Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Dinner Strudel

Christmas Dinner Vegan Strudel

Well, this meal wasn't pretty.

Tasty, sure. Delicious even. But certainly not pretty. Think I'm exaggerating? This is what it looked like before it went into the oven:

not much

Oh yeah. Shield your eyes from its lumpy, flaky, lacklustre-ness. This, my friends, is Christmas Savoury Strudel, adapted from the Vegetarian Christmas cookbook by Rose Elliot. It was, as I said, delicious. A great vegetarian addition to Christmas dinner. Though I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to make a brand new recipe for a big family dinner. Especially one involving phyllo pastry. Yikes. The phyllo phell apart a lot when I was wrapping it all up, hence the phlakey (sorry, that was the last one) texture of the strudel. It looked a lot better when it had been cooking for a while and it had browned. And at least my parents' kitchen, where I was cooking this whole mess, is awesomely well equipped. That helped.


My dad suggested the perhaps it would have fallen apart less if I'd used more than just one sheet of phyllo for each layer and I think he was right. I've generally used two or three sheets for each layer when I've made other dishes like this. I'm not sure why the recipe said to use only one at a time. Good call, Dad. And, because my dad was very excited about the possibility of "making the blog", here is a picture of my cute parents. They shared the Christmas dinner cooking duties, which is why they are both wearing aprons. My Dad actually tried to steal away my Top Chef apron, but I told him to get his own.

Mom and Dad

So anyway, the moral of the story is, phollow (okay, I lied) your phyllo instincts. Otherwise, this was a delicious dinner.

Christmas Savory Strudel

(adapted from Vegetarian Christmas)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 24 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of phyllo pastry
1/4 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat and add onions. Saute until onions are tender.

Drain the liquid from the canned tomatoes and add them to the onions along with the garlic. Stir well.

Add basil and red wine.

Simmer mixture until most of the liquid has evapourated (about 20 minutes) and then add the mushrooms.

Cook until mushrooms are tender and then remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Working quickly, lay out two or three sheets of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Spread one third of the chopped cashews evenly over the surface.

Repeat this step twice, then add two or three more sheets, brush with butter, and spread out tomato mixture.

Roll entire strudel (like a jelly roll) and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Brush top with the rest of the melted butter, and place in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, until pastry is browned.

Serves 4-6 people, depending on how plentiful your side dishes are!

Some Notes:

-Placing a damp tea towel over the sheets of phyllo you aren't using will make it so they stay much more supple and don't break all over the place when you do try to use them. I recommend this highly. Otherwise you will go crazy and want to cry as the phyllo crumbles in your hands.

-Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I have traditionally avoided New Year's, finding it an unpalatable holiday at best, but this year I'm going to poke a toe out of my comfort zone and go for a fancy dinner with the Man of Science at Zen Kitchen. I will likely report back on the food which will probably be delicious.

-I have a head cold right now, likely picked up from the Man of Science who got something similar at the tail end of our Paris trip. Boo! I feel like I just got over The Cold That Would Not Leave, but when I think about it, that was actually in October. And this cold is not nearly as bad as that one. Hopefully I'll be less mouth-breathy when we go out for dinner tomorrow. I'd hate to waste good food on compromised taste buds.



Wendy said...

Filo (Phyllo?) is soooo hard to work with. I admire your courage. The dinner looks delicious.

The Voracious Vegan said...

This looks AMAZING. Phyllo really is hard to work with, I think you did great. Well done!

Tiana said...

It looks like the pastry dried out. I cover it with a damp dishcloth when I'm not actively working with it and it helps a lot.

T said...

I would also say its good to get fresher phyllo. Its supposed to keep forever in the freezer, but I find the older it is, the more crumbly.

However, it still looks delicious!