Zheravna Bulgaria for Valentine’s day.

We spent Valentine’s day in a cute little village called Zheravna in central Eastern Bulgaria. This village is known for its historical wooden houses (between 200-300 years old) surrounded by stone walls and cobblestone alleys. We where there during the “off season” which meant we were the only tourists in town.

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View from our room.

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Homemade Polish milk caramels.

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UP CLOSE!

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My Hungarian Grandma’s cream of wheat dumpling soup.

This is a versatile comfort soup great for those days you need a chickenless chicken noodle soup. This time I used green beans, carrots, mushrooms, onions and hot paprika with a dollop of sour cream but feel free to use whatever soup-friendly ingredients you have in your fridge.

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 Magical freezer stock.


Every time I chop onions, peel carrots, own wilted parsley, celery or maybe a sad tomato, I throw everything, scraps and all, into a plastic container in my freezer. Every few weeks when the container is full I pull it out to make stock.  Remember to add peppercorns, salt, a bay leaf and whatever other ingredients you want, cover with water and boil or pressure cook until a yummy broth is made.

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Hungarian cream of wheat soup dumplings
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511 calories
96 g
93 g
6 g
16 g
1 g
152 g
38 g
0 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
152g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 511
Calories from Fat 52
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
9%
Saturated Fat 1g
6%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 93mg
31%
Sodium 38mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 96g
32%
Dietary Fiber 3g
14%
Sugars 0g
Protein 16g
Vitamin A
3%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
3%
Iron
11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. -1/2 cup cream of wheat
  2. -1 egg
  3. -1 teaspoon oil
  4. -salt to taste
  5. -water if needed
Instructions
  1. Bring soup to a rolling boil.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs and add the cream of wheat, oil and salt. You want a very thick porridge consistency, add a little water to the mixture if it is too dry (or more cream of wheat if too wet).
  3. Drop about 10 very small scoops (~ ½ teaspoon) of dumpling dough into the boiling pot, then stir gently once or twice and repeat the scooping process. The dumpling are cooked when they rise to the surface. Make sure you test the dumplings, if they are sandy in texture cook longer.
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calories
511
fat
6g
protein
16g
carbs
96g
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Amalia and Matt's blog http://mattandamalia.com/

Amalia as a vegetarian?

I love meat. I mean I really love meat, especially pork. Unfortunately, since my non-stop eating and drinking holiday in France last summer I haven’t been feeling 100%. I drink all the time, eat rich foods without any control and surprise, surprise, I’m getting fat and tired! Winter is slow here and I have all the time in the world, why not challenge myself for the month of February (shortest month of the year) and see if I can spend the whole month without drinking* or eating meat. I want to be clear, I don’t think vegetarianism makes one healthier or necessarily loose weight, I’m doing this as a creative cooking challenge.  

*There’s a chance I might drink Champagne on Valentine’s day.

 

Day one: Eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce with chickpeas. 


Bring your favorite spicy tomato sauce to a gentle boil, add chickpeas, cook for 5 minutes. Slowly crack eggs into the sauce without stirring, cover and cook for 4-8 minutes depending how you like your eggs.

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Day two: Grains, carrots cooked in orange and ginger sauce and caramelized onions.


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Day three: Grains with chickpeas, caramelized onions, sumac, cumin and mint with a side of steamed broccoli and avocado.


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Day four (restaurant lunch): Mixed greens, tomato, quinoa and goat cheese with orange honey dressing. Matt had soup and chicken wings.


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Day four: Boiled egg, cucumber and mascarpone sandwiches.


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Day five: Tortilla quiches with broccoli and sundried tomatoes, smoked paprika chickpeas, patatas bravas, cucumber pickled beets and avocado, cheese stuffed hot peppers and olives. For dessert: dates stuffed with mascarpone, green figs preserved in syrup and salted roasted peanuts.


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The tortillas are molded into cup shape by baking in a muffin tin. The quiche is made up of egg, Parmesan cheese and broccoli and topped with sundried tomato. 

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Day six and seven: Tom yum soup.


Broth: vegetable stock, green curry paste, tamarind paste (or lime juice) and coconut milk. The trick to a creamy broth is to reserve 1/2 a cup of coconut milk then add before serving.

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Day eight: Aloo kofte with a tomato curry, spiced grains and lentils Majadra with crispy onions and Indian raita.


“Aloo” means potato and “kofte” means meatball. I used this recipe as a guide but I left out the almonds and raisins.

Raita is sour cream or plain yogurt with garlic, cucumber and a touch of vinegar.

Majadra recipe

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Day nine*: Broccoli, walnut, sunflower seed, cheese, raisin and green onion salad with aioli dressing.

*the day Matt bought a huge container of fancy prosciutto. Worst day ever!


You can make “fake aioli” by mixing mayonnaise, crushed garlic, lemon juice, a touch of Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. I like blanching my broccoli for this salad but it’s no necessary.

