Sweet Crêpes with Creamed Cottage Cheese Filling


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: naleśniki z serem [nah-lesh-nicky z sir-em]
DESCRIPTION: crêpes with cottage cheese
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

This humble meal was always the most delicious treat for us as children. Now, they may not look like much, but they are absolutely delicious! Even though they are sweet, they are not seen as dessert, but as quick lunch or supper.


8-10 servings (depending of the size of your pan) • Preparation time: about 30 minutes (up to 60 minutes with the resting time)


TIPS:


01
To make your crêpes even more special, you can add raisins and cinnamon to the cheese filling.

02
The cheese filling is delicious as it is, but since it contains egg, you need to fry the crêpes before serving them.

03
If you want to make them in advance, feel free. You can even freeze them! Simply prepare your crêpes, fold them with the cheese filling and refrigerate or freeze them. Take out ready to fry!

04
Serve with Polish for local sour cream. If you cannot get it, you can replace it with Greek yoghurt.

INGREDIENTS:


Crêpes:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
 1 cup of milk
✽ ¾ cup of water (sparkling will make the pancakes a little fluffier)
 2 eggs
 3 tablespoons of oil (try to choose a taste-neutral oil, so olive oil is not the best here)
 pinch of salt

Cheese filling:
 about 500 g of Polish cottage cheese
 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
 1 tablespoon sugar (you may add more you you like)
 ½ egg (crack an egg in a glass, mix it thoroughly and only add a half to your cheese)

METHOD:


01
Make a batch of thin crêpes as per these instructions.

02
In a bowl, combine and cream all ingredients and cream the cheese filling with a blander.

03
Spread the cheese filling in a half of each crêpe and, starting at the cheese side of it, roll or fold them forward.

04
Fry on medium heat on both sides, until beautifully golden and crispy. If you fry very cold crêpes, it is better to start with low heat to make sure that the cheese filling heats up as well.

Enjoy!


Delicate Crispy Breakfast Rolls

Name and pronunciation: kopertówki [koh-per-toof-key]
Description: “envelope” breakfast rolls
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

 

These would probably be my top 3 bread types in my childhood. Our local bakery baked them daily and I just loved them. Quite large, with delicate crispy crust and very soft inside, they resemble lighter version of ciabatta rolls.

Approximately 8 large or 16 small rolls • Preparation time: about 45 minutes • Resting time: 2 hours plus 30 minutes • Baking time: 1-2 minutes

Tips:

01
The dough for these rolls is quite delicate and slightly sticky, so before rolling it, make sure to generously dust the work surface, the dough itself and the rolling pin with flour. You do not want to work the flour into the dough, just coat it with flour all around, so you capture the moisture inside and prevent the dough from sticking 

02
If you want to preserve freshness of your rolls, freeze them after they have cooled down. Cut them in half to speed up defrosting later. Now you can enjoy perfectly fresh rolls without a constant effort. Amazing!

Ingredients:

 4 cups all-purpose flour
 2 cups tepid water
 2 tablespoons oil
 1 tablespoon dry yeast
 2 teaspoons salt
 1 teaspoon sugar

Method:

01
Dissolve yeast, sugar and oil in water. Sit aside for about 10 minutes.

02
Sift the flour and add to the water. Add the salt as well and knead for few minutes, until dough if formed. Leave aside for another 15 minutes. 

03
Knead again, this time for at least 10 minutes.

04
When the dough is perfectly smooth and springy, put it aside in a warm place for about 2 hours.

05
Generously sprinkle your worktop with flour and transfer the dough on it. Roll out in a large square until it is about 0,5 cm thick. Cut in rectangles in sizes you have chosen (small or large).

06
Prepare two baking trays lined with parchment papers or baking mats. Now gently fold each rectangle, but on in half. Choose a mark at about ⅓ and find there, so the top layer does not cover the bottom layer entirely.

07
Very carefully transfer your rolls on the baking tray and raise for another 30 minutes.

08
Bake in 190ºC for about 20 minutes until the crust is slightly golden. Cool down and serve.

Enjoy!

