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Who's cooking: Chrissa Schmerler of Bellmore

Chrisa Schmerler shows off her Filo dish on

Chrisa Schmerler shows off her Filo dish on Friday, Photo Credit: Photo by Howard Schnapp

A college assistant at The City University of New York and recently divorced, she lives in Bellmore.

 What made you get interested in Turkish cooking?

I always loved cooking. I grew up in a house where my grandmother was always in the kitchen. Then I did an internship in Turkey , and ended up marrying a Turkish man. I discovered I loved Turkish food.

 

Why?

It's really good food. Really flavorful but not too spicy. It is also healthy - not greasy at all.

What kind of food did you grow up eating? Just about everything. My grandmother was a Russian Jew, but she cooked Filipino food for my grandfather, who was half Filipino. I cook everything: Chinese, Turkish. There is not one thing I don't make, except for sushi.

What do you define as comfort food?

My grandmother's stuffed cabbage. Cold meatloaf. Pancit, which is a dish all Filipino people eat: thick noodles with chunks of pork.

Is there a restaurant you really like?

Yes. One Minute Turkish, in West Hempstead. Every day they make a different dish. It's real home cooking - everything is made from scratch.

SIGARA BOREGI (STUFFED "CIGARS")

1 cup feta cheese

2 generous tablespoons ricotta cheese

1 large egg

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Pinch of dried dill or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (optional)

1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh Greek oregano

Pinch of black pepper

1 pound phyllo sheets (available at Greek and Middle Eastern markets) or Turkish yufka(available at Turkish grocery stores)

water to moisten dough

vegetable oil for frying


1. Using a fork,mash feta cheese.

2. Add ricotta, eggs and seasonings and mix until well blended. Set aside.

3. If using phyllo dough, stack 3 sheets on top of one another and cut into triangles; you will get 4-5 triangles per sheet. (Yufka dough is already cut into triangles.)

4. To make the cigars: Lay a triangle on a work surface. Place a teaspoon of filling near the wide end of the triangle and spread it along that end but not to the very edge. Fold the left side in and then the right so that they cover some of the filling, and roll, toward the tip, into the shape of a fat cigarette. Wet the tip of the triangle to secure it closed. Continue to roll up triangles until filling is used up.

5. Pour 2 inches of oil into a heavy skillet and place over medium-high heat. Place about 6 cigars in the skillet - don't crowd them - and fry until golden brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and brown the other side. Note: The cigars cook quickly, so watch them carefully.

6. Place the sigara boregi on paper towels to absorb the oil. Makes 25 to 30 cigars.

Note: Once rolled, the cigars can we wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, then fried as needed.

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