Thursday, 13 September 2007
A Spring Gathering
Until around the time I reached school age my parents were keen entertainers. It was a rare occurrence to experience a Saturday night that did not involve a house full of guests and tables overflowing with food my father seemed to effortlessly throw together at the last minute. There were no guest lists or carefully choreographed shopping trips or planned menus yet somehow it always seemed to come together. There was never a recipe book or measuring cup in sight yet my father managed to miraculously produce dish upon dish. Regardless of how well received they were, no dish ever made a second appearance. When working from taste and what you have on hand, repeat performances can be difficult.
Unfortunately I fear I have not inherited his talent for catering to the masses without the least bit of planning. More often than not I resort to the tried and tested with small variations and so for the housewarming of a particularly delightful couple, I found myself producing these. The classic recipe pairs sweet caramelised pumpkin with a salty dose of feta and sometimes a little spinach for balance before the filling is delicately rolled in the crispest layers of filo. This time I have forsaken spinach for a sprinkling of chives, included haloumi for its beautiful texture and snuck in a smoky hit of paprika. I’ve incorporated the mellowest hint of garlic by leaving the cloves in their skins during the roasting. The result is a fat, crisp pastry roll encasing a burst of sweet and savoury. Given these are designed to be eaten with a wine glass in the other hand, unsurprisingly they’ve become a party favourite of mine. These are also my contribution Weekend Herb Blogging founded by Kalyn and this week hosted by Katerina from Daily Unadventures in Cooking.
Pumpkin, chive and feta pastry cigars
1/2 butternut pumpkin (cubed and skin removed)
4 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
few sprigs rosemary
100g/3.5oz haloumi (cubed)
1 tsb finely chopped chives
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 package filo pastry
Pre-heat oven to 180C and line 2 large trays with baking paper. In a roasting tin toss the cubed pumpkin in a hefty dose of olive oil. Sprinkle over the rosemary and unpeeled garlic cloves. When I am feeling a little lazy I bake the whole pumpkin and easily peel the skin away after cooking and prior to mashing.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and caramelised. Remove the rosemary. Slip the garlic cloves out of their skins. Discard skins and add soft garlic cloves to the pumpkin. Allow the mixture to cool before roughly mashing the roasted pumpkin with the sweet garlic.
Crumble in the feta and add the chives and haloumi. Sprinkle over the paprika and season well to taste.
Lay your first sheet of filo pastry on the counter. Brush liberally with melted butter and repeat twice more until you have three buttery filo sheets. Cover your unused filo sheets with a damp tea towel to prevent them drying out before they are needed.
Cut your sheet into rectangles, slightly longer than a playing card. Place your first rectangle lengthways in frong of you. Place a spoonful of filling at the narrow base closest to you. Be careful not to overfill and slowly roll it away from you so the pastry encases the filling in a cigar shape. Tuck the top edges in as your roll to completely encase your filling in a cigar tube shape. Use a little extra melted butter to seal the edge. Repeat with remaining filling.
Place cigars on greased baking paper lined trays. Brush cigars liberally with melted butter for a crisp finish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown and crisp. Serve immediately.
Note: These can be prepared ahead. Simply cover with a damp tea towel before the final brushing. When ready to serve brush with butter and bake.