CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES

Puff pastry turns any delicacy into something special. It is hard to beat the taste and texture of a nicely laminated dough. You can go sweet or savory, you can skip any additions, just form them as sticks, twist them around and enjoy plain or with a humble sprinkle of spices. Today I share a recipe for puff pastry squares using a classic Brazilian filling: chicken and hearts of palm.

CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for rough puff pastry:
(makes a little more than you’ll need)
345 g unsalted butter, frozen
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
300g all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp (to toss with grated butter)
80 g whole milk, cold
80 g water, cold (may not use it all)
1 egg for egg wash

for the filling:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lemon (to poach chicken)
salt and ground black pepper to poach chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
salt and ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
100 g hearts of palm, cut in ¼ inch rounds
100 g frozen peas (no need to defrost)
80 g cream cheese (full-fat)
Sriracha sauce
fresh cilantro to taste
1 lemon
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup whole milk

Mix in a large bowl the 300g flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Grate the butter using a food processor with a grating disk attachment. Toss it with 2 Tbsp flour and reserve.

Take 155 g of the grated butter and mix with the flour in the large bowl, tossing with your hands to form reasonably small crumbles. Keep the rest of the butter in the freezer. Add to the flour/butter mixture all the cold milk and half of the water. Make a smooth dough, trying to handle it as little as possible. Adjust with water and or more flour.

Roll it out as a rectangle, about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Add roughly 50 g of frozen grated butter to the center of the dough. Fold bottom half up, add 50 g more butter to the folded portion. Fold the top portion down, covering the butter. Turn the dough so that one open side is facing you. Roll it out as before, add the leftover grated butter exactly the same way. Fold and place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough as before, fold two more times without adding any more butter. Roll out as a rectangle and keep in fridge until filling is ready and cold.

Roll out about 1/3 of the dough (roughly 300 g) as a square a little bigger than 12 inches. Do the same for another third of the dough.  Cut 12 squares from each piece of dough, punching a star using a cookie cutter in the center of half the squares (they will be the top of the pastry).

Place the squares that will be the bottom over parchment paper. Add enough cool chicken filling, brush the sides with egg wash, place the top pastry and push the edges to close it down. Brush the top with egg wash and bake at 400F for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

FOR THE FILLING (can be made a couple of days in advance)
Poach the chicken breasts very gently in water seasoned with salt, pepper, soy sauce and lemon juice. I like to bring the water to almost a boil, turn the heat off, and leave the chicken in the pan for 15 minutes. Keep in mind it will cook longer in the pie.  When chicken is poached and cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers or a couple of forks. Reserve.

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper in a large skillet until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken breast, tomatoes, tomato paste, hearts of palm pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Dissolve the flour in the milk, whisking well to avoid lumps. Pour into the meat mixture and heat until it starts to thicken.  Add the cream cheese, then the frozen peas and mix everything gently. Add the Sriracha sauce, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Add the minced cilantro, lemon juice and allow the mixture to cool completely before assembling the pastries.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The filling for these puff pastry squares is very similar to this one of my recent blogging past. It is a classic component of Brazilian recipes like pasteis, empadinhas and pies. The recipe will provide you with leftovers that you can enjoy over rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or if you are truly daring, try it as a topping for pizza or flatbreads. Add a bit more cheese on top for good measure.

You will have a little bit of puff pastry leftover. You can cut in small squares, fill mini-muffin pans and play with other fillings like….

Mushroom duxelles!  Or save in the freezer for future important experiments in the kitchen. It does freeze beautifully…

ONE YEAR AGO: Seedy Crackers for a Fun Party

TWO YEARS AGO: Brutti ma Buoni Low-Carb Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Turkey Stir-Fry with Almond Butter

FOUR YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Tailgating Party!

FIVE YEARS AGO: One Million Page Views!

SIX YEARS AGO: Tlayuda, a Mexican Pizza

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Paradise Revisited 

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Feijoada, the Ultimate Brazilian Feast

NINE YEARS AGO: Vegetable Milhojas

TEN YEARS AGO:  Italian Bread

THE BEST, THE VERY BEST HUMMUS

If you ask me to make a list of things I could eat on a daily basis, hummus will show up as #1. Simple as that.

Bewitching Kitchen

We eat hummus all the time. Almost always store-bought, because we actually like the two brands available in our neck of the woods: Sabra and Athenos. Sometimes I refresh it with a little lemon juice, olive oil, some cumin or paprika, but sometimes we just dig in, straight from the container. I have quite a few hummus-like recipes in the blog, departures from the classic, using avocado, edamame, even pumpkin. Oddly enough, I never posted the classic, chickpea-tahini entity. Until now, that is. The recipe I tried this past weekend was a revelation, and I am still kicking myself for taking such a long time to try it, when bloggers and cookbook authors have been raving about it for ages. This is the way hummus is prepared in the Middle East. The prominent flavor is exactly what is intended to be: chickpeas and tahini. No distractions. The texture…

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TWICE-BAKED GOAT CHEESE SOUFFLE

From a distant blogging past, a favorite appetizer or light main dish, easy but impressive…

Bewitching Kitchen

If you’re intimidated by the prospect of making a souffle, then this recipe is a special gift for you.  This double-baking method (oven time separated by hours,  if convenient) is great for entertaining: no more guessing about when’s the correct time to put the souffle in the oven;  no more anticipating when the guests will be ready to eat the puffed-up, gorgeous masterpiece.    Plus, I’ve always felt that  individual servings (in this case individual souffles) makes each guest feel special. 😉 The recipe comes from Secrets of Success, one of my favorite cookbooks.

