Delicious baked puff pastry stuffed with Moroccan couscous

I’ll begin by telling you that this dish is not only quick to make, delicious and crusty and filled with yummy surprises that make you ask for more, but it’s also original, really. I mean, how many people do you know stuff pastry with Moroccan couscous?

But first, let me share something with you before we continue. I just have to let it out. Do you ever get panicked? I mean some things in life can get me panicked like..hmm let me think…….o.k. maybe I don’t get panicked but my blood heats up every now and then, depending on the occasion. Like last Friday night, we had friends over for “see you later alligator” dinner (we are going on vacation and they stay here), and I worked very hard to make a memorable evening (they will watch our house while we’re gone). So we sat down, started with the salads while waited for the appetizer to finish baking (about an hour). I went into the kitchen to check on it…are you ready for this? when I opened the oven door all I saw was…nothing. nada. zip. not a thing baking, no smell. What??!!

I, a person who dislikes “lateness” in any form, shape and color no matter what the excuse is, forgot to put the food in the oven. It never happened before. Top that with very hungry crowd and you could hear the bubbles in my blood start boiling. Panicked? Naaah.

playing a guitarMy daughter entertained our very patient guests.

But accidents sometimes turn into a major success. Yes they had to wait longer. Yes, they laughed at the situation (or maybe at me). And yes, they raved about the first course that disappeared in 30 seconds flat. Yes, they asked for more. And yes, they even went home with appetizer goody bag. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Moroccan couscous stuffed in puff pastryThe winner.

So go ahead, forget but don’t panic (unless you insist). Keep your cool, laugh at yourself and share your late arrivals no matter what. You’ll be glad you did.

So, shall we:

ingredients:
1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 pkg plain instant couscous (10 oz)
1/2 cup dry cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds (unsalted)
1/2 cup chopped whole nuts
handful chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red hot paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 pound ground turkey or chicken breast (cooked)
1 orange zest
1 egg (mix for egg wash)
3 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

preparations:

Preheat oven to 400º. In a bowl filled with boiled water soak raisins and cranberries for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Prepare instant couscous following instructions on the box (eliminating the salt).

In a large bowl combine prepared couscous, dried fruit, nuts, orange zest, spices and cooked turkey or chicken (if desired. I added cooked and seasoned turkey breast). Mix all ingredients until well combined. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Moroccan couscousOn a clean lightly floured surface roll out pastry dough into square shape about 1/4 thick and cut into squares, depending the size of your sheet (mine was about 5″x5″ each). You can cut into 9 equal squares if you prefer smaller ones. Place a heaping tablespoon of the couscous mix in the center of each square.

puff pastry stuffed with moroccan couscous

Take one corner of a stuffed square and fold it over to the opposite corner and pinch/seal edges with the tines of a fork.

puff pastry stuffed with moroccan couscous

Place stuffed pastry on a parchment paper keeping space between them for expansion, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake between 30-40 minutes or until deep golden color is achieved.

Serve warm with fresh salad(s) as an appetizer (like I did) or, if you didn’t use meat have it for breakfast with hard boiled eggs on the side and fresh sliced tomatoes – you have no idea how delicious this it! until you try it.

Reheating it in the microwave is a no-no.

Any other “stuffy” suggestion for puff pastry?

I’m all ears.

Delicious baked apples in a crusty crust

Hello friends,

So here I am talking about how to impress your guests, again, or surprise yourself with a bit of creativity.

As you probably know I like to make my guests feel special and always like to end a dinner party with something to remember, usually it happens with food. So last night we had friends over for dinner and I was looking for a simple dessert to make, not very sweet, with simple ingredients that yield a big impact. I had six apples chilling in my refrigerator that no one paid attention to and a lots of frozen puff pastry. What to do what to do. Bingo – who doesn’t like warm baked apples in a crusty crust? well…my daughters. but that doesn’t count.

After scoring, cutting, wrapping and baking, in the end I came up with these mouth-watering sparkly baked apples in a golden crusty crust with stuffing that simply tastes  a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

delicious baked apples

baked apples in crusty puff pastry

Not only that but these apples look beautiful too, like little individual presents. I mean if the apples had eyes they would blink right back at me.

It’s so easy to make even a teenager with a nose ring can do it.

so, shall we:

ingredients
1 pkg puff pastry dough, thawed and chilled
6 medium size granny smith apples
1/2 c. toasted almonds, crushed
2 tbsp honey
3 cloves cardamon, crushed
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1 egg white + 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)
2 tbsp fruit jam (orange, apricot
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
preparations
Heat the oven to 375º. Wash apples, scoop the cores then peel. Try to keep the apples whole. Drizzle with a few drops of lemon juice to keep color.
For the mix: in a microwave melt the jam about 30-40 seconds just to get it easier to blend. Combine honey, crushed nuts, cardamon, zest and jam and mix well.

delicious baked applesStuff apples with the nut mix, as much as the apples can contain. Set aside.

crusty baked apples

Roll out the pastry sheet into a thin layer and cut into equal squares, roughly 5″x5″. Larger squares if you have larger apples. Place stuffed apples in the center of each square, brush inside edges with the egg wash and wrap apple with pastry sheet. Here you can get creative and wrap it anyway you like. I pulled the four corners into the center and left little “ears” sticking out (in case you feel like stuffing these tiny pockets too). Place the wrapped apples on a greased parchment paper, brush with egg wash all around and sprinkle with cinnamon powder and brown sugar. Chill for 15 min.

delicious baked applesBake from 35 to 45 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

Serve warm. If you have a very sweet tooth add a side of vanilla ice cream, it’s a perfect cool/warm combo for any juice buds. Otherwise, serve the warm apple on its own making it the star.

delicious baked apple

P.S. I didn’t know it was my friend’s birthday that night (what kind of friend am I anyway?), so I quickly took a tiny birthday candle, stuck it inside the edge of the pastry and boom, instant personal birthday cake. The man was happy. Still is.

A must try. Yum.