When Nathan was in Saudi Arabia he told me about a savory pastry that he had called Sambousek. He described it as a calzone-like cheese stuffed delicacy that was literally oozing butter…it was one of the best things he ate in Saudi so of course I was jealous and we had to attempt to recreate it at home. Besides the fact that ours was a little lighter on the butter we did it! Having not tasted the Sambousek Nathan had in Saudi I thought these were near perfection. We used a mix of feta and mozzarella to stuff a baking powder leavened dough. The Sambouseks are baked and when they come out of the oven you have a tender and flaky pillow of cheesiness…I don’t understand why Sambousek aren’t more popular here in the States. They’re simple to make…give these a try. They’re a perfect appetizer!
Nathan and I went for a little VA winery tour recently and visited a winery near Leesburg called North Gate Vineyard. We both did their wine tasting and this Chardonnay stood out to us as being very unique and special…it’s unlike any Chardonnay I’ve tasted. It’s fermented in a tank and then aged in oak barrels so it has a subtle oakiness that isn’t at all overpowering. This wine is light but also smooth and creamy and has the dominant flavor of a juicy peach. Very complex and intriguing and more importantly just very tasty! It was the perfect balance and complement to our rich sambousek…I will be looking to buy this wine again in the future.
This Belgian sytle pale ale was a great beer. It had a good balance of piney hops aromas and flavors and sweet caramel malts. Unfortunatly, I think I was a little bit off with the pairing… The simple flavors of the cheese and dough were completely overpowered by the hops in the beer and something like a pilsner or very light lager would have been perfect. There is always next time.
Makes 24 Pastries
Adapted from recipe in this book
For the dough:
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spooned into the cups and leveled)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
½ cup cool water
1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt for egg wash
For the filling:
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces feta cheese
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt, for egg wash
2 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing Sambouseks
1. First make the dough. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 5 seconds. Add the butter and pulse 10 times, or until the mixture is the consistency of fine meal. With the machine running, add the water in a steady stream, taking about 10 seconds to do so.Process for 1 minute. The dough will gather into a ball and form a mass that whirls around the blade. Feel the dough. It should be smooth, soft, elastic, and no longer sticky. If necessary, adjust the texture with droplets of water or small amounts of flour, processing a few seconds after each addition.
2. Divide the dough into 24 pieces and shape into balls (3/4 ounce each). Cover the balls of dough loosely with a kitchen towel and let stand for 30 minutes.
3. Now make the filling. Place the cheeses, salt, egg, and egg white in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse very rapidly 20 to 30 times, until the mixture just begins to gather into a mass. Turn out onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and pat into a 6 x 4–inch rectangle. Cut the cheese mixture into 1-inch squares.
4. Adjust two oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 14 x 17–inch baking sheets with silicone baking pan liners or cooking parchment.
5. To shape the sambouseks, pat a ball of dough into a 4-inch circle on your unfloured work surface. Brush the circle of dough liberally with butter leaving a ½ inch border around the circumference. Place a square of the cheese mixture slightly below the center of the circle and pat it into a semicircular shape, leaving a bottom border of dough a scant 1/2 inch wide. Fold the top half of the dough over the cheese and press the edges firmly to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Place the sambousek on the prepared sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and cheese, placing 12 sambouseks about 2 inches apart on each sheet. Paint the sambouseks with the egg wash.
6. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back once during baking to ensure even browning. Use a wide metal spatula to transfer the sambouseks to wire cooling racks, and serve warm or at room temperature. You can brush the tops of butter and sprinkle with a bit of salt if you like…that’s what we did!