Monday, October 4, 2010

Kids Cook Monday: Beef, Spinach and Mushroom Pockets

This recipe has a very specific inspiration: the Syrian-Lebanese sfihas served in Rio de Janeiro. Traditionally in their original source, they are made with ground lamb, but the popularity of those delicious morsels - as easy to prepare as to eat -  was so big that after crossing oceans and generations they ended up being adapted and now have all different fillings.  They may be stuffed with ground beef, green collards, and even some kind of ricotta cheese. Sfihas might be also found with different types of dough and shapes. But the one I can't forget was a perfect triangle, and each bite of it made my mouth be full of water .
That said, I can now indulge on something else. As a recipe that is beyond an adaptation. A free-short-cut and free-style interpretation of sfihas. And a very easy one, so that I could invite the kids to cook with me. Kids helped to roll and cut the dough and even wrap their beef in diverse shapes. The result was delicious. And the now are asking me if this is going to be a regular Monday dinner!

Spinach and Mushrooms Beef Pockets
Those can be prepared ahead time and par-baked. I followed the instructions for my favorite whole wheat pizza dough sold at TJ - about 10 minutes at 450 F, and you can leave a bit less to end baking later or the next day. A possible vegetarian/vegan alternative for this recipe is to work with firm tofu instead of beef. 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and plus to garnish and spray on the top
1 pound ground beef (15% fat maximum is great, I used grass-fed organic ground beef)
Kosher salt
1 cup finely sliced crimini mushrooms or baby Portabella
1 cup spinach, chopped (fresh or frozen)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 package of fresh pizza dough
More olive oil, to be sprayed with a mister
Z'aatar (more about it here)  or sesame seeds to be sprinkled on the top

Start up with the filling: Heat olive oil in a pot. With high heat on, add beef and fry it up to when it is almost totally cooked. Turn heat to medium, adding mushrooms and spinach. When all is cooked (mushrooms still al dente) get rid of the liquid collected on the bottom of the pot. Add allspice. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring to get all juices in the mix.
In the meantime, turn the oven to 450 F. Sprinkle a baking sheet with some whole wheat flour or corn flour and spray a thin layer of olive oil over it. Roll the dough and cut all shapes that kids (or you) like. Transfer the dough pieces to the baking sheet. With the help on one spoon, put beef filling over pieces of dough, and close the parcels as you like. You mary roll, wrap the contents on a rectangle or triangle shape or just in a pocket style. You can invite kids to both of those parts of the process. Spray olive oil and sprinkle za'atar or sesame seeds on the top of each morsel. Add some couple more minutes to the time recommended by the dough package or your recipe if you are using home made dough. Garnish with a stream of olive oil around the pocket and some more spices if you love them. Enjoy while it is still hot. 

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