'carmen' goat's cheese, chorizo and thyme cigars (or a herby spinach and pinenut vegetarian version)
Updated: Nov 14
This was a recipe formulated for the opera-themed Diva Kitchen Cook-Along, part of the Blackheath Halls 'Thursday Nights in with Nicky Spence' in August 2020 (see the full video further down the page). The guest taster was Sally Burgess, a South African-born British operatic lyric mezzo-soprano, opera director, and educator, and also a wonderful mentor and friend of mine. Sally is a famous Carmen - she performed the role countless times during her career and all over the world, so this canapé was dedicated to her. It's a winner, the goat's cheese, chorizo and thyme forming the perfect marriage, but if you'd prefer a vegetarian version, there is a recipe suggestion for a herbed spinach, pine nut and nutmeg version underneath.
115g / 1 cup finely chopped chorizo sausage - casing removed
150g soft goat cheese
50g cream cheese
7-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
Salt and black pepper
1 packet filo pastry (about 9 sheets)
30g melted butter, for brushing
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
1 egg beaten (optional - you can use melted butter - the egg gives slightly more shine)
For the vegetarian filling:
Replace chorizo with same volume (1 cup) of drained and chopped steamed spinach
Replace thyme with 1 Tbsp each of chopped fresh dill and parsley
Add 30g pine nuts
Add ½ tsp ground nutmeg
Mix the goat's cheese, cream cheese, chorizo, thyme, salt and pepper together in a small bowl, then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
First, prepare the filo sheets - you'll be working with three at a time. If you're working slowly, make sure you cover the remaining sheets on a flat surface with a damp tea towel so they don't dry out. It happens quickly!
With a pastry brush, dab the melted butter evenly over one sheet of filo, then place one on top and repeat so that you have a 3-layer 'case'.
With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, divide the pastry in to four (or six if your sheets are really long - you need about 12cmx12cm to work with) but keep the squares together.
using the pastry brush again, brush melted butter along the all four sides of the smaller squares.
Spoon about 2 tsp of the filling on to one end of each of the four squares and using two teaspoons and spread it out a little in to a fat caterpillar!
fold in the sides to envelop the filling, then roll it up like a cigarette (pictured below), place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with each one.
Using melted butter or a beaten egg, brush the tops of the cigars and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden.
You can make this in to triangles instead, of course. You start with long rectangles of pastry, place your filling at one end, then fold that end over to form a triangle and repeat the folding until you run out of pastry... voilà!