I discovered a brilliant website, www.foodsofturkey.com, introducing Turkish cuisine as well as exploring Turkish stores and restaurants around the world, worth checking out. They are running a “borek competition”, and I submitted my new smoked eggplant borek recipe, as well as my cheese and potato borek recipe (to be followed); let’s see what happpens!
Here is the smoked eggplant recipe:
Eggplant, aubergine is the king of vegetables (actually fruit, as it has seeds) at home; we must have over 200 recipes featuring our beloved eggplant. I made a twist to the eggplant boreks at home, this time grilling the eggplants with the skin on and using the lovely soft flesh. The result was a wonderful marriage of smoked eggplant flesh with sweet onions, tomatoes and mozzarella (you can also use mild cheddar cheese instead). These pastries would make great vegetarian appetizers; they are also lovely served with garlic yoghurt by the side.
Once cooked, they freeze very well too.
Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 45 minutes Cooking time: 25 – 30 minutes
260 gr / 9 oz fillo pastry sheets, thawed
1 medium eggplant (aubergine)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 small tomatoes, finely diced
1 bunch or 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
60 gr / 2 oz shredded mild cheddar or mozzarella
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten and 1 tablespoon olive oil for brushing the boreks
Sesame seeds to decorate the boreks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bowl of water to seal the boreks
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas Mark 4
For best results, thaw the frozen filo pastry in the fridge overnight and bring it to the room temperature 2 hours before using. That enables the filo thaw completely. If it is sold fresh as in the UK, you only need to bring the filo to the room temperature 30 minutes before using.
Cook the eggplants (aubergines) on a barbecue grill or over and open gas flame turning occasionally by the stalks until the outer skin is charred and blistered and the inner flesh soft. (Alternatively they can be baked in a hot oven for about 45 minutes). Peel away the burnt skin and discard the stalks. Put the flesh in a colander to drain away any bitter juices. (You can prepare the eggplants this way a day in advance; squeeze lemon juice over to retain its color and keep in the fridge covered). Finely chop the flesh and set aside.
Sauté the onions with some olive oil for a couple of minutes, until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for another couple of minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Once cooled, add the cheese and mix well. Check if more seasoning is needed, set aside to cool.
Place the sheets of filo on a flat surface and cover with a damp dish towel to keep moist.
On a dry surface, place 2 fillo pastry sheets on top of one another and cut in half horizontally to form two rectangles. Place 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the middle and roll like a cigar. Then, starting from one end, roll the cigar shape into a rose shape sealing the end with a little water. Make sure you seal all the openings/cracks with a little water. Repeat this with all rectangles.
Mix the egg with the olive oil. Brush the boreks with this mixture and place them on a greased tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the boreks and bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until golden.
Serve immediately with a leafy salad or garlic yoghurt by the side.