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The Vegetarian Gourmet

By Steven R. L. Millman
Staff Reporter

This week the Vegetarian Gourmet went to the Royal East Chinese restaurant. There were only two vegetarian items on the menu, and on asking the waiter found that even these were not without meat products. The Royal East cannot be recommended for vegetarians.

Short column this week?

I have been promising recipes for a little while now, and no time better than the present! We all have some extra time now that IAP is underway and spring classes, though lying in wait, are still some weeks away. Therefore let's sharpen our cooking skills with these menu items which are exotic and tasty, yet simple to make. The star of this week's repast is the elegant, paper-thin dough known as phyllo.

Phyllo (the Greek name) - known to the Hungarians as strudel, to the Turks as yufka, and to the Tunisians as brik - is an extremely thin dough made from flour, salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar and layered to create some of the most enticing pastry dishes in the world. Phyllo has been made since at least the eleventh century, although the Greeks claim that they have been preparing it for far longer, and has been a staple food of the Islamic world. Spanokopita, Strudel, and Baklava are among the most well known phyllo dishes in the United States. Phyllo is a little tricky to prepare without a proper work area, but is available commercially (at the Bread & Circus in Cambridge) in a size appropriate to a standard cookie sheet.

This week, here's a recipe I've adapted to a vegan (no eggs, dairy or meat) diet. The dish is a Turkish "meat" pie called Tepsi Boregi that your flesh-eating friends will be certain actually contains beef unless you let them know otherwise. The meat substitute, Just Like Ground, the egg replacer, and the Silk soy milk are available at the Bread & Circus. Just Like Ground can also be found at Trader Joe's. For a great Baklava recipe, consult the current issue of Saveur (Jan-Feb issue, #24) and replace the butter with a soy margarine.

Tepsi Boregi - Turkish "Meat" Pies

6 tbsp. soy margarine

2 small onions finely chopped

3/4 lb. Yves Just Like Ground - original flavor

3/4 cup parsley

20 sheets commercial phyllo

6 tbsp. Silk soy milk

1 tbsp. flour

2 eggs worth of Egg Replacer

salt and pepper to taste

2 packages Hain vegetarian brown gravy

2 cups water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute the onion in 2 tbsp. of margarine over medium heat until golden. Add the Just Like Ground, salt, pepper, parsley and flour and mix well over low heat for three minutes. Remove from heat and cover.

In a separate bowl follow the directions for the Egg Replacer and then add the Silk and melted margarine. Be sure that the melted butter is warm, not hot.

Lay one sheet of phyllo on an oiled cookie sheet and brush lightly with liquid mixture. A pastry brush will serve you very well for this purpose, but the bottom of a wooden spoon can be used if done carefully. Add another layer of phyllo to the first and then brush it as well. Repeat until there are ten layers. Brush the tenth layer and then dot with "meat" mixture, about 2 tbsp. each, two or three across and four or five down depending on the size of your cookie sheet. Brush the next layer of phyllo and then lay it down over the phyllo and "meat." Repeat until another ten sheets have been placed.

Cut 3 1/2" pies around the meat mixture with a knife or round cutter and discard remaining phyllo. Brush pies and cook for 25 minutes. While the pies are cooking, mix the gravy mix with water well in a small pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until thick and serve over the pies.

This dish goes well with any simple steamed vegetable or potato. The Vegetarian Gourmet prefers his Tepsi Boregi with steamed asparagus and mashed potato.