What a whirlwind of a weekend! The kickoff event was a lively potluck dinner party for Philly’s own food bloggers on Friday evening. With 25 foodies slotted to attend, I was more than a little nervous about what dish to take. I knew I wanted the key ingredient to be from the farm. And I wanted it to be creative and just plain pretty on the plate. It’s downright intimidating coming up with something for such a crowd of critics and cooks.
Of all the things currently holding on through the frosty nights at that farm, the most elegant by far are the pea shoots. The cute little curly cues on the end of their stems always tickle my fancy. And the taste of pea shoots is like a reduction of pea flavor…highly concentrated freshness that might not typically be associated with autumn fare. Nonetheless, peas grow just as well in the fall as they do in the spring so I decided to showcase them in an h’ourderve along with a more “autumnally correct” chutney. Wrapping the two in a couple sheets of fillo dough seemed simple enough to do in the short time between the end of my work day and the start of my weekend at the potluck.
In truth, I bit off a tad more than I could chew this time (pun fully intended). But, as with so many great things, necessity – or rather a lack of time – became the mother of invention, or at least what prompted me to read the box. In the past, I’ve tediously and carefully brushed each layer of fillo dough with melted butter, a step that takes considerable time. Pressed for time and lacking a recipe since I was basically making it up as I went along, I skimmed the fillo dough’s packaging for a baking time and happened to see that the directions suggested spraying the sheets of fillo with butter-flavored cooking spray as an alternative to brushing them with melted butter. Viola! Where the heck have you been all my life, you beautiful shortcut you??!
Armed with the cooking spray, I knocked these babies out in record time. The first tray didn’t meet the quality test though and stayed home due to stringy stems that I hadn’t thought to cut into bite size pieces. Once I broke them into one-inch segments and removed any noticeably tough stems, the second tray came out perfectly. I cut them in half and still had a full plate to take to the potluck.
These little lovelies make great appetizers for any dinner party, but a word of caution about traveling with them. If you have far to go, assemble the wraps at home, but ask your host or hostess if it’s okay to bake them on-site since the wraps are best hot out of the oven.
You’ll have to pardon the poor photos this time around. I would have liked to have done more of an illustrative step-by-step photo series for the making of the wraps, but, as you’ll remember, I was crammed for time. I’m really surprised I remembered to take as many photos as I did!
Thanks goes out to Marisa at ForkYou, etc., for hosting the smashingly successful potluck. I met a lot of great folks, none of us nearly as socially awkward as you might expect in a group of bloggers. I thank the food and superb wine (provided by David from PhilaFoodie) for that. Here are a couple shots of the spread and the crowd.
Pea Shoots and Crimson Chutney Wrapped in Fillo Dough
A Straight from the Farm Original
2 c. chopped sweet cooking apples (Nittnay, Fuji, etc.)
2 c. whole cranberries, washed and dried
1/4 c. minced onion
1/2 c. raisins
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium red pepper chopped
1 T. grated fresh ginger or 1 t. dried ground ginger
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
The Rest of It
fresh pea shoots – a handful for each serving desired
1 package of fillo dough
melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray
To make the chutney, combine all ingredients in a large non-aluminum pot (most heavy pots are fine). Stir together and heat over medium heat until a liquid begins to form. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Chutney is ready when everything is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool before continuing with this recipe. Chutney is very versatile and can be used with many vegetable and meat dishes. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
To assemble fillo wraps, begin by preparing the pea shoots. Carefully break each shoot into 1 inch pieces, removing any really tough stems as these get stringy when cooked. If using, melt the butter and set out the chutney so you have an easy assembly line ready. Once set up, open fillo dough and brush or spray a sheet at a time with butter/spray, folding in half and then folding down two inches to form a 4″ x 4″ square. Repeat with a second sheet of fillo, brushing or spraying both sheets again before placing one on top of the other. I made two sets of squares at a time before covering remaining fillo dough with a damp towel while I assembled the wraps.
To make wrap, place a line of chutney (about 1 tablespoon) from corner to corner and then place a handful off pea shoot pieces alone the line of chutney, allowing the shoots to stick over the edge of the fillo just a bit. Starting at an “empty” corner (one that doesn’t have chutney and shoots on it), tightly roll fillo up over the filling. Some pea shoots should be peaking out of the open corners. Place wrap on baking sheet prepared with non-stick spray. Repeat process for as many wraps as you desire, being sure to only make two at a time and cover the fillo dough with the damp towel so it doesn’t dry out and become unmanageable.
Once all wraps are assembled, preheat oven to 350 F. Brush or spray wraps with butter and lay strips of tin foil over the exposed pea shoots to keep them from scorching during baking. Carefully place tray in the oven, making sure the foil stays in place. Bake for 20 minutes or until fillo is golden and flakey.
Remove wraps from oven and place on cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut in half on an angle. Serve immediately arranged on a bed of cranberries or individually with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar if desired.
(makes up to 40 h’ourderves, enough for 20 people)