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Recipe for Sfeeha

(meat pies)

For the dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups water, lukewarm
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the filling:

  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 lb. lean, boneless, ground lamb
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • salt
  • black pepper

Pour 1/4 cup lukewarm water into small bowl and sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir to dissolve yeast completely.

Set aside for 5 minutes, until doubled in volume.

In a deep mixing bowl, combine flour and 2 tsp. salt. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture, 1/4 cup oil and 2 cups remaining lukewarm water. Gently stir, adding in flour until well combined. Knead until smooth and elastic, shape into ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Drape with a towel and set aside for 45 minutes, or until dough doubles in bulk. Punch the dough down and divide into 64 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball about 1 inch in diameter, cover with a towel and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Drop onions into a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 tbsp. salt. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and add pine nuts, browning them lightly. Add to bowl of onions along with lamb, tomatoes, green pepper, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, tomato paste, cayenne pepper, allspice, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Knead mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Coat 3 large baking sheets with 3 tbsp. of oil. Roll each ball into a disc about 2 inches in diameter and no more than 1/8 inch thick. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the lamb mixture onto each disc. Pinch the dough together to make a canoe-shaped pie. Arrange on baking sheets and bake for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Serves 16 as appetizers.

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