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Sigara böreği

The last day I was in Istanbul, my host let me help her make Sigara böreği. Here’s my attempt to document what we did so I can remember for the future.


3 bunches of fresh spinach (with large leaves) from the farmers market were washed thoroughly in several changes of water. She had 2 salad spinners going at once.

In a skillet, 1 minced medium/large white onion was softened in a generous glug of olive oil. Once it was soft, she peeled and shredded in 2 smaller potatoes (all that she had on hand, perhaps more would have been used if she had it) (large holes on a box grater). Stir stir stir. Cook Cook Cook.

And then the cleaned and roughly chopped spinach went in. And we cooked it until is was a soft and homogeneous mixture.

Season with black pepper and salt.

Then the heat was turned off, and it was set aside to prepare the wrappers.


Was not made with phyllo dough! She hod bought freshly made circles of thin dough from the local market. Yufka! Which I just found at a market in this city, which is why I am now thinking about making them on my own.

So she spread out this 2″ round of dough in a single layer on the counter (and kept the rest covered lest it dry out).

And she mixed together yogurt, eggs, and olive oil until it had a soupy texture (and she added ingredients as needed to get the right consistency).

Spread a thin-ish layer of the egg mixture over the yukfa. Fold the yukfa in half, so you now have a semi-circle. Slice the semicircle into 6-8 (I forget which) long triangle wedges.


Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons of the spinach filling on the wide part of the triangle. Tuck in the corners and roll the dough around the filling. If it seems dry, feel free to add more of the egg mixture to seal, but it shouldn’t be wet either.

Lay your finished cigars on a lined baking sheet. They can now sit overnight in the refrigerator (I don’t remember if this is just okay or preferred).

When ready, bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes.

Things that are missing from this recipe
She also had white cheese (like feta) that went into this dish. Was it mixed into the spinach once it had cooled? Or was it in the egg mixture? I don’t remember.

Were there any herbs in the spinach mixture? A bit of parsley wouldn’t hurt.

Other similar recipes online

Sigara Boregi – Crispy Cheese and Herb filled Filo Pastry Rolls


slow bounce

Turkish Cigarette Börek (Sigara Böreği) with Roasted Tomato Sauce

vegan -> http://www.messyvegetariancook.com/2010/05/19/vegan-spinach-borek/

ETA: Okay – so I’ve made it now and can answer all the questions I had before!

First – this is not a crispy version. This dough looks terrifyingly designed to be crispy. I was sure that everything was ruined because I only had storebought Yufka instead of getting a fresh batch from a local market. Everything turned out fine.

Second – Yes, add the cheese to the filling once it has cooled. I ended up using a mixture of peccorino romano and sheep milk beyaz peynir. Whatever brined white cheese should be tasty. Also, I was worried about the saltiness of my cheese, so I was moderate about the salt in the filling. But, really, it could have used more salt.

Third – resting time is important! The first batch I cooked was the last batch I made, and it ended up releasing a puddle of oil that made the rolls soggy. I was resigned to finding them tasty anyway. But the second batch, which had been sitting long enough for the dough to fully hydrate and the tops (brushed with more of the egg/yogurt/oil mixture) to get a little tacky, didn’t lose any liquid and came out fairly similar to the ones I’d had in Istanbul. And the tops turned lovely golden and brown.

Cooking time – 425F for 20 minutes.

Planning a trip to Rome

Trip to Rome

So I’ve scheduled all of the side trips, and written up the itinerary for my parents. It feels to me like it’s not covering nearly enough, but when my parents looked at it, they thought it was mostly within their limits possibly a little challenging. Let me know if you have any suggestions of places to see/eat. Or just stuff.

We have flight reservations with British Airways

leaving PHL (BA0068) at 21:00 Saturday
arriving Heathrow 09:30 Sunday

My parents vote not to leave the airport – OMG. I might need to get out and do something.

leaving Heathrow (BA0558) at 18:15 Sunday
arriving Fiumicino 21:45 Sunday-ish

They have hotel reservations at Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora

I also have a reservation at a hostel.

All of the necessary Marriott points have been converted into codes for points redemption on the stay and travel.

After arriving in Rome at the butt crack of night, we shall spend the morning relaxing. If my father wakes up and feels perky, he and I shall have a jaunt exploring the city and finding restaurants to eat at the rest of the week.

That night at 8pm, we shall all three take a bus tour of Rome by Night

Now that we’ve had a rest, let’s start with the hard part (so if we need to split this is up into multiple days, that’ll be fine.

