We left deciding what to make this week right until the last minute. We opened the cookery books at three o'clock, decided on this strudel at half past three, and had just half an hour left to get to the supermarket and buy the ingredients and a new baking tray. After the mad rush, the preparation of this dish turned out to be amazingly simple, which I hadn't expected because I was terrified of using filo pastry for the first time. I've had it in restaurants and love the stuff, but it's so fine and wispy... as delicate as a butterfly's wings... that I'd never mustered the courage to have a go with it at home.
This delicious strudel will feed two extremely hungry people who haven't eaten for a week, or four normal folks who have been having regular meals. A simply mixed leaf salad would be nice with it.
8 oz (230g) leeks weighed after trimming
1 small Bramley apple
1 small Cox’s apple
2 oz (60 g) finely chopped walnuts
6 spring onions, white parts only, sliced
4 oz (110 g) Roquefort cheese, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes
5 oz (140 g) goats' cheese, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes
1½ tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 oz (60 g) butter
5 sheets fresh filo pastry
½ oz (15 g) white bread, crust removed
1 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
salt and freshly milled black pepper
You will need a large, flat baking sheet approximately 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm) in size.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375 F, (190 C).
Trim the leeks and discard the outer layers, then slice each one vertically in half and wash under a cold running tap to get rid of any grit. Dry the leeks with a cloth and then slice them.
Melt 1 oz (25g) of butter in a 9 inch (23 cm) frying pan on a medium heat, sauté the leeks for about 7-8 minutes until just tinged brown, making sure to stir them so they don't catch at the edges, and then put them into a large bowl to cool.
Core the apples and chop them into ½ inch (1 cm) pieces, leaving the skins on them. As soon as the leeks have cooled, add the apples, diced goats’ cheese, spring onions, walnuts and ½ tablespoon of chopped parsley. Then season well with salt and pepper and mix all together.
To make the breadcrumb mixture, grate the bread and add the garlic and remaining parsley. Then mix together well.
Dampen 2 large clean tea cloths under cold water and lay one of them out on a work top, then unwrap the filo sheets and lay them onto it. Cover the filo sheets with the second damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.
Butter the baking sheet and place it onto a work surface. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan and then take one sheet of filo pastry (keeping the rest covered) and lay it onto the baking sheet. Brush it lightly with some melted butter and then sprinkle a quarter of the breadcrumb mixture all over it. Place a second sheet of filo on top, brush this sheet with melted butter and then sprinkle the second quarter of the breadcrumbs over it. Repeat this step another two times, so that four sheets of filo and all of the breadcrumb mixture have been used. Then place the final sheet on top and brush it with the melted butter.
Now, place the cheese/leek/apple mixture all the way along the depth of the filo, sprinkle the cubes of Roquefort on top and then pat it together firmly with your hands. Don't be afraid to really get your hands cheesy... give it a good pat down so you have a nice firm roll. Then take the edge of the pastry that is closest to you and bring it up over the filling. Next, fold over the other side of the filo so that you're left with a large roll. Push the cheese/vegetable mixture in at the ends and then tuck the pastry ends underneath (or press them together, if there's not enough pastry left to tuck). Brush the surface with the remaining melted butter and then bake it in the oven for 25 minutes, so that it comes out a nice golden brown colour.
To serve, cut the ends off (and discard them) and then cut into slices.
Above: Immediately before going into the oven... all buttery and securely patted down.
Below: Just out of the oven... golden and full of cheesy goodness.
Causes Gina Collia-Suzuki Supports
The World Wildlife Fund
Cancer Research UK