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!


The Best Doughnuts with Lemon Glaze with Strawberry and Rose Filling

Name and pronunciation: pączki z różą [punch-key z roo-Jean; “Jean” prononuced in a French way]
Description: doughnuts with rose filling

 

I love Polish doughnuts! They are absolutely delicious, not too sweet and much less dense than many other types of doughnuts. Also, they are always in a shape of balls and most often with lovely filling inside. They resemble berliners, but are more delicate inside. The most traditional type of Polish doughnuts is one with a rose jam filling and topped with thick glaze and candied orange peel.

10 doughnuts • Preparation time: about 45 minutes • Resting time: 1 hours plus 30 minutes • Frying time: about a minute for each doughnut

Tips:

01
Make sure you use enough flour for dusting your doughnuts before proofing. They will be very delicate and you do not want them to stick.

02
When placing your risen doughnut in the oil, handle them very gently. They need to stay perfectly round and fluffy.

03
While I absolutely love my doughnuts with a filling, my family prefer plain doughnuts, only glazed. It is perfectly fine, they will be lovely either way!

04
Every rose is edible, but you should never ever consume commercial roses from flower shops. They are treated with many chemicals and are never safe to eat. You can get dry rose buds in Asian shops or health stores, in a tea section. Simply remove the green parts and add the rest to the fruit.

05
You can mix the glaze with a spoon, but I like using a blender to make it super smooth.

Ingredients:

Doughnuts:
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 ½ cup warm milk
 2 yolks
 1 egg
 35 g butter
 4 tablespoons vanilla sugar
7 g dry yeast
⅓ teaspoon salt

Filling:
 4 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
 4 tablespoons sugar
 10 rose petals
 dash rosewater (can be replaced with plain water)

Lemon glaze:
 2 cups powder sugar
 lemon juice

Method:

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

02
Meanwhile, beat the yolks with the egg with vanilla sugar until they are very fluffy and almost white.

03
Sift flour with salt into a mixing bowl. Add milk, yeast and eggs beaten with sugar, and gently mix.

05
Knead for about 15 minutes. The dough will be very sticky at first, but dusting the worktop with some flour will do the trick.

06
After 15 minutes, add melted, cooled butter and keep kneading. It seems like there is too much moisture at first, but keep kneading. Soon you will end up with a perfect, smooth dough. Keep going for another 15 minutes.

07
Cover and place in a warm place to raise for about an hour.

08
Use this time to make a filling. Making the filling is super easy. In a small saucepan, place strawberries, add a dash of rosewater, rose petals and sugar. Start with about 4 tablespoons of sugar and add more if you need to. Simmer on low heat and keep stirring every so often, so it doesn’t burn. Stop when the filling is nicely thick. Cool.

09
After an hour, you dough should be twice the size. Knead a little bit to let the air out and roll out on a worktop. Cut about 10 circles with a cake cutter or roll into 10 equal balls. You can weigh the dough portions to make sure they are the same. Dust with flour generously, cover with a tea towel and place on a flat surface to proof. Keep them quite far from each other, they will raise significantly.

10
Now, it is time to deep-fry them. I like using a wok for it. Heat up enough oil to cover a half of your doughnuts. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle when you place your doughnuts, but they should not brown too fast or they will burn. Gently place about 3 doughnuts in the oil and fry. When the bottom side is nicely browned, flip them using a straining spoon. Continue with the rest.

11
When brown on both sides, it is time to remove them from oil and place on a cooling rack.

12
If you choose to add filling, you need to do it when your doughnuts are just cool enough to handle, or the filling will not have enough space inside. You can either use a piping bag with a special, long tip, or simply get a syringe (the largest size). Pierce each doughnut on a side (the light ring is the softest part) and inject a portion of the filling to the middle of your doughnuts.

13
When cooled completely, cover with lemon glaze. To make glaze, simply add lemon juice to the sugar few drops at the time and mix energetically. Powder sugar mixes with the smallest amount of liquid and you need your glaze very thick, so be careful not to add too much juice at once. Dip doughnuts in gaze and sprinkle with finely grated lemon peel before the glaze sets.

Enjoy!

Most Delicate Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze, Rose Petals and Walnuts

I am very adamant about cakes that are too dry or too hard, so I absolute adore this recipe. The cupcakes are feather light, delicate and very moist inside. They also come out with flat tops, which makes them perfect for decorating. As it happens, no one in my family likes buttercream, so I always glaze them, or dust them and I love such neat, elegant finish.

