Sunday, February 21, 2010


These are Turkish pastries, light and crunchy stuffed with any number of fillings. The pastry, called ‘Tufka’ is similar to phyllo, just not quite as delicate, and can be bought at Middle Eastern markets. If you can’t find Tufka, substitute two sheets of phyllo per borek.

Mince Filling
There is some synergy that occurs when beef, lamb, cumin and oregano are mixed—no one flavour stands out, rather they all meld into one of the most delicious, savoury tastes this side of Istanbul.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped (red, white, yellow—whatever you got)
2 cloves garlic, minced
250 grams, 8-9 oz minced (ground) beef
250 grams 8-9 oz minced (ground) lamb 
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
A handful of chopped, fresh parsley

Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour in the vegetable oil and allow to heat up. Add in the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, then add in the beef and lamb. Sauté the meat until it is just cooked, then drain off all fat, return the meat to the pan, add in the seasoning (except parsley) and continue to sauté and brown the meat.  Once done, remove from heat and toss in the parsley. Allow to cool completely before stuffing.
Enough for about 16-20 boreks

Cheese Filling
I love that feta is at once salty and slightly sour. This makes a tasty hors d’eouvre for vegetarians as well as carnivores.

2 blocks (200 grams/7 oz. each) Feta, crumbled tiny
Loads of freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
6-8 thin green onions, trimmed and sliced thin
1 scant teaspoon sweet paprika or hot paprika, for spice
2 handfuls of freshly chopped parsley
2 eggs, beaten

Mix everything together until relatively smooth. Stash in the refrigerator until ready to use. Enough filling for about 16-20 boreks.

To Roll
Have 40 Tufka triangles at the ready. Alternatively, use 80 phyllo triangles. Keep either type pastry, under a very lightly dampened cloth to prevent drying out.

Spread 1-2 tablespoons filling along the bottom of the wide end of the triangle...

Fold the sides in...

and roll into a cigar shape. Repeat with the rest.

Place boreks snugly on a baking tray and brush with more melted butter. Scatter sesame seeds on top, if you like.
Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

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