Monday, June 11, 2012

Cheese Börek

This week we have family friends who have come to visit us from Washington, DC and in honor of their arrival we had one of our classic family get-togethers last night. I viewed the evening as a great way to test out some recipes including spiced poached peaches and an apple and cherry strudel. I also made this lovely cheese börek which I think was the most successful of the three dishes I produced. Börek, as I learned, comes in many different styles and shapes but the basic concept is to wrap cheese in phyllo dough and then bake it. The dish is Eastern European though in some places, such as Greece, it has been adapted into meat börek or spinach börek (also known as spanakopita). It is best served hot and straight from the oven, but I have to say it tasted pretty good after being in the fridge overnight and then reheated in the microwave this morning.

Cheese Börek
Note: The dry curds and sour cream can be substituted with cottage cheese and ricotta.
  • 1 package phyllo dough (18 sheets), thawed
  • 2 cups dry curds
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 cups feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Pepper
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  1. Combine the dry curds, sour cream, feta cheese, eggs, parsley, dill, and some fresh pepper. Mix well until homogenous and set aside.
  2. Using two sheets at a time, spray the bottom phyllo sheet with PAM and then lay second sheet on top. Keep remaining sheets covered with wax or parchment paper and a damp (but not dripping) paper towel on top. 
  3. Spread the filling into a thick log shape along the short side of the phyllo, keeping about 1/2" on each end free of any filling.
  4. Carefully bring the bottom of the phyllo over the filling and proceed to roll into a tight log. Don't press too hard so that filling does not come out the ends but make the roll tight enough so that no air is trapped inside.
  5. Lay the roll, seam side down, into a 9" x 13" baking pan and press tightly against the side. I lined my pan with parchment paper so that I could easily remove the börek but it can also be generously greased with butter and served straight from the pan.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining phyllo sheets and filling and continue to lay the rolls side by side in the pan until all full. The rolls should be tightly pressed against one another.
  7. Carefully spread the melted butter over the surface of the rolls and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the dough turns golden brown. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before slicing and serving.

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