Breakfast Kifle

Kifle (sing. kifla) are one of the most popular Bosnian breakfast breads. In the US kifle are known as a Christmas pastry filled with walnuts, but in Bosnia, kifle are actually any type of bread or pastry made in a shape of a crescent and today I wanted to introduce the most loved and known kind.

Kifle

Every Bosnian bakery or a grocery store sells kifle. They are always fresh, airy and super delicious. They are usually served at breakfast with variety of spreads such as butter, paté, cream cheese, jam, honey, nutella, etc. Sometimes we slice them length-wise and make sandwiches or they can be served instead of bread at a lunch or dinner table.

They are made out of most simple ingredients, found in every pantry and can easily be prepared at home. I usually make them for a weekend breakfast when everyone is home and can take time to enjoy them.

BREAKFAST KIFLE

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 650-700 g (about 5 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 300 ml (1 + 1/4 cup) warm water
  • 200 ml (about 1 cup) warm milk
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) oil

+

  • 1 egg white (lightly beaten)
  • Salt for sprinkling
  • Butter (melted) for brushing

How to prepare:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer bowl and start mixing slowly
  2. Combine water, milk and oil and while mixer is on slow, start adding liquid to the bowl with dry ingredients.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 3-4 minutes
  4. Now let it rest for about 5 minutes and then mix again 3-4 minutes. Kifle dough is supposed to be medium firm. If it’s too soft, add more flour.
  5. Dust your working surface with flour, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it by hand 10-20 times. Place it back into the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise until double in volume (about 1 hour).
  6. Kifle preparation 1Divide the dough in two. Roll each piece into a 45 cm (18 inch) circle. With a pizza cutter, cut each circle once vertically, once horizontally and twice diagonally to get 8 triangles.
  7. Kifle preparation 2To form a kifla, first fold in both corners at a short side of the triangle. Now pressing down roll the bread until the end tip. You can also shape it to look like a crescent. Place it onto a greased baking sheet with the end tip facing down. Repeat will all remaining triangles.

Kifle preparation 3

8. Cover them and let rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
9. Heat your oven to 400 F (200 C).
10. Lightly beat an egg white and brush over bread.
11. Sprinkle each kifla with salt.

Kifle preparation 4

12. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
13. Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and cover for 10 minutes.

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Kifle

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Enjoy! 🙂

Beef Stew with Rutabaga

This is a stew the way my grandma made it; very simple, no fancy ingredients here. It just takes time and Love to make it perfect. My grandma usually made the stew with potatoes and sometimes also with rutabaga which is in my language called “repa”. She would also shred rutabaga and pickle it, or just peel it, cut into thin slices and give it to grandchildren to eat it fresh because it’s healthy.

You will notice this not being a conventional way of preparing a stew (no meat searing); still it works wonderfully and the end result is an amazing combination of tender beef, delicious vegetable and hearty soup.

Beef stew with rutabaga

Beef Stew with Rutabaga

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP cooking oil (I use sunflower)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium carrot (chopped)
  • 1 medium parsnip (chopped)
  • 2 lb (1 kg) stew beef (cut into large cubes)
  • 1 tsp Vegeta spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups (1 l) water (+ a few cups more while cooking)
  • 1 lb (500 g) rutabaga (peeled and cubed)
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

Preparation:

  1. In a heavy bottom cooking pot sauté onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Place cubed beef on the vegetable bed and let it brown well on all sides.
  3. Slightly cover pan and keep sautéing beef and vegetables together for 20-30 minutes. Beef will release juices, so just let everything slowly simmer until all liquid evaporates.
  4. Soon you will hear a frying sound. Make sure you stir well so beef or vegetables don’t burn.
  5. Now is the time to add spices: vegeta, salt, paprika and pepper. Stir once again and make sure meat is well coated with spices.
  6. Add water, bring it to boil and then turn down to medium cover and let is simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours. Some of the water will evaporate, so make sure to check the pot every 20-30 minutes to see if you need to add any water. Meat needs to be covered with water at all times while simmering.
  7. The last 45 minutes of cooking add peeled and cubed rutabaga; adjust spices if needed. Serve warm , garnished with fresh parsley.