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Day ten: Bucatini with red beans and red peppers in a creamy roasted pepper sauce.


 Sauce: On a dry hot pan, roast red peppers until they blister and slightly char on each side. Place the hot peppers in a pot or bowl with a lid and let them sweat for 10 minutes. During this time, cook chopped onions until translucent then add some crushed garlic. Rinse the peppers under cold running water removing as much of the skin you can. Chop the peppers and add to onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes. Blend everything in a blender or with a hand mixer and return to a medium low heat. Add a handful of cooked beans and slowly pour in some cream, bring to a simmer. Adjust seasoning then toss with cooked pasta and fresh parsley. 

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Day eleven (restaurant lunch): Sirene Po Shopski (cheese Shopski Style).


In a clay pot, place tomato slices, red or green pepper slices and a big hunk of feta cheese in the middle. Gently crack an egg on top and throw in a hot pepper. Bake covered in a medium heat oven for 10-12 minutes. You could add the egg 8 minutes into the baking process for a runnier yolk.

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Day twelve*: Lemon potatoes with steamed “zucchini lattice” wrapped salmon marinated in ginger miso butter on a bed of leeks.

*Salmon isn’t vegetarian but whatever.


The zucchini lattice is ridiculous. You slice zucchinis lengthwise then spend a stupid amount of time weaving the zucchini strips on top of plastic wrap (this will help lift the lattice to wrap the salmon).

Marinade: 1 tablespoon miso, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 crushed clove of garlic and freshly grated ginger. Warm in a pan, stirring until everything is smooth and incorporated. Let cool before marinating salmon.

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Confited garlic hidden inside the parcel.

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Downtown Geneva.

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Boxed wine…I mean milk.

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You can’t really see what’s happening here but it’s a machine designed to melt large amounts of cheese which you then pour over your entire meal. Genius!

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I was named after this lady! How random to see her displayed in a window downtown Switzerland.

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Quick tour of Geneva, Switzerland.

Our day started with “to go” wines, people probably thought my coffee was bleeding.

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This is the ceramics museum. We never went inside but the grounds were beautiful.

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I kept thinking there were hospitals everywhere but no, it’s the Swiss flag.

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A Polish Canadian man who lives in Bulgaria standing in front of the United Nations in Switzerland.

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A big three legged chair.

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I should probably find out the significance of this chair.

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The chair, again.

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Geneva has an eclectic variety of buildings.

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A tour of C.E.R.N., Switzerland.

I’m going to try and explain the C.E.R.N. tour to you guys but it’s a little difficult as 90% of what was said and shown went WAY over our heads. “Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 member states.” The process starts a minimum of 2 weeks before you even set foot on the grounds, all people interested in touring the facilities must apply online and be granted permission to visit. It’s 100% free of charge!

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C.E.R.N. (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) is part of a huge University campus. The tour starts in the reception building where you sign in and are free to visit the small museum while you wait for your group to arrive. This dome shows a short film twice an hour.

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The collider is contained in a circular tunnel, with a circumference of 27 kilometres (17 mi), at a depth ranging from 50 to 175 metres (164 to 574 ft) underground.

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This is what their backup tape arrays look like, storing petabytes of experiment data.

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An old cross section of the pipe that encases the tubes holding the particle beams.

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Cool things?

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The “Matt” particle.

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The tours are given by staff member scientists (I’m assuming whoever pulled the shortest straw that day) and begin in a cold dark room holding a replica accelerator. Particle physicist Jean-Paul explains C.E.R.N.’s achievements timeline and answers any kind of questions you may have. Did you know the World Wide Web was born here?

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Next, a movie is played along with a cool light show dumbing down the whole process, making it easy for anyone to understand how particle tests are conducted.

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An actual section of the accelerator.

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Next, the tour continues in the office where data is analyzed. We watch another movie (3D) then get to peek into the Atlas control room, oddly enough we arrived on a day when experiments where not being held. Tests are usually conducted 30 hours at a time back to back.  

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Lego!

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That’s pretty much it for the tour. It’s not riveting but very fascinating, as I’ve mentioned before, most things said will probably go over your head. I was surprised how busy it was, there where several tours happening in many different languages, our group consisted of about 20 people from around the world. 

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Gex, France. The cutest little town in the French alps.

Only 20 km from Geneva, Gex is an adorable tiny town in the Franch mountains.

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Our awesome apartment had a balcony and full kitchen.

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Oh, and horse neighbours.

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The horse in the back stuck his tongue out for the photo.

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Cool.

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I love pink!

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This pub was AMAZING! We went everyday for little wines.

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Affordable little wines.

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So much cheese.

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Scallops with a mustard crème fraiche sauce.

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Horse steak, grassy greens and carrots, a natural pairing.

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Dinners from 2016 for which I don’t remember the recipes. I promise, they were all yummy!

