Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gingerbread men cookies without molasses

Merry Christmas, everyone! I wish you holidays with lots of sweets and a Happy New Year! 
Here is a recipe for gingerbread cookies men without molasses. This is the source for the recipe (in Bulgarian).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fried Fish Roe (Ovas de Peixe Fritas)

Fish roe
Like many other tasty dishes, this one does not require from the cook to have a diploma from a famous cooking school. In fact, the fried fish roe could be added to the group of "Cucina povera" dishes, which means cheap, simple, fresh ingredients prepared in a simple way, which satisfy the taste even of the fussiest eaters. You can use any type of fish roe. The thousand tiny eggs are delicious fried à la Meunière in a little butter or dipped in egg and breadcrumbs or a little flour. 
I had carp roe, because I was lucky enough to have a female carp for Saint Nicholas day. I know, it would be better, if I had left it intact, in its membranous sack, but, frankly said, at first I did not intend to prepare the roe and when I anyway decided to make a try with this recipe, it was too late concerning its integrity. But it is a delicious discovery and next time I will be definitely more careful.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Greek Halva with Nuts and Orange Taste

Greek halva with nuts and orange taste
The end of the Nativity fast is coming soon. This fasting season (one of the four canonical fasting seasons in the Church year) prepares the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches for the Nativity of Christ - 25th of December.
Meat and dairy are not permitted throughout the whole fasting period (from 15th of November until 25th of December). 
There are many feasts in Bulgaria in December and one of them is Ignazhden - the 20th of December, the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. It is believed that the Virgin's labor pains started on this day and continued until Christmas. The Christmas and New Year festivities start on this day and according to the old traditions in Bulgaria, Ignazhden is perceived as the actual beginning of the New Year. There is a very interesting belief connected with this day - it is very important who will first enter the house on this day - if it is a good and lucky man or woman, the following year will be good and there will be success and lots of luck in the house. 
The Christmas eve dinner contains only no-meat and no-diary dishes and today's recipe is a good option for a dessert -  Greek Halva with lots of nuts. Greek halva is a semolina pudding - sweet and tasty. Similar to the famous Baklava, Halva is a dessert with Arabic origins, but it was adopted in many cultures like Greek and Indian. Unlike the Indian badam halwa, which is prepared with milk and ghee, this recipe does not contain dairy products.   

Greek Halva

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nutella Filo Pie with Pistachios

Nutella Filo Pie
We prepare a lot of filo pies in Bulgaria. Filo pie with cheese, eggs and yogurt is one of the traditional Bulgarian dishes served on the New Year's Eve, but also all throughout the year. Filo pie with spinach, filo pie with leek, filo pie with shredded pumpkin (obligatory dish for the Christmas eve), zucchini filo pie - we are a nation of filo pie lovers. But recently I found another recipe in one of my favorite blogs - Dulces Bocados , which is absolutely tasty and can be prepared in less than an hour (with baking time included). 
Does it have a lot of calories? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes, yes, yes.
Nutella and Pistachios


Friday, December 06, 2013

Carp for Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nikola
One of the traditional Bulgarian feasts is Nikulden, the day of Saint Nicholas, which is celebrated every year on the 6th of December. Icons of this saint can be seen in nearly every Bulgarian church. The name Nikola is one of the most popular Bulgarian names. St. Nicholas is the patron of the sailors and fishermen, but also of the bankers and all the people working in the financial business, so many people celebrate today. 
Bulgarian tradition postulates that there shall be carp on the Saint Nicholas dinner table. 
Carp, cooked in dough, the so-called Ribnik, is one of the most popular dishes for this day.
Some people, who do not like the specific taste of this slow-water fish buy other types of fish, but carp is a rule according to the tradition. Carp with many scales. Because the more scales the carp is covered with, the more money will bring Saint Nicholas to the family throughout the coming year. Some scales are thoroughly washed and everybody put one scale in their wallet with the purpose to attract money.
Fish bones shall not be thrown in the garbage, they shall be buried or thrown into water in order the harvest to be good next year.
Saint Nicholas is also the patron saint of Russia and protector of all children. 
Every year children throughout the world clean their shoes the evening before the 6th of December, because they know, all the good children receive small gifts, sweets and candies in the morning.
Carp scales - the more, the better

