While we were hidden under a pile of snow, December slowly crept upon us and we suddenly realised that the year is nearly coming to an end. The snow has thawed to a great extent but there is still some in a few parts and most of it is now ice, making it even more treacherous to walk on.The temperatures are still well below freezing, the central heating groaning to keep the house warm. A quick walk outside leaves watery eyes, red noses and numb faces. Yes, winter has well and truly settled down in our neck of the woods, a little too early to what we are usually used to. The kids schools had to be shut down, as almost the whole of UK was, or rather, still is, under the spell of a big freeze. Daily life was disrupted, no doubt, but kids will be kids I guess; no school on a snowy day spells fun for them, with great big capital letters.
Christmas is around the corner, and the brightly decorated streets and houses do send a message of cheer. It’s the festive season and a heartwarming time of the year. I enjoy festivities, it puts such a smile on everyone, well, unless,you are like sour Uncle Scrooge, of course
Anyway, coming back to the kitchen, or rather the oven, and it is indeed nice to have it on at the moment and have it’s warmth spread throughout the house, what with all that cold outside. Actually,a few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in testing a recipe from the culinary school at Baltimore International College. I could choose any recipe from here and they kindly covered the expenses. Keeping in with the season, I found this recipe for a vegetable strudel quite catching. And I was happy I chose it. It was relatively easy to handle, but full of flavours at the same time. You can find the original recipe here. I followed the recipe for most of the parts, and made a few adjustments here and there.
In the recipe,an assortment of vegetables are grilled or sauted. Sheets of phyllo pastry are then layered and the top sheet is spread with an olive-garlic-olive oil paste, topped with the vegetables, rolled up and baked. What you end up with are crisp layers of pastry with a delicious filling of spiced and herbed vegetables. The recipe was included in the category of appetisers, but to be honest, Dinesh ( who was working from home on that day) and myself, made a lunch out of it, as it was quite filling.
The recipe called for yellow squash, but as I couldn’t find any, I used our favourite butternut squash instead. I also spiced it up a bit with some crushed red chillies and some paprika in addition to the other spices and herbs. I roasted the vegetables in the oven. I also used cheddar in place of parmesan cheese. The cheese was supposed to be mixed in with the vegetables, which I royally overlooked. So I sprinkled it on top instead; I also used a little more cheese than the 1 tablespoon mentioned in the recipe.
On the whole, I liked the recipe, and found it to be just my type. The best part of it is that it is very customisable and one can use any vegetables that are in season. The only thing that I would change , if I made it again are the number of pastry sheets; I felt that they were too many. The number of sheets almost overpower the lovely filling within. So, yes, less is the way to go where the pastry sheets are concerned,in this recipe.
Overall, it is a lovely recipe, and if the filling was prepared in advance, it would make life easier, especially if you have guests coming over this festive season.