Bourek Algéroise (Algerian Fried Meat Pastry)

Bourek Algéroise (Algerian Fried Meat Pastry)

As a Filipino I grew up preparing a similar dish to Bourek called Lumpia. It’s thin crispy layers of dough wrapped around a meat filling. It’s funny how a dish can be similarly made all around the world. But on the Mediterranean the dish has primarily the same name. You can order börek in Turkey, byrek in Albania, byorek in Armenia, boureki in Greece, bourekas in Israel, burek in the Balkans, and even brik in Tunisia. And you’ll end up with a delectable fried pastry. In Algeria the pastry is made with a circular wrapper called dioule but you can easily substitute them with Chinese spring roll wrappers as they are more readily available in the US.

Bourek is a staple on the Algerian table during Ramadan. Easily pair with chorba and serve with fresh lemon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound minced meat (beef, chicken, lamb)
  • 10-15 wrappers
  • cheese ( I use Salvadorian frying cheese, but cream cheese, laughing cow or even sliced cheese can be used, its up to your preference.
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pan saute onions, sprinkle with salt to help sweat them.
  2. Add minced meat and brown.
  3. Season with spices and add parsley.
  4. Thoroughly cook and set aside to cool.
  5. Once cool peel apart a wrapper and fill with about 2 tablespoons meat and a slice of cheese, again use your preference on cheese and how much you would like to use.
  6. Fold one side over, then the other.
  7. Begin rolling forward from the bottom and continue rolling until there is no more wrapper. You can seal with water or even egg wash but is not necessarily needed.
  8. Continue wrapping until all wrappers and meat mixture have been used.
  9. Then in a new pan heat up a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium heat and place bourek in pan.
  10. Fry until all sides are a golden brown.
  11. Garnish with more parsley and serve with lemon.

*You can prepare bourek in advance and freeze them. Just take them out 10 minute before frying to thaw.

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Khobz el Dar (Algerian House Bread)

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This has to be my most favorite Algerian bread. It is so light and fluffy just like a cake. I remember waking up to the smell of fresh baked bread almost every morning when my husband’s family came to visit last year. I know I know, I’m the host and I should of been up before “Yemma” to bake bread but in the Algerian culture when your mother in law comes your kitchen is NO LONGER your kitchen. Khobz el Dar translate into “Bread of the House” and this recipe is literally the bread mascot for ours, lol. There’s quite a few ways to add variation to the bread. You can add nigelle seeds inside, but as Yemma made it she put it just on the outside and I have a tendency to make it like her. Why change perfection? am I right??? But also you can cover the bread with sesame seeds and even semolina. You just have to find out which one you like.

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 cups semolina flour
  • 8 ounces warm water +/-
  • 3 ounces oil
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 tablespoons nigelle seeds
  1. In a large bowl mix semolina, flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
  2. Create a well in the middle and add one beaten egg, oil and half of water.
  3. Slowly add water as you mix.
  4. Keep mixing until you have created a soft dough. You may need more water. Sprinkle dough with water opposed to pouring a certain amount.
  5. Knead for 30 minutes until smooth and elastic. Sprinkle water from time to time. If dough is too sticking just wet your hands and continue kneading.
  6. Create a ball with wet hands as it will help the dough not stick to your hands.
  7. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.
  8. Divide in two and place in baking pan.
  9. Brush top of dough with egg yolk.
  10. Make design and sprinkle with nigelle seeds.
  11. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 350°.

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Kseksou (Algerian Couscous)

Algerian Couscous

In Algeria there are many, MANY recipes to learn. But the one recipe every Algerian or anyone that is married to one or going to be, must know is…..COUSCOUS! Couscous itself is a grain made from semolina or durum wheat. But the dish “couscous” is the grain spooned over with a sauce of meat and vegetables. Yes you can prepare couscous without sauce for an easy breakfast with buttermilk on the side or sweeten it up with brown sugar and nuts as it’s eaten in Egypt.

Couscous is originally a Berber dish but has made its way around the Mediterranean. It’s actually been voted as France’s favorite dish. In the recent years the US is catching onto couscous as a healthy alternative for rice right next to quinoa and with that you can simply find the grain at your nearest Whole Foods, and even Walmart *gasps*, lol. But the catch is the traditional way of preparing couscous will not be on the label. This way is the way my husband taught me. The right way, made with love and sweat.

Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 2 pounds meat cubed (chicken, lamb or beef)
  • 3 carrots cut into 3 sections
  • 3 small potatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 zucchini cut into to demi circles
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tomato or 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 3-4 leaves fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (my husband likes the sauce very red, you may use less.
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups water

Couscous:

  • 3 cups couscous grain
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Sauce:

  1. In your couscousiere heat the 4 tablespoons of olive over medium heat.
  2. Add meat and garlic and brown.
  3. Season with spices, salt, black pepper, paprika, ras el hanout, cayenne powder and cinnamon.
  4. Add tomato or tomato paste and caramelize.
  5. Add potatoes, carrots and chickpeas.
  6. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. During the 30 minutes you can prepare the couscous and steam over sauce or cook it completely.
  9. After the sauce has cooked for 30 minutes add zucchini and mint. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  10. Set aside.

