Official statistics say there are at least 6 million Lebanese descendants living in Brazil, but the real number is most likely closer to 10 million. The Lebanese have influenced us in many ways. The way that interests me is food! I would like to share the recipe for a Lebanese pastry I love to prepare…and eat. Esfiha.
The traditional Esfiha filling contains ground meat. You know what an empanada is, right? Well, in my opinion, the Esfiha is much better than an empanada. The dough is remarkably soft and light, almost like an Italian milk bread. My cousin, Carla, gave me the recipe for her Esfihas and taught me how to prepare them more than 20 years ago.
Esfihas are featured on the blog today because I received a request from my dad: “What’s the name of that thing you make with the meat inside?” What he meant by the question: “Can you make that thing with the meat inside?” The problem with Esfihas is they are just like cats. You can never have just one. Let’s make a deal. Don’t ask me about my cats and I won’t ask you how many Esfihas you ate.
Note: Prepare either of the fillings first and refrigerate. Then work on the dough.
Tangy Spinach Filling
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon ground sumac (see Note) or fresh lemon juice
One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, toss the onion with the sumac and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the spinach and stir in the pine nuts, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Sumac is a fruity, tangy spice that is ground from the dried berries of a wild Mediterranean bush. It is available at Middle Eastern markets.
Raw ground beef
Juice from half a lime
Salt to taste
In a bowl, mix together the ground beef and other ingredients. Roll the meat into small balls, about 3/4 inch in diameter and place onto a baking sheet and cover the sheet with plastic wrap while you prepare the dough.
1 ½ cups warm milk
3-4 packets Fleishmann’s active dry yeast
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
salt to taste
1 pinch of sugar
1 kilogram flour
Combine the yeast, butter and flour (Don’t add all the flour at once). Slowly add the milk while the dough forms. Add more flour until the dough no longer sticks to the hands. Knead the dough until it becomes soft and silky. Pinch a small piece of the dough and roll it into a ball the size of an M&M. Place it in a cup of cold water and set aside in a quiet spot. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a clean, damp dishtowel. Set in a quiet spot away from drafts or heat sources.
Preheat the oven to 350F. When the dough floats to the top of the cup, the dough is ready. Form the dough into balls (the size of a golf balls). Roll out each one, then place a meatball inside and pinch to seal, in the form shown in the photos. Brush egg wash on the formed pastry. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for approximately 20-30 min. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you like Tabasco or hot sauce, use it.
Hoje pai perguntou: “Como é que chama aquele negocio que você faz…aquele de carne?” Ele explicou mais um pouco e aí eu lembrei (Esfiha). E tambem entendi que a pergunta era a maneira dele pedir para eu fazer Esfiha. Realmente, Esfiha é tudo de bom!
A receita para a massa e o recheio de carne vem da minha prima, Carla.
1 1/2 copo de leite morno
3 ou 4 pacotinhos de fermento em pó
1 tablete de manteiga
Sal (a gosto)
1 pitada de açucar
Farinha de trigo (+/- 1 kilo)
Junto e fermento, a farinha e a manteiga (não toda a farinha) e va colocando o leite, pouco a pouco. Acrescente a farinha até a massa não ficar grudando na mão. (Coloque uma bolinha da massa no copo de vidro com agua e quando a bolinha subir, já pode fazer a esfiha)
Recheio de Espinafre
1 cebola picada
1 colher de suco le limão
1 pacote de espinafre congelado, descongelado e espremido para secar
1 colher de sopa de pinhões
1 colher de sopa de azeite de oliva, extra virgema
Misture todos os ingredientes. Abra a massa e coloque uma colher do recheio no meio. Dobre a massa e aperte para fechar, como mostram as fotos. Passe a gema de ovo por cima da esfiha com um pincel. Asse no forno entre 20-30 minutos, no fogo (350F).
Recheio de Carne
Carne moida crua
Misture todos os ingredientes do recheio e faça os bolinhos de carne. Abra a massa e coloque o bolinho de carne no meio. Dobre a massa e aperte para fechar, como mostram as fotos. Passe a gema de ovo por cima da esfiha com um pincel. Asse no forno entre 20-30 minutos, no fogo (350F).