Archive of ‘Food’ category

Vegetarian food part two.

Alright, I’ve done it! A whole month sans-meat (and booze)! February was interesting to say the least, the first thing I noticed was without alcohol I suffer from insomnia, or was that due to the gallons of coffee I started drinking? The second thing I noticed, which surprised me, was that I craved meat far more than I missed alcohol. It’s not like I didn’t eat mouth watering things all month but the smell of bacon cooking when you’re off meat is just down right cruel!  

What I got out of my experiment.

  • It was actually much easier to start two challenges at the same time; thinking and planning creative vegetarian meals kept me distracted from not drinking.
  • I thought I would have loads more energy and would be able to accomplish twice as many things I normally do but my insomnia canceled that out…or maybe I’m just old now?
  • That gross and dangerous layer of fat that builds itself around my stomach is 100% caused by beer (but it’s so good on a hot summer day! sigh).
  • Coming in as number one as the best advantage of non drinking is, moisture! My hair and skin benefited the most during the month of February. I started noticing changes only two weeks into my experiment, my skin was smooth and more springy and my hair soft and a lot less frizzy. 

My February challenge went well but I don’t want to flip my life completely and go full vegetarian sober. I love meat, I love wine, that will never change but maybe what I’ll take from this is that it might be time for me to chill out a little bit and reduce the craziness.

 

Braised  Napa cabbage piccata


Piccata sauce, normally prepared with chicken, I thought I’d try it with braised Napa cabbage instead. Cook onions, garlic, vegetable stock, oregano and loads of lemon juice. Bring to a boil and let reduce by half. Whisk in a sinful amount of butter and a handful of capers. Cut the cabbage in two and quickly grill on each side. Add the cabbage to the piccata sauce, reduce heat and let simmer until the sauce thickens. Serve with a 4 minute boiled egg, more capers and some parsley. I would love to make this with huge oyster mushrooms (or king oyster) instead of cabbage but I haven’t found them here in Bulgaria. 

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Polish potato dumplings


Polish? Hungarian? German? Whatever! These are yummy simple dumpling you can make without using a real recipe. Make your dough with a peeled boiled potato (or leftover mashed potatoes), flour, salt, water and an egg (optional). I make mine different every time. Sometimes with a soft sticky batter and spoon it into boiling water, sometimes with a thicker dough which I roll out and cut. I’ve even made a harder dough, rolled it and froze it then used the large holes on my cheese grater to grate the dough into boiling water. This method is great if you are making large amounts as it’s so much faster.

Click here for Jamie Oliver’s dumplings.

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Butternut squash dumplings


Use butternut squash instead of potatoes! After boiling, I pan fried these with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Also good with crispy sage, brown butter and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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 Quinoa salad with honey orange dressing


My new favorite salad. Quinoa, onions, tomatoes, lettuce with olive oil, fresh orange juice, lemon juice, garlic (keep whole and let infuse in the vinaigrette for 30 minutes) and honey. This would also work with walnuts or feta or fresh mint. Serve with a poached egg for protein.

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Yogurt pancakes with preserved green figs


 Greek yogurt, flour, a egg, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of salt. These are sour/savory so serve with something sweet like preserved fruits or honey and nuts.

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Homemade tofu with cold soba noodles and zucchini with green onions 


I’m crazy about homemade tofu, I never get to cook with it because we usually eat the whole brick as soon as it’s formed. I just got a plastic tofu press from eBay and it makes things so much easier.

 Step by step tofu recipe.

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Creamy rosemary mushrooms and peppers with shells


 Mushrooms, green peppers, onions, garlic, cream, rosemary, black pepper, nutmeg and pasta.

food (3)

Bulgarian fried zucchini with garlic yogurt 


You can order this at every restaurant in Bulgaria, it’s so good. Cut zucchinis length wise, place on a rack or clean dish towel, salt, set aside 10 minutes to let the moisture to come out. Pat dry with paper towel then dip in a bowl with a beaten egg, next dip in flour (seasoned with salt) and fry in hot oil turning once. Greek yogurt and chopped garlic for the dip.

food (1)

Armenian stuffed bread


My lovely Armenian Russian neighbours make these for me all the time. What I like about this recipe is that you can use up all your wilting greens, herbs and salads you might have in the fridge.

Watch how this lady makes hers. 

food (2)

 Shopska salad


Bulgaria’s 2014 winner of the best dish in Europe, organized by the European Parliament. Super simple: cucumbers, tomatoes, raw onions, peppers and  Bulgarian white cheese “Sirene” (or good quality feta). Dress with sunflower oil and apple cider vinegar. Almost all Bulgarian salads come undressed, in every restaurant each table has it’s own oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and toothpicks and it’s up to you to season to your liking (I like mine easy on the toothpicks). 

food (4)

Crazy onigiri 


Recently, I bought this little onigiri press online so I though it would be fun to try different filling. I need to work on my sushi rice skills, this batch was a bit soggy.

food (5)

Onigiri 


Quail eggs marinated in soy sauce for 5 minutes, yam with ginger and honey, green onions with wasabi mayo.

food (6)

 Cottage cheese with tomatoes and green onions


This is a super Polish snack. Season with salt and pepper, serve with artisan bread or crackers. 

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Eastern European spreads 


I discovered these dips/spreads along my travels and really wanted share. I make these very often, they go well on bread but could be used as a pasta sauce or a dip for meats and vegetables. 

