Monday, June 27, 2011


I just love the combination of sweet and savory in my mouth. Mmm, makes me drool and that’s why I just love this dish. It’s called Bisteeya and it’s a traditional Moroccan phyllo pie that combines sweet and savory flavors. It has wonderful saffron, ginger and cinnamon elements. 

The traditional Bisteeya is made with squab, although mostly chick is used these days. But in my version, I make it vegan.  I use seitan, which is a vegan protein that is made from wheat gluten. But if you prefer a taste that is more similar to chicken, you can use the Gardein chick’n strips

This is a great dish to take to a picnic or just to enjoy while sitting on your back porch. It’s a complete meal all wrapped up in a deliciously crispy phyllo crust. FOODGASMIC!

Now, here's what you need if you are going to try this yourself.  My recipe.
Vegan Bisteeya


½ onion small dice  (approx ¾ cup onion)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 packages (8oz. each) of seitan, chopped (you can also use Gardein chick’n strips if you prefer)
cover with broth, approximated 2-3 cups
½ cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ package of 8-ounce package of tofu
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in water
1 cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted in dry pan
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
half package of phyllo dough (defrosted)
olive oil for brushing

Garnish (optional)
Powdered cinnamon
Powered sugar

Preheat oven to 400
In large pot, sauté onions with olive oil till translucent and soft. Then add to onions then broth, seitan (or Gardein chick'n strips), ginger, saffron, cinnamon and golden raisins. Bring to boil and then simmer fro 30 minutes. With slotted spoon or sieve separate the liquid from the solids. Let the liquid cook down till it’s about 2/3 cup. Whisk the tofu into the broth mixture over medium heat till it’s nice and creamy. Whisk in the cornstarch with water until it thickens and comes together. Stir back in the seitan and solids that were removed before and the chopped parsley and cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sauté the almonds with olive oil over medium heat until golden brown. Remove from heat and toss with sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Prepare your phyllo dough by unwrapping it and keeping it covered with a moist towel to keep it from drying out. Take care when working with the phyllo dough, as it is very delicate. Brush a round 9-inch pan lightly with oil. Line the bottom of the pan with a couple of sheets of oiled phyllo dough, with the dough hanging over the sides. Lightly oil 6 sheets of phyllo dough so you have six corners hanging and place in the pan. Leave an overhang of phyllo on the edges. Put seitan mixture on top of phyllo dough. Then cover with four more sheets of oiled phyllo dough. Sprinkle nuts on top. Top with 2 more sheets of oiled phyllo dough. Then fold the edges of phyllo dough over the top. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Carefully flip over on a flat plate the pie and then slide it back into the pan to back for 15 more minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully flip pie out and let cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle powered sugar and cinnamon on top with a sieve. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 © 2011 Fernwork Productions, Inc.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It Wasn't Like This When I Was a Kid!

Some days all you crave and want to eat is some delicious comfort food. For me, my favorite was always grilled cheese sandwiches and cream of tomato soup. I’ve decided to recreate my favorite childhood comfort food into a tasty and fun appetizer! 

I’ve pumped up the flavor and spice of the simple tomato soup and turned it into a Zesty Tomato Soup.  The grilled cheese is made with a little basil on the inside and some dark pumpernickel bread to give it a nice twist. And to serve them, I have the soup in little shot glasses and the grilled cheese cut into cute sticks perfect for dipping and munching. Oh, it is so tasty and fun to eat.

I love when I can play with my food…….even as an adult. You can make them for yourself or for a party of your favorite friends. Just relax and enjoy my Zesty Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sticks. Childhood never tasted so good!

And here are the recipes!
Zesty Tomato Soup

1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (you can add more if you like it spicier)
¼ teaspoon Chipotle chili powder (you can add more if you like it spicier)
½ teaspoon Paprika
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste and roast until caramelized, about 15 -20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, vegetable broth, bay leaf and spices. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the cream, if using. Salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve
The soup can be enjoyed the usual way in bowls. But I like to serve them in cute 2-3 oz. tall shot glasses as an appetizer. You can best fill the glasses by using a small funnel and poring the soup in. Serve hot in the shot glasses with a Grilled Cheese Stick on the side and enjoy.

Grilled Cheese Sticks
6 pieces Pumpernickel bread (any bread will do though)
3 pieces sliced Havarti cheese
3 pieces sliced Provolone cheese
Fresh basil (4-6 pieces)
¼ cup melted butter for bread

Heat a griddle or frying pan on medium to medium-high heat. Spread the melted butter on one side of each of the pieces of bread. Place one buttered side down on the griddle or frying pan, layer 1 slice of Havarti and one slice of provolone on each, top with a piece of basil or two (as you like it) and the other piece of buttered bread (buttered side up). Cook till each side is crispy and the cheese is melted inside.

To Serve
You can enjoy this as a regular grilled cheese sandwich cut into two and served with a bowl of the Zesty Tomato Soup. But I like to serve these sliced into long thin sticks (crusts on or off as you like) and with a nice shot glass of the Zesty Tomato Soup as a delicious appetizer.