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Recipe of the Week – Fatayer bi Sabanekh & Sfeeha

May 27, 2010

Don’t let these phonetically spelled titles for this week’s recipe overwhelm you.  It’ll be okay. They are just fancy Arabic words for spinach (sabanekh) and meat pies (sfeeha).  I am actually used to a different term for the spinach pies, I just have no clue how to spell it out phonetically.  It’s something along the lines of khrawseb sabanekh – but Google isn’t loving that term, so I’m just going to let my OCD fester for a bit and move on!

My mama used to make these pies in bulk and store them in big Tupperware containers that lived in our freezer for months. It’s just easier to make a bunch of them and take a few out whenever the mood strikes. The hardest part of this recipe really is getting the dough right. I’ve never, ever made bread or dough of any sort, so I think I’m going to have some frozen dough on reserve just in case.  I know – way to set myself up for failure, right? I’m actually excited about trying to make dough and making these pies because there is just something so comforting about a good spinach pie. We have plenty of Middle Eastern bakeries and restaurants that make pretty yummy versions of this recipe, but I want to be able to do this on my own.

Basic Dough For Pies

(This is from Sahtein since I couldn’t find my mom’s dough recipe – only the recipe for the fillings)

2 lbs. flour

2 tbsp. butter or shortening

1 envelope of dry yeast

1 tbsp. salt

2 cups lukewarm water (approx.)

1/2 tsp. sugar

Dissolve yeast into 1/4 cup of warm water. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover and let rise.

In a large pan, mix flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and butter/shortening.

Gradually add the lukewarm water, mixing and kneading until the dough is smooth and tender.

Cover with a blanket and put in a warm place for 2 hours or until dough rises.  ( I remember my mom used to use heavy duty white table covers or big pieces of felt that my dad would bring home from his store.)

Cut dough into pieces 2″ to 2 1/2″ in diameter. Form into balls by tucking the dough underneath the balls to make them round and smooth. Let rest for 30 minutes between the blankets.

Spinach Stuffing

2 lbs. spinach ( you can use fresh, I’m going to use frozen)

1. Thaw the spinach and then cut up and wash it and make sure to drain it very well

2. Add chopped onion (since I’m not a huge onion fan, we’ll go with 1 large onion, maybe a little more)

3. Add lemon to taste ( I prefer it tart, so aim for 1 large lemon per lb. of spinach = 2 lemons for this)

4. Add about 1/2 cup vegetable oil to the mix

5. Add salt, pepper and a little bit of sumac

Meat Filling

2 lbs. meat ( you can use coarse ground lamb or ground beef – I’m going to use beef)

1/2 to 1 large onion finely chopped

1/2- 3/4 cup pine nuts that have been lightly browned in a pan

salt, pepper, allspice

Juice of 2 lemons

Tahineh

Cook meat until done and then add onions and seasoning. Lower the heat and let the meat brown a little and then add maybe a tbsp. of tahineh with a little water. Then add lemon juice ( 1 lemon per lb. of meat) and then the pine nuts.  Mix together and let cook for a few minutes more before using.

For Spinach Pies:

Pinch off about 2 1/2″ balls of dough and roll out into a 4″ circle.

Put a heaping tablespoon of the spinach filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up from the bottom to the middle and bring in sides to the center to form a triangle. Press down on the seams firmly and pinch ends together. ( From Sahtein)

Place the pies on a cookie sheet that has been brushed with butter or olive oil and place the pies on the tray. Brush the tops with oil and put in a preheated 500 degree oven for 15 minutes or until a little brown.

For Meat Pies:

Instead of making into triangles, the meat pies remain in circular shapes. Just add a tablespoon of the mixture to the middle of the circle of dough and make a little bit of an edge to hold the meat. Put on a greased cookie sheet and bake on 500 for 15 minutes.

I can’t wait!!

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