PHYLLO PARCELS WITH MOROCCAN TURKEY

Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here.

Not too long ago I blogged about a savory pie made with olive oil crust and ground turkey. It was delicious, and I knew I wanted to re-visit it shortly after. Today I share a departure on that recipe, using a very similar filling but wrapped with phyllo dough. It is considerably lighter, especially because I use a light hand with the olive oil spray in between the layers. Works great and is a lot kinder on the waistline.

PHYLLO PARCELS WITH MOROCCAN TURKEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

large or jumbo size muffin pan, makes about 5 parcels

for the parcels:
1 box of phyllo dough, thawed in fridge overnight
olive oil spray

for the filling:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 + 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 large carrots, cut in pieces
8 oz mushrooms cut in pieces
2 celery ribs, minced
1 + 1/2 tsp salt
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon harissa, or to taste

Brown the ground turkey in a large skillet using 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and seasoning with 1 tsp salt. Once the meat is brown, transfer to a bowl. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil and saute the carrots, shallot and mushrooms, sprinkling all the spices and the final 1/2 tsp salt over the veggies as they cook. Once the veggies start to get some color, add the harissa, the ground turkey reserved, and mix everything gently. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool it completely.

Lay your phyllo sheets and cut squares large enough to cover the whole inner surface of the muffin pan. Lay 3 sheets of phyllo over each hole, each slightly  twisted in relation to the previous one, and spray a very light amount of olive oil as you lay them. Add the cold filling, get one square and fold it in four, so that you are left with a small amount of pastry that can sit right on top of the filling (see photo on the composite below).  Crunch all the phyllo from the base layers over the top, spray olive oil.

Bake at 375F for about 25 minutes, or until golden. Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. They should un-mold very easily and neatly.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The idea for these little parcels came from the new cooking show by Nadiya Hussein, “Time to Eat.” She used this method to make little apple pies but I really liked the way she handled the phyllo and wanted to adapt for a savory meal. Instead of fiddling with one sheet of phyllo at a time, it is a lot easier to just grab several sheets, cut them all at the same time in squares and then peel them off to place in the tin. Brilliant. I highly recommend the show, available on Netflix. A recipe from it should be on the blog soon.

The filling is already cooked, so you are basically just browning the phyllo and making it all crunchy and delicious. Super easy to assemble, this would be absolutely perfect for guests, and of course you could make it vegetarian-friendly. I imagine a filling with butternut squash and mushrooms, or eggplant and sweet peppers, lots of tasty ideas. You can also go for a hearty lamb filling, but with warmer weather on the horizon, lighter is definitely better.

We enjoyed it with mashed sweet potatoes, made sous-vide, but I need to tweak that recipe before sharing, there were a few “issues.”

Depending on the size of your muffin tin, you might be able to get 6 little parcels. They hold well in the fridge and to warm up what I like to do is run them in the microwave for 1 minute (yes, 60 seconds) and then transfer them to a hot oven for 10 more minutes. They turn out perfectly warm all the way through and the phyllo retains its nice texture.

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MOROCCAN TURKEY PIE WITH OLIVE OIL CRUST

Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here. A video summarizing important tips can be found here

We don’t eat sweets that much. I bake a lot but it all goes to departmental colleagues, senior citizens at our town center, and homeless meals. What is a baker to do, when a pandemic forces everyone into isolation and she has very limited outlets to share sweets?  She bakes savory stuff, that is. Like this crazy departure on Shepherd’s Pie, made lighter because the topping is cauliflower-based. The lightness is immediately neutralized by enclosing it in a pie crust. It all balanced out beautifully,  and we were both quite pleased with our dinner. Normally I would make a salad to go with it, but it felt like a complete meal without it.

 

MOROCCAN TURKEY PIE WITH OLIVE OIL CRUST
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for the pie crust:
250g all-purpose flour (260 grams)
1/8 teaspoon salt
50g olive oil (50 grams)
125 g cold water

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the olive oil, stir with a fork until the flour gets coated with it, forming a crumbly ness. Slowly add cold water and knead gently just until the dough starts to comes together.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate one hour before using.

Roll it over plastic wrap lightly coated with flour, then use it to cover a 9-inch pie pan of your choice. Freeze for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400F. Remove crust from the freezer, cover with saran wrap or parchment paper and add weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

for the filling:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 + 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 large carrots, cut in pieces
8 oz mushrooms cut in pieces
2 celery ribs, minced
1 + 1/2 tsp salt
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon harissa, or to taste

Brown the ground turkey in a large skillet using 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and seasoning with 1 tsp salt. Once the meat is brown, transfer to a bowl. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil and saute the carrots, shallot and mushrooms, sprinkling all the spices and the final 1/2 tsp salt over the veggies as they cook. Once the veggies start to get some color, add the harissa, the ground turkey reserved, and mix everything gently. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool it completely.

for the topping:
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
70g raw almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp paprika

Arrange the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket, cover, and steam for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Check after 12 minutes, if a fork goes through easily, stop the steaming.

Put the almonds, olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and paprika in a Vitamix type blender (or food processor) and add the steamed cauliflower. Blend, increasing the power until it gets very smooth and thickens a little.  Remove from the blender and reserve until ready to top the pie. Can be made a day in advance, keep it in the fridge.

Assemble the pie. Heat the oven to 400F. Add the turkey filling to the crust, spoon the cauliflower topping. If desired, add a pattern using the tines of a fork.

Bake for 30 minutes. If you like a darker topping run it under a broiler protecting the edges of the pie crust. Allow the pie to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you omit the pie crust, this would turn into a pretty low-carb meal, that will still be quite satisfying. Keep that option in mind, although then I think a small salad could be a nice touch. Just lightly coat a Pyrex pie dish with olive oil and add the cooled turkey mixture, spread the cauliflower topping and bake. Some grated cheese could be very nice, we usually opt for a meal that is low in saturated fat, so we skip it.

I am very pleased with the olive oil crust. There are many recipes in cookbooks and websites, some will instruct you to do it as a press-on crust, but I did not like that at all. I adjusted the amount of flour and fat to produce a dough with good consistency for rolling. As a general rule, olive oil crusts need to bake for 35 to 40 minutes total, so depending on the type of filling you have, how moist it is, you can blind bake it for 10 minutes as I did, or skip it all together. Make sure the total baking time does not go over 40 minutes, or the crust might get too tough. It is a nice option for those avoiding dairy or trying to reduce the level of saturated fat.

 

 

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ANOTHER TWISTED SISTER OF THE SHEPHERD’S PIE

Gastronomic heresy alert: I am calling Shepherd’s Pie a concoction made with ground turkey and cauliflower topping. And what’s even worse, I’ve committed this sin before an I am doing it all over again, without a hint of shame.  This preparation is filling but moderately so. It won’t let you go into a state of total lethargy once you move away from the table. It is also low in carbs and saturated fat, in case you worry about those details. I used a trick quite popular in keto-type recipes to give ground turkey a more pleasant texture upon cooking. It involves baking soda and a few minutes of your time. Absolutely worth it. Read on the comments for full explanation on the baking soda trick.

TURKEY SHEPHERD’S PIE
(adapted from several sources)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head cauliflower, core removed, florets cut in pieces
½ cup water
Salt and pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pound 93 percent lean ground turkey
¼ teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tablespoon harissa
¾ cup homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan until ver hot. Add cauliflower and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Pour 1/2 cup water, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until the cauliflower is fully tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, and process until smooth. Add the egg and paprika, and process a few more seconds. Reserve.

Prepare the ground turkey: in a bowl, add the meat, one tablespoon water, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and baking soda, mixing everything together. Set aside for 15 minutes. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Make sure to use a skillet that can go under the broiler.  Add mushrooms and celery and cook until no liquid remains.   Stir in harissa and cook for a few more minutes.

Add broth, carrots, and Herbes de Provence,  and bring to a simmer.  Add the turkey meat, breaking it up with a fork.  Cover and cook until turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat every few minutes. Whisk cornstarch and the 2 tablespoons water together in small bowl, then stir mixture into filling and continue to simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Pat the meat mixture to make it leveled, and spread the cauliflower puree all over the surface.  If you like, use tines of fork to make a pattern of ridges on the surface. Place skillet under the broiler and broil for about 10 minutes, if necessary move the pan around to get homogenous color on the surface.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Quite often ground turkey develops a dry, unpleasant texture when cooked, unless you use alternative methods such as pressure cooking, or the crock pot low and slow for a long time. The addition of baking soda changes everything, by raising the pH. This has two benefits: it reduces the interaction between protein molecules in the meat (by a mild denaturing effect) and accelerates browning. Since the proteins are not able to interact with each other very efficiently, they acquire a more tender texture. It is important to not overdo it. You don’t want the meat to get all mushy, it is a delicate balance. In other words, don’t add the baking soda and walk away for a couple of hours.

This recipe can be assembled all the way and kept in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, place it covered in a low oven to warm up, then uncover and run under the broiler.  Leftovers are superb, and as usual, they showed up as my lunch two more times that week.

Note added after publication: a dear friend of mine from UK brought to my attention that a lesser sin would have been to call this a Twisted Sister of the Cottage Pie, as that at least involves other kinds of meat, whereas the Shepherd is always made with ground lamb.  So there you go, a bit more culinary trivia for us all.  I will keep my title, since one sister was already out there… (wink, wink)

Before you leave, grab a pin!

