Sometimes cookbooks are more convincing than geography ones. They let you see the lives of women and men in unknown lands better than on stationary maps. Ibrik. My Balkan cuisine is one of those journeys where water, earth, fire and air come together as much on the plate as in the terroirs. Its author, Ecaterina Paraschiv, is a famous ferryman of worlds. Because there is not a single world in the Balkans, but territories as innumerable as the dreams of the traveler.

Mount olympus

“Around the lands of the Balkans, their definition, the peoples who live there, their values, their culture and their beliefs, there is a cloud almost as thick and dense as the one which surrounds Mount Olympus, explains Ecaterina Paraschiv. On a map, which could with certainty trace its contours and delimit its borders ? Even I, who was nevertheless born on these lands, I still sincerely struggle to know all the facets. “

Ibrik

Born in Romania, the one we nickname “Cathy” arrived in France at the age of 7 with her parents. In adolescence, her native culture catches up with her when she returns to the country of her origins. After working as a tax lawyer, she decided to pursue her Balkan quest by opening Ibrik Café and Ibrik Kitchen in Paris. Ibrik refers to the traditional copper pot in which Turkish coffee is prepared.

Schnitzels and tahini

From the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea via the Aegean Sea, Ecaterina Paraschiv explores “The natural border between the great East and the great West” through its cultural mix that simmers in the large cauldron of its culinary riches, with “Dishes that are found from one country to another, sometimes under different names, various ingredients, but with common roots and techniques”. She is convinced that the Balkans stretch from Greece to Hungary on one side, and from Turkey to Moldova on the other. “So don’t be surprised to see pickled cabbage in the Korean style, schnitzels as in Austria, tahini as in Lebanon, molasses as in Turkey, coffee as in Tunisia. ! We invite you to travel alongside these invading peoples who have brought home the best of the West and the East, and who have adapted the best of other civilizations to their own cuisines. “

For this weekend, try the brioche bread with garlic from Ecaterina Paraschiv. For a loaf, you need for the dough : 33.5 cl of whole milk ; 555 g flour T45 ; 20 g fresh yeast ; half a tablespoon of salt ; 7.5 cl neutral oil + 5 cl for your hands and the worktop ; a little olive oil ; a tablespoon of sugar. For the garlic butter : 4 parsley branches ; 3 cloves of garlic ; 100 g unsalted butter ; 1 tablespoon of salt. For the decor : a teaspoon of roasted sesame seeds. Equipment : a cookie cutter 18 cm in diameter and 10 cm deep (or a small baking dish of similar diameter and depth).

Dough

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it reaches 30 degrees, then pour it into a bowl and add a tablespoon of flour and the baking powder. Mix. Let stand for fifteen minutes next to a heat source.

Sift the remaining flour and salt over a bowl. Add the neutral oil, sugar and the yeast mixture.

Mix gently with a spatula, until you obtain a roughly homogeneous dough.

Liberally coat your hands and the worktop with oil, then place the paste on it. Knead vigorously for fifteen minutes. When the dough is smooth and elastic, form a ball, then place it in a floured bowl. Cover with cling film and let stand for forty-five minutes at room temperature next to a heat source.

Garlic butter

Finely chop the parsley and garlic. Melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Pour the butter into a bowl, then add the garlic, parsley and salt. Film and let infuse.

The cooking

Using a brush, polish the cookie cutter or the small dish with olive oil. Take small balls of dough of 1 to 2 cm, then fill the mold. Let the dough rise for thirty minutes. Generously gloss the bread with the garlic butter, then spread the sesame seeds on top. Bake for thirty minutes in the oven.

Before eating, let the bread rest for fifteen minutes, covered with a clean cloth.

Ecaterina Paraschiv advises: “If you want to surprise, prepare this bread for the aperitif. It will be devoured before going to the table. Its success is well established. ”

Ibrik. My Balkan cuisine ofEcaterina Paraschiv, photographs by Emilie Franzo, ed. Marabout, 2020, 192 pp., 25 €.