As my friends who have attended my cooking classes will attest, I always advocate buying fresh yufka/filo from a local corner yufkacı rather than a packet from the supermarket. The reason for this is simple: yufka must be fresh and pliable so that it can be rolled into whatever shape without cracking or tearing.
|this is kabaklı börek second time round, using three beautifully fresh yufkas|
But this time I was stuck: in our village and indeed its environs there are no yufkacis/makers and sellers of the fresh item. I suppose the women around here all make it themselves and so there is no demand. I could drive 20 km to Küçükkuyu as there is one there but I would only do that if really pushed.
So I resorted to buying a packet of ready made ev yufkası from Uysal Market, our little supermarket in Ayvacık. They told me it is delivered on Fridays so it was already 3 days old. Once home I opened it up and soon saw that it was not going to roll into a kol böreği shape - that's the big round one that coils around like a snail - without cracking. As I was determined to make this kabak or courgette filling in this shape, I realised that I was going to have to adapt. Otherwise I have to confess I liked it: the rounds were smaller in circumference than those that I am used to, and each one was thicker. In a way, it was easier to handle.
So I made one large börek in a pyrex dish and with the remaining yufka, a series of rolled ones packed tightly in another ovenproof dish lined with grease proof paper. Personally I much prefer smaller boreks, the larger ones can be soggy with wet layers of filling in the middle.
|a larger oven-baked kabaklı böreğı|
|oven-baked kabaklı börek, nice and crispy|
But the smaller ones that I simply improvised on, brushing sunflower oil on the layers and then filling, rolling and cutting, were really absolutely delicious. This is me saying this! I mean, I like borek but I'm not necessarily mad about it. But this filling with the courgettes and potato is truly excellent. If you haven't tried it, then do so today! It's by far and away the best in my opinion.
You can prepare the filling in advance and it can wait, covered, in the fridge until required:
|four basic steps in making the filling|
Kabaklı Börek/ Courgette Borek with Potato, Cheese and Fresh Herbs
for the filling:
3 medium boiled potatoes, mashed
2 medium courgettes/zucchini/kabak, washed, peeled if desired, and grated, excess liquid squeezed out by hand, and left to drain in a colander
1 bunch fresh dill/dereotu, chopped finely
½ bunch fresh parsley/maydonoz,chopped finely
2 medium onions, chopped finely
3 tbsp cooking oil (I use sunflower oil) plus extra for brushing over the yufka
1 tsp red pepper/kırmızı tozbiber, less if desired
1 cup/8oz ricotta cheese/lor peyniri - regular white cheese or feta would be fine
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
sesame/susam and nigella seeds/çörekotu for sprinkling on top
- Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan and cook the chopped onions until softened. Add the grated and drained courgettes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, the cheese, and the fresh herbs. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the onion and courgette mix and combine well.
- Line your dish or baking tray with greaseproof paper. Take one yufka round and open it out in front of you. Brush the upper half with cooking oil. Fold the bottom half over the upper half and brush with oil so you have a double layer of yufka in a half moon shape on your counter.
- Take a spoonful of the courgette mixture and spoon along the straight edge of your yufka shape. Continue all along the edge to the end. Then gently roll until you end up with a long sausage-shape. Place in the centre of the baking tray, coiling it round on itself.* Continue with the remaining 2 yufka rounds, adding them one by one, to the end of the coil. Tuck the ends underneath. Brush with oil and sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds.
- Bake in a pre-heated 180C/350F oven for 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
*cut into lengths approximately 4-5 fingers long if preferred, or if the yufka is not very fresh and has a tendency to tear.
Serve the smaller ones with çay at 5 o'clock, the larger ones for say, a light lunch! Allow a little time to cool before serving.
|courgette borek with potato, cheese and fresh herbs/kabaklı börek|
PS these borek also freeze beautifully!
The moral of the story is that you can do whatever you like with yufka, the only proviso being that if the resulting borek is going to be baked in the oven, each layer has to be brushed with either oil, melted butter or margarine, and sometimes egg yolk on top. A little yogurt may be used on top as well, mixed with any of the afore-mentioned ingredients.
Living in the village as we have this summer where the cooking by definition is far from sophisticated, borek has been a trusty friend :))