Pierogi with Green Lentils and Coriander

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Lentil_Pierogi001
Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Lentil_Pierogi008

Name and pronunciation: pierogi [pee-yeh-ro-ghi] – there is no need for the “s” at the end so often used in English. “Pierogi” is already a plural form.
Description: dumplings
Type of cuisine: Polish

I absolutely love pierogi with green lentils. They are flavourful and have a great texture, actually resembling meat, so even the most dedicated carnivores are guaranteed to enjoy them. I add fresh coriander, so it is not strictly traditional Polish filling, but it is a real staple in our house and we eat tonnes of them!

Approximately 40 servings • Preparation time: about 60 minutes • Resting time: 30 minutes (optional) • Cooking time: 1-2 minutes

Tips:

01
With fresh pierogi, you have a choice between serving them just cooked, or frying them. After cooling or freezing, you should fry them.

02
Both fresh and fried pierogi are perfect when served with fried onions or sour cream.

03
Because you need to add two layers of dough to each bite, make sure that the filling is slightly saltier and a little bit spicer than you need it. This way it will be perfectly balanced when cooked.

Ingredients:

Dough:
one portion of pierogi dough

Green lentil filling:
 200 g dry green lentils
 1 large onion
 fresh coriander (to taste, I like quite a lot)
 salt (to taste)
 pepper (to taste)

Method:

01
Make a portion of dough and set it aside for 30 minutes.

02
Cook the lentils until soft all the way through, but not mushy. The filling is much better when it retains the natural texture of perfectly cooked lentils. You will need about twice as much water as you are using lentils. 

03
Chop the onion and fry it until brown, but not crispy.

04
Drain cooked lentils. It is best to give them good few minutes to make sure all water is drained well and the filling is not too runny.

05
Mix cooked lentils, fried onion and chopped coriander while gently breaking the lentils with a fork, to achieve a consistency resembling cooked minced meat. Season with salt and pepper. 

06
Make pierogi following these instructions.

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Lentil_Pierogi009

Enjoy!

Iraqi Biryani

our_eastern_kitchen_iraqi_biryani003

Name and pronunciation: البرياني [biryani]
Description: our favourite vegetarian version of Iraqi biryani
Type of cuisine: Arabic

Iraqi biryani is the first dish my husband cooked for me and it is sill one of my favourite tastes. It differs from the original, Indian version. It has much more rich and complex flavours and textures. There are many different ways to make biryani and we make it vegetarian, but you can opt to add some meat as well.

Approximately 4-6 people • Cooking time: about 60 minutes

Tips:

01
All ingredients are quick and easy, but need to be prepared separately, so it is better to be organised and have everything ready in advance

02
Feel free to use the same oil to fry all the ingredients. You will need a little more oil than usually. It is not exactly deep-frying, but you need about ½ good quality olive oil. Use a draining spoon to remove one type of ingredient, before adding another one.

Ingredients:

medium potato
1-2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
½ cauliflower
2 cups rice (best to use basmati variety)
cup vermicelli
2 cups frozen green peas
1-2 handfuls raisins
1-2 handfuls almonds or other nuts
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1½ tablespoons cardamom
1½ tablespoons sumac
1 tablespoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

01
Cut the cauliflower into very small pieces and cook until a little soft. Drain and set aside.

02
Peel and chop the potato, carrot and onions into cubes. Heat up the oil and fry them separately until slightly brown and delicately crispy on the outside. Drain excessive oil using kitchen paper and set aside in one dish.

03
Now, it is time to toast the nuts and raisins. Nuts only need a minute until they are golden and very aromatic. Raisins may need a little longer, but be careful not to fry them for too long as they become hard. When first raisins get pumped and start looking like grapes again, it is time to stop. Drain and set aside.

04
Thew the green peas with boiling water. You do not have to cook it, it is enough to let it sit in hot water for about 10 minutes and drain.

05
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat up a generous portion of good olive oil, add dry vermicelli and all the spices. Fry until the pasta turns slightly golden, for approximately a minute or two. Add dry rice, and fry everything together for another 5 minutes.

06
Bring about 5 cups of water to boil in a kettle and pour over fried vermicelli and rice. Cover it (not completely) and simmer until the rice is soft and almost all water is gone. It should take about 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover completely and let sit for about 5 more minutes, until the rice is perfect.

