Sunday, November 25, 2007

Handmade phyllo dough Turkish Burek( Borek)

You can check in Wikipedia the meaning of the word burek, but basically it is an unbelievably tasty home made phyllo dough pastry, that was originally developed in Turkey.
Although you can always bake burek with phyllo dough from the store ( you can find it in the freezer section even in Walmart, Athens Food are the most popular here in US), the taste is not the same.
The recipe can seem a little intimidating, but trust me, it is easier than it sounds, I have a lot of pictures step by step( thanks to Alex!) you can follow, but believe me the taste of this thing is worth every single minute you spend making it!

The preparation time is 1 hour and 30 minutes, as you are waiting 30 minutes for the dough to rest, so you can say it is approximately one hour. If you have a pasta machine, you can cut the preparation time more than a half, but I don't so I use a rolling pin instead.

The baking time is around 40 min.


For the phyllo dough-

8 cups sifted flour
8 tsp ( 4 oz or 1 stick) melted butter
1 egg
1 tsp salt
2 cups hot water

For the filling-
8 tsp melted butter
2 cups feta cheese ( grated or mashed)

For the topping-
3 eggs
4 tbsp yogurt
1/8 tsp baking soda

Sift 7 cups of flour in a big baking pan. Make a whole in the middle and put the flour close to the ends of the pan so it looks a little bit like a volcano).

In the middle pour the hot water, add the egg, the salt and the melted butter. With a tablespoon start stirring and gradually add a little bit of flour from the sides. When the mixture gets ticker, start kneading the dough with hands as you sprinkle flour from the side of the pan over the dough. Before you knead it really well it has to look like this:

Continue to knead until you it has nice and smoot surface and you use all of the flour in the baking pan.
Place a big piece of aluminum foil on a big table so you can have room to roll out the dough.
*Tip- use a scotch tape to attach it to the table, so it does not move when you are rolling the dough out.

Sprinkle some flour over the aluminum foil and divide the dough into 5 "balls" (see the picture)
Sprinkle some flour on top of them so they don't get dry and leave them to rest for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, in a bowl mix together the ingredients for the topping- 3 eggs, 4 tbsp yogurt and 1/8 tsp baking soda. Stir thoroughly and set aside.

You will need to make 5 (almost) square sheets of dough. If you have ever rolled out a dough before, skip this section, but if not, follow this pattern:

1. sprinkle flour below the dough ball and start rolling it out.

2. sprinkle flour on top of the dough ( see the picture)

3. roll the dough out using both hands, slide and push at the same time.

4. sprinkle flour on top of the dough, then gently rub it on its surface with your hand.

5. roll the dough ON the rolling pin

6. Lift the roling pin and unroll the dough on the table upside down.

7. Sprinkle flour over the sheet of dough and repeat the whole process until you get really really thin sheet of dough ( as thin as a sheet of paper, almost transparent).

Don't get discouraged if your sheet tears here and there, this wont affect the finished product that much, just try your best!

After the sheet is ready, brush with melted butter ( the remaining 8 tsp for the filling).

Then sprinkle with the feta cheese ( picture below)

and start to roll the dough from the long side inwards

Then place the phyllo dough roll in a round greased pan in a spiral from the outside in.( if you don't have round pan that is bigger than 10 inch, you can use square one instead). When you roll out all of the dough, and place it in the pan, brush it on top with the butter you have left.
Preheat the oven at 350 F.

Then spread the topping evenly over the burek.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 45 min on 350F or until golden brown on top ( see the picture).Leave it to cool down for at least 15 minutes, then cut.
Serve warm.
*I promise, for the people that think it is difficult to post in the next couple of days a recipe for phyllo Bulgarian banitsa, which is a lot easier to make, but still delicious.

P.S: Recipe in Bulgarian here

Friday, November 23, 2007

Semolina blueberry pudding

This is one of my favorite recipes, because it is extremely easy to make, it is delicious and you can actually play with the design in so many ways, that it makes it a real eye candy!

