the taste space

Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on February 17, 2012

My Mom doesn’t think I should post recipes that I don’t eat myself. I have to trust others to tell me how it tastes but I can tell you how easy it was to make.  Although even Rob and I can disagree on whether we like a dish, considering both Rob and my parents liked the Tel Kadayif, the Turkish shredded phyllo dough dessert, I deemed that a quorum for a good recipe. And with its stupid-easy simplicity, definitely blog-worthy.

This is another dish I made for others at a party, with no intention of eating myself. In fact, I had planned to use half of the stuffing for the phyllo rolls, and just eat the remainder of the filling myself, without the phyllo dough. Somehow, though, I just kept wrapping the phyllo rolls and by the time I looked down, there was no more filling left. Plus, we were already late for the party, so we brought half the rolls with us and left the other half at home to bake later.

These Moroccan phyllo rolls were so good that I ended up eating them for a few meals.

The filling was very nice, filled with roasted vegetables (zucchini, red pepper, onion and fennel) and spiced with all my favourite savoury Moroccan flavours – ginger, paprika, cinnamon and cumin. I have become scared of roasting veggies with spices, so I added the spices to the veggies right after they were finished roasting. The dried apricots added a touch of sweetness and weren’t overpowering in the slightest. The fresh basil added a nice twist, as well. While the original recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan suggests serving these more like a strudel, because this was for a party, I made them into little appetizer phyllo triangles.

These are nice as is, but let me tell how you awesome these rolls are with the Balsamic Maple Sauce. The sauce was so simple to put together, yet filled with flavour. It didn’t even seem like a lot of dressing but a little bit goes a long way. Actually, refrain yourself, because too much sauce could easily overshadow the subtleties of the rolls.

I still have some sauce leftover and wondering what else I could use it with… Dreena suggests drizzling it over steamed veggies, baked sweet potato or using it for anything that needs to be dipped. Sounds like a good plan!


This is being submitted to this month’s Sweet Heat Challenge, featuring Game Night treats and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Tel Kadayif (Turkish Shredded Phyllo Dough with Walnuts, aka the Easiest Baklava!)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on January 13, 2012

While my Mom made new recipes for me, with new-to-her ingredients (TVP-what? chickpea flour-oh my!), I also reciprocated by bringing yet another Turkish dessert for my parents to enjoy. Yes, I will still bake with ingredients that I don’t eat myself. They both adore my baklava and were tickled pink by the Nightingale’s Nests I made last summer. When I spotted shredded phyllo dough at the grocery store (No Frills at Don Mills and Eglinton, for my Toronto peeps!), I knew I had to try to make Tel Kadayif, another Turkish dessert.

When I originally spotted the recipe in The Sultan’s Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan (recipe here), it looked like the most simple baklava. Instead of patiently layering each sheet of phyllo, you have a mess of shredded phyllo dough on the bottom, a middle of sweetened crushed walnuts, topped with more phyllo dough dusted with butter, then doused in a (not too) sugary syrup. Super easy and super tasty (so I hear). While we didn’t use all of the syrup, I think next time we’d even use less, because as you can tell by the photos, it was sopped up by the top layer as well.

While travelling in Turkey, my favourite dessert discovery was kunefe. I think I was in Fethiye, on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, when I stumbled upon it. I was wavering between kunefe and Noah’s pudding (asure) on the menu. As I typically do, I consulted with the waiter – which did he recommend? Kunefe, hand’s down, he told us, if we didn’t mind waiting 20 minutes. It was made to order, he explained.

What arrived was a bowl full with toasty, crunchy shredded phyllo with a cheesy filling, doused with a not-too-sweet syrup. Delicious, melted cheese.

After I discovered  it in all its cheesy glory, I wanted to try it again. Sadly, the price doubled by the time we made it back to Istanbul (such is life in a larger city). But what was even more sad, even after I bit the bullet of the higher price, was that the restaurants were somehow “out” of kunefe that night. I couldn’t even find it! Too difficult to make, made-to-order, shenanigans is what I figured. We weren’t travelling during tourist season so they had likely scaled back their desserts. Sadly. However, if you swap this walnut filling for a cheese filling, you have kunefe! For a more glorious single serving, I think it gets made in a small frypan, made to order. Neither of my parents like cheese too much, so that’s one Turkish dessert, I likely won’t be making for them. :P

Up next? Who knows? But it may be Turkish delight! How does Bryanna’s Pomegranate and Walnut Turkish Delight sound to you?

(and a big thank you goes to Rob for the photos, since I didn’t even bring my camera to Ottawa!)


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona.

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Turkish Nightingale’s Nests (Bulbul Yuvasi)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on August 7, 2011

Nope, this is neither vegan nor free of refined sugars and flours.

But it wasn’t for me to eat.

It was a gift Rob and I made for my Dad.

This weekend, we travelled to Ottawa to celebrate his upcoming big 6-0 birthday.

Homemade gifts always appeal to me because you can taste the love in every bite. :)

My Dad adores baklava, but I decided to make him a different Turkish treat for his birthday. Not that he would balk at a repeat of baklava (I just gave him a batch for Father’s Day), but I wanted to try something new. There must be something wrong with me…. I can’t make the same recipe too often! Even if I don’t eat it myself, it would be too boring to prepare it a second time! Ack!
(But for some reason, I made Roasted Cauliflower with Dukkah and 15-Minute Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles for everyone this weekend without problems.. AND to positive reviews).

