Thursday, February 18, 2010

Palate Pleasers

I've had a new idea for my blog. Since moving here to Chicago, I have been slowly getting to know some of the people in our new congregation, Redeemer Lutheran Church.

In the spirit of a "getting to know you" project, I've decided to start with some cooking. I was given the newest church cookbook on the day of my husband's installation. It is called "Palate Pleasers." What better way to get to know some of the cooks in the congregation than by using their recipes?

So, I pulled the book out today, and decided I could try some recipes. This all may sound very "Julie and Julia"-like, and I guess I mean it to. I read the book, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell several years ago, and loved the concept. She decided to make all of Julia Child's recipes (in her Joy of Cooking book) over the course of a year and write about it on her blog.

However, my version will use the church cookbook for my inspiration. Tonight's recipe: Savory Beef Strudel.

Any time a main dish recipe has a dessert term in the name, it's going to be made in my kitchen. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I don't dive head-first into a bag of Doritos, but Oreos at 4 pm sound like a terrific addition to my diet. (Sad, I know.) One of my other favorite main dishes is the classic Bisquick recipe called cheeseburger pie. I mean, burgers, cheese, and pie--how can it get any better?

So tonight's recipe involves strudel. Interestingly, the word "strudel" comes from the German word for whirlpool, apparently because if you take a cross-section of a strudel you can see a sort of spiral shape. Apple strudel is the most common recipe consisting of layers of strudel dough and filling. The strudel dough is very labor-intensive to make, and my recipe, while it still took about 45 minutes to prepare, saved me the labor of making the dough. Instead, it called for phyllo dough (puff pastry dough).

The first time I used phyllo dough in a recipe, I thought the dough itself was the packaging. The sheets are so paper-like that I kept picking up layer after layer trying to get to the good stuff. Alas, the "good stuff" was what I was ripping through and tearing to shreds.

Tonight I knew better, remembering that foray into phyllo dough in my younger years. This recipe is sort of like lasagne. I made a meat mixture with ground beef, celery, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and layered that between buttered layers of the phyllo. Over the top of the layers went a milk and egg mixture. The whole thing is now in the oven cooking.

Well, the timer's about to ding, so I'd better sign off. I'll let you know how the recipe turned out!

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