I've been cooking for many years now. But I remember when I was starting out how different it was. I had interest in cooking back when I was very little. I did not help my mom or my grandmas a lot in the kitchen, but when I did it was very exciting for me. Growing up, when I left to go to university I spent hours on cooking forums (remember when it was all about forums and discussion boards as opposed to blogs?). And then later, after finishing University and finally living on my own I started to really learn how to cook.
I actually didn't cook much. It was too inconvenient and really clashed with my social life, but when I did, it would always be something elaborate. I kept finding interesting and involved recipes, going to lengths to find rare ingredients and following every single instruction and comment. Those few times when I ventured outside of the prescribed steps, the results were most often pretty disastrous.
For quite a few years I had to follow recipes exactly if I didn't want to end up with inedible results. Until one day it all changed! I guess I matured, learned proper techniques and understood the science (and magic) behind cooking. Now I rarely follow recipes, I use them as guidelines and ideas. Sometimes it's just spices that I change to mend the recipe to my specific tastes and sometimes it's the whole technique and ingredients.
And sometimes I follow just my crazy mind and ideas and come up with something that is so delicious that I can't believe I have never made it before and I can't wait to make it again. I am talking about this wonderful, beautiful, delicious, satisfying, elegant, flavourful, Vegetarian Savoury Strudel. Made with white buttery beans, spiced with thyme and lemon, mixed with zesty and melty goat cheese, speckled with fresh dill and wrapped in buttery, slightly tangy Homemade Farmers Cheese pastry. Don't be scared of the seemingly long list of ingredients, this recipe, although quite involved because of the pastry, comes together relatively easy. I was able to have it ready for the oven in about 30 minutes and that included gathering all the ingredients and making pastry.
White Bean and Goat Cheese Savoury Strudel
Onion, diced - 1 medium
Bell pepper, diced - 1
Garlic, finely minced - 2 cloves
White beans, drained - 1 can (540 ml), I use President's Choice No Salt
Goat cheese - 50 g
Thyme - 3 sprigs
Lemon zest - 1 lemon
Lemon juice - 1/2 lemon
Lemon pepper - 1 teaspoon
Mrs. Dash No Salt Original Blend - 1 teaspoon
Dill, chopped - 2 tablespoons
Oil for pan-frying
Salt to taste
Mustard - 1+ tablespoon (optional)
Cheddar, grated - 50 g
Butter, cold - 60 g (1/2 stick)
Farmers cheese - 200 g ( 1 cup, packed)
Flour - 150 g (1 1/4 cup) + more for rolling
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Egg - 1
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- First, let's make the filling. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
- Add diced onions and sauté for a few minutes until onion is soften and is just beginning to turn colour.
- Add diced pepper and minced garlic and sauté for another few minutes until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize.
- Add drained beans and mix.
- Add lemon zest, lemon pepper, Mrs. Dash spices, thyme leaves, lemon juice, mix and let cook on low heat for a few minutes.
- While the bean mixture is cooking, start making the pastry.
- In a large bowl combine cold butter and farmers cheese.
- Using pastry blender, mix butter and farmers cheese together. You can use food processor as well, but I find it easier using just a big bowl and pastry blender, less cleanup after.
- Add an egg and mix well until batter becomes smooth.
- Add flour, baking powder and mix.
- Once flour gets incorporated, turn the dough (it will not be smooth yet) onto a floured surface and knead a few times to get all the crumbs together and make it into a smooth ball.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle on a very well floured surface with well floured rolling pin to 1/4 thickness. Mine was about 14inx17in, but it all depends on how you roll it.
- Now that the pastry is done, crumble goat cheese into the pan with the beans and mix to get it incorporated. It'll start melting and it's ok.
- Add chopped dill, mix and take the pan off the heat.
- Add salt to taste. I don't add more salt as I find that cheese provides enough salt for my taste.
- Spread the pastry with some mustard if using.
- Sprinkle grated cheddar over the pastry leaving a little bit for later.
- Spread the bean and goat cheese filling over the pastry leaving a little bit of space around the edges of the dough.
- Roll the pastry like you would a jelly roll or cinnamon rolls.
- Place the strudel onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper seam side down. NOTE: my strudel was quite long and it was difficult to transfer to the baking sheet, so I placed it on parchment paper on the counter first and then I used the parchment paper to transfer it to the baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the leftover cheddar cheese over strudel.
- Bake for about 45-60 minutes depending on your over. Remember, filling is already cooked and it's only the pastry that needs to bake. My oven takes longer always, so it was closer to an hour.