Monday, November 10, 2014


Baba Masa (also known as my mother) rolling dough on top of a tablecloth to make Burek - a pastry that can be stuffed with savoury or sweet fillings.

Stretching out the pastry by rotating the dough and stretching until very thin. 

Chopped Kale, Nimbin cheese grated, free range egg, diced onion and Danish Feta.

Pastry stretched out by hand in a round shape and cheese and spinach filling line the top.

Slowly lifting the table cloth upwards will wrap the pastry around the filling in to a long column shape.

Place the dough filling in to a round baking dish and curl it in to a spiral shape and drizzle with lots of olive oil (not shown here).

Just out of the oven!

Best served with natural yoghurt.

Burek is a cheese and spinach pie that my mum (Baba Masa) has been making us since forever. My cousins who grew up in the Former Yugoslavia call it Pita. There are many names, shapes and fillings depending on where you come from. Some times we would be treated to lunch at a traditional Burek cafe in Newtown where you had the choice of meat, potato, pumpkin, soft cheese and spinach Burek and ending with a sweet apple filled Burek.

The dough is usually handmade filo pastry shown here at heneedsfood but my mother has always made a heavier dough.

The tricky part is not the stretching out of the dough until it is paper thin and wide as a big round tablecloth. No, the tricky part is learning the recipe and quantities from my mum. She grew up completely off the grid and with little schooling. Family recipes were never written down and you always made do with what was available. Even though she has lived in "the lucky country" for a long time making do with what you have is ingrained in her DNA.

We've had this same conversation since I moved out of home 20 years ago.

" Hi mum. How did you make that Burek the other day?"
"Just use what you have and taste with your mouth." (season to taste)
"Yes I know mum but what did YOU use and how much?"
"I used whatever I had...a bit of spinach a bit of cheese. Salt. Don't forget the salt."

My mother often cooks with 'wild spinach' picked from paddocks and in between houses close to her home. Only forage if you are very good at identifying edible plants. My mother has foraged out of necessity since a little girl and would often get chased by bears in the woods when hunting mushrooms. (Imagining this makes me think of the children's show Masha and the Bear. ) Anyway, my point is I can safely say she knows what she is doing. Also check with your local Council that they have not conducted their weed spraying program on your newly discovered wild leafy greens.

This is how we made it on the day.  The ingredients are approximate and the method is traditionally taught by watching a family member and by practicing over time. A seasoned dough maker or home pizza dough maker shouldn't have any problems. However a first time dough maker might end up with a gluey dough mess but this is how we learn to become good dough makers.Yes? 



2 1/2 to 3 cups of plain organic flour
1/2 cup of warm water
2 tbls olive oil
1 free range egg(always)
1 teaspoon of salt


1 bunch of organic kale or spinach
1 brown onion finely chopped
1 cup of Nimbin Natural Cheese grated
1/2 cup of Danish Feta crumbled by hand
1 egg
1 teaspoon of salt


Preheat oven 200°C. Mix together flour, olive oil, egg, salt in a bowl and slowly add water until you get a doughy mass. Use less or more water if necessary.

Put the dough on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable. Similar to pizza dough. Put in oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Rest for 30 minutes.

Mix chopped kale, chopped onion, grated cheese, feta, egg and salt in a bowl.

Place the dough on a table lined with a tablecloth. You will be stretching the dough out on the tablecloth as shown in the pictures above.

Drizzle some olive oil on to the stretched out pastry and line the filling at one edge of the pastry as shown in photo above.

Lift the table cloth gently upwards to roll the pastry around the filling in to a sausage shape. Shown in picture above.

Place the rolled pastry in to a round baking pan in a spiral shape. Drizzle olive oil over pastry.

Bake in the oven for 35 mins to 40 mins or until golden brown.

Enjoy your Bureck, Pita or cheese and spinach pie, however you want to call it. Just make sure you serve it with plain yoghurt and a light salad if desired.

These photos were taken in our old place. We are still unpacking and sorting out our new house and clearing the yard from over grown gardens as it is snake season. Can't wait to share our new place soon.


  1. Looks so yum! I'll have to give it a try!

    1. Please do. It will be worth it. Any homemade pastry will do really.

  2. Hello Zena! I've just been updating my long neglected blog and thought I'd check on some of my 'followers'. And so I've landed here on this very interesting space you have created with that oh so delicious looking spinach pastry! We just had a yummy spinach pie for dinner tonight but I'm thinking I will try to make your roll-y one with the remaining spinach in our garden. It will shortly go to seed with the warmer weather so needs eating.
    I hope you have moved to another beautiful place.......looking back through your posts brought me to the snow pics which are lovely but I especially liked the one with the tall golden yellow trees (poplars maybe?) I love poplars and I love the beauty of autumn foliage. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life.

    1. Yes spot on Evi. They are Poplar trees; stunning aren't they. Although not native to the Monaro area they have a strong historical significance in the area. We moved not far from the other place in to a town where the main street is lined with stunning Poplars. Oh homegrown spinach. I've not been successful with my kale so far so I had to use store bought. Thank you for visiting.

  3. Thanks for that recipe, Zena. I have to have a recipe and can't cope with the 'a bit of this and a bit of that'. LOL! Does the tablecloth get stained though? I have the exact same one by the way.

    1. I know what you mean Nanna Chel. Those kinds of recipes can be a disaster. You keep a tablecloth specifically for rolling pastry. I just soak it in a bucket and run it through the wash with whites.

  4. Aren't the just 'throw it all together' cooks of our parents generation so good!! My mother does the same with a lot of her cooking - learnt from her mother. I admit I do the same, and I also make up my own. I am a bit in both worlds as I use a lot of 'recipes' from magazines and websites as well. It looks so yummy and the goodness of all that kale/spinach is a big bonus!!

    1. It's a generational thing isn't it. I'm always ripping out recipes from magazine and searching on the web too. There's so much choice nowadays. I think you end up personalising your own recipe with what you have in the pantry and fridge.

  5. Enjoyed learning about the" Lucky Country". And the Cheese and Spinach pie made my mouth water...understood your mother's ingredients trying to figure out is that good or bad?

    1. It really is mouth watering straight out of the oven and even when it's cold. Haha I think it is a good thing Cathy:)