Beef stew preparation

Beef stew preparation 2

Beef stew preparation 3

SONY DSC

Beef stew with rutabaga

 

SONY DSC

Tarhana Soup {Sour Dough Soup}

Tarhana soup is a well loved soup in my native Bosnia, as well as in some other countries such as Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Egypt, etc. The noodles are made from sour dough and give a soup that specific taste and tomato sauce just enhances its flavor. So, if you like your sourdough bread, I am sure you will like Tarhana as well.

My maternal Grandmother used to make the noodles from scratch. I am not quite sure of how the whole process works, but I can tell you what I remember from my childhood.

The dough is made with flour, water, salt, possibly yeast (some say yogurt too, or with tomato sauce) and it’s left to ferment for 3-4 days (or more). More flour is added to the mixture each day. When the dough is ready, it is divided into hand-size patties which are then left to dry (best in the airy and sunny spot). After they’re dry they are shredded or coarsely grounded into noodles and stored in plastic containers or jars.

I buy my noodles at the store with Bosnian, Balkan or Middle Eastern products. Tarhana soup can be made in several different ways and with various ingredients. This is my family recipe.

Tarhana soup, trahana

Tarhana Soup {Sour Dough Soup}

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP cooking oil
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 of a medium green bell pepper
  • 1 celery stalk (optional)
  • 1 small zucchini (optional)
  • 3/4 lb (about 350 g) ground beef
  • 1 tsp “Vegeta” spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • A pinch of ground white pepper
  • 15 oz (425 g) can tomato sauce
  • 5 cups (1 liter + 200 ml) water
  • 1 cup (about 200 g) tarhana noodles
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sour cream (optional)

*** All vegetables finely chopped

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oil in a cooking pot and add all finely chopped vegetables. Sauté for 5 minutes then add ground beef.
  2. Sauté ground beef and veggies for another 5-10 minutes, then add spices, tomato sauce and water.
  3. Bring it to boil and add tarhana noodles. Stir well. Let the soup simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally as the noodles tend to stick to the bottom.
  4. Noodles will thicken the soup. If it’s too thick for your taste, you can always add a little water.
  5. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or a tablespoon of sour cream
  6. ENJOY!

Tarhana

Tarhana soup preparation

Tarhana soup - trahana

Tarhana soup - trahana

 

 

Bosnian Pancakes {Uštipci}

In Bosnia, we love our pancakes, our bread and just dough-y things in general. 🙂 We make two basic types of pancakes. The first kind is a simpler, less time consuming and I am talking about those today. The second kind is made with yeast and I will share the recipe some other time.

My recipe may differ a bit from others, but basically there are three main components for a good pancake: eggs, flour and some type of liquid (water, milk, yogurt, buttermilk, etc.)

I make my pancakes with Greek yogurt and I really love them. They have a nice texture and they remain soft even when cold (IF there are any left). What I  love about them is that they are small, so you can grab one or two on your way out. They are a perfect bite (or two) size and make a really delicious breakfast. We spread them with variety of savory or sweet spreads or make them into sandwiches. Some people serve them coated in sugar/powdered sugar. I also had them with maple syrup and they were great, even though traditionally we don’t use maple syrup.

If you are interested in how to pronounce “uštipci”, it would sound something like “oosh-tipsy”  🙂

Bosnian Pancakes Ustipci

Bosnian Pancakes {Uštipci}

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of yogurt (I like to use Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

 

  1. Whisk the eggs until foamy, add yogurt and mix until smooth, add salt and water.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder and start adding to the egg mixture, stirring the whole time.
  3. Batter needs to be a bit thicker than for the American pancakes.
  4. Pour cooking oil into a large frying pan just enough to coat the bottom.
  5. Set the heat to medium.
  6. Prepare a large tray and cover with paper towel.
  7. Grab a spoonful (I use soup spoon) of batter and pour onto the heated oil.
  8. Make sure pancakes have enough space to expand.
  9. When you see bubbles forming around the edges of the pancake, it’s time to turn them over.
  10. Fry them until golden brown on both sides.
  11. When done, place on a paper towel.
  12. Bosnian pancakes can be served with a variety of spreads, such as cream cheese, pâté, jam, nutella, honey, etc. You can split them and make mini sandwiches too. They are firm enough to be picked up and they are usually one or two-bites-size. They are delicious warm or cold.

Have fun making them!

