Pumpkin Pie With Phyllo Pastry

i’ve heard and read stories about phyllo pastry drying out and how you need to cover it, blah, blah, blah… It is not going to dry out, except if you open it and go watch TV or chat or go on social network sites, while it sits on the counter 😀. If you prepare all ingredients and then open the package and work continuously, you will be fine. Even if it happens (and it does, but not very often) that you bought pastry that started drying out and is crumbling here and there, roll it as well as it’s possible and once baked, it should be fine.

To save time and space, leave all sheets on one pile, put filling on top, and then count as many sheets as you want to roll, and roll them. I use three sheets per roll, and most of the time get 6 rolls.

This kind of pie can be made with sour apples or sour cherries as well. Process is the same, just omit cinammon. Some people like cinammon in apple pies as well, so if you do go ahead and use it.

For pumpkin version, I use Banana Squash but simple Halloween pumpkin can be used as well.

Ingredients:

1 package Phyllo Passtry (454g)

300g banana squash, peeled and grated (for apple pie: 7-8 Granny Smith or other sour apples, peeled, cored and grated; for sour cherry pie: three jars of sour cherrie, drained and little bit squashed)

sugar, oil (I use sunflower oil but any tastless oil would work)

cinammon (for pumpkin version)

icing sugar for dusting

I didn’t specify sugar, oil, and cinammon amount because it depends on how sweet, spicy and oily you want your pie to be.

piece of butter for greasing the baking pan or baking paper for easy clean up

Preparation:

Turn oven to 375 F degrees (180 C).

If you decide to use cinammon, and for pumpkin version I strongly suggest it, pre-mix sugar and cinammon. Count about 3-4 Tbsp of sugar per roll and add enough cinammon to get this color:

Sugar cinammon

Choose baking pan that has sides and is long as phylo pastry package to avoid leakage. My mom always turns ends of sheets inwards for this purpose but I find those ends too dry and without filling. That’s why I use most fitting baking pan and sugar and fruit juice that comes out during baking caramelize which makes my favourite part of the pie 😀

Grease the pan with butter or use baking paper (I never grease baking papper)

Spread 1-2Tbsp oil over top phyllo pastry sheet. Spread grated banana squash on 2/3 of the sheet and sprinkle with about 3Tbsp sugar/cinammon mix. Count 3 sheets and roll them up. Transfer the roll into baking pan.

Repeat the process as long as you have ingredients, packing rolls into baking pan tightly. Once you have all rolls in the pan, spread some oil on top of rolls (about 1Tbsp per roll). Put it in oven and bake 40-45 minutes depending on the oven.

When is nice and golden brown, take it from the oven and dust with icing sugar. Let it cool to room temperature, then cut and enjoy.

Pumpkin pie

 

Potato Moussaka

Potato Moussaka

Greeks make Moussaka with eggplants, Serbs with potatoes. It is easier, faster, lighter. I like it more this way, probably because I was raised on this kind.

Ingredients for 5 – 6 servings:

5 – 6 Russet potatoes or some other starchy variety

900 g ground beef, pork, or mix of these two

1 onion

4 eggs

1 L milk (approx.)

Sunflower oil for onion

salt

black pepper

Pour oil in frying pan and add diced onion. Cook it, adding little bit of water whenever it starts burning. Cook until all mushy, then add meat. Brown the meat, add salt and black pepper to your liking, and set aside.

Take deep ovenproof dish. At this point turn on the oven to 400 F.

Some people peel all potatoes first and keep them in a bowl with cold water to prevent darkening while layering moussaka. I find it’s better to peel one or two potatoes, and continue as I go layering.

So, peel one potato and cut 1/8 inch thick circles, and put them on the bottom of your baking pan. Cover it with a layer of prepared meat. Do the same with next potato, then meat, and continue until you used all potatoes and meat. Top layer should be potatoes. For the first and last, bottom and top, layer of potatoes, make them tighter. For layers in the middle, it doesn’t matter how tight they are.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, add a bit of salt,

Pour all milk, except 1/4 over layered moussaka.

Add 1/4 milk to eggs and beat it little bit more, then pour over moussaka. Liquids should come to the top but not to completely cover the top (somewhere to the middle of top layer of potatoes). Cover your baking dish with lid or if you don’t have lid for it use aluminium foil and close it tightly around edges

Put in oven and bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking another 45 minutes. Take out of the oven and let it sit on the counter for at least 20 minutes (otherwise you will have clear liquid at the bottom and it will not get soaked in).

It is best served the same day with any kind of salad you like. My daughter likes it with pickles 🙂

Enjoy and let me know how did you like it.

 

 

 

 

No Boring Moment

I told you! With Paddington on board, and me getting there, no boring moment in this family is possible.

