Recipe Source: Wolfert, Paula. The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, 2003 p. 282.
You're going to notice an apparent discrepancy in this recipe. The photo I'm attaching shows a sauce. There is no sauce in this recipe. You may ask yourself, "What gives?" (You may also ask yourself, "who cares?" but I will pretend I didn't hear you.) I'll tell you what gives. I followed the recipe. I made the sauce. It was a flop. I tried it the original way and it just kind of sat there. It looked like milk. I added more cornstarch. I added a lot more cornstarch. It still looked like milk. Now it just tasted like vaguely rose-flavored chalk. Then I tasted the actual bisteeya and decided that it didn't really need the milky, vaguely suspicious-looking sauce after all. I originally made it for one of our Sunday open houses, but when no one stayed for dinner I decided to serve it at our Labor Day barbeque the next night. It went over very well and I'm sure it will make many more appearances on my table!
I really only made two changes to the recipe. I doubled the quantity and I omitted the (nasty) sauce. I probably used a bit more butter proportionally, but I don't think you can possibly skimp on butter when working with phyllo dough. This brings me to another point. I've had bad luck with the phyllo dough I've found in most American supermarkets. It's old, it's stale, it's brittle, and it tastes bad. It is definitely worth the trip to a Greek or Middle Eastern supermarket and getting the slightly thicker dough. It will make your life much easier, you'll waste less dough and you'll curse and swear less. You could also try making your own. I don't, but if you really want to I'm sure it will come out better.
Sweet Bisteeya with Almonds (serves 20; approx. $0.51/serving)
3 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups whole almonds
4 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 package phyllo dough, thawed
- Food processor
- Baking sheets
- Pastry brush
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet.
- Add the almonds and cook over medium-low heat until golden.
- Drain on paper towels and let cool.
- Transfer the almonds to the food processor.
- Add the sugar and cinnamon and process until the almonds are well ground.
- Melt the butter over low heat, or in the microwave.
- Cut the phyllo dough into strips about 2 - 3 inches wide.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Take a strip of dough and brush it well with melted butter.
- Add a spoonful of the almond mixture about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the strip.
- Fold the bottom of the strip up, covering the filling partially.
- Bring the lower left corner of the strip up to the right side, creating a triangle at the bottom.
- Bring the edge of the triangle up over to the left.
- Repeat process until you have a triangular-shaped packet. Place on the baking sheets.
- Repeat until all the dough and filling is used. When you have enough trays to fill your oven, brush the triangles with more melted butter.
- Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool and serve.