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Couscous:

  1. In a large bowl spread out couscous and pour in 1/2 cup of water.
  2. Mix thoroughly and then lightly drizzle with olive oil to make sure each grain does not stick. Mix until every grain is separated.
  3. Bring pot of water to boil and place couscous in steamer over boiling water. Steam for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove couscous and place back into bowl.
  5. Add half the stick of butter and let cool until you are able to handle the couscous.
  6. Mix butter and make sure that there are no clumps of couscous.
  7. Place back into steamer and steam for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Again remove couscous and place into bowl.
  9. Add remaining 1/2 stick of butter and let cool until you are able to handle the couscous.
  10. Mix butter and make sure that are no clumps of couscous.
  11. Place back into steamer and steam for the last time for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove couscous and place back into bowl.
  13. Salt to taste and make sure the couscous is clump-free and fluffy.
  14. Serve with sauce.

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Vol au Vent Algérienne (Algerian Puff Pastry)

Vol au Vent Algérienne (Algerian Puff Pastry)

A classic French puff pastry filled with a creamy béchamel sauce spiced with an Algerian twist. These puff pastries make an amazing addition to any table but be careful as these are very rich in ingredients. It’s easy to eat one to many of these.

Ingredients:

  • 6 puff pastry shells (premade)
  • 1/2 pound minced beef
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 ounces cubed cheese (I use smoked gouda but any cheese is fine)
  • 4 ounces diced mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons smen (clarified butter but pure butter can be substituted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large pan melt smen/butter over medium-low heat, making sure to not burn it.
  2. Slowly sprinkle flour and whisk rapidly, creating a heavy sauce texture.
  3. Add milk and continue to whisk. Then add cheese to melt.
  4. In another pan brown beef and mushrooms.
  5. Season with cumin, salt and pepper.
  6. Drain oil from beef.
  7. Once the cheese has melted into a “béchamel” sauce like texture pour over beef and set aside.
  8. Bake puff pastry shells.
  9. Remove tops from shells and fill with beef/cheese mixture.
  10. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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Loubia (Algerian White Beans)

Loubia (Algerian White Beans)

Loubia, Loobia, Lubia!

Loubia is the Algerian comparable of American Chili, Texas Ranch Beans or even English Baked Beans. In Algeria this stew is served in a cassolette with a splash of vinegar, olive oil and of course fresh baked bread. The vinegar and olive oil help to balance the heaviness of this dish. Any vinegar other than apple cider is fine to serve with it. Some people like to have additional ground cumin, minced garlic and chilies to garnish their loubia, so depending on who you are serving it’s nice to have these on the table.

Traditionally haricot beans would be used but as I live in the U.S. we call them navy beans. Great Northern Beans can be used as well, but just any white bean in general is good to use. Also as I’m an American and we do love our beef I added  meatballs made of such. You can easily trade out the beef for lamb or even make it vegeterian. There are so many variations of what you can do with this. There’s even a soup called Chorba Loubia. Just add more water, potatoes and carrots. Perfect for a cold winter night.

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions diced finely
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 pound navy beans (soaked)
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

Meatballs:

  1. In a large bowl take your ground beef and season with garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Mix thoroughly and form into 1 1/2 inch balls.
  3. Set aside.

Beans:

  1. In a pot heat olive oil and add onions.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and let the onions sweat until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and continue to saute onions and garlic. Make sure not to brown garlic as it will cause a bitter taste.
  4. Add meatballs and brown.
  5. Once all the meatballs are browned evenly add cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  6. Add beans and 6 cups hot water.
  7. Bring to a boil.
  8. Add tomato paste and bouillon cube.
  9. Let boil for 1 minute, reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 1 hour. Occasionally testing the firmness of the beans.
  10. Let sit for 10 minutes and serve.

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*soak beans the night prior to cooking.

French Peasant Bread

French Peasant Bread   The smell of fresh baked bread is something that I love having in my home, the look of happiness from my family as they sit down to devour it, I love even more. Bread in a home of an Algerian is a must have, spending hours on it not so much. Yes this recipe isn’t a traditional Algerian recipe but it sure is good. Requested by my husband and son all the time this recipe is fast and easy. Just enough crunch on the outside and soft in the middle this bread will be a delightful addition to any table.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar, salt and yeast into lukewarm water. Let it stand for 5 minutes or until the mixture is foamy. This will ensure the yeast is active.
  2. Add flour and begin mixing to create a rag like texture.
  3. Scrap from the sides any leftover residue and begin forming a ball.
  4. Knead dough for a few minutes and cover.
  5. Preheat oven to 300°F for 1 minute and turn off. Place bowl in oven to let rise.
  6. Let dough rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Punch dough down and let rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  9. Butter the bottom of pan that you will be baking the bread in.
  10. Place dough in pan and brush with egg wash.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  12. Let bread rest for 5 minutes and serve.

