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!


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!


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!

Delicious Apple Pie with Banana and Cardamom

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Apple_Pie_Banana002

Name and pronunciation: szarlotka [shar-lot-kah]
Description: apple pie
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

It is a delicious twist on my Traditional Polish Apple Pie. Adding bananas instead of upping the sugar is a great solution when your apples are not very sweet. Cardamom is amazing and flavourful, especially combined with cinnamon. Together, so good and easy to make!

10 servings • Preparation time: about 2 hours • Baking time: 50-60 minutes

Tips:

01
If your over tends to underperform at the bottom (like mine), pre-bake the bottom crust for about 10-15 minutes.

02
When you start, make sure butter is cold and very hard.

03
Used what you have in your kitchen to create an original look for your pie. Here, I used a pizza cutter to cut pastry strips and my son’s playdough star cutter, since my cookie cutters were too big.

04
Serve it with our thick, creamy caramel sauce. Amazing!

Ingredients:

Pastry:
300 g all-purpose flour
250 g butter
1 medium to large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
 1½ teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (or a mix of sugar and cinnamon) to dust

Fruit filling:
1 kg apples
 2 bananas
2 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon cardamom (or more to taste)

Method:

01
Make traditional Polish apple pie pastry following these instructions and place it wrapped in a fridge.

02
Peel, cut and cook apples the same way as in the traditional recipe.

03
When the apples are soft, mash them, then add two mashed bananas, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. You can start from a teaspoon of each, but I actually like much more spices in my apple pie. They make fruit (especially apples) so fragrant and delicious.

04
Cool the apples throughly before layering them on the pre-baked bottom. It is an important step, since it will take you a little longer to place ornamental top and you do not want the heat from apples to melt butter in your apple pie pastry.

05
For the decorative top, roll out remaining half of cold pastry and cut any shapes you want. Gently lift them off the workspace with a wide, cold knife or, even better, a dough cutter. Place on cooled apples and bake the same as here.

Enjoy!

Luscious Thick Cacao Caramel Sauce

This sauce is more than just caramel. It is so perfectly thick, silky smooth, milky with a hint of cacao. I based it on traditional Polish chewy fudge candy called “krówki” (little cows). Perfect for any cake or pie, but apple pie especially, since apples and caramel go together so deliciously.

Tips:

01
Seriously, do not stop stirring the sauce even for a second. You will be rewarded for all your hard work by the most perfect caramel sauce you have ever tasted!

Ingredients:

250 ml condensed milk
 200 g honey
150 unsalted butter
1½ cup sugar
2 tablespoon cacao

Method:

01
Mix sugar with sifted cacao with a whisk. It will prevent big lumps of cacao forming in your sauce.

02
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan, preferably with a solid, thick bottom. You can opt for a non-stick pot, too.

03
Set high heat first and keep stirring the mix until all is combined and first bubbles appear.

04
Reduce the heat slightly and keep stirring constantly until all sugar caramelises and the sauce is thick and dark.

05
Take off heat and cool down. When it is cool enough, place the pan in the fridge. The sauce will loosen in room temperature, so it best to take it out at least 10 minutes before serving it.

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!

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!

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.

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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.

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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!