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Duck a l'Orange - Anthony Bourdain's recipe

Duck a l'Orange
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! 
In these days, when everybody is preparing turkey, I'd like to say share a duck recipe. 
Well, the first thing I have to say is, that I do not like the taste of duck meat. 
I am sorry to admit, but according to me there are many birds which are far tastier. 
What I like very much is Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook with all the technics explained and warnings and sense of humour. So, bearing in mind, a had a duck in my freezer and Bourdain's book on my bookshelf, I decided to make a try. 
This recipe requires a lot of preparation, which makes it possible only on weekends. 
The taste of the citrus sauce is irresistible - this is the crown of the recipe - full of flavor, tangy and rich, with the exact amount of sweetness the duck needs. 
The skin of the duck gets crispy and the meat - tender and succulent. But I still prefer other kind of meat and I am sure, this sauce will be a perfect match for pork chops for instance.
I rewrote the recipe exactly as it is in the cookbook, but according to me (or to my stove) the time for roasting shall be slightly longer, at least by half an hour. 
I will be glad to have your opinion about duck and to have your favorite recipe for duck preparation.
DuckDuck a l'Orange

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tabbouleh Salad

Tabbouleh Salad
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern Salad, in which the main ingredients are parsley, bulgur and tomatoes. 
This tangy, refreshing salad is light and dietetic and its deep green and red colors bring back the summer at least at the table.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Lamb Soup

Lamb Soup
Offering sacrifices of animals has been provided by people all around the world since ancient times and although there are different events and local traditions in line with the different religions, lambs and birds were killed as a symbol of gratitude to God, forgiveness of sins and prayer for health. In Bulgaria if somebody's life has been in danger at any moment of his life, his relatives prepare kourban lamb soup to thank God for the successful outcome. But even if everything is OK,  lamb soup is tasty and worth it. 
Here is one recipe with lots of meat and few vegetables - delicious and easy to prepare.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Hot Pepper Honey

Spicy Honey
Hot Pepper Honey
This is again an infusion. Spicy hot peppers providing their taste to a jar of sweet honey - perfect spoon of surprising tastes which could be spread over a Gorgonzola sandwich, a toast of bread with butter or as a salad dressing to tomato peppermint salad. 
This is the source for this fiery recipe.
Hot peppers in honey

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Stuffed Peppers with Mince Bulgarian Way

Stuffed Peppers
This is one of the comfort food recipes - stuffing needs preparation, baking time is about an hour - so this characteristic Bulgarian recipe could be best prepared for the weekend lunch or dinner.
Although being one of the most typical recipes of Bulgarian National cuisine, the way of preparing this dish slightly differs between the different families. 
Fresh or dried peppers can be used and it can be boiled in a pot on top of the stove or baked in the oven. I prefer the baked version - it results in dryer peppers with more intense taste.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crispy Chicken Cracklings, Beer and the Joy of Indian Summer

Crispy Chicken Cracklings
It is Indian Summer outside, there is no doubt. 
The weather got unexpectedly warm after two weeks of freezing morning temperatures and biting winds, swirling tree leaves in the air. Sunshine came out of the grey clouds some days ago, but people did not have much trust in this change and put on their warm jackets again. But, the sun was even warmer on the next day. And so, mistrustful at first, but more and more relaxed over time, people started taking off the layers of blouses they had under the jackets and the time of T-shirts was back again. And the time of long talks in the gardens and yards, parks and restaurants over a glass of beer or two. 
Which reminds me, that I have a recipe to share. 
Crispy chicken cracklings - something delicious, cheap and easy to make. 
Here is the recipe which celebrates the Indian Summer:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Roasted Hot Peppers

Roasted hot peppers
How hot should a hot pepper be? According to me - very, very hot. 
There is the so called Scoville scale method, measuring the amount of the capsaicin - the chemical compound, which irritates our mucous membranes and wakes our pain receptors. 

It is said, the burning sensation, provided by capsaicin is addictive. According to the theory, the pain induced by eating chilies makes our brain produce endorphins, which create a temporary feeling of euphoria. Heart rate increases, metabolism increases, salvation increases - the whole body is involved.

