Börek – Delicious Savoury Turkish Pastries

borek-ingredients

I’m living the crazy life at the minute.  No, really.  For me, it’s C R A Z Y.  I’m in panic-organising mode.  Next week I’m hosting a Birthday dinner for twelve.  During the day of this I-can-do-anything offering I’m over preparing for our first supper club as Little Portuguese Kitchen which takes place the day after Birthday dinner.  Isabel and I are cooking for twelve strangers, a set Portuguese menu.  And whilst we are super able and capable and organised and have both worked in the industry for a long time – we’re getting a little nervous! milk-oil-wash-borek-pastry

Needless to say I’ve not had a lot of space for leisurely cooking at home, or even I-desperately-need-to-eat-something-which-isn’t-takeaway-and-actually-has-the-things-my-body-needs-to-keep-running-at-mental-speed cooking at home.

I’ve been visiting a wonderful teeny tiny Turkish cafe/food place in the market in town.  They do pretty awesome wraps, full of salad with slivers of smoked sausage and delicately spiced lamb kofta.  They’re keeping me going, don’t worry!  They also happen to sell delicious börek.  Layers of filo pastry stuffed with soft spinach, salty feta, a little parsley and dill.  Bloody marvellous.  I eat far too many, particularly as my custom is so regular that they will often give me and the partner in crime one for free.  Spinach-for-borek

I woke up.. Tuesday?  Yes, Tuesday.  With a need for börek.  I ran around to the supermarket and filled up the basket (also with a lot of unnecessary things)  But no filo pastry.  Not even in the frozen section.  I came home in a sulk at my snobby outburst and slightly resentful at the package of puff pastry.  I am an idiot.  Of course the puff pastry, when rolled to about 3mm thick did a marvelous job.  thin-puff-pastry-for-borek

It actually didn’t take that long to make.  Truly.  Oven on, sweat onions and spinach while making pastry thin.  Squeeze, mix, fill, top and bake.  Done.  With a sharp lemony salad?  Amazing. squeezed-borek-filling

borek

Maybe too much cheese to spinach?  Nah.  Never too much cheese.borek-before-baking

There we have it.  If we hadn’t been so greedy this would have served six for lunch with a salad no problem.  I think next time however I really will use filo pastry but I’ll make individual ones, rolled up like sausage rolls or really obese cigars.  Sesame seeds are a must.

2 tbsp olive oil
550g spinach
1 onion
Small bunch of parsley
2 tbsp olive oil (yes, more)
1/2 cup whole milk or plain yogurt
salt & pepper
1 egg
2 egg yolks
400g feta cheese
1 package room temperature/slightly chill puff pastry (or sheets of filo – better)
2 tbsp sesame seeds

I had my oven at about 170 – it’s a fan oven which doesn’t run as hot as normal so 180 should be fine for ovens which are true.

So.  Oven on.
Olive oil and onions into a pan on a low-medium heat to turn translucent and brown ever so slightly. When the onions are looking likely, turf in all the washed spinach. Yes. All of it. Mix it about to get it to begin to wilt. When it’s an intense green and less than half the volume it began, slap a lid on and turn off the heat.
Cut off a chunk of puff pastry. For the size of my dish I cut off between 40% and 45% and the same for the lid – I know it’s an awkward way to phrase this but it’s true. I was left with a slice of unused puff pastry about as thick as my finger. I don’t got sausage fingers.
Anyway, roll out the pastry to it’s big enough to fit the dish and is as thin as you can get it. Brush with whisked olive oil, milk/yogurt and seasoning.
If using filo, keep the sheets not being used under a towel to stop them from drying out. Whisk up the olive oil, milk/yogurt and seasoning. Lay one sheet of filo and brush with this mixture (I would be tempted to put a bare sprinkle of sesame between these layers I feel). Repeat for three or four layers. This is the base pastry. If you’re making individuals you can leave it at that for parceling or rolling up. Or cut the size down if you want them smaller. Your choice.
Put your spinach mix into a strainer or a clean tea towel. Do it in batches if you need to, just get all that liquid out. Make it dry.
Break up the feta and mix in with the spinach. Only add extra salt if your feta is lacking or you like to live dangerously.
Pile this into the pastry lined dish, or arrange on the pastry to wrap up how you wish.
Roll out your other piece just as thinly if using puff. Make another three/four layers of filo washed with the oil/dairy mix if it’s not puff.
Mush up the two egg yolks with a brush or your fingers and slather it on top of the pie. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and pop her in the oven. I baked mine for about 35 minutes and turned once cause my old banger of an oven has hot spots!finished-borek
I shouldn’t have eaten it when it wasn’t piping hot. But I did and it was delicious. Go for it, Spring is coming – we’re allowed to crack out the pasty/quiche and salad routine.

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10 thoughts on “Börek – Delicious Savoury Turkish Pastries

    1. Get stuck in! Just be gentle with the filo. If you have some sheets of filo that you’re not working with immediately keep them covered with a mildly damp tea-towel, not wet-wet though, just enough to keep them from drying out so they don’t crack when you work with them.
      To be fair, this Börek was a cheat with puff pastry 😉 Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

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