feasting at home: Filo Package with Chive Ribbon

December 21, 2012

Filo Package with Chive Ribbon






'Tis the season of "little bites".  Much of our catering work the last few weeks has centered around holiday parties. Creating perfect little one-bite appetizers, requiring no plate or fork, that guests can easily plop into their mouths while conversing. Mini Filo Packages filled with caramelized fennel and tied with chive ribbon are a fun little bite to bring to your next holiday party.

'Tis also the season of giving.
I have been thinking a lot about giving lately - and what it means to be truly generous. The best gifts are not always ones that can be held in our hands. Giving our money and time can make a difference, but there is something even more basic and real that we can give. Generosity of spirit. To me, this means is bringing the best part of ourselves to every encounter or situation. Our attitude. Our openness, our vitality, our full attention, our presence. Being deliberate. Deciding to bring our best self to this moment, is true generosity. And it can change everything.

It need not be anything more than a warm smile, or acknowledgment, a hug, or an opening up instead of retracting. Paying attention and really listening. Have you ever felt blessed by someone who has given you this? It is one of the best gifts ever. Every moment is an opportunity for us to give this to someone else.




Often I resist. Most of the time it's when I'm in hurry, trying to cram too many things into the day. Or when I feel tired or stressed, or when I'm trying to be efficient, a word I am beginning to strongly dislike. I know we all have to get things done, but do we have to be so grumpy about it? Can I take an extra twenty seconds to give the grocery clerk, my full attention, and say thank you with sincerity? Yes, there are some days when even this simple act of generosity, seems difficult.

Have you ever been in a situation, when you are having a perfect wonderful day and someone walks into the picture who completely changes everything with their bad energy, their negativity or their poor attitude? We all know what this feels like. It feels so deflating.  It affects us, doesn't it?  We have all been that person at some time. But the beautiful thing is that we can choose not to be today. Start to become aware of what you bring to each situation. Do you bring people down with your attitude? Are you negative? Or do people leave you feeling uplifted, and loved.

I find that when I am most present and open, acting deliberately and consciously, I am rewarded with golden interactions. Little bite-sized moments, that are deeply satisfying, and full of life and flavor. These moments make ordinary days sparkle.  They are the beauty in the midst of chaos. Life is full of these little golden moments when we open up to them. Have some. Savor them. Pass some around.





These little guys can be made ahead and placed in the oven right before serving. They also can be made vegan. Or not. And if fennel is not your thing--you can substitute most any vegetable to better suit you- like roasted butternut squash, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, roasted red bell pepper, or even ground lamb or your favorite cheese.


Start off by roasting fennel bulb and leek (or sweet onion) in the oven until tender and caramelized.  Slice them thinly and toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.







Place on a sheet pan or baking dish and roast until tender and caramelized .....and look like this.




While they are roasting, make the filling.

This filling, although vegan, has a nice richness to it, which completely disguises its vegan-ness.
Its starts by making a tofu "ricotta".   In a food processor, add tofu, herbs, lemon zest,  nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and a little olive oil and pulse repeatedly until granular like ricotta. 

If you prefer to use real ricotta instead, make sure to flavor it up a bit by adding chopped herbs, garlic, salt pepper and lemon zest. Basically the same ingredients as the tofu ricotta, but leave out the nutritional yeast and the olive oil.





This basic tofu "ricotta" recipe can be substituted in lasagna, stuffed shells, or cannelloni...



When the fennel and onions are done, chop them up in to small pieces or place them in a food processor and pulse until evenly chopped. ( Don't puree, you want the small little chunks for texture). Fold them to the ricotta mixture. For extra fennel flavor, add toasted ground fennel seeds. I also like to add toasted cumin seeds to the filling.





Clear a workspace and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Dampen two paper towels, and carefully wring them out. Lay these over the filo and they will prevent them from drying out and cracking.


Lay a piece of filo down and brush with olive oil, starting with the edges first, because they dry out the fastest. Lay another piece directly on top, brush with a light coat of olive oil.

