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!


rokh said...

we have Curry Puff here in Malaysia, where it is puff pastry filled with curry chicken and potato. we like to call it 'karipap'. btw happy new year!

sari said...

b.b., parece que estamos conectados : me pasé el domingo jugando con hojaldre!. yo acabé haciendo una tarta dulce de cabello de ángel.
como siempre, tu receta parece atrae el relleno de atún.ya te escribo.
¡feliz año nuevo!

Lisa said...

Those burekas look marvelous! Love the sesame seeds on top, and I'm especially drawn to the cheese and potato fillings.

Happy new year!

burekaboy — said...

rokh - happy new year to you, also! all the best. curry puffs sound like something i'd fall in love with!! LOL. i'll have to check your blog to see if you have anything about it.

sari - ya hace anos que he preparado "hojaldres". cual relleno pones dentro? el relleno de atun es muy bueno pero lo hice muy "plain" aqui; me gusta lo mas picante con aceitunas negras y capers, tambien.

lisa - thanks! i love the gooey cheese ones the best ;) there goes the diet plans.... :((

Dan said...

love your blog! stumbled here as a result of searching google for a matboucha recipe that uses canned nice to see a fellow sephardi cooking such great stuff. my egyptian family makes burekas using filo dough two simple ways - with cheese or with spinach & cheese. my favorite is also the gooey cheese ones. i think we use a mixture of cream cheese and fontina or jarlsberg. my grandma makes them the best. i've only just helped my family make them, i'll have to get the recipe.

burekaboy — said...

hi dan - thanks for your comment and visit :) the matboucha is so much easier & faster to make with canned tomatoes; hope it was what you were looking for. i didn't make it "harif" in the recipe i posted in my blog but you can also add one or two of those long light green hot peppers, or to taste. just make sure to seed them first.

the burekas made with filo are SO good, too, as i'm sure i don't have to tell you ;)) i have egyptian friends here who make the same kind; exact same fillings. we do the same thing -- cream cheese & fontina or mozzarella and kashkaval. all of a sudden, i'm hungry, LOL. if you haven't done so already, you should try to get hold of your family recipes (my friend's grandmother just passed away and all was lost with her, sadly). big loss, she was a fantastic cook and baker.

hope to "see" you again!

Yaelian said...

Mmmmm, your burekas look so delicious!!!!!!! I usually make my burekas with a feta+spinach filling but next time I will try your tuna filling, it sounds and looks very tempting. I very rarely make them here in Israel, they sell them everywhere anyway, but sometimes I like to make my own.The only problem is that the puff pastry here in Israel is not that good, one can't find a butter based puff pastry, they are all made with margarins here.The puff pastry I used in Finland was far better.I have never made my own puff pastry, it looks too complicated, have you ever done that?

burekaboy — said...

hi yaelian - thanks ;) i love the feta/spinach filling also. i don't think i'd make them if i lived in israel either since you can get them just about anywhere you go. i used the parve puff pastry for these so it's the same stuff as you get in israel. if i want the one with butter i make it myself. i only do that once or twice a year and freeze it. i will do a posting on it over the next little while. it's actually quite easy to make in spite of how long it takes (a few hours but most of it is waiting time in between "turns" or folding the dough). you're absolutely right -- it's MUCH better with butter!! but so is everything! LOL.

the tuna filling here is just the basic one. you can add chopped olives, capers, hard boiled egg, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, etc if you like and more harissa. just taste it first to see if you like it before stuffing the burekas. it will taste pretty much the same before and after baking. hope you like! thanks for the visit and comment :) happy new year kol tuv lach!