Today was one of those day where I was easily distracted, and while watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations about Istanbul, I had a craving for Turkish food. Not a plate of hummus or a gyro sandwich. Like the real-deal street food. So I got a taste for water borek, which is similar to a Spinach Pie, only the layers of phyllo dough are not flaky and crisp, and it usually does not have spinach, but just cheese, or cheese and parsley. Since I did not have any phyllo dough in the freezer, or anything else I could manipulate into layers, i decided to make my own. Easy enough, no? For a regular person, sure. But dough is my kryptonite. Somehow, I manage to add too little or not enough flour, knead too much or not enough, and always end up with holes in my dough when it sticks to my counter top, despite flouring. Anyways, I tried and didn’t fail miserably, even though any encounter with dough-based recipes results in a lot of cursing and pleading, which are all in vain. I was pleasantly surprised that this came out very similar to how I remember it tasting. Success.
This is normally served as a breakfast food but it goes well with tea or coffee as a snack…or lunch…or dinner..or dessert. Basically, I will eat it anytime.
For the dough:
3 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup of feta ( we use tam yağlı or “whole fat” cheese, which is unlike the dry, domestic feta. But use what you can find)
1/3 cup of grated kashar cheese ( I substitute mozzarella)
1/3 cup chopped spinach (you can use parsley, too)
Start by boiling a large pot of salted water. Also prepare another large pot or bowl of ice-cold water and a strainer.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
You will need a pan- I used a broiler pan which was about 9×12, but you can use a round pan, as well. Just make sure it is deep, and not thin like a cookie-sheet.
Make a well in the flour and salt mix and crack your eggs.
Mix with your hands and slowly add water and knead to form a stiff ball.
Cut 2 large balls off, and cut the remaining dough into 8 small balls.
Place them on a tray and cover with a damp towel.
Prepare the filling by combining the feta, mozzarella and spinach and set aside.
Roll out your first large ball to the size of your pan. Lay it in your greased pan. Brush with oil.
Roll out the remaining small balls, as thin as possible, and one at a time, drop them into the boiling water.
Boil them separately, 1 minute, and then toss into the cold water to stop the cooking.
Transfer to the strainer and continue until you have cooked all 8 balls.
Layer a few of your cooked pieces in the pan, oiling in between.
You can layer filling as you go, or just make one center layer, like I did.
Spread the filling out as evenly as you can and layer the remaining cooked dough pieces, oiling again. Roll out the last large ball and lay on top, brushing with oil.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.