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! 🙂

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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

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Beef stew with rutabaga

 

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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

Šape…or…Bear Paws shortbread cookies

Šape are one of the most loved, traditional Bosnian treats. When translated to English, šapa (sing.) simply means a “paw”. The old tins were shaped like bear paws, hence the name. I remember playing with my grandmother’s šape tins when I was a little girl. They had that gray and brownish patina from years of use and I wish I had somehow saved them…Today the tins come in all different shapes and can be purchased here. A madeleine tin can also be used to make šape.

Bear paws are made from simple ingredients, readily available in every household. Biting into a šapa can instantly take me back to my grandmother’s little kitchen, with wooden floors, green credenza and an old tin box she kept them in. Šape are made for birthdays, feasts, weddings, christenings, Christmas and almost every other special occasion. They are sort of a shortbread cookie, originally made with lard, but are just as good made with butter. Traditionally, walnuts are used in the cookie, but I’ve seen them made with shredded coconut, poppy seeds or spiced with cinnamon. The crumbly dough is pressed into tin forms, placed onto a cookie sheet, baked and tossed in powdered sugar. They simply melt in your mouth!

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Šape or Bear Paws

[print recipe]

Yields about 30-35 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120 g /4.2 oz lard (or 140 g /4.9 oz butter)
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz ground walnuts
  • 300 g / 10.5 oz / 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 13 g / about 1 tsp baking powder
  • A few tsp of milk (if needed)
  • 1 – 2  tbsp honey (optional)

+

  • Powdered sugar
  • Baking tins
  • Butter (melted) to brush the tins

Preparation:

  1. Beat lard (or butter), sugar and vanilla for about 3-4 minutes, then add egg and lemon zest and mix for couple of more minutes.
  2. Add ground walnuts.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder; add to the lard mixture.
  4. The dough will be crumbly. If too dry, add a tbsp or two milk
  5. Brush the tins with melted butter, fill them about 2/3 with dough.
  6. Place the tins on a cookie sheet and bake at 180 C / 355 F for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown color.
  7. Let them cool down for a minute or two, remove from tins and liberally dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea or dip in milk! 🙂

Sape preparation

Šape forms

Šape

Šape

Šape

Choco-Coconut Squares (Cupavci)

Coconut! You either love it or you hate it! Some of my friends who hate coconut say it’s because of the texture… My daughter used to hate coconut, never wanted to even try anything that had a slightest hint of it, until one day she worked up the courage to try these and fell in love with them.

These choco-coconut squares are a frequent guest at the table of many Bosnian families. If you like chocolate – coconut combination, I can guarantee you these will knock your socks off! 🙂 Now, in Bosnian language these have a specific name. It is weird and funny and quite unappetizing (the name I mean). That’s why I didn’t try translating it into English. Despite the weird name, this desserts is very popular, it is easily made and super delicious!

Choco-Coconut Squares (Čupavci)

[printable recipe]

For the batter:

  • 5 eggs (divided)
  • 125 g (4.4 oz) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp.  vanilla extract)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) self –rising flour
  • 50 g (1.7 oz) plain bread crumbs
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) milk

For the chocolate – coconut dip:

  • 150 g (5.3 oz) semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) butter
  • 100 g (3.5 oz)sugar
  • 150 ml  (about 2/3 cup) milk
  • 150-200 g (5 – 7 oz) coconut (unsweetened, organic, finely shredded)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) heated raspberry jam (or your favorite jam)

Also needed:

  •          28 X 22 cm (9 X 11 inch) rectangular cake pan,
  •          parchment paper,
  •          cooling rack,
  •          small cooking pot and a stainless steel bowl (for the hot water bath)

Preparation:

1. For the batter divide the eggs. Beat the egg whites with a smidgen of salt until firm, set aside. Beat the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla until pale yellow and all the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes).

2. Add milk and mix slowly for another minute. Now start adding flour combined with bread crumbs mixing at a low speed. At the end fold in the egg whites by hand until just combined.

3. Pour the batter into the cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 195 C (385 F) until the top starts getting golden yellow color. Remove from the oven and from the pan  and place it on a cooling rack.

4. When the cake has cooled down completely, cut it horizontally into two halves. Lightly heat the jam and spread over the first half, lay the second half on the top. Now cut the whole cake into squares. If you make three cuts to the longer- and 5 to the shorter side you will get 24 squares.

5. Heat the water in a small cooking pot. Melt the chocolate and butter over hot water bath. Add sugar (if desired), mix it smooth and add milk at the end.

6. Dip each cake square into chocolate. Make sure every side is well coated and then dip in coconut.  Let them rest for about an hour. They are best served at the room temperature!

ENJOY!

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Yeast Strudel with Hazelnuts

I haven’t baked in a while, partly because the summer calls for the resfreshing, no bake, fruity desserts and partly because I was on vacation and just didn’t feel like doing much except relaxing, painting, shopping, and such… Well, last night I got a huge urge to bake! Without a particular reason, without an occasion in sight I just HAD TO BAKE SOMETHING! Those passionate about baking will understand! 😀

Ideas started forming in my mind while I was still at work – something yeasty, but not too heavy and good for breakfast… Strudel! That’s it! We, Eastern European People love our strudel! I think most of every nation of Eastern (and some of Western EU) has one or the other version of the strudel. I usually make two types of strudel – one with a very thin, phyllo-like dough and the other with the yeast dough. Fillings can vary – from a lighter cherry, apple or jam filling to a richer poppy seed, walnut, hazelnut, almond or cream cheese and raisins filling. More info about strudel here.

Yeast Strudel with Hazelnuts                      Printable recipe

Yields two 5 X 9 inches (13 X 23 cm) loafs

Filling:

  • 12-14 oz (350-400 g) ground hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 2-3  tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dough:

  • 1 pack of dry yeast (or 20 g fresh yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 4 cups (512 g) all-purpose flour (used King Arthur)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (if desired)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 cup (236 ml)warm water
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter (very soft)

Preparation:

Filling:

Pour the milk into a cooking pan and let it boil lightly. Add hazelnuts, sugar, vanilla, honey and cinnamon and mix well for a few minutes until the filling thickens. Make sure the filling is spreadable. If is too runny add more hazelnuts. ***You may divide filling into two parts and add 1 tbsp of cocoa or melted chocolate in one half (or add some different flavor to it).

Dough:

  1. Mix the yeast, 1 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes until becomes foamy.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Make an indent in the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix lightly, add the egg and then start adding water. When almost combined, work the butter into the dough.
  3. Lightly dust your working surface with flour and knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes. Grease a bowl with butter and place the dough ball into the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise until double in volume.
  4. Prepare two 5 X 9 inches (about 13 X 23 cm) loaf pans, grease them with butter. Cover your table with a cloth which will be used for rolling the dough. Sprinkle the cloth with flour.
  5. When the dough is ready, divide it in two. Using a rolling pin roll the dough as thin as possible. Make sure it keeps its rectangular shape. The size of my dough was approx. 12 X 20 inches. Spread the filling as thinly as possible. Lift up the cloth and roll the dough as a jelly roll. Do the same with the second piece of the dough.
  6. Shape one roll into “S”, form the other dough into a two-strain braid and place each into a loaf pan. Cover and let is rise for about 1 to 1.5 hours.
  7. Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F (175 C) and bake for another 30 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan. Remove from the pan and cool for another 30 minutes, slice and serve.

ENJOY!