Saturday, June 11, 2011

BOREK: Savory Cheese Pastry Squares

Savory Pastry Squares: BOREK

This is a recipe from my dear late father-in-law, Vakif Ari who had many "signature dishes" from borek to omlettes, salads, and of course his famous "çiğ köfte".

We miss him and our family dinner conversations where his grandchildren would start asking him how he won "grandma's heart". He would tell the story (especially after a drink or two) with every detail with his eyes still sparkling after all these years.

His original borek recipe called for butter and 6 eggs. Over the years, I modified it to make it healthier by replacing the butter with olive oil and reducing the number of eggs. I noticed that he too modified his recipe for a healthier version over time.

Although the most popular version has cheese filling, you can use your favorite filling including ground beef, chicken, spinach and other vegetables you like. I've included recipes with ground beef and spinach filling at the bottom.

  • 20 sheets of fillo dough
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill weeds
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 4 eggs (seperate and save one yolk for glazing the top layer)
  • 2 cups shreaded cheese (Original Turkish recipe calls for feta cheese, but if you don't like it Monterey Jack cheese works great. I use mostly Monterey Jack cheese with some crumbled feta sprinkled over it )
  • 2-3 table spoons of sesame seeds or black caraway seeds optional
You would need a 1/2 size cooking pan.

1-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2- Grease the bottom and the sides of a half sheet oven tray or a 19x14 pan with oil or non-stick spray,
3- In a blender mix oil, milk, yogurt and eggs.
Egg, oil, milk, yogurt mixture
20 sheets of fillo dough will be used

4- Put 2 sheets of fillo dough on the pan. Sheets will be flat if you use the half sheet size pan, however, if you use a pan smaller than the sheets, then they will be wrinkled as you lay them down. This is OK.
5- With a spoon, pour some of the solution from the blender over the fillo dough. No need to use a brush, it does not have to be even.
Spread mixture over fillo dough
  • Repeat steps 4 and 5 three more times
  • Repeat step 4 only. Spread the grated cheese over the fillo, sprinkle with dill weeds
Sprinkle grated cheese over fillo dough

  • Repeat steps 4-5 four more times
  • Spread the last 2 sheets of the fillo dough over the pan, no wrinkles this time. If the sheets are larger than the pan, fold them under on the sides so that the top layer looks smooth.
  • With a knife, gently cut thru the borek. You don't have to cut all the way thru, this is to make a scar so they puff up in the oven

Cut the borek into squares
  • Add a table spoon of water or milk to the egg yolk you saved aside and mix it. This makes it easy to brush. Brush the egg yolk over the borek.
tablespoon of water or milk is added to the egg yolk

using a brush, spread egg yolk over the borek

  • Sprinkle sesame seeds and/or caraway seeds over the borek
  • Place it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake until the top is golden brown. Takes about 30-45 minutes.
Savory Pastry Squares: BOREK

If you like, you can use different fillings other than cheese. Some examples:
Spinach filliing:
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bag fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or grated jack cheese (optional)
  • 3 table spoon olive oil
Saute onions in olive oil for 5 minutes, add tomatoes, cook for another 3 minutes, add uncooked spinach and the cheese
Spinach filling
Borek half with cheese, half with spinach filling

Ground beef filling:
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Table spoon olive oil
Saute onions in olive oil for 5 minutes, add the ground beef & tomatoes, cook for another 5 minutes, add salt and pepper to your taste.

Notes: If you want to limit the eggs you use, you can cut it down to 2 eggs, it will taste fine. You can also cut the oil down to 1/2 cup. If you cut the quantity of eggs and oil, you may want to increase the yogurt (non-fat) to make sure the borek will be moist enough. The original recipe had 6 eggs and 1 cup of melted butter :)

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

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