Saturday, January 7, 2012

Miniature Esfiha

Today I tried to change the menu without giving up my diet (yes! Just for a change, I am on a diet!) and I picked a Middle East inspired dish. Actually, the whole nine!: taboule (wheat salad) with cucumber, tomatoes and sour cream, kafta (kinda like a burger on a skewer but seasoned with allspice, cinnamon and ground pepper!) and, the star of today's post, the ESFIHAS! YUMMY!!

Esfihas are kinda like turnovers that you bake. They are usually filled with ricotta or ground beef or cooked escarole.
It's not the fastest thing to make, I'll admit, but it doesn't take that long and the result is an amazing homemade meal!
I made my esfihas filled with seasoned ricotta, but you can use ground beef, escarole with white raisins, cheese & zaatar, chicken...

Dough (yelds about 25/30 esfihas)
- 50g fresh yeast or 1 Tbsp of dry yeast
- 1 cup + 4 Tbsp Warm water
- 1/2 cup Canola oil
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 550g Wheat flour(approximate)
I used 250g of whole grain wheat flour!
- 1 beaten egg to brush on top of turnovers before baking

Preparing the esfihas
Mix all ingredients, except for the wheat flour and egg, in the blender (or by hand using a fouet). Little by little add the flour mixing with a fork, initially. Then add the rest of the flour and finish kneading the dough by hand.

Let it seat in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes.
In the meantime, make the filling of your choice.

Ricotta filling (enough for HALF of the dough! Make sure you souble it if you plan on making all 30 the same flavor!)
- 300g (10 OZ) Ricotta
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Ground pepper + ground cinnamon to tast
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- fresh parsley and chives 
- 1/4 onion, diced and fried with PAM
- 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese

Simply combine all ingredients and set in the fridge while you roll the dough.

Making the Esfihas
Make 2 big balls out of your dough. Pick one and roll it out, not too thin. Using a cookie cutter, make circles of about 3.5 inches or 4. 
Scoop some filling in the center of each circle. Seal the dough shaping it either as a triagle or a squared pillow. 
Brush the egg on top of each esfiha. Put in the preheated oven (380F) for about 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown in the bottom and edges.

If you chose 2 different fillings, shape each flavor differently.
You can freeze the baked esfihas for about a month in the proper container or bag. Before serving, preheat oven to about 350F and bake it until warm (7 - 10 minutes).
No cookie cutter in the shape? It's all good! Use a big glass or a mug.

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