Monday, 12 September 2011

Borek and a meze selection

I like things made with filo pastry, but I've never I actually made anything with it myself. So now I'm in my thirtieth decade I thought I'd better correct this. I wanted something for a light summer lunch, so a meze selection including borek seemed like a good option. Borek are essentially little parcels of pastry with various fillings, which are found all around the Mediterranean and Middle East. The borek I've come across are always filled with a feta-style cheese, but Wikipedia tells me that they can have a range of different fillings. I decided to stick with feta, and used a recipe based on this one. I adapted it a bit, so my version's below. And I (obviously) did not consider making this super-thin pastry myself, but bought some ready-made filo.

Recipe (enough for around 12 pieces):
Ready-made filo pastry (I used 4 sheets in total, but this will depend on the dimensions of your pastry)
1 large egg, beaten
200g feta cheese
1 tblsp chopped dill
A good grinding of black pepper
Around 70g butter, melted
Around 2 tblsp sesame seeds

Firstly make up the filling by mashing the cheese with the egg, adding the dill and seasoning with pepper when they are well combined. It doesn't need to be smooth mix, so don't worry about any large crumbs of cheese.
Next get your filo pastry, and lay one sheet out. Brush this with melted butter, lay a second pastry sheet on top, and then brush this with butter too. I had a large rectangle of pastry so cut this in half across the widest part, and then each half into three, to create six smaller rectangles. I then placed a couple of teaspoons of the cheese mix along the longest edge, tucked in the sides, and rolled them up into cigar shapes (nb I had some rather fat cigars). These were then brushed with more melted butter and sprinkled with some sesame seeds. Depending on the dimensions of your filo you may need to alter how you cut it, but aim to make rectangles. Repeat this process with another batch of filo pastry, to make twelve borek in total. You need to work quickly with filo pastry as it becomes very delicate the drier it is. I found that putting my pastry in the fridge between batches seemed to help, and laying a damp tea towel over it is also supposed to be effective too.
Once the borek are made bake at gas mark 4 for around 25minutes until they are lightly browned.

The borek can be served hot, or at room temperature. I prefer them hot, so as I was making mine in advance I just popped them under the grill for a bit before I wanted to eat them (this also coloured them a little more). Though these are very simple in terms of ingredients, the combination of light, crisp pastry with soft, salty, slighty herby cheese is fantastic.

To go with my borek I made some cacik (a bit like raita but with garlic and mint), and Nigella Lawson's peanut butter hummus. This was a really good recipe which I more or less followed, apart from roasting my cumin and leaving out the yoghurt. To complete the meze selection I included some taramasalata from Waitrose. This is the nicest taramasalata I've had, but I think in this context it wasn't really needed, and the fishy flavour jarred a bit with the other dishes (I think some pitta bread was needed for it to work). But overall this meze lunch was perfect for a warm summer's day- filling but not too heavy, and with lots of flavour. Actually the borek were so nice I'd happily make them in the depths of winter too.


Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane said...

I tried to make baklava with filo pastry once - it didn't stick properly but I just ended up eating the pastry but itself! I love the use of sesame seeds on it, looks really yummy :) And taramasalata is great, I think it's always needed!

TheFastestIndian said...

Thanks Xinmei! Actually I have lots of filo left in the freezer so am going to try baklava too!