieces of cut filo dough, place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on the fat end of the triangle. Fold in both sides of the filo, enclosing the filling and brush with butter. Starting at the filled end, roll up pastry to resemble a cigar. Transfer, seam side down, to a lightly buttered baking sheet.

Make more rolls, leaving 1/2-inch of space between cigars on baking sheet. Brush the top with melted butter. Bake in 350 degree F oven until filo is golden, about 30 minutes.

*Note – I find feta to be a bit strong, so I cut it with whipped cream cheese. If you’re a fan of it straight up, increase feta to 8 ounces and drop the cream cheese.