Fatayer is a pizza-like dough stuffed with a herby cheese filling in this case. They are found throughout North Africa and the Balkans in differing variations and are traditionally served during breakfast or as a snack with a hot drink.
The combination of the salty cheese, fresh parsley, fresh mint, and nigella seeds makes these fatayer irresistible. I used feta cheese since it is more readily available but if you wish to make the fatayer more authentic, use akkawi cheese.
I have also tried a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, using half of each, which was equally tasty but more subtle and creamy. Experiment with different cheeses and see what you like best. I prefer the tart tanginess of feta.
Tip: Shape the fatayer as soon as the dough finishes resting. To keep the fatayer from puffing up too much and losing their shape, it is important to bake them right away. I made the cheese fatayer into boat-like shapes, which is the way they are traditionally made, but you can use any shape you prefer, including making them into mini pizzas.
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
300ml warm water
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
200g crumbled/grated cheese of choice (I used 100g feta, 50g parmesan, 50g boursin)
½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped
½ bunch of mint, finely chopped
½ tsp baking powder
3 spring onions, finely sliced
Freshly grated black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg
For the dough: Place salt, caraway, nigella seeds and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
For the filling and constructing: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well until combined.
Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces.
Roll out into an oval shape.
Put 1½ teaspoons of the filling in the middle and spread.
Lift one edge and press the ends. Do the same with other edge making a boat-like shape.
Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.
Bierocks are made with a yeasted dough to form a pastry casing for a savoury filling of meat and cabbage and originating from Eastern Europe.
Ever in search of new ways with mince, this recipe also provides an interesting, tasty and cheap combination of ingredients that also provide a hand held snack that pairs perfectly with a cold beer. Winner!
500g strong white flour
1 7g sachet fast action yeast
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
100ml whole milk
100ml hot water
500g lean beef mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Make the bread dough:
Put the flour, yeast, egg, salt and sugar into a bowl.
Add the hot water to the milk and add gradually to the mixture until it comes together into a soft dough. You may need more liquid, depending on the moisture in the flour and egg.
Knead the mixture for ten minutes, cover and set aside to rise for an hour.
Make the filling:
Heat a non-stick saucepan over a medium high heat and crumble in the meat. No need to have any oil, even lean mince has a certain amount of fat in it which will come out as the meat cooks.
Stir the meat around until it is browned and shiny.
Add the onion and continue stirring while the onion softens.
Finally add in the cabbage and cook until the cabbage has softened – probably no more than 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
When the dough has risen, tip out and pat down.
Divide dough into pieces weighing 75-80g.
Roll dough out into a 15cm square.
Put a large tablespoon of the cooled filling into the middle of the dough.
Add 1 teaspoon of the grated cheese, if using.
Bring the corners of the dough together and pinch along the edges to seal in the filling. What you will end up with looks like the back of an envelope.
Turn the buns over and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Dust the buns with flour and set aside to rise for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan.
Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove the buns from the oven and immediately cover the baking sheet with some tea-towels. This will trap the heat and create steam, which will soften the crust of the buns.
Arancini, named after the little oranges that these fried rice balls are said to resemble, are best known in the UK as a handy way to use up leftover risotto. You can use any risotto you have made, fill it with anything you like and coat it in what you fancy too.
I had leftover mushroom risotto, stuffed it with some chorizo and coated it in a sage and pistachio breadcrumb coating but you can use whatever you have or fancy.
Some ideas could include:
Risotto: Butternut and sage, chicken and bacon, saffron, tomato and basil
Take 1 heaped tsp of leftover risotto and flatten it slightly in the palm of your hand
Place a little of your filling in the centre and gently cup your hand to encase the filling within the risotto mix. Form into a compact ball and repeat until the risotto is used up.
Place the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Coat the risotto balls in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in a pan over a high heat until it reaches about 180C or until you drop a few breadcrumbs in and they sizzle and turn golden.
Fry about 4 arancini balls at a time so the temperature of the oil does not drop as this will make the balls soggy. When they are deep golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep in a warm oven while you cook the rest.
Serve with a tomato sauce to dunk them into… and maybe a glass of wine too 😉