If you have read my previous post on Istanbul, you may already know how much we Turks love a good borek, savory pastries, made with paper thin pastry called Yufka. Boreks are widely available in pastry shops and bakeries, they are also sold on stalls and a hugely favorite street food; delicious and great value too.
It is thought that the Ottoman Palace kitchens devised these tasty treats in order to tempt the precious little princes. These cigar shaped rolls with cheese and parsley is very popular at home. Traditionally the rolls are deep fried in a deep-sided pan, I love this way too as it taste great and crispy. We recently had a go at these rolls in my recent Turkish cookery class and this time we baked them in the oven; the result was still very delicious with a bonus of them being healthier. The rolls disappear very quickly, very popular with children as well as adults. Worth giving a go!
These rolls, as with most savory pastries, are made with paper thin sheets of dough called Yufka in Turkey. As it is difficult to find yufka abroad, I made them with filo pastry sheets and it worked really well. You can prepare the rolls in advance and keep under a damp tea towel in the refrigerator. As with most savory Turkish filled pastries, this borek freeze very well once cooked too.
Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
260 gr / 9 oz phyllo (filo) pastry sheets, thawed, or fresh yufka sheets, if you can get
225gr/ 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
60gr/2 oz shredded mozzarella
2 eggs (one for the filling, one for brushing the boreks)
1 bunch / 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
15 ml / 1 tablespoon olive oil
15 ml / 1 tablespoon whole milk
Bowl of water to seal the rolls
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4
Mash together the cheese (feta and mozzarella), 1 egg, parsley and the milk to form a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. However, if the feta cheese is already salty, you may wish not to add salt.
Place the filo sheets on a flat surface. Keep the pastry covered with a damp cloth as you are working. This will help to avoid it getting too dry or less manageable. Working with one sheet at a time, cut the filo into strips about 10-13cm/4-5in wide. Keep the strips covered with another damp cloth.
Lay one strip of filo and place a tablespoon of the filling along one of the short ends (take care not to overfill as the filling may ooze out while cooking). Fold over the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture and then roll up like a cigar.
Wet the end of each pastry roll with water to seal. Continue, keeping the finished ones covered with a damp cloth as you work. Refrigerate until required.
Mix the olive oil and the other egg in a bowl. Grease the tray with a little olive oil. Brush the pastries with olive oil and egg mixture and bake until they are golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes.
You can serve these delicious rolls, Sigara Boregi, hot as part of a meze spread. We also like to eat them as morning or afternoon snacks and they also go down very well for lunch next to this Coban Salata – Shepherd’s Salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and parsley with olive oil and lemon dressing.
Afiyet Olsun, I hope you can have a go at this easy and delicious treats and enjoy,
A Delightful & Delicious Turkish Restaurant - Karakoy Lokantasi, Istanbul
Karakoy district of Istanbul is buzzing with exciting eateries; there is the Gulluoglu Baklava, one of the best in town; then the Namli Deli & Kebabs next door – a feast to all senses with the wonderful kebabs, mezzes, vegetables cooked in olive oil and more. While in Istanbul, friends this time took me to the Karakoy Lokantasi, placed along the same line with all these wonderful eateries; this buzzing, charming restaurant was a great treat and did not dissapoint us.
The restaurant serves delicious, traditional Turkish mezzes and main courses and has been buzzing with locals and foodies constantly getting in and out. Their meyhane – tavern style dinners, I hear is especially popular with more variety of deliciuos mezzes, so booking recommended.
A delicious array of vegetables cooked in olive oil greeted us; Imam Bayildi – eggplants stuffed with onions, tomatoes, peppers, stuffed vine leaves – sarma-, runner beans (french beans also works) cooked in olive oil with onions and tomatoes, all freshly cooked and so delicious.
I tucked in the delicious Hunkar Begendi – Sultan’s Delight of chunks of delicious meat ragout served over the eggplant puree. This dish is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. Apparently when Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat and chicken. Here is the recipe if you would like to have a go at Hunkar Begendi.
Anchovies, hamsi is a popular fish in Turkey, and they are especially very popular in the Black Sea Region. my friend enjoyed this lightly fried anchovies with a rocket salad, a popular way to serve fish at home.
Have you ever tasted Turkish quince dessert, Ayva Tatlisi? It is one of my favorite desserts and we had to have a go at this one at Karakoy Lokantasi, looked so inviting (and tasted amazing). To make this dessert, we pouch the halved quince with its seeds and skin, adding sugar and cinnamon stick for about 1 1/2 hours. The skin and the seeds of quince give this dessert its glorious color. Topped with Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak, this dessert is an absolute treat.
Spring is certainly in the air in Istanbul; even though we said farewell, it felt good to also say ” Yakinda gorusmek uzere”, that is “See you soon”. I will be back to Turkey on end March, and delighted to be exploring fascinating Turkey as part of my culinary & cultural tour soon. It would be a pleasure to share this amazing land and what it offers here with you, so please stay tuned : )
Happy travels, Afiyet Olsun,