9.8.11

burek

This dish is one of my family's favourites. Traditionally, burek (bourek, bourekia) is found all over the teritories that were at one time occupied by the Ottomans, so from the Middle East and Turkey all the way to Greece and the Balkans.

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Naturally, everyone has their own best version, and in Serbia, a huge variety is found - from "empty" burek, to meat, cheese, potato, spinach, cabbage and even apples (sweet and very similar to apple strudel).
Wrapping it up in escargot shape is quite typical of Bosnian burek, where it is referred to as a "pie".

So, as you can see, this is a dish you can make whichever way you like, and this is my all time favourite, made with spinach and cheese.


Ingredients

Note: this quantity fits well into a large deep flan pan

15 thin large filo pastry sheets (1 whole packet and a bit)
400 g feta cheese
500 g frozen spinach
2 large eggs
vegetable oil

Preparation:

Crumble the feta with your fingers. Beat the eggs, add them to feta and mix well.
Defrost the spinach and drain well. Add it to the feta and egg mixture, mix well.

Spread one filo sheet and lightly brush with oil. Cover with the second sheet, brush with oil, and then the third - brush with a little bit of oil as well.
Add about 3 tablespoons of mixture along the edge, spreading it evenly. Roll the pastry into a thin cylindrical shape.

Cover the inside of the flan pan with greaseproof paper and sprinkle generously with oil. Line the pastry roll along the edge.
Repeat the process, arranging the pastry rolls alternately from the outside in until you have an escargot shaped burek.
Sprinkle with generous amount of oil.
Note: originally, this dish asks for a lot of oil, and I mean a lot. I can't bring myself to use quite that much, because not only is it very oily (burek is supposed to drip oil down your chin when you eat it warm) but it is then heavy and can give indigestion.
Instead, a liberal splash of oil on the bottom and then on top, brushed all over the top, is a nice compromise (but I would suggest you try the really oily version for the authentic and truly yummy experience).

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden like so:

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Remove from the oven and cover with a damp cloth as it cools. This will make sure burek is moist when eaten later.

When the burek is cool enough to eat, cut in wedges and serve with yoghurt, salad or as a part of a  Middle Eastern Feast.

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Bon appétit!

4 comments:

  1. Oh, my god, I love them. Thank you so much. I have a question, not about this recipe, sorry (which I'll definitely try, ;) ). There's this Balkan dish, which is made of rice wrapped in vine or cabagge leaves. I looooove it. I tried to make it with vine leaves (much much better than cabagge), but they were too tight (I had boiled them, tried freezing them before boiling, my father has vines at home, so I picked the youngest leaves... Nothing worked). Do you have any tips, ideas? I would very much appreciate it. It's one of my favourites.
    Susanna.

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  2. Hello dear :) Yes, there are many versions of those dishes.
    First one is called "sarma" and it is a mix of minced meat and rice, wrapped in either pickled cabbage leaves or fresh ones. I recently posted a recipe with fresh cabbage leaves here
    If you prefer pickled cabbage (taste of the final dish is somewhat different) just substitute (although where I live it is hard to find whole cabbage heads pickled).

    The stuffed vine leaves are usually called "dolmas" or "dolmidas" and you can find them everywhere, from Turkey to Greece, Middle East and North Africa. Better supermarkets or Turkish shops will have both dolmas and preserved vine leaves ready made.
    Originally, they are stuffed with rice, onions and herbs, but there are recipes with ground beef or lamb.

    In Dalmatia, the vine leaves are preserved in this way:

    Pick a bag full of the healthiest vine leaves, they should be good size, fresh and green.
    Wash them and let dry, and arrange flat in an oval deep dish.
    On top, place herbs you like. This is really up to you, but usually people use local herbs, so 3-4 fresh bay leaves, rosemary, capers, dill etc. Also add liberal amount of sea salt (not fine, rock sea salt is better).
    Cover with cling film and leave for a few days until all the leaves become dark olive green.

    When you are happy with it, put 8 leaves one on top of another and wrap-roll, then place 3 such rolls into tall glass jars, add more sea salt, place more herbs around and in between, pour boiled and cooled water, a touch of olive oil (the liquid should cover the tops) and leave in a cool and dark place to be used later.

    Once you have a few jars of these leaves, you can experiment with recipes. Classic dolma are veggie and in clear minty sauce, but you can make actual sarmas in tomato sauce and all too, and invent a few new recipes of your own.

    Everyone has their favourite version for the stuffing but these are a good staring point :))

    Greek dolmadakia with minced beef and rice

    Greek veggie dolmades

    Middle Eastern lamb dolmades

    Middle Eastern vegetarian dolmades

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  3. Wow, thank you so much. You are a darling! I'm certainly going to try them again.
    Susanna.

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  4. My pleasure Susanna, best of luck with making them, i am sure it will be delicious! :)

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