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
200g/7oz feta
100g/3.5oz haloumi (cubed)
1 tsb finely chopped chives
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 package filo pastry
melted butter

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.


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Yes please and thank you Truffle.
You can cook for a housewarming at ours anytime you like. I'm a great planner in theory, spend days writing lists but then don't use them and go with what I feel like at the time. Maybe it's the process of the planning that helps to bring it all together but I do wish sometimes that I could just stick to the plan...

Valli said...

You seem to have inherited your dads love of cooking with flair!!! Your dad made it look effortless but he had to plan to have ingredients on hand to feed that many guests. It was just all in his head. Those are wonderful memories of your childhood Truffle and I'm glad that the spirit is still there. I am a chronic list maker myself, but in these busy times I don't want to forget a thing!!!

Anonymous said...

Your recipes are wonderful, so clearly written!

Truffle said...

Amanda- Thanks! I think the planning certainly helps. If it wasn't for the plan I think I'd be a crazy person on the day. Somehow it's reassuring even if you stray from it I think. I'm constantly amazed by your ability to cater for kids parties though. I think that's an amazing talent!

Valli- Thank you so much. That's really lovely of you. I think lists certainly do come in handy if you're forgetful like I am and the time is always getting away from you.

Anon- thanks very much!

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Wow, they look beautiful!!
I'm sooo happy to discover your blog!
If you have a while please visit my blog again and vote for the most Inspiring Food Photography! :)

Greetings, Margot

Kelly Mahoney said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm not sure if pumpkin is quite in its prime here yet, but this looks delicious.

Joanna said...

That looks lovely, and I bet it tastes delicious, too


Lydia said...

The combination of flavors sounds amazing! I'd be happy to move into a new house, just so you could make these for my housewarming.

Nora B. said...

My mom is just like your dad - how do they do it? For me, the planning process is also the fun part because I have an excuse to pour over recipes and talk about food more then usual ;-)

These looks so wonderfully crisp and also I would imagine that it will have a wonderfully moist filling. I love the combination of pumpkin, feta and garlic - this is terrific Truffle. These will definitely make an appearance at my next party.

Truffle said...

Coffee & Vanilla - thanks for popping by! I'll definitely vote.

Kelly Mahoney - Thanks very much!

Joanna- thank you and thanks for reading :)

Lydia - with pleasure! Thanks!

Nora B. - I take real pleasure from the planning too. Thanks so much!

Lucy said...

No wonder you like to cook - growing up with a ready made chef in the home must have made for some wonderful and very memorable meals!

Love the smoked paprika and haloumi.

Anh said...

Truffle, I do know what you mean! I cant do anythign without proper planning either! And I love your cigar pastry... Great job!

Cynthia said...

I love cigars at parties :) I find them wonderfully surprising when I bite into them because one never knows what deliciousness awaits... Yours is definitely a winner.

vida said...

Hello, these look delicious and I plan on trying them... I thought a salad of roast pumpkin, the feta, fresh spinach leaves and pinenuts would be yum too, dressed with syrupy balsamic and good olive oil, yummy, must head off to make dinner... Bye, Vida

Mike said...

Hi Truffle
These look so good. Its something that I will try over the weekend.

Allotment Lady said...

FAbulous recipes - can the 'cigars' be prepared and frozen?

Truffle said...

Lucy - he's certainly been a great culinary influence! I love the textural element the haloumi adds. Give it a bit of substance!

Anh thanks so much! I do love a bit of pastry!

Cynthia - I agree completely. They make perfect party food I think.

vida - your salad sounds delicious!

Mike - hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading :)

Allotment Lady - I haven't done it myself but I'm pretty sure that would work. Filo pastry seems to freeze well. If you try it let me know how it turns out. It's a great idea.

Agnes said...

Oooh, pumpkin and feta AND crunchy filo... even without the photos I would be sold. They look gorgeous!

katiez said...

I'm afraid neither of my parents were much for cooking... maybe that's why I started?!?
Great recipe! I was just down at the potager eyeing my butternut squash - another week, I think.
These are going on my list (pumpkin, garlic, cheese, phylo,,,yum!)

Susan said...

With that flavor combo, these cigars must have tasted as fabulous as they look. I have a question for you: Is your butternut pumpkin the same as our butternut squash in The States, or is it actually a miniature pumpkin? Pumpkins aren't quite in season yet, but I think butternut squash would be a good substitute. Thanks!

ilingc said...

Truffle, these look gorgeous! I wish I had come across them earlier. They'd be perfect for my vegetarian friend who was visiting earlier this month.

IronEaters said...

they look divine.n they also look like spring rolls =)
my grandma n my mum just like ur dad too,don't really need recipe books or plan I think experience does play an important role =D

R2K said...

: )

Truffle said...

Agnes - Thank you! I love that combination of flavours and textures too.

katiez - That's really interesting. Perhaps that is why you've got such an interest in cooking now.

I hope you like them!

Susan- Thank you! I have a feeling they are one and the same so go ahead and try it with squash.

ilingc - thank you! I've been thinking a lot about vegetarian cooking lately so am sure to have more vegetarian friendly recipes in the future.

IronEaters - they do look a little like spring rolls, don't they? You're right, experience (and confidence) probably have a lot to do with it when it comes to that style of cooking.

R2K - thanks for reading :)

stickyfingers said...

That so reminds me of my own childhood. The house would be overrun with people to the point where folding chairs were deployed in every available space and sensational dishes would be served.

I was the bartender on arrival, then they would deploy me with platters of hors doeuvres and yes they made cigars too, there were mini stacks, Chinese prawn toast and also dumplings. It was my role too to make the profiteroles - how seventies - LOL!

Thanks for the flashback :-)

Kelly Mahoney said...

Sounds delicious. I wish I had entertaining in my blood!

Truffle said...

stickyfingers - I love that imagery. Sounds fabulous!

Kelly Mahoney - Thanks so much! I wish I did it more often and perhaps that way it would start to come more naturally.

Serenity Later said...

As always your cooking looks beaut Truffle! What a great combination of flavours you've got here.

Was your father a chef or involved in the food industry? Either way how lucky are you to have a dad who lovingly prepared such great feasts for his family and friends! Lovely!!!

Big Boys Oven said...

they look so lovely......I am now salivating done.

Kelly-Jane said...

These look wonderful, just my cup of tea!

I'm a bit of a Monica from 'Friends' in the organisation department. Which is probably as scary as it sounds :) :)

Truffle said...

Serenity Later - thank you!

He wasn't but I think that he should have been!

Big Boys Oven - thanks!

Kelly-Jane - thank you! To be honest, I can turn into a bit of a Monica myself :)

jeena said...

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Jeena xx

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Cris said...

Oh I wish I were your neighbor, with such delicious treats and background on cooking you received from your parents, it must be so fun to be around you! :-) Love that last picture.

Mansi Desai said...

truffle, even today i find it hard to measure and use ingredients while I'm cooking!! its just natural to feel and touch stuff and use it on an estimate, especially the spices!!!

but yeah, planning is very imp, in cooking and in life:)

Truffle said...

Cris- Thanks so much!

Mansi Desai- I seem to always be altering recipes but I think it has more to do with laziness than any natural skill.

tara bethune leamen said...

those sounds amazing

Truffle said...

Thanks Tara :)