Cinnamon sticks by Mika
Throughout the holidays, you can often find a small pan of water simmering on my stove, redolent with the smell of the cinnamon sticks floating inside. Their fragrance signifies Christmas to me, and a hefty pinch (or two or three) finds its way into most of my holiday sweets.
This year, I decided to let the cinnamon run wild through my savory recipes as well, and opted for a Middle Eastern-esque menu for our annual holiday open house. Mini chicken b'steeyas -- savory and slightly sweet phyllo-dough meat pies -- were the stars of the show.
Unfortunately, my digital camera's resting comfortably in my great-aunt's house in Luray, Virginia, having forgotten to get in my bag when I left last weekend, so I have no pictures of this feast, but hopefully my schematic's more useful anyway.
Mini Chicken B'steeyas
I made my filling the day before and assembled them morning of the party. You can refrigerate the b'steeyas for a few hours before you cook them, just place on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Take the wrap off, and they can go right into the oven. Recipe an adapted melange from both Arabesque by Claudia Roden and Martha Stewart Living.
10-12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
salt and pepper
splash or two of white wine
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground tumeric
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. raisins
Salt and pepper your chicken breasts. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute your chicken breasts in the pan until just cooked through, about 5 minutes a side. Remove breasts to plate and set aside.
Deglaze pan with a slug of white wine, scraping up the brown bits from the chicken. Add a bit more olive oil if need be, and then add your onion. Cook for 6-8 minutes until translucent, stirring ocassionally. Add ginger, tumeric, cinnamon and sugar, stir well and cook for a minute or two until very fragrant. Stir in raisins, take off heat and set aside.
Return to your chicken breasts. Cut them into teeny-tiny pieces. Mix with the spicy onions, and that's your filling.
1/2 c. whole almonds
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed (you may not need the whole package)
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400. Whir your almonds and the powdered sugar in a food processor until powdery. Take your phyllo dough out of the fridge. Keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel when you're not using it so it doesn't dry out. Phyllo dough comes in big long rectangles. You want pieces that are about 3-4 inches wide by whatever the short side of the dough is (about 7-8 inches) tall. I've found that most packages of phyllo dough often crack right about at the 3-4 inch mark, which makes for easy measuring.
Take one 3ish x 7ish piece of phyllo dough. Brush it with the melted butter. Sprinkle some of the almond-powdered sugar mixture on it. Place another piece of dough on top. Brush it with butter. About 1/2 inch from a short end, place about 1 tablespoon of chicken filling. Fold it up like a little package, following schematic above. Place on cookie sheet and repeat. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until crispy and light brown. Sift a mixture of cinnamon and powdered sugar over the top before serving.