So I’ll pick up a picnic lunch on the way over to your hotel. You’ll have a leisurely breakfast.

We’ll try the subway and see how stressful it is. We’ll ask the Concierge whether there is an easy path through the Villa Medici grounds to get the to Metro-Spagna stop. Otherwise, we’ll walk about 600 yards to the Metro-Barberini stop (by the Spanish Steps). We’ll transfer at Termini from the A line to the B line, go two more stops, and then get out at the Coliseum.

The alternative bus line is the 117. It runs along the southwest side of Villa Borghese and down a road of many names (Via del Babuino, Via del Due Macelli, Via del Traforo, Via Milano), it will make a right turn onto the Via Panisperma, a left on to the Via del Boschetto, a short right onto the Via Leonina, and a right onto Via dei Serpenti, just after you turn left onto Largo Gaetana Agnesi there’s the stop for the Coliseum.

It’s a couple blocks farther to walk to get the bus than the train, but no tranfer.

We’ll explore the forum (walks card #20-24). If we haven’t seen anywhere with decent food (fairly likely), we’ll pay admission to the Coliseum, find a nook and have a picnic. Maybe more forum after?

Pretty much everywhere is steeply uphill from there. So we might just catch a cab back to the hotel.

If you are up for an uphill walk on the far side of the Coliseum, we can aim for the Via Labicana and San Clemente (open Mon-Sat 9am-12:30pm; 3-6pm), which has Byzantine mosaics. Then, hopefully, there will be food near there, and I can explore the basements of San Clemente (walks card #25, which include a Mithraeum (admission 5 euros).

If you are feeling more energetic, the uphill just to the left of the Via Labicana is the Via della Domus Aurea. It should lead to an entrance to the excavations of the Domus Aurea (walks card #28), open for guided tours (by appointment) Tues-Fri 10am-4pm for 6 euros. (06 3996 7700).

And then either catch a taxi or back downhill to the Coliseum for the ride to dinner.

I’m putting the uphill walk at the end of this trip because I am considering it optional. If you want to change that priority, we can put it first by taking transit to the Coliseum and then immediately catching a taxi. And then walking down the hill to the Forum/Coliseum.

And then an early night.

This is a slightly more laid back day. If you are antsy in the morning, I recommend a stroll around the Borghese gardens or the Spanish steps. Possibly even the nearby Piazza Navona (walks card #12-13), full of bustling tourism with cafes and shops.

We’ll want an early lunch (11ish-11:30) so that we can comfortably be back at the hotel by 1:30pm.

At 2pm, we’ll be waiting for a shuttle pick up before going on a tour of the Roman Countryside.

Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel

The 116 bus starts right by your hotel, jiggles all around the city. And then ends at the Vatican Museum. It should be a fun ride.

And then in the evening, we can catch the 116 bus across the river. We’d get off the bus right after it turns off the Lungotevere, to a small road, and then onto the Via Giulia.

And then go to La Taverna Di Martin for dinner

Then we can go back to the Via Guilia and walk along it (walk card #39) touristing until we are tired of walking. The 116 runs all along the street, and goes back very close to the hotel. After the stop we got off, the next pick up is between Via di Sant’Aurea and Via della Barchetta.

I vote we grab one of the on/off buses and take a full loop around and see what we’ve missed.

We can catch more of the Forum. We can hit the Jewish area (walk card #30) and Isola Tiberina (walk card #31). All sorts of fun.

There’s also the Piazza del Quirinale and the Trevi Fountain (walk card #7)

Get picked up very early in the morning for the Tivoli trip.

national holiday this day, so many things will be closed

I say we leave the day open for a) wandering the gardens, b) wandering the city, c) getting massages, or d) something else suggested by the concierge. Possibly a day of napping.

If we haven’t yet had a day of rain, than this is the day for the Pantheon (walk card #9-10). Even on holidays, they should be open 9am-1pm. And if they aren’t holding to a holiday schedule, then they should be open until 7:30pm.

early night

leaving early in the morning for Pompeii


A very early plane departure. Make sure that by Saturday, we have made shuttle/taxi reservations.

leaving Fiumicino (BA2545) at 07:30 Tuesday
arriving Gatwick 09:10 Tuesday


leaving Heathrow (BA0069) at 16:15 Tuesday
arriving PHL 19:30 Tuesday

Things not on this specific list:
Ara Pacis

Info about riding the bus

Burlington, VT

Okay, Burlington People:

So I’m having trouble getting student coverage at work for the week of vacation. Because instead of starting the first week of September, this school has decided to start classes two days before I had my vacation planned (what do you mean it’s my fault for not checking since the academic calendar is posted three years ahead?). Erm… so I might be trimming my vacation a little.

