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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Modern Retro Victoria Sandwich Cake

Retro Victoria Sandwich, filled with cream and jam, dusted with icing sugar.
I bet there isn't a person who does not love a Victoria Sandwich cake. My mum makes the best there is even at almost 91 years she still bakes them when friends and family come to tea. She fills them with thick cream and jam and they stand tall on the plate. If I ever made ne as good as hers I would feel mighty accomplished.
I love them though, whether light and fluffy or dense and rich filled with anything other than butter cream, not my fave.

So my modern twist on this retro classic is this
6 oz SR Flour or 6 oz plain with pinch salt and 1 tsp baking powder
6 oz butter/margarine
6 oz caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pack cream cheese
Icing sugar to taste
Whipped cream
Dessicated Coconut

Pre heat oven 180c (160c fan)
Grease two sandwich tins and flour them.
Beat the sugar and butter together with an electric whisk. whisk till very pale (white) and fluffy, this can take 3 - 5 mins.
Break the eggs one at a time and mix in until fully incorporated, don't rush this, add vanilla with the last egg.
Sieve the flour into the bowl in four stages and fold it into the mixture with a large metal spoon, if you don't have one (if not why not?) use a spatula. The texture should be a soft drop off the spoon. If the mixture is too stiff add a little water to soften it.
Divide between the sandwich tins and spread it evenly.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 - 30 mins, checking around 20 - 25 mins They need to be well risen and cooked through. I use a cocktail stick put it through the middle, it must come out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

Now Beat the whipping or double cream till peaks or quite stiff. Difficult here in Bulgaria, add the icing sugar to the cream cheese and beat till soft add the cream to this and fold it in. Spread the bottom layer with jam, and layer the cream mixture on top, keeping enough back for a thin layer on the top, sprinkle this with Coconut if you like.

My personal fave is thick cream with Strawberries mixed in

Saturday, 25 October 2014

What Am I Cooking?

Well it's been a while, so here is a question before the next recipe.
Add to these ingredients an onion & joint of meat.

So what will the next recipe be???????

Friday, 25 July 2014

Irish Wheaten Soda Bread Loaf & Rolls

I love this bread, so easy to make & no messing around.  I have been told by three different people that is exactly as they remember from their childhood in Ireland or how their Irish grandmother made it so I am well chuffed with this recipe.

It is easy & quick. Apparently it was specifically for fresh bread at  breakfast time.

Tip if you want softer outside (recommended by me) wrap the loaf or rolls in a clean tea towel as soon as you take it out of the oven.  If you want it crusty cool on a wire rack.

350gr Wholemeal bread flour
140gr White flour (I use all purpose/plain)
1 1/4 tsp Soda
1 1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar
60 gr Butter or marge
250-300ml Buttermilk (add lemon juice to the milk stir with a metal fork then leave while you prep the rest)
4 tbsp Vegetable oil

Sift together flours, salt, sugar & soda rub in butter. Make a well & add enough milk to make a soft dough don't add it all at once as it may need less ( I have learn't the hard way)  I usually add 250ml then a little more up to 350ml  but 250 - 300 ml.

Knead just a little, make into a round on a baking sheet with a little flour on it cut a + into the top.
For rolls break into 9 balls place in roll tin or in a baking tin/sheet again covered in a little flour flatten top a little & cut a + in each one

Bake rolls  top of oven, 180c or 160c fan for 20 mins
Bake loaf on high shelf 220c 200c fan for 30 mins cover & turn oven down to 200 or 180c fan, rotate tin  for a further 30 mins

Keep a check on timings for the first one as oven vary you may need to adjust time or temp.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Spicy Garlic Prawns (Low Fat)

My favorite food is (along with a juicy steak) seafood, Prawns top that list.
Prawns are tasty, nutritious, low in fat & a great diet aid, if like me you are trying to shed the pounds.

Here is my very quick, almost nil preparation taste busting dish. Good for a quick lonely lunch, a special lunch for friends or as part of a tapas table. Add spice, although this is fairly hot, & make it more or less sweet to your taste.
Above all ENJOY.

Fry Light
4 clove to one whole Garlic crushed & chopped
1 - 2tsp Paprika
1 tsp + chilli flakes
Liquid sweetener to taste (or granulated sweetener etc)
2 tbsp + White wine
250gr Uncooked Prawns (serves 2)

Spray a pan with fry light & add garlic, paprika & chilli flakes. Fry for a couple of minuets. Add sweetener & a little white wine, stir & cook for another minuet.
Add prawns, turn up heat & cook till they start to turn pink. Add wine & cook till prawns are cooked though. Add more wine if necessary.

