“For me, nothing says Shabbat morning like sfiha,” says chef Roi Antebi, the former owner of Bertie, which was my favorite restaurant in Tel Aviv until it closed down. “My mother used to assemble it on Friday night and let it bake very slowly until Saturday morning. Then we would pull it out of the oven, warm and flaky, and serve it with tahini, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes.” These Lebanese open-faced meat pies, also known as pide in Turkey, are very easy to make (assuming you’re using prepared puff pastry), and the secret to success is the quality of the ingredients you use. Tamarind pulp or pomegranate molasses is a must. Both impart a sweet-and-sour note that complements the rest of the ingredients and makes these Turkish meat pies the unique treat that they are.
To arrange a sfiha Shabbat brunch, prepare tahini spread, hard-boiled eggs (I like them a little bit underdone, with the yolk very soft), boiled and sliced potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped chives or scallions, and a plate of vegetable crudités, such as radishes, kohlrabi, carrots, and celery. Lay out everything on a table, buffet style, and serve with oven-fresh sfiha pastries.
Sfiha (Open-Face Meat Pies)
- Yields: About 20 pastries
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
Add the ground beef to the bowl and season with the tamarind, salt, and pepper, and knead well with your hands. Form balls the size of golf balls and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 430°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Spread the puff pastry on a floured work surface and cut into squares of about 2 inches. Brush with the egg and transfer to the baking sheet.
Place a meatball in the center of each pastry square. Flatten it slightly.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Excerpted from Jewish Soul Food by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.