Approximately 12 servings • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Baking time: 20 minutes

Tips:

01
The better you cream your ingredients, the more delicate the result. Butter and eggs need to beaten as well as possible, so take your time until they are smooth, visibly fluffy and almost white in colour.

02
Be very careful when you glaze your cupcakes. Sugar gets extremely hot and sticks to your fingers, so any encounter with skin is highly unpleasant.

03
Do not worry that if cupcakes change their height quite a lot during baking. It is perfectly normal. They will rise significantly at first, but then reduce to flat tops at the end.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
185 g unsalted butter (room temperature or softened but not melted in oven or microwave)
 235 g sugar
185 g all-purpose flour
125 ml milk
100 g baking chocolate
2 medium to large eggs
1 tablespoon cacao
 2 teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (optional, to decorate)
dry rose petals (optional, to decorate)
 crushed nuts of your choice (optional, to decorate)

Lemon glaze:
½ lemon (squeezed)
 1 cup powder sugar

Method:

01
Melt the chocolate using this tip. Set aside to cool down.

02
Meanwhile, beat the butter with sugar as well as you can. It needs to be very fluffy and white.

03
Separately, beat the eggs. Again, make sure they are fluffy and almost white. It is important for lightness of you cupcakes later.

04
Now, come back to the creamed butter. Add melted, cooled chocolate and blend together with a mixer using slower speed. After that, add the beaten eggs and gently blend as well.

05
Sift the flour, cacao and baking powder into the batter. Gently mix with a blender on a slow setting.

06
At the end, add milk and blend gently on a slow setting.

07
Use silicone moulds or a cupcake tray prepared with paper liners. Fill out the forms at about ¾, leaving a bit of space for the cupcakes to rise. Bake at 180ºC for about 20 minutes. Cool down thoroughly before decorating.

08
In a small saucer, mix the lemon juice and powder sugar, and heat up continuously mixing. Take off the heat and mix for a while longer.

09
When your glaze starts cooling down and thickening, take your cold cupcakes, turn upside and gently dip in the glaze until the top is completely covered. Be careful not to hold the cupcake in hot glaze too long. You do not want the cupcake top to stick to the glaze too much and tear off the cupcake. Finish dipping with a little twist and lift. Add your dry toppings to the hot glaze and set aside to cool thoroughly.

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!

Classic Marble Babka


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: babka [bah-b-kah]
DESCRIPTION: marble cake
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

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Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Babka004

In Poland, we usually bake babka for Easter, but it is so quick, easy to prepare and everyone loves it, so it is great for any party or just as a weekend’s treat. There are many different recipes for babka, but I really like this one, since the cake is nice and moist inside, and stays fresh for good few days.


Depending on your form, about 12-16 servings • Preparation time: about 90 minutes • Baking time: about 60 minutes


INGREDIENTS:


250 g all-purpose flour
220 g sugar
150 g unsalted butter
5 eggs
 5 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon potato flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla powder

METHOD:


01
Melt the butter in a saucepan.

02
Sift both flours together with the baking powder to make sure they are thoroughly mixed.

03
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are shiny, silky smooth, and almost white.

04
Once the eggs are ready, add the oil and butter. It is best to keep mixing while slowly trickling the butter in. This way the butter will get mixed into the eggs immediately and not sink to the bottom of your bowl.

05
Split the eggs into two equal parts to make them into two different flavours. You will also need to split the flour. Now, add vanilla powder and a half of the flour to one of the bowls with beaten. Blend until all ingredients are perfectly mixed. This is will be your vanilla batter.

06
Then, take out two tablespoons from the other half of the flour and replace them with two tablespoons of cocoa. Mix the cocoa into the flour with a whisk, before adding them to the second bowl with beaten eggs. Blend until perfectly combined. This way your chocolate batter is ready as well.

07
Grease the form with oil and get the oven hot to about 180ºC. Pour both flavours of batter into the form in patches alternating the flavours. After you have finished, take something thin and long, such as a chopstick or a kitting needle, and gently drag it around the form. Do not mix the batters, just stir them a little for a nice marble effect.

08
The way of baking a babka is very important. It needs to raise equally on all sides and not burn. Start from about 180ºC for about 30 minutes, then bake for another half an hours at about 160ºC. Check on your cake from time to time during baking (through the glass, opening the oven will lower the temperature) and if you notice it is rising more on one of the sides, you can turn the form and reduce the temperature a little. It may crack a bit, do not worry about it. Getting it absolutely perfect may take one or two goes, since it differs from one oven to another.