Bosnian pancakes prep

Bosnian pancakes prep 2

Bosnian Pancakes Ustipci

 These are some of the ways to enjoy them:

Bosnian Pancakes Ustipci

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

By request of some of my readers, I will try to post more cooking recipes to my blog. One of the most liked Bosnian summer meals are stuffed peppers.

If you’re not familiar with Bosnian cooking, you should know that we like to cook from scratch, use fresh ingredients, seasonal vegetables and we take pride in what we do. Even though the ingredients and spices are simple, preparation and cooking process are lengthy and produce flavorful, hearty and memorable meals.

I usually make stuffed peppers two ways – stuffed with ground beef and cooked in sauce and the vegetarian way, stuffed with potatoes and rice and baked in the oven.

Today I would like to introduce ground meat stuffed peppers. I usually use ground beef for stuffing. Ground pork, or mix of ground beef and pork can be used as well. I have not tried making them with ground chicken or turkey. I also add a potato to the stuffing mixture, but that’s optional. Also the rice doesn’t have to be precooked. I half-cook mine, since I’ve had stuffed peppers where rice was not fully cooked and I want to avoid that. Most common peppers used in Bosnia are white peppers. I suggest not to use green bell peppers for this recipe, except if they are really small. A good substitute in the US are cubanelle peppers. I usually serve my stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes, but they can be served just by it self and with an addition of some good crusty bread to dip into sauce.

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 white peppers (2.4-2.8 oz OR 70-80 g each)
  • 1 1/3 lb (600 g) ground beef
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) rice
  • 1 large potato (finely chopped)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Vegeta spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)

       + for the sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½  cup (120 ml) tomato puree
  • 4 cups (1 l) water

Preparation:

  1. Wash and dry peppers. Cut open the top and remove all the seeds and membranes. Set aside.
  2. Cook the rice halfway (about 5 minutes) and strain. Set aside.
  3. Finely chop vegetables.
  4. Place ground beef in a medium bowl and sprinkle with all the spices.
  5. Add all vegetables, rice, egg and parsley and mix into a compact mass.
  6. Stuff each pepper and set on a plate next to the stove.
  7. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan. Lightly brown peppers on each side (just until fragrant, remove from the pan and place back on the plate.
  8. Pour the oil from frying into a cooking pot. You will make the sauce now.
  9. Lightly heat the oil, add 2 tbsp flour and stir gently until smooth.
  10. Add ground paprika and salt and stir for about 1 minute. Don’t let it burn.
  11. Add tomato puree and water. Stir and let it boil.
  12. When the sauce starts boiling, place all the peppers inside. Turn the temperature down to medium and simmer for about 45-50 minutes in a half covered pot.

*** Sauce will reduce during the cooking and will become thicker.

Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or just with bread.

Long grain rice

White peppers

Ingredients for stuffed peppers

Stuffing mixture for peppers

Stuffed peppers

Browning stuffed peppers

Stuffed pepper sauce

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Best Wishes for the New Year and a finished soft pastel painting

As we are counting the last hours of the old year and looking forward to the new one, I just want to reflect on the past year and say that it went pretty well for me. I tried to focus on doing things I love. I’ve baked a lot, trying to be inventive and try new things. I’ve tried to take better photos of my food and my surroundings. I tried to spend more time painting. I have actually finished several paintings out of which two were sold in a charity event helping needy Bosnian families and one got an award and it is still displayed in our local museum gallery. I tried to spend more time with my kids, be a better parent, be a good friend and a listener. I tried to keep an open mind and an open heart to the new things that came along. Have I succeeded? Not sure. I am sure of one thing though: I will not stop trying and hoping that this new year will be better in every way not only for me, but also for all of you that are reading this post and for the whole world.

peace on earth

This is my latest painting. The original photo comes from a Croatian photographer Boris Stromar and can be seen at Boris’ website. With Boris’ permission I have used this photo as a reference. The painting depicts river Una, one of the most beautiful rivers of Bosnia and Europe.

This is how I started:

Remembering Bosnia_first drawing

Completed painting:

River Una

My new pastel painting from the Bosnia series – Part 3 – DONE + a new one in making

I’ve finished this painting couple of weeks ago. I am really happy how it turned out. All is left is to frame it and enjoy looking at it! 🙂 I named it REMEMBERING BOSNIA.

Update 01-06-2013: Won an honorable mention for this piece and an article in the local news paper.

