Delicious Mini Pasties with Lentils and Coriander Filling


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: paszteciki [pah-sh-teh-cheekey]
DESCRIPTION: lentil-filled pasties
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

These little treats are my family and friends’ absolute favourite. They are easy to make, they just take a little planning, and remember to make lots, since they disappear very quickly! The yeast dough rises in a fridge overnight, so it is a little different than basis yeast dough. It resembles something in between yeast dough and shortbread, flavourful and yet delicate and crispy. You definitely need to try them!


At least 20 servings (depending of the size of your pasties) • Preparation time: about 60 minutes (rising overnight)


TIPS:


01
Prepare the dough in the evening and let it rise overnight in a fridge.

02
Try different fillings! Everything resembling pâté, either made with meat or legumes, will be fine.

INGREDIENTS:


Dough:
350 g all-purpose flour
 250 ml warm milk
 100 g soft butter
 4 egg yolks
 7 g instant yeast
 1 tablespoon sugar
 ¾ teaspoon salt

Lentil filling:
 dry lentils
 1 bunch fresh coriander
 salt
 pepper

METHOD:


01
Sift the flour to a large bowl, add the yeast, milk and sugar. Start mixing.

02
Add salt and yolks. Knead the dough for at least 3 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.

03
Now, gradually add softened butter and continue kneading for about 10 minutes more. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour.

04
After that time, thoroughly knead the dough for good few minutes to get rid of most of the air trapped inside. Then cover with a tea towel again and rest in a fridge for about 12 hours.

05
Prepare the filling just like you would for Pierogi with Green Lentils.

06
After 12 hours, take the dough out of the fridge, dust your work top with some flour and evenly roll out the dough. You will need a large rectangle, about 35 x 45 cm. Cut the longer edge into three long strips of about 15 cm, put a portion of the filling in the middle of each strip and all the way down to the bottom edge, then roll and seal along the long edge. You can slightly pinch it together to avoid the filling coming out during baking. Cut the rolls into small pieces, about 5 cm wide.

07
On a parchment paper, gently place all the pasties you can fit. Put them upright, rather than on their side, you need to brown them from the top. Let them proof one more time for about half an hour, then brush them with egg wash (I like making it with a dash of milk) and bake in 180ºC for about 30 minutes, until they are beautifully golden and slightly crispy.

Enjoy!


Heavenly Delicate Challah Topped with Sweet Crumble


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: chałka [how-kah]
DESCRIPTION: challah—sweet brioche type of bread
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European—Jewish

This is one of the most important types of bread of my childhood, so it took me ages to this recipe perfectly right. My prefect challah is delicate, but not too puffy, never ever dry and with shiny, dark golden crust.


2 challahs • Preparation time: about 35 minutes • Resting time: 1 hours plus 30 minutes • Baking time: about 20 minutes


TIPS:


01
Challah can be made sweeter if you want it as a dessert or a sweet snack, or less sweet if you would like to use it for an open, savoury sandwich. Adjust sugar accordingly – use 5 or even 6 tablespoons of sugar, if you like your bread a little sweeter, and reduce it down to 2 tablespoons, if you prefer your bread less sweet.

02
If you decide to make your challah less sweet, you can also top is with poppyseeds or sesame seeds, instead the sweet crumble.

BRAIDING TECHNIQUE:


01
Lay out all the strands to make it look like a 6-arm octopus and number them in your head them from 1 to 6 left to right. Now, it is time to weave! Take the strand 1 and place it all the way to the right, behind the strand 6.

02
Now take the strand 6 and place it all the way to the left. Your strands will now run 6, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, with strands 1 and 6 running on top of other strands. Strand 1 is first across and strand 6 is just below.

03
Now notice the middle of your challah, which is in between strands 3 and 4.

04
Take strand 1, move it over strand 6 and to the middle of your challah, so between strands 3 and 4. Your order now is 6, 2, 3, 1, 4 and 5.

05
Now take strand 2 and place it all the way to the right making it 6, 3, 1, 4, 5 and 2. The middle is now between strands 1 and 4. Take strand 6 and put it down over strand 2 into the middle.

06
In short, the general rule of weaving is this: you need two strands across your challah, one on top, one below. You place the one on top over the one on the bottom and in the middle of your challah. Then add another across strand coin in the opposite direction to the one you have left. Having two strands across again, always bring the top one across the bottom one in the middle of your challah. Repeat until you finish braiding all the strands.

07
At the end, pinch all strands together and fold underneath.

INGREDIENTS:


Challah:
 550 g all-purpose flour
 ½ cup warm milk
 ½ cup warm water
 30 g butter
 1 egg
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast

Sweet Crumble:
 1 tablespoon butter
 1 tablespoon flour
 1 tablespoon sugar

METHOD:


01
Melt butter in a small pot and set aside to cool.

02
Sift the flour, add all ingredients, including cooled, melted butter and knead for at least 20 minutes, until the dough is silky smooth.

03
Place it a bowl, cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place for it to rise for about 1 hour. Use these tips on raising a perfect dough.

04
After the dough has doubled its size, take it out on a worktop and knead for few seconds. Split it in two, cover one half with a tea towel and spilt the other one into six equal parts. Roll out each part to form 6 equal strands.

05
Lay the six strands side-by-side, then pinch all 6 tops together so they are connected at the top. Fold the pinched bit underneath, so the strands do not fall apart. Braid your challah slowly, closely following the directions above.

06
When you finish braiding both challahs, proof them in a warm place and covered with tea towels for about 30 minutes.

07
While you are proofing your challahs, make the sweet crumble. Simply combine all ingredients, form a neat ball and place in a fridge.

08
Once your challahs are proofed, cover them with egg white or egg wash, sprinkle with sweet crumble (the best way is to grate chilled crumble on a cheese grater and sprinkle on your loaves) and bake in 180ºC for about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!


Pierogi with Green Lentils and Coriander

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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.

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Enjoy!

Iraqi Biryani

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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.

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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.

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes

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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.

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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!

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Enjoy!