Aahhhh……Christmas. One of the best times of the year. The jolly festivities with all that delicious food and luxurious edible treats gives one something, if not a few things to look forward to.
However, cooking or baking at festive times can be a rather stressful thing for some of us. Recently, we had the pleasure of meeting celebrity chef and author, Rachel Khoo. She was featured in the popular cooking show, The Little Paris Kitchen on BBC Lifestyle to great critical acclaim. And in the recent masterclass we attended, Rachel taught us some great recipes that are not only truly scrumptious to eat but more importantly, they are easy to make! That’s top-notch as far as we’re concerned!
Rachel gave us a recipe called Baked Cheese Cigars. They’re served with a refreshing green papaya, cucumber and radish slaw. However, the beauty of this recipe is that you can make the baked cheese cigars in smaller sizes too. You just need to ensure that whatever size that you choose to make it, it has to rolled tightly enough and the ends must be nipped in or it won’t turn out.
The recipe calls for feta cheese but you can also vary it with various cheeses to give you those different taste notes to make your version more interesting. For example, we tried them at home with some good salty cheddar and fruit chutney. It worked like a dream. Mozzarella can also be used but as it’s a mild cheese, you will then need to pair it with something lighter. Basil and tomatoes work very well with mozzarella so that will be a winner for sure.
The combination of flavours from Rachel’s recipe work well as the saltiness from the feta cheese and the sweetness from the honey compliment each flavour very well. Do give it a try if you’re up for it. It’s not difficult to make and best of all, it tastes great.
A word of caution though, filo pastry can be a tad cumbersome to handle. It’s a very delicate sheet of pastry so be careful when you’re handling it as it can tear easily. Don’t skim on the melted butter as the more melted butter you brush onto the pastry, the better it will naturally tastes but also, it helps to seal it together as you roll it up.
If you serve it with the green papaya, cucumber and radish slaw, it’ll give you a good appetiser for a dinner or a light lunch. Depending on your appetite!
Next up, Rachel gave us a second recipe – the Coconut Chocolate Truffles.
This recipe is also relatively easy to make. It’s great to always have something you can prepare ahead of time, especially if you’re entertaining at home. You can bet that these little morsels of delight will impress your guests.
Always use a double-boiler method aka a ‘bain marie’ to melt your chocolate. Chocolate can burn easily so a bit of patience goes a long way here. Keep the fire on a low heat to slowly melt the chocolate and you’ll have beautiful melted chocolate. Follow the recipe and you’ll end up with lovely chocolate truffles.
If you’re not a fan of coconut, be creative and play with flavours. You can roll them in shifted cocoa powder for a very simple type of truffle but a delicious one nonetheless. Or you can roll them in chopped nuts, some have even played with a mixture of chopped nuts and finely chopped rose petals. You can also add in a splash of alcohol to the mixture for an alcoholic version as well. Rum and raisin is a fail proof flavour, for those who are inclined to that sort of thing.
If you’re a fan of Rachel Khoo, catch her on BBC Lifestyle on HyppTV Ch620.