QUINCE Pie Rolls with Almonds, Raisins and Honey

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Inspired from apple strudel, the stuffing I propose has no sugar; the fruit is simmered in sweet wine with raisins and honey. I just sprinkle it with light brown sugar and cinnamon as I roll the pies. If you like the pie sweeter, sprinkle each piece with confectioner’s sugar as you cut to serve.

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If you are familiar, or you want to try the traditional Austrian way of making the dough and rolling the strudel on a piece of cloth you can roll one or two larger strudels with that filling instead of four pie rolls. And if you have no quince, use apples, following the instruction for the thinly-sliced, raw apple filing that is used in the strudel.

Makes 4 pie rolls; about 16-20 pieces  (more…)

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Lachmacun: Spicy Meat-topped Pita Bread

This is my most recent variation of Lachmacun, or ‘Arab Pizza’ as it is sometimes called. If you do not have time to make the dough, use a good quality, whole-wheat pita. Brush with olive oil and toast on the griddle or under the broiler. Then add the meat sauce and broil, again, briefly, with some halved cherry tomatoes.

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Of course it is better with home-made bread dough –I prefer to use my whole grain one— which I shape into longish flat-breads, let them rest a bit, then mix one egg into my versatile Spicy Meat Sauce so that it more or less keeps its shape as it bakes, and can be picked up and eaten without falling apart, as most Lachmacun do.

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Serves 2  (2 pieces)   (more…)

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Spinach, Herb and Feta Skillet Pies (Gözleme)

Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Skillet pies –tiganokouloures or tiganopsoma in Greek, and gözleme or saç böreği in Turkish— have become our everyday project these days. Read more HERE.

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Next to the popular markets in Istanbul, and in most other Turkish cities and villages, there is usually a lady preparing gözleme.  She sits on the floor, rolling phyllo (or yufka, as it is called in Turkish) on a sofra – a large, low, round wooden table. Next to her burns a makeshift charcoal stove with a piping-hot saç griddle, a large concave drum blackened and shiny from years of constant use.  With these humble instruments she creates the most tempting street food the market has to offer. The large, half-moon-shaped pies are made to order.  Sheet after sheet of thin phyllo is rolled with the help of a long rod in less than a minute. She spreads either a mixture of greens, herbs and fresh salty cheese, or just dabs of creamy cheese with hot pepper and some dried or fresh mint. The gözleme are briefly toasted on both sides atop the saç, then folded or rolled and handed to the customer to devour on the spot. Gözleme is soft, sometimes the dough is not even fully cooked; eaten piping hot, these super-fast pies are very popular and there is usually a line of people waiting patiently to enjoy their treat.

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My version of a delicious skillet pie inspired by gözleme  is easy to make, provided you can roll phyllo. Unfortunately, the frozen commercial kinds cannot be used. In some parts of the US fresh yufka sheets are available. If you have a pasta machine it is easy to make your own thin phyllo strips and to create rectangular or square gözleme. They may look different from the traditional pies, but they will be equally delicious, as they toast to crispy perfection.

See also my dessert version, Skillet Pies with Chocolate and Nuts.

Serves 6

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Instant Pies with Greens or with Chocolate and Nuts

Skillet pies –tiganokouloures or tiganopsoma in Greek, and gözleme or saç böreği in Turkish— have become our everyday project these days.

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There are three reason for this late obsession of ours: First because Costas has almost completely mastered the art of rolling perfect phyllo and he is eager to use his new skill as often as possible; second, we gather plenty of wonderful, juicy spinach as well as chervil, fennel and other aromatic herbs from the garden; the third, and probably the most important reason of these repeated attempts is the newly acquired electric saç (hot-plate) that I brought from Istanbul.

Not that skillet pies cannot be cooked perfectly on a griddle or ridged skillet. They are ingenious creations of the frugal Mediterranean cooks who prepared in minutes a delicious snack or meal with whatever they happened to have at hand: wild or cultivated greens and herbs, grated zucchini or squash, eggplant, pepper or even cooked grains or beans, usually flavored with cheese and/or sausage. The recipe I have in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts can be prepared in any kitchen, either here, or on the other side of the Atlantic. And this has been proven, since David Tanis chose to publish it at the New York Times, calling it ‘Greek Pie on the Skinny Side’.

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Stuffed Bread with Broccoli and Cheese

Inspired from the Sicilian stuffed focaccias from Catania. The same stuffing could have been used for a traditional Greek pie wrapped in phylo pastry. Instead of broccoli you can use cauliflower or blanched, squeezed and chopped greens (spinach, chard, kale etc.) adding chopped scallions and dill or other herbs, if you like.

Read more HERE.

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Makes 8 individual pies (more…)

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