This is a dish with Greek origins and is a taste of the Levinsky market in Tel Aviv. The market began in the 1930s when Jewish immigrants from Greece settled into Florentin (nowadays a very bohemian part of Tel Aviv) and began setting up shops and Balkan spice stalls. After the state of Israel was created there was an influx of Iranian immigrants bringing their own food influences with them and adding to the vibrant market which stands today. Walking around you can still find hints of its origins with an active synagogue right in the middle of the market and some of the older Greek bakeries selling their filo creations like these cheese-filled Bourekitas. Enjoy them with this Arab twist on Greek tzatziki and a fresh tomato resek dip.
Pastry Making - Discover this small pastry that is eaten in the markets of Tel Aviv, learn to work with a wet dough and how to shape them.
Balancing Flavour - Learn how to balance different cheeses for your filling and how to complement herbs and spices.
Condiments- Learn how to make the versatile resek that brings a freshness and lightness to many different meals and a Middle Eastern tzatziki.
For the dough:
For the filling:
1x large chopping board, 3x mixing bowl, 1x spatular or wooden spoon, 1x sieve, 1x chef knife, 1x teaspoon, 1x tablespoon, 1x fork, 1x roll of baking parchment, 1x rolling pin, 1x tea towel/cloth, 1x round cutter, 1x baking tray, 1x brush, 1x box grater, 1x garlic crusher, 1x whisk
No pre-lesson preparation needed.
Into a large bowl, add your cheeses, beginning with your dryer, harder cheeses and then your cottage cheese. Season nicely with salt and pepper and then mix well - this is our filling for the bourekitas. Add pine nuts, taste once more for seasoning. If you are happy with your seasoning, add the white from one egg and place the yolk to one side for later. Give it a good mix and it will come together, giving you a shiny and creamy filling.
Now, let's go and heat up our oven to 180°C/356°F. Move the filling to one side and have a quick clean down.
Im going to start my dough by separating the dry and the wet ingredients. Starting with the dry, pass through a sieve your flour, creating a lovely pillowy mound. Next, add a good teaspoon of baking powder, half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda and a tbsp of sugar. That is our drys and now let's move onto the wet ingredients. Grab a large mixing bowl along with the wet ingredients, starting off with the yoghurt, milk, veg oil and half of a lemon (juiced) what we are going to do now is take a fork and mix into a consistent liquid emulsifying the oil into the rest of our wet ingredients, this will take a few seconds of mixing together but as you can see it becomes an even and batter like mixture.
Now, add the dry into the wet and taking a clean hand, mix the dough really well creating a wet and smooth dough. This dough won't take a long time to come together due to the sifting of the flour and its water content so we are only working it until it becomes a dough. Once your dough has come together cover it with a clean cloth and set to one side.
Now take half of your dough and place it onto the baking parchment, push the dough out using your fingertips and then using a rolling pin roll the dough out to the thickness of half a centimetre and, as you will see, the dough is very disciplined when it's rolled and and it keeps its shape. Taking a cutter (check my notes) cut rounds of the dough ensuring you cut to the edges as much as possible, remove the excess dough and let's start filling!
Take a clean teaspoon and fill a small amount into the centre of each round. Fill all of the rounds of dough before turning and shaping the dough. Fold the dough over on itself closing them into half moon shapes, once all have been folded grab a lined tray and a fork. Take a fork and press the folded sides into each other creating a seal. Place onto the tray. Repeat on the remaining dough.
Now, take our egg yolk with a small amount of water and mix well. Brush the egg wash onto the half moons - this will help colour the dough but also catch our mixture of seeds that we will sprinkle on the dough. Sprinkle some of the seeds over the top being very generous with both.
Now our little bourekitas are ready to go into the oven and we will check on them in about 10 minutes. Now, let's tidy up before moving onto the tzaziki and resek.
So, next what we are going to be doing is the tomato resek. We are going to need a knife, tomatoes, olive oil, a box grater, bowl, sumac and cumin.
Cut the tomatoes in half and then grate the tomato into a bowl against the largest teeth, grating all the way down to the skin. Once all the tomatoes have been grated, add some salt and season well leaving to almost marinate for a few minutes. Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle the sumac and then a tiny tiny touch of ground cumin. So, there you go we have our beautiful tomato resek. Tidy down once more.
