Sarikopites (Cretan “Turban” Pies)
It’s the shape that sets these lovely pies apart: filled with cheese and coiled, Cretan cooks nicknamed them sarikopita after sariki, the word for turban in Turkish. Petimezi is essentially reduced, clarified grape must. You can find it in Greek and Middle Eastern food shops all over the world. It is, in fact, one of the healthiest sweeteners.
For the dough
- 4-4 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
For the filling
- 2 cups Cretan xinomyzithra or 1 1/3 cups strained fresh ricotta combined with 2/3 cup crumbled feta
- Olive oil for frying
- Honey petimezi or sugar for garnish
1. Combine 4 cups flour and salt in a medium bowl, and make a well in center. Add the water, oil and vinegar to the well. Using a fork the flour into the liquid until a dough mass forms. Sprinkle a little more flour on a work surface and knead the dough until firm and smooth. Cover and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
2. Have the filling ready in a bowl.
3. Divide the dough into two equal balls. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the first ball to a large square, about 15in. x 15 in. Cut the dough into three-inch-wide strips. Spread about three tablespoons filling along the center length of each strip. Fold over to close, and roll up each strip to form a coil. Flatten a bit with the palms of your hands. Continue with remaining dough and filling.
4. In a large heavy skillet (preferably 15 inches in diameter), heat about one inch of olive oil. Fry the sarikopites a few at a time, flipping carefully with a spatula, until lightly golden. Drizzle with honey or petimesi, or sprinkle with sugar. Serve warm.
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