I consulted the same Turkish cookbook, The Sultan’s Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan, for another possible dessert. I picked out a few contenders, but was fixated on the Nightingale’s Nests which as you can see, are cute nests of phyllo dough filled with walnuts and topped with pistachios and a not-too-sweet syrup. Basically all the same ingredients in baklava, just in a different shape. After watching this video, it honestly looked less tedious than baklava. I just needed to find a thick stick first.

The Turkish rolling pin, or oklava, is a rod-shape and quite thin. Ozan suggested using a dowel from the hardware store in a pinch. Rob and I got creative, though. We found an old clothes hanger with a thick base and wrapped it in wax paper. It worked like a charm!

The beginnings of our own oklava… we wrapped the thick sheath in wax paper..

You begin by coating a piece of phyllo dough with butter and lightly dusting it with ground walnuts

You fold it in half, leaving an inch free, then wrap it around the oklava…

You leave about an inch from the end, and then crinkle it in like a scrunchy..

Then you twist it together to make a circle… bake, then top with pistachios and a sugar syrup…

Baked and ready to eat!

With a holey nest, you could almost consider this a light dessert…. yeah right, who are you kidding? ;)

Once you figure out the technique and have a good oklava substitute, this is easy to make.  Baklava is easy, too, just tedious, especially when you layer 2 packages of phyllo dough. But dare I suggest that this looks even more remarkable than baklava? You’d think we slaved in the kitchen, but we know better than that! It is a good thing my Dad doesn’t pay much attention to my blog. ;)

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Apple Strudel (How to Make Authentic German Apfelstrudel)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on October 14, 2010


This past weekend was the Canadian Thanksgiving and I was happy to be able to go home and spend some time with my family. While I wasn’t involved in much of the food preparation this year, I helped to provide recipes for the weekend – namely pomegranate-glazed salmon, Ina Garten’s Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Warm Cider Vinaigrette and baklava (ok, I was allowed into the kitchen to make this!). Everything we ate was delicious. I was lucky to grow up with a family that can cook and bake so well.

My quest to search out those treasured family recipes was one reason I became more interested in cooking. My paternal grandmother passed away before I became interested in learning how to make perogies, paska and borscht. Sometimes recipes just aren’t as good as learning from your Baba.

One of the first recipes I didn’t want to die into oblivion was strudel. Authentic, German strudel. How my Oma makes it. Nothing else compares. Just as I had comments that my baklava isn’t truly authentic without hamur (homemade dough), I know that strudel without pulled strudel dough pales in comparison to the real thing. For the longest time, I couldn’t even fathom making it in my apartment because I didn’t have a kitchen table. Because that is how big the strudel dough must be pulled.

I hope to share with you how to make the best apfelstrudel. It looks daunting and kneading the dough takes some knack. I find that the most challenging. The first time, I kneaded it for over 30 minutes until I was able to get the desired consistency. I had to knead until it felt “like this”, my grandmother and uncle explained. The stretching takes time and patience. No worries about small holes, since it all gets rolled up and no one will be the wiser. I need to keep my strudel making skills up to snuff, with constant refreshers, and my dad promised me we’d make it together over Christmas. :)

Here are a few photos from my first time learning how to make strudel:

You start with a flat circle of dough, first rolling it out with a rolling pin

Once it is thinner, you paint it with some butter

Then you start to gently pull it at the edges

Then you pull from the centre of the dough, after tucking your hands underneath.
It helps to remove rings and watches!

Keep pulling until it falls off your table

A dark table cloth helps you to see how thin your dough is.
Clothespins keep everything in place.

Then you tear off the slightly thicker edge

Adding more butter to the dough (holes are ok, even Oma makes them!)

Adding your filling: breadcrumbs, sugar, cinnamon, apples and raisins

Yum!

Then you flip it over on the longer side.

Flip over both shorter sides as well

Now the fun begins, lifting the tablecloth to roll the strudel down

Don’t let it fall off the table!

Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with more butter and bake

Baked, in all its glory

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Delicious! :)

This is my submission to this month’s Regional Recipes, featuring German cuisine, and to Veggie/Fruit a Month, featuring apples.

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Egyptian Bread and Butter Pudding (Om Ali)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on October 9, 2010

I have never had bread pudding before. Stale bread just doesn’t seem that fun for dessert, to be honest. But food blogging tends to push you into new directions. I stumbled upon an Egyptian Bread and Butter Pudding, called Om Ali, while flipping through The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.

Also called Umm Ali or Omm Ali, it literally translates to Ali’s mother. There are different stories as to its origin, but it sounds like Ali’s mom whipped up this delicious dessert from staples in her kitchen. Indeed, one of the reasons I tried it was because I had all these scraps of phyllo dough after trimming them from the baklava and some cream left over from a chocolate fondue feast. It was the perfect leftover throw together dessert. :)


Indeed, it is the scraps of phyllo (or puff pastry) that sets this dish apart from other bread puddings. In fact, I hesitate to call this a bread pudding, despite it being a pudding with bread in it (phyllo dough, rather).  Instead of a bread-heavy dish, it is more of a creamy pudding. It is mixed with crunchy toasted almonds, sweet raisins, and topped with a dusting of cinnamon. This reminded me more of a creamy, baked rice pudding, sans rice, but with other delicious additions.  In any case, it is delicious, and easy to make. Let it convert all the bread pudding haters.

This recipe was adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.

This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Egyptian travels.

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