TWICE-BAKED GOAT CHEESE SOUFFLE
(from Michael Bauer’s Secrets of Success, original recipe from Barbara Mulas & Mark Drazek)

butter for greasing ramekins, plus 3 Tbs
1 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbs cake flour
1 cup milk, warmed slightly in a microwave
10 ounces goat cheese, divided
3 large egg yolks
salt and…

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SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND FETA CHEESE TORTE

This is definitely one showstopper of an appetizer! Try it and you can thank me later….

Bewitching Kitchen

I first made this torte in 2001, for a large cocktail party to celebrate  my beloved’s Birthday.  We’d  never hosted quite so many people  (perhaps 60),   and this layered appetizer was one of the highlights of that memorable night.   The recipe came  from  Chiqui, a caterer from New Orleans, whom I “net-met” many years ago.    I hope you’ll consider it for your next dinner party, or for a potluck.  I recently made it again for another birthday party, so I might have to start calling it “Birthday Torte”.   😉

FETA CHEESE TORTE
(adapted from Chiqui)

1/2 cup slivered pine nuts, toasted (I substituted slivered almonds)
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/2  garlic head, roasted
8 ounces feta cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tsp white pepper, ground
2 Tbs vermouth
1/2 cup arugula pesto (or regular basil pesto, preferably homemade)

Prepare the…

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BRAZILIAN PAO DE QUEIJO: Love at first bite!

Brazilian cooking at its best, in a quick, easy and super tasty recipe!

Bewitching Kitchen

cheesebread1

If you happen to know any Brazilians leaving abroad, ask them to name the five foods that they miss the most. I’m willing to bet that “pao de queijo” (little cheese bread) makes the list. Some might even shed a tear or two thinking about it.

Originally from the beautiful state of Minas Gerais, they are made with a farmer’s type cheese, quite unique (Minas’ cheese, read about it here).   Brazilian cheese bread  is so popular that nowadays you can buy it in stores all over the country called ‘Casa do Pao de Queijo” (Home of the Cheese Bread),  or as a dry mix, in colorful bags available at most grocery stores. I’ve lost track of how many such bags we’ve stuffed in our luggage coming back from annual trips to visit family and friends.

Last year I found a recipe for pao de…

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SEEDY CRACKERS FOR A FUN PARTY!

Remember The Secret Recipe Club? Oh, how I miss those fun times…  But, even if it’s over, many of the virtual ties made over the years stayed strong. One of the “secreters”, Sid, has just published a nice cookbook, and organized this Virtual Tapas Time Party in which bloggers pick one recipe to highlight, everyone posting together today. I am thrilled to be part of it, and share with you a delicious take on crackers. They leave anything you can buy at the store in a smoke. They are hearty, tasty, crunchy, and I must also say… addictive (sigh).  Some serious self-control is needed. They are awesome even naked. Yeah, some jokes come to mind, but I’ll exercise self-control there too, and skip them.

SOMETHING’S SEEDY CRACKERS
(from Sid’s Nibbles and Bites)

2 cups bread flour
1 cup mixed seeds – equal amounts of each of Flax – Chia – Sesame
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup water (enough to moisten the dough, maybe a little more if needed)

Heat oven to 450 F.

Mix all ingredients together, and let rest for about 15 minutes.  Divide the dough into either thirds or quarters, and roll out each piece 1/8 thick. Cut into squares and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 12-15  minutes, or until the crackers start to brown around the edges. Remove from pan, cool on a rack and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I rarely make crackers. Some of the store-bought products are so good and convenient, I truly do not mind opening a package and serving them at dinner parties. Take Ak-Mak, for instance. They are simply perfect with hummus, cheese, tapenade. But Sid’s book gave me the push I needed to bake a batch, and I must admit, they are much, much better than those commercially available. Plus, you can customize them the way you like, using different seeds, or even some spices. And fun to make too. I could have rolled them a little thinner, because they do puff up a little during baking. It’s the baking powder speaking.  Oddly shaped pieces should be baked too, I think they look great and the pointy edges are perfect to stab into a creamy spread.

A little overview of Nibbles and Bites

I share my two top favorites of each chapter, so you can have an idea of what the book is all about.

SPREADS, DIPS AND MORE… Mini-Dried Cranberry and Pistachio Balls (they look adorable, and I imagine taste great). Jalapeno Popper Dip (definitely my kind of a dip).

