Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My sister is spending the year in Berlin, which feels very far away (5277 miles or 8493 kilometers to be exact). This is a picture she sent me from her apartment window. Winter has set in there, which sounds chilly and gloomy at times, but she's discovered a new comfort food of filled flatbread, or gozleme. This Turkish street food is prepared on large griddles; the dough is rolled out, filled, and grilled  for eager patrons, who consume them standing up around crowded tables. I thought the distance between Eugene and Berlin might feel a little less vast if I could recreate gozleme at home. I search the internet for recipes and came up with an amalgam that most closely resembled her description, with a yeast dough and fragrant lamb and spinach filling.

I prepared a dough similar to a pizza dough, with some olive oil.

For the filling I sauteed diced onions and garlic with ground cumin, paprika, and cayenne, then added some ground lamb and a dab of tomato paste.

My eager assistants helped me roll out the dough into rectangles.

Then we layered on spinach leaves, the lamb filling, and crumbled feta on one half, folded over the top and sealed the sides. For a vegetarian version, you could use just spinach and feta, or include some grilled eggplant. My daughter opted to stick with the tried and true calzone and filled hers with tomato sauce and cheese.

We grilled the gozleme with some olive oil on a medium hot skillet until they were nicely browned on both sides.

And we ate them, according to my sister's instructions, hot off the griddle, sliced with a drizzle of yogurt cucumber sauce. They were delicious, but Berlin still felt very far away.

makes 8 filled flatbreads
For the dough
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the filling
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 lb ground lamb
baby spinach
feta cheese crumbled

Yogurt cucumber sauce
1 cucumber peeled, seeds removes, and finely chopped
1 cup Greek style yogurt
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
minced mint leaves and chives
salt and pepper to taste

1. To prepare the dough, combine the yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water and allow to dissolve. Mix in remaining ingredients, alternating flour and water until the dough is soft but not too sticky. Knead well. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for a couple hours until the dough has doubled in size.

2. To prepare the filling, saute onions in olive oil over medium low heat until quite soft. Add the garlic and cook a little longer. Add in the spices, cook for a minute, then add the tomato paste and ground lamb and continue sauteing until the lamb is thoroughly cooked.

3. Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll into very thin rectangles. On one half, layer on a handful of baby spinach leaves, a heaping spoonful of lamb, and a handful of crumbled feta. Fold over the dough and seal the sides.

4. Heat a skillet to a medium temperature so that the gozleme can cook without burning for about 7 minutes per side. Slick the surface with olive oil and place the gozleme on the hot surface. Once the first side is nicely browned, flip and cook the second side. Serve hot off the griddle, sliced, with a generous drizzle of the yogurt cucumber sauce.

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