Crisp goat cheese pastries with rosemary and honey
These crisp pastries with a Mediterranean-Provençal flavor use honey, but they are an appetizer, not a dessert. They may be served with wine or an apéritif, like a kir, at cocktail hour; at lunchtime accompanied by a salad; as part of a mezze assortment; or as a first course at dinner, set on a bed of young leaves.
You will need to find filo dough, which is available at Greek specialty shops. The filo comes in very thin sheets and dries out quickly, so open the packet and unroll the dough only at the very last minute. You will have sheets left over — this recipe, which makes 12 fingers, uses only 6 sheets. Leftover filo can be kept in the fridge, well wrapped, or you can double or triple the recipe for a larger crowd.
For best results, choose a young, creamy goat cheese. If that is not available and you’re using a harder goat cheese, cut off the rind before weighing and add 1-2 tsp. cream to the cheese when you mash it. Many similar recipes use butter to coat the filo, but this one works best with olive oil, which marries sublimely with the other ingredients. You will need a pastry brush for this recipe. If you don’t have one, use a small new paintbrush.
5 ounces (150 g.) creamy goat cheese
1 tsp. chopped rosemary leaves
2 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
6 sheets filo pastry
Place the goat cheese in a bowl and mash with a fork. If the cheese is dry, add a little crème fraîche or heavy cream, just enough to make it into a paste.
Chop the rosemary leaves on a cutting board and add to the cheese. Add the honey, salt and black pepper. Stir.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).
Measure the olive oil into a small bowl or cup.
Using your pastry brush, coat a baking sheet with a light layer of olive oil.
Remove 6 sheets of filo from the packet and place on a large board. Immediately close up the packet and return it to the fridge.
Using a scissors, cut the stack of 6 large rectangles of filo in half to make 12 smaller rectangles. The point of incision should be the halfway point of the larger side of the rectangle. Stack the 12 filo rectangles on a plate and cover with a clean dish towel.
Now you will need to work quickly. Place one filo rectangle on your board. Coat lightly with olive oil. Place one teaspoon of the goat cheese filling at the top of the rectangle, leaving a border about 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
Fold the top of the filo over the filling. Now fold the sides in over the top to make a long, thin rectangle. Coat lightly with olive oil and roll up, from the filled top down to the bottom of the rectangle. Place on the baking sheet, with the seam at the bottom.
Repeat with the rest of the rectangles. When all the pastries are ready on the baking sheet, paint them with a final layer of olive oil.
Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Keep checking, as once the pastries start to brown it can go very quickly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool very slightly before serving. Serves 4-6.