June 2013 archive

Kelly in Bulgaria.

Matt and I love having visitors, especially ones as cool as Kelly! Though Kelly’s visit was short (only 2 days), we made sure to do, see and explore as much as possible.

 

Picking up Kelly from the Burgas airport.

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First stop, south of Burgas, Sozopol.

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Sozopol is where Matt and I spent a week in November hanging out in the marina.

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Sunny Beach is on the other side of the bay, right under the sun. We get sunrises and Sozopol gets lovely sunsets.

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The Kelly trip involved:

~Lots of drinking (beer, champagne and wine)

~Walking up and down the beach

~Swimming

~Train rides

~Bus rides

~Feasting

~Etc.

 

Matt didn’t want the fun to end so he drove Kelly to Bucharest and partied with him and his brother for a night.

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I can’t wait for Kelly to come back!

Creamless cream sauce.

My poor husband can’t eat dairy anymore so I tried to create a pasta with “cream sauce” with him in mind.

 

~1 1/2 cups roasted cauliflower with a few cloves of roasted garlic (yay for leftovers!)

~1/3 cup chicken stock

~6 large mushrooms, diced

~pasta

 

Add cauliflower, garlic and chicken stock in a blender, mix until creamy smooth. Sauté your mushrooms while you cook your pasta, lower the heat once the mushrooms are done and stir in the cauliflower sauce. Combine the pasta and the sauce and voila! It’s not identical to Alfredo sauce but it’s a fantastic replacement.  

 

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Italian octopus carpaccio.

Fresh, tender and delicious! A perfect summer snack.

1-Prepare your octopus as shown in my previous post: How to cook octopus (made easy). 

2-While the octopus is still warm, separate the tentacles and wrap them tightly in cling film (forming a sausage like tube) and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t worry, the octopus will naturally “jelly” together.

3-The next day, thinly slice the octopus and dress with good quality olive oil, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and pink Himalayan salt.

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P.S. After I took the photos, I drown the octopus with more dressing, let it sit and soaked it all up with fresh bread. What a treat!

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First family camping trip.

With all 4 members of the  Ploszanski clan packed in the van, we headed West of Sunny Beach for a small outdoorsy adventure.

This is the cute little city of Orizare.

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Lake Poray.

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Huge camping fans!

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This stretch of road was really beautiful, all vineyards and fields.

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We found a perfect camping zone on lake Aheloy.

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My sexy husband.

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Great camping spot!

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So curious!

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Stotinki’s first encounter with grass.

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Yes, it’s a double hot dog machine!

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Matt makes the best fires.

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How to cook octopus (made easy).

Octopus! How intimidating! The only cooking methods I gathered so far sound more like danger warnings than cooking instructions. Some say  you must cook the octopus for exactly 60 minutes, no more, no less, or the whole thing turns to rubber. A strange thing called a “beak” must be removed somehow and in one travel/cooking show I learnt that some Greeks catch fresh octopus straight from the sea and then “tenderize” the meat by whacking the still alive cephalopod over hard rocks exactly 30 times. What am I to do with this information and how can I tackle this in my little kitchen?

Easy! I bought a small frozen octopus at the market and let it thaw. Turn the octopus upside down and squeeze the “mouth” (the white circular centre between the legs) as you would a ripe pimple until the hard black beak pops out, discard.    

Next, place the octopus in a bag and tenderize the meat with a rolling pin, don’t pound it into a pulp, simply massage it for a few minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil then gently lower the tentacles into the pot, they should start to curl as you submerge them. Don’t do this step too fast or the meat might seize up, dip the octopus in small little dunks as you would with your toes in a hot bath. Lower the heat to a strong simmer rather than full on bubbling.  

Cooking time: use your eyes. Big octopus = 60 to 90 minutes, medium octopus= 30 to 60 minutes, small octopus= 30 minutes or less. My tiny friend was ready in just over 15 minutes! What you want to look for is nice tender meat, a change in opacity and colour and you might also notice that the skin has slightly burst open in areas just like what happens to hot dogs when they are done.

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This is the octopus after boiling. Now you can prepare it in any way you like.

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Clockwise: salted octopus grilled under the broiler, chilled thinly sliced octopus marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and wasabi (garnished with nori strips and the marinade which I froze), teriyaki shark filets and salt and pepper shark filets.

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Homemade Kentucky fried chicken with sweet hot mustard.

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1. Let the chicken pieces soak in cold water and salt brine for 2 hours then rinse and pat dry.

2. Dredge the chicken in egg whites.

3. Roll in *special coating.

4. Fry in hot oil for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the piece.

 

Special coating:

1 cup flour
1 1/4 cups bread crumbs
4  tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp savory (I used lovage)
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp ginger (or curry)
1/4 tsp marjoram
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 cayenne pepper

 

Dip:

Half- Hot grainy mustard

Half- Apricot jam