“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” – Al Gore. True, eh? When I am flying I sometimes take my blanket and pull it over my head and create a little tent space. Yes, the surrounding passengers think I am a crazy person, but I swear it makes traveling on a loud plane feel a little more peaceful and helps me sleep some. Which is maybe why my jet lag is not stalking me for as long as it usually does this time. Happily my jet-lag is waning and I am getting back into a routine again. Canada begins to feel as though it has gone from my reality to a cold place far, far away. I am not complaining, it’s glorious to be able to go outside in the middle of winter and not need a jacket. But I think my wardrobe-selection committee (i.e. my brain) is still confused.
I sometimes tumble out of the flat in a rush wearing big black boots, black sweaters and a winter green scarf which all screams “I’m from Canada where winter means cold and have not yet acclimatised to this warm weather”. This usually leads to be whipping off my layers in fast fashion and carrying a bunch of bulky wool wherever I go. But, again. I’m not complaining. Sunshine and warmth are nice. Even though I am back in Cyprus now, these pork “bourekia” were one of the last things I had before I left for Cyprus. And I am still sort of thinking about them. There are a lot of different types of “bourekia” in Cyprus. “Bourekia” in Cyprus sort of just refers to a type of stuffed little pie. (At least the way I understand it!) Most people have them for breakfast, but they make great snack food for any time of the day.
“Bourekia” can be sweet and stuffed with a type of Cypriot cheese called “anari” and cinnamon or it can be savoury and stuffed with pork, parsley and onion. Both are incredible for breakfast. They also seem to be ideal for lunch, snacks and even a light dinner. So I think it’s pretty much win, win, win with these guys. Well, almost. They are fried, and therefore maybe should not be an item on everyday diet rotation. (Though I am often tempted.) These pork “bourekia” are exactly like the ones that my mom used to enjoy when she was growing up in Cyprus and her aunts would make her. In fact, it is my mom who taught me how to make these. They are a little finicky – in the sense that you have to pleat the dough when you are making them. But the process of making the dough and filling itself is really easy.
Even frying them isn’t that hard. It’s just the pleating. I am sure there are probably ways to get around the pleating, but they just look so pretty this way. Some tips when making pork “bourekia”. When frying them, don’t have the heat so hot that the outside gets burnt and the inside is raw – choose a medium high heat. It should take about 2 minutes for them to properly cook and turn golden brown. Enjoy!
2 cups flour (1 cup bread flour, 1 all purpose flour)
pinch of salt
2 tbs vegetable shortening
1 beaten egg
about 1/3 cup of warm water (you may need less or more)
325g lean ground pork
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 finely chopped medium onion (as big as a mandarin)
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
1. Put your flour in a large bowl and add the salt. Add in the shortening, rubbing it between your fingers with the flour to combine it together. Make a well in the middle of your flour, and add your beaten egg. Begin to add your warm water in order to make a stiff dough. Knead the dough well for 10 minutes. Let the dough rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
2. While the dough is resting, prepare your meat mixture. Add the onion, parsley, pork and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and keep the mixture refrigerated until the dough is ready. 3. Once the dough is ready, cut a small piece of dough and on a pasta machine put it through the different stages (1 to 5) in order to make a thin pastry dough. With a large circular cookie cutter, make a small circle almost 4 inches in diameter. Place a small teaspoon of the pork mixture in the middle of the circle and spread it flat and thin with the back of your spoon. Leave about an inch of space around the edge of the circle. Then with your hands, begin folding the dough over to create pleats around the pork mixture in the center. See the pictures above for a better idea on what this should look like. Don’t cover the whole center which is filled with meat.
4. Once you have finished preparing all of the “bourekia”, heat your oil in a medium sized frying pan. Once the oil is hot (but not too hot – read the introductory paragraph above for tips), add about 7-10 “bourekia” at a time and deep fry them for about 2 minutes until each side is golden brown. Drain them on paper towels first before serving so that some of the oil can be absorbed.