Home » Recipes » Middle Eastern Recipes » Breads & Pastries – Part 2

Breads & Pastries – Part 2

feta-spinach-phyllo-packages

Feta & Spinach Phyllo Packages

These packages take their inspiration from Turkey, and they are best served hot.

PREP : 25 minutes
COOK : 20 minutes
MAKES : 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus ½ teaspoon for oiling
  • 8 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of sea salt flakes
  • pinch of pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 sheets of phyllo pastry
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush a baking sheet with the ½ teaspoon of oil.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and sauté for 1–2 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté for 3–4 minutes. Drain off any liquid and let cool slightly.
  3. Stir the egg, feta, nutmeg, salt, and pepper into the spinach mixture. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
  4. Brush three sheets of phyllo with some of the melted butter. Place another sheet on top of each one and brush with more melted butter. Cut each pair of sheets down the middle to make six long strips in total. Place a tablespoon of the spinach filling on the end of each strip.
  5. Lift one corner of phyllo over the filling to the opposite side, then turn over the opposite way to enclose. Continue to fold over along the length of the strip to make a triangular package, finishing with the seam underneath.
  6. Place the packages on the prepared baking sheet, brush with the remaining melted butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Serve hot.

Cook’s tip : When working with phyllo, keep any unused pastry under a damp, clean dish towel until you are ready to use it, because it dries out quickly.

pides

Pides

Pides, or boat-shaped Turkish pizzas, make a versatile and delicious light dinner or lunch. As with Italian pizzas, the choice of topping is only limited by your imagination. You need to prepare just one of these toppings to make eight pides. Alternatively, try roasted red peppers and goat cheese, or wilted spinach, garlic, and an egg.

PREP : 25 minutes
RISE : 45 minutes
COOK : 1¼ HOURS
MAKES : 8

  • ⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Dough
  • 2½ cups white bread flour, plus 2 teaspoons for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus ½ teaspoon for oiling
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus a pinch
  • Roasted vegetable filling (optional)
  • 1 red onion, cut into small chunks
  • 1 eggplant, cut into small chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered or cut into eighths, if large
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 2 pinches of sea salt flakes
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Spiced sumac meat filling (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sumac spice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 8 ounces fresh ground beef or lamb
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  1. For the dough, mix the flour, yeast, and sugar together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the water, extra virgin olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt before bringing everything together into a sticky dough. Dust a work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour, turn the dough out onto it, and knead for 5–10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Oil a bowl with ½ teaspoon of oil and put the dough into it. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  2. If you are making the vegetable filling, preheat your oven to 350°F. Toss together the red onion, eggplant, olive oil, mushrooms, ras el hanout, and a pinch of salt in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, then put into a large saucepan. Add the tomatoes, then swirl the pan around with ⅓ cup of water and pour into the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
  3. If you are making the meat filling, heat the oil in a skillet over medium–low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, then add the sumac and half the salt and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium, then add the meat and cook for 10 minutes, or until browned, breaking it up using a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes, then swirl the pan around with ⅓ cup of water and pour into the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt.
  4. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Preheat a pizza stone or baking sheet on a high shelf. Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll them into balls. Dust the work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour and roll out each ball into a long, flat oblong about □ inch thick. Place 2 heaping teaspoons of a filling in the center of each oblong, then pull the long ends up so the filling is encased in a boat shape. Twist each end and sprinkle with the feta. Place the pides directly on the hot pizza stone and bake for 8–10 minutes, or until golden.

Cook’s tip : Put an ovenproof bowl filled with water in the bottom of the oven when baking. This creates steam and gives a good crust.

thyme-feta-sumac-flatbreads

Thyme, Feta & Sumac Flatbreads

These enticing flatbreads, infused with roasted garlic, make a delicious addition to a meze meal. The citrusy sumac combines perfectly with the lemon thyme and salty feta, but you can improvise with your own favorite spice, soft cheese, and herb combination, if you desire.