07
Stir the rice with vermicelli and add all vegetables, raisins and nuts. Stir everything thoroughly and serve with thick natural yogurt.

our_eastern_kitchen_iraqi_biryani002
our_eastern_kitchen_iraqi_biryani005

Enjoy!

Delicious Pierogi with Cottage Cheese

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pierogi001

Name and pronunciation: pierogi z serem [pee-yeh-ro-ghi z seh-rem] – there is no need for the “s” at the end so often used in English. “Pierogi” is already a plural form.
Description: dumplings with dry cottage cheese
Type of cuisine: Polish

This is a true taste of my childhood. My late maternal grandmother made the best pierogi with cheese. This recipe is based on how she made them.

Approximately 40 pieces • Preparation time: about 60 minutes • Resting time: 30 minutes (optional) • Cooking time: 1-2 minutes

Tips:

01
With fresh pierogi, you have a choice between serving them just cooked, or frying them. After cooling or freezing, you should fry them.

02
Both fresh and fried pierogi with cottage cheese are perfect when served with fried onions or sour cream.

Ingredients:

Dough:
one portion of pierogi dough

Cottage cheese filling:
 250 g Polish dry cottage cheese 
 250 g potatoes
 1 large onion
 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
 2 teaspoons black seed (Nigella Sativa, to taste)

Method:

01
Make a portion of dough and set it aside for 30 minutes.

02
Cook the potatoes until very soft. Cool them and mash them thoroughly.

03
Chop the onion and fry it until brown, but not crispy yet. Mix all the ingredients together.

04
Make pierogi following instructions.

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pierogi004
Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pierogi003

Enjoy!

Easy Sourdough Bread

DSC_0187

Name and pronunciation: chleb na zakwasie [h-leh-p • nah • zack-fah-sheh]
Description: sourdough bread
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

There are many different recipes for a sourdough, some more difficult than others. This is a perfect one to start your wild yeast adventure. Sourdough bread always takes a while, but this method does not take a lot of effort, just time, which is a great advantage.

Approximately 1.5 kg loaf (or two smalls ones) • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Resting time: 3 x 12 hours • Baking time: 45 minutes

Tips:

01
I find it easier to bake two smaller loaves than one large one.

02
To bake, use any cake form, but bread crust needs moisture and high temperature, so I get best results using cast iron pots.

03
Always line your forms with parchment paper.

04
If your oven does not have a steam function, place a bowl of hot water next to the forms.

05
Use bread flour of any kind you like. I usually mix white and whole-wheat flours 50/50, but you can also add some rye flour for a nice, strong flavour.

06
It is a good idea to slice and freeze all excess bread. It defrosts in minutes and remains as fresh as on the first day.

07
To make the top crust thicker and crispier, I spray the top with water several times during the last stage of rising. Be generous and make sure you spray your bread with water and generously cover with flour just before baking as well.

Schedule:

01
Morning: prepare your starter for activation and leave it until evening.

02
Evening: make the sponge and leave it overnight.

03
Morning: knead the bread dough, move it to forms, cover and leave it to rise for the whole day.

04
Evening: bake the bread and cool it. Two days before the bread runs out, prepare new starter to activate for new loaves.

Activating starter

Ingredients:

100 g cold starter
 100 g flour
 100 ml water

Method:

01 
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a non-metallic container and leave out in warmth for about 12 hours. Make sure it has space to rise. I always use a 500 ml glass.

Making sponge

Ingredients:

activated starter from previous stage
 500 g bread flour
 500 ml water

Method:

01
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave for about 12 hours in a warm spot.

Kneading dough

Ingredients:

 sponge from previous stage
500 g bread flour
 25 g salt
 seeds, grains and nuts (optional)

Method:

01
Mix all ingredients and knead by pressing and stretching for at least 10 minutes. The dough needs to feel elastic and springy to be ready.

03
Split in two and roll the loafs in flour. You can mix the flour with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or oats for added crust flavour.

04
Place the loaves in forms lined with parchment paper. If you want to score your loaves, do it now. Make sure the cuts are quite deep, because the dough will still rise significantly and shallow scoring will disappear.

