Perhaps it’s due to my British heritage, but I have long believed that most any food tastes better encased in several layers of pastry. The filling may be humble or haute cuisine, it really does not matter; the wonders of a fat & flour blanket work universal magic.
The onset of my affection occurred in childhood. My mother always made her own pie dough, from which I salvaged every possible scrap. The scraps were always mine—my siblings and I came close to blows over who got to lick the cookie and cake bowls, but I was the only one who saw the possibilities of pastry.
I filled the dough with whatever I could find: bits of apple, dots of jam, or morsels of cheese, the hastened them into the oven alongside Mom’s pie. My tiny tarts typically exploded from too much, creating a scorched mini messes, but they were still little bites.
The love has persisted into my adulthood. And though I find the prospect of fresh apricot tarts and gooey pecan pie almost irresistible, it’s savory pastries, filled with most any variety of vegetables and meats—that make my knees buckle.
And call it a regression to childhood, but I’ve been fashioning little bites, too—I have no cocktail parties on my calendar, and it seems so unfair to reserve such scrumptious morsels for such occasions. This variation of samosas was once a recipe calling for several layers of phyllo, brushed with butter, cut into strips, then fold over and over into triangles. They took forever.
So when I tried a dessert recipe for chocolate cigars, I thought, “why not use the same method for those samosas?” A single sheet of phyllo gets a lpunk of filling and is then “layered” by virtue of being rolled up, cigar-style.
And to make the recipe that much easier, as well as lighter, I spray each sheet of phyllo with non-stick cooking spray instead of brushing with butter. The whole process is quick and simple, as well as delectable as a light summer dinner when accompanied by a salad.
Samosa Cigars with Chutney-Lime Dipping Sauce
1 and 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon salt, divided use
2 cups Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 pound) — cooked, peeled, and diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
16 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
3-4 teaspoons cumin seeds
3/4 cup mango chutney
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Preheat oven to 350° F. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add the onion; cook and stir 3-4 minutes until tender. Stir in the ginger, curry powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook and stir 45 seconds. Add the potatoes and mash lightly with a fork. Stir in the peas and the remaining salt and cook until the mixture is warmed through, 3-4 minutes. Remove from stove and cool.
Place phyllo sheets on a clean, flat surface. Cover with a dry, thin dish towel, then a damp tea towel (this will prevent it drying out). Spray 1 phyllo sheet with nonstick spray. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoonful of samosa mixture along the centre of 1 narrow edge. Fold in the sides and roll up to create a cigar shape.
Lightly spray with nonstick spray and sprinkle with cumin seeds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining phyllo, spray, filling and cumin seeds.
Bake in 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside for 5 minutes (still on sheet) to cool. Process chutney and lime juice in blender until smooth to make dipping sauce. Serve warm cigars with dipping sauce. Makes 16 servings.
(nutrition info coming tomorrow!)