Here’s the plan. I’m taking off work on Friday. And we are driving up as far as Connecticut and staying the night.

Saturday (9/12), we are driving to Burlington, and I’ll be checking into my swanky B&B. My parents and I will be going out somewhere delicious for dinner, if you have any recommendations and/or want to meet up then. I’m also taking sight seeing suggestions for that day. After dinner (say by 7-8pm-ish), my parents will probably turn into pumpkins, and I’ll be free.

Sunday (9/13) – Sunday brunch with parents is a must. Noon to 5pm, we’ll take a bus tour of close bits of Vermont. 5:30-10:30pm – there are various opening ceremonies and mediocre cocktails parties with the conference. I can go or skip.

Monday (9/14) – I think I want to find somewhere to do fancipants yoga on Monday morning. And my mother and I are free for an excursion. I’m thinking King Arthur Flour over in Norwich (1 hour away, if we don’t get lost). What else is out that way? Want to come with/guide us? And then we have to be back by 5pm because there’s a dinner cruise on the lake at 6pm. It’s my mother’s birthday.

Tuesday (9/15) – will I have had time to hang out with you by then? If so, I’m going to go ahead and book a 9am train back to philly. If not, I’ll spend Tuesday socializing and go home on Wednesday. Let me know so I can adjust train/hotel reservations as necessary.

Other things to do:
Shelburne Museum
Vermont Country Store

Waverly Farmers’ Market

I love my local farmers’ market. That said, I get very excited whenever I have a chance to visit Baltimore and go to the one in Waverly.

There are a wide variety of prepared foods – from the Curry Shack to the mango sticky rice vendor. Oh, and there was a woman there this last time whose soups looked delicious, but I was on my way to brunch after.

My prepared food purchase this trip was some granola. I wandered over to Michele’s Granola and was drawn to taste the Ginger Hemp, and didn’t even bother to try to others before buying. The ginger flavor could be more pronounced and I would still be happy. But it’s gluten free, so it’s fully of many different seeds and toasted coconut, and it has this nice woody taste. I’ve been especially enjoying mixing it with dried cranberries.

And then I bought butter. Seriously, I’ve been wanting to gush about this farmers’ market for about two weeks now, but I held off because I wanted to make sure I had bought my butter first. Sometimes they sell out. South Mountain Creamery makes the tastiest butter in the world. It’s made with pure cream, and they estimate that it’s 42% butterfat. I buy the salted version, and it’s prenty salted and perfect. There are times when I have been tempted to just dive facefirst into the container of butter it is so good. For Passover, there’s usually some need to change things up a bit for the bland boring breakfasts – maybe some matzoh brei or matzoh meal pancakes. Oh, no – I just went through a couple pounds of matzoh with nothing but this butter and considered it a luxury indulgence. So good!

There’s also a woman who goes to the farmers’ market who sells fresh peas and beans. I woke up extra special early so that I’d be able to get there before she sold out (there’s usually a line and swarming and it’s not pretty), only she wasn’t there. I brought a cooler for her peas! I guess I’ll have to hope the season hasn’t passed by the next time I’ll be in the area (mid June-ish).

I did catch the guy who was there selling nothing but his fresh asparagus picked that morning.

What else? There’s one produce vendor who is more awesome than the many awesome produce vendors, but I have no idea his farm’s name, so I can’t link you to him. He’s a real sweetheart, though.

And the people with the ginger and the salsas are always very patient with my taking many delicious samples but never buying anything. Though in the dead heat of summer, their ginger drink will sustain you though your shopping.

And the mushroom people! Wide varieties of fresh mushrooms! I’ve never had a mushroom dish planned, so I’ve never bought from her because I was afraid of wasting the expensive fungus. Maybe, you know, planning around buying mushrooms wouldn’t be a bad idea sometime in the future.

Oh, and there was a new guy! He had his big copper kettle and was popping popcorn right there. It seemed an odd thing to pay for when I have only recently discovered the joys of popping my own, but a friend of mine was telling me that she loves his product and that it keeps for over a week.

So, yeah, I make excuses to see my friends in Baltimore so that I can schedule trips to the farmers’ market.