Turkish Cigars

The Roden family had a ritual when they prepared these snacks for a party: The three children worked at the kitchen table with piles of phyllo pastry and bowls of filling, and everybody took turns telling stories.

14 ounces feta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed herbs, such as mint, flat-leaf parsley and dill
Salt and freshly ground pepper
16 sheets phyllo dough
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, blend the feta with the eggs and the mixed herbs and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Have 2 large baking sheets ready. Work with 2 sheets of phyllo at a time, keeping the remaining sheets under a damp towel. Set 1 sheet of phyllo on a work surface and brush with some of the melted butter. Press a second sheet of phyllo on top. Cut the phyllo lengthwise into 4 even rectangles.
  3. Spread 1 tablespoon of the feta cheese and herb filling along the short end of one of the phyllo rectangles, leaving about 1/2 inch on each side. Roll up the phyllo, neatly tucking in the ends one-third of the way up to enclose the filling, then continue to roll up the phyllo with the sides open. Transfer the rolled-up cigar, seam side down, to a large baking sheet and brush with more of the melted butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo dough and feta cheese and herb filling.
  4. Bake the cigars for about 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crisp; switch the baking sheets halfway through for even browning. Serve the cigars hot or at room temperature.

Make Ahead
The cigars can be assembled up to 4 hours ahead. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bake the cigars just before serving.

Makes 32 cigars.

Recipe by Nadia Roden, Food & Wine magazine, February 2004

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