Serve in dish with either fresh baked crusty bread, tortilla wraps or a fresh salad.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Fresh Apricot Jam

Mmmmm I love Apricots and have always been upset not to have any tree's. That is until two weeks ago, when I realised my diseased Nectarine tree was in fact an Apricot tree, it just hadn't produced fruit past small green things!
This year the tree is laden with bright orange blushed Apricots, how happy was I when I realised!
Yesterday I went down the back of our property to check on the plums, and  behold there are two more Apricot tree's there too! These I thought were diseased Pear tree's, as they were amongst other pear tree's, and had not produced any fruit,  we are talking 5 summers now!
Mmmmmm, eaten straight from the tree warm from the sun they are marvelous but made into a scrummy juicy preserve they are amazing.
So the first thing to do was to make preserve, this is so easy anyone can do it right off the cuff.
You can fiddle around with how you make it;
If you cut the Apricots small you will get jam, just boil longer,
Skins on or off, 
Halved or quartered,
Blanched or not.
Here is my way........
2kilo Apricots
2 Kilo Sugar, or 1 1/2 kg for reduced sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
10 + kernals
1/4 Pint water

Place a saucer in the freezer.
For Apricots with perfect skin, keep the skin on.  Blanche the Apricots that have pitted or imperfect skins in boiling water for aprox 2 mins then plunge into cold or ice water. Then remove the skin.
Cut into halves/quarters aprox half and half.
I do all this on a plate or bowl so I can use all the juice after this stage has been completed.
Crack some of the pips and use the kernels. Put the kernels in a piece of thin cloth or muslin and tie.
Melt a knob of butter in the bottom of a large stock pan, I use enamel, this is so it won't stick to the bottom of the pan when boiling (I got the idea from some TV program and it works!)
Put the Apricots in then the lemon juice sugar and water. Heat slowly stirring till the sugar has all melted then bring to a rolling boil, add the bag of kernals and boil for 20-30 mins. Test for setting consistency by spooning a little on the frozen saucer, then every 5 mins till it sets how you would like.
I like mine quite runny for preserve as I then use it for topping cheesecakes and putting in cakes as well as on bread and butter

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lemony Cheesecake Heaven

Mmmmm majestic, delectable, thick, creamy & luscious, but easy peasy literally lemon squeezy ;-D

130g Biscuits (Morning coffee style)
75g Butter, softened
250ml Dbl or Whipping cream Whisked
500g tub Mascarpone cheese
200g Icing sugar or more to taste
1 Lemon zest & juice
Bash or whizz the biscuits until they are like bread crumbs. Then mix in the butter until, fully incorporated.
Press this into a spring form tin or a loose bottomed cake tin & refrigerate.
In a bowl whisk the cream till it holds its shape.
In a larger bowl mix together the Mascarpone, sugar, lemon zest & juice. taste the mixture & add more icing sugar if needed, when blended together fold in the cream.
Spread this on top of the biscuit base & leave in the fridge over night.
Remove from the tin but leave it on the base

Serve this with whipped cream or drizzle with a fruit compote if you like but it is just as good on its own with just the tangy lemon taste.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cherry Heaven Cheesecake

Love my sour cherry tree. The first couple of years we were here the tree was bursting with the little red globes a really beautiful sight, but pop one of the gorgeous lovelies in the mouth only to spit them out in disgust!
Then my lovely neighbours showed me how to preserve them & turn them into amazing taste bud loving experience!
I highly recommend the preserving of these cherries as they can be used in so many different ways or just eaten with ice cream.
I also love non baked cheesecake so I wanted to make something different for my friends who were coming to share Easter with us. I had a sudden image of cheesecake pop into my head & that was it, decision made a creamy, sweet but tart confection of love:-) Try it you will love it!
I have substituted vegetable cream here as we can't get dairy cream, & low fat cream cheese but you can substitute full fat:-)
I have not found digestive biscuits here in Bulgaria but, if you are here, a friend has told me CBA sell them.. I used a "Morning coffee", "Rich tea" type of biscuit which gave a lovely soft cakey feel to the base, if this is not your thing then use digestive biscuits for a harder crunchy texture.

350g (2 x packs) Philadelphia low fat cream cheese
60g Icing sugar
250ml Double or Whipping cream
150g Butter softened
260g "Morning coffee" style biscuits
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Lemon juice
250ml Double cream
Cherry compote  (I make mine but you can buy it)
I don't think you can get such a delectable dessert that is any easier to make.
First if you have a processor then blitz the biscuits till they are breadcrumb like then add the butter & blitz on pulse to combine. If not then put the biscuits in a bag & smash with a rolling pin or a large serving spoon :-) & combine the butter in a bowl.