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Sablé de Chocolat (Algerian Chocolate Cookies)

Sables de Chocolat I previously made the original French Sablé which was a vanilla based cookie with jelly and powdered sugar but this cookie is for all the chocolate lovers. This cookie is light and buttery just like a shortbread yet rich in velvety chocolate. If Fererro Rocher was a cookie, this would be it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon nutella spread
  • 1 tablespoon water

To Decorate:

  • nutella spread
  • hazel nuts chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl sift cocoa into flour add baking soda and mix.
  2. Add in sugar and vanilla.
  3. Fold in butter and mix quickly. The mixture will appear crumbly. Work the dough as little as possible. If the dough is not wet enough add tablespoon of water, if too sticky add a bit of flour.
  4. Let sit in fridge for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F
  6. Roll dough out onto a floured surface, making sure to flour the rolling pin as well, to 1 cm flat.
  7. Cut out cookies and place onto parchment paper on a cookie pan.
  8. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from pan onto cooling rack and decorate accordingly.

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Bourek Laadjine (Algerian Hand Pies)

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Bourek Laadjine is a variety of Algerian savory pastries that is primarily made of bread rather than the traditional thin sheets of wrappers, hence the name that translates into bourek with dough. It can be served as an appetizer or with chorba. It is perfect during the month of Ramadan since it can be prepared and frozen in advance or right before serving. They are very similar to the South American empanadas and the filling can vary from meat, eggs or even just cheese.Also the dough can be fried or baked, the recipe can be changed easily to your tastes. Whatever your family likes, these will sure to be a treat.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 egg, beaten

Filling

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Dough:

  1. Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add milk to warm water, mix.
  3. Slowly add water/milk mixture to bowl. All may not be needed.
  4. Mix until a rag consistency is made.
  5. Add a bit more water and start to knead. You want the dough to be slightly sticky.
  6. Once the dough has been kneaded, place into a floured bowl.
  7. Preheat oven to 300 for 1 minute.
  8. Turn off and place dough in oven for 1 hour to rise.

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Filling:

  1. In a pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add onion and sprinkle salt over to help sweat.
  2. Once the onion have become partly translucent add tomatoes. Saute until the onions have become clear and tomatoes have broken down. Cover.
  3. Add spinach, allow to break down then add mushrooms.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  5. Continue to saute for a few more minutes then remove from heat.
  6. In another pan brown and season meat with salt, pepper, cinnamon and cumin.
  7. Add the vegetables into the meat and mix thoroughly.
  8. Let cool completely before forming.

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Forming:

  1. Roll a golf ball sized piece of dough on to a lightly floured surface with a thickness of about 4mm. It doesn’t have to be perfect but the diameter should be able to cover 2 spoonfuls of filling.
  2. Fill with filling and fold over sides and roll in top and bottoms crimping as you turn them over.
  3. Place onto parchment paper and continue forming until you have run out of dough and filling. You should be able to make 8 hand pies with the dough.
  4. Let rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  6. Brush pies with beaten egg.
  7. Sprinkle salt on top.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Sablés (Algerian Cookies)

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This is my own accidental recipe in which I mistook a bottle of Lemon Extract for Vanilla, and it made for an even more decadent cookie just like my husband’s grandmother makes.  From the French word sable which means sand the dough will start off as a texture that looks as so. The cookies are easily customizable with fillings and shapes. I hope these make their way onto your list of sweets for Eid.

Special Tools Needed:

  • cookie cutter (any shape is fine but a round fluted cutter is used traditionally)
  • sifter
  • rolling pin

Ingredients: For the Sables

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla powder or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • a pinch of salt

To decorate

  • 3/4 cup jelly (any flavoring of your choice but no fruit bits)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Cut the butter into the sugar, mix until it is light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Fold in the eggs, vanilla, lemon and sugar mixture.
  5. Mix slowly until a sand texture is made then continue to mix by hand. The dough should be soft and light. If the dough is too sticky add a bit more flour.
  6. Let dough sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to harden. It helps to handle the dough better.
  7. Roll dough out onto a floured surface with a rolling pin. Make sure to flour the pin as well.
  8. Cut out the top and bottoms of the cookies, don’t forget to punch out a hole in the middle of the tops.
  9. Place on a baking tray lined with wax paper and bake for 8-9 minutes. The cookies should be still white but set.
  10. Allow cut outs to cool on the sheet for a minute then move to a cooling rack.
  11. Find suitable matching tops and bottoms as some may not be shaped the same.
  12. While cookies are cooling heat the jelly on the stove, adding the orange blossom water to thin it out.
  13. Sift powdered sugar onto the tops.
  14. Once the jelly mixture has cooled place about 1/2 teaspoon onto each bottom and place top on.
  15. Allow to set and then store properly.

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* Sablé cookies are able to store for up to 10 days.