Sunday, September 6, 2009

LAMB KEFTA WRAPPED IN FILO DOUGH

PRETTY AS A PICTURE


I love surprises, little somethings wrapped up in pretty paper and elegant ribbon, shiny satin or lush velvet. Rings slipped into tiny silk sachets pushed across a white tablecloth or chocolates wrapped up in gold, tucked into tissue paper that rustles as I choose. I remember when my dad parked the new car he had bought my mom on the front lawn all decked out in a giant, bright red ribbon, the bow sitting jauntily atop the roof as he led her out of the house to see. Marty wrapped up in JP’s jacket against the March cold, baby face just peeping out from between the lapels, a little bundle of joy. Special gifts in boxes much too big simply to throw me off the scent or presents hidden under the coats in the back of the closet for curious hands to find, searching in the dark days before Christmas. Parcels that come in the post enveloped in brown paper and string, ripping it open after days or weeks of anticipation.


Old black & white movies, images of elegant women wrapped in luxurious furs back in the days when it was politically correct; movie star poses, fur sliding softly down, caressing bare skin, a shoulder bared just so, coat parted to reveal a shimmering gown and just enough leg to excite imaginations. Children running out of the chilly surf, scooped up and quickly wrapped in beach towels, their plush warmth all cuddly and safe.


Or simply wrapped up in his arms.


Or what about rice wrapped up in grape leaves or delicate slivers of fish swathed in dark, glistening nori, dark jewel-like prunes wrapped in bacon and grilled, the sweetness of the fruit mingling sensuously with the saltiness of the meat, fresh, tangy goat cheese snuggled into smooth smoky roasted red pepper, bananas and strawberries enrobed in warm, sexy chocolate smearing lips and dripping down fingers.


Why are things wrapped in something else so attractive, so delicious? Why do they remind us of presents from loved ones, exciting surprises? or snuggling deep down into blankets or wrapped up in the warmth and glow of a burning fire?

I love lamb. It’s my predilection. If I have my druthers – and I usually do – I cook lamb. But after all the tagines and couscous, the roasts and the chops, I was in the mood for something fun, something special, something to surprise. These gorgeous, flavorful keftas wrapped up in filo (phyllo) dough are a special treat indeed. They were inspired by a recipe I saw in Cuisine & Vins de France and were greeted, as I placed them on the table, piled high, in front of my men, by ooohs and ahhhs. Biting into the crispy wrap, tasting the savory filling and the room was filled with mmmmms.


KEFTA WRAPPED IN FILO DOUGH

20 – 25 oz (600 – 700 g) ground/minced lamb
6 sheets of filo (phyllo) dough
2 slices white bread
3/8 cup (100 ml) milk (if you don’t mix milk and meat, replace with water)
2 onions
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 large egg
1 small bunch fresh coriander
1 tsp liquid honey
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil or melted butter for the filo dough


Place the ground/minced lamb in a large mixing bowl.

Finely chop the 2 onions. Heat a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium heat and add a little oil, butter or margarine. Cook the chopped onions for several minutes until caramelized a golden brown.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Measure out the spices. Soak the two slices of bread in the milk until soaked then squeeze out all of the excess milk. Chop the soaked and squeezed bread finely. Finely chop the fresh coriander.


Add the caramelized onions, the bread, the beaten egg, the chopped coriander, the honey, the spices and the pine nuts to the ground lamb. Add the spices to the meat and generously salt and pepper.


Using your hands, blend all the ingredients with the ground meat until completely and evenly combined.


Spread a sheet of parchment paper out on a large serving platter or an oven tray. Form the meat mixture into quenelles or cylinders of even thickness and about 2 or 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) long and 1 to 1 ½ inches (2 to 3 cm) wide. Lay them on the parchment paper as you prepare them.


Heat back up the skillet you used to fry the chopped onions over medium heat. Add a little oil if it is not non-stick. Brown the quenelles of lamb on all sides, lowering the heat to medium-low if it seems too hot, about 8 minutes each batch. Do not overcrowd. They will still be pink in the center (they will finish cooking in the oven. Remove the browned lamb quenelles to another baking sheet or platter as you go and continue cooking until all of the quenelles are browned.


Preheat the oven to 410°F (210°C). Line a large baking tray or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Working with one sheet of filo dough at a time, brush the sheet with olive oil or melted butter. Evenly slice the sheets into long strips, slicing lengthwise into widths as wide as your quenelles (I divided my strips into lengths 3” (8 cm) wide, the width of my quenelles. Place a quenelle on the end of a strip and simply roll up, sealing the end with a bit more oil or butter. Place, seem side down, on the lined baking sheet. You can place them fairly close together if need be. Brush the outsides with more olive oil or butter.


Bake them for about 10 minutes until golden brown. The meat peeking out each end should be sizzling. Serve immediately.


