Jerusalem-based cook Yedida Dabah, making these Sephardic savory pastries filled with beef and pine nuts, is a way to keep the memory of her mother Dvora alive. Yedida changed the recipe just slightly to include the warming spice blend ras-el-hanout to this recipe. Serve the pastries, as her family does, for a Shabbat breakfast alongside hard boiled eggs, tahini, chopped vegetable salad, and a shot of Arak.
A tip: For easier handling, prepare the filling a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.
2 sticks + 5 tablespoons / 300 grams unsalted margarine (or butter, for a non-kosher version)
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Prepare the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until golden and soft, 15-20 minutes.
Add the ground beef and sauté, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Add the water and cook down until the water evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts over medium heat in a dry skillet until aromatic and golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the pine nuts, Ras el Hanout, salt, and pepper to the meat and onion mixture, mix well and remove from the heat.
Transfer the mixture to a heat resistant container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
Prepare the dough: Place the water, margarine (or butter), oil, and salt in a medium pot and place over a medium heat until the mixture starts to boil. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until well combined. Allow the dough to cool for a few minutes, just until it can be easily handled.
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Stuff and shape the pastelicos: Pinch off a small amount of dough the size of a large cherry tomato. Roll into a ball and press down on the center to form a 1-inch / 2 ½-cm pocket for the filling. Fill the pocket to the top edges with a teaspoonful of filling. Take a smaller piece of dough and press it into a disc shape that fits over the top of the pocket. Pinch around the edges to connect the top to the bottom and create a design around the edge of the pocket. Yedida refers to it as repulgo, which is Spanish for crimping or fancy edging (see below).
Place the pastelico on the prepared baking sheet (they can be placed quite close to one another as they will not rise or expand much when baking) and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the pastelicos and bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. For even baking, bake each tray separately.
Serve hot or at room temperature with tahini sauce, vegetable salad, and hard-boiled eggs.