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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Apricot Parcels with Honey Glaze

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on August 20, 2010


In a few months, I will be going to Morocco.

I have never had this much time to plan a trip. My previous trips to Japan and Turkey afforded me barely a month to plan my itinerary and accommodations. This time, I booked this trip nearly 6 months in advance, when airfare was cheap to Casablanca.

But instead of planning where I will go other than Marrakech, I am studying the Moroccan ways by reading through Moroccan cookbooks. I collected Japanese and Turkish cookbooks after my trips, so I am being proactive here! It is important to know which foods to gravitate towards while travelling.  ;)


While browsing though Moroccan Food & Cooking by Ghillie Basan, I spotted these cute apricot parcels with a honey glaze. They were perfect because it is apricot season AND I had leftover scraps of phyllo dough after making baklava.

I loved this recipe because it was very easy to whip together. Apricots are slit in half and stuffed with an almond paste, akin to marzipan, and they are wrapped individually in a piece of phyllo dough. I had long scraps of phyllo dough, so I used 2 long pieces to wrap the apricot. No need for additional butter, just a drizzle of honey. Bake them in the oven to find yourself with a silky, baked apricot with an almond centre and a crisp phyllo coat. Summer simplicity at its best.

This can be served warm or cold, but I preferred these served warm. Leftovers needed to be perked up in the oven to recrisp the phyllo dough.


If all my Moroccan dishes taste this good, then I will be having a great trip. :)


This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Marija from Palachinka, and to My Kitchen, My World, featuring Moroccan dishes this month.

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Turkish Baklava (The Best Baklava Recipe)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on August 17, 2010

I will not delve into the debate of where baklava originated because it is a common dessert across the Middle East. However, I will let you know that I play favourites:  I like Turkish baklava the most.


Before I visited Turkey, I did not like the oftentimes sickeningly sweet walnut and phyllo dough pastry drenched in honey. When I went to Turkey, though, I was hooked after our first bite the night we arrived. We sampled baklava at nearly every restaurant we encountered it on the dessert menu. I wanted to try a variety of Turkish desserts, but my dad only wanted baklava (I never would have discovered kunefe if I only stuck to baklava!). It was never tooth-aching sweet. It was nice and light, usually with a pistachio filling. There was a sweet syrup but it complemented the pastry as opposed to clashing and overpowering the dish. It wasn’t like anything I have had in Canada.

One of the greatest things about baking yourself is that you can recreate these dishes at home. No longer are you a victim to honey baklava, which reigns in Greek and Persian stores. And while it may seem difficult, baklava is easy to make at home. It is time consuming, but very straightforward. The bad news is that most recipes make a lot of baklava, so you will have to share this treat with family and friends. If they weren’t your friends before, they will be now! Is that such a bad thing after all?


I made sure to get a baklava recipe from a Turkish cookbook and the recipe in The Sultan’s Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan fit the bill well. It was exactly how I remembered the best baklava in Turkey, except the filling was with walnuts. I remember pistachios being a phenomenal filling for baklava so I will try that next time (update- I have made it multiple times, and pistachios are hands-down my favourite filling!). Ozan specifically mentions to use clarified butter which is simple to make at home. It is an important step to make sure your pastry layers are nice, light and fluffy and to reduce any sogginess that can come with the milk solids. It also allows your baklava to have a longer life at room temperature. Personally, they were gobbled up so fast, I didn’t have to worry about that. ;)

This is my submission to AWED-Turkey, hosted by me this month, and to this week’s BSI featuring butter.

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Salmon Fillet Wrapped in Phyllo Pastry

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Fish) by janet @ the taste space on December 20, 2009

I had a few blunders in the kitchen last week, so much so that when I was hosting a dinner party at my apartment, I decided to forego new recipes and serve a tried-and-true quick and easy, tasty dish: Salmon Fillet Wrapped in Phyllo Pastry. Despite sounding incredibly French, I actually got the recipe from a wonderful Japanese cookbook, The Japanese Kitchen by Kimiko Barber.  Barber explains that the phyllo dough is a substitute for yuba sheets, which can be hard to find in North America.

The trick for this kind of dish  is to use thick pieces of salmon so that the fish cooks the same length of time it takes to bake the phyllo dough.

This salmon is incredibly tasty and great for a spiffy meal on a weekday as it bakes up quickly.  I figured working with phyllo could be pretty fool-proof, but as I learned, not when you forget to thaw it beforehand. We had the phyllo overtop the oven, hoping to thaw it faster, and still had to deal with holes as we were incredibly inpatient and ripped it apart.  The holes can be easily hidden, though. We ended up eating dessert first (Cranberry Buckle with Vanilla Crumb), which stole the show, in my opinion.

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