This mild addiction makes me want to have hot peppers with every meal (even with the breakfast sandwich, I admit).

There are many hot peppers varieties in Bulgaria - a real treasure for the lovers of the hot taste. Roasted chilies are served in nearly every restaurant as an appetizer or a spicy addition to the main course. 

The taste of roasted hot peppers is softer than the fresh ones. Peppers for roasting should be fresh and crisp and for this recipe chilies should have soft skins, bearing in mind they are not peeled after roasting.
Hot peppersRoasted hot peppers

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Baked Goat Cheese with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Fall came out of a sudden this year. 
We were at the sea at the beginning of September and yesterday, less than a month after the vacation, I took the winter jackets out of the wardrobe. 
I hate the all day long rain outside, the freezing temperatures and the cold wind.
There is so much time until next summer... 
On the other hand, I know, final countdowns do not make sense, but next October my Violet will not be with us. 
My beloved first-born child will take her way to the post-parents life and all her suitcases will be transferred to another destination, long way from home.  
Beach shower

Cafe in Tuscany
Children will never know how tough are some of the decisions their parents make. Parents will never be sure, their children are all right without them. And that is the way it should be. 
But, anyway, I would like to stop time, to take the most of every minute, to open some pictures holding memories of emotions and fun. 

And to post one of Violet's favorite recipes - baked goat cheese with spicy tomato sauce, a healthy, tasty and spicy appetizer, perfect for the long fall evenings.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leek Soup with Sausage and Potatoes

Potato soup with leek and sausage
It is not too cold outside. But it was a strange day. I had so many things to say, but I did not. Sometimes it is too late to say a word. But anyway, I was a kind of sad and wanted to prepare something to warm me up from the inside, a healthy, filling meal. Celebration of life, joy of the little things. Soup prepared with simple ingredients, but with love and affection. Tasty and satisfying. It turned out absolutely delicious. Here is the recipe:
Soup with sausages

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese
With the first cold raindrops falling outside and the first tree leaves turning their color into yellow I’ve started thinking about something nourishing and warm. Sauce Bolognese. This typical Italian sauce, known throughout the world, has become a kind of generic name for minced meat and tomato sauce, but most of the families, especially outside Italy, prepare it according to their taste without being aware of the ingredients in the original recipe. The taste of the original Bolognese sauce should be kind of creamy and this is because of the milk, which mellows the acidity of the tomatoes and is a staple ingredient of the authentic recipe. The sauce requires simmering for some hours in order to develop its rich and hearty taste. The combination of sautéed onion, celery and carrots, called in Italian soffritto is also important. According to people from Bologna, this sauce tastes best served with fresh pasta like tagliatelle or fettucine.
Spaghetti Bolognese

Bolognese sauce

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Favorite Greek Appetizers

Greek cuisine
Greek cuisine offers tasteful dishes even for the fussiest eaters.
Some of the Greek specialties have become so popular, that they are now cooked in many places around the world. Here is the list of my favorite ouzo mezedes (appetizers which are best enjoyed with a glass of Ouzo). 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The girl and the forest

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved the summer. She spent her vacations watching the butterflies and listening to the song of the birds. She prepared herbarium from the little flowers she picked, she was watching the sky for hours and the shapes of the clouds transformed in her imagination into people and ships, questions and answers. 
Trees were friends of this girl and while she was growing up she gradually learned that they had their own language and she was able to speak with them and they allowed her to see some of their secrets. 
Years went by and certainly she realized that spending her days worrying about the little problems of the days, she has forgotten that the forest was her friend, ready to listen to her thoughts and soothe her pain. 
It is not too late to be a little girl again. I am back to the forest.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Gluten-free Bread

Gluten free bread
This is a healthy gluten free bread which holds the taste of nuts and grains. Recipe is from here.

Gluten free bread

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Green Beans Stew

Gold of Bacau is my favorite bean. This pale yellow variety has juicy, slightly sweet taste and long flattened pods. No strings, no starchy flavor. Fresh and tasty - perfect for the summer.