From Our Military Home to Yours, Happy Thanksgiving! + Albanian Recipe Pumpkin Pie A.K.A ‘Pite me Kungull’
When my son left for the army, days after graduating high school and my daughter started working at a restaurant, I found myself beginning to lose my mom identity. All those years I had cooked for them and the neighborhood kids while writing the cookbook, they were my best testing buddies.
I remember one day I had made a beef stew and baked fresh Albanian Bread when a slew of American teenagers had come to play video games at our house. And then my son, Nate, coming to the kitchen asking me if there was anything we could serve them.
“There’s stew, the whole crock-pot.” I answered without flinching.
He was hesitant for a moment and even though he loved my stew, it wasn’t an ordinary meal other mom’s served; fast things like pizza rolls, chicken nuggets, crinkle fries and such. We had hearty Albanian Beef Stew, an Albanian recipe I had adopted from mom, but Americanized it by simmering it over six hours in a slow cooker, using all fresh ingredients, spices, and served with freshly baked bread made from scratch.
I asked him to leave it up to me and let me serve it. Of course, in no time their faces were licking the bowl and the entire crockpot was gone! And, so did the bread.
Since that day, many of those teenagers would come by and I became their extended mom.
“Mom, what are you cooking today?” They’d ask.
“Stuffed peppers… Burek… Grape leaves.” I’d answer, all of which they loved.
In fact, one of those kids came to my house for two straight years after school and told me the reason he did was because of my cooking and that his mom only knew how to order pizza since the divorce.
Then, the high school graduation came.
Several joined armed forces, went away to college and my daughter worked in a restaurant where she’d eat most of the time. I had no one to cook for.
Until one day, my daughter Gentiana pointed out how she missed my cooking and Nate came to visit on his leave asking to take my cookbook with him, so he can cook my food while away from home.
My heart grew.
I also noticed that my cookbook sales had been doing well, and I, too, began to miss my passion. So, why not cook again, even if it was just for me? So, here I am again, back into my element, trying to cook and post at least one Albanian Recipe a week for you.
This Thanksgiving, I am traveling to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to cook for my soldier and a few others that don’t get a chance to go home for the holiday. I am bringing my big roaster with me to cook the Turkey with, (I’m an Albanian mom after all :-) we tend to lug things around), but you better believe there will be a whole lot of Albanian side dishes, including ‘Pite me mish,’ which Nate loves among many others treats.
Last week, I promised you the Albanian Recipe for Pumpkin Pie, ‘Pite me Kungull.” This recipe is a slightly different version as it is made with filo sheets, a technique I have perfected overtime. I usually purchase the pie filo sheets, which are slightly thicker than the ones you buy for the baklava dessert. They are likely found in any European markets. This method can be used with any pie fillings; it is fast and just as delicious as the other pies, but lighter and a bit more delicate. Oh yes, and lot less messy!
The video I am attaching was made over 4 years ago. This was one of my first attempts to making a recipe video, though everything else still remains the same as I truly hope it is to your liking.
In the end, I want to wish you happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Whether you celebrate it or have adopted as a celebration of own, it is my hope that your table would be so bountiful and will always have room for one more whether a friend or a stranger. As one of my favorite Albanian sayings goes, “The home before it belongs to the Albanian; it first belongs to God and the friend.” It is my greatest hope, so does yours.
May God Bless You, your family, friends and everyone in your world!
From our family to yours,
ALBANIAN BUREK WITH PUMKIN RECIPE / PITE ME KUNGULL
1 pkg. 16 oz. (1 LB.) thawed out filo dough
3 cups orange colored pumpkin, grated
4 tbsp. sugar
PHILLO BRUSHING MIXTURE:
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup milk
- Prepare baking sheet by adding a little oil and placing a piece of waxed paper to help the pie not stick to the pan.
- In a mixing bowl, combine grated pumpkin, sugar and eggs and mix well.In another mixing bowl, combine 2 eggs, milk, and olive oil.
- Next, on an even surface, using two filo sheets for each roll, brush filo lightly with the liquid mixture.
- Using a tablespoon, spread the pumpkin filling straight across the edge of the sheet.
- Fold the edges and roll gently so filo does not tear.
- Repeat brushing, filling and rolling steps until the baking pan is full.
- Pour or brush the pie with remaining liquid mixture.
- Bake at 350 Degrees F until golden brown.
- Serve warm.
Albanian Recipe for Albanian Bean Soup (Grosh, Fasule or Pasul)