Chicken Patties

I ran out of canola oil while setting up to deep-fry these; luckily Kat (who lives across the way) had some coconut oil she could send over with a child. So I fried in a combo of the two, which I think was perhaps perfect — the canola gave the characteristic crispiness, and the coconut gave some extra richness. I hadn’t fried in coconut oil before, though, and was really surprised when I put the first patty in — it foamed up dramatically (which may have had something to do with combining the two oils — I’m not sure)! I called Kevin over to make sure I wasn’t doing something wrong. But all was very well, and they were soon devoured. (Pictured below is a double-batch, filling three plates.)
 
Patties (usually Chicken)
(2 hours, makes about 30)
 
These are classic party appetizers (or short-eats, as we call them); patties can also be made with a mix of meats — chicken, beef and pork work well together. The filling may be made in advance and frozen if desired, or you can go all the way to filling the patties and then freeze them in layers, with sheets of parchment paper to separate, before the final frying step. That makes it easier to manage prep for a big party. Allow patties to thaw completely before frying.
 
Patty pastry:
2 cups plain flour
1/2 rounded tsp salt
3 TBL butter
1/4 cup thick coconut milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
peanut oil for frying
 
Filling:
2 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
2 TBL ghee or oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 curry leaves, on the stalk if possible
2 rounded tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1 rounded tsp ground turmeric
1/4 rounded tsp ground cloves
1/4 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 rounded tsp ground black pepper
2 rounded tsp salt
2 strips lemon rind (or roughly that amount of lemongrass)
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1-2 lightly-beaten egg whites for sealing pastry
 
1. Make filling. Put chicken into a saucepan with just enough water to cover, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool chicken, remove from pot (reserving stock), and mince. (In a food processor is fine.)
 
2. Heat ghee in a saucepan and fry the onion and curry leaves until onion is soft and starts to brown. (Leaving curry leaves on the stalk will make it easier to remove them at the end.) Add the curry powder, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and salt and stir well. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the leftover stock. Add lemongrass and the minced chicken. Mix well and simmer gently until chicken is tender and liquid almost evaporated.
 
3. Add coconut milk, stir, and cook uncovered until coconut milk is absorbed.
 
4. Remove from heat. When cool, pick out the lemon rind or lemongrass and the curry leaves.
 
5. Make pastry: Sift flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips. Add the coconut milk and egg yolks mixed together and knead lightly to a smooth dough. If necessary, add a little extra milk or flour.
 
6. Wrap dough in parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.
 
7. Take one quarter of the dough at a time and roll out very thinly on lightly floured board. Cut into circles using a large cookie cutter about 3 inches in diameter.
 
8. Put a teaspoonful of the filling on the pastry rounds. Wet the edges of the pastry with egg white, fold over to make half circle and press edges firmly together to seal. Ornament the edge by pressing with a key or the tines of a fork.
 
9. When all the patties are made, fry a few at a time in deep hot oil. Drain on layers of paper towels and serve warm. Can be made ahead and refrigerated (or frozen)—reheat in a 350 degree oven.

Ribbon Tea Sandwiches

Ribbon Tea Sandwiches (Carrot, Beet, and Spinach)
(1 1/2 hours, serves dozens)

These are a favorite across Sri Lanka, and are made with a variety of vegetables—some use asparagus instead of spinach, for example. They are quite ridiculously pretty, with their contrasting stripes of color, and are a staple at Christmas parties and other festive events. They are just a little spicy, but spice levels may be adjusted up or down, as desired. I like mine tangy, but if you don’t like tang, leave out the vinegar, and they will still be quite tasty.

NOTE: These are quite time-consuming to assemble; I usually try to make sure I have at least a pair of hands to help at that stage.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 pound beets, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 10 oz packet frozen chopped spinach, thawed, with the excess water squeezed out
3 Thai green chilies
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp white pepper (black is also fine)
3 TBL vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 loaves thin white bread (recommended: Pepperidge Farms Sandwich Bread or Very Thin, if you can find it) Note: Each sandwich uses 4 slices of bread. Each large sandwich will be cut into four bite-size sandwiches

Recipe:

1. Chop carrots finely in food processor with one green chili. Add 1/3 package cream cheese, 1/3 stick butter, and 1/3 cup mayo. Add 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp white pepper, 1 TBL vinegar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Combine until smooth, taste seasonings and adjust if desired, and transfer spread to a separate bowl. Rinse out food processor.

2. Repeat process with beets + chili, and then again with spinach + chili.

3. Spread carrot mixture on a slice of bread. Place second slice of bread on top and spread with beet mixture. Place third slice of bread on top and spread with spinach mixture. Place final slice of bread on top. Using a serrated bread knife, gently cut off the edges. Cut each large sandwich into four triangles. (I recommend cleaning the blade between cuts with a wet paper towel if you want to avoid beet mixture staining the bread.) Arrange beautifully on a plate and serve.

Note: If not serving immediately place in a large storage container and lay a moist paper towel on top of the sandwiches to keep them fresh. Alternatively, you can prepare the sandwiches the night before, not cutting them, wrap each large sandwich individually in plastic wrap, and then cut them when you’re ready to serve. That does take quite a bit of plastic wrap, though!

Note 2: When I cut off the crusts, I save them and throw the bag of crusts in the freezer. And then, when I’m feeling like cozy comfort food, I take some leftover curry, stir in the crusts (still frozen is fine), and sauté it for oh, five minutes or so, until the bread has sopped up all the liquid. Essentially a Sri Lankan version of a hot panzanella. Yummy and comforting.