Balkan Bites’s frozen burek pies are a delicious European comfort food

A burek is a hearty, handheld phyllo pie, a beloved avenue food within the Balkans and elements of the Center East (in Turkey, it’s referred to as börek). To protect her late grandmother’s Albanian recipe, Tolka and her aunt, Alida Malushi, started perfecting their very own on the weekends. By means of the method, Malushi—a former Kosovo-based journalist turned pastry chef—lamented along with her niece in regards to the lack of high-quality, frozen, pre-made burek accessible at shops. Tolka, who has a background in advertising and marketing and partnerships, noticed a possibility. Balkan Bites, which sells handmade, frozen bureks, was born in 2019.

[Photo: courtesy Balkan Bites]

Balkan Bites started to realize momentum following a spherical of pop-up and vacation markets in New York and New Jersey, however when the pandemic hit the town in early 2020, the model pivoted fully on-line. Its six flavors will be bought in bags of four bureks for $18.99 and vary from the standard (beef and onion, spinach and cheese) to spins on a basic (mushroom and goat cheese, chocolate hazelnut). They ship frozen and unbaked, in order that they have a shelf lifetime of as much as a 12 months.

Every “chunk” is formed like a cinnamon roll, sized like a bagel, and stuffed like a pasty. They’re a lot greater than bite-size, satisfyingly qualifying as a meal. They crisp up if you warmth them—30-35 minutes within the oven, quarter-hour within the air fryer—with a buttery shell that crunches and flakes however by no means feels greasy. Actual butter was vital to Tolka, as a result of she discovered most frozen variations at grocery shops used soybean oil or margarine of their phyllo dough.

[Photo: courtesy Balkan Bites]

Tolka recommends consuming the spinach and cheese burek with a salty Turkish yogurt beverage known as Ayran and pairing the mushroom and goat cheese with a salad. She additionally likes them with a facet of pickles or hard-boiled eggs and dipped in a tzatziki-like sauce topped with paprika.

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I like all of Tolka’s strategies, however I additionally loved mine topped with All the things however the Bagel seasoning (which I added earlier than baking) and devoured in a matter of minutes. The spinach and cheese is my favourite: tangles of spinach with tangy, creamy feta and ricotta cheese housed in a tender crust. They are the perfect any-time, any-place meal and are a lot (a lot) extra spectacular than these microwavable pocket-size sandwiches of your early 20s. However simply as simple.