My parents were with us in late April, and as always, it was a joy to cook together with my mother. This time, 3 generations – my mother, my daughter and myself- made Antakya’s famous kaytaz borek – savory pastry filled with ground meat and onion -, with using fillo pastry sheets. Traditionally we would prepare the dough for this borek, put the filling on top and take it to the local bakery to bake – heavenly. This time, mum showed us how to recreate this treat using fillo pastry sheets and it worked wonderfully. The crunchy texture of the fillo sheets work so well with the juicy filling; and once you squeeze lemon juice over it, I am in heaven, so as the children – and I hope you would be too. It is a great party food, starter or a wonderful snack for all the family to indulge.
I will be in Antakya (Antioch) this summer as part of my culinary tour, and I promise to deliver the genuine article from there – can’t wait!
It is very special to be able to cook and share food together, bind generations, family and friends in different levels. I am sure that sweet cooking experience will be sealed in our memories forever.
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
For the filling:
225gr/8oz lean ground beef
1 onion, finely grated
15ml/1tablespoon tomato paste
5ml/1teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
24 sheets of fillo pastry (24cmx25cm/about 9″x10″), thawed or yufka sheets
Small bowl of cold water
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
A little more olive oil to brush the pastry
Lemon wedges to serve
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas Mark 4
For best results, thaw the frozen fillo pastry sheets in the fridge overnight and bring it to the room temperature 2 hours before using. That enables the fillo thaw completely. If it is sold fresh as in the UK, you only need to bring the fillo to the room temperature 30 minutes before using.
In a bowl, mix the grated onion, ground beef, tomato paste, season with salt and ground black pepper. Really knead well with your hands, until all the ingredients combined.
Add the olive oil to a small bowl of water and mix well. Set by the side of the fillo pastry sheets. Take one fillo pastry sheet out (and cover the rest with damp towel so that they won’t dry out). Fold the pastry sheet lengthwise and cut them as 5cmx8cm (about 2″x3 1/2″) strips.
Put a spoonful of meat mixture in the middle of each 5cmx8cm pastry sheet (some filo sheets are thinner than others; you can put two filo sheets on top each other if it’s too thin. If you are using yufka, just one sheet should be sufficient). Wet your fingers from the bowl of olive oil & water mixture. Seal both ends of the pastry with your wet fingers. You should now have a shape of a small boat with the mixture in the middle. Repeat this for the rest of the mixture and pastry sheets.
Grease the baking tray with olive oil and place the stuffed pastries on it. Brush the pastries with a little olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry turns to golden color.
Serve hot with wedges of lemon to squeeze over. You can serve these wonderful treats for lunch with a green salad by the side, or just enjoy them as a snack/starter.