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Börek is a very delectable Turkish pastry that is often served as an appetizer at banquets, weddings, and other special events. It consists of thin sheets of filo dough layered and folded, filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables, and finally baked or fried until done. Given the difficulty of working with the fragile filo dough it's a dish that requires a lot of time and patience to avoid turning it into a soggy, inedible mess.

Included below by your humble narrator is a meatless incarnation (oxymoron, yes, I know) of the mighty dish. I would recommend getting some first-hand acquaintance with the elementary process of rolling, cutting, and filling the pastries before you try making variations on the basic theme itself. Also, please, if you are a complete or even relative newcomer to the world of Middle-Eastern cuisine, do not attempt to make your own filo dough unless you have somebody knowledgable right by your side to guide you through the process.

450 grams (1 lb.) frozen spinach
100 grams feta cheese
About a tablespoon of butter
225 grams (8 oz.) filo dough
A small handful of chopped walnuts
1 egg
Olive oil (don't let me catch you with anything less than cold-pressed, you infidel)

Okay dudes, this is the way it goes down: Chop up your spinach, dump it into a pan with the butter and enough water to cover, then let it simmer gently until it's nice and tender. At this time, if you've really got a hankering for meat, you can add a couple hundred grams or so of ground beef or (preferably) lamb along with a bit more butter and braise everything. Crumble the cheese and add it to the pan with the walnuts. During the heat transfer process, crack open your egg, beat it, stir it in the pan, let it cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season it with allspice and black pepper (garlic salt works well too if you're interested) and leave to cool).

Now, to the bread itself. Cut your pre-packaged filo into 12" by 5" (30 cm by 12 cm) strips (your dough may already come pre-cut; check to make sure you have the proper length for each segment). Working with each strip one at a time, brush it on one side with olive oil, then place a bit of filling at one end, a bit off center. Fold the strip over onto itself maintaining a triangular shape with the same amount of surface area with each fold. This makes a lot more sense when you can actually see what you're doing, trust me. Repeat until you've run out of dough or filling.

Now, gather your Börek and place them on a pre-greased baking tray. Bake them at 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 20-30 minutes or until they turn a nice golden brown color. Yum. Yields 16-20 pastries.

Some searching on the web revealed to me that börek comes in many varieties, both with meat and with cheese, but that the one I tasted in several restaurants isn't really the most common. It is very yummy however, so I wish to share it with you anyway.

Börek with feta and mint

You need:

Mash the feta and mix trough the pepper, nutmeg, and herbs of your choice. Mint is best in my opinion, as it makes an interesting contrast with the salty taste of the cheese. I suppose you could also use a mixture of herbs, experiment!.

Cut the filo pastry into strips with a width of about 7.5 cm (3''). Brush them on one side with a bit of butter or olive oil (make sure to keep the strips you're not yet using moist with oil, butter, or under a moist tea towel or something).
Put some filling (about a teaspoon full) on the non-brushed side near the end and roll up into a triangle as above, or into a cigar shape. Fold the long sides of the pastry to the inside if you use the cigar shape, to keep the filling from falling out.

Put your börek onto a greased baking tray, brush them with a bit of oil or butter again, and bake them for 25 minutes at 180 degrees C.

The börek can be served with tomato sauce if you like, or you can just eat them without. Enjoy.

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