The AWA International Cooking Club of Hong Kong met up last week for a cooking demonstration with our lovely host Maureen for a Spring Time Brunch celebration.
The menu started out with some Champaign cocktails and bacon wrapped prawns. (shhhh... don't tell Mr. Anonymous)
Maureen demonstrated her cooking techniques and all of her fun cooking gadgets. She has more cooking gadgets than would ever fit in any of my cupboards, but now that I had a chance to use them, I would like one of each. How fun! We all took part on preparing a brunch pizza with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, asparagus and proscuitto phyllo pastry strudel and then finished off with a decadent espresso gelatin with chocolate ganache and coffee liqueur.
The Brunch pizza with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon was very unique. The soft eggs on top of the chewy cheeses and tender salmon was a delightful experience. Topping included capers, chives, dill and shallots and this was divine.
Next, we devoured an asparagus and proscuitto phyllo pastry strudel. With the salty flavor of the procsuitto and the creamy texture of the ricotta and then crisp outer shell of the phyllo dough, one bite and I was hooked. I am sure my teenagers will love this dish.
As a part of a perfect ending to a perfect day, we enjoyed a decadent espresso gelatin with chocolate granache and coffee liqueur. This little dish packs so much richness into just a few bites. A nice balance with the cool and delightful coffee gelatin and the dark richness of the chocolate granache. This little dessert really perks you up and adds a little spring to your step.
3 little words sums up that whole eating experience. "Oh my goodness!" "Is anyone going to eat that last piece?" After all, we did need to make sure we ate something to soak up all that Champaign.
As with keeping with the Healthy World Cuisine motto of unique international dishes that even teenagers will enjoy, I have decided to share with you Maureen's Asparagus and Proscuitto phyllo pastry strudels. As per Maureen, "This savory pastry is perfect for brunch. Spread the filling on the phyllo pastry sheet, and roll them up like a strudel. The filling can be made the day before and chilled in the refrigerator. The strudel can be rolled, up to 4 hours ahead of baking and chilled." However just a little advance warning, if baking for teenage boys, you best double this recipe as it will go very fast.
Asparagus and Proscuitto Phyllo Pastry Strudels
By Maureen Mai
Servings: 8 adults or one hungry teenage boy (Makes 2 rolls of strudel)
Prep Time: 10 mins filling, 10 mins phyllo pastry
Cooking Time: 25 minutes (and 10 additional minutes to cool)
- 450 grams of ricotta cheese
- 2 XL egg yolks
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 small package of asparagus (¾ pound) blanched and cut into small pieces
- 90 grams of proscuitto cut into small pieces (1-1.5 packages)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 10 phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 6 tablespoons dry italian breadcrumbs
- parchment paper for rolling assistance (sushi mat would work fine too)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees Celsius)
Step 2: Blanch asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water until just crispy-tender, about 2 minutes. Immediately drain asparagus and transfer bowl of ice water to cool. Drain, pat dry, and cut diagonally into small ½ long pieces.
Step 3: Melt butter into a small skillet. Saute spring onions and garlic until just tender. Set aside.
Step 4: To Make Ricotta Filling: Mix ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, basil, parsley and fresh chives in a large bowl. Stir in procuitto, blanched asparagus, sautéed spring onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Do not over salt, as the proscuitto is already salty. Cover and refrigerate, if making the day before.
Step 5: Butter large baking dish and set aside. (or use butter spray)
Step 6: Preparing the phyllo pastry sheets:
- Place 2 phyllo sheets on a parchment paper. Brush phyllo with melted butter.
- Top with 3rd phyllo sheet, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with 1 tbs breadcrumbs.
- Top with 4th phyllo sheet, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with 1 tbs breadcrumbs.
- Top with 5th phyllo sheet, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with 1 tbs breadcrumbs.
- Top with 6th phyllo sheet, brush with melted butter.
Step 7: Folding the phyllo pastry sheets:
- Leaving a 2 inch border from the edges of the pastry sheets, spoon half of the ricotta filling along the right side of the short end of the pastry sheets.
- Spread it into a 3 inch wide strip.
- Fold the 2 inch border from the top and bottom sides of the sheets over the filling.
- Starting from the right side, gently roll up the pastry (similar to a jelly roll or sushi roll) to form the strudel. Use parchment paper to carefully help you roll it up.
- Brush the top, ends, and sides with melted butter.
Step 8: Make the second strudel roll just like the first one, using the remaining ricotta mixture, and the remaining 6 phyllo dough pastry sheets.
You can make this up to 4 hours ahead. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill.
Step 9: Bake strudels until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Take the strudels out and let cool for about 10 minutes. Cut into think slices with a serrated knife. Arrange nicely on your serving platter and garnish with a light salad.
- ricotta cheese -
- egg -
- parmesan cheese -
- basil -
- parsley -
- chives -
- onion -
- garlic -
- phyllo dough -
- prosciutto -
- breadcrumbs -
- asparagus -