09
Babka needs to have a nice, golden crust. When you see it, take it out and check the inside. In order to do that, use a thin, metal probe, such as a knitting needle, and pierce the cake all the way through. Any liquid batter will stick to the needle and make it dirty. It is a sign your babka is not ready yet. Bake it until the probe is perfectly clean.

10
When ready, take it out of the oven and cool before flipping onto a plate and gently removing the form. Dust with powder sugar, or finish with caramel or lemon glaze.

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
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Enjoy!

Rich Chocolate Cake

our_eastern_kitchen_chocolate_cake001


This is by far my son’s favourite cake. He asks me to make it for him for his birthday every single year, without a fail. It has a rich chocolatey taste, but it is not too sweet and has a very soft, brownie-like consistency and texture. It is also so easy to make!

Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Baking time: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup milk
 100 g baking chocolate
 80 g butter
2 eggs
✽ 1 baking powder
✽ pinch of salt
✽ topping of fresh fruit and/or orange, lemon or lime zest (optional)

Ganache:
100 g dark chocolate
100 g butter (could be a little less)

Lime whipped cream:
 250 g mascarpone
 250 ml crème fraîche
 1 lime

Method:

01

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Be careful not to burn it, so as soon as it has melted take it off heat and add the chocolate. Keep stirring and hot butter will melt the chocolate safely and turn it into a silky, shiny ganache.

02
Add milk and mix thoroughly.

03
Beat eggs with sugar until they are fluffy, shiny and almost white.

04
Sift the flour with baking powder, add wet ingredients and gently fold in the two together, but only until they are combined.

05
Line a round baking form with parchment paper and bake in 175ºC for around 35-40 minutes, depending on your oven. The best way to check wether it is done is to pierce it in the middle with a metal skewer (my mum always used a metal knitting needle). Raw cake sticks onto the metal. It needs to be perfectly clear.

06
Cool down and once the cake is cold, make chocolate ganache. Heat up the butter and once melted, but not browned, take off the heat and add chocolate. Keep stirring, until perfectly combined, shiny and silky. Cool down a little to thicken your ganache, then gently pour over the cake. Use a spatula or a cake scraper to delicately smooth out if needed. Decorate with fruit while the ganache is still soft, but not too hot.

07
I like serving it with lime whipped cream. First whip crème fraîche, then add mascarpone and keep whipping until it thickens. Finish by adding fresh lime juice. After plating, sprinkle with freshly grated lime peel for added citrusy depth.

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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.

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pierogi004
Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pierogi003

Enjoy!

Simple Chocolate Crackle Cookies

My family loves these simple cookies. They are chocolatey, but not too sweet. You need to plan them a little in advance, since the dough has to harden in a fridge for at least few hours.

Approximately 30 cookies • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Cooling time: at least 2 hours, could be overnight • Baking time: 12 minutes

Tips:

01
If you can prepare the dough the day before, do. It can be chilled in a fridge overnight, no problem. If the dough is not cold enough, icing sugar will melt into the cookie and you will lose the nice crackle effect.

02
If cannot chill them for more than 2 hours, do not worry. It should be enough, just split the dough in few pieces, this way it will chill more quickly.

Ingredients:

225 g baking chocolate
 110 g butter
✽ 1⅔ cups flour
⅔ cup sugar
✽ 3 eggs
✽ 2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon baking powder
✽ pinch of salt
✽ powdered sugar for rolling

Method:

01
Melt the butter and chocolate in a small pot. Use my tip to melt them easily and safely. Leave the pot to cool in a fridge.

02
Take the eggs and separate whites and yolks. First beat the whites until perfectly stiff and then add sugar (in 4 parts with few seconds of blending in between adding each part), and then yolks (one by one) and vanilla.

03
Now mix both the beaten eggs and the chocolate. You can keep gently blending, or you can do it by hand. If you prefer to mix by hand, make sure you are using a wide, wooden spoon and fold the chocolate in with the eggs.

04
Mix flour with salt and baking powder thoroughly, then mix them in with the wet ingredients. Form a ball from the dough, wrap to prevent from drying (I use beeswax covers, not to use plastic cling film) and chill until cold and hard.

05
After few hours (or a night), prepare the oven to baking (165ºC, line the tray with baking paper) and use a tablespoon to portion the dough. I use a measuring tablespoon, it has sharper edges and makes the process easier. From each portion make a small ball, roll it in icing sugar evenly and place on the tray to bake. No need to keep spaces too big, the cookies will get larger, but will keep their shape.

06
Bake for about 12 minutes (I love watching them crack) and cool.

Enjoy!