Tony Kitous, founder of Lebanese restaurant Comptoir Libanais, shares delicious recipes from his new cookbook Feasts from the Middle East.
Kitous says: “If you peeked inside some village homes, you’d find Lebanese mamas rustling up these little tasty parcels.”
Pastries Stuffed with Feta & Halloumi or Olives (Samboussek)
500g white flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp beaten egg plus 1 large egg, beaten, for brushing
1 tbsp vegetable oil
15g butter, melted and cooled a little
For the cheese filling:
125g halloumi, grated
125g feta, crumbled
½ tbsp nigella seeds, plus extra to garnish
3 spring onions, chopped
10g mint sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
For the olive filling:
200g green olives and black Kalamata olives, stoned and chopped
10g thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
½ tbsp red pepper paste
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ tsp black pepper
sesame seeds or nigella seeds, to garnish
Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the tablespoon of beaten egg, the oil, cool melted butter and water. Stir everything together to make a rough dough, then transfer to a board and knead until smooth. Set aside.
Mix the cheese filling ingredients in one bowl, and the olive filling ingredients in another.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board until it’s about ½cm thick and use a 9cm cutter to stamp out rounds. If it’s easier, divide the dough into four pieces and roll out the pieces one at a time.
Take half the pastry rounds and spoon the cheese filling on to one half of each round. Then take the rest of the pastry rounds and spoon the olive filling on to those. Close up the pastries, crimp the edges and brush them with beaten egg. Sprinkle with either nigella or sesame seeds. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden. Brush them again with the egg wash half way through, if you think they need it.
You don’t need any special equipment – if you don’t have a cutter, you can use a glass to cut out the dough rounds. Any combination of ingredients you fancy can go inside them – spiced lamb, cheese and herb, or spinach and herb. Just remember not to overfill them so the filling remains intact. I also love to dip my samboussek in tahina or harissa.
Feasts from the Middle East is published by HQ and is now available to buy.