PREP : 45 minutes
RISE : 1 HOUR
COOK : 20 minutes
MAKES : 4

  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • ⅓ cup olive oil, plus ½ teaspoon for oiling
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 cups white bread flour, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2½ teaspoons sumac spice
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh lemon thyme leaves, plus 8 sprigs
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the oil, put it into a small ovenproof dish, and roast for 10 minutes. Let cool a little, then press the cloves out of their skins into a bowl and mash with the salt. Add the water, honey, and the remaining oil and mix well. Turn off the oven.
  2. Sift the flour, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sumac into a large bowl and mix in the chopped lemon thyme. Make a well in the center, then stir in the garlic-and-water mixture. Bring everything together into a coarse dough.
  3. Dust a work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour, turn the dough out onto it, and knead for 5–10 minutes. Oil a bowl with ½ teaspoon of oil and put the dough into it. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll them into balls. Dust the work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour and roll out each ball into a 4–5-inch disk.
  5. Dust a baking sheet with the final teaspoon of flour. Arrange the disks, spread well apart, on the tray. Top each with one-quarter of the feta, a sprinkle of sumac, and two sprigs of lemon thyme. Let rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  6. Drizzle the breads with the extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 8–10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm.

turkish-flatbreads

Turkish Flatbreads

This simple, no-bake, crisp flatbread is a perfect accompaniment for tagines and salads.

PREP : 30 minutes
RISE : 1 hour 20 minutes
COOK : 40 minutes
MAKES : 8

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus 4 teaspoons for dusting
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for oiling
  • 1¾ cups lukewarm water
  1. Sift the flour, salt, cumin, and coriander together into a large bowl and mix in the sugar and yeast. Make a well in the center, then stir in the oil and water. Bring everything together into a dough.
  2. Dust a work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour, turn the dough out onto it, and knead for 5–10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Oil a bowl with ½ teaspoon of oil and put the dough in it. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until smooth and elastic.
  3. Dust the work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour, turn the dough out onto it, and punch it down with the heel of your hand. Knead for 1–2 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush the paper with ½ teaspoon of oil and dust it with 1 teaspoon of flour.
  4. Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll them into balls. Dust the work surface with the final teaspoon of flour and roll out the balls into 8-inch disks. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Heat a heavy skillet brushed with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium–high heat. Add a dough disk, cover, and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn over using a spatula, replace the cover, and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until lightly browned on the second side. Keep warm while you cook the remaining dough disks in the same way, adding extra oil when you need it. Serve.

pita-bread

Pita Bread

Soft pita bread is made all over the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. Freshly baked, often several times a day, it is served as an accompaniment to many meals. It is a simple, lightly salted dough and is traditionally baked directly on the bottom of a stone oven.

PREP : 30 minutes
RISE : 2 hours 10 minutes
COOK : 10 minutes
MAKES : 6–8

  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1¼ cups lukewarm water
  • 3⅔ cups all-purpose flour, plus 4 teaspoons for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus 1 teaspoon for oiling
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  1. Put the yeast and water into a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the flour, oil, and sugar, crush in the salt, and mix well.
  2. Dust a work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour, turn the dough out onto it, and knead for 5–10 minutes, or until it is firm. Oil a bowl with ½ teaspoon of oil and put the dough in it. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Dust the work surface with 1 teaspoon of flour, turn the dough out onto it, and punch it down with the heel of your hand. Roll it up into a ¾-inch-thick roll, then cut it into six to eight ½-inch-wide slices. Roll the slices into balls, cover with a damp dish towel, and let rise for 10 minutes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush the paper with the remaining oil and dust it with 1 teaspoon of flour. Dust the work surface with the final teaspoon of flour and roll out the balls into 6–8-inch disks.
  5. Arrange the disks, spread well apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until puffed up. Remove from the oven and cover with a damp dish towel to keep the bread soft.

Cook’s tip : To knead dough, fold it in half toward you, press it down, using the heel of your hand, lift, and rotate a little, then repeat and fold. Try not to add extra flour or oil to stop it from sticking to your fingers, because this will affect the texture.

THE MIDDLE EASTERN KITCHEN
Authentic dishes from the Middle East

Rukmini Lyer