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Monday, October 31, 2005

Harrowing Halloween filo triangles


Those of you looking for squash and pumpkin recipes, this one is pretty versatile. I used buttercup squash, the funky looking gourd seen here with Jasper.

The idea was that I would make these filo pastries and we would eat them while at the Halloween parade in our neighborhood. But two things got in the way of my eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil Halloween plans. First, I didn't read the directions on the filo dough package saying to defrost the dough before using (unlike frozen puff pastry). Second, Jasper took only half a nap, so I didn't have enough time and focus.

Why must you completely defrost frozen filo dough before using it? Because if you don't it just turns into a flaky mess, and you will not be able to fold it up into little triangles. Some of the dough was ok and I did make a few triangles. But I ended up just using most of it to make a big, flat, pie. I didn't want all that good filling to go to waste. It turned out ok. When all hell breaks loose on Halloween you kneel down and pray to your favorite Earth spirit to help you out. In my case I heard the voice of Stevie Nicks telling me to have a beer and make the best of it. That's how we ended up with the flat filo pie and the big mess in the kitchen.

A few years back I met cookbook author Claudia Rodin's daughter, who told me Rodin had just won a number of awards for her latest cookbook, The Book of Jewish Food So when we were in London the next month I ran out and bought it. These recipes come from that book. (Pies are made in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. The filling is called tatbila. Also, you can get this book here in the US.)

Little Meat Triangles
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T sunflower oil
1 lb minced beef or lamb [I used ground turkey]
salt and pepper
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
2 T pine nuts, lightly ground [I used pumpkin seeds]

For the filling, fry the onion in the oil till golden. Add the meat and fry lightly, crushing it with a fork and turning it over until it changes color, adding salt and pepper to taste, cinnamon and allspice. Stir in the pine nuts.

Pumpkin Triangles
1 1/2 lb orange pumpkin, weighed free of skin and fiber [I used buttercup squash]
5 oz feta cheese, mashed
2 eggs

Cut the pumpkin into pieces and put it in a pan with a tight-fitting lid with about 4 fl oz of water. Cook with the lid on for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Drain and mash in a colander and leave it there for all the liquid to drain for about 20 minutes. Press gently, then mix with the rest of the ingredients.

Cut the sheets of filo into 4 rectangles about 12 x 4 inches and put them in a pile on top of each other. Brush the top strip lightly with oil or melted butter. Take a heaped teaspoon of filling. Place it at one short end of the strip of filo, about 1 1/4 inches, from the edge. Fold that end over the filling. Now pick up a corner, and, lifting it up with the filling, fold diagonally, making a triangle. Continue to fold, picking up one corner after another, until the whole strip has been folded into a triangular package. Make sure that any holes are closed so that the filling does not ooze out [if you've ever folded a flag, it's basically the same idea -- AV].

Place the little packages close to each other on a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with oil or melted butter, or better still with egg yolk mixed with a drop of water, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

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