Pascale's Kitchen: Fun, easy dishes

I do love having something spicy and savory simmering on the stove, or something scrumptious baking in the oven that fills the entire house with a sweet aroma.

ORANGE COOKIES (photo credit: PASCALE PERETZ-RUBIN AND DROR KATZ)
ORANGE COOKIES
(photo credit: PASCALE PERETZ-RUBIN AND DROR KATZ)
I love to bake and cook, and I’m always very good at finding one reason or another to be busy in my kitchen. Either one of my kids has just told me he’ll be coming home from the army, or guests are coming over, or I just wanted to try out a new recipe I heard about.
But I also use immersing myself in the kitchen as a way to calm myself during difficult times, as cooking for me is very therapeutic. And one of the most therapeutic cooking activities for me is preparing jam and pickled vegetables.
Despite the fact that I love to cook and bake, I also like getting done with it quickly and easily so I can move on to other tasks in my busy schedule. I do love, however, having something spicy and savory simmering on the stove, or something scrumptious baking in the oven that fills the entire house with a sweet aroma.
I step into my kitchen, roll up my sleeves, and immediately go to my pantry to see what options are available to me today, and then get to work. Sometimes I feel like making comfort foods that I can practically make in my sleep, whereas other times I feel like trying out a new recipe a friend or loyal reader has recommended to me (yes, please send me more suggestions!).
This week, I will be sharing with you a recipe for boyos, which are cheese pastries that hail from Bulgarian Sephardi cuisine, which calls for caciocavallo cheese. They’re so easy to make, and you’ll never need to know how to store them, since they’ll be eaten up even before you manage to bring the plate to the table.
The second recipe is a special Balkan recipe for spinach and cheese crescent-shaped pastries, which can also be made with roasted eggplant if you prefer. Next is a fresh artichoke heart salad, which is a great summer dish that can be served with pasta. Then, I’ve added a green bean dish, for which you need to be careful not to overcook the green beans.
And for dessert, a fun recipe for orange cookies.
BOYOS (MINI CHEESE PIES)
Makes 20-25 pies.
1 cup self-rising flour, sifted
125 gr. butter or margarine
75 gr. Bulgarian cheese
125 gr. soft white cheese
50 gr. caciocavallo cheese
½ egg, beaten
Topping:
50 gr. caciocavallo cheese, optional
Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well. Separate the dough into small pieces and roll each into a ball. Place them on a pan lined with baking paper, with space between each one. You can sprinkle cheese on top of each one, and then press the pieces in gently.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180º for 20 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Remove and let cool.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 30 minutes.
Status: Dairy.
 
BOYKOS (MINI cheese buns) (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN and DROR KATZ)BOYKOS (MINI cheese buns) (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN and DROR KATZ)
 
SPINACH AND CHEESE PASTRY PUFFS
Makes 4 medium pastries.
1 package (400 gr.) spinach (can also use roasted eggplant mixed in with spinach)
250 gr. Bulgarian cheese 5% (or higher) fat, crumbled
200 gr. hard yellow cheese, grated
8 large filo dough squares
Oil spray
Egg wash:
1 egg, beaten
2 drops of oil
Toppings:
½ cup sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. black sesame or nigella seeds
Heat the water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Blanch the spinach for 3-4 minutes and then remove them and squeeze out water. Place them in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the cheeses together.
Place a filo dough square on your work surface and spray with oil. Place the second layer of dough and spray again.
On the edge closest to you, add ¼ of the spinach and cheese and then roll up the dough away from you. Take both ends of the rolled-up log and arch them toward each other to form a crescent shape.
Place the crescent on a tray covered with baking paper, with the rounded side flush against the side of the pan. Fold the ends underneath the crescent so that it will hold its form while it bakes.
Repeat to make another three crescents.
Beat the egg with the oil, and brush on top of the crescents. Sprinkle with sesame or nigella seeds.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200º for 30 minutes. Make sure not to let the pastries burn, since some ovens are stronger than others.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 30-40 minutes.
Status: Dairy.

SPINACH AND cheese pastry puffs (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN and DROR KATZ)SPINACH AND cheese pastry puffs (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN and DROR KATZ)
 
ARTICHOKE HEARTS WITH MUSHROOMS AND WALNUTS
Makes 6-8 servings.
4 large artichoke hearts, peeled and cleaned, then halved and sliced thinly
300 gr. (1 package) mushrooms
1 red pepper, cut into ½ cm. strips
3 stalks of celery, cut into thin strips
1 red onion, cut into thin strips
1 cup walnuts, halved
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Dressing:
Juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. honey or silan
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Mix the artichoke hearts, mushrooms, pepper, celery and onion together in a large bowl. Add the walnuts and the garlic and mix well. Store in the fridge until serving.
Mix all the salad dressing ingredients in a closed container. Just before serving, pour the dressing on the salad. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 20-30 minutes.
Status: Parve.
GREEN BEANS WITH MINT AND GARLIC
Makes 6-8 servings.
1 kg. fresh green beans
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼-½ cup water
5 mint sprigs, chopped thinly
Clean the green beans and cut off the ends.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until they’re lightly browned. Add the beans and stir. Cover the pan and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
Add the lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix and then add the water. Cover the pot and cook over a low flame for 20-30 minutes until the beans have softened.
Check the amount of liquid every once in a while (there shouldn’t be too much liquid). Add the mint and stir. Serve hot.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 30-35 minutes.
Status: Parve.
 
GREEN BEANS with mint and garlic (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN and DROR KATZ)GREEN BEANS with mint and garlic (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN and DROR KATZ)
 
ORANGE COOKIES
Makes 50 cookies.
1 kg. flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
2 packets baking powder
2 packets vanilla sugar
1½ Tbsp. orange zest
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 cups oil
2 cups water
Topping:
½ cup powdered sugar
Add all of the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Gradually add the oil and water while stirring. Mix well. Separate the dough into 6 equal parts.
Flour your work surface and roll out each ball until it’s ½ cm. thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Place the cookies on a tray lined with baking paper (or greased), with 2 cm. between each cookie.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180º for 20 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Let them cool a little, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Keep in an airtight container.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 30 minutes.
Status: Parve.
Translated by Hannah Hochner. 
Learn more about Pascale's Kitchen.