This pastry is simple to prepare and easy to handle. The crispy outer layers taste as though you are biting into
a pillow filled with warm cheese. They are perfect for tray-passed hors d’oeuvrvs. on a cocktail buffet, or as a
mid-afternoon snack. You can also use this filling when preparing the Greek layered pastry called tyropita.
Yield: About 2 Dozen
Specialty ingredients: Bulgarian feta cheese (other brands will do).
Special equipment: A pastry blender, a 2-1/2-inch round cookie cutter, and a candy/fry thermometer.
Prepare ahead: The uncooked crescents can be frozen for several weeks. Freeze uncovered on a plastic-lined baking sheet, then transfer to an airtight container. Fry as directed without thawing.
FOR THE SAMBOUSIK PASTRY
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon cold water
2 cups canola oil (for frying)
FOR THE FILLING
1/4 pound Bulgarian feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley; use green
leafy parts and tender stems
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
To prepare the sambousik pastry
Combine the flour, butter, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry blender in a rocking motion, cut the butter Into the flour by pressing It up against the sides and the bottom of the bowl until all the pieces of butter have been cut in and the mixture resembles cornmeal. (If you do not have a pastry blender, use the tines of a fork to press the butter Into the flour: it takes a bit longer, but it will work.)
Add the cold water, mixing quickly with your hand to form the dough. Shape the dough into a disc about 1 Inch thick. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate: this allows the dough to rest. After 1 hour, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let It stand for 10 minutes at room temperature prior to rolling.
To prepare the filling
Separately press the feta cheese and onion between paper towels until they are dry. Combine the feta cheese, onion, parsley, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Use the tines of a fork to mix the ingredients until they are well combined. Portion the cheese Into I teaspoon, egg-shaped balls and place them on a plate double-lined with paper towels to absorb excess liquid. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Remove the filling from the refrigerator 10 minutes prior to preparing the crescents.
To prepare the crescents
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Gently hold the rolled-out dough by the edges and lift it about 2 inches off the counter (this will allow any contraction in the dough to occur before cutting). Cut the dough Into 2-1/2-lnch rounds using a cookie cutter: make one cut directly next to the other to maximize the number of rounds.
Cover the rounds with plastic wrap to avoid drying.
Pick up 1 round at a time and flip it over so that you are placing the filling on the underside of the dough (or whichever side seems stickier). Place a portion of cheese In the center. Fold the dough over the cheese so It forms a half-moon crescent. Firmly pinch the edges together with your fingers, securing the cheese inside white forming an outer rim 1/4 inch wide. (Avoid getting cheese trapped in between the edges: this may cause the crescents to open later.)
Fill the remaining rounds.
Place the crescents flat on your work surface. Using the tines of a fork, press firmly along the outer rim of each crescent to crimp the edges, locking the cheese inside. Be careful not to pierce the dough.
Alternatively, you can crimp the edges as you would a piecrust.
Heat the oil to 375°F in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, using a candy/fry thermometer for accuracy. The oil should be about 1 inch deep.
Fry 6 crescents at a time until golden brown, then transfer to a plate double-lined with paper towels.
Fry the remaining crescents. Make sure the temperature of the oil remains at 375°F so that the crescents fry evenly. Let them cool for several minutes prior to serving.
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