Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spring In Our Garden

 

Homemade Phyllo Dough

In Bosnia and neighboring countries phyllo dough (orignally jufka – read yoofkah) is often made for pastries such as pita/burek or baklava. Even though phyllo can be bought at the store or bakery, fresh, homemade phyllo is always the best! In the past it was very desirable for a young woman to know how to make jufka. Often after a girl learned how to make phyllo, family members would jokingly say “Well now you CAN get married!” Sooo, I hope you can imagine how important phyllo dough is in a young girl’s life and in what kind of pressure I was to learn how to make it! :) A Bosnian husband wants a wife who knows how to make pita and baklava! All jokes aside, I really like that I’ve learned how to make jufka, to keep tradition alive and to treat my family and friends with this delicious food of my ancestors.

Phyllo dough can be made two ways (that I know of). One, with a very long rolling pin and other, with pulling and stretching dough by hand until paper thin. I use the second technique because it’s easier and somewhat less time consuming.

When making phyllo dough, give yourself plenty of time, as this is a process of kneading – resting – kneading – resting – resting – stretching – baking… plus preparing the filling. It is time consuming, but so well worth it in the end!

There are different recipes for phyllo, which warry in adding or excluding one or two ingredients. The key ingredients are flour, warm water and salt. Some add an egg to it, some add vinegar, some oil, depending on how it’s made in their family. I also want to point out that you can’t use any kind of flour for phyllo. I’ve tried 4-5 different brands with horrible results (the dough wouldn’t stretch, it was rubbery and ended up in the trash can). In the US the best flour for phyllo (in my opinion) is King Arthur all-purpose flour.

Also, there are different ways of shaping phyllo pastries. Two traditional Bosnian ways are to shape it as swirls or layer it. Here I will show how to make pita/burek swirls.

Homemade Phyllo Dough or Jufka (Yufka)       Printable recipe

*** This is a recipe for a larger quanity. You may use just half the measure.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups (640 g) flour (King Arthur all-purpose flour)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ cups (530 ml) warm water
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil

Also needed:

  • Cotton table cloth or fabric to cover the table for stretching the dough
  • Pizza knife or any sharp knife
  • Large baking pan
  • Oil to grease the pan

***FILLINGS (For the above quantity of dough use about 1 lb of any two fillings below)

Cottage cheese filling (cottage cheese, sour cream, egg and salt)

Ground beef feeling (finely chop onion and sauté in a bit of oil, add ground beef and sauté just until brown, salt and pepper to taste)

Spinach filling (blanched spinach, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, sour cream, egg, salt)

Preparation:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Combine warm water, vinegar and oil and slowly start pouring into flour mixing the whole time. If the dough is sticky add more flour.
  2. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (3 pieces if using ½ above measure). Knead each piece on a flour dusted surface about 50 times and form it into a ball. Make sure each ball is dusted with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
  3. After resting the dough balls will be soft to touch and smoother than before. Repeat the kneading process and again form them into balls, just this time coat every piece with cooking oil so they look nice and shiny. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rest for another 20-30 minutes.
  4. Brush your working surface with oil and roll out the ball of dough into an approx. 12 X 7 inch oval (30 X 18 cm). Brush the top of it with oil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Cover the table with cloth, grease the baking pan and pre-heat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
  6. Place the rolled out dough piece on a rolling pin and transfer it onto the cloth. Put both hands under the dough with palms up and stretch gently from the middle to the sides. The dough is supposed to be elastic and stretchy (if not, let it rest for about 10 more minutes then try again). After that, stretch the sides so the whole piece covers the table.
  7. Please see the photos on how to add filling and wrap it.

Bake until golden brown and enjoy!

Turkish Pide Bread

For a few weeks now, my son has been asking me to make Turkish Pide Bread. He calls it Turkish Pizza. In many ways pide is similar to pizza, with a somewhat different taste. Honestly, I like it better than pizza. This recipe yields 6 quite large pide breads. It requires some time to make it, and I got a bit tired, but seeing my son so happy to have one of his favorite foods, it was well worth it! :)

Pide dough:

  • 4 1/2 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) warm water
  • 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil

Filling:

  • 1/2 lb (250 g) tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/2 long red sweet pepper or red bell pepper
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper
  • 3/4 lb (350 g) ground beef
  • 1 TBSP Vegeta spice (not in original recipe, but I use it)
  • salt, pepper, cumin to taste
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 6 thick slices of Swiss cheese (or any cheese you like)

Preparation:

1. First prepare the dough. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over the warm water, cover and let it rest for 5 – 10 minutes. When bubbly, pour into flour and mix well. Add salt and olive oil and form a ball of dough. Let it raise for about 30 – 45 minutes.

