Placki Ziemniaczane

Placki Ziemniaczane is the Polish version of the ever so popular potato pancakes and my favorite as well. I love having these dainty rounds for a simple lunch or as a side to a beautiful European dinner. The finished batter should look like mush but they fry up as perfect little circles.

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2 eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves
Sunflower oil for frying
Sour cream to serve

1. In a food processor add potatoes, eggs, flour, salt and garlic. Blend well until pureed. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat add enough oil to fry pancakes (about 1-14 inch).

2. Drop tablespoonfuls of potato mixture into skillet and spread out to a 3-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick.

3. Fry until brown on the bottom (don’t turn until the pancake is brown or it will stick), about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the pancake and fry the other side 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sour cream.

Yields: 12

Jani me Fasule

This is not only the most popular dish in Greece but Albania as well. The two countries share many recipes. The Greek dish however uses olive oil and mint instead of butter and paprika. This is a hearty, flavorful thick soup perfect with a light meal or cold night.

2 cups of dry white beans, soaked overnight, wash and rinse
4 cups water
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped paprika
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder

1. In a 4-quart saucepan add beans and water. Bring to a full boil and cook for 10 minutes. In a small skillet on medium heat add butter and onion. Cook until tender. Add to beans. Add tomato paste, parsley, paprika, salt and chili powder as well. Mix well. Reduce heat to low and cook covered 3- 4 hours. Adding more water if needed.

Yields: 6 servings

Albanian Walnut Cake

This traditional Albanian dessert is everything and more you could ask for in a cake. It is not too sweet at all which can be a big turn off for most people when eating cake. Toast your walnuts in the same pan as you make your cake and do not rinse it. As the walnut toast they extract a beautiful oil that taste amazing mixed in with the batter as your cake cooks. I bet you can not eat just one slice of this cake!

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup laban
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
3/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, 3/4 cup sugar, butter, eggs, yogurt and laban. Mix well with a hand blender. In a 9×13 inch baking pan add walnuts and roast for 5 minutes in pre-heated oven.

2. Place toasted walnuts on chopping board and chop. Add walnuts to batter, mix well. Spray the same baking pan with cooking oil then add batter. Cook for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan on high heat add water, lemon juice and 1 cup sugar. Bring to full boil then reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes occasionally stirring. Set aside and allow to cool. After the syrup has cooled pour all over the top of cake and serve.

Yields: 12 servings

Chicken With Be’chamel

I love this easy to make chicken covered in the mouth-watering French be’chamel. This meal taste fabulous served along with rice and vegetables. I always save my chicken broth after I have used it. That stuff is pure gold to me when cooking. You can cook about anything in it and it makes everything taste simply amazing.

1 large whole chicken, cut into 4 pieces
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 small white onion, diced
1 bay leaf
6 green cardamom pods1  recipe for be’chamel sauce click here

1.  In a 8 quart pan add chicken, celery, carrot, onion, bay leaf and cardamoms. Cover chicken with water. Allow to come to a full boil then reduce heat to low covered. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. (Reserve chicken broth and place in refrigerator for later use.)

2. Turn oven broiler on high. On a baking sheet lined with foil place chicken pieces. Place under broiler and allow chicken to get crispy 5-10 minutes. Serve chicken with be’chamel sauce over it.

Yields: 4 servings