AZ Cookbook - A food blog with delicious recipes
My Book
A food blog with delicious recipes and stories
Turkish Spinach or Cheese Pie (Borek)

Turkish Spinach Pie (Ispanakli Borek)

One of my favorite categories of dishes in the amazing Turkish cuisine is the borek category. Borek (börek) is a savory pie. There are tons of  borek recipes across Turkey. The regional varieties come in all sizes and shapes—small and big rolls, spirals, bundles, envelopes—differing in the fillings used. Albeit their differences, one thing that unites them all is their foundation, yufka, a paper thin flatbread baked from a simple dough made from water, flour, and salt. The yufka encases savory fillings made with meat, spinach, cheese, zucchini, mushrooms, potato, and other ingredients.

This recipe for the layered spinach borek made with yufka comes from my mother-in-law’s recipe collection. You can use the same recipe to make borek with a cheese filling (variation at the end), ground meat filling, or any other filling you fancy as well. Look for Turkish yufka in the freezer section of most Turkish/Middle Eastern markets and even in online Turkish stores. Bring the flatbreads to room temperature before using. Enjoy!

Turkish Spinach Pie (Ispanakli Borek)

Ingredients

yufka flatbreads, about 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter, or 2 large ones, one cut in half to obtain 3 pieces total

Ingredients

Spinach Filling: *
4 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 pound fresh spinach
1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (or any other white cheese)
Salt (if cheese is not salted) and ground black pepper

Milk Wash:
1 cup milk
2 eggs (reserve 1 egg yolk for the top)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional – but is said to give the layers a nice “lift”)
1/3 cup olive oil

Glaze:
1 reserved egg yolk, plus a few tablespoons milk or plain yogurt
Sesame seeds or Nigella sativa seeds

Directions

Prepare the filling: Heat the oil or butter in a medium frying pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until  light golden. Remove from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the spinach coarsely and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoon water and a generous few pinches of salt on top. Rub the spinach with your hands until it is well wilted. Taking a handful at a time, squeeze the spinach to remove all the moisture (discard the released juices), until the spinach is dry. In a bowl, combine the onion, spinach, and cheese. If using unsalted cheese, season the filling with salt. Season with black pepper to taste (sometimes, crushed red pepper is added too, to taste, but it is optional). Set aside.

Prepare the milk wash to moisten the layers: In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the milk wash. Whisk gently to blend. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 380ºF (190ºC).

Steps 1-4

Assemble the borek: Lightly grease a 13-by-9-by-2-inch (33-by-23-by-5-cm) baking dish (I use a Pyrex dish). Layer the first yufka in the pan so that the sides are overhanging (best is one side is overhanging more than the other, so that later it covers the top completely). Evenly drizzle 1/3 of the milk wash on top of this layer. Arrange the second yufka by ruffling it so that it fits the pan without overhanging. Drizzle half of the remaining wash on top. Spread the filling evenly over this layer. Cover the filling with another “ruffled” yufka, and moisten the layer with the remaining wash. Bring the overhanging yufka to the top and cover the top completely.

READ MORE

  • “Oreshki” Walnut Cookies with Dulce de Leche
    March 6, 2015
    "Oreshki" Walnut Cookies with Dulce de Leche
    Meet some of the most unique cookies that hail from my childhood—walnut-shaped cookies called oreshki. Oreshki means “nuts” in Russian. In this particular case, it means “walnuts.” How are these cookies and my childhood related? Well, long ago, when I was much younger and growing up in Azerbaijan, the country was part of the Soviet Union. Which means that I,...
    READ MORE
  • Links to Reads: February 2015
    March 4, 2015
    Links to Reads: February 2015
    Time for the February Links to Reads.  Here are some of the share-worthy articles I read this past month. Enjoy! * Natural? Organic? Free-range? What do these mean? * Visual feast: If the world’s major cities were made of food. * About shark finning bans. Do they work? * The chicken was first domesticated for cockfighting not food....
    READ MORE
  • Easy Homemade Dulce De Leche
    February 25, 2015
    Easy Homemade Dulce De Leche
    Years ago, when I first heard the term dulce de leche in America, it struck me as fancy and I didn’t quite know what it was. Candy made of milk, or sweet made of milk, as the translation goes. Hmm. Until I found out it was nothing more than what we called “cooked or boiled condensed milk” back in Azerbaijan,...
    READ MORE
  • The Perfect Lemon Tart
    February 17, 2015
    The Perfect Lemon Tart
    If you’ve seen my About Me page, you’ve probably noticed me beaming with happiness over a tart, looking like I am teasing you guys. That, my friends, is the perfect lemon tart. Big time teaser. I baked it for a photo shoot 4 years ago and had been procrastinating posting the recipe on the blog for the longest time. Until....
    READ MORE
  • Garlicky Beet Salad with Yogurt and Walnuts
    February 13, 2015
    Garlicky Beet Salad with Yogurt and Walnuts
    Tell me what comes to your mind when you read the blog title? Let me guess. Perhaps, just like me, you think it sounds super duper healthy? Am I right or am I right? I think I am right. Health on a plate, literally. Beets, garlic, plain yogurt, walnuts. Each ingredient in this salad I’ll write about speaks of nutrition...
    READ MORE
  • Links to Reads: January 2015
    February 3, 2015
    Links to Reads: January 2015
    February is here. I am a bit late with previous month’s Links to Reads, but better late than never. Here’s a selection of some of the interesting articles I read in January. Enjoy! * What type to use? How’s and why’s of cooking oils. * Burying fig trees? Yes. It is a curious Italian tradition. * United Nations goes United...
    READ MORE
  • Just Cookie Dough
    January 29, 2015
    Just Cookie Dough
    Recently I was contacted by Hampton Creek about possibly willing to try one of their  products—Just Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. I agreed as I am always curious about all-natural products. Plus, I knew the kids would be happy about their favorite thing on Earth—chocolate chip cookies. I received the cookie dough nicely, professionally packaged in a big ice box. The...
    READ MORE
  • My Cookbook Won!
    January 25, 2015
    My Cookbook Won!
    Dear readers. What you’ve just read in that picture is what I’ve been trying to wrap my head around ever since I received the notification email a few days ago.  My cookbook, “Pomegranates & Saffron: A Culinary Journey to Azerbaijan,” has been named the W-I-N-N-E-R in the Eastern European cuisine category among the books published in the U.S. I read...
    READ MORE
Page 92 of 256« First...10...91929394...100...Last »