Sunday, March 21, 2010

Serbian Cheese Bourek

Serves 8 as an appetizer


Once again, I neglected to get a proper photo of this after I cut it up, but this is more or less what it looked like. Bourek/borek/burek is a savory pastry that one finds all over Eastern and Central Europe, which Chris and I ate loads of during our trip in 2006. It was like our lingua franca, because every nation that we visited had it, and it was always about the tastiest treat to be found on the side of the road. It is most often filled with either cheese or seasoned beef and onions. When I got the hankering to make some recently, I started looking around online before remembering that, DUH, my Serbian friend Danica was just an email away, and she was bound to have a great recipe. Hers was different than any I’ve ever seen, which was part of what made trying it such fun. And now that I’ve done it once, I’m going to recommend a few changes here that I think will make it more compatible with American cookware and measurements.

1 pkg filo dough (thaw in fridge 24 hours before undertaking this project)

2 C water

2 Tbs butter

3 Tbs olive oil

3 tsp salt

1 small container cottage cheese

1 C feta cheese crumbles

Preheat the oven to 400. Grease two 9x13 pans and set aside. In a medium saucepan bring the water, butter, oil and salt to a boil, then let simmer a few minutes. While this is in the works, puree the cottage cheese in the food processor until it is completely smooth. Add the feta and pulse to break it up within the cottage cheese. Transfer cheese mixture into a small mixing bowl:


Step one: place a sheet of filo in the 9x13 pan and coat it with the liquid. Cover this with another sheet, which you also coat with liquid (it worked best for me to just pour it on straight from the pan, then spread it around with a pastry brush).

Step two is to cover this first layer of filo with crumpled “balls” of cheese-dipped filo. So take another sheet of dough and dip it in the cheese mixture, twisting and picking up cheese as you drench it.


It should look about like this when you pull it out:IMG_6813

Place this in one corner of the 9x13 pan. It should take about six or eight of these total (two across, three/four down) to more or less cover the area of the pan.

After all the cheesy balls of dough are in place, slather them liberally with the liquid mixture, “car le bourek ne doit pas etre sec!” says Danica.

Step 3: Now do another two sheets on top of the balls, just like you did on the bottom, nicely coated with liquid, and then repeat the step with 6-8 more cheesy balls (wish I could think of a better word for that), ending with another two flat sheets of filo dough. Be sure to pour any leftover liquid over the top. On my first try I did two 9-in round pans, and they looked like this after all of my layers were done:


Step 4: Pop the pan into the oven for 20 minutes. It looked like this when I pulled it out:


Step 5: Now you have to flip it…hence that other greased 9x13 pan. Loosen the edges of the bourek with a knife before starting. Invert the second pan on top of the first, and with a quick flip, turn the two pans over so that the bourek lands “upside-down” in the new pan. Here’s what mine looked like after the flip.


Step 6: return the new pan with the flipped bourek to the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Cut into rectangular wedges to serve.


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