January 30, 2011

Crepes or Palachinki (Палачинки)

Palachinki (Crepes, or Палачинки) is a popular Bulgarian brunch item. When we were growing up my mom and grandma would make them on the weekends and we would wait around the stove and just grab them as soon as they were done and devour them with either honey, jam or feta cheese! The recipe is quite simple and with the modern kitchen appliances (such as Blenders) everyone can make perfect batter and enjoy delicious home made crepes!

  • 4 eggs
  • 16 table spoons all purpose flour
  • 1 table spoon sugar
  • 1/2 table spoon salt
  • 1/4 table spoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water (sparkling water works great but if you don't have any then tap water is just fine)

Put eggs + flour + sugar + salt + vanilla + milk + water in a blender. Blend until the mixture is nice and homogeneous and there are no more chunks of flour left.

Put very little olive oil in a pan and heat on med/high setting.

Then gently add ~ 2/3 laddle of the batter and swirl the bottom of the pan while adding in order for the batter to be evenly distributed. Cook on med/high heat for ~ 1 min then flip the crepe and cook for another minute.

Serve with your favorite jam or honey or whatever else you like on your crepe.

January 27, 2011

Zelnik (Зелник)

This traditional Bulgarian variant of Banitsa (Баница) is really delicious and our favorite during the Holiday season. Usual recipe calls for leeks, spinach and sorrel, but you can put any leafy greens that you have on hand and you will not be disappointed. Lokuma made this couple of weeks ago and she put kale and it tasted really good! Online you can find other recipes for Zelnik and some of those even include meat, but where we come from we've always had it vegetarian.

1 pack fillo dough
3 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 lb feta cheese, crumbled
3 leeks
1 bunch spinach
1 bunch kale
1/8 cup butter + 1/8 cup olive oil

0. Preheat oven to 400F.

1. Wash the leeks really well to get rid of any dirt and slice them finely (using food processor really helps here). Wash the kale and chop really finely. Wash and chop the spinach.


2. Saute the leeks with a little bit of olive oil over medium heat for about 5 min. Then add the chopped kale and cook with the leeks until fully cooked (10 min). Last add the spinach and cook until all water has been released (5 min).


3. In a large mixing bowl combine the crumbled feta and eggs and mix well. Then add the yogurt and mix until homogeneous consistency.

4. Melt the butter and the olive oil and lightly grease the bottom of a 9' x 13' pan.

5. Place one sheet of fillo dough and grease it slightly with the oil+butter (very easy if you have a brush). Then place a second sheet of dough on top of it and grease again. Place a third sheet and this time add 1/3 of the sauteed greens (distribute evenly along the surface) and 1/3 of the egg+feta+yogurt mix. Cover the filling with new sheet of fillo dough and repeat the layering (pretty much 3 sheets of fillo dough greased lightly in between => filling =>3 sheets fillo dough => filling => 3 sheets of fillo dough => filling => 3 sheets fillo dough).


6. Once done layering, cut the Zelnik into squares and put in the oven.

7. Bake at 400F for ~ 40 min or until nicely brown. You can cover with  aluminum foil for the first 20 min to prevent the edges from becoming too brown.

No-knead Bread

Dona Domata introduced us to this recipe over Christmas and we have been obsessed with it. It is so easy and the bread comes out really tasty. Also you don't have to knead the dough so it is perfect for the lazy bakers :) Marulka and Lokuma had also made delicious breads using this very basic recipe (see previous post).

Recipe (makes four 1 lb loaves):
  1. 6.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour (i use 5 cups all purpose flour + 1.5 cups whole wheat flour)
  2. 1.5 tsp salt
  3. 1.5 tsp dry yeast
  4. 3 cups lukewarm water (~ 100ºF)
In a large mixing bowl mix the yeast with the water until the yeast is all dissolved. Then add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until there are no dry patches left and the mixture is homogeneous. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for at least 2 hours.

Split the dough into four pieces. Take one piece and shape it into a rectangle, dust with flour and put it in the bottom of a 9'x6' pan. Leave the dough in the pan and let it raise for ~ 2 hours. Also, 20 min before baking, preheat oven to 450ºF and put an empty broiler tray at the very bottom tray of your oven that will be used for holding water. The remaining three pieces of dough you can put in separate zip-lock bags and keep it in the freezer for up to 14 days. Then when you want to bake a new batch, take out of the freezer, shape and place in pan and let sit for ~ 2 hours before baking it.


You can slash the surface of the dough with a sharp knife to get a more artisan looking bread.

Place the bread in the oven in the middle tray. Then VERY CAREFULLY pour a glass of water into the empty broiler pan that has been sitting in the bottom tray of the oven and be very careful not to get burned by the steam.

The steam from the water will make the crust really nice and crunchy. Bake for about 30 - 40 min or until the crust is nicely brown and firm to the touch. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting.


January 12, 2011

Grissini (Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes)

Dona Domata reignited my passion for breadmaking with a groundbreaking no-knead & refrigerate approach that she shared with me over the holidays....and I am not the only one going gaga over homemade loaves of bread - fellow bloggers Lokuma, Plodova Salata and Slaninka have all started baking bread from scratch on a regular basis. Since Christmas, I have experimented with multiple whole grain recipes using the same method and have baked pizza, flatbread, crackers, foccacia, boule, pain d'epi, ficelle and just now...grissini.

I won't go over the mechanics in detail here as I am told that MM and Slaninka will be sharing their tips and tricks for making artisan bread in 5 minutes in a detailed post ( stay tuned). Instead, I'd like to show you a quick idea for using your refrigerated dough whenever you don't feel like waiting 20-90 minutes for a proper bread rise or just want a crunchy snack in 15 -20 minutes flat...

Breadsticks are super easy to make and you can easily customize them to your liking - I sprinked mine with garlic salt and cayenne pepper for a little kick. I can imagine that they would be wonderful with a touch of parmiggiano regiano and some rosemary... I used a Bavarian-style whole grain pumpernickel bread dough which was fantastic but you can easily sub any of the ABin5 or HBin5 pre-mixed doughs...

Adapted from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups rye flour
2 1/1 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten ( I used Bob's Red Mill's gluten - thank you Lokuma!)
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 cups lukewarm water

If using a baking stone, allow for a 30 minute preheat to 400F, if not 5 min should be fine. Shape the dough into a ball using the cloaking method then roll the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with salt and then cut into strips (you can vary the thickness and width of the strips depending on your taste - thicker / wider strips will yield chewy and doughy breadsticks, while thinner / narrower strips will result in crunchy grissini). Bake for 10 - 16 minutes depending on thickness and width.