05
Cover with tea towels and leave for about 12 hours in a warm spot.

Baking bread

Method:

01
Pre-heat your oven to maximum temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Boil water and fill in a small bowl. Place it in the oven.

02
Bake your loaves for 10 minutes in the maximum heat, then lower it to 200ºC. Bake for another 35-40 minutes.

03
Cool down the loaves before cutting them. If you do not have time to put away the loaves away after they have cooled down, simply wrap them loosely in tea towels and leave them on a kitchen counter until the morning.

DSC_0190
DSC_0182

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pumpkin_Pancake004

This is one of the easiest and quickest recipes and it so delicious! Perfect from fresh or frozen pumpkin. Best topped with yoghurt or sour cream and dusted with cinnamon.

4-6 people • Preparation time: about 30 minutes

Tips:

01
It is better to fry your pumpkin pancakes a little longer on medium heat, or they might burn on the outside and stay raw inside.

02
Read this tip about choosing the right coconut milk.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
 2 cups shredded pumpkin
 2½ cups coconut milk (you can substitute it with regular milk)
 1 tablespoon baking powder
 1 tablespoon sugar
 1 tablespoon spices (cinnamon or/and nutmeg, gingerbread mix, etc.)
 1 teaspoon salt

Method:

01 
Carefully mix all dry ingredients with a whisk.

02 
Mix all wet ingredients using a blender to make the batter light and airy.

03
Gently, but thoroughly mix two parts together, you can use low setting on your blender.

04
Fry on medium temperature. Depending on the type of your pan, you will need to use little to no oil.

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pumpkin_Pancake003
Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pumpkin_Pancake005

Enjoy!

Iraqi Flat Bread

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Khubz_Zatar004

Name and pronunciation: khubz [kh-oo-bz]
Description: flat bread
Country of origin: Iraq

This Iraqi version of flat bread resembles Indian naan a little. It is soft and a little chewy, and not dry and flaky like, for example, pita bread. It is absolutely delicious and surprisingly easy to make. Traditionally, it is baked on the walls of a cylinder-shaped, clay oven called “tanoor”, but this recipe is adjusted to make it effortlessly on a flat, non-stick pan you normally use to make pancakes.

8 large or 16 small servings • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Rising time: 2 x 30 minutes

Tips:

01
You can try different flour combinations. It will work each time with different types of flours, but taste and consistency will differ, so test and choose your favourite.

02
Use this tip for rising your dough quickly and efficiently.

03
Feel free to make more bread and freeze it. They defrost very quickly and stay as fresh as on the first day. Perfect!

04
Serve your khubz with zaatar, home-made hummus, or any other spread or paste. Tear a little piece or bread, fold it and use to take a bit of spread from a small bowl set in the middle of the table. If you are eating it with spices, wet it in oil first.

Ingredients:

500 g all-purpose flour
 250 g whole-wheat flour
 1 cup warm milk
 1 cup warm water
 14 g dry yeast (two tablespoons or two little sachets)
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 1 tablespoon sugar
 1-1½ teaspoon salt

Method:

01 
First of all, mix water, milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl to soak and activate the yeast. It will take about 15 minutes.

02 
While you are waiting for the yeast to froth, mix both types of flour with salt and oil in a large bowl.

03
Mix the dry and wet ingredients.

04
Knead the dough for about 15 minutes. It needs to be slightly wet on the surface, but not sticking to the worktop. This is a perfect consistency. I admit, it is not my favourite dough to knead. It is rather hard to work, but if you add too much water at this stage, it will be very difficult to form your breads.

05
Form a ball from the dough, place it in a large ball and cover it with a tea towel, or even better, with a pot lid (not to allow any dryness on the surface). Put it in a warm place and let it rise for 2-3 hours.

06
After that time, it should be at least twice the size. If it is smooth and just a little bit sticky on the surface, it means you have made the perfect dough. Do not worry if it deflates and drops when you are taking it out, it is completely normal.

07
Form a large ball from your dough and split it into eight or sixteen equal parts. Take each part and roll in your hands to form a ball. Line them on a baking tray or a worktop to raise some more. Cover again with a tea towel or waxed fabric.

