Pass me a brew

I’m going to Disney! (Epcot, really)

By way of my kitchen, that is.

June is halfway done and I had yet to pick a recipe for my monthly new recipe challenge. Nothing was firing me up and, to be fair, I had been distracted by a back injury, massive rains and a defective window leading to an ant invasion.

With a few moments of actual peace, the idea popped into my head, let’s cook Brewat!

A little background:

On my first “adult” trip to Epcot, I was with some friends and we couldn’t all agree on which country to eat dinner at, so we ended up separating.

I don’t know what pushed me into Morocco for dinner, but it turned out to be a tasty choice. I reject anyone’s suggestion that it was the belly dancers, as I was quite surprised when one gyrated in front of my table for a couple of minutes (guess I must have looked lonely, dining alone).

Two things about that surprise: One, it’s a good thing I rarely have a girlfriend and two, a belly dancer in front of your table is not conducive to eating.

Knowing nothing of Moroccan food, I chose a sampler plate, which was way too large for me. Among the items on this plate was a selection called “Brewat”. It was spicy beef inside a pastry roll and topped with powdered sugar.

I must admit, I drooled more over the Brewat than the belly dancer. Explains why I’m still single, I suppose.

Fast forward to this year and my monthly new recipe challenge. After much searching on the net, I finally located a recipe for Brewat that actually included cooking directions (most just listed ingredients).

And now, the adventure…

One day, I will find a recipe that’s plain honest. “Super easy” to make. Eh, mebbe not.

What I thought was going to be the biggest challenge, the phyllo dough, turned out to be no problem at all. Despite web searches that claimed the dough was not in stock, Wal-Mart had plenty.

Okay, then, let’s go over the ingredients first.

Phyllo dough – check.

Ground beef – check.

Onion – check.

Coriander – check.

Check? Check again.

So, the recipe calls for chopped coriander and I had coriander seeds. Hmm. Okay, even though I just got back from Publix, I’ll pop out again and get some coriander. Like I know anything about coriander.

Apparently, in the “west”, coriander is the same as cilantro. I’m not a big fan of cilantro, but I guess that’s what the recipe wants.

Except, a further review of coriander shows that Morocco calls the seeds coriander.

Arrgh. It’s an American recipe for a faux Moroccan restaurant. Which should I use? I wimped out and used both.

Parsley – check.

Check? Not again! Sure enough, I thought I had parsley in the house, but all I had was a small amount of parsley flakes. Not nearly enough for the 1 oz. the recipe called for. Back to Publix? Meh, just use more cilantro.

Cinnamon – check.

Ginger – check.

Saffron – check. Boy, is this stuff expensive. All for a “pinch”. Meh squared.

Eggs – check.

Peanut oil – check. I stared and stared at the oil section in Wal-Mart and couldn’t find any peanut oil. Finally, I disturbed two employees in the aisle and they tracked down a third and found me the peanut oil. A gallon of it. I needed one ounce. They managed to find me a smaller container. Great, now I can make Brewat 23 more times.

Powdered sugar – check. Oh great, no one sells small size powdered sugar. What am I gonna do with all this (two Tupperware containers full) sugar? Maybe I can bulk sell it to Hostess.

Butter – check. Hoo boy did this recipe make me melt a lot of butter. I used up nearly all of my LoL tub!

But, now, to the cooking!

The meat part was easy. I’ve browned meat before, thank you. Next was to let the mixture cool (see ingredients above).

First warning: I’ve never baked pastry before. Second warning: phyllo dough is not crescent rolls.

This stuff is thinner than paper-thin. It’s rice paper-thin. It’s gossamer thin. And it’s fragile. Also, there’s an enormous amount in each box. Maybe I shouldn’t have purchased three boxes after all.

After a few bum efforts, I got the hang of how to lift a sheet of dough and place it on my work space. My next step was to brush it with melted butter. No worries there, I have a small basting brush and I micro-zapped the butter in a little dish.

After buttering, I scooped a portion of the beef mixture onto the sheet and began to roll it, folding in the sides like a burrito. Understanding how much to scoop in without overtaxing the phyllo dough was a learning experience.

While assembling the remainder of the rolls, I placed a wet paper towel over the finished ones, per instructions. I also made a test run with a single roll on a greased sheet but prepared the rest on parchment paper.

Before the rolls were to be put into the oven, they were supposed to be brushed again with butter. Sheesh. The recipe writer must really like butter.

30 minutes later (at 350 degrees), they were done. All that was left was the sprinkling of powdered sugar over the (frankly, pretty attractive looking) rolls. I had no small colander, so I used a slotted spoon. Worked for me, if a bit sloppy. Oh no, I might run out of powdered sugar. Ha! I crack me up.

Finally, how did it taste? Hmm. First, the pastry rolls were too buttery. Heh. I knew it, but I always follow the directions exactly first time out. Second, the spicy beef wasn’t very spicy at all. I think the next time I make this it will be heavy on spices like curry and cumin. Finally, bleah, cilantro. No more of that.

But, those pastry rolls came out magnificent, so at least I know I’ve got that down.

The effort was pretty heavy, but still not as bad as Swedish meatballs. As with any preparation, I got it down pretty smoothly midway through.

I could see someone calling this “super easy” once you’ve done it a time or two, but it’s a far cry the first try. From the quantity of supplies I have alone, I know I’ll be making this again and I think I know how to make it more like that flavor I drooled over.

Or maybe it was the belly dancer all along…

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