Moroccan Beef Bundles

February 21, 2012

You ever just get in the mood for food that is a bit different? You know, some different flavours than those you experience in the same old run of the mill dinners. I definitely felt that way recently and was quite intrigued to see this recipe for Moroccan Beef Bundles. Hmmm….let’s see….this recipe has that familiar old ground beef, but it is seasoned with cinnamon, ginger and mint. Well, that’s a bit different. And then there was that yogurt/harissa sauce to be served along with it. Harissa? Where would one find Harissa? It seems it is a spicy chile paste which comes from North Africa. The blog on which this recipe was found claimed that you would be able to find it in the International Aisle of your supermarket, or a Middle Eastern Market. So off I went to my local Giant and though I searched high and low, there was no Harissa to be found. Then I remembered that there was a Penzeys Spices store close by. I was sure they would have it, however once I arrived there (yup…should’ve called ahead) I was informed that they did not carry it. Luckily, the salesperson was quite helpful and suggested I head down the street to a store called The Lebanese Butcher. On a mission at this point, I set right out and with the assistance of a very helpful salesperson, was able to get my hands on some Harissa.

Elusive Harissa

Clutching my prized Harissa I was all set to make these little Moroccan Beef Bundles and rushed right home to get started. Everything went quite smoothly as I prepared the Moroccan Beef stuffing. The house smelled amazing…very exotic! Then came the time to work with the phyllo dough. Having never worked with this type of dough before, I didn’t know what to expect. All I can say is God Bless anyone who has to fool with this stuff on a daily basis! It was definitely challenging to get that phyllo into the muffin tins. In the end I won out, but came quite close to losing my religion several times while fiddling around with that stuff! I am happy to say though that in the end it was worth it!

The Moroccan Beef Bundles were delicious, and that Harissa/yougurt sauce was fantastic. It really spiced things up. Oh, and just a word of advice for those of you who think there is nothing too spicy for you and are tempted to stick your finger in the harissa to get a large dollop to pop right onto your unsuspecting taste buds….DON’T! That stuff is the real deal SPICY! You know… coughing, sputtering and sweating spicy. Consider yourself warned. That being said, combined with the yougurt which mellows it out significantly, it is gorgeous! I served the bundles for dinner with some spinach and chickpea couscous. Delicious!

But these little gems would also make great appetizers. So when you’re in the mood to try something a bit different, are prepared to go on the hunt for Harissa, and are not short on patience, try these amazing Moroccan Beef Bundles.

Moroccan Beef Bundles

recipe from: In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita

Yield: 12 bundles

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped ginger
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • ½ cup jarred tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 package phyllo pastry
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, for brushing phyllo pastry
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. harissa sauce, store-bought or homemade

Directions:

In a large fry pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook ground beef until well browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add onions, garlic and ginger, cinnamon and cumin and continue to cook until onions have softened and mixture is fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Add the tomato puree and continue to cook until moisture from the tomato puree has evaporated and mixture looks dry, about 10 minutes more. Stir in the parsley and mint. Remove mixture from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut phyllo sheets into 4-inch squares and brush each square lightly with olive oil or melted butter. Place 6 squares of phyllo into each muffin cup, overlapping each layer. Spoon 2 ½ tbsp. the beef mixture into each of the phyllo cups and then carefully pleat the phyllo bundle closed. Brush tops with more olive oil or melted butter.

Bake bundles until pastry is golden brown and filling is hot, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir together yogurt and harissa sauce and serve with bundles.

Enjoy!


Spicy Chorizo & Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Cream

September 22, 2011

Let me just start off by saying “Dios Mio” these empanadas were fan-freakin-tastic! I am totally serious! I had never attempted to make empanadas before, but was definitely interested in them. They are essentially latino meat pies. I LOVE meat pies, no matter what country they spring from, be they Cornish pastys, bridies, peirogis, pot pies or calzones. All awesome and all grab my undivided attention the second they make their appearance! So it is no surprize that when I saw the recipe for Chorizo Empanadas over at Handle the Heat, I could not resist. I had always assumed that these delicious little pastries originated in Mexico/Central/South America. However, apparently empanadas trace their origins to Spain and Portugal. From there they were carried to Latin America and the Philippines by the Spanish and Portuguese colonists. Once introduced, each country added their own special regional flavours to the dish. Baked or fried, they are, ladies and gentlemen, the perfect comfort food. They are a bit time-consuming to prepare, however you can make the dough and filling up to two days ahead of time and leave the actual assembly of the empanadas for the day you plan to serve them. Then, while they are baking, you can just whip up the avocado cream sauce. Easy peasy!

These particular empanadas are baked. The crust is just a buttery perfection, the filling spicy and cheesy and loaded with good, old spuds! (Another big favourite of mine – no matter how they’re prepared.) They were unbelievably yummy right out of the oven and were also just as good – if not better – reheated a couple of days later. Though to be honest, I don’t know how they made it that long around here because they really were stunning. And if they weren’t good enough on their own (and they were) the avocado cream will put you right over the moon! Your really have to make this dish!

Oh and the other simply wonderful thing about this recipe is that I had quite a bit of that mouth-watering filling left over. You might think, “Hmmm. Well I’ll just cut the amounts in half.” No! Don’t do it!!! Make every bit of the filling as the recipe calls for, because it tastes great and you will be able to feast on it in other dishes you’ll prepare later that week. For instance, we made a Spicy Chorizo & Cheese Frittata:

Spicy Chorizo Frittata

As well as a very adventurous Cilantro Pesto Pizza topped with the Spicy Chorizo & Cheese filling.

Spicy Cilantro & Chorizo Pizza

I really must say, that pizza was really delightful. And yes….spuds do go great on a pizza! Who’d of thunk it? So don’t delay, get to making some empanadas today!

Spicy Chorizo & Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Cream

recipe very slightly adapted (I merely added some cheese) from Handle the Heat

yields: 20 empanadas

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • pinch paprika

Filling:

  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2-3 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or other waxy potatoes), peeled, finely diced, and boiled
  • 1 cup mexican blend shredded cheese

Avocado cream:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 avocados
  • kosher salt

Directions:

For the dough:
Heat water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Let cool slightly. Mix flour, salt, and paprika in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour melted butter mixture into flour mixture and mix with your hands until you get a wet, oily dough. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
For the filling:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chorizo, breaking apart into small pieces, then add onion. Saute until chorizo is cooked through. Turn off heat, add diced and boiled potatoes, and let cool completely.
To assemble:
While the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment. Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 20 golf-sized balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on a lightly floured surface into 5″ circles. Place 2-3 tablespoons of cooled filling into the center of each dough circle. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the filling. Fold dough over filling and cheese to make a half-moon shape and press edges firmly to seal. Crimp with the back of a fork. Place empanadas on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
For avocado cream:
While the empanadas cool, place sour cream, half and half, lemon juice, and jalapeno in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Peel, pit, and dice the avocado and add to blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Season with salt. If not serving immediately, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, pressing plastic onto the surface of avocado cream to prevent browning.
Enjoy!

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