For several days I was thinking about cutting long strands of that evil ivy plant that is growing like crazy down supporting wall of our back yard. Luckily I was so lazy and didn’t do it yet. You see? It’s good to be lazy sometimes and I will tell you why.

Yesterday when I came back and parked my car, I forgot to put in park actually, and forgot to turn engine off, but didn’t forget to take my foot off the break. So, my car went straight into that bushy ivy wall. My son was looking at me like… you know how, like he just realized how crazy his mother is. And I realized what I just did by looking at him. That evil ivy plant became my best friend. It saved my car!

I just backed up a bit and that was it. Until Paddington came from work and started lecturing me straight from the door about parking so close to the wall. At that point I started laughing like crazy and told him: “I parked much closer. What you saw is good actually.”

Now you might think we were done with craziness. Maybe, but not for a long.

The same evening my son informed me that he needs container for bugs. What bugs? Wood bugs for biology class tomorrow. OK, I found some plastic container, gave it to him, and told him not to bring it back into the house once he’s done with collecting those bugs.

In the morning Paddington asked me what is that container on the patio table and I told him, and continued doing what I was doing (making sandwich for my son’s lunch). Then came time to take my son to school, and as he opened the door, he yelled: “Where is it? Where is my homework? Where is my container with bugs that I was collecting for an hour last night?” Then I start yelling at Paddington about container. And poor Paddington, who put it in the garbage,  run out the house in his pajamas, Took out container from the garbage bin, and started yelling my name to come help him identify salad leaves among other yard waste from yard trimmings bin. Then he started looking for bugs in that same pile of yard trimmings that he threw out of the bin. I left the scene and went into the house but heard him yelling my name again. OMG, it was quiet morning in our neighborhood and only my name was echoing throughout it. I told him to lower the voice but he was so panicked and continued yelling to bring him spoon so he can collect bugs and to come and tell him if those are bugs that were in container!

After collecting several bugs, he gave container to our son. But our son said he needs at least 20 bugs. and went around the house to look for more. After awhile he came back telling us that he couldn’t find enough bugs. By that time he was already too late for first class.

And Paddington came to wonderful idea: “Why don’t you (that’s ME) go to neighbors’ yards to look for more bugs?” Really? To go early in the morning through other people’s yards? To look for bugs?

At that point I told him: “Please, just go to your work. Please.”

 

Sweet Potato Dumplings With Plums or Apricots

Recipe For Sweet Potato Dumplings

For this recipe I don’t have precise measures but it will turn out right don’t worry. It looks complicated but it really is not.

Ingredients for about 10 dumplings:

10 or more plums, that kind that you can separate flesh from the pit easily (here they are called prune plums or Italian plums)

3 – 4 cups Panko or other white bread crumbs

oil (without taste, like sunflower) for browning bread crumbs

4 Russet potatoes

1 egg

1 cup or more cream of wheat or semolina

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup butter

generous pinch of salt

Scrub potatoes and cook them in water, in their skin. Cook them on medium heat so that skin stays intact (it is preferable but don’t worry if it breaks).

While potatoes are boiling, pour enough oil in a wide pan. Add bread crumbs to cover the bottom of the pan generously. Turn on the heat to medium and be sure to constantly stir. Bread crumbs burn easily. If you see it starting to burn, remove immediately from heat and continue stirring. If necessary return back to heat. You are aiming for the nice light golden brown color. When it’s ready, set aside.

When potatoes are done, pour out water and let the cool just to the point when they can be handled by hand.

At this point put the large pot of water on the stove and turn on the heat on low to get it simmer. Wash and dry plums. You can take out pits or you can leave them in. I prefer to take pits out and you’ll see later why.

Peel off the skin and put them in a big bowl. Add the rest of ingredients, except flour, and mush with potato musher as well as you can. Aim for smooth consistency. Now add flour until you have nice pliable, but not too hard dough.

Put some flour on a plate. Wet your hands and grab enough dough to cover one plum. Put the plum in the center. Now, if you taken out the pit, put a teaspoon or so sugar in the center of plum. Pres plum closed and roll in dough to cover it nicely. Dough around plum shouldn’t be too thick but shouldn’t be transparent either. Once you made the ball, roll it in flour on the plate and set aside. Repeat the process until you have material.

Once water in pot starts simmering, take a slotted spoon and carefully put a few balls into water. Don’t overcrowd the pot, balls need space to swim :).Check that they didn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If they did, carefully detach them with a spoon. Once balls rise to the top, cook for three minutes. After that, take them out with slotted spoon and drop them into prepared bread crumbs.Repeat until all dumplings are cooked and rolled in bread crumbs.

That’s it! You are done!

It’s best if eaten the same day, but I don’t mind warming it up the next day. However, if you are serving it to guests, serve them the same day!