2. While dough is resting, prepare filling. Put 3 tbsp of olive oil into a pan. Place tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, peel them and coarsely chop them. Slice onions into thin rings, chop red and green bell pepper, saute it in olive oil shortly. Add ground beef, add all the spices and tomatoes and saute only until beef gets just brown. Set aside.

3. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long oval shape. Fold the sides inward and then twist one end to the right and the other end to the left. Put them onto a greased large baking pan. Place a slice of cheese in each pide.

4. Divide filling into 6 equal amount and put on the top of each pide. Bake at 400 F (200 C) for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Ha! Kreativ Blogger Award!

♦ I addition to a warm, spring, sunny day, blue skies and overall feeling of cheerfulness and joy, my day got even better when I learned that I’ve been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award by Donna at Sugared Pecan! Donna has a lovely blog and her recipes and writting are full of southern charm! I would love to try Donna’s Pumpkin Butter and Smokey Shrimp and Grits! :) Thank you Donna, I am honored that you find me deserving of this award!

Here are the rules of nomination for this award:

1. Thank the blogger who gave you the award and link back to them,  2. List seven things about yourself your readers may find interesting, 3. Nominate seven other bloggers, provide links and let them know, 4. Copy and paste logo and place it on your blog.

♦ Here we go, 7 things about me:

1. I believe in Truth and Love!

2. I paint. This is Mostar (a city in Bosnia) that I’ve painted in soft pastel.

3. I love dogs! (This is our Milo)

4. Tulips are my favorite flowers! (If you find yourself in Netherlands in spring time SEE the Tulip Fields – no words to describe the beauty!)

5. I am fascinated by old world architecture. (In this photo – city of Zadar, Croatia)

6. I live close to the Lake Michigan (This is my son in the photo and yes my hand was shaking as I was taking it, even though below is just sand, sand, sand)

7. I love knitting, especially  Irish Aran Pattern. This is on of my scarves I finished recently.

♦ Following 7 Blogs I nominate for the Kreativ Blogger Award:

1. http://homeingreece.wordpress.com/

2. http://korenainthekitchen.com/

3. http://katyarichkitchen.com/

4. http://sourdoughtheangrybaker.wordpress.com/

5. http://ilovekytheraen.wordpress.com/

6. http://justasmidgen.com/

7. http://theintrepidbaker.wordpress.com/

It is really hard to end the list here, since there is so many talented and creative people out there.

♦ Kreativ Blogger Award:

Sibella

Strawberry Yogurt Cake

I woke up today to a rainy morning and clouds, but a few hours later all that turned to a beautiful, sunny day. Seeing the sun and first spring flowers blooming out there I was so inspired to bake something light and springy. This Strawberry Yogurt Cake came right to my mind. These kind of yogurt and cream based cakes are often made in Germany. If any cake can be called light, then this is it (despite the cream :) ). There is no butter and I excluded egg yolks! There is plenty of yogurt which makes it very refreshing and then strawberries to make the whole experience complete. It’s almost as if a smoothie was transformed into a cake. I LOVE IT, I hope you will too!

Strawberry Yogurt Cake                Printable recipe

For the cake:

  • 3 egg whites (large eggs)
  • A smidgen of salt
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder

Spring form cake  pan 9 in (23 cm) in diameter; Parchment paper round (same diameter as the pan)

For the filling:

  • 1 ¼ cup (300 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (50 g)sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) plain yogurt (2%)
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries + 4-5 for decoration
  •  2 envelopes of plain gelatin
  • 4 tbsp water

Cake preparation:

  1. Add smidgen of salt into egg whites and beat them until fluffy, add sugar and beat few minutes more. Combine flour and baking powder, fold into egg white mixture by hand.
  2. Preheat oven to 365 F (185 C). Line the spring form with parchment paper and pour the cake batter in. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool completely. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake and return the cake to the form.

Cake filling:

  1. For the filling whip the cream until dense, add sugar and whip for one more minute. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. In another bowl add yogurt, lemon zest and sugar and mix by hand until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Put 4 tbsp cold water in a small cooking pot, empty contents of 2 gelatin envelops into it, mix it so there is no crumbs. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
  4. Wash strawberries, remove stems, put into blender and blend until liquid. Add strawberries into yogurt mixture.
  5. Place the cooking pot with gelatin on the stove and lightly heat it, only until dissolved, do not let it boil! Add to it about ½ cup yogurt mixture and mix well. Now pour the gelatin mixture into remaining yogurt mixture, add whipped cream and again mix by hand until it all blends and looks like a strawberry smoothie.
  6. Pour the filling into the spring form and on the top of the cake. Filling will be liquid and that is ok.
  7. Refrigerate for 3 hours minimum or best over night. After that filling will become dense (like jello).
  8. Remove spring form ring, decorate the cake with whipped cream and strawberries.

