Maybe because it’s summer, or maybe it’s because the summer is almost over, but I am longing for Israel. Itʼs about 110 degrees there now, and the humidity up around 80 percent. You get so drenched in sweat just walking a block it feels like you just took a shower. It makes me want to spend every hour of the day on the beach. I love it!
During those hot summers, when I was a teenager living in Israel, my friends and I would go out dancing all night. As the sun was rising, and the club was closing, we would wander down to the local bourekas joint for a late night snack. There were a handful of these places that were open late, even on Shabbat. Famished from dancing all night long, nothing tasted better. My favorite place was called Abulafia, in Yaffo. It was run by Arabs, but frequented by both Jews and Arabs, which made it an even more special. Itʼs storefront facade was created out of deli cases, each filled with innumerable varieties of wonderful breads and pastries. You simply walked up to the counter and pointed to what youʼd like to order. A boureka is puff pastry, or fillo dough, stuffed and folded over. Typically, bourekas are filled with cheese, cheese and spinach, potato, or potato and boiled egg.
Today I made bourekas three ways, the classic potato, a Mexanisian* version, and an updated version using rainbow chard & sun dried tomatoes. Make them for breakfast or cut them into small bites and serve them as appetizers. Either way, you are sure to impress.
1.5 peeled russet potatoes- boiled
1 pasilla chili- thinly sliced then cut into 1” pieces
1/2 small red onion, sliced
2 puff pastry packages
1/4 tsp cumin
1 chipotle in adobo- chopped
3 tbs Half and Half
1 cup chopped rainbow chard
1/2 a lemon- juiced
3.5 oz feta cheese
2 sundried tomatoes in oil- minced or finely diced
1 tbs melted butter
salt and pepper to taste
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-Thaw the puff pasty
Mexanisian Boureka Filling:
Sauté the peppers and onions until soft – about 3-5 minutes.
Mash the potatoes using a hand masher- cut mashed potato mixture in 1/2 (save 1/2 for the classic boureka.)
Beat an egg in a bowl.
In another bowl mix in the sautéed peppers and onions with 1/2 of mashed potato mixture, add chipotle, cumin, salt and pepper mix well. Set aside.
Feta & Rainbow Chard Boureka Filling:
Sauté the rainbow chard with lemon juice, salt and pepper until chard it wilted – about 2 minutes.
Beat an an egg in a bowl.
In a separate bowl mash the feta with a potato masher.
When the chard is cooled mix in with the feta, then add the sundried tomatoes, beaten egg and freshly cracked pepper, mix well. Set aside
Classic Boureka Filling:
Take the reserved potato mixture and add in the Half and Half , salt, pepper and egg. Mix well.
I used pre-cut puff paster in 5″ x 5″ squares. If you cannot find pre-cut puff pastry, use the large sheet and cut down into squares. Take the thawed puff pastry and place on a lightly floured work surface. Place 2 heaping tbs of filling mixture into the center of the square of puff pastry. Using your finger, wet the edges of the puff pastry and fold over diagonally to form a triangle. Press the edges with a fork on all sides, except the folded side, to seal well. Place on a cookie sheet and brush melted butter over the entire top surface, then drizzle with sesame seeds. Repeat until all the mixture and puff pastry is finished.
Each mixture will make 4-5 pieces.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
*Mexanisian is a term I use to describe the fusion of my favorite Mexican and Tunisian flavors. It’s a result of my Southern Californian roots and my Tunisian/Mediterranean blood and palate. Both styles tend to be heavy on the homestyle cooking and have many crossover ingredients, such as cumin, citrus, fresh herbs, and a variety of chili peppers.