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  • olive oil
  • 3 whole chicken legs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cluster garlic, finely chopped
  • fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 12 threads saffron, lightly roasted and crushed
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 level tsp chilli flakes or ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream sherry
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 5 medium eggs, beaten w/ fork
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 8-12 sheets filo pastry
  • 150g (5½ oz) clarified butter
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 6 oz almonds, browned and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

Turn the oven to 300°F. Put the almonds into a metal pie pan with a teaspoon of oil. Stir them around; then place them in the oven and toast them until golden brown-about 25-30 minutes. Put them aside. Drain on paper towels. When cool, crush them with a rolling pin until coarsely ground, or run them through a nut grinder. Combine the almonds with ½ cup powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy based pan. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper and fry until golden. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, saffron, tumeric, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper. Sauté for 5-10 minutes.

Add the sherry and the chicken stock, scraping any residues from the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Remove the poultry and set aside until it can be easily handled.

Strain sauce, pour half the sauce back into the skillet; set aside solids.

Reduce the sauce in the casserole to approximately 1 cup, then add the lemon juice and honey. Turn the heat down until sauce simmers. Beat the eggs until frothy, then pour into the simmering sauce and stir continuously until the eggs cook and congeal. Add solids; chop and cook mixture until curdy, stiff, and dry.

Allow the egg mixture to cool completely before mixing with the chopped chicken and freshly chopped herbs. Refrigerate.

Remove the skin and bones; shred the meat finely.

To make the pies

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Brush four twelve-cup mini muffin tins lightly with clarified butter and set aside.

Lightly brush one sheet of filo pastry with clarified butter and carefully place a second sheet over it. Brush with a little butter. Cut the double layered filo into 8cm (3inch) squares.

Push the filo squares into the muffin cups, taking care not to tear the pastry. Place one heaped teaspoonful of spiced chicken/egg mixture into each cup.

Brush another sheet of filo with melted butter and cut into 1½ inch squares You will need 48; one for each cup. Place a square in each pie over the chicken mixture.

Mix the almonds with the icing sugar and cinnamon. Place half a teaspoon of almonds into each cup. Brush more butter around the filo edges and bring the pastry sides together. The almonds will be left exposed. The appearance will not be neat, but this is part of the drama of the bisteeya.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve very warm.