HUMMUS… A full chapter on my favorite appetizer in the known universe! Hard to choose only two, but here we go: Curried Carrot Hummus, and Chocolate Hummus (intriguing, but I bet it works, the combination of tahini with chocolate is becoming a classic).

RETRO… Who does not like a good old retro concoction?  Smoked Salmon Pinwheels, and Egg Salad Pinwheels make my list, most definitely.

CRACKERS… The recipe I featured, absolutely delicious! The second contender which I almost made, Lemon and Rosemary Crackers. No justification needed.

EGGS… Basic Deviled Eggs (I am addicted, always searching for new takes on it), and Snowmen Eggs, which would be a perfect culinary project to do with kids.

WINGS AND THINGS… Cranberry-Orange Wings, and Chutney Wings called my name… I think chutney is one under-rated food, a bit retro perhaps, but so delicious!

SEAFOOD THINGS… Definitely the Blackened Mango Shrimp on a Stick… and Carrabelle Crab Cakes, a recipe that won People’s Choice Award two years in a row! Talk about a great endorsement…

PLAIN FUN STUFF… Tomato Bites (adorable) and Vegetarian Potstickers make my favorite pair.

I hope you enjoyed the featured recipe and the virtual tour of Sid’s book. Make sure you stop by Sid’s blog to see what our friends made from Nibbles and Bites.

ONE YEAR AGO: Brutti ma Buoni Low-Carb Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Turkey Stir-Fry with Almond Butter

THREE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Tailgating Party!

FOUR YEARS AGO: One Million Page Views!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tlayuda, a Mexican Pizza

SIX YEARS AGO: Paradise Revisited 

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Feijoada, the Ultimate Brazilian Feast

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Vegetable Milhojas

NINE YEARS AGO:  Italian Bread

BLACK OLIVE TAPENADE AND DEVILED EGGS

Tapenade-flavored deviled eggs! A great departure from the classic, this was a recent blog post by my dear friend Karen. We love deviled eggs so I was quite excited when she shared her version that included a hefty dose of black olive lusciousness to make them even more special. At first I thought we had one of those convenient ready-made jars from Trader Joe’s sitting in our pantry, but of course, the moment I had a very important use for it, they were nowhere to be found. I had to take matters into my own food processor. You know what? Home-made is infinitely better. There’s a fresh taste to it, plus I could customize it adding a bit of orange zest. Total winner!

BLACK OLIVE TAPENADE
(adapted from many sources)

1 + 1/2 cups pitted black olives
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
juice of half a lemon (taste and add more, if you like)
chopped fresh parsley to taste
olive oil to desired consistency
salt and pepper
orange zest

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, except olive oil, salt, pepper, and orange zest. Process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle olive oil until it gets to the consistency you prefer, I added a bit less than 1/4 cup.  Season with salt, pepper, and add orange zest at the very end.

BLACK OLIVE TAPENADE DEVILED EGGS
(slightly modified from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup full-fat yogurt
1/2  tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 heaping tablespoon (or more to taste)  olive tapenade
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Paprika for garnish

Peel and slice the eggs in half, lengthwise. Place the yolks into a bowl and mash with a fork. 

Add the yogurt, mustard, and cayenne pepper, and mix until smooth. Add the tapenade and salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly combined. Place the yolk mixture into a piping bag and pipe into the egg white cavities. Sprinkle with paprika and chill until ready to serve. You should chill too, it’s an easy recipe, perfect for entertaining.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here

Comments: Confession time. I gave you the recipes with more or less precise measurements, but I did not use a single measuring cup or spoon to make them. Because I’ve been baking so much, I get pretty tired of measuring and weighing items. When it comes to a savory recipe, I want freedom. So I pretty much eye-balled everything. And used my taste buds to judge if I needed more capers, more lemon, more parsley. I advise you to do the same, it is quite liberating (wink, wink). Yes, no two attempts will be exactly the same, but isn’t that part of the charm of cooking? Now, of course baking is another story, your goal is to reach that perfect mousse emulsion, the cake with correct structure and moisture, the macarons with the perfect mixing of almond to meringue. Precision rules.

These turned out delicious! I made a batch on a Saturday morning while The Man was playing golf and the plan was to surprise him with the platter ready and waiting. But he finished the game early, and arrived while I was piping the filling. So there you go, you got to see a picture of the process.

I like to use yogurt instead of mayo, as mayonnaise does not enter our home, but you should go the more authentic route if you prefer.

Karen, thanks for constantly inspiring me, as you know I have a huge list of recipes to try from your site, but I jumped on this one like Buck jumps on a snake in the backyard. Sorry for the image, but it’s accurate.

ONE YEAR AGO: Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Bundt Cake

THREE YEAR AGO: Quinoa Salad with Red Grapes and Avocado

FOUR YEARS AGO: Strawberry Coffee Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

SIX YEARS AGO: Mascarpone Brownies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Salmon Tacos

EIGHT YEARS AGOCinnamon Turban Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: Summertime Gratin

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