Bisteeya

Serves: 8

This wonderful recipe – courtesy of my mother – is seriously great and in so many ways.

Whilst it is a bit of an effort to make, it absolutely rewards: it looks beautiful as part of a banquet, it tastes really special, it’s fun and as I discovered, it is Oliver (my 8 year old) friendly. So friendly that he asked if he could take a slice in his lunchbox to school; this coming from a kid that thinks that tomatoes are dodgy.

Try this just once and I promise you’ll have a smile on your face!

Ingredients

1 c butter
2 c slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
Ground cinnamon
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
½ c chopped coriander
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp saffron threads, crushed
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp turmeric
salt
1 c water
3 tbsp lemon juice
6 eggs, beaten
filo pastry
icing sugar

Method

  1. Sauté the almonds in 1 tablespoon butter until golden, and then remove and drain on paper towels.
  2. When the almonds are cool, chop them coarsely and combine with the sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. Sauté the chicken in 1 ½ teaspoons butter until lightly browned and then remove.
  4. Sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon butter until tender, and then add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, the coriander, garlic, cumin, saffron, pepper and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the water, bring to a boil, and then add the chicken and cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, cut into small pieces, and toss with 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  7. Simmer the onion mixture, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the eggs and cook until softly set, and then season with the remaining lemon juice and salt.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a rimmed baking tray with baking paper.
  10. Arrange 10 – 12 sheets of filo on the paper in a pinwheel fashion, brushing each with melted butter.
  11. Top with a sheet folded in half and brushed with butter.
  12. Arrange the chicken in a 9 inch circle over the pastry and spoon over the egg mixture.
  13. Top with the almonds and fold the sheets up on top of the filling.
  14. Repeat the pinwheel pattern over the top with 10 – 12 more sheets of filo, brushing each with melted butter.
  15. Tuck these sheets gently under the pie and brush the top with butter.
  16. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and then remove from the oven.
  17. Place baking paper on another baking sheet, place over the pie, invert, and return the pie to the oven and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes.
  18. Invert the pie onto a platter, sift over some icing sugar, and sprinkle on some cross-hatch lines of cinnamon.

Lamb Filo Spirals with Tomato and Mint Salad

Serves 4

Recently at a function and calorie counting, I told myself not to eat but a few of the healthier canapes on offer, knowing full well that the healthiest canape was still not likely to get the Jenny Craig nod of approval.

Anyway, was doing pretty well, keeping to mineral water when a tray of old-school, Greek, mince and filo pastry triangles is offered. And if there is anything I can’t resist, it’s mince and filo pastry. Jenny was not amused but I really didn’t have any choice.

If it’s cold and raining and you just want some comfort and the couch, this recipe is for you.

Just stop counting your calories for the night!

Ingredients

1 3/4 c mint leaves
600g minced lamb
2 gloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
16 sheets filo pastry
100g butter, melted
2 tablespoon flaked almonds
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways, thinly sliced diagonally
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Coarsely chop 3/4 cup mint, then combine with mince, garlic and cumin in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Place filo pastry on a work surface; keep covered with a lightly damp tea towel while working to prevent it drying out. Take 1 sheet of pastry and brush it lightly with melted butter. Top with another sheet and brush with butter.
  4. Place a 1cm-wide strip of lamb mixture along one side of the pastry. Roll pastry to enclose filling, then working quickly, coil the length of the pastry into a snail-shape. Place on 1 large paper-lined oven trays, then brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining pastry, butter and filling.
  5. Scatter the spirals with almonds and sesame seeds, then bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  6. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and cucumbers and remaining mint (1 c) in a bowl. Add oil and lemon juice and season to taste and toss to combine.
  7. Serve warm spirals with the salad and lemon wedges.