I heart Cooking channel!

I do. I really, really do. It’s like meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. I know it is still part of the Food Network, but I like the variety of chefs on the lineup. I hope you’re watching it too, there’s some really good stuff there.

I already shared a post based on a dish from French Food at Home. This post follows a dish from another of my new favorite chefs, Chuck Hughes. His show is called Chuck’s Day Off and the camera follows him around his restaurant kitchen as he dishes out some simply delicious food for friends and family on his day off.

One of the recent episodes showed him cooking for his family, he recreated the dishes his mom & aunts cooked as he was growing up. This tart caught my eye and heart immediately. It was pretty. It looked fancy. AND it was a breeze to make. And let me tell you, it tasted fantabulous!

Chuck’s Tomato & Cheese Tart
from Chuck’s Day Off

7 phyllo sheets, thawed
1/4 cp melted butter
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-1/4 cps grated cheese (he recommends Emmenthal)
3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
12  fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400¬į. Phyllo dough is paper thin and will dry and crack quickly. Once you have removed it from the packaging, place the sheets you will use between lightly damp towels.

On a tart pan or baking sheet, place 1 sheet phyllo and brush with melted butter, repeat, stacking them on top of each other as you build your pie crust. You may want to stagger the sheets a little bit to ensure that the baking sheet is well covered allowing extra pastry to create an edge.

On the top layer, brush on the mustard. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the pastry to ensure even coverage. Lay the tomato slices generously, all over, overlapping, as needed. Season with coarse salt and ground black pepper. Sprinkle the thyme leaves on top.

Bake in the oven until the pastry is crisped and browned at the edges, about 25 minutes.

Add another sprinkling of coarse salt and garnish with fresh basil leaves. You can serve it hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Cookingly yours,


Beef in a roll!

Where should I begin. I don’t know what this one¬† is. I know how it tastes. Gooooodlicous! Yep. It’s a bit of this and that. Let me break it down. The truth is, I was trying to imitate a Burek, which is a Serbian-Croatian meat pie of sorts. Cafe Pita is a little place near us that serves this delicious dish. It is a mess of buttery flaky delicious mess.

The other bit came from Panamanian empanadas–the meat filling. There’s just something about the seasonings used for our empanadas that is incredibly comforting. You will notice that the filling uses recao verde as a base.

Cafe Pita uses an interesting dough¬†for their burek; one of these days I’ll attempt it. For now, phyllo dough will be the overachiever understudy. And I’ll tell you, it left very little to be desired. Ready? Let’s get to it!

El Burek-o

1-1/2 lbs ground beef
1 large yellow onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1/4 cp each: green onions, parsley and cilantro
2 cloves garlic
2 tsps Jugo Maggi or Worcestershire
1/2 tsp oregano flakes
1 tsp habanero paste or 1 tbsp habanero hot sauce
2 tbsp flour
1-1/2 cps beef broth
Phyllo sheets
Melted butter
Sea salt & ground black pepper

Chop all the aromatics: onion, bell pepper, green onions, parsley, cilantro and garlic. You can do this manually or with a food processor. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the beef, breaking it apart into a crumble. Add the Maggi, oregano and a shake of salt and pepper, continue stirring and crumbling the beef. This process will remove all moisture from the ground beef, make sure to continue to stir to keep it from burning and sticking to the pot.

Once the moisture evaporates and all that is left is the fat from the beef, add the chopped recao. Continue stirring until the aromatics soften and the beef begins to brown. Add the habanero paste, once that has been fully incorporated add the flour. Make sure to stir in the flour and cook this for a few minutes to ensure you don’t end up with beef that tastes like flour. Add the broth and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Make sure to scrape all the good bits off the bottom. Allow it to come to a boil, lower the temperature to medium-low, cover and simmer for another 20-30 minutes.

While that cools, prepare the phyllo¬†sheets. Preheat the oven to 400¬į. Line a baking sheet with silpat¬†or parchment paper and lay the first sheet of phyllo. Brush it with butter, repeat. I laid 3-4 sheets before I started to add the beef filling. Butter in between each sheet. Spread a spoonful of the beef filling, not too much, you’ll be layering this a bit. Try to keep a 1-inch edge that has no filling.

Top with another 3 sheets of phyllo. Repeat. The last layer would be phyllo. Use the silpat/parchment paper to help you fold the sides over, the way you would fold a letter to place in an envelope. Make sure to butter each fold.

Flip it so the seam is at the bottom. Brush the top with butter, sprinkle with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Once it is golden brown and looks flaky, remove it from the oven. Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. That’s it!

I did make a bit of a dipping sauce by combining 1 part mayo to 2 parts crema fresca or sour cream and a bit of habanero hot sauce.

Cookingly yours,