”The weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful…”
These cute little pastries were another part of the Thanksgiving mezze I served on Friday night to our friends Caroline & Jean and that song could have been written for us. As the rain continuously lashed down outside, we were inside enjoying a glass of pink cava by the roaring fireplace. So roaring, in fact, that the glass door of the fire broke about 10 minutes before they arrived and smoked out the whole house! The Washer Up wasn’t amused- we had to let all the smoke (and heat) out by opening the doors. But alls well that ends well, it didn’t take long to heat back up again. We definitely all had a rosy glow. Whether that was from the fire or the cava I couldn’t say but we had a fantastic evening. It’s so lovely to spend time with friends, sharing food and stories around the dinner table, giving thanks for all the beautiful things in life…
These little Muhammara Cigars are another recipe I found on www.tasteofbeirut.com. Muhammara is a dip made from walnuts & hot red pepper paste. Its addictive taste is one I remember serving at the restaurant on a Lebanese Evening and then wanting to serve it with everything. It is great as a dip for raw veggies or with flatbreads or crackers. In fact it is good on just about anything. The idea of mixing it with feta cheese and then rolling it in filo pastry before baking them into hot crispy, cheesy nibbles is one I could not resist. Some things are just meant to be…
Apparently everyone has their own personal recipe for Muhammara using different nuts and different amounts of the other ingredients. This is mine, why not discover yours….
adapted from a Taste of Beirut recipe
makes about 12- 15, vegetarian
For the muhammara
- 1oo gr walnuts
- 100 gr almonds
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- the juice of 1/2 a pomegranate (or a tbsp pomegranate molasses)
- 1/2 tsp harissa paste (or any hot chilli paste)
- 150-200 gr jar roasted peppers
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- about 75 ml olive oil
Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until smooth but still with some texture. Taste for seasoning you may need more salt or chilli paste, maybe some lemon juice…
You will only be using about 1/2 of this mixture for the cigars, just store the rest in the fridge and serve as a dip, a pasta sauce, on a baked potato or even as a sauce for meat or fish.
For the Cigars
- 1 packet frozen filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
- 2oo gr Greek Feta cheese
- 100 gr grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or manchego are good)
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 egg white
- white pepper
- melted butter or olive oil to brush on the filo
- sesame seeds
Leave about half of the Muhammara in the bowl and store the rest in the fridge. Crumble in the Feta, add the grated cheese, chopped onion, white pepper & egg white and blitz again until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Lay a long piece of foil on your worksurface and brush it with oil or melted butter. Lay the filo out flat, cut into two squares then cut each square diagonally into quarters so you end up with eight triangles. There should be about 8 layers of the filo pastry, take 3 or 4 layers off of the top of one of the triangles and use these as the wrapping of your first cigar.
Lay the triangle with the long side facing you on the buttered foil. Brush the 3 corners with butter then place heaped tablespoon of the mixture a little way in from the long edge and start to roll it up like a spring roll. Brush with more butter on top of the rolled cigar and fold in the edges to seal them. Don’t worry if they are a bit of a mess, mine were, just stick them together with the butter or oil and hope for the best!!
Continue rolling all your cigars, you should get 16 triangles but filo can break easily sometimes, I only managed 12. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Place all the cigars on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush the tops with a bit more butter/oil then sprinkle over some sesame seeds. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until browned and serve immediately….
I served these with a Tahini Yoghurt & Mint sauce made with the wild mint we picked by the side of the river.
Tahini, Yoghurt & Mint Sauce
Vegetarian served 4 -6 as a sauce
- 2 pots greek yoghurt about 250 ml
- the juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tsp tahini paste
- a handful of chopped fresh mint
- salt & black pepper
Mix the lemon juice in with the tahini until smooth then add all the other ingredients and stir until well combined. Taste for seasoning.
This sauce is great to serve as part of a mezze. It goes really well as a sauce for falafels or my recipe for Honey Spiced Aubergines here. It would also be fantastic with lamb kebabs. You can add some toasted cumin seeds for more flavour, some minced garlic or even some grated cucumber would be lovely……