One time, my grandmother Teta Nabiha came to visit us in France. She marvelled at the flowers growing by the side of the streets and how clean everything was. She went into the kitchen and in no time at all fixed some sfeeha for us. I watched her stretch the little balls of dough with a dab of olive oil, then when the little pies were the size she wanted fill them up oh so delicately with the meat, onion and pine nuts.
When I moved to the States this was the first thing I attempted in our tiny kitchen in San Luis Obispo, California. A few years later, going back to Lebanon, I found out about a new version of sfeeha that was called baalbakyeh, from Baalbeck , the first tourist destination because of the amazing Roman temples and amphitheater and the site of the biggest festival in Lebanon.
Folks in Baalbeck add pomegranate molasses and a dab of tahini with some yogurt and this combination is a killer! If you don’t have time to make the dough, no problem, get a frozen pizza dough or use some frozen biscuits. The filling can be whipped up in minutes and you will have a fabulous dish to serve at a party or to snack on when you feel the urge. In addition, you can make them in advance and either freeze them for a month or reheat them. So convenient, so delicious.
Meat pies (Sfeeha)Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern April 21, 2009 Savory Pastries, Mezze/Appetizers, savory pies, meat pies,
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 12 minutes
1 dough (See Note)
3/4 lb ground beef or lamb (a bit fatty)
Spices: 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp each of allspice, cinnamon, Aleppo pepper or paprika, dash of black pepper
1 Tbsp red pepper paste (optional)
1/4 cup tomato paste OR 4 tomatoes diced small
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp labneh (or drained yogurt or Greek yogurt)
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 large yellow onion, diced fine
1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted or fried
To serve: 2 cups yogurt and 2 lemons, quartered
- While the dough is resting and rising, get the stuffing ready. Mix the meat with all the other ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate till dough is ready.
- Transfer the dough to a floured work counter and roll it till thin (about 1/8") then cut into 3" rounds with a glass or cookie cutter.
- Get the meat mixture and stir it a bit. Take a tablespoon at a time with an ice-cream scooper if you have one (makes the job easier) and lay it on each circle. Pinch opposite ends of the circle to form a square shape and raise the edges of the pie. This will enclose the filling to prevent it from oozing out.
- Lift out the pies with a spatula and place on a cookie sheet greased or lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the pies with pine nuts or almonds, and press the filling with the back of a spoon or the spatula to make sure the nuts adhere. Bake in a 375F oven till golden, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with a bowl of yogurt (to share, scooping out a spoonful onto the pies) or some lemons to squeeze the juice onto the pies.
To make a batch of dough (to use for this recipe or to make zaatar manaeesh or any type of pizza)
1 cup warm water (can use milk instead)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
- Pour 1/2 cup of water into a small bowl. Add the sugar, and yeast. Mix and place in a warm enclosed place (like the microwave or in the oven) for 10 minutes until the yeast starts bubbling up.
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl or mixer, add the oil and combine; add the proofed yeast and combine and add enough water to get a firm and moist dough. Knead it for 5 minutes till smooth.
- Let it rise in a bowl by covering it with some oil all around. Again, a good place would be the oven or microwave.
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