We ate these with olives, but they would be delicious dipped in a spicy dipping sauce or even a cool, tangy tzatziki-type sauce. You can accompany them with a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. They can be made smaller to serve as finger foods or hors d’oeuvres.

34 comments:

Chow and Chatter said...

Jamie you have excelled yourself, love love these where's mine!!!!

Sirenoftitan said...

Those look delicious - I swear I can smell them :)

The Cooking Ninja said...

mmm...looks super yummy. :) Think I'm going to cook this for my in laws when they are back from Canada. :)

Heavenly Housewife said...

This recipe has hubbys name written all over it. Looks fantastic. If in return hubby buys me a fabulous fur, i would wear it with pride, political correctness be damned!

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Yum yum yum! I haven't had those since I was a child - I can almost taste them... mmmmMMMmmmm

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is something I adore! Your kefta cigars look delicious!

Cheers,

Rosa

Barbara Bakes said...

I have never cooked lamb. I don't think I've ever seen ground lamb at the market. Perhaps I could try this with ground pork. It really looks fabulous!

La Table De Nana said...

C'est beau!!!!! Vraiment..

buffalodick said...

I love lamb too, but the number of people in this region that like is low, and ones that can cook it properly are even rarer

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

I can't tell you how impressed I am!!

Amy - very culinary said...

Filo dough has always intimated me, but I absolutely love to eat it. Your recipe and so many others inspire me. One of these days I will get ambitious and try it myself!

Cinnamon Girl aka Reeni♥ said...

Delicious indeed!! These look amazing!!

Fuji Mama said...

Oh yum! You speak my language. Mmmmm...

Sippity Sup said...

These ae one of those foods I have enjoyed in a restaurant but might have never tried at home. I think yiu have given me the courage. GREG

Elra said...

Jaime, you are really talented and creative woman. Always full of idea.
This keftas wrapped in filo, i will sure enjoy them very much.

MsGourmet said...

I'm going to start bookmarking the things I want you to make for the eventual dinner party we will have - starting with these!

Sophie said...

Hello Jamie,

MMMMMMMMMMM,...looks very yummie!

I just posted about your award!! I gave you an award as well!

Come over @ my blog & pick it up!! You so deserve it!

bethany (dirtyKitchenSecrets) said...

Wow! Now I love Kefta! Where we come from it's served straight up, maybe in some arabic bread! I love the idea of wrapping in Phyllo! Tis genius! It's only 8am and I'm dying for one of those!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Wow! Those look amazing. I love kefta, what a fabulous idea to wrap them in phyllo.

asiangrrl said...

WANT! I love listening to you weave your stories as surely as you cook your lamb. I think I like food that is wrapped because as long as I trust the chef, I know that I'm in for a culinary delight that will surprise and excite me. This lamb dish would be right up my alley.

Mary said...

You have some really unique and wonderful ideas, Jamie. I love the use of filo here. Very, very nice! Have a great day.

the ungourmet said...

Wonderful post! I do love things all wrapped up! These sure do look amazing. Nice!

Kate said...

Would you like to contribute this post to Foodshots, an online collaborative arts project that showcases the very best in food blogging? You can read more about it here.

Please send me an email to foodshots [dot] fs [at] googlemail [dot] com if you’d like me to add your post to the Foodshots collection :-)

Maris said...

Such a great post! I too, love old-fashioned black and white photos that just call to you from a different era. Beautiful!

Katy ~ said...

Love Cary Grant!

These look sooooo very good. And such a beautiful presentation.

Well done.

Happy cook said...

I am sure bookmarking this, looks so elegant and crunchy , loist indside........ should i continue. Bookmarking them.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Yum yum. These are beautiful. A tray of these would disappear quickly at a cocktail party. Love the old black and white photos too.
Sam

TheKitchenWitch said...

I am afraid of phyllo dough for some reason. These look delicious, however. You can bring some over any time...

5 Star Foodie said...

Ooo, these are delicious lamb keftas, perfect wrapped up in filo! Excellent!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh I could bite into one right now! :D yes wrapped things are so much more gorgeous aren't they! And that's so cool about putting the big bow on a car! I've only seen it on tv and never known anyone that has received one :)

petite nyonya said...

I love minced lamb cooked in any form and this is one that I will just have to try it myself one day. So many good food to try, I just don't know where to begin!

p/s Through yr writings, I can imagine you're a really romantic person at heart ;-). I love the Cary Grant & Sophia Loren photo!

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Oh I htink I'm falling in love with the way you cook. Adopt me? Pretty please! I'll have these for snacks, dinner, breakfast - whatever, and the tiramisu therafter. YUM!!

The Duo Dishes said...

Oh wow. These look too good to be true.

The Cooking Photographer said...

I adore lamb, and these little packages make it even mare exciting. There is something about little packages.

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