Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Turkish delights: Sigara börek

We have already before touched upon the very dark secret of this foodblogger: I don't eat cheese (I can practically hear the readers' eyes rolling furiously: "what kind of a foodie does not like cheese?!") And I do acknowledge how shameful that is. There's an entire culinary universe there I haven't explored yet.

One of the most memorable meals ever was the dinner at Chez Dominique, the only ever 2-star restaurant in Finland where The Gentleman took me for my 30th birthday. And words fail to describe how embarrassing it was to have to refuse the cheese patter they carried to the table as part of the 6-course meal...

Yet... I can' get enough of cheese doodles. I have even learnt to eat halloumi. And mozzarella. As long as it's not melted. And in Turkey, as I've told before, one my all time favourite mezes is sigara börek: filo pastry roll stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. So... perhaps there's hope for  me yet?

Obviously those cigar-shaped fried goodies found their way onto the menu of the Turkish night.

I conveniently forgot the fact that I had never made anything out of filo pastry before. I can't say I was terribly impressed. After having seen it being used on so many cookery shows I expected to have an idea of what to expect. But the ready made triangular shape sheets I bought at the ethnic shop in Hakaniemi were nothing like it. They were thicker. And drier. And they categorically refused to roll into neat, tight, narrow cigar-like parcels. Perhaps the pastry wasn't good? Perhaps you really can't substitute melted butter with oil when brushing the sheets in order to make them pliable? Perhaps I just... suck?

My impaired cigar-rolling skills probably mean I'd never impress a potential husband in Turkey. Though, that would probably be the case in Cuba too... Boy, am I lucky to have found The Gentleman! The guests loved these though. A lot. And apparently it really pays off to get good feta for these- none of those squeaky rubber toys.


makes appr. 18

265 g spinach (lacking fresh one I used tinned spinach leaves)
good feta cheese (my cube was around 10 cm x 15 cm x 4 cm)
lemon juice
filo pastry sheets
clarified butter

oil for frying

Keep the filo pastry sheets covered as you're working with one - otherwise they dry. I used ready made triangle-shaped ones sized appr. 20 cm x 25 cm, but if using the big ones, cut them into obling pieces of desired size. Brush the sheet with clarified butter and spread 1,5 tsp crumbled feta on the other end. Add 1,5 tsp spinach and a dash of lemon juice, fold the long edges on the sides on top of the filling and roll it tight lengthwise  to a cigar-like parcel. Keep the stuffed parcels covered too until ready to fry. Heat oil in a pan, deep-fry in batches, drain on kitchen towel and serve. Some recipes use parsley instead of spinach - you decide which you prefer!

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