An old school Sunday afternoon

In a scene that could have taken place 100 years ago, or five thousand miles away, Molly and her friend Kaelah spent a delicious Sunday afternoon making burek, a savory Eastern European pastry.

As they chatted happily and stretched dough across our dining room table, I thought about the shared joy of meal preparation and how we’ve ceded that camaraderie in favor of convenience.

I’m a big fan of cellophane and all the tasty food contained within; I love my microwave, electric tea kettle and crock pot. But, wouldn’t it be nice to spend an afternoon cooking old school recipes with friends?

Burek dates back to the Ottoman Empire, though Molly used a more modern recipe from her great-grandma Mary that was probably only a century old.

Kaelah brought her own expertise to the operation, having spent most of her childhood in Bosnia Herzegovina.

The goal, to stretch the dough thin enough to read a newspaper through it, seemed impossible to me but, under their patient hands, the dough grew thinner and thinner until it eventually stretched across our whole dining room table.

They filled the first set of pastry with meat, and the second with spinach and feta cheese, rolled them up, brushed them with an egg wash, baked them and, mercifully, shared them with us.

I loved the whole process and am now actively seeking a Sunday afternoon cooking activity to share with my friends.

Anyone up for a taffy pull?

This is what the pastry looked like before Molly and Kaelah started to stretch it.
Then they started to work their magic.
Stretch, pull, lift…
The goal was to make it thin enough to read through it.
Then came the meat filling.
A careful roll toward the center.
The rolling took as long as the stretching. They cut a strategic hole in the middle.
Eventually, the burek looked like this. (They rolled one big burek in the next round. Both versions are perfectly acceptable.)

This is what the individual bureks looked like fresh out of the oven. They served them with greek yogurt.
This was the larger spinach variety.
The burek is already gone (we ate it up quicker than it took for them to roll a single one) and these two darling bakers will be headed back to college soon. What a joy to have these young ladies bring some old school cooking back into the house!

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