Turkish cuisine is famous for its endless varieties of delicious layered pies and pastries, called 'börek' (buhr-ECK'). 'Börek' is made with layers of yufka or phyllo. It comes in many shapes and sizes and is filled with everything from meat, cheese, spinach and even spiced-up mashed potato.
Most Turkish folks eat 'börek' several times a week. That's why you'll find 'börek' in every home, pastry shop and bakery. Families often pass recipes and 'börek'-making skills down through generations, and everyone adds their own touch.
In Turkey, many cooks still choose to make their own yufka sheets, especially those who live in rural areas. But busy city cooks often choose to buy fresh yufka sheets from their local bakery or neighborhood yufka shop, where the 'yufkacı' (yoof-KAH'-juh) rolls out perfect, thin yufka sheets for a living.
In large cities, you can also buy vacuum-packed, fresh yufka in most supermarkets. If you're not in Turkey, you can find packaged yufka in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean grocers. You can also buy it online from websites specializing in Turkish ingredients.
This recipe is a shortcut to making classic casserole-style 'börek'. It's filled with Turkish white cheese, similar to Feta, and uses ready yufka sheets.
I choose to blend all the liquid ingredients together and drizzle them over the layers of yufka. This saves some time. Some cooks prefer to brush the melted butter and the milk mixture separately on each layer.
Each cook has their own method. You can experiment and decide what works best for you.
- In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Next, stir in the milk, salt and pepper. Microwave again on high until the milk is warm but not scalding.
- In a separate bowl, toss together the crumbled white cheese and chopped parsley.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a large, oven-proof baking tray. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the milk mixture over the bottom. Next, take the first sheet of yufka and place it in an uneven, wrinkly fashion to cover the bottom of the tray. Spoon about 1/6 of the milk mixture all over the yufka. Let it run into the cracks and crevices and around the edges.
- Divide the cheese mixture roughly into five parts. Sprinkle 1/5 of the cheese mixture over the yufka. Now, do the same with the next layer. Repeat until you have five layers finished. Cover the top of your pastry completely with the last piece of yufka. Drizzle the last portion of the milk mixture over the top, wetting all of it.
- Sprinkle the top of your pastry with sesame seeds or nigella seeds. Bake it in a 185 F/365 C oven for about 45 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the center is firm.
- When your pastry is cooked, remove the pan from oven and sprinkle one or two tablespoons of cold water over the top, then wrap the whole thing in clean butcher's paper or a clean towel. This helps to soften the top layer. Let the pastry rest for about 20 minutes before cutting it into squares.