Monday, December 31, 2007


a year of health,
happiness & prosperity
for one & all!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

burekas 101

every country & culture seems to have some snack item or appetizer which involves a filling surrounded by a type of pastry.

just as latin populations love their empanadas and indians adore samosas, the jewish community has a great love for what we call burekas (pronounced bou-ray-kahs). obviously a derivation from the words boereg or burek [turkic], these snacks come filled with a variety of stuffings and in different shapes.

it's no secret that the most popular are the puff pastry ones filled with melted cheese (hmmm, i wonder why?!). other popular fillings are potato and, where i live, spicy tuna. some people make them with a meat filling also.

puff pastry burekas are probably the least complicated burekas to make, especially for beginners. all you have to do is roll the dough, make a filling, stuff them and bake.

below are three different fillings you can use. of course, you can put whatever you want. these are just suggestions. other bureka recipes from my blog: sefardi style, salmon, meat.

happy bureka making!

puff pastry burekas — בורקסים בבצק עלים

burekas can become very addictive. puff pastry ones are the quickest to make as the dough is already pre-made and easily bought in a grocery store in the freezer section. they're also the best ones! :))

makes 32 small-ish burekas


1 pkg puff pastry (454- 500 grams / 1 lb)

1 - 2 eggs for eggwash
sesame seeds


spicy tuna (thon épicé) filling

1 can tuna (6 oz?) in OIL
1 - 2 tsp harissa or similar sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste
small squeeze lemon juice
chopped parsley or coriander (opt)

see below for instructions

cheese filling

1 1/2 c coarsely grated (brick) white cheddar or mozzarella
1 c ricotta cheese, drained
1 - 2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

mix all together and fill burekas

potato filling

3 large potatoes, cooked and mashed or riced
1 large onion + 2 large cloves garlic, minced and fried until golden
1 - 1 1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 - 1 tsp sugar, opt
2 tbsp olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
1 egg yolk, opt.

mix all together and fill burekas


tuna filling:

place the tuna in a food processor and drain off most of the oil. keep maybe a tsp of it. process until the tuna is finely ground.

add harissa paste or similar hot sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and parsley or coriander if wanted. mix well.

separate the pastry into two half pound (250 g) pieces.

roll each piece out until it is 15 inches x 15 inches.

fold over the top to meet the bottom, evenly. you can cut it now on the seam it makes or do it later. if you've never done this before, do it later.

fold over the left side now to meet the right, to make another square. you should have FOUR layers now.

cut this evenly into 4 squares to give you a total of 16 pieces (4 squares x 4 layers).

preheat the oven to 375 F.

make your eggwash by mixing 1 egg with 2 tbsp of water or milk. you may need to do this again once all the burekas are formed if you use all of the first wash.

paint the egg wash onto one square in the shape of an L. if you coat all the perimeter it does not seal nicely.

take the square that has been egg washed and fill it with a tablespoon or so of filling. DO NOT OVERFILL.

fold over to make a triangle. press down slightly to seal edges. place each bureka on a baking tray (parchment lined is best).

once all the burekas have been filled, coat them well with the rest of the egg wash. make sure to seal the edges well for the cheese ones by pressing down a bit.

sprinkle them with sesame seeds.

bake the burekas for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and fully puffed up.

let them cool down before eating. the cheese ones are great while still warm. the filling will be too runny if you have them while they're hot.

בתאבון • enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

light and luscious

one of the simplest and easiest desserts to make are flans, or baked custards, commonly known as crème caramel. typically, they are made from nothing more than just milk, sugar and eggs (and usually a flavouring agent like vanilla) and then baked in a water bath to let them gently set. after sitting for several hours or overnight in the fridge, each creme caramel is unmolded to reveal a beautiful golden brown cap of caramelized sugar set atop a luscious and rich creamy base, sitting in a pool of liquid caramel.

an alternative to using only milk to make these little delights is using milk & coconut milk mixture. the flans will set exactly the same as using regular milk and give a more exotic tropical flavour. while vanilla is used to flavour these, if you are more adventurous, you can try adding pandan or kewra extract.

to make these you will need four 1/2 c ramekins.

an alternative to using eggs is to use agar flakes. the amount needed will depend upon the type of agar used. consult the directions on the packaging.

coconut crème caramel (flan)

makes 4 individual desserts


1 c sugar (2/3 c & 1/3 c)
1 c coconut milk (thick or thin type)
1 c milk (or vanilla flavoured soy milk)
4 eggs or appropriate amount of agar*
1/2 pod scraped vanilla bean seeds or 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/3 c shredded coconut (fresh or dried) -- optional

*you will have to experiment with this. try making a half recipe to test out the results and adjust accordingly.


make caramel syrup:

in a pan over medium high heat, mix together 2/3 c of sugar and 1/2 c water.

bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.

cook until the mixture caramelizes to a golden brown.

remove from the heat and add 2 tbsp water and stir until all is mixed well and caramel is dissolved. do not skip this step.

divide the mixture equally between each of the 4 ramekins. set aside.

preheat the oven to 325F.

make the custard:

in another pot,

heat the milk and coconut milk until bubbles appear. it should be quite warm but not hot (enough to curdle the eggs). remove from the heat.

while the milk is heating, beat the eggs and strain them with a fine sieve. this is an optional step but helps to make a nicer end result.

