2011/01/27

Two words that frighten me... (Chicken B'stilla)

"Artsy-Crafty" 

Few phrases that have the power to instill fear in me like that one (the only other phrase that I can think of that frightens me more is "team-building exercise" - SHUDDERS).  Precision work is so not my thing.  Somehow, when the art fairy distributed her "gifts" to my family she forgot me.  Totally.  Forgot.  Me. 

Maybe she had already used up the family allotment on my siblings and had nothing left for me.  Or perhaps because I was a late-comer (my next closest sibling is thirteen years older) she forgot to come back when it was my turn - after all, I was only one lone child, right?  I really don't know what happened.  Either way - she missed me. 


My sister has the gene - she sews and makes all sorts of neat crafts (you know, the kinds of little art projects that get even the young'uns interested).  My brother has the gene - he can draw.  Me, I got but-kus.  Zero.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Granted, I did get a healthy dose of the "practical" gene (the one that lets me figure things out pretty well).  I think it came along with my fair share of the "smart" gene.  But the "art" gene - MIA. 

I do need to clear one thing up before I proceed.  I may be whining a little bit (or a lot bit), but I am not truly complaining.  The gene fairy did send a few good ones my way... 


Moving on from genes back to B'stilla... 

One of the reasons I joined FFwD was to push myself into trying foods & techniques that were outside of my comfort level (some of them WAY outside my comfort level).  It was this particular fact that I needed to keep reminding myself of when I read through the introduction to Chicken B'stilla and saw the words that caused a huge sinking sensation in the bottom of my stomach - "a tad artsy-crafty".  (I feel obligated to note that this isn't the first or last recipe that is going to wretch that reaction out of me...  does anyone recall the dreaded whole chicken?



I willed myself to read the recipe past the introduction. I was going to have to get through this, so time to buck-up, carry-on and all of that.  I think I muttered to myself something along the lines of "when did you turn into such a wussy?"  Come on - an arts and crafts project is WAY easier than touching raw poultry or giving birth or hiking up the last patch of bare rock to get to the top of a mountain.   WAY EASIER. 

I finally talked myself into believing that this was essentially chicken pot pie in phyllo dough.  "Trust Dorie, trust Dorie.  You can do this!"  Eventually, I was able to self-motivate to the point of chest bumping proportions.  Hoo-ah! 

Filling - easy peasy.  (I had actually started the filling the day prior in the middle of one of my Dorie-thons the day prior). 

Layering phyllo dough - slightly less easy.  1) Those layers are thin and 2) those layers are REALLY thin!     


Prep note:  I did use a 9" cake pan with two inch sides as noted  (I love my USA Pans - that silicone coating has yet to fail me).  However, if I ever do a re-do, I will probably just use a 9" springform and avoid the nerve-wracking process of flipping over the dish...

I think I lost track of how much butter I ended up using.  And how many phyllo sheets.  Things kind of took on a life of their somewhere between sheet one and sheet one million and one...   All I can say is be ready with the butter, lots and lots of butter! 

The Dude was extremely dubious about what he considered to be my excessive use of butter - in fact, he was expressing skepiticism regarding the whole dish (which I usually ignore, because he usually ends up liking "it" anyway).  I am pretty sure I shot him the "evil eye" at that point and opted to switch on my selective hearing (also known as "my kitchen ears")... 

 

The filling reminded me a bit of tuna casserole.  Weird association, but something about the look of the shredded chicken floating in the sauce just sent my imagination in that direction...

The whole sugar and cinnamon on top deal caused some momentary hesitation - since the flavor combinations all made sense to me, I worked through that moment of doubt rather quickly.  (I kept thinking cinnamon toast - I did do a quick look up in The Flavor Bible and verified that everything made sense.)  In for a penny, in for a pound; plus, rule #1 in this adventure is "Trust Dorie".  I had already made it through my "arts & crafts" project - might as well see it through to the end! 

 

Into the oven she went and out she came...

Here is the low down:  the house smelled amazing through out the process.  The Karate Kid wouldn't try it because it had nuts in it (or whatever the excuse of the day was).  The Runner Chickie had seconds.  The Dude declared it to be "the best ever" and had seconds and then thirds and then indicated that this dish should make repeat appearances (I indicated back that perhaps a couple of new kitchen trinkets might be able to persuade me).  My favorite part of the whole dish was the cinnamon sugar crusted bits on top...  Mother of Pearl that part was good!

 

Whew.  Another FFwD challenge under my belt & a whole bunch of "culinary firsts".  This post participates with French Fridays with Dorie.  Check out how everyone else fared with this week's challenge!  Better yet, join in on the fun...

31 comments:

  1. Woo hoo! I'm glad you made it through the recipe! It looks great!

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  2. I have to disagree with you, Cher. You have a gift with words and a gift for cooking and I am sure many more gifts we aren't aware of yet. Yours turned out beautifully! Your sugar/cinnamon mixture didn't burn like mine did. Great job!

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  3. Cher. Your dishes always look good. You crack me up. Hard to believe you are shy... Looks great. B:)

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  4. I'm with her. We all enjoy your gifts here. I didn't end up making this but hopefully give it a try this weekend. Thanks for the tip re: the springform. Am I allowed to use the bottom part of it? :)

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  5. So glad you went ahead with this one. Loved your post - too cute. :)

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  6. @ YC - I am so glad that there was another "Phyllo-initiate" in this weeks challenge. We did it!
    @ Sis Boom/ Elaine - Truly - the art fairy did miss me! I just cover it up with a healthy dose of "clever" :-) Thank you for the kind words.
    @ Beth - believe - I am usually the girl hiding in the corner.
    Oh - and Sis Boom - nope, no bottoms allowed!

