Red pepper paste is being used a lot in southern Turkish cooking and with my roots being from there, I do use quite a lot too. It brings a wonderful, rich texture and flavor to salads like spicy bulgur wheat salad – kisir -, stews, meat marinating. At home, the ladies in the villages cook big batches of the spicy red peppers and spread them on the top of their terraces to dry out all the juices so that you get the wonderful, concentrated flavor of the hot red peppers. The dried red peppers, as I put a photo on the headline, are also such a wonderful landmark at home, you see them hanging on spice markets and bazaars all around, a feast to the eye and to your stomach!:)
The red pepper paste is available thru the Middle Eastern markets, and the Turkish website www.tulumba.com carries them too. In London, Tas Organic carries a wonderful red pepper paste in jars, and I have been very lucky to get great batches of them, thanks to my sweet sister-in-law, Judith. In the US, Phonecia Bakery (in Austin and Houston) and Sarah’s Deli in Austin carries them.
In case if you can’t get hot red pepper paste, here is a simple recipe (an adaptation from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s wonderful book, Turquoise) to make at home.
Serves 4 – 6
3 long red peppers
3 long red chiles, seeded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roast the peppers and the seeded chiles for 20 minutes on a tray. Turn them once, until the skins blister and char. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
When cool enough to handle, peel the skins away from the peppers and pull away the seeds and membranes. Roughly chop the peppers and put into a blender. Use a sharp knife to scrape the flesh of the chiles away from the skins – this is easier than trying to peel them – Whiz to a fine puree, then add the salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Cover and keep in the fridge. This should keep the fridge for a week or more.
I hope this lovely borek recipe inspires you to go back to kitchen and make it for friends and family – or why not just treat yourself?-
This wonderful pie has to be one of the most deliciously pleasing and easy borek around. If you can get yufka, fresh paper thin fresh pastry sheets, it would be best. Alternatively, filo pastry sheets for this recipe also work well. If frozen, you need to defrost them overnight in the fridge and leave at room temperature about 2 hours before using. I combine the feta cheese with mozzarella in this recipe to make it moister. At home, boreks, savory pastries are a very popular snack with ladies’ tea time gatherings and immensely popular with children too. I remember fondly looking forward to my mother’s tea parties to enjoy these tasty treats, and now my children totally love them anytime of the day.
Here’s also my YouTube video to make this delicious and easy borek:
Delicious spinach and cheese pastry with fillo sheets; Ispanakli, peynirli borek
This borek is a great addition to a weekend brunch or a dinner party appetizer, Afiyet Olsun!
Serves 8 -10
Preparation time – 15 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes
150 gr / 7 oz spinach leaves
150 gr/ 7 oz feta cheese, beyaz peynir, mashed with a fork
100 gr / app. 4 oz grated mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup / 125 ml milk
1/2 cup / 125 ml water
3 tablespoons mild olive oil
12 sheets of fillo pastry (cut in half vertically, which makes 24 sheets)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 180c/350 F/gas mark 4
Remove the stalks of the spinach, wash and chop roughly. Mix together in a bowl with the feta cheese, shredded mozzarella and two of the beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, mix the water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and milk.
Grease a rectangular baking dish with the remaining olive oil. Lay the pastry sheets along its long side and cut in half vertically. Open the sheets only when you are ready to use them and cover the rest with a damp towel so that they don’t dry out.
Lay three sheets in the greased baking dish. Pour a little of the milk-olive oil-water mixture (about 3 tablespoons) all over the sheet. Repeat this layering two more times, using three fillo sheets each time.
Lay three more sheets over and spread the spinach filling evenly. Continue laying three sheets of fillo, pouring over each the milk mixture, three more times. Lay the remaining sheets on the top of the pie, sprinkling the milk mixture. Whisk together the remaining beaten egg with a little olive oil and brush over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame or nigella seeds.
Bake the pie in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve hot, cut into pieces. This dish can be successfully reheated.
Important tips: If you would like to cut back on the amount of the eggs, you can omit or decrease them in the spinach and feta filling. 2) Once cooked, if you keep the pie covered with flax or parchment paper, this will keep the pie moist. 3) This pie freezes wonderfully. Once cooled, put the pie in a freezer bag and seal. When you’d like to reheat (at 350 F for about 15 minutes), put the pie in a greased baking tray and sprinkle the top with a little milk and water mixture to give some moisture.
I love our savoury pastries, boreks, with a variety of fillings, at home; I am repeating this delicious Vegetarian Swirl Pie, Kol boregi zoom cookery class, due to your kind interest. I would be delighted to see you at my zoom cookery class on Saturday, April 17th, 2021, 6 pm – 7.30 pm (BST), where I will show you how to make this impressive and so moreish Coiled / Swirl filo pie with zucchini/courgette, dill, cheese and onions, Kol Boregi, as we call in Turkish. The class also includes one of my favourite salads, Spicy bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses, Kisir, from my southern Turkish roots.
Turkish cuisine is a healthy, delicious cuisine, and we use lots of grains, nuts, olive oil and vegetables. This is one of my favorite mezes of all time; it is very easy to make and very, very more-ish, you just can’t stop eating them. It is one of my mother’s recipes and whenever I make it, I feel like I am home. You can find the red pepper paste in specialty stores and in many big supermarkets.
Serves 4-6 Preparation time: 15 minutes
3 slices of white stale bread, crusts removed 1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped 3 tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste or 2 tablespoons Amore chili paste 1 cup English walnuts, shelled 1 teaspoon ground cumin Pinch of Salt 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons water
To serve: 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes Toasted baguette slices or wide crackers
Ground the walnuts with the onion, cumin, salt and red pepper paste in the food processor. Soak the bread into water and squeeze the excess water. Crumble the bread and add to the mixture in the food processor. Add the olive oil and water and blend to make a smooth spread. If it appears to be too thick, add a little more olive oil.
Place the spread on a small salad plate or bowl. Pour the extra virgin olive oil all over and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve the spread with toasted baguette slices or wide crackers.