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TURKEY BURGER, JAPANESE-STYLE

If you are a food blogger, you know how it goes. Even a great recipe is made once, perhaps twice, then left behind, living exclusively as a blog post that you read and say to yourself “I must make that again, it was so good!”  But then, some recipes somehow materialize as regular appearances. Usually they hit a magical trilogy: simple to prepare, great flavor, and all the people you cook for happen to love it too. From my reasonably recent blogging past, two dishes hit this jackpot and show up all the time: Eggplant Parmigiana (version from Jeff Mauro), and Turkey Portobello Burgers. The eggplant turned into a once-per-week deal, actually, and I have simplified the preparation even more. I should edit that post to reflect my changes. As to the turkey burgers I can probably make them with one hand tied behind my back. Today I share with you a new version that incorporates Japanese ingredients.  The ticket is a mixture of shiitake mushrooms and red miso. If you are new to miso, maybe you should start with the milder, white version, but if you are a seasoned miso-eater (apologies for lousy pun), go big and go red.


JAPANESE-STYLE TURKEY BURGER
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon red miso
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushroom caps
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sansho pepper (or pepper of your choice)
1/4 tsp salt
fresh cilantro leaves to taste

Place the mushrooms, miso, olive oil, sansho pepper, salt and cilantro leaves in a food processor and process until it all forms a paste.

To prepare the burgers, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together; divide the mixture into 4 equal parts, forming a burger patty with each fourth of the mixture. Place in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes (or longer, but then cover lightly with plastic wrap.

Grill to your liking, about 5 minutes per side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have a thing for grill marks. In my mind, without them, grilled food won’t taste good. It is obvious I eat with my eyes first. For that reason, I am always adding a touch of honey or maple syrup to all my marinades, and often add some in a turkey burger mixture. In this recipe, miso does the job nicely, look at the beauty of those grill marks!

The other interesting bit of this recipe is that, contrary to ground beef, you don’t need to use a light hand forming the patties. The type of muscle fiber and fat content of turkey meat makes it behave in a totally different way. In fact, if you massage it well, and get the meat to be more fully compacted, the texture will be better. This tip was mentioned in America’s Test Kitchen during a show on turkey meatballs, and in a great book called The Japanese Grill (I told you I am in a Japanese-obsessive mood, didn’t I?). I proved it to myself with these burgers – massaged the living bejesus out of the meat. It ended up with perfect texture.

We rarely have bread with our burgers, and in fact, according to The Japanese Grill cookbook, a turkey burger must be served only with a little sauce, as if it’s a steak. Bread is considered a big no-no. Of course, if they see I added Velveeta on top of mine, they would prevent my entry into the country. I really want to go some day, so let that be our dirty secret…

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AIR-FRIED MEXICAN MEATLOAF

Don’t run away, you can make this tasty recipe in any oven, but let me tell you that the air-fryer shines on this preparation.  My friend Dorothy blogged about it not too long ago and urged me to give it a try. I made it three times in consecutive weeks. Yes, that’s how much we loved it. Simple to put together, and ready in 20 minutes thanks to the air-fryer environment, a blast of very intense heat concentrated in that small chamber. Pure awesomeness. It gets a nice crust, the meat inside is moist, with just the right amount of spicy heat. We inhaled them. Leftovers are wonderful too, by the way.

MEXICAN TURKEY MEATLOAF
(adapted from Shockingly Delicious)

1 egg
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped (I omitted)
1/3 cup almond flour
1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated Mexican blend cheese
1/4 cup green salsa (I used La Victoria)
1 cup finely sliced spinach leaves
2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
A few grinds of black pepper

Spray the basket of the air fryer with nonstick spray. If you have a perforated parchment sheet protector, lay it on the screen.

In a large mixing bowl, crack the egg and use a fork to beat it lightly. Add the turkey, onion (if using), almond flour, cheese, salsa, spinach, cilantro, and all spices. Gently mix with your hands.

Shape the turkey mixture into 4 loaves.  Place them in the air fryer, turn the heat to 390F degrees, and set the timer for 20 minutes.

Remove basket from oven, and place each meat loaf on a dinner plate. Top with additional salsa — either green or red salsa,  if you so desire.

You may also shape this into a single loaf and bake it in the oven for about 45 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The first time I made this recipe, I completely forgot to spray the basket of the air-fryer with some oil. I had the most epic mess to deal with later, as bits and pieces of crusty cheese bonded happily with the screen. I tell you, it was not fun. Having learned a painful lesson, I made it again and not only greased the basket, but I also protected it with a special perforated parchment liner that works like a charm both for bamboo steamers and air-fryers.  I highly recommend those, although you could improvise with parchment paper and scissors. I am not very gifted with this type of DIY stuff, so I rather amazon-it.

My main modification of Dorothy’s version was to use almond flour instead of bread crumbs, which reduces the carbo-load a bit, and gives a slight nutty flavor which I love. You can definitely go for the traditional bread crumb option, in this case you should add about 1/2 cup.

Dorothy, thanks for the inspiration! Glad you are having fun with your air-fryer, I hope we’ll go on inspiring each other!

Note added after publication: it was brought to my attention a nice review on different brands of air-fryers. If any of my readers is considering such purchase, take a look here before you decide which one to get.

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