This is the new one that I’ve started this week. The theme is the same: Bosnia and river boats.

Classic Vienna Apple Strudel or Wiener Apfelstrudel

Autumn without apple strudel would be like spring without the rain, summer without the sunshine or movies without popcorn. Autumn harvest in Bosnia/Balkan region usually brings a bounty of different kind of apples. Mostly every backyard has some type of a fruit tree, be it a plum, pear, apple or a quince tree. Of course that bounty of different kinds of fruit needs to be preserved in some way or used for delicious desserts. I vividly remember my mom and grandmother making jams, juices and baking in the fall. Nothing was allowed to go to waste.

Now what does Bosnia and Vienna Apple Strudel have in common? For about 40  years at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century Bosnia was under Austria-Hungary Empire rule, which resulted in mixing of cultures and of course influences on Bosnian cuisine (which before reflected mainly Turkish/Ottoman and Eastern influences).

Apple strudel in Bosnia is also known as ‘apple pita’ and can be made in a few different ways. Usually it is made out of paper thin phyllo dough with shredded or sliced apple filling and with addition of sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, almonds, raisins, etc.

Here is one really great recipe for Vienna Apple Strudel. This strudel can be served by itself with a nice cup of coffee or also paired up with vanilla sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Classic Vienna Apple Strudel

[printable recipe]

Serving 8-10

Strudel Dough:

  • 150 ml  (1/2 cup + 2 TBSP)warm milk
  • 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1 TBSP white wine
  • a pinch of salt
    +
    oil for brushing and
    flour for kneading

Filling:

  • 60 g (2.1 oz) bread crumbs
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 50 g (1.8 oz )butter
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) sliced almonds
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) apples
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 40 ml (3 TBSP) dark rum
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) raisins
  • 1/2 TSP cinnamon

+
50 g (1.8 oz) melted butter for brushing
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preparation:

  1. In a mixer bowl with the spiral hooks add flour, egg, oil, white wine and a pinch of salt. Start mixing slowly adding warm milk. Mix for a few minutes until smooth dough forms.  Sprinkle some flour right into the bowl and knead the dough by hand few times and form it into a ball. Place the dough into an oil coated bowl. Make sure the dough is well coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at a warm place for about two hours.
  2. While the dough is resting prepare bread crumbs and almonds for the filling. In a pan melt the butter on a low temperature. Mix bread crumbs and sugar and add it to the butter and let it brown just very lightly (2-3 minutes). Let it cool. Roast the sliced almonds on a low temperature in the pan until fragrant and just starting to brown.
  3. Squeeze the lemon and put the lemon juice into a bowl. Peel the apples, core them and quarter them. Slice into very thin slices. As you slice them, brush some lemon juice over them so they don’t get brown. When done slicing, add all the remaining lemon juice to the apples, add sugar, rum, raisins, cinnamon and almonds. Toss it lightly and set aside.
  4. Melt the rest of the butter and keep it handy. Prepare a clean, large kitchen towel where you will stretch the dough. Dust the towel with some flour.  (I’ve used a 16 X 26 inch/ 40 X 66 cm towel). Now take the dough out of the bowl and place it onto a floured surface (not towel) and roll it a bit with a rolling pin. Transfer it to the kitchen towel and start stretching by placing your hands underneath the dough and pulling from the middle to the sides.  When the dough is nice and thin, cut of the thick edges.   Brush the dough with melted butter.  Spread the bread crumbs over the dough leaving a 2 inch (5 cm) edge all around. Spread the apple filling on the top of the bread crumbs.
  5. This is how to roll the strudel. Flap the 2 short and 1 long edge over the filling. Taking the kitchen towel by the longer flapped edge, roll up the strudel. Still holding the towel transfer strudel to the baking sheet. Bake at 400 F (200 C) for about 20-25 minutes in the lower portion of the oven. Serve warm sprinkled with powdered sugar.  If desired you can also add a side of vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream to it.

Bon Appétit!

My new pastel painting from the Bosnia series – Part 2

Here is the progress from this week. I had a lot of problems with the small boat in the background, so I had to re position it and change the shape of it. Now I think it looks better. I have mainly worked on the lower left corner and somewhat on the big boat. The big boat supposed to show reflection of the clouds since it has some leftover rain inside… I plan to work on the big boat and hopefully finish it next week… Stay tuned my friends.