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.

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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.

 

 

Bacon Cheddar Dip

We were looking for quick, no cook dip to serve before dinner and someone mentioned the Neiman Marcus dip. That recipe made a good stepping off point but we decided it needed a little mixing up for our tastes. I’m not a fan of almonds, especially when there are pecans available and see no reason why actual bacon couldn’t be used in place of bacon bits. Finally, we felt that the taste of Sriracha would be an awesome addition.

Bacon Cheddar Dip

5 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into  1/2 inch pieces
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
2 teaspoons Sriracha

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips or Ritz crackers.

Gebrannte Pecannuss in the Slow Cooker

I’m an army brat and have very fond memories of the getting the still warm paper cones of Gebrannte Mandeln or Erdnuss while walking around the open air markets, like the Christkindlesmarkt  in Nuremberg, Germany. The almonds or peanuts cooked in sugar and cinnamon were a special treat and so very addictive.

I found a number of recipes to replicate them and was most pleased to even find some that could be done without chaining myself to the stove. Slow cooker to the rescue! Further, being a southerner through and through, I can attest pecans make the best gebrannte nuss.

pecans

Gebrannte Pecannuss in the Slow Cooker

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups pecans
1/4 cup water

In large bowl, stir together sugars, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In small bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla until a little frothy.

Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Add nuts to slow cooker. Pour egg white mixture over nuts, and stir until nuts are evenly coated. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over nuts, and stir until nuts are all coated well. Cover; cook on low heat setting 3.5 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

For the 20 minutes, pour 1/4 cup water into slow cooker and stir. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pecans onto the sheet to cool. The pecans should be pretty sticky so be sure to separate them the best that you can and let them cool.

For an added kick – add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the cinnamon sugar.

Roasted Jalapeno Poppers

Michelle made 17 half pint jars of pepper jelly the other day and had some jalapeño peppers left over.  We didn’t want to have to fry anything so we looked for jalapeño popper recipes that roasted or baked them instead. One of the ones we found was this one from Rachel Ray. It provided a good stepping off point for the ones we ended up making and then enjoying out by the pool with our mojitos.

poppers

Roasted Jalapeño Poppers

12 jalapeno peppers
¼ cup onion, chopped very fine
5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped pretty fine
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Cut one third off lengthwise from each jalapeño pepper. Scrape out all the seeds and ribs from each jalapeño with a spoon. Mince the small pieces of pepper. Coat the larger pieces (from here on out called jalapeño pepper boats) with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine minced jalapeño pepper, onion, bacon, cream cheese, ¾ cups cheddar cheese, cumin and garlic salt in a mixing bowl. Stir well. Taste for seasonings before spreading into jalapeño boats. Sprinkle a little extra cheddar cheese on top.

Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is brown at the edges and bubbly. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before eating or you’ll burn your mouth!

 

Provolone Fonduta

Cheese sauce. Oh, cheese sauce. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

This recipe is creamy indulgence to its core. I like to serve it with garlic knots but any crusty French or Italian bread will do. Also, try it poured over poached eggs at brunch or over fresh baby spinach leaves for a salad even I will eat.

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Provolone Fonduta

1 pound provolone cheese
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper

Finely dice the provolone cheese. Place the cheese and the milk together in a bowl and let sit for at least one hour.

Lightly roast the garlic in the butter and set aside.

In a double boiler, heat the cheese and milk on low heat heat until the cheese turns creamy. Whisk in egg yolks and cream and continue whisking until the mixture thickens. Stir in the garlic butter mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook and stir until it reaches the desired consistency.

For the garlic knots, use your favorite pizza dough recipe. After the second rise, divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll out into ropes. Dunk in melted butter and tie into a knot. Let rest on cookie sheet until doubled in size. Cook for 20-30 minutes in a 375 degrees F oven, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before tearing apart and dipping into fonduta.

Deviled Eggs

I look forward to Easter because it gives me an excuse to dye eggs which in turn gives me the perfect reason to make lots and lots of deviled eggs.

I like to add a whole avocado to turn the eggs slightly green. Besides tasting awesome, so many people have been conditioned against green eggs by Dr. Seuss that it means more for me.

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Like any proper Southern gal, I own a deviled egg plate 

Green Deviled Eggs


6 hardboiled eggs (egg dying optional)
1 avocado
2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard (I’m a fan of French’s)
1 teaspoon pickle juice (I prefer sweet pickle but dill works fine too)
dash of hot sauce, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
paprika, for sprinkling

Peel eggs. Slice in half and gently remove the yolk to a small bowl. Reserve the whites for filling.

Mash the egg yolks and avocado with a fork in a medium bowl. Add mayonaise, mustard, pickle juice and hot sauce. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Adjust mayo, mustard and seasonings to your taste. Use a piping bag or a spoon to mound the egg mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle the tops lightly with paprika.

If not serving immediately, add a little lemon juice to the recipe to keep the avocado from turning brown. Wrap plastic wrap over the eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

For your viewing pleasure, here is Rev. Jesse Jackson with a dramatic reading of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham