My version of Proust’s madeleine is a buttery pocket-pastry filled with Bulgarian feta cheese and spinach, called a bureka by Jews of Turkish and of Balkan origin. Until recently, I hadn’t tasted a really good bureka since the early 1970s, when I was foreign press attaché to then-Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. In those days, every Friday morning, a Moroccan doorman from the municipality named Simantov would enter the office carrying crispy, hot-from-the-oven triangular buns—on a tray with Turkish coffee spiked with cardamom pods. At a very important time in my life, I bit into the crunchy pastry and tasted the salty feta and earthy spinach. The flavor was heavenly, and I looked forward to this treat every Friday morning.
For the filling
- 8-10ounces blanched spinach, fresh or frozen (thawed and drained well if frozen)
- 1large egg
- 12ounces Bulgarian feta
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the dough
- ½pound fillo dough (1 sleeve)
- 1 ½cups butter (3 sticks) melted
- 1large egg, lightly beaten
- 1tablespoon nigella or black sesame seeds
- 1tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
Yield: About 36 burekas
To make the filling
- Step 1
To make the filling, pulse the spinach, egg, and feta in a food processor just until the spinach is chopped and the cheese mixed in. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.
To make the dough
- Step 1
Cut the fillo lengthwise into 3 strips and cover with a moist towel to prevent breaking. Take one strip and butter with a pastry brush. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling at the bottom of the strip. Fold to make a triangle and continue folding until the end of the strip (like you fold a flag). Place completed triangle on the prepared baking sheets.
- Step 2
Repeat with the remaining fillo strips, using the rest of the filling. Reserve any leftover fillo for another use.
- Step 3
Brush the top of each triangle with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.