Borek

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Borek
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Prep Time 30 minutes Cook Time 40-50 minutes

Like spanikopita without the spinach, borek is a transcendently flaky experience. Don't let the phyllo intimidate you. Honestly, it's not too difficult to work with, and I get my kids to paint on the melted butter, like a kind of pastry sweatshop. Of course, if you've still got babies hanging all over you, look longingly at this recipe and file it away for later.

A note about phyllo: Confusingly, you can buy dough either as a single 1-pound package of too-large sheets or (ideally) as 2 half-pound packages of perfect ones. For the former, thaw the entire package, unroll the dough, and cut it in half lengthwise through all the layers to end up with 2 (9-by-14-inch) stacks, one of which you'll use. The remaining phyllo can then be rerolled, very tightly wrapped, and stuck back in the freezer.

For a delicious meal organized around the Turkish principle of meze — that beloved "a little of this, a little of that" style of dining that is also referred to as grazing, tapas, or "too lazy to make a main course" — combine this recipe with shepherd's salad, mini burgers, or hummus. And don't forget the Middle Eastern dessert.

What you'll need

  • 1/2 pound crumbled feta cheese (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped dill, parsley, and mint (reduce or omit herbs if your kids won't eat green stuff)
  • 1/2 pound frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

How to make it

  1. Heat oven to 375° F. Stir together feta, ricotta, eggs, and herbs in a large bowl.

  2. Set up a phyllo station on a table where you can sit and relax while you work. Unroll the thawed dough onto a clean surface and cover it with a large piece of plastic wrap, then a damp dish towel (it's a beast to work with if it dries out). Place a 9-by-13-inch pan, the melted butter, and a wide pastry brush in front of you.

  3. Brush the bottom of the pan with butter, then lay down a sheet of phyllo and brush it with butter. Continue layering and buttering until you've used half the phyllo sheets (probably 10 or so), then spread the filling on evenly before layering and buttering the remaining phyllo sheets on top of it (if the butter you're using starts to solidify, simply reheat it).

  4. Now use a very sharp knife to cut the borek into 24 small squares, being sure to cut through all the layers. Bake until it's beautifully brown, about 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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