1 cup water
1 cup milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 cup semolina flour ( 25 tbsp)
1 can blueberry pie topping
1/2 cup grated walnuts
12 whole walnut kernels
*12 servings

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup water, 1 cup milk and 3/4 cup sugar. Add the semolina flower to the other 1/2 cup water and stir thoroughly.Bring to a boil the reduce the heat to low and stir in the semolina, a little at a time, until mixture is thick and smooth.Continue to stir until mixture has progressed from creamy to thick.
Place the mixture in a muffin pan, then add a whole walnut kernel in the middle while the mixture is still hot. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then turn the muffin pan upside down, take each semolina pudding, place in a plate, top with a blueberry ( you can use another jam or pie topping) and sprinkle grated walnuts on top.
Serve cold.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Peach and Apricot Glazed Turkey with Roasted Onion Gravy

Peach and Apricot Glazed Turkey with Roasted Onion Gravy

Although I have been trying all kinds of turkey recipes trough out the years, this is the best I have tried so far! This year's turkey not only was delicious, but it looked GREAT! I have always admired the magazine pictures where the turkey had this amazingly looking skin, but I had never managed to actually bake it to look that way. This recipe did the miracle though! It is just top notch! I found the original recipe on Chef2Chef but I made some modifications to it. 

For the glaze: 
1 cup peach nectar ( you can make this at home from a can of peaches)
1 cup apricot preserve
2 tbsp. powdered ginger
1 tbsp. honey 

For the herb butter: 
1 cup unsalted butter ( room temperature)
3 tbsp. dry oregano
3 tbsp. chopped fresh sage or 1 tablespoon; dried rubbed sage
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
3 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp.ground cloves 

For the gravy : 
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 turkey (21- to 22-pound)
1 cup turkey broth
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon; dried
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon; dried
1 can low-salt chicken broth; (14 -1/2-ounce)

For the Glaze:
Combine all ingredients in a heavy small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1-1/4 cups, about 15-20 minutes.

For the Herb Butter:
Blend all ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.

For the Onion Mixture:
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until very soft and light brown, about 20 minutes. Then add 1 cup of turkey broth.

NOTE: Glaze, herb butter and onion mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring herb butter to room temperature before continuing.

For the Turkey:

If the turkey is frozen, keep in the refrigerator 3 days before you are going to bake it, 12 hours before the actual baking marinate or brine.
1.Wash the turkey, prepare 1 turkey bag ( fill with one tbsp. flour in the bag). Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat the oven to 400 F. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Place the turkey in the bag. Slide hand under the skin of the turkey breast to loosen. Spread half of herb butter over breasts under the skin.

2. Place remaining herb butter in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted. Brush butter over outside of turkey. Tie legs together to hold shape of turkey.Reduce oven temperature to 350F Roast turkey in the bag for 1h and 30 minutes. Then open the bag, add the onion mixture and bake for another 30 minutes or until the meat thermometer registers at least 170F.

3. Bring the glaze to a simmer. Take the turkey out, remove the bag from the pan and brush with glaze on top. Repeat couple of times. Before you finish the glaze, take 1 tbsp. paprika and sprinkle all over the turkey on top of the glaze. 

4. Bake for 10 min, then take the turkey out and brush with glaze again. Continue to roast turkey uncovered, until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 F., or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer.

5. Brush occasionally with glaze and add more broth to pan if liquid evaporates.

6. Place turkey on platter, tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes to rest. Reserve mixture in pan for gravy.

For the gravy:
1.Pour contents of roasting pan into strainer set over large bowl. Spoon fat from pan juices in bowl. Transfer onion mixture in strainer to blender.

2.Add 1 cup pan juices to blender and blend until smooth, adding more pan juices and chicken broth if necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency.

3.Transfer the sauce to heavy large saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until color deepens, skimming off any foam, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy.

          Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Easy eggs finger food

Easy eggs finger food

No matter how much you want to make a good impression when you have a party, you don't always have the time to prepare as well you would wish. Party at the last minute? No problem! For such times you need fast and easy recipe, that is also delicious.Here is one recipe that is all that :-)

(makes 16 pc.)

8 eggs
15 Kalamata olives
3 tablespoons chopped onion
3 tablespoons crushed feta cheese
2 tablespoons ricotta
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Black pepper
red hot pepper

Boil the eggs for 15 min( or until hard boiled).
In a chopper combine the olives, onion, feta cheese, ricotta, cream cheese and sour cream. Blend until it has the consistency of a cream.
Let the eggs cool down and cut them in half, placing them in an egg plate. Put the cream in a pastry bag and decorate the eggs. Add the spices and dill on top.
My original recipe is with a walnut on top too, but this time I didn't have some at home, so I skipped it.
Leave in the refrigerator for at least 15 min. Serve cold.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cherry Pecan Cheescake to die for!

Cherry Pecan Cheesecake

This is my fist ever cheesecake( well, I have eaten, but haven't baked :-) but the recipe is my creation, since I didn't like the one I had in my book.

The recipe was a complete success, since everyone who tasted it said it is not just good, it is not just delicious but it is to die for :-)
Now I am sharing it with you:

For the crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
7 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons butter ( 1 stick and a half) or margarine -- melted
1 cup chopped pecans

For the filling
1 lbs cream cheese regular
1 lbs cream cheese whipped
1/2 cup heavy cream

3 teaspoons minced lemon zest
6 eggs -- slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
21 ounces cherry pie filling


On bottom rack in oven, place 13" x 9" pan filled halfway with water. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

In medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, the sugar, cinnamon, the butter and the pecans.Mix well together.

* You can actually use cinnamon crackers so you don't have to add powdered cinnamon.

Remove the bottom part of a 10" springform pan. To prevent leakage, place an aluminum foil sheet over the bottom part of the pan, then place the round one on top, close the springform( note that there has to be aluminum foil only on the bottom!) and after that just fold the excess foil on the outside of the pan. You can see the picture here:

Press the crumb and pecan mixture on bottom and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, with electric mixer, beat the cream cheese , adding regularly the remaining 1 and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in the heavy cream, the eggs, the lemon zest and vanilla extract in this ordered. Beat until the batter is smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan( by this time you have to be finished with the 10 min baking with it). Place on the lower rack in the oven a bigger pan full of water ( it has to be bigger then the one you are going to bake the cheesecake in), then place the cheesecake pan on the middle rack and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 min on 300F (or until puffy and slightly browned and the center is still a bit wobbly). Turn the oven off without opening the door and let cheesecake stand stay there for another 2 hours. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool down completely, then transfer to a plate and let it cool down in the refrigerator for 3-4 at least. Serve cold, when cutting use heated knife for better looking slices.

* If you want you can sprinkle coconut on the sides of the cheesecake.


P.S: You can check the recipe in Bulgarian here.

Cauliflower surprise

The winter is the time to look at different vegetables like the cauliflower.
I just love cauliflower but recently we got tired of the President Reagan's favorite fried cauliflower, cream soups etc and I decided to do something different with it, so I came up with this recipe:

1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 head cauliflower
1 cup feta cheese
5 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
salt, black pepper

Clean and wash the cauliflower, as you separate in small pieces ( see the picture). Sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto the greased pan and then add the grated cheese ( see picture). Place the small pieces of cauliflower on top of the mozzarella, then grate the feta cheese and sprinkle it on top.

In a bowl mix together the eggs and milk. Add the baking soda to the yogurt and mix well, then add to the eggs and milk mixture.

Stir thoroughly until well blended and pour on top of the cauliflower. Place small places of butter on top and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until brownish on top (see the picture)

Take it out and leave it to cool down before you cut it. Serve with green beans and green salad.

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