When Cook of the Month Scott Akdogan made a Turkish-inspired dinner to share with News readers, he made an appetizer and a dessert that we couldn't fit in the newspaper.
Here's his recipe for the Date-Stuffed Phyllo Cigars featured in the large photo on today's Taste cover, typically served as an appetizer. For dessert, he made Cognac Glazed Apricots with Cinnamon Yogurt, faintly exotic, and not too sweet - a delicious change of pace.
Feta Walnut Date Wraps (Date-Stuffed Phyllo Cigars)
6 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces
6 ounces crumbled feta (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons; patted dry if wet)
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1 (1 pound) package phyllo dough (roughly 17- by 12-inch sheets), thawed if frozen
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Pulse cream cheese, feta, walnuts, and dates together in a food processor, stopping occasionally to scrape down side of bowl, until nuts are finely chopped and mixture is combined well. Quick-chill filling by freezing until cold (to make it easier to handle), 15 to 20 minutes in freezer.
Stack 8 sheets of phyllo and cut stack crosswise into 4 strips (each about 12-by 4-inches), reserving remaining phyllo for another use.
Stack phyllo strips, then place stack between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap (to keep phyllo from drying out) and cover with a kitchen towel (to help keep the paper or plastic wrap in place).
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo with a short end nearest you on a work surface (keep remaining sheets covered) and brush with butter.
Roll a scant tablespoon of filling between your hands into a 3-inch-long log and place log in center of phyllo sheet, parallel to short end. Fold phyllo in half, enclosing log, and brush with butter.
Starting at log end, roll up pastry to resemble a cigar. Transfer, seam side down, to a lightly buttered baking sheet.
Make more rolls, leaving 1/2-inch of space between cigars on baking sheet. Bake until phyllo is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Cognac Glazed Apricots with Cinnamon Yogurt
3 cups plain Greek yogurt or drained plain whole-milk yogurt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon finely slivered orange peel (orange part only)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pound dried pitted whole Mediterranean-style apricots (about 3 cups), halved crosswise
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
1/3 cup Cognac or other brandy
Toasted natural unsalted pistachios
Slivered fresh mint
Stir yogurt and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Cook orange peel in boiling water 5 minutes. Drain and reserve peel.
Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Whisk in sugar. Add apricots; toss. sauté until beginning to brown in spots, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup orange juice and reserved orange peel. Simmer uncovered until juice is reduced to thick syrup and apricots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.
Add Cognac to simmering apricots; ignite with long match. Let flames subside, shaking skillet occasionally. Mix in remaining 2 tablespoons orange juice and simmer 1 minute, stirring.
Spoon chilled yogurt into 6 dessert dishes. Spoon warm apricots and syrup over. Sprinkle with pistachios and mint.
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