So as I was slaving away during my 3-hour-solo-dinner challenge the other night, I figured, I’ve already got the phyllo dough out and thawed, why not make baklava too?
While it was good in principal, and actually ended up being pretty tasty, it could have been a disaster.
You see, the recipe calls for 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon in the filling.
That, my friends, is cayenne pepper. I don’t think I even need to say what happened here. Poor Taylor, still on the floor, heard me start swearing in the kitchen and panicked thinking I cut myself. Nope, but I did just dump in a boatload of cayenne into the freshly ground nut filling.
I hadn’t stirred it yet, luckily, and managed to skim off ‘most’ of the offending spice. Reground some more nuts, and hoped that you wouldn’t be able to taste it in the final product.
You couldn’t. In fact it was a decent baklava. I used the recipe I found here, using maybe 2/3 almonds (some regular and some marcona), and then the rest walnuts, because I ran out of almonds. I think it could have been better… I wasn’t too fond of the walnuts in there. Anyone have a killer baklava recipe that they swear by?
I do have to say, that this experience has reinforced the fact that our spices are out of control. Maybe if the labels hadn’t rubbed of the bottles, the above disaster could have been avoided. But the spice rack is just the beginnging…
It all started with the spice rack. Until you realize that you cannot be limited by the 16 random spices that someone decided to fill it with (Dill Weed, anyone?).
Then things start to migrate into the spice drawer. Good in concept – the drawer is just deep enough to lay down one row of spice bottles. But when that gets full, and you start buying bigger bottles and bags of spices… well..
That’s when things really start to get messy. They get thrown on a shelf in the cabinet. The very deep shelf that makes them almost impossible to find (“Taylor, where’s the oregano?” I say with my head as deep inside the cabinet as it will go. Maybe I should just get Kitty to get it for me).
They multiply, I tell you! And we’ve just discovered the wonder of spice that is the international food store, which only sells spices in large bags. Too much to transfer to a bottle (not that there’d be room in the drawer anyway), we need some spice mason jars or something. But where on earth would those go?!?
And thus I pose another question – how do you keep your spices under control? We have limited space – that drawer and some counter is about all of the room we have for any spice-containment-unit.
Poor Taylor is out of kitchen-commission for a while. With a painful lower back, standing on his feet and washing dishes is the last thing he should be doing. Needless to say, I was on my own as far as cooking. And I have to say, I picked the WRONG dish to cook on my own.
Three hours later…
I do have to say these were delicious. And worth the time. And mess (you should have seen the mess). My new favorite flavor just might be cinnamon used in a savory application. These rolls are just that – you’d think the chicken was candy. Delicious. The tomato sauce was a nice touch too, as it had some of the same spices as the rolls. It’d be great used as a substitute for traditional marinara sauce in other dishes.
As if this recipe wasn’t enough (and this might have contributed to the 3 hours I spent in the kitchen) but I figured since I had the phyllo dough out already, why not make Baklava? So I did. We have yet to try it though, it’s still on the counter (and looking might tasty, I hope). By the time dinner was done it was almost 8:00, and we stuffed ourselves. Before we knew it it was bedtime and our stomachs were still full. I’ll be sure to post later when we actually try the baklava, which has the potential to be, um, interesting… (funny story… I’ll explain later).
Needless to say, if you have an extra 3 hours and a package of chicken thighs, I urge you to give this little gem of a recipe a try. :) You won’t regret it!
Moroccan-Style Chicken Phyllo Rolls with Spiced Tomato Sauce
Makes 32 rolls (4-6 appetizer servings)
Recipe from Epicurious
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Scant teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/4 lb chicken thighs (with skin and bones)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
8 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds (didn’t have these – we used black sesame seeds instead. Didn’t taste the same I’m sure, but they looked pretty!)
Cook onion in oil along with salt, cumin, ginger, turmeric, pepper, and coriander in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken, broth, water, and cinnamon stick and simmer, covered, turning chicken over once, until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes total. Transfer chicken with tongs to a bowl, reserving cooking liquid.
When cool enough to handle, shred chicken, discarding skin and bones, and transfer to a large bowl. Transfer cooking liquid to a 2-cup glass measure (do not clean saucepan) and let stand 1 minute, then skim off fat and discard cinnamon stick. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over moderately high heat, uncovered, until reduced to about 1/4 cup (liquid will look like a glaze in bottom of pan), about 8 minutes, then stir into shredded chicken along with almonds.
Reserve 2 tablespoons beaten egg in a cup for egg wash. Lightly season remaining egg with salt and pepper, then cook in 1/2 tablespoon butter in an 8- to 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until just set but still slightly soft. Stir scrambled egg into filling.
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Put 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface, keeping remaining phyllo covered with overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel, and brush generously with some melted butter. Evenly sift 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon over buttered phyllo using a fine-mesh sieve, then top with another phyllo sheet and generously brush with butter.
Halve buttered phyllo stack crosswise, then arrange 1 half with a long side nearest you. Spread 1/4 cup chicken filling in a narrow strip along edge nearest you, then roll up filling tightly in phyllo, leaving ends open. Transfer roll, seam side down, to a cutting board set inside a baking pan (to help contain mustard seeds when sprinkling). Make another roll with remaining half stack. Make 6 more rolls in same manner, transferring to cutting board.
Lightly brush top of rolls with egg wash and immediately sprinkle with mustard seeds, pressing lightly on seeds to help adhere. Cut each roll crosswise into 4 pieces and arrange pieces 1 inch apart on 2 baking sheets. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until phyllo is golden brown, about 12 minutes total.
Transfer rolls to a rack to cool slightly.
*Rolls can be assembled (but not coated or cut) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
*Rolls can be assembled and cut (but not coated or baked) 2 weeks ahead and frozen, wrapped well in plastic wrap. Coat frozen rolls, then bake (do not thaw) in a preheated 350 degree F oven about 20 minutes.
Spiced Tomato Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Recipe from Epicurious.
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of ground cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 (14 1/2- to 15-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped (reserving juice)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Cook onion, garlic, ginger, and spices in oil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and simmer over moderately low heat 1 minute. Add tomatoes (with juice) and brown sugar, then increase heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Puree sauce in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Serve at room temperature.
Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and cooled completely, then chilled, covered.
Does anyone ever go through a whole bunch of bananas? I feel like whenever I do buy them (for smoothies or whatever), I can never finish them before they turn a lovely shade of speckled black. But ever since I can remember, I’ve never thrown these black bananas out. Instead, when they are just past the point where you’d want to eat them sliced over cereal, well, that’s when they are just starting to get good. Yup, whenever I see two lonely black bananas on the counter, I just know. It’s banana bread time.
But not just any banana bread. There will be no nuts contaminating this loaf of love. Nope, this banana bread is speckled with mini chocolate chips.
Yes, chocolate chips. Breakfast doesn’t get any better than that!
But be warned, after eating this, you’ll find yourself hoping your bananas turn black! You’ll find yourself scouring the banana display at the store for the yellowest bananas, in hopes that they will ripen the quickest. When speaking of this banana bread, black bananas are pure gold.
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