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  7. Cher, I love reading your posts because they're hilarious and because you say a lot of the things that I think. I too feared the "Artsy-Crafty" thing--I avoid gatherings with my friends where they say they're going to scrapbook (the horror!). In any case, I'm glad that it turned out well, and it certainly looks gorgeous!

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  8. This looks really wonderful and your post was a delight. I'm new to your blog and spent some serious time browsing through your earlier entries. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. Thanks for a great visit and some wonderful ideas.I hope you have a marvelous day. Blessings...Mary

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  9. Oh my gosh - of all the weeks for me to have fallen behind blogging and commenting :) I will blame being stuck in DC for a business trip during this ridiculous weather...but was rewarded when I got home to see your lovely comments and nomimation of us for a Stylish Blogger award. You can come to Paris with us anytime, and no need to fit in the suitcase ! Tricia & Nana

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  10. Ha, that's so funny: the arts & crafts gene totally leap-frogged over me, too (and my siblings are all much older than I). I can't tell you how many crafts supplies I have languishing in shoe boxes, because of one fail after another.

    The phyllo turned out great, btw!

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  11. I just loved the play-by-play! WHERE did the HUGE jar of cinnamon come from?!

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  12. So happy for you that you conquered another dish outside of your comfort zone!

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  13. I think you handled the filo with aplomb, looking at your photo. You are right though - I think I used more sheets than specified to cover up the gaps, as well as the ones that stuck steadfastly together, so I just went with the flow. Your finished pie looks amazing, and the Karate Kid has no idea what they are missing.

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  14. Ha! Yes, phyllo virgin over here, too! (And what a mess of it I made, wow!) Glad to hear you faced down that phyllo and wrestled it to the ground. Figuratively speaking, of course. Your b'stilla came out beautifully!

    And truly, thank you so much for the Stylish Blogger Award! That is so super-cool!

    Cheers,
    Karla

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  15. Agree that you must be armed and ready with butter when dealing with the dreaded phyllo dough! I was glad I had a whole box of the stuff to work with.

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  16. I love your use of the term "kitchen ears," I might have to start that at my house! Conrgats on the success with the phyllo!

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  17. Well, it looks like you got all the right genes. This is a great post...your cooking is superb! and so is your write up, photos, etc. Great job!!! And I share many of your same thoughts.

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  18. I love your post! The thought of the art fairy granting Arts & Crafts genes made me laugh out loud. You did a GREAT job with this. Fillo dough is hard to work with. Mine was tearing like crazy. Good thing it's much more forgiving than it looks. Butter heals it so well. I used a springform (with bottom) which made it easier.

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  19. Hooray for facing and beating challenges!

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  20. Haha you are too funny! Nice job on the b'stilla - I have to admit that I had my boyfriend's mother to help me through my first filo experience! Love the background on the blog.

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  21. I'm glad I hopped over to your blog because your post is funny and I can relate to quite a few of your stories! Good job on your b'stilla. It looks really yummy with the flaky pastry!

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  22. Looks great! I'd never worked with filo before and found it intimidating. :)

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  23. pure perfection! it was so delicious and my kids agreed!

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  24. I love ee the USA pans too:-)
    Hah, yeah there is sooo muc butter gng in there that i lost track too:-)))
    Ur B'stilla lookksss sooo good , i want a bite ...now:-)

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  25. Oh my! You and I may have been parted at birth!
    I have always described myself as not having a creative bone in my body and I cringe at any mention of team building days (the last few included bonding over days of singing, drumming and dancing). Hard to look at your co-workers the same ever again!!!
    Great looking b'stilla!

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  26. Great post! I was in fear of the "tad artsy craftsy", too, as I was behind the door when those genes were passed out, but in the end, it didn't matter as everything settled down in the baking process. Actually, the pie wasn't bad the next day, either. Yeah, the butter thing got me, too!

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  27. Yeah, I hear you, I got But-Kus, Nada, too in the way of artsy craftsy genes. My brother can play any number of musical instruments by ear and draw and paint, my sister has never met a craft she could not do in her sleep practically and do well, and I am the bookish one...fussiness eludes me. And it eluded me plenty on this dough thing as well...I had it ripping and tearing and finally I just tossed it all on there and doused it with butter and called it a day. Hey, they ate it, they ate every last bite of it...good thing I live with guys and not girls is what I am thinking because they will basically eat anything. Which is good for me. Yours looks stunning...I think you can move up a notch in the fussy artsy craftsy world with this alone.

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  28. What a fun blog post! I bet your arts and crafts gene is just slightly dormant and not nonexistent. :) Tis looks perfect! I would keep on the dude about those extra kitchen trinkets.

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  29. Cher, perhaps we were twins separated at birth...I too was overlooked by the art fairy...unlike my multi-talented sisters...although I'm the oldest so my excuse was the fairy didn't know about our family when I was born! Loved your post...laughed throughout. Thanks for the smile.

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  30. I must have done something wrong! Mine didnt hold up to slicing and then it tasted awful, which i know had to do with the almonds, because i liked it up until the addition of the almonds.... the phyllo dough was annoying though! I just made this this week as a catch up... we had a less than perfect experience with it.

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