place the strained eggs in a bowl and add about 3/4 c of the milk mixture and and beat until smooth. do not add if the milk is extremely hot or you will curdle the eggs. this step is optional but helps to temper the eggs. add this mix to the rest of the milk .

alternatively, add the eggs directly to the milk.

add the remaining 1/3 c of sugar, the vanilla and shredded coconut. mix well.

pour the mixture equally into each ramekin. chances are you will have a bit extra. don't worry about it.

in a roasting pan or pyrex, place the filled ramekins carefully leaving space between each.

fill the pyrex or pan with boiling water until it reaches half way up the sides of the ramekins.

carefully place the pyrex into the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

remove and let cool. refrigerate until serving.

to unmold the ramekins, run a knife around the edges of it and then place a serving dish on top.

turn the plate over quickly and unmold.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

december 25th


to one & all,

whatever you celebrate!

( where did i put that take-out menu for the chinese restaurant?!)

* * * * * * *

something sent to me from a friend (très cute, em!)

Rudolph's first cousin on his mother's side, Shlomo

Sunday, December 23, 2007

something for the carnivores

with party/holiday season upon us, last minute dishes to take to get-togethers or serve at home are always needed. this meatball dish is always well-liked and received, and couldn't be easier to throw together, as there are very few ingredients involved.

like most meatball dishes, it goes very well served with rice — if the sauce is reduced enough, it can be placed in a chafing dish and served with toothpicks as an appetizer.

whichever way you serve them, they're good ;) just remember, this is very sweet. if you don't like that kind of stuff, this one isn't for you!

sweet 'n sour meatballs, the easy way



454 g ground beef (1 lb)
3 eggs
1 c fresh breadcrumbs / 1/2 c - 1 c dry
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
1/2 c finely chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 to 3 tbsp oil to brown meatballs


1 can regular coke (not diet)* 355 mL
1/3 c water
1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
1 c ketchup
2 - 4 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar


1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground ginger powder & cinnamon, if wanted
1 small can drained cut pineapple

*you can use sprite, 7-up or ginger ale instead.


place onions, garlic, meat and seasonings in bowl.

add the eggs and mix well.

add the breadcrumbs and mix until blended.

with wet hands, make small meatballs and place on a plate.

over medium high heat, brown the meatballs in the oil. you may have to do 2 batches if your pan is small. i do it in a le creuset type 'marmite'. turn down the heat as necessary to medium. make sure the oil and pan is hot when you add the meatballs as putting them in a cold pan usually causes them to stick.

once browned all over, drain excess oil. if there are any blackened bits of onion & garlic, discard them.

add the coke to the meatballs.

add the brown sugar, lemon juice and ketchup.

mix well.

bring to boil, and then cover and lower heat to minimum. cook covered for 30 minutes.

after 30 minutes, place the lid slightly opened to let the steam escape and continue to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

be careful as the sauce tends to splutter as it cooks; i keep the lid opened only slightly.

serve over rice or with noodles.


Friday, December 21, 2007

food from the castle

if you like sweets, this is one of the best recipes you'll ever make. no joke.

it's no secret that shortbread & all its permutations, at this time of the year, is in no short supply. this version of shortbread, however, is really a cut above the rest — just a few minutes effort will reward you very thin ginger-laced squares topped with a sugary, almost fudge like topping which forces you to go for seconds and thirds ;)

the recipe is actually from scotland, from the famous 12th century skibo castle. the castle itself is famous for its exclusive carnegie club where only the privileged few who belong to it are able to enjoy the grounds of the castle, its amenities and all it has to offer in terms of being waited on, hand-and-foot.

if all the food tastes this good, i'll certainly join (dream on!).

Skibo Castle Ginger Shortbread Squares

once you try these squares, you'll know why everyone finds them irresistible. gingery, sweet and buttery, all covered with an incredibly good top layer of sugary goodness, shortbread doesn't get better than this.

makes one 9 x 16 inch batch


shortbread base:

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 heaped tsp ground ginger powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (125 mL) unsalted butter

ginger topping:

3 oz (94g) unsalted butter
1 tbsp lyle's golden syrup or corn syrup
1 c icing sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


preheat oven to 350F. lightly grease 9 x 13 inch pyrex or baking tray.

make base:

place dry ingredients in bowl and blend well.

either add butter and mix by hand until blended and crumbly or place dry ingredients in processor with butter & blend.

place the dry ingredients in the pyrex.

with your hand, pack the mixture down firmly. this is very important.

bake the shortbread base for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned.

in the meantime, make the topping mixture. this MUST be done about 5 to 7 minutes before the base is cooked as both the base and the topping need to be hot at the same time.


place the butter in a pan or a microwaveable bowl.

melt the butter.

add the dry ingredients with the vanilla and syrup to the melted butter.

mix it well until all is blended.

place the mix back in the microwave and bring it to a boil (watch it while it cooks). should only take about 40 seconds or so. let the mix cook for 30 seconds. if doing on stovetop, same directions.

putting it together:

remove the shortbread base from the oven and place on countertop.

immediately pour the hot topping over the base and make sure to get all of it out. with oven mitts, tilt the pan to make sure the topping reaches all the sides and is even.

leave the pyrex to cool down until almost cold; i cut it while it's still a bit warm.

with a very sharp knife, cut directly down into the pastry. cut neat squares or rectangles, as large as you like.