08
Once each ball has doubled in size, your bread is ready for baking! Heat up the pan on the highest setting (no oil needed) and start making flat breads out of dough balls. Traditionally, khubz are stretched and formed all by hand, but you can also use a roller pin to get it into shape quickly. They should be quite thin, since they will still rise a little won the pan. Do not forget to cover back the remaining balls, as they dry very quickly.

09
Once on a pan, your khubz will be ready very quickly. Within seconds you will see small bubbles forming on the surface. It is an excellent sign! Wait another minute or two, and flip it. Nothing easier, it holds shape very well.

10
During cooling down process, they will get a little wet, so do not stack them up, but rather lie them out on a tea towel and wait until they are cold and dry. Then you cab serve, store or freeze them.

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Khubz_Zatar001

Enjoy!

Our Favourite Falafel

Our Eastern Kitchen - Our Favourite Falafel Recipe - Food Photography

Name and pronunciation: فلافل [fah-lah-fell]
Description: falafel
Type of cuisine: Arabic

The day I have made falafel my husband recognised and liked, was a very happy in our family! There are as many falafel recipes as families and this is our favourite, secret flavour.

Approximately 40 falafels • Soaking chickpeas overnight • Preparation time: 30 minutes • Frying time: 20 minutes

Tips:

01
Do not use tinned chickpeas for falafel, it is much too soft. You need to use dry variety instead.

02
Fry your falafels until they are golden brown, but make sure you do not overdo it. They should be delicately crispy on the outside and soft inside.

03
They will be just as good defrosted, so try to make more and freeze a batch or two. They defrost in a matter of minutes!

04
You can serve them on a plate, or wrapped in any kind of flat bread or a tortilla. My absolute favourite is Turkish Yufka bread (dürüm).

05
Use any sauce you like on your falafels. I like it most with a mixture of mayonnaise and amba. Amba is an Arabic sauce made of pickled mango and a blend of spices. It is very Iraqi thing to put amba on falafel and for a great reason, it is a divine combination! Every brand makes their own blend, so they tend to be very different. Keep looking until you find your perfect taste.

Ingredients:

500 g chickpeas (dry, will make about 1,2 kg after soaking and cooking)
1-2 large onions
 2-4 cloves of garlic (to taste)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
 2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
 2 teaspoons turmeric
 some fresh parsley (optional, to taste)
 sesame seeds (optional, to taste)
 2 teaspoons cumin*
¼ teaspoon ground coriander*
 1 teaspoon black pepper*
 1-2 pinches cardamom*
* OR use about 2-3 teaspoons of ready-made falafel mix

Method:

01 
Soak dry chickpeas in water overnight (or at least good few hours) and then cook for 1-2 hours until soft enough to bite, but still a little crunchy inside.

02
When your chickpeas is ready, add all of the ingredients. I use a press for garlic to perfectly blend it the flavour and chop onion in small cubes.

03
After thoroughly mixing all ingredients, blend them with a hand blender until the chickpeas is broken down in small pieces. You might want to do it in few parts, because it is thick and tends to clog the blender a little. Keep blending patiently without adding any moisture. It is not the quickest task, but you need the mix very thick and sticky, otherwise your falafels will fall apart when you try to fry them.

04
When your mix is ready, it is time for shaping. If you can get your hands on a falafel press, they are fast and super easy to use. The best part of having one is that your falafels will start looking exactly the same from the very first time. Otherwise, you can shape your falafels between two tablespoons or in hands. The simplest way to form them in your hands is to roll a small ball and flatten it slightly. You can also make a little hole with your thumb. Try your best to make them all the same size and shape. This way they will fry evenly and look much nicer on a plate.

05
Falafel needs to be deep-fried, so if you have a deep-frier, use it! If not, just use a wok, an ordinary pan or a pot with non-stick surface. You just need enough oil to cover your falafels at least half of the height and then flip them. If the oil covers them fully, of course there is no need to flip. It is just easier to fry this way.

06
They do not take that long to fry, only a few minutes. They need to be deep golden, but not too dark, so they do not get too dry inside. Let them cool down a little a they are ready!

DSC_0408
Our-Eastern-Kitchen-Falafel017

Enjoy!