Just cut up and sprinkle with sugar. Yum!

 

Dress, Actually Two

A month ago I bought the THE dress! Nice black dress, that fit me as a glove. I was so happy with it.

When I brought it home, I put it over a chair in living room planning to wash it later. Next day THE dress mysteriously disappeared. I started searching all over the house. I searched for the whole month without any results. I bought that dress for the special occasion, and that occasion was nearing, and I couldn’t find it! I was frustrated, I was so upset because around the time I bought THE dress, charity organisation was collecting old clothes and I gave them a full bag. At this point, I was pretty much sure that Paddington packed my dress and I gave it away.

The day of that special event came and I realized that I don’t have what to wear. You know how it goes, full closet of clothes but really nothing to wear. So I decided to go and see if I can still find and buy the same dress. I found it! At 50% off! Oh, what a relief…but it was available only in one size smaller than I needed it. Anyway, I liked it so much, even more at 50% off, that I marched straight to a fitting room determined to fit in that dress.

And yes, I squeezed myself in! I have advantage of not being skin and bones, so on occasions I can pack myself tightly. Only thing that was bothering me for a second was the fold in the back that didn’t sit properly on my bum. Oh well, I thought, no one is going to look at my back when I am so interesting in the front, right? And, I bought the dress. Brought it home, and went upstairs to iron it and get ready for our outing.

While ironing, I suddenly heard Paddington yelling from the lower floor telling me I should be happy. He was running up the stairs all smiles, carrying my dress. THE dress! He found it! Where on earth HE found it when I couldn’t find it anywhere in the house? And we all know that I am the one who always finds stuff. He even calls me a sniffer for stuff. But no, this time he found it.

It was tucked away in HIS pile of shirts ready to be ironed. That means that HE put it there, and was oblivious for the whole month of my search all over the house.

I didn’t know if I should be happy or angry or just laugh, and go on and iron this dress too. Decided to ditch anger, and laugh at my silly husband one more time. At least fold in the back will fall down properly and my butt will not protrude where it shouldn’t.

It was final sale for the second dress and I lost receipt for the first one. Now I have two exactly the same dresses in two different sizes which gives me a choice to squeeze myself, or relax, all depending on the mood of the day!

Chasing A Wasp With A Wooden Stick

It was weekday evening, and we set all tired and were watching something on TV. But quietness doesn’t lasts long in this household. From that peaceful moment to the chaos usually seconds are needed.

Paddington spotted a wasp on the ceiling of our family room, and started yelling to our daughter: “Don’t look up! Don’t look up!” because she screams whenever she sees the tiniest insect. Of course she looked up! But didn’t scream this time, nor Paddington moved from his seat.

So I jumped up and went to see how to remove that wasp from the house. I realized there’s not much I could do because that damn wasp was high up on 9′ ceiling and I am only 5’3″ tall. We don’t have normal kitchen chairs and I didn’t feel jumping onto bar stool to catch a wasp. I told Paddington to move his butt and do something about it to which he replied: “Why, why I must do everything?” (he says that to whatever he is asked to do, and believe me it’s not that often or that much)

My response was something along the lines of: “Because you are the man of this house and you must protect us.”

Oh boy, that sentence ignited his butt! He jumped, rushed to under stairs storage and run back into family room with a long but very narrow measuring wooden stick, and started batting in the air around that wasp. For a moment I set in disbelief but shortly recuperated and asked how on earth he could think he had any chance with that stick against the flying tiny bug.

Luckily, this time he wasn’t stubborn and went and brought some towel from the bathroom. And, again, swish, swish, swiiiish…knocked down opened water bottle, which knocked down half full coffee mug over my iPad and my laptop, and one more swish and wasp landed straight onto our daughter, who you know screams whenever she sees any tiny flying or crawling creature. And of course, she screamed loudly, started shaking, and yelling…

But wasp was there as a proof to Paddington that he was able to protect his family. To me, who was holding Lysol wipes and cleaning the mess he made, it was reminder that peace and chaos are only seconds apart at any given time in this house.

Leek And Anchovies Phyllo Pie

I am sure recipe similar to this already exist, but I made this pie with ingredients I already had in my fridge and using imagination what Italians would put together in their meal.

Leek and Anchovies Pie

 

Ingredients:

1 package (454 g) phyllo pastry

1 large or 2-3 smaller leeks (only white and light green parts)

capers to taste

1 small can anchovies

2 eggs

1/2 bunch parsley

1 tsp dry thyme

1 Tbsp oil of your choice (without flavor)

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup sour cream

black sesame seeds for decoration (optional)

Clean leek and cut in pieces. Pour oil into small frying pan and saute leek until wilted. Add anchovies together with oil from the can, and break them with a spoon mixing in with leek. Put aside.

