When I saw the challenge for /52weeksofcooking was North African cuisine, I was a bit nervous. Most of my recipes draw on meals I’ve had or meals I’ve seen prepared on one of the many cooking reality shows on TV. While I’ve prepared a few tagines, that’s really the limit of my N. African exposure so I set out on an internet search. First I decided to focus on nations in Central North Africa, in order to avoid the temptation to do another tagine or something that might be considered more Middle Eastern. Which is what led me to finding the Algerian Brik (or Borek), which seems to come in many varieties across N. Africa thru the Middle East and up in to South Eastern Europe/South Western Asia. After reading a few articles on the history and origin of this easy to transport dish I realized I had a different version of it while in NYC last winter. So with my new found knowledge, and a half dozen recipes, I set out to figure out the best way to conquer this dish while living in temporary housing. I decided to use pre-made phyllo dough and got a variety of ingredients for the fillings. Previous experiences with phyllo dough led me to go for the flat “panini” style we had in NYC but I’m hoping one day to have the skills to make these cigar or “eggroll” style.
Traditional filling includes eggs, which I used in two of the boreks. All of them were filled with onion, spinach, mashed potato, and a garlic clove.
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
12 sheets of phyllo dough (10x20)
2 cups mashed potatoes , divided in to 4 portions
1/2 lb fresh spinach (or kale) well washed and torn
1 cup onion, diced and divided in to 4 portions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, cooked scrambled style (optional)
1 cup feta cheese (optional)
- Take three sheets of phyllo, make sure to cover any not being used with a moist papertowel, and fold in half so that the sheet becomes 10x10. Place desired fillings in the middle third on the phyllo dough, and then fold over the edges as if wrapping a present - ends first and then sides.
- Preheat oven to lowest setting possible, along with a lightly greased cookie sheet.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or other flat-bottomed pan. Place borek folded side down in the pan and cook for 7 minutes, or until starts to turn golden. Gently flip the borek and repeat on other side.
- Place the finished borek on the cookie sheet in the oven in order to keep warm while preparing the final boreks.
I love dishes like this, quick and simple with a million different preparations. Once I’m fully moved in to our new place I’m hoping to give the fried version a try, though I think I’ll stick to pre-cooking the eggs if I use them. I served this with a bit of Greek Yogurt, though sour cream would also work – or nothing at all!