bureka with green harissa and eggs

bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery is a bit of Calgary institution, and for good reason: think dark-crusted loaves, immaculate pastries and Israeli cuisine. A few years ago I had tried the the cheese bureka (or boureka), flaky pastry around salty cheese, warmed and filled with sliced egg and a herbaceous green harissa. It was one of the most immediately delicious things I’ve had.

Not a hmm, it’s growing on me delicious or a hmm, acquired taste delicious or even a hmm, actually that’s quite delicious. It was a OH, very delicious sort of thing. No time to hmm. As you might imagine, between the butter, flake, salt, spice and herb there is almost no path except to very delicious.

bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs

Most often burekas tend to be filled with cheese, spinach, potato or meat (read more about the history and origin of burekas here!). I like how simple cheese filling plays the additional fillings. Making them yourself is never going to be quite Sidewalk Citizen, but it’s hard for it not to be still rather good! I’ve brought these on picnics too, with sliced eggs and green harissa in separate containers for the splitting and filling.

I’ve made these a number of times now and I often seem to end up with some filling leakage (probably because I like an overly generous filling and can’t stop myself…). The browned and crisped cheese filling is actually quite yummy…but to minimize filling leakage, I found these steps help:

  1. Ensure the dough is rolled out large enough for each square to be 4.5 to 5″ squares, otherwise they’ll be overfilled!
  2. Also ensure the dough is fairly thin, about 3mm. Use the recommended quantity of dough rolled to recommended dimensions. Too thick and they can pop open as happened to me in one batch!
  3. Seal the dough well – ensure you have a border free of filling, brush the border with a bit of egg or water to help it seal, and press down
bureka with green harissa and eggs

bureka with green harissa and eggs

Puff pastry from Joe Pastry, filling from Epicurious, and shaping more so from Tori Avey. Green harissa recipe from bon appetit. Inspiration from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery.

bureka

  • 350g puff pastry (a bit over half recipe, see below)
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • sesame seeds

filling

  • 50g (1/2 c) grated old white cheddar
  • 65g (1/2 c) crumbled feta
  • 1 egg
  • 18g (1 spoonful) thick yoghurt
  • ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

For the filling, mix together all ingredients.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle 9 by 14.5″ or 10 by 15″ (dough will be around 3mm thick). To prevent the dough from springing back as you roll it, you may need to rest the dough in the fridge once partially rolled out. Trim the edges to make a clean rectangle. Cut into six 4.5 to 5″ squares.

Place a generous tablespoon of filling on each square (you’ll probably have a bit extra). Brush a bit of beaten egg along the border to help it seal, then fold half the dough over onto itself to form a triangle. Press to seal.  To ensure there’s no leakage, make sure you at least have a border of 1 cm to seal with. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then turn down temperature to 350F for another 15-20 minutes or until very golden and puffed.

to serve

  • boiled eggs, sliced

green harissa

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely minced (use a small clove so garlic is not overwhelming)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
  • juice from half a lemon (around 1.5 – 2 tbsp)
  • scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt

I won’t even attempt to provide instructions on boiling eggs! It’s is a very personal thing – in terms of preference, altitude, and stovetop, anyhow. For me, at a bit of a higher elevation, a creamy deeper yellow – but not runny – yolk takes 9 minutes of simmering, but at sea level it’s been closer to 7.5 minutes. Boil your eggs however it works for you!

To make the green harissa, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Taste and add lemon as needed.

To serve, open a warm bureka, spread with green harissa and top with sliced egg.

puff pastry

  • Servings: about 650g pastry
  • Print

From Joe Pastry – see here for recipe and here for lamination instructions. His lamination instructions are a gem – both for the instructive pictures, but also for the gleeful lines such as “when making pastry, violence is always the first resort.” Indeed. 

