This is perhaps only my second mention of meat here so far. Anyone who reads this blog regularly might get the impression that I am not too fond of meat. But these people would be wrong – I love sinking my teeth into a juicy steak, and enjoy a good piece of meat just as much of the next average carnivore. I just don’t enjoy cooking it so much. The long, sweltering Israeli summers turn me off meat (and generally off hot food) leaving me perfectly happy eating cold soups, salads, cheeses, breads, eggs, fish and rice all summer long.
We do, however, always eat roast chicken on shabbat. Last week I decided to make a meat dish as well: a simple Middle Eastern food called bourekas. These filled puff pastry pockets, parcels or triangles are eaten in many countries, from Turkey to Bosnia, and are very popular here in Israel.
I didn’t want to risk my first venture into the world of Middle Eastern cuisine with just any recipe from the internet. I wanted the real thing: an authentic recipe passed down from generation to generation. So I called up my friend Reut to get her mother-in-law’s, which is actually for chicken-filled bourekas, but seemed like a good place to start. Reut was just hopping into the shower so she asked her husband Lior to give me the recipe, which I jotted it down as she yelled tips and advice from the shower. This made me smile. I’m not sure how many generations the recipe has been passed down, (it uses ready-made puff pastry!), but it sounded relatively simple and obviously delicious.
Lior and Reut were careful to reiterate: “Make sure you seal the pastry well. Go over it twice, pinching with your fingers.” Despite this warning, I obviously didn’t check my sealings well enough, as the bourekas seemed to open along the seams when baking. But as they say here, “lo nora” (no big deal). They still looked good and tasted great. Lior recommends eating them with a sweet chili dipping sauce. Yum! Thanks to Reut and Lior for the recipe.
(Makes about 15)
1 large onion, cut finely or into small strips
500g ground meat
1 packet of puff pastry (1kg)
1 egg, beaten
1. Chop onions and fry in a little olive oil until soft.
2. Add meat and fry until brown and the juices start to come out, adding salt, pepper, and any seasoning you wish and a dash of soy sauce.
3. Leave mixture to cool.
4. To assemble the bourekas, place the rolled-out pastry on a floured surface and cut into squares of approximately 10cm x 10cm. Take a spoonful of meat and put in the centre of a square (be careful not to overstuff them). Fold up opposite corners of the square and seal in the middle. Then take the remaining opposite corners and fold them up to seal them in the middle. This should create a little envelope with a square base. See photos. if you don’t get it. Note: Make sure you seal all sides of the pastry well, or they will open in the oven.
5. As you assemble the bourekas, place them on a baking tray with greaseproof paper. When you have finished, gently brush them with a beaten egg.
6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, or until golden. They will smell delicious, and are best served warm, recommended with a dipping sauce.