Fix Me A Plate! -Fancy Ham and Cheese Sammich Version

Decided to revive the “Fix Me A Plate!” thing in honor of today’s easy and delicious quick-fix. I needed something to take to a gathering. I had originally planned to make some ham and cheese turnovers, but (as too often happens) I ran out of time to get the puff pastry made. And call me a food snob, but once you have had from-scratch puff pastry, it is damn hard to feel the same love for Sara Lee.

So anyhow, I was left with all this delicious ham and gruyere and my heart set on something flaky. So, I pulled some phyllo dough out of the freezer (yeah, I don’t really see me EVER being able to make phyllo from scratch. Unless I get some REALLY awesome tools…) and let it warm up. And yes, I will give a few tips on handling phyllo here in a bit, so be patient. A little of this, some of that and VOILA easy (well, kind of) ham and cheese roll-ups. You will need the following

– about 1/2 – 1 lb of GOOD sliced meat (I used ham. prosciutto, serrano, soppressata, whatever floats your meat boat – how much you need really depends on how long before you get tired of dealing with the phyllo).

-1 box of phyllo, thawed to room temp AND STILL IN THE SEALED BOX  (really? you could probably sub a box of puff pastry or even use the Pillsbury Crescent rolls and still end up with something tasty).

-about 2 oz of ricotta, room temp

-about 4 – 6 oz grated GOOD cheese (I like gruyere with ham. a harder cheese is better – there are some really good firm goats out there these days. heh).

-tablespoon or so of mustard and/or horseradish

-2 teaspoons of powdered mustard

-salt and pepper to taste

-olive oil

Mix the ricotta, grated cheese, mustard/horseradish, powdered mustard and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Now – and here is the important phyllo shit – get your mise on. Preheat the oven to 400. Get a large halfsheet or cookie sheet and line with a Silpat or with parchment. You can use tinfoil, but if you do, spray it lightly with Pam or Pam-like substance. Wet a dishtowel that is at least 12 x 8 inches in warmish water, wring out thoroughly and set aside.  You will need at least 3 feet of counterspace to deal with the phyllo. If you don’t have the space, use another lined cookie sheet. Pour about a cup of olive oil (yes, really) into a bowl and have a good silicone or other soft brush next to the oil. This should be sufficient. However, IF you have a kitchen/life that is subject to unforeseeable distractions, keep a spray bottle filled with water and set to mist handy.

Now, slowly open the box of phyllo. Yeah, I know. Your hands might shake a little, but it’s just phyllo. You can do this. And just think. Once you do – you can make BAKLAVA. For real. It is easy once you can handle the phyllo. Spanikopita, too.  So just take a breath. It really isn’t that hard – more like a huge pain in the ass. You will need to move quickly and smoothly, so do whatever it is you do to get in the ‘quick and smooth’ mindset.


Here we go! Unfold the phyllo. *Lightly brush the top sheet with olive oil. Fold in half. Lightly brush the top of the folded sheet with olive oil. Set aside. Repeat this four times, stacking the folded sheets. As soon as you have placed the fourth folded sheet, cover the remaining untouched sheets of phyllo with the damp cloth. I also invert a half-sheet pan over the untouched phyllo, but my kitchen is really dry.

Spread a little of the cheese mixture on the folded phyllo. It won’t really “spread,” so just kind of gently mash it out and place it evenly on the phyllo. Place slices of delicious meat on next. GENTLY tuck a long side and roll up. Place the roll seam side down on your lined pan. Brush the roll with olive oil.

Repeat from * once or twice or even three times, depending on how long it takes for you to start hating the phyllo. If things go wrong and the phyllo starts drying out and ripping, LIGHTLY mist it with water and try again. If a sheet rips it is okay, but if you find it aesthetically horrifying, just toss that sheet and start again. There are about 20or so sheets to a box, so you have room to screw up.

Lower your oven temp to 350 and bake for about 20 minutes or until things ooze and the phyllo is a LIGHT golden-brown and crackly.

Remove from oven, slice, and amaze your friends.

Ham. Ham is Good.

Motivational Pasties

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I have not been keeping up with my shit lately.  But you know what? I have been pretty damn swamped with the lawyerin’ lately. Which is a good thing, considering I have a family to co-support and a bad thing, considering that the lawyerin’ sometimes most of the time makes me feel spiritually void and occasionally physically ill.  However, in the last couple of weeks I have got to do some of the lawyery stuff that I really like – namely, estate planning, appellate work, and pro bono stuff for people who really really need it.  So that part was good, but of course was mixed with a very heaping helping of crazy shit and the useless time-sucking procedural and handling crap that constitutes about 87% of what I do.  Specifically, straightening out other people’s fuck-ups because they didn’t listen to me and tried to do shit on their own, talking down hysterical and overly-emotional clients, and trying to figure out exactly how in the HELL I am supposed to draft/file/move for yet another novel thing in a yet another court I haven’t been in before.  As for the bad shit, I can’t force people to listen to me, other than dumping them as clients when they fuck shit up beyond repair and do things I have specifically told them NOT TO EVER DO. On the handling issue, I could avoid most of this if I would just quit giving clients my cell phone number. But I can’t realistically do that.  Likewise the procedural crap.  Sigh.  So anyhow…

It is could as hell outside – not your typical MegaChurch gays and liberals hell, but your old school, 9th Circle kind of hell. And I really really need to do some yardwork, or at least get rid of the scary looking tomato plants that finally succumbed to blight and creepy nasty bugs. So, I am thinking that I will bribe myself into getting off my ass and getting some shit done with the promise of some comfort food for dinner. SO, I believe I will be making pasties, possibly with lamb and gruyere, and some skillet potatoes for dinner.  That should get me (and possibly some able-bodied family members) up and moving.