Homemade Bread

May 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Homemade Bread

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There is no smell in the world more comforting than the smell of homemade bread. Homemade bread can be found in almost every culture and in a variety of forms. Here is how my mother, her mother, and many other generations of Albanian women before them have been making homemade bread.

This is what you need:

2 cups of water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon oil

Min 4 1/4 cups flour

I have to admit, to me, making bread has always seemed like an overly complicated task. But, after watching my mother make it over and over again, I realized it’s really not that difficult. (For those of you who might be curious. Those are my mothers hands making the bread.)

Start with a large bowl where you will mix all of your ingredients plus have room to allow the bread to rise.

Add the water, sugar, salt, yeast and oil.  Now mix mix mix….

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Gradually begin adding the flour till the dough starts to stick together. Now put your upper body to work and start kneading the dough. Knead it into a nice little neat ball.

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You can see my mother got down, on the floor, on her hands and knees to add a little more strength to her kneading.

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This is what your ball of dough should look like.

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Cover the dough with a wet cheese cloth or a wet paper towel and place the bowl in a warm environment where it can rise slowly. We usually place it in the oven. But under no circumstance should you turn the oven on at this point!

IMG_9872This part of the process requires a lot of patience. You have to wait till the dough has risen to over twice it’s original size.

Once the dough has risen, you can start forming it into smaller balls. (This is of course up to you. You can leave it whole and bake it that way or form it into individual size portions.)

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You need to let the dough rise again. This helps the bread become lighter and crustier.

Finally, bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or till the top is golden brown. Make sure to watch that the bottom of the bread doesn’t burn. To prevent this it’s best to lightly coat the baking dish with a little oil.

Enjoy the wonderful smell of homemade bread that will permeate your home!

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Kime me Vez

May 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kime Me Vez

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This is definitely one of those unique Albanian foods. I have not, as of yet, seen it in any other cultural cuisine. It is one of those meals that can be made in about half an hour and will fill you up. Just one warning though…be prepared to shed a few tears. You will see why.

What you will need:

  • Salt
  • Paprika
  • Garlic
  • 4-6 Eggs
  • Boiling water
  • Ground Beef (You can use pork, turkey or any other ground meat of your choosing)
  • A deep and wide non stick pan

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And last but not least. The most important part of this meal…Onions. Lots and lots of onions.
Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little. 3-6 onions will do. All depends on how many people you are feeding. Think of it as an onion and a half per person.

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Now let the crying begin. Set a pot of water to boil and begin chopping the onions. Be aware though, if your friends and family are around, the smell of the chopped onions will make them cry too. But trust me, it’s all worth it in the end.

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Once everything is chopped, start to saute the onions till they are translucent.

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At this time you can add a the garlic, salt and paprika. You don’t want to add the salt and garlic too early because the first will dehydrate the the onions too soon and the second might burn which will just ruin the dish.

Now, remove the garlic from the pan and begin to cook the ground beef. Add a little salt and paprika to the beef as well.

Then, you can combine the two and add enough water to just barely reach the top of the mix. Make sure to taste for salt because it will be the last time you can stir everything.

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Finally, my favorite part. Crack the eggs slowly on top on the mix. Arrange them around the pan and do not disturb or break the yolk.

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Since, everything except the eggs are cooked, all that’s left is to cover the pot and leave let the mix simmer till the eggs are cooked.

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Each person gets their own egg. Enjoy with bread, fresh pasta or even rice.
Dig in!

Pastice

April 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

Pastice (pronounced “pastiche”)

may not be a traditional Albanian food but it’s so commonly found in most Albanian homes that it’s soon to be a traditional cuisine

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This tends to be our go-to meal on busy weekday nights when we need to make something fairly quickly. This is also a great make ahead meal.

To start off you will need the following ingredients:

  • 6 (six) eggs
  • 2 cups of milk
  • Pasta of your choosing (We usually use Fettucine)
  • Feta Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

While you preheat the oven to 350 degrees, start boiling your pasta. Cook it till it is al dente because it will continue to cook in the over so, you don’t want the pasta to turn into mush.IMG_9666

While the pasta is cooking, begin making the mix in a separate pan. Mix together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and oil. I purposefully left out how much feta cheese to use because everyone puts in their desired amount. IMG_9667I used about a cup and a half of crumbled feta. Mix it in but make sure you leave the feta in chunky crumbled pieces. IMG_9668Once the pasta is al dente, add it to your egg and feta mix. Keep mixing till all the pasta is coated and spread out evenly. IMG_9669

Now place it in the oven and let it cook for 45 minutes or till the top is golden brown. Your nose will be the first to let you know when it’s done!

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You can let it cool a little or you can eat it right away. Either way it will be delicious!

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Now take a bite and enjoy!

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