Lepyoshka: The Khait-Shapiro cheese pastry

Who are we?

Lena Shapiro Flitman

Born in 1973 in Moscow. Lena was educated as a psychologist and mathematician and owns a kindergarten. In her spare time, Lena paints, mostly still life. “After I finish painting the fruit and vegetables, we eat them, so I make sure to buy only the most beautiful ones in the market,” she says with a smile. 

Oleg Khait

Born in 1960 in Moscow. Oleg is a Math and computers teacher. When he was young, Oleg worked twice as a cook in geological expeditions to Siberia, where sometimes he had to bake bread in an aviation gasoline barrel and cook pies over an open fire. He also specialized as a fish cook and ever since then, he is the one at home in charge of preparing the salted trout. Sometimes, he also bakes the challah for Shabbat. 

Their children

Eliyahu Khait

Born in 1985 in Moscow. Eliyahu has a Ph. D in history. Не studied ancient languages (such as Sumerian, Accadian and Aramaic) and lives in Leipzig, Germany. According to his father, fruit jelly candy in the shape of bears is still one of his favorite foods.

Esther Khait

Born in 1989 in Moscow and lives in Haifa. Esther works as an occupational therapist with the elderly and children with special needs. She graduated from two universities – one in Moscow (classical philology) and the other in Haifa (occupational therapy). In between she lived in Rome, where she improved her Italian and worked as a volunteer in Ethiopia for six months. As such, she is an expert in coffee.

Arkady Flitman

Born in 1992 in Moscow. Arkady lives in a shared apartment in the city and is involved in computer communications. His parents say that ever since he left home, Arkady has been calling his mother, Lena, at least once a week, to ask for recipes and consult with her on cooking matters.

Katya Rachel Flitman

Born in 1995 in Moscow. Katya is a graduate of the Department of Psychology and is a child caretaker. Katya, who is especially fond of her mother’s delicacies, often comes over to eat – especially when Lena bakes her favorite lemon cake.

Yaakov-Zisya Khait

Born in 2000 in Rehovot, Israel. Yaakov is Lena and Oleg’s eldest joint son. He Works at a restaurant in Moscow as a wine steward (Sommelier). 

David-Kalman Khait

Born in 2003 in Moscow. David graduated from high school last year and has since been assisting his mother, Lena, in the kindergarten. He is a baking lover and is known for his wonderful cakes amongst friends and family.

Yosef Khait

Born in 2005 in Moscow, on the date of his father, Oleg’s birthday, Yosef is a 10th grade student majoring in math and computers. He knows to make both of his favorite meals: stewed meat with beans and fried hazelnuts in caramel.  

Benyamin-Arye Khait

Born in 2010 in Moscow. Benyamin is a 3rd grade student at Perspectiva School in the city. Despite his young age, Benyamin is already cooking and baking on his own, especially when he is upset with his parents and hungry, as Lena and Oleg testify; He knows and likes to bake pizza and fry latkes.

Where was the photo taken?

“The kitchen is our living room, and the place we invite everyone who comes to visit us,” say Lena and Oleg, who live in Moscow with “three and a half ” of their eight children. ‘Half’ because Yaakov does not sleep here every day,” they explain. They also own a dog, 3 cats, a rat and a snake named Vivian. “Thus, we must take care never to forget food on the kitchen table.” 

Our family kitchen

Although Oleg worked as a cook when he was younger, the kitchen at the Khait-Shapiro

household is Lena’s kingdom, who prepares soup on a daily basis for the family reunion at dinner. ” She cooks everything in a very big pot so that there will be enough for everyone” says Oleg.

“I make borscht soup with beans just like Oleg’s mom,” says Lena. “The gefilte fish I make according to a recipe from my first husband’s mother: she was Russian but her husband’s mother was Jewish, and she inherited the recipe.”

One of the biggest hits on the family’s rich menu (“so that everyone has something to eat”) is the stonemason’s sandwich from the book “”His House in the Desert” by Israeli author Meir Shalev: a loaf of bread filled to the brim with cheese, vegetables, garlic and olive oil. Ever since Lena read the book, she has been inspired to make the sandwich to all the members of the household’s delight.

 

The house Recipe: Lepyoshka caucasian flatbread

6-7 flatbreads

The origin of the cheese pastry, which means “flat bread” (and it is also known as Hychin), is in the Caucasus region and Lena prepared it for Shavuot. “David, our son, says there are sweet things – and there are delicious things. Since all the other children want cheesecake with strawberries for the holiday, I was looking for a festive savory dish he would enjoy, ” Lena says. She discovered this recipe through her good friend: the doula who helped give birth to David.

Ingredients:

200 grams/ 7-ounces kefir, yogurt or sour milk

300 grams/ 10.5-ounces flour

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

Potato and cheese filling:

3-4 cooked potatoes, at room temperature

150 grams/ 5.5-ounces Feta cheese

1 small bunch dill, finely chopped

Tvorog and dill filling:

200-300 grams/ 7-10.5-ounces tvorog (cottage) cheese

200-300 grams/ 7-10.5-ounces suluguni or Feta cheese (or any other ‘pasta filata’ style brined cheese), grated

1 big bunch dill, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Spinach filling:

1-2 Tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

200-300 grams/ 7 – 10.5-ounces spinach or chard leaves, chopped

1 bunch parsley, finely chopped

100 grams/ 3.5-ounces Feta cheese

 

Melted butter, to serve

  1. Prepare the dough: place the kefir, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a bowl and knead with your hands to an elastic dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
  2. Prepare the filling:

For the potato filling: mash the potatoes with a fork, add the cheese and dill and mix well.

For the Tvorog and dill filling: mix the tvorog cheese, feta, dill and garlic.

For the Spinach filling: heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and fry until caramelized. Add the spinach (or chard) and fry 2-3 minutes, until wilted. Cool to room temperature. Add the chopped parsley and Feta cheese and mix well.

  1. Divide the dough into 6 balls, each about 7 cm in diameter. Roll each ball to a flat circle. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center, then pull the edges up, pinch, and roll to a ball. Very carefully roll to 1-cm thick flatbread. If the dough tears up, use a little flour to cover the hole.
  2. Heat a frying pan over a high heat. Fry each flatbread 2-3 minutes on every side.
  3. Brush each flatbread with melted butter and stack on a plate. Serve warm.

Edited by Ofer Vardi, Photography by Sasha Zacks