Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cigaratte Rolls (Sigara Böreği)





Sigara böreği takes its name from the shape of cigarettes. Although I truly loathe cigarettes, I love cigarette rolled boreks! Addictive is the right word to describe these little rolls. In Turkey, they are usually served as appetizers, for breakfast and as an afternoon snack with a hot Turkish tea. I have tried making these numerous times using whole fat Turkish white cheese and each time the cheese would leak during frying and ruin their appearance and taste. I have tried rolling them differently, adding an egg white to keep the cheese together but it kept leaking. Then I realized I was using cheese with whole fat which was causing the leaking. Since I couldn’t find low fat Turkish white cheese, I used low fat feta and for the first time I prepared rolls that did have leaked cheese during frying. They were so good to look at I was hesitant to eat them (no, not really) J I do not normally purchase anything low fat or diet so I had to make an exception for this. They tasted incredibly good but I know that they taste even better with whole fat white cheese.


You may substitute the filling with other types of cheeses, minced meat, chicken, potatoes or even spinach. Enjoy hot right after you fry them. They will be so crispy and delicious!


2 cups crumbled low fat white cheese (or feta)
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 package triangle pastry leaves (about 20 leaves)

4 cups sunflower or canola oil

Place the white cheese in a bowl and add the parsley. Mix well.


Place one triangle pastry leaf on the counter and brush the edges with water. 


Add a table spoon of cheese in the wide section of the triangle pastry leaf. 


Fold from both sides and start rolling. 


Dip hands in water when sealing. 


Repeat the same process until all the triangle leaves are used up.


Heat up the oil. Add a few of the rolls and start frying. 


It should take only a few minutes. As soon as the rolls start taking a golden color remove and drain on paper towel. It is better to fry as little as possible; that way they will fry faster. 

Note: If you cannot find triangle shaped pastry leaves available in Turkish or Middle Eastern stores (ucgen yufka) and able to find regular Turkish yufka, you could cut the large round piece of yufka into eight triangles. If you cannot find yufka, you may substitute regular (thinner) phyllo dough for it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Baked Pastry with Leeks and Chard (Fırında Pırasalı ve Pazılı Börek)




With winter comes, my favorite winter vegetables: chard and leeks. I started buying chard and leeks because of their nutritional value which I feed my little kids on a weekly basis. I grew up eating chard which I was not fond of but my mother only made it with a yogurt soup with grain which is eaten cold. I don’t recall eating it any other way. For böreks, my mother only used spinach and never chard. After I learned cooking many years later, I tried böreks with Swiss chard and regular chard and I was very happy with the results. This time I wanted to add leeks since I had them on hand and really it was so light and delicious!


I prepared the stuffing ahead of time and froze it as it is almost impossible for me to make everything the same day with two little kids and work.  I made the dough the same day I made the böreks and the stuffing tasted as if fresh. We all enjoyed them; especially my boys. They kept wanting more and more. Even though I was in a hurry when making them and didn’t take very good pictures, I think the pictures are acceptable and will explain the steps pretty well.


Caveat: You will most likely have leftover dough. I could have adjusted the proportions for the recipe, but I did not want to do that without really trying it. You can use the left over dough for any type of stuffing you like or even a small pizza.

Now it’s time for the recipe.









For the Dough:

6 ¼ cups white flour
2 ½ cups warm water
1½ tsp yeast (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp red pepper paste (optional or red pepper can be substituted)
1 tbsp olive oil


1/3 cup olive oil for brushing boreks
½ cup flour for rolling


For the Stuffing:

2 bunches of chard (around 10 chard leaves)
2 leeks
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp salt

Prepare the Dough:

Let yeast sit in warm water for 25-30 minutes until it bubbles.

Using a Stand Mixer: 

Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer. Add the flour, salt, red pepper paste and olive oil in the mixer bowl and run it on stir. Gradually add the yeasty water. Change the speed to 2 and let it knead the dough until it is soft. It should take less than five minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let it sit for two hours.

Manually:

Add the flour, salt, red pepper paste, olive oil and half of the water and start kneading. Add the rest of the yeasty water gradually and continue to knead until soft dough is attained. It should take about 15-20 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let it sit for two hours.


Prepare the Stuffing:

Remove stems of chard from leaves.  

First steam stems of chard until soft as they will take longer to cook than the leaves. Remove and steam chard leaves until wilted. Chop both stems and leaves small.

Slit leeks in half and wash thoroughly several times to remove all the dirt between the layers. 


Chop finely. Heat olive oil in a pan. Sauté leeks first for 4-5 minutes. 


Add chopped chard, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper flakes and black pepper. Stir for a couple minutes and remove from heat and cool.


Prepare softball size dough balls and sit aside. 


Take about 2 tbsp of flour and place on the dough rolling surface. Take one of the balls and place it on top of the flour. Add another 2 tbsp of flour on top of the dough ball. 


Flatten with your fingers and start rolling. 


Make the pastry 9-10 inches in diameter, smaller if smaller pastries are desired. 


Add 3 tbsp of the stuffing in the middle of the rolled dough and fold the outer 1 inch from the left, right and the bottom to create a triangle. 


Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Repeat until all the dough and the stuffing are used up.


Heat up oven to 375º. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until the böreks take a golden color. 


Enjoy with hot tea or with cold yogurt or yogurt drink.