Bastel — Ground meat-filled semolina half-moons

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bastel-ground meat filled pastries
  • 4 dozenServings

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup pine nuts

Dough:

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup smead (semolina)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks margarine, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Sesame seeds

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. To make the filling, sauté onion in oil until transparent.
  3. Add meat and brown, breaking with fork constantly.
  4. Cook until liquid has evaporated. Cool and add seasonings and pine nuts.
  5. To make the dough, combine flour, smead and salt. Fold in margarine and add oil. Blend well with fingertips.
  6. Add 2 to 3 ounces of water slowly, mixing to form a smooth dough. Knead well.
  7. To make crescent shaped bastel, break off a small walnut sized ball of dough and flatten into a 3-inch round with a tortilla press lined with wax paper or plastic wrap (to prevent sticking). To make sure that each is perfectly round and the exact same size, use a 3-inch cookie cutter, re-using the excess dough.
  8. Place 1 teaspoon of filling onto each circle.
  9. Fold round in half and press to close, making sure edges are tightly sealed. Alternatively, to make round bastel, press your finger into each walnut-sized ball of dough to form a long shell that has only one open end. The thinner you can make the shell the better; this a tricky step that requires some practice.
  10. Fill each hollowed outer shell with about 1 teaspoon of filling. Close by pinching the shell firmly and smoothing with a little water, until no crease is visible. Flute edges for a more refined appearance.
  11. Moisten the tops of each bastel in water and dip into sesame seeds. (A tray may be frozen at this point. Line the tray with wax paper and wrap well, if you freeze them.) Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are slightly golden.

Variation: Pomegranates are used in the filling only on special occasions. Substitute 1 cup pomegranate seeds for pine nuts and add to cooked mixture. When in season pomegranates are pitted and stored in the refrigerator, not the freezer, as it will cause them to get soft and watery. When buying pomegranates, the tops should be intact and the outside should have a nice bright red color with no brown spots. If you buy good quality pomegranates they can stay in the refrigerator
for up to two months before use.