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This afternoon, I made a vegetarian b'steeya (or b'stilla or basteeya or however you want to spell it) for our Thanksgiving guests that came out so well I've been persuaded to post the recipe. B'steeya is a savory-and-a-little-sweet Moroccan pie that's usually made for weddings and other special events, and usually involves squab. My veggie version was cobbled together from a bunch of recipe sources, so here's what I did.

The night before, start thawing
1 package of phyllo sheets (you only really need about six sheets, but you'll probably lose some of 'em in practice)

When you're ready to cook, first make the ras el hanout. It's a spice mixture that literally means something like "top shelf"--there are a bunch of different formulations of it. For this one, toast very lightly
eight saffron threads
then mix them with
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/3 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1 lb. firm tofu
1 (6-oz.) package veggie chicken strips

Chop finely:
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic

In a large skillet, heat over medium-high heat until hot:
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Saute the tofu and veggie chicken strips in it, stirring almost all the time, until lightly browned on most sides. Add the ras el hanout and stir a couple of times. Add the onion, garlic and
1/3 cup raisins
Saute and stir for another minute or two.
1/4 cup red wine
and stir until it's mostly absorbed (it shouldn't take long at all--maybe 30 seconds). Then add:
2 cups vegetable stock or broth
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let it cook for a bit.

While the tofu mixture's cooking, chop finely:
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup flatleaf parsley
A decent-sized handful of mint leaves

and set aside in a medium-sized bowl.

With a slotted spoon, take the solid stuff out of the tofu mixture and set it aside. Turn up the heat and let the remaining liquid boil down to something like half a cup. Then pour it into a small (2-quart or a little smaller) heavy pot.

In a bowl, whisk together:
3 large eggs
1/4 cup of the liquid from the small pot

until they're combined, then whisk that mixture into the rest of the liquid in the pot. Cook it over relatively low heat, stirring constantly, until it's just setting and has the consistency of very soft oatmeal. Immediately pour the mixture into the bowl with the cilantro/parsley/mint mixture, stir to mix, and set aside until it cools to room temperature, stirring a couple of times.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat in a small frying pan:
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
When they're golden brown, let them drain and cool on a paper towel on a plate.

5 Tbsp. butter
Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with some of it.

Now comes the part where you have to work quickly. Prepare a big, clean work space. Unroll the stack of phyllo, and immediately cover it with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel; as you take each sheet of phyllo to work with, cover the stack again. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on your work space and brush it with butter. Fold it in half, brush it again, and set it on the bottom of the cake pan (the edges will hang over; that's okay). Repeat with a second sheet of phyllo, positioned at right angles to the first one, then with a third and a fourth sheet to form a star pattern and cover the whole bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the almonds over the phyllo. Spread the egg mixture over that. Spread the tofu mixture on top of that.

Do the phyllo/fold/brush thing again, this time folding a third time and brushing with butter again, then position that on top of the b'stilla. Do the same with yet another sheet of phyllo at a 90-degree angle to the first. Fold the edges from the bottom phyllos over the top one--the idea is to cover the whole pie.

Bake it 20-30 min., until it's golden brown. Cool in its pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then put a plate over the top, flip it over, remove the pan and let it stand on the plate for 5 minutes. Then use:
1/3 tsp. confectioner's sugar
1/3 tsp. cinnamon

to form a crisscrossing pattern on top (cinnamon lines one way, confectioner's sugar lines the other way). Let people admire it before you cut into wedges to serve.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas published on November 25, 2005 12:43 AM.

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