52 weeks of cooking – Balkan
When I think back on my vacation to Turkey I always think about the food first. The art that I saw, the beautiful mosques and the palaces covered in mosaics were fantastic but it’s the food that stands out the most in my memory. I think it’s because I hadn’t had food like that before. We ate cucumbers and tomatoes for breakfast with salty cheese and bread. Braised eggplant in a tomato sauce with earthy spices and a dash of cinnamon served with yoghurt. We consumed tea where ever we went served in little tulip shaped glasses with gold filigree. Best of all were the pastries made with layers and layers of filo dough.
The first dish that might pop into your head when thinking about the Balkan region and filo dough would be baklava. It’s great stuff, chopped nuts between sheets of buttery, flakey filo dough all doused in a honey and rose syrup. It can be a little over powering on the sugar even for my sweet tooth so a good alternative to baklava if you don’t have a sweet tooth is börek, think of them as filo cigars.
There are a lot of different options out there for fillings, I chose to do a meat version and served them with a charred green onion dip. The borek have a light crispy exterior that crack under your fingertips and are stuffed with an earthy aromatic beef mixture. I highly recommend you don’t skip out on the sumac, it has a tart lemon like flavor that can’t be recreated with just lemon juice, look for it in a specialty Middle Eastern grocery store. The charred green onions in the dip add great depth of and a hint of sweetness from being cooked. Next time I make this dip I’m gonna double it and dip everything in it.
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