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Serbian Salad

Although the air still hangs crisp with winter, seed sowing season is nearly upon us – that time of year when the window sills of the industrious are stocked with small, peat lined plastic containers. With careful gifts of water and radiant window light, small seeds will crack open and send vivid green shoots through the black, crumbling soil, into the glow. In a few months time, these brave seedlings will make their way outdoors, into the deep, hot sunshine, where they will mature into edible gardens.  Food for our souls. Today, we’re imagining ourselves in this garden, though winter is still upon us. And we’re doing it by nibbling upon a Serbian Salad. This isn’t a recipe, so much as a guide to freshness. The key to a beautiful Serbian salad is simplicity – cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, topped with oil and vinegar… and especially cheese. You want to grate the cheese over the top until your salad looks like a snow-capped mountain. Serves 4 Ingredients: 3 vine-ripened tomatoes 1 cucumber 1 bell pepper …

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Chilled Buckwheat Noodle Salad with Feta & Cracked Black Pepper

It only seems natural that we eat something black during our week at the Black Mountain (a.k.a Montenegro).  But here’s the thing – nothing in life is black and white. There are all sorts of shades of gray (that’s where the beauty is – somewhere in the muddled middle). So, in the spirit of variety, we’re adding a few shades of gray to our pasta. We’ve got black pepper, white feta, and charcoal grey buckwheat noodles with a bit of sparkle from pools of golden olive oil. This is simple as can be and a fantastic chilled pasta salad for a hot summer’s day. And did I mention? It’s also gluten-free. You can buy buckwheat noodles (a.k.a. soba noodles) or make them yourself for a fun afternoon project. I tried this both ways and, while I loved the satisfaction of making the noodles myself, I also loved the easy, breezy simplicity of popping open a package of pre-made buckwheat noodles and having dinner on the table less than ten minutes later. NOTE: You can find buckwheat/soba noodles …

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Moldovan Veggie & Feta Stuffed Zucchini

In honor of Moldova, let’s clear out the weeds. Let’s make room for a garden. A springy, happy sort of place where you can go to daydream in the morning sunlight, with a cup of steaming hot tea at the ready. A place where you can feel your connection to the earth and the soil. Where you can think those thoughts you never have time to think. Where you can finally stop being too busy. While you’re there I’d like you to plant a tiny sprout that will one day grow up into one hundred dream boats. One hundred zucchini boats  that will set your mind to sail and carry your heart to Moldova. You’ll be able to bring anyone you like along for the ride. Are you ready? Let’s go on a Moldovan boat ride. NOTE: Most authentic recipes call for tomato juice mixed with a spoonful or two of vinegar on the bottom of you casserole pan. Instead I opted for a plain tomato sauce to add textural oomph, but the choice is yours. Also, …

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Greek Village Salad | Horiatiki

Serves 4 Mr Picky’s eyes bulged when I told him that an authentic Greek salad does not include lettuce. “I thought all salads had to have lettuce,” he said. I went down the list of ingredients, playing up what might be my favorite salad in the world, simply in the hopes of converting him. He hate olives and vinegar, and barely tolerates tomatoes, so it was a tough sell. Still, Greek salads are on my short list. In New England you can get one at almost every restaurant. Here, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I’ve only managed to find them in Greek restaurants, of which there is sadly a short supply. The good news? It’s spectacularly easy to make at home. I find dressing this salad at least thirty minutes ahead of time gives the flavors a chance to mingle. Ingredients: 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges 1 green pepper, sliced thinly 1/2 an English cucumber sliced thinly, or 1 regular cucumber peeled and then sliced 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly 3.5 ounces feta, cubed 1/2 cup kalamata …

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Spanakopita

Makes about 18 triangles While I probably ate Spanakopita in Greece, I can’t be completely sure. You see, I was much too busy singing “Some say love” to my first boyfriend while walking around ancient ruins, holding hands. Literally. We blushed occasionally. Our palms were sweaty. Gosh. Corny doesn’t begin to describe it, but – even still – I will attempt to convince you of the wisdom of Bette Midler which, ironically enough, applies directly to the mighty spanikopita: It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance. So here’s my message for you: no matter what your trepidations might be, suppress them long enough to make spanakopita. Don’t worry about unwieldy phyllo dough breaking – just keep it covered with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. Don’t worry about falling asleep while making them – borrow a friend to help you. You’ll laugh and conquer the challenge together! And, if you have a little spare time, take a trip to Greece and …

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Savory Cheese Pastry | Banitsa

