Thursday, December 29, 2011


Sambousek are mini pies filled with either meat, hummus or cheese. The origin is Middle Eastern and there are endless versions of these delicious little hand held pies. The recipes for the dough and fillings vary according to the country or group of people who make them. These are great to make and freeze, then all you have to do is take them out and reheat. I suggest reheating in the oven, but a very quick zap in the micro will do just fine. My husband likes taking one out for a quick ( and filling) breakfast each morning on his way to work.
The recipe I used is for a  pastry type dough with a cheese filling. You can play around with the fillings
(I did- I used basically what I had in the house, which was not exactly what the recipe called for, ,but  it worked out just fine). I had some leftover filling so I added some chopped olives and made another batch of dough for that. Mushrooms, mashed seasoned potatoes and a meat mixture are also a wonderful option for the filling. This recipe is adapted from the book "The Best of Micky Shemo", a wonderfully talented Israeli pastry chef.

before baking
after baking

 Here's the recipe: adapted from the original
( 25-30 sambousek)

500 grams ( 3 1/2 cups +1 tbsp.) flour
200 grams softened butter ( 1 cup)
1/2 tsp. salt
10 grams baking powder
180 ml. (3/4 cup) water 
80 ml. ( 1/3 cup) canola oil

250 grams feta cheese, finely grated
250 grams no fat soft cream cheese
1 egg+ 1 egg yolk (I just used one egg)
I also added a few gratings of fresh Parmesan cheese

 1 slightly beaten egg
 sesame seeds

How to:
1. Make the filling: 
    Mix all the ingredients to a smooth texture. Refrigerate.

2. Make the dough:
    Using the flat beater in a standing mixer, mix the flour, butter, salt, and baking powder to a crumbly    consistency. Add the oil and water and mix until the dough is smooth and uniform.
3.  Wrap the dough in nylon wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (I found it had to be refrigerated for longer to achieve the proper consistency for rolling.)
4. Preheat oven to  170 C ( 340 F)

5.  Form and bake:
     Divide the dough into 25 -30 balls and cover with a kitchen towel to prevent from drying out. Roll out each ball into a circle about 1/2 cm . thick. Place a heaping teaspoon of  filling in the center and fold over in half. Secure the  edges by pinching and folding or rolling( sort of a braided look as you can see in the pictures). Mine didn't come out perfect but they held just fine.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
 6. Bake for 20 minutes until browned. (I found they needed more time , but that depends on your oven- just keep an eye on them)
7. Cool thoroughly and store in a  tightly closed container ( not in the fridge) only on the day of baking.
They can be frozen for up to a month. To serve, heat for a few minutes in a 170C oven.  



Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Chanukiya( menorah)

I got the idea of making a cookie chanukiya after seeing some 3 dimensional cookie creations on the web. The base is one big rectangle cookie, circle bases for the candles ( one group being higher than the rest , since that candle is called the "shamash" , or helper candle- it is the one you use to light all the other candles each night) and , of course candle cookies. It really didn't come out as I had envisioned it, but for a first try , it isn't that bad. At least I got the feel for it and now I know what I will do differently next time.
Getting back into the swing of cookie decorating , so hope to be posting more soon.
Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas to all!
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