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A Turkish Sunday Lunch

by Lou Seibert Pappas

Two kinds of flaky boereks star at this noon-time party meal with a Turkish accent. If time is at a premium and the weather is chilly, another option is to serve a make-ahead lentil stew instead. A fruit and feta-cucumber salad makes a zestful companion for either entree. Buy the grape leaves or fill your own for a fun appetizer. A yogurt cake and berries make a great dessert.

Assemble the boereks a day in advance and refrigerate, if desired. Or make well in advance but do not bake them, wrap well, and freeze for two to three weeks. Let thaw before baking. Appropriate beverages encompass flavored mineral waters, beer, or wine. Consider a Zinfandel from Ridge, Lambert Bridge, Pedroncelli, or Chateau Souverain or indulge in a Sangiovese from Long, Merryvale, Venezia, or Swanson. Or try the affordable Springbok Pinotage Western Cape 1995 I enjoyed in South Africa.

Stuffed Grape Leaves
makes 3 to 4 dozen

1 jar grape leaves (about 3 or 4 dozen)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup currants
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Lemon wedges

Remove the grape leaves from the jar, scald with hot water, and drain. (Or blanch fresh grape leaves in hot water for 1 minute, lift out with a slotted spoon and drain.) Cut off the stems from the leaves and pat each leaf dry with paper towels. In a large frying pan, saut╚ the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil until golden. Add the rice, parsley, dill, salt, pine nuts, and currants, and 1 cup water. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed; let cool.

When cool, place 1 teaspoon of the rice mixture in the center of each leaf (shiny side down), fold like an envelope, and roll up. (Do not roll too tightly as the rice will expand.) Arrange the rolls in layers in a large Dutch oven. Sprinkle with lemon juice and the remaining olive oil. Pour broth and 1 cup water over the rolls. Weight with a baking dish. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until the rice is tender. Let cool in the pan. Serve chilled, garnished with lemon wedges.

Fruit and Feta Salad
makes 8 servings

4 navel oranges, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups each red and green seedless grapes
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
Curly endive or watercress
3/4 cup feta cheese, broken into chunks
4 tablespoons pistachios

In a bowl place the oranges, grapes, and onion. Stir together the oil, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste, and mint; spoon over and mix gently. Arrange endive on individual plates. Spoon over the fruit mixture and sprinkle with cheese and nuts.

Cheese Boerek
makes 8 servings

1 package (10 ounces) frozen puff pastry shells or a sheet of puff pastry
4 ounces Gruy╦re or Jarlsberg cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces feta cheese
8 ounces (1 cup) small curd or large curd cottage cheese
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1/4 cup chopped chives or green onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Lay out the pastry shells on a board, cover with plastic wrap, and let warm to room temperature. Using a food processor, shred the Gruy╦re or Jarlsberg cheese and turn into a mixing bowl. Or grate by hand. Place in a container of the food processor the cream cheese, feta cheese, cottage cheese, egg yolks, parsley, chives or green onions, salt, and pepper. Process just until smoothly blended. Turn into the bowl with the shredded cheese and mix lightly. Stack 3 pastry shells on a lightly floured board and roll out into a 14-inch round. Place dough round on a 12-inch pizza pan with edges overlapping. Spread with cheese filling. Stack remaining 3 pastry shells on a lightly floured board and roll out into a 14-inch round. Place the round on top of the filling, brush overlapping edges of dough with water, and press to seal the edges of the pastry rounds. Turn back pastry edges and crimp edges. Chill thoroughly, at least 30 minutes, or freeze 10 minutes for pastry to firm up. (If desired, the boerek may be wrapped and frozen at this point. Thaw before baking.)

Preheat the oven to 425âF. Brush the top of the pastry with melted butter and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve.

Mushroom and Meat Boerek
makes 8 servings

1 package (10 ounces) frozen puff pastry shells
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter
1 large onion or 2 leeks (white part only), finely chopped
1/4 pound brown or white cultivated mushrooms, chopped
1 pound ground pork, turkey, or beef
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced sage or oregano or 1 teaspoon dried sage or oregano
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Thaw the pastry shells as directed for the Cheese Boerek, preceding. To make the filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet and saut╚ the onion until glazed. Add the mushrooms and saut╚ 1 minute; turn out of the pan into a mixing bowl. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in the same skillet, add the pork, beef, or turkey, and cook, stirring, until the meat loses its pink color. Season with salt, sage or oregano, parsley, pepper, allspice, and garlic, remove from heat, and turn into the bowl with the saut╚ed onion. Mix in the Parmesan or Romano cheese and let cool. Prepare the pastry as directed for the Cheese Boerek, preceding, filling with the mushroom-veal mixture, and proceed as directed, brushing the top with melted butter before baking.

Tomatoes and Cucumbers with Herbs
makes 8 servings

6 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
Romaine leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or chives
Olive oil

Arrange the tomato and cucumber slices on a large platter lined with Romaine leaves. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with basil. Drizzle with olive oil.

Lentil Stew with Sausages
makes 8 servings

1 pound small green or brown lentils
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
8 sun-dried tomatoes, snipped (optional)
5 cups water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoon each red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup tomato paste
4 smoky chicken-turkey sausages or other specialty sausages, sliced
1/4 cup mixed minced fresh chives, flat-leaf parsley, and oregano

Place in a saucepot the lentils, onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, water, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegars, tomato paste, and sausages and simmer 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with herbs.

Yogurt Walnut Cake
makes 16 servings

1 cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt
2-1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350âF. Beat the butter until creamy and gradually beat in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Mix in the lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, and yogurt. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and add to the creamed mixture, beating until incorporated. Mix in the nuts. Turn into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a rack, then remove from the pan.

Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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