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Clockwise starting with the green and white: Tyrokafteri (Greece), körözött (Hungary), kyopolou (Bulgaria), avjar (Macedonia) and Lutenitsa (Bulgaria) 


Tyrokafteri (Greece), the spicier the pepper the better.

Körözött (Hungary), my mom would often make this for parties.

Kyopolou (Bulgaria), the smokey eggplant brings a great flavor dimension.

Avjar (Macedonia), you can smell roasting peppers in everyone’s backyards in the fall.

Lutenitsa (Bulgaria), all my guests return home with their luggage full of jars of this. 

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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
more
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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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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Heavenly crab and shrimp stuffed mushrooms.

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Imitation crab and shrimp stuffed mushrooms
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356 calories
11 g
47 g
30 g
15 g
8 g
298 g
599 g
6 g
0 g
20 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
298g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 356
Calories from Fat 262
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30g
46%
Saturated Fat 8g
42%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 13g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 47mg
16%
Sodium 599mg
25%
Total Carbohydrates 11g
4%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 6g
Protein 15g
Vitamin A
5%
Vitamin C
10%
Calcium
22%
Iron
9%
* 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. 10 large mushrooms
  2. 6 surimi "crab" sticks, finely chopped
  3. 1/4 cup chopped shrimp
  4. 1/4 cup grated gouda
  5. 2 tablespoons of a good tasting mayo (like Japanese mayo)
  6. 1 tablespoon chopped green onion or leek
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped bacon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. Olive oil
  10. A sprinkle of nutmeg
  11. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel or clean mushrooms with a dry cloth, remove stems. Place mushrooms top side down on a baking sheet, salt and lightly oil. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest until cool then drain the liquid (or keep the juices for stock or gravy).
  2. You can either mix everything together, stuff the mushrooms then bake at 450 degrees for 5-8 minutes or separate all the non-seafood ingredients into two bowls then mix one with shrimp and one with crab.
Notes
  1. My oven doesn't have numbers on it so I'm probably way off with the temperatures.
  2. 350 degrees = medium heat
  3. 450 degrees = medium high heat
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calories
356
fat
30g
protein
15g
carbs
11g
more
Amalia and Matt's blog http://mattandamalia.com/

Homemade Cheez Whiz

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Ingredients

  • 4 ounces of extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • more or less 1/2 cup of whole or reduced-fat milk

Instructions

  1. In a food processor blend the Cheddar cheese, the cream cheese, cornstarch, honey, turmeric, mustard powder, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Heat the milk in a microwave-safe cup in the microwave for 45 seconds or until warm, not boiling.
  3. Slowly pour the milk over the cheese mixture a little at a time and blend in the food processor until smooth. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Yummmmmmmy pineapple Gojju with pan fried chicken breast.

The recipe for Pineapple Gojju worked really well and you don’t need to cook it for hours and hours to develop favor. I didn’t know what urad dal was so I just used regular brown lentils instead. Also, I’m 100% sure I wouldn’t be able to get jaggery in Bulgaria so I used white sugar.

For the chicken thighs: I marinated 2 large thighs in hot Madras, smoked paprika, lemon juice and salt for an hour then pan fried them in oil in a very hot pan. Let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with cilantro and green onions or leeks.

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Pork Al Pastor Tacos.

I used frozen, store bought, Russian pancakes instead of making tortillas by hand…I know, I’m a terrible person! The pancakes were fantastic, not too sweet and had a great fluffy consistency.

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Fried mushrooms, allium ursinum (wild garlic) and kale with pork meatballs and simple tomato sauce.

WHAT? Kale in Bulgaria??? This is the first time in over 3 years I’ve seen it in a store! Last time we were in Sofia we stopped at a super fancy new grocery store and picked up a few un-Bulgairan items. I’m not going to lie, kale isn’t really that crazy delicious, I’d rather eat a whole leg of prosciutto to myself but I was happy to bring it home and prepare it as best as I know how.

 

Allium ursinum on the other hand, I go super crazy for the stuff! I was first introduced to it 2 years ago at our friend Hussein’s “restaurant” (more like a shack made out of plywood, old carpets and dirt) while drinking Bulgarian moonshine Rakia and dancing with random gypsies…you know, a usual Tuesday night. Here they dip it in a slightly dirty bowl of salt and eat it with shots of hard liquor and Ayran (a watered down sour yogurt drink kind of like buttermilk).  I’m 90% sure I’m allergic to the wild garlic as every time I eat it I lose sensation of my tongue for a week and have down-in-the-gut, no matter how many times I brush, floss or Scope my mouth, dragon-slaying, bad breath. I don’t care, for the one month it is available here I eat as much of it as I can and stuffer the consequences with a huge, happy (and stinky) smile on my face.

meat

Allium ursinum

White fish soup with spinach, hoisin mushrooms, carrots and leeks from my balcony, homemade rice cakes and mushroom broth.

Omit the rice cakes and this soup is very simple to make. Warm up mushrooms in hoisin sauce, lightly grill a piece of white fish (this was frozen hake), add hot mushroom broth, spinach and carrots and you are done. The rice cake recipe needs to be refined. It’s just rice flour, an egg, Asian dried shrimp seasoning (or just salt will do) and water. I think next time I make them I will heat the water almost to a boiling point so that when I mix the dough it gets more gluttonous and stretchy. I’ll also try cutting them thinner as they take much longer to cook than expected.   

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