Filo can be tricky to work with, but if you follow the filo tips below you should have no problem. Most of the problems come from incorrect thawing, so follow the package's directions carefully, planning a head to allow for thawing time.



Cut into 6 equal pieces. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center and gently gather up the corners.



Once all four corners are up, crimp the center, with your thumbs and middle fingers, remembering that a chive will need to be placed around it, so try to make  the crimp small and tidy.  It may take a couple tries before you get this, but just practice, it will get easier. They will start to look progressively better.



 Gently, carefully, slowly, tie chive in a knot.



Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.



Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375F until golden. 





 Serve with a fennel oil, or make a creamy vegan herb sauce...see below.

Filo Package with Chive Ribbon



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Filo Package with Chive Ribbon
A bite sized appetizer recipe for Filo Packages with Caramelized Fennel and Chive ribbon.
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 Cups -2 bulbs fennel (or any other roasted veggie)
  • 1 cup leek or sweet onion
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp, toasted, crushed cumin seed
  • 1 tsp, toasted crushed fennel seed
  • 8 sheets filo dough
  • 1 batch- see below tofu ricotta
  • 1 batch- see below Herb sauce
Instructions
Roast Fennel and Onions
Slice leek (or onion) and fennel into 1/2 inch strips, drizzle with 3 T olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt , cracked pepper and roast in 400 F oven until tender and golden 40-50 minutes. Chop, or pulse in food processor until finely chopped. Fold into ricotta mixture, adding crushed seeds for flavor.


 Tofu "Ricotta"
2 Cloves garlic
1/2 C Parsley ( or any tender herb)
zest of 1 one lemon
14 oz firm tofu
1 T olive oil
1 T Nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
cracked pepper

Place garlic, parsley and zest in a food processor, pulse till finely chopped.
Add the rest of the ingredients ( 14 oz tofu, broken into pieces, 1 T olive oil, 1T nutritional yeast, 1 tsp salt, cracked pepper) Pulse repeatedly until granular like ricotta cheese. Set aside in med bowl.

Place roasted fennel onion mixture in food processor, pulse until chopped. Mix together with “ricotta”. Add ground seeds.


Or real herbed "Ricotta"
2 Cloves garlic-minced
1/2 C finely chopped Parsley ( or any tender herb)
zest of 1 one lemon
14 oz whole milk ricotta
1 tsp salt
cracked pepper
Mix in a bowl.


Make purses:
Prepare a damp paper towel, olive oil bowl w/ brush, sheet pan with parchment paper.
Carefully Unwrap thawed filo. Cover with damp paper towel. Place one filo sheet on your work table (remember to cover filo with damp paper towel). Brush with olive oil. Place another sheet over top, and brush with oil. Cut into 6 equal squares. Working quickly, fill with 1 T filling and bring corners together, pinching together at middle. Tie a chive ribbon around the neck and place on sheet pan.

Bake 12-15 minutes at 375 until crispy and golden. Serve with Herb “cream” sauce

Make Herb Sauce (fully customizable)
In a blender or food processor
place 1/2 block silken tofu
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C water or just enough to blend
juice from 1/2 a small lemon
1/2 cup fresh tender herbs ( parsley, dill, tarragon,basil, mint, or a combination)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 clove garlic ( optional)
blend until very green and smooth


GENERAL FILLO DOUGH HANDLING DIRECTIONS
1. Allow fillo dough to thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.
2. Carefully unroll fillo sheets onto a smooth, dry surface.
3. Cover fillo completely with plastic wrap, then a damp towel.
4. Keep fillo covered until needed. Do not leave uncovered for more than one minute to avoid drying out.
5. Microwave butter until melted. This will give you a lighter and flakier pastry.
6. Brush each layer of fillo with melted butter, margarine or oil.
7. To prevent edges from cracking, brush edges first and then work into center.
8. Be sure to brush the last layer of fillo with melted butter.
9. Fillings should be chilled and not excessively moist.
10. Fillo may be rolled and refrozen to store when not in use.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 24 -30 bites