  • 250g a.p. flour
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 35g soft butter
  • 113g water
  • 1/4 tsp vinegar (which I’ve read elsewhere helps prevent discolouration of the dough – likely referring to the oxidation of the flour)

butter slab

  • 252g butter
  • 2 tbsp a.p. flour

Make the dough: whisk together/use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer to combine the flour and salt. Add in the butter, mixing into it’s fairly incorporated. Add the water and vinegar, mixing until a dough is beginning to be formed – at this point switch to the dough hook. Add a bit of water at a time if some dry flour remains until it is all incorporated. Knead just until a cohesive dough is formed. Wrap in plastic and chill at least a couple hours.

Once the dough is chilled, make the butter slab: Lay the butter on a double layer of plastic wrap, sprinkling over the flour. Cover with more plastic and use a rolling pin to smack the butter flat. Turn the butter over onto itself to help incorporate the butter and smack again, continuing as needed until the butter becomes soft and flexible, but still cool to the touch and not shiny or greasy appearing, at which point it would be too warm. As you do this, use the pin or a ruler as a straight edge to mold the butter into a tidy square shape.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a square a bit larger than the butter slab. Lay the butter slab on the square dough like a diamond, so the points of the butter slab point to, and nearly touch, the midpoint of each side. Pull each corner of the dough to the middle of the butter slab in order to seal in the butter slab. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal.

Smack with a rolling pin starting from the middle out in each direction to help distribute the butter into all the far reaches of the envelope. Once the butter has been distributed, start rolling out into a large rectangle – my dough may have been around 1 cm thick or so. I haven’t put in any specifics on dimensions because at this point I don’t think it matters too much – and I found that not worrying about measurements made the whole process less stressful and more enjoyable. Fold the dough into thirds along the largest dimension to form a new, smaller rectangle to complete the first fold. Wrap tightly in plastic to prevent the outside of the dough from drying out and chill for 1 hour.

For the second fold, lightly flour the counter and again roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Fold into thirds, then wrap tightly and chill for another hour. Repeat the process four times more for a total of six folds. The dough is then ready to use.

potato & cheddar danishes

potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish

This dreadful idea came to me a few years ago while I was preparing for a university club bakesale: a danish filled with thin layers of potato and cheese. And, even worse, in the form of a neat square-shaped danish which necessitates a neatly cut square-shaped filling.

What a horrendous idea. Each time I make these, I survey a work surface covered in bechamel and swear I will never make them again. Though, given that I’ve made these finicky danishes four times, perhaps they are worth it.

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rhubarb danishes with lavender & cardamom pastry cream

rhubarb danish

Earlier in the spring during the pandemic I made a series of posts on bakes inspired by local businesses. Food industry profit margins are notoriously slim (for instance, this article cites an average of 3% over the whole industry) – and the current situation has certainly not helped. It reminds me to appreciate food businesses who work with these slim margins and few guarantees to bring their favourite flavours, creativity and skill to life. Here is one more post about one of my favourite bakeries (and luckily, one so thoroughly beloved in the city that we likely don’t need to worry too much about them) – and another reminder that if we have the means, to look into safe ways to support our local businesses.

Blackbird Baking Co. is tucked in the middle of Kensington Market. A wall of crusty breads, each loaf scored and oven-bloomed, sits along one wall; among them, the multigrain batard is a favourite. The display case in front is where things get most exciting on the dessert and butter front – there is always a sweet and savoury scone pair next to dense chocolate corks, beside which are the croissants and danishes with lamination so precise that the edges look like the splayed pages of a book.

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yuzu kosho pissaladière danishes

yuzu kosho pissaladiere danishes yuzu kosho pissaladiere danishes

Certainly advocates are not a monolith, but some of the key advocacy organizations leading the current movement such as Black Lives Matter TO, have not recommended body cameras as a measure to reduce police violence. On the other hand, body cameras seem to be a popular proposal by governments, and a frequent recommendation in police service use of force reviews I’ve read. As I’ve explained before, I think it is best to follow the lead of advocates.

