Phyllo Triangles (Algeria)
Makes 32 Betzels
Betzels, or pastels, is the Sephardic term for what the Algerians call samsas and the Moroccans call briouats. Whether rolled into the shape of a cigar or shaped into tasty little triangles, betzels can enfold a variety of fillings, from cheese to meats and seafood these particular betzels cannot be frozen, but they will keep uncooked in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Gruyère cheese
10 to 12 garlic cloves, minced
24 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, minced
5 fresh mint leaves, minced
12 green olives, pitted and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
8 sheets (about 8 ounces) frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Vegetable oil for frying
Lemon wedges for garnish
In a medium saucepan, place 6 of the eggs, add water to cover, and bring the water to a low boil. Cook the eggs for 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel, place the eggs in a medium bowl, and mash them coarsely with a fork. Mix in the cheese, garlic, parsley, mint, olives, salt, pepper, paprika, and 1 lightly beaten raw egg.
Cover a working surface with a damp towel. Carefully unwrap the phyllo and unfold it on the towel. with the long edge of the phyllo facing you, and using a sharp knife, cut vertically through the stacked sheets of dough to make 4 equal sections, each about 4-1/2 inches wide. Cover with another damp towel if you are not using the phyllo immediately.
Place 1 tablespoon of the filling about 1 inch from the bottom edge of one strip. Fold over a bottom corner of the strip to cover the filling. Continue folding as you would a flag, to obtain a triangular shape. Beat the remaining egg and use it to seal the top edge. Repeat the process until all the filling has been used.
In a heavy, medium saucepan, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat it over medium-high heat until it reaches 325 degrees F, or a piece of the dough sizzles instantly. Fry the pastries in batches to avoid crowding them, until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes, and drain them well on paper towels. Serve at once with lemon wedges.
The Vegetarian Table: North Africa
By Kitty Morse
Chronicle Books, 2000
Color photographs throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2000
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