Now let's make the tzaziki. Peel a clove of garlic and crush it (either with a crusher or making a paste) straight into our yoghurt. Now, pick the mint leaves and chop roughly. I'm also going to use fresh dill chopping roughly. Add dried mint along with a squeeze of lemon. Season (sumac, dried mint, salt, pepper) and add some of the red wine vinegar (just a splash), mix well and taste.
We should now have our tzaziki and resek which means all we are waiting for now are the bourekitas!
By now the bourekitas should be cooked (roughly 30 mins) or once they are golden brown and the pastry is cooked. Plate them in a large bowl straight away. Serve along with the sauces and here we have our bourekitas feast! Enjoy.
Make sure you season your filling, it will really elevate our final dish and ensure we have a consistent flavour throughout.
When cracking an egg there is no real science to it but I sometimes find cracking it on a flat surface rather than the edge of a bowl works better as it stops the shell going inside the egg.
Make sure you have a clean work surface ready to go when you start on the dough because as soon as the dough is made we are going to have to start working it.
This simple step is often overlooked or skipped during baking, but is one of the easiest ways to elevate your recipes. It breaks the flour down into evenly sized granules giving us a smooth and consistent dough and eliminates any flour gathering in the dough, it will also help us create a lighter dough that will be much nicer to eat.
Make sure you have the larger mixing bowl for the wet ingredients as we will end up making the dough in this bowl.
The reaction that takes place in our dough is between the acid and the bicarbonate of soda. The reaction releases carbon dioxide into the dough causing pockets to be created making our mixture expand.
Working with wet doughs
When working a wet dough like this, use one hand in a circular motion and bring the dough together at the beginning, then once the dough has started to come together introduce the other hand and push and pull the dough.
Due to its high hydration content, we roll this dough exclusively on non-stick baking parchment. It will allow us to roll the dough without it sticking to our surface or board and get the dough to the thickness we need for the bourekitas.
You may find your rolling pin gets stuck to the wet dough, if this happens dust your rolling pin with flour!
If you don't have a rolling pin, don't be scared to get creative - a wine bottle would work as a great substitute!
When it comes to the size of your cutter, I'm not fussy you can use the size you wish! Mine was the size of a large biscuit.
You want to be placing a teaspoon worth of filling into the middle of your dough. When folding the dough into half moons, if you find it sticky and hard to fold, wet your hands slightly with cold water.
These are called Bourekitas due to their size, if they were bigger we would call them bourekas.
If you wanted to get your finished bourekitas darker in colour, add a small pinch of salt to your egg yolk, this will denature the proteins in the egg and help us get a darker finish to the dough
When grating the tomatoes, give them a slight squeeze - this will release some of the water content and make it easier to grate.
I eat this all the time as it goes amazing with everything and really helps to freshen up any dish.
If you are making your resek in a food processor, add the salt before blitzing.
People may be used to the tzaziki that is made with cucumber but today we will be making the Turkish version which has loads of herbs, both fresh and dried, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and garlic.
The fate of alcohol is typically vinegar. Alcohol makes a liquid more resistant to spoilage because most microbes can't tolerate it. However, there are exceptions: bacteria that can use oxygen to metabolise alcohol and extract energy from it. In the process it converts to acetic acid which is an incredibly potent antimicrobial agent making vinegar one of the most used preservatives in the world.
The Orléans method
Spoiled barrels of wine would be identified and turned into vinegar. They would partially fill wooden barrels with diluted wine, next they would be inoculated with a mother from the previous batch (mixture of yeast and bacteria). This is left to ferment. Throughout the fermentation, vinegar will be pulled from the barrel and replaced with wine.
Trickling and submerged cultures
Wine is poured repeatedly over wood shavings or a synthetic material which has acetic bacteria clinging to it. This increases the surface area of the wine and helps expose the wine to the bacteria and air. This makes the process incredibly quick (just a few days).
Submerged culture method
Free moving bacteria are supplied oxygen in the form of air that is bubbled through a container or tank, this method (usually industrial) turns the liquid alcohol into acetic acid.