Line 9 X 9 in (22 X 22 cm) baking pan with parchment paper (if not using parchment paper, butter the bottom and sides of the pan).

Turn on the oven to 375 F (200 C).

Now that leeks cooled a bit, add minced parsley, 1 beaten egg, thyme, capers, salt and black pepper, and mix all together.

Open the package of phyllo pastry and start layering. Put two or three sheets of pastry in the baking pan, spread about two spoons of leek filing on top of it. Continue this process until you have ingredients. You should end with phyllo pastry on top. Press lightly with your hands over the top of pie. With a sharp knife cut squares or shapes that you like.

In a small bowl beat remaining egg with sour cream. If you wish add a pinch of salt. Pour and spread over cut up pie. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.

Let it cool and serve as appetizer. Or as a breakfast or lunch meal with yogurt, keffir, or salad.

Enjoy, and let me know how you liked it!

Fat Migration

My fat and I have a weird relationship! Actually, we don’t have anything in common, except that we share the same body. I came to the point in life where I totally forget it exists, and IT ignores that I am not fat person in my head and stays there like it’s welcome. Until..IT decides to move!

First move probably happened during my teen years. It was move-in phase. Being a scattered brain teen, I didn’t notice or maybe I even welcomed it. You know, growing breasts are not considered fat, right? Rounded hips…good!

Yeah, good until your breasts grow, and grow, and grow more than you ever wanted them to grow. Than your aunt comes and tells you not to worry because once you breastfeed your babies, your breasts are going to shrink. That happened to her!

I blame that aunt for not noticing my fat migration second time. I was so busy breastfeeding my first born in attempt to shrink my breasts (every two hours for ten months, 24/7!!!).What happened is that my breasts, those two big, fat sisters, grew more! OK, new bra size.

After my second baby, actually after a year or so I got time to look in the mirror and surprise, surprise…fat from hips (you know that area on the side of your bottom) moved upward, on the sides in the level of my belly button. How? Did I jump and forgot to land? Where is gravity? Oh, shit, gravity worked on big sisters, and fat is moving around like it’s no my business to know what’s going on.

So you know how it goes when you have young kids, I forgot about it and went on living everyday as a busy mom.

Sixteen years forward, and here I am. Astonished at my stubborn, free minded fat, and romantically challenged husband.

I was standing in the kitchen one day, he came and hugged me. Lowered his hands to my bottom, and asked: “Honey, where did your butt disappear?” to which I informed him: “It moved to the front, don’t you see?”

 

Romantic Husband

 

 

Banana Roulade Cake

 

Hey, whoever is reading, I made this cake in no time. So if you want to surprise someone, but don’t want to slave in the kitchen, here is the recipe.

 

 

Ingredients:

125 g unsalted butter, 100 g icing sugar, 300 g plain ground cookies, 50 g ground walnuts or almonds, 100 g melted dark chocolate, milk, apricot jam OR Nutella, 2 bananas, 250 ml whipping cream.

In a bowl, mix softened butter, icing sugar, ground cookies, nuts, and melted chocolate. Ad little by little milk just to get all ingredients to mix well. Be careful not to add too much milk or you will not be able to form the cake.

Take clear plastic wrap and put on kitchen counter. Put prepared mix on it and form a rectangle about 1.5 cm thick. Now, heat up jam or Nutella in microwave, and carefully spread over. Then, put bananas over, and roll up using clear wrap as a helping tool. When it’s rolled up, leave it in a wrap and put in fridge for a bit. When it’s cold enough to handle without a plastic wrap, prepare whipping cream, take cake out of the fridge and decorate.

Return to fridge or if you can’t wait go on and eat it!

P.S.. Let it stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.

 

 

Dealing With My Mother

You know the saying: as people age they are becoming more, and more like young kids. Oh boy, yes they do! But I find dealing with them even harder. You can’t just pick them up and take them with you wherever you want. They don’t look at you as their hero who knows everything. And they know everything, even languages they never knew before!
My 79 year old mother decided to visit me. She lives in Europe, I live in Canada. I think this is a way too long trip for her, but she is adamant! And she is adamant that she must travel via Amsterdam (without spending a night there)!

Me: Mom, I checked online, there is no such connection this year.
Her: There is! Goca (her neighbor) came recently like that!
Me: Mom, she came from New York, not Vancouver.
Her: Oh, OK.

Few days later:

Her: I want to go via Amsterdam, and not sleep there.
Me: I told you, there’s no such connection this year.
Her: How Goca, than, came like that?
Me (losing patience): Because she came from New York, and you are traveling to Vancouver! You must go via London if you don’t want to overnight.
Her: I can’t go through London! I don’t understand what they are saying on public announcement.
Me: Gee mom, I never knew you speak Dutch!