BON APPETIT!

Herbed Butter

It has been unusually warm in the Midwest the past couple of weeks. Somehow we jumped from winter right into summer. Crocuses and daffodils usually bloom in April, but this year they are blooming right now. It is not that I am complaining, I’m really loving it. :) People are out and about, walking their pups, cleaning their yards and just enjoying the outdoors. You can’t miss the inviting smell of grilling either. It is that time of the year when you can get out of the kitchen, fire up your grill and enjoy good food and conversation. As my preparation for the grilling season, I made some herbed butter today. It really goes with any kind of meat, and possibilities (as of which herbs to use) are endless, just depending on your taste.

Herbed Butter               

 Printable recipe

  • 2 sticks (226 g) butter (room temperature)
  • ½ tsp salt (exclude salt if salted butter)
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme

*** Choice of herbs is all yours, You can mix and match what you like the most.

Whip the butter with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add salt, pepper and garlic and mix for about one minute. Add all the herbs and mix them into butter by hand.

I usually store Herbed Butter two ways:

1. I take plastic wrap and form the butter into a log. I freeze it and then when needed take out of the freezer and cut into ¼ in slices and top the grilled meat with it.

2. Other way is to fill the butter into a cake decorating bag with the star tip and make individual stars on a flat surface covered with parchment paper. Freeze the stars and then store them in a plastic container in the freezer.

My Boeuf Bourguignon Adventure

For quite some time I’ve been thinking about making the famous Boeuf Bourguignon. This Christmas I received Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” as a present from my husband and kids. I was really delighted to have this book! The first recipe I read was Boeuf Bourguignon! I was ready to take on the challenge and make this delicious dish.

Finally, about four or five weekends ago, I decided I had enough time to make it. On Saurday I only managed to make the beef stock since I was baking and didn’t finish in time to do more. So, I decided that Sunday was The Day! I woke up quite late, but managed to make it to the store, despite the ‘lake effect snow’ and the freezing winds. I bought all the missing ingredients and then I remembered that I only had white wine in the house and the recipe called for a good red wine. My problem was that you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays in Indiana. It really is nonsense, but it is a law and it supposed to be followed I guess… Sooo, determined to make the Boeuf Bourguignon THAT DAY, I got into my car and headed toward Michigan (where you can, as in any other normal place, buy alcohol on Sunday). Luckily, Michigan isn’t too far from here, just a few miles North, but the whirling snow and strong winds were starting to make this a real challenge. Oh my God, this Boeuf Bourguignon better be good!

Finally, I made it to a small liqour store just a few miles accros the Michigan State line. I thought they might not even sell any good red wines… As I was walking toward the door, in a split second my legs went under me in and I fell on my back. Ughh, #@!!& the Bouef Bourguignon! My behind was hurting soooo bad! Well, I thought since I made it this far, I might as well walk in and get the stupid wine! Amazingly, for such a small liquor shop, they had quite a nice selection of imported wines, so I decided to go for Chianti.

The drive back home was just as much fun. I could barely sit on my butt, but I was more than determined to cook this thing! As soon as I came home and started cooking, I was feeling much better ! About 5 hours later we had probably one of the top ten dishes I’ve ever had. The beef was tender, the wine sauce was superb and the whole dish was just very rich and flavorful. No regrets here!

Boeuf Bourguignon printable recipe

Boeuf Bourguignon (By Julia Child)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
  • Slotted spoon
  • 6 ounces (170 g) bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups (700 ml) full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups (500 – 700 ml) brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs

Directions

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

Prepare onions and mushrooms

Braised onions

  • 18 – 24 peeled pearl onions
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ tbsp oil
  • ½ cup beef stock (or bouillon, red wine or water)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • ½ bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp thyme

Directions:

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions andd saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown evenly. Be careful not to break the skins.

Pour in the liquid and season to taste. Wrap the herbs in cheesecloth and add the herb bouquet.

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and serve them as they are or in another recipe.

Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp oil
  • ½ lb fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small or quartered if large

Directions:

Place a non-stick skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms.

Toss and shake the pan for 4 – 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface and the mushrooms will begin to brown.

As soon as they have brown lightly remove from the heat.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Bon Appetite!

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