Serves 6 My husband is officially in love with Bulgaria. To be fair, he didn’t stand a chance. Second only to pure sugar, Keith loves anything that includes butter, pastry, or cheese. This recipe boasts all three, and in eye-popping quantities. Not to say it was love at first sight. It wasn’t. After all, my pastry skills are minimal. But, hey, we can all use a little forgiveness in the kitchen, from time to time. Especially when it comes to pastries. Thankfully, phyllo dough spreads, puffs and crackles haphazardly, hiding flaws brilliantly. Bulgarians serve this vegetarian cheese pastry room temperature or cold with plain yogurt on the side. Add spinach for a healthy variation. Note: Bulgarian yogurt, a little runny and decidedly tangy, is available for purchase at health food stores. Ingredients: 6 eggs 1/2 tsp baking soda 3/4 lb sirene cheese (or feta) 1/2-1 stick butter 1/2 package of thawed phyllo dough (about 21 individual sheets) Method: 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Melt some butter. NOTE: You’ll need half a ton of butter, or …

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Shopska Salad | Shopska Salata

Serves 2-4 Can a salad be seductive? Maybe not. But a salad definitely can be charming and fun, like the boy next door. That’s exactly how I feel about Shopska Salad. Like a school girl, I crushed on this happy combination of crunchy peppers, farmer’s market tomatoes, and red onion. To make the salad even better, I tossed “Barrel-Aged Feta” in the mix. This cheese is just like regular feta with a tad stronger – and a “hair” funkier – flavor. In fact, Barrel-Aged Feta is a great “first” funky cheese for those of you trying to convince a family member to “go funky.” Ingredients 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced 2 tomatoes, chopped 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced olive oil red wine vinegar 2 oz feta cheese (plain or aged), crumbled salt pepper Method: 1. Combine the pepper, tomato, and onion. Sprinkle with oil and vinegar, top with parsley and season. Add the cheese and serve. You could serve this salad unmixed, and let everyone take the pieces they want. As an option, mix in …

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Armenian Spiced Feta | Brinza

Serves 4-8 Spiced feta is wonderful wrapped up in flatbread with fresh herbs. Feel free to improvise on this recipe with your favorite herbs and spices. Ingredients: 1/2 lb feta cheese 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika 1/2 tsp dried tarragon 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp dried cilantro 1/4 tsp sumac (optional garnish) 2-6 sprigs each of basil, oregano, mint, and chives Method: 1. Spread fresh herbs down in a shallow serving dish. Slice feta into 4 slices. Arrange on top of herbs. 2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, paprika, and dried herbs. Drizzle over feta. Let sit for at least an hour, or over night. Right before serving, sprinkle with ground sumac. Votes: 1 Rating: 5 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Spiced feta is wonderful wrapped up in flatbread with fresh herbs. Feel free to improvise on this recipe with your favorite herbs and spices.Armenian Spiced Feta | Brinza CourseAppetizers & Snacks, Sides & Salads LifestyleGluten-Free, Potluck Friendly, Vegetarian Servings Prep Time 4-8people 5minutes …

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Albanian Cornbread

Serves 6-8 The cheese and green onion make this cornbread unique. Dense and flavorful, the cornbread makes a great accompaniment to stews. Ingredients: 1-1/2 cups cornmeal 16 ounces cottage cheese 4 eggs 1 cup chopped scallions, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted 1/4 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp thyme 4 ounces feta cheese, chunked 1/4 tsp salt Method: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8″ square casserole. 2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (cornmeal, cottage cheese, eggs, scallions, melted butter, paprika, thyme, feta, and salt. 3. Pour into prepared casserole and spread evenly. 4. Bake at 400F until lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes. 5. Garnish with remaining scallions. Serve warm. NOTE: This dish was excellent warm, but dries out quickly. On 3/27/12 I adjusted the recipe for more moisture. The first time we gave the little we had leftover to the birds. After the adjustments, even leftovers were moist and yummy. Adapted from Home Cooking Around the World, by David Ricketts and Mark Thomas Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: …

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Leek Pie | Byrek ose Lakror

Serves 8 Byrek ose Lakror emerges from the oven with a beautiful, shining crust. Cut into the pie too soon, however, and your dreams will shatter. You must wait a full hour for the pie’s juices to redistribute. Ingredients: Leek Filling 2 large leeks, cleaned and very thinly sliced (use only the white/light green part. Thick slices and/or green parts won’t cook properly) 6 eggs 1/4 cup greek yogurt (or regular yogurt strained for 30 minutes) 1 lbs. cottage cheese, strained for 30 minutes 4 oz crumbled feta cheese 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme, or dried thyme, ground salt, to taste (remember, feta cheese is very salty) 1/2 tsp pepper Pie Crust 1 package puff pastry 1 egg, beaten Method: 1. Preheat oven to 400F. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except for leeks. When the mixture is smooth and blended, add diced leeks. Set aside. 3. Roll one sheet of puff pastry into a 15″ circle. Place pastry on the bottom of a 9″ pie dish. NOTE: You can also lay the puff pastry down in your pie dish …

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