Food From Home: The Armenian Cheese Boreg
You’re sitting in your dorm room, apartment or beachside Newport complex, bored and hungry. You think to yourself, wishing you knew how to cook something fun, easy and delicious. If only, right? Well, worry no more!
Let me introduce you to the Armenian Cheese Boreg (Borek.) Quite similar to the Latin empanada, the boreg is a stuffed bread/pastry turnover, filled with a variety of savory ingredients. Baked or fried, it’s often stuffed with different cheeses, meats and/or vegetables.
The boreg is a traditional Armenian food item, and depending on its size and quantity, is served as an appetizer, side dish or meal.
At every family gathering, whether it was birthdays, New Years’ celebrations, graduations or just simple Sunday afternoon family dinners, the boreg was always present on the table. The main dishes always changed for every event, varying from turkey, lamb, barbecued chicken or beef kebabs. However, the boreg, along with a few other side dishes never did.
The number of guests at gatherings varied as well. Whether it was an intimate family dinner for six or a pre-wedding party for 60, the amount of food at gatherings was always doubled, if not tripled. This way, the immediate and extensive family can enjoy delicious leftovers for days to come. It’s all part of the tradition. Some things just never change!
My family had a relatively difficult time accepting the fact that I would be moving away from home. “What will she eat? What if she can’t adjust to ‘college food’?” were just a few of the many worries they had about me moving to college. But through it all, they managed to find their own silver lining. “We’ll have to make more food for you to take to school,” they said. And gladly, I accepted.
Living on campus is great, and “Late-Night” at the dining commons will forever be my favorite meal of the day, but homesickness is inevitable; even when home is just an hour and a half drive away. Bringing boreg, and other foods, to school makes “school” feel a little more homey. The way I see it, you can take a person out of a house, but you can’t take the home out of a person.
So, let’s get cooking! Here is what you’ll need:
- 1 box of puff pastry (available in the frozen section at any market)
- 1 lb Jack cheese
- 1/2 lb Feta cheese
- 1/2 tsp powdered mint
- 1/2 tsp powdered red pepper
- 1 small onion
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tbs powdered oregano (optional)
- 1/2 stem of parsley (optional)
- 1 can of Pam (No, you won’t be using it all!)
- Prior to preparing your dish, make sure your puff pastry has defrosted completely. Grab a flat pan and spray “Pam” cooking oil spray over it; this will help your boregs not stick to the pan. Next, lay out all of your puff pastry squares and cut each square diagonally, creating two even triangles out of one square. Keep in mind that each box of puff pastry contains eight to 10 squares. You will now need to prepare your cheese stuffing. Grate your pound of Jack cheese and half pound of Feta cheese, and place them in a bowl. In that bowl, add your half teaspoon of powdered mint and half a teaspoon of powdered red pepper. Then, chop up your small onion into tiny bits and add that to your mixture as well. Next you will need to crack one of your eggs, and add only the egg whites into your blend. Furthermore, if you’re one who prefers a stuffing more enhanced in flavor, you may add half a tablespoon of powdered oregano and half chopped up parsley. Thus, our stuffing is complete!
- Now place two tablespoons of your mixture at the center of a puff pastry triangle. Grab another triangle and use it to “close” the one you just filled. Use a fork (or your fingers) to press on the edges of the two triangles to keep your cheesy stuffing inside. At this point you have filled half of your puff pastry triangles, and closed over them with the other half, creating eight to 10 cheese boregs depending on how many pieces of puff pastry came in your box.
- Next you’ll need to grab another bowl. This time crack your second egg in it. Mix the yolk along with the whites, and with a blush, stroke the egg mixture over your boregs — this will give it a glossy look once you have completed baking. Grab your tray and place it in a freezer for one hour so that your puff pastry does not deflate. After an hour in the freezer, remove your tray and place it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at about 350 degrees. Finally, carefully remove your pan of the oven. Your boregs are now golden and ready! Give it a few minutes to cool down, and then enjoy your homemade delicacy!