A recent discussion I had about body cameras has prompted me to write up my impressions on the debate in order to formalize my thoughts for any future discussions. In sum, I would characterize body cameras 1) a reform with a small potential benefit likely outweighed by a large cost, and 2) furthermore a measure that maintains/increases the scope of policing, which is the opposite of what the defund movement is pushing for.

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persimmon, pistachio & mascarpone danishes

persimmon pistachio danishespersimmon pistachio mascarpone danish

Lately, my reading list has been dominated by non-fiction – Eating Right in America by Charlotte Biltekoff Maynard, Unsetting Canada by Arthur Manuel, and Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini to name a few. This list rarely gets shorter; half of them have are annotated with what page I’ve left off on, started but never finished. I read a bit and get distracted, or life gets in the way as it always does (or as I always let it) and then they’re due back at the library so I have to return them and place another hold…

They are all books I very much want to read, but I suppose what I’ve actually been craving is fiction! Immersive fiction! Thorough engrossment with no cracks in concentration for life (i.e. news articles and texts and instagram and oh yeah – responsibilities) to get in the way. Or rather, more so than fiction specifically, it’s character-driven stories.

My most recent complete read was one of those books you sit down and find yourself devouring as smoothly as a croissant or a slice of cake (like – they’re there in front of you and then somehow they’re gone), the memoir We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib.

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pumpkin pasties (sort of)

some sort-of pumpkin pasties – maybe more accurately pumpkin turnovers – and thinking back to the Harry Potter days

pumpking turnoverspumpking turnovers

I felt like I grew up alongside Harry Potter. Upon reflection I was wondering about the literal accuracy of that statement, so I mapped out my and Harry’s ages using the book publishing dates. There is a bit of truth to it, albeit perhaps less than I had imagined: he was quite a bit older, with the series concluding when I was still quite young (my entry into the fandom only coincided with the publishing of the last few books), though given that sometimes it would take a few years for him to age one year, I caught up a couple years.

The reason I was still able engage with the series at the time was because my older sister read the books to me (she more properly grew up alongside the books!). Despite that, I still remember very well what a longitudinal presence an ongoing book series can take – aching, after you finish the latest book, dulling over a year or few of waiting, and the beating return of anticipation as the next release date approaches. It felt like a special time, and something that I’m not sure I’ll see again: not just the anticipation about a new book coming out, but also the camaraderie that accompanied it as so many others were waiting with you.

My impression that I had grown up alongside Harry Potter throughout my childhood speaks to the enormity of the series’ presence. Finishing each successive book (irregardless of publishing date) felt like a milestone in my own life – and it’s easy to start correlating my own growth and development to his when the books map along Harry’s life for seven years.

I’ve since read the series over several times and they are just as good as the first time through, when the reading was a rushed flipping of pages, while also unabashedly savoured in the way that reading aloud facilitates.

Every time I noticed something new and charming in what she’s written – and of course, the mentions of food always pop out, including one of the exchanges to open up the first book:

“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and sweets (the sandwiches lay forgotten).

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large rhubarb and cream cheese danish

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Structurally, this danish is based on a blueberry cream cheese bread I remember being very fond of making in elementary school. But now that I’m older I’ve obviously decided it would be much improved with five times the butter … which entails a danish pastry instead of enriched bread!

I ended up loving the simplicity of this pastry enough to make it twice. The second time was for a potluck, where, predictably, the desserts kept on piling up. We ended up sharing the remaining desserts over the course of the following week.

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orange cardamom eccles cakes

I was so happy when Lina of Lin’s Recipes, and commenced her return to blogging with a recipe challenge. Her previous challenges have been plenty of fun, a chance to learn, and an exciting way to bring other food bloggers together. This challenge is being hosted by Freda of Aromatic Essence!

For this challenge I made Eccles cakes, little pastries stuffed with currants, excitingly something I had wanted to try making for a while.

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