Khaosan Road style Pad Thai with chicken – shrimp, dried onions, crispy chicken skin, red cabbage, sprouts, home grown cilantro, fresh limes, green hot peppers, carrots, garlic, leeks, basil and Bulgarian mint.

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Cabbage rolls with rice and pork. I remember using a touch of dried mint which gave the rolls a nice, light, fresh flavor.

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Dark photo of strained yogurt, green figs in syrup, strawberries and toasted pinenuts.

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Pork steak with roasted sesame and broccoli crumble (steam broccoli then dehydrate), octopus onigiri and lemon olive oil octopus salad.

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Roasted chicken with homemade antipasto. Note to self, make more antipasto. I’m pretty sure I used this recipe. 

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Caviar cake! Layers of blini, avocado and trout caviar.

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Homemade schnitzel with beans, sausage and sauerkraut.

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Beef tripe in butter with 3 dipping sauces. Parsley, chili and more butter?

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Caesar salad with AWSOME dressing and grilled chicken thighs.

4 Anchovies
4 large cloves Garlic
2 Egg yolk, large
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp Lemon juice, fresh
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black pepper, ground
1/2 cup Olive oil…maybe less

The trick is to first blend the hard ingredients with the yolks and then add the wet ingredients, except the oil which you slowly pour into the blender to thicken the sauce.

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Polish “Milk Bar” dinner.

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Pressure cooker osso bucco with spinach dumplings. I really like Emeril’s recipe.

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I went dehydrator crazy and made my own veggie stock.

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French onion soup.

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Avocado and caviar appetizer.

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Chicken liver pâté.

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Appetizer platter.

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Pickled herring. Even I, who for some reason hates pickled herring, liked these…maybe because I added a stick of cinnamon? I’m not 100% sure but I think I used this recipe.

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Christmas dinners.

So this was my list/menu for Christmas…it was enough food for a family of 6! The squid and duck were out of this world!

24th
-Stuffed squid: lemon, garlic, parsley, fried bread crumbs, mini shrimps
-Garlic butter shrimp
-Wreath salad with citrus champagne vinaigrette

25th
-Duck a l’orange
-Polish misteria: cucumber, sour cream, garlic and dill salad
-Matt’s Polish potato mayo salad (made by Matt!)
-Stuffing stuffed onions: sausage meat, nuts, figs, candied orange peel and sage

Loads of wine, Champagne, homemade eggnog and Christmas cookies.

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The duck sat in a brine for almost 3 days and then I loosely followed this recipe.

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Sweet and sour pork meat balls with purple Brussels sprouts.

Easy, budget friendly dinner!

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Place Brussels sprouts on the bottom of a steamer. Place meatballs on top of Brussels sprout and steam for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the balls. Serve with warmed sweet chili sauce or homemade sweet and sour sauce. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. 

 

For the balls:

  • Ground pork
  • Diced bell pepper
  • Freshly grated ginger
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper

For the sauce:

  • Dark fruit jam (I used lingberry)
  • Hot sauce
  • White vinegar

Mexican style pozole.

This is not a 100% authentic, Abuela approved, recipe as I don’t have access to hominy or large dried ancho chilies to make my own chili sauce but the flavors were there. One of my favorite soups I’ve made so far.

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  • The night before: Brine your Boston butt (pork butt) in cold water, salt, brown sugar, cumin and 2 bay leaves.
  • Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes.
  • In a pressure cooker: meat cubes, an onion, 3 cloves of garlic, a heaping spoonful of ancho chili powder, a tablespoon of red pepper paste (roasted red peppers and garlic simmered until paste) and enough rich chicken or beef broth to cover the meat. 
  • Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes.
  • Adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Add a can of huge white beans and half a can of corn (optional).
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with radishes,  shredded cabbage, limes, green onions, sour cream, tortillas, etc..

Stick to savory, Amalia!

It all started with 1 bored girl and 4 innocent egg whites. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not very good at just sitting. Sure, I can watch TV and movies non-stop for hours on end but I’m usually cooking or crafting something at the same time. Last night the 4 egg whites sitting in refrigerator where driving me crazy, I hate wasting food and I know that egg whites have a short shelf life, what should I make with them!!?! After some serious Pinteresting I decided to make Royal Icing Sugar, looked easy enough; eggs whites, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, blue food colouring because why not, and a splash of  vinegar (in lieu of cream of tartar). Whip, whip, whip and OMG, WHAT! I never read the recipe through, I just made a LITER of Royal Icing Sugar! I don’t even like desserts!

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Ok, well now I needed something to “ice”. Wow, I really didn’t think this through. Back on Pinterest and a few minutes later I decide to make Old Fashion BAKED Sour Cream Doughnuts. I’ve made fried doughnuts many times before and they always turn out so delicious, why not attempt the healthier version.  Mix, mix, mix, bake and TA DA!!!! I think I’ve nailed it.

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