Tag Archives: Turkey

Börek? Not really.

Claudia Turgut’s blog, A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, is often an inspiration, and it especially called out to me last week, when I wanted to make a special appetizer to share at Jennifer’s house while we watched the Oscars together. I was considering the luscious looking savory pastry called  börek that Claudia made with various fillings and served at teatime.

But I was not in Istanbul, so how could I possibly make börek?

It wasn’t the filling that was the problem; it was the lack of yufka, that special dough that comes in big round sheets. You can easily buy yufka fresh in Turkey, it seems — but not so here. The closest you can come (unless perhaps you are near a Turkish market) is frozen filo dough, but that is thinner and smaller and rectangular — and just not the same.

The answer? I couldn’t make genuine börek, but I could make my own approximation of it — and as soon as everyone tasted it, no one seemed to care if it was genuine or not.

Claudia’s recipe called for a filling of sauteed onion and parsley, but since I didn’t have parsley, I  added some spinach and crumbled feta cheese to a lot of sauteed onions, and a little salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

The filling

I unwrapped a couple sheets of thawed filo dough, brushed them with a mixture of melted butter and oil. After my first attempt, I decided that two sheets of filo was still too thin, so I added a third sheet, with another light brush of the butter/oil mix. Then I scattered the filling across the sheets of dough.

making borek

Then I rolled it up the long way, and cut it into pieces.

borekroll

borekbeforebaking

The pastries on a cookie sheet just before baking

I mixed an egg yolk with a few drops of water and brushed them on the pieces, then sprinkled them with sesame seeds, the usual ones and black ones  (poppy seeds are good too) before popping into a 350 degree oven. They took about 20 minutes or so before they were golden brown and smelling delicious. I took some of them out just a bit early so I could reheat them at Jennifer’s house that evening.

borekonplate2

Mmmmm……they weren’t real börek, it’s true — but they were irresistible!

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The marmalade master

strawberries

I picked some strawberries yesterday, and after eating some fresh and some atop ice cream, as well as admiring them in my vintage enamel bowl (on my strawberry tablecloth), I decided to make a couple jars of strawberry jam.

strawberryjam

I like a nice sloppy jam that is in-between sauce and a thicker spread. And, although I love the idea of all those colorful jars of preserves in the cupboard,  I don’t like to use the large amount sugar required for the classic version, so I’m resigned to keeping my jam in the fridge or freezer. For a refrigerated jam, you can just cook down fruit and a smaller amount of sugar (as in my earlier post about fresh jam) or you can use commercial pectin designed for a low-sugar jam, which doesn’t require much (or any) cooking.  Whichever way you make jam, it is awfully good with hot biscuits or buttered toast.

jamsgalore1

Recently I was in Alaçati, Turkey (near the Aegean Coast), at a lovely little hotel called Incierliev, which offered a great variety of delicious jams and marmalades with the breakfast. They were less sweet than the standard jams — with that looser texture and intriguing balance of sweet-and-tart that I love.

jamsgaloreSabahat and Osman Poshor, the hotel owners, knew that I love lemons, so they gave me a special sampler with candied lemon and orange peels, and three versions of lemon marmalade (with and without peel and pith).

marmalademasterOsman is the marmalade master extraordinaire. He made 36 kinds of jams last year and Sabahat says he is always experimenting. And the jams are sun-cooked — or at least partially so. He cooks the fruit and sugar a little on the stovetop first, then puts the mixture in a Pyrex casserole dish and sets it out in the sun for two or three days to finish cooking — bringing the dish inside at night.

Here in Western Washington, we really don’t get enough sun to make sun-cooked anything, though I think it’s such an appealing concept.

Osman’s jams, like my own,  don’t have enough sugar to act as a preservative, so they can’t be stored on a shelf in the cupboard. Instead, they’re kept in the refrigerator.

Well, any way you make or come by  jam (and Osman reminded me of all the wonderful possibilities — sour cherry, apricot, peach, plum, lemon… not to mention fig and mulberries and quince), every season is right for eating it!

jamsgalore2

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