“When I took a seat in the back garden of Pizza Express Gönül had not yet arrived. I told the waiter I was expecting a friend and ordered a glass of fresh grapefruit juice. Pogaca for breakfast, pizza now for lunch and then whatever Ponpon had prepared for dinner. . . At this rate I would become positively fat. There was no sense in settling for just plain plump. I’d allow myself to get completely obese.” – From The Prophet Murders by Mehmet Murat Somer (Kenneth Dakan, transl.)
Our hero/ine and I definitely see eye to eye when it comes to food. There is no mistaking the allure of a good Phyllo based pastry nor the resolution, thrown out off hand, that I could enjoy the process of getting good and truly fat by overindulging on delicious food. Sigh. Unlike our hero, who ate 2 pastries in the shop, I just had the one and I paired it with some salad and hummus so as not to give in too deeply to temptation.
Pogaca (for one)
2-3 sheets of Phyllo
About 2 ounces of feta – cut into cubes
1 tbsp melted butter
Brush each sheet of Phyllo with butter and layer by folding each pastry sheet in half. Then place the feta so that it forms a rectangle at the top of the Phyllo. Wrap the Phyllo around the feta, brushing with butter at each flip. Bake at 350 until golden brown. Serve hot with salad to hopefully stave off the imminent heart attack.
A few notes about Phyllo: It’s delicate. It’s tricky. It dries out quickly when you’re not looking. I tried to make a spinach borek the other day and failed miserably because I didn’t know about the butter or oil between the sheets. I also tried to fill it with hot filling, which will disintegrate the Phyllo on contact.
Here’s how I successfully tamed it the second time. I wet and wrung out a few paper towels and placed them over the waiting stack of Phyllo sheets to prevent drying out. I used cold feta. And, on the advice of my favorite Greek family, I generously buttered each sheet using a pastry brush (I used a silicone brush, but for this delicate procedure, I recommend the old fashioned bristle brush, if you’ve got one).
It really is delicious and I imagine there are infinite varieties of crusts and fillings that you can experiment with.