Not to be deterred by the first road block, I continued searching, just to be sure. It would be awful to skip Albania because on first appearances it might appear they don't have a pancake style food in their cuisine. As I continued my research, I soon learned that Albanian cuisine is influenced by Turkish, Greek, and Italian cuisine. Since I know that Italy has a pancake style food in it's cuisine, I was pretty sure Albania would have one too. After more searching, I finally found a name for the Albanian pancake, it is palachinke. What exactly is palachinke you ask? Well, maybe you're not asking, but I sure did. I soon discovered that palachinke is a type of crepe. Yuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmm! A little bit more Internet digging finally revealed to me that palachinke are usually wrapped around cheese, nuts, jam, and honey in Albania.
With this knowledge, I decided to make palachinke filled with feta cheese, roasted almonds, and drizzled with honey. Let's hope that it tastes as good as it sounds in my brain. So here we go with the Albanian plachinke recipe:
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil (you could use vegetable oil, but I tend to use olive oil for everything)
- 1- 1 1/2 cups of feta cheese
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
Making the palachinkeIn a blender, mix the flour, eggs, milk, salt, and oil until smooth. The batter will look like this when it's done.
Roasting the AlmondsWhile the batter is sitting in the refrigerator, you can roast the almonds. I elected to use raw almonds and roast them myself because of the type of cheese we were using. Feta is a very salty cheese, and I didn't want to use almonds that were already roasted and had salt on them. Since it can sometimes be a challenge finding roasted almonds that are unsalted, I just pulled some raw ones I had out of the freezer. After letting them defrost for about 20 minutes, they were ready to roast. Note - Don't try to roast frozen nuts, I did this once, and let's just say the results were more than less than desirable. So you can roast almonds in the oven by preheating the oven to about 400 degrees and putting them on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. However, I find it quicker and easier to roast them over the stove in a heavy bottomed skillet. It takes about 5-10 minutes with the flame on medium. Just make sure you stir occasionally. Here is what my almonds looked like during the process.
After roasting them:
After roasting, allow the almonds to cool, and then chop them.
Making the palachinke
Take the batter out of the refrigerator. Heat a crepe pan on the stove over medium high heat. It is important to use a crepe pan for making the palachinke as it is a thin pancake, and you will need to do quite a bit of swirling of the batter as you pour it in. Crepe pans are thin and light weight, which makes this easier to use. Also, they're usually made of aluminum, which heats quickly. The one I use has a nonstick surface on it as well. If you don't have a crepe pan, there is a device called a crepe spreader tool that lets you spread the batter around a regular pan, but I try to stay away from specialized tools that are used for only one purpose. You can use a crepe pan to cook many other things as well, so I just bought a crepe pan instead.
Anyway, back to the directions for making palachinke. Spray the pan with oil. I usually use olive oil in a Misto sprayer. If you are using a nonstick crepe pan, you do not want to use spray oils such as Pam because the propellant that is used will alter upon heating and ruin your nonstick surface (something I learned the hard way a few years ago, which required me to go out and buy a new set of frying pans). If you don't have a misto sprayer, you can just pour some oil in a bowl and use a pastry brush to brush oil on the bottom of the pan. You don't need a lot of oil to make this.
After oiling the pan, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up 1/4 cup of the batter onto the crepe pan. Pour the batter in the middle, as you are pouring the batter, lift the pan off of the burner and swirl the batter around the pan until the entire surface is covered with the batter. The process looks like this:
Allow the palachinke to cook on one side for 1-2 minutes. You'll know it's time to flip it when the edges start to brown and the entire top looks dry (the batter will not move around if you tilt the pan).
Now it's ready to flip. This is the part I tend to have trouble with since it is so thin. Sometimes I will get a small tear in it. If this happens, don't worry as it will bind back together enough as you cook the other side. Once flipped, cook another minute on the opposite side. This is what it should look like. If you like your palachinke a little lighter in color, reduce the amount of cook time closer to 1 minute.
Remove from the pan and place it on a plate. To keep it warm as you continue cooking, either store the plate in a warm oven, or simply cover with a clean dish towel. Continue cooking palachinke until the batter is used. You'll get about 8 palachinke.
Stuffing and Rolling the PalachinkeLay out a palachinke on a plate. Sprinkle about 1/8 of a cup of feta cheese down the middle. On top of that sprinkle about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped almonds. Finally, drizzle honey over the top. We used the following feta and honey:
After spreading the fillings down the middle, fold one side of the palachinke so that it covers the filling, and then roll. The final product looks like this:
I wasn't quick enough in filling and rolling the palachinke, so they got a little cold before we sat down to eat them. This is not a problem, as you can quickly rewarm the whole thing for about 20-30 seconds in the microwave.
These were mmmmm, mmmmm, good!
If you have leftover plachinke, you can freeze them in the freezer. Simply lay them between waxed paper then place them in a freezer bag. Then when you want one, take it out of the freezer, let it defrost, fill it with whatever you want and rewarm it in the microwave. Eat them within 3-4 months.