In one of the book groups I am in (The World's Literature in GoodReads), we are reading Turkish literature all year. I have been learning Turkish for fun, and throughout the year plan to make a few Turkish dishes. The first book we read was Snow by Orhan Pamuk, about a poet who returns to the city of Kars to investigate a string of suicides, and to reconnect with a lost love. You may read my review, if you'd like. Many important scenes happen in restaurants or cafes, and along with mentions of walnut-filled pastry is this passage:
"...In every city I checked into a cheap little hotel like Ka's and went off with my hosts to a Turkish restaurant where over spinach börek... we discussed politics...."From the research I have done, it appears that börek can refer to practically any filled pastry, usually savory. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.) To ask for börek, you would say "ben börek istiyorum." And I will be saying that again, because börek is tasty!
While I found a lot of different recipes for börek online, I will simply share my technique with you. Feel free to substitute any type of filling, shape, or topping. The original recipe I wanted to make was leek and feta borek, and they were triangles, but then the grocery store had zero leeks (zero!), so I scrambled to gather ingredients for a different version.
(as interpreted by jennybakes.com)
1/2 package filo/phyllo dough, thawed for two hours
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 frozen package spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out
salt, pepper, and spices to taste (I used oregano*)
4 oz. feta, crumbled
1 can spray butter-flavor nonstick spray
1 tbsp butter, melted
Prepare a 8" cake pan by spraying with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 400 F.
Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and stir for a minute or so. Stir in spinach and remove from heat.
One by one, take five sheets phyllo (covering the rest with a damp towel) and lay on cutting board or clean flat surface, spraying each with nonstick spray. After spraying sheet 5, spoon 1/3 of the mixture an inch from the bottom, long edge, in a long line. Roll the pastry from the bottom into a tube. Start making a spiral from the middle of the pan. Repeat until you go through the pastry and fill the pan. (My pan wasn't completely full, but it tasted good. In Turkey you would probably have dough that was larger to start with, and make one big spiral.)
Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.
*Many börek recipes are spicy, so you might want to add chiles or cayenne, something to add a bit of pep. I wish I had, but this was still very good.