Press firmly into a spring form or loose bottom pan, 20cm or smaller. Put this into a cold fridge for an hour or two.
Whip the cream till it is thickened.
In a bowl beat together cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice & Icing sugar, then fold in the cream.
Spread over the biscuit base & place in fridge overnight.
I preserve my own sour cherries, but if you don't, then a jar of bought ones will suffice or you can buy the sauce.
1 x jar of sour/black cherries tip into a saucepan, juice too. Add 4 - 6 dessert spoons of sugar & slowly dissolve. Continue to cook till the sauce thickens, stirring frequently. During this process check the taste for sweetness & tartness. Cool the sauce.
Remove the cheesecake from the pan (leave the base) & spread over the top just before serving
Serve on its own or be very decadent & serve with creamy ice cream or whipped double cream.
Please let me know what you think :-)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Mum's Hot Cross Buns

I have not had Hot cross buns for 4 years & I miss them every Easter. For me it sums up what happened on Good Friday (in remembrance). It's about the bread of life.  Its the same as the Easter Egg sums up new life on Easter Sunday! Here in Bulgaria we can buy Kolache or Kozunac, Easter bread, but it is really nothing like a hot cross bun :-(
I wish I had spoken up before, because my mum gave me her recipe over the phone & I made them straight away! When my husband came home from work he was well impressed :-)
So for all those who miss the taste of Easter try them, it's worth it.
3 tsp Dried yeast
600g Plain flour
75g Caster sugar
250ml Milk
1-2 tsp Mixed spice
1-2 tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Salt
80g Butter
160g Sultanas
2 tbsp Mixed peel
1 med Egg, beaten

Flour paste
35g Plain flour
2 tsp Sugar
3 tbsp Water

1tsp Caster sugar

In a bowl add together the yeast, 1 tbsp of the sugar & whisk until the yeast has dissolved. Cover the bowl & place in a warm area for 10mins or so till it is frothy.
In a clean bowl sift the flour, spices, salt& rub in the butter till you get fine breadcrumb consistency. Stir in the rest of the sugar, fruit, yeast mixture, egg & 80ml of warm water, enough to make a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured top & knead hard till it is smooth & elastic, aprox 10 mins.
Return to the bowl & cover with some oiled cling film/plastic wrap & place in a warm area for 1 hour till the dough has doubled in size.
Knead well again on a floured surface for a couple of mins.
Cut into 20 pieces & roll into balls. Flatten slightly & place in a circle, on a greased oven tray, almost touching. Cover with the cling film again & stand in a warm place for 20 mins or so until again doubled in size. Pre heated oven 220c (200c fan)

Make the flour paste by sifting the flour into a bowl add the sugar & a little of the water at a time, gradually till you get a smooth paste. Put this into a pipping bag & pipe on the crosses
Bake in the oven for 15 mins until nicely browned & when you tap the bottom they sound hollow.

Make the glaze by Adding the water to the sugar & slowly over a low heat dissolve the sugar.
Paint over the tops of the buns while still hot, cool on a wire rack, or just smother in butter & eat while hot lol.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mushroom Risotto, (non oily)

Well, after buying a kilo of cheap mushrooms from our local market and making a batch of soup there was still just so many left that I decided to make a local dish, but without all the oil.
Every time I visit Bulgarian friends for dinner or a party, this dish is on the table or dished up as a side.
My friend bakes hers and there is a lot of oil involved, this is not like that.
Another great cheap very fresh vegetable in the markets now is spinach. I love spinach, it always makes me think of Popeye. I grew up with Popeye and Olive Oil, his girl friend.  I always think of spinach as being really good for us, I always buy it when it is available, from the market.
Another easy dish also great for vegetarians

A bag of fresh Spinach, torn
2 Onions, chopped small, I use red.
250g Mushrooms, peeled and chopped small
175g Long grain Rice, washed
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped small
600ml Vegetable stock
Salt and Pepper
Low cal cooking spray
Spray a large pan with a low cal cooking oil or use a little sunflower oil. Cook the onion, mushroom, carrot and garlic till the onion is transparent. Add the rice to the pan, cook for a few mins, stirring frequently. Then add the stock a little at a time after each addition has soaked into the rice. Season, and cover the pan, simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your liking. Add the spinach, cover the pan till the spinach is wilted down. I keep an eye on it at this stage as you don't want the rice to over cook. Once the spinach starts to wilt, stir it into the rice to speed it up. Stir it through the rice and serve.
Serve as a side dish or on it's own as a lunch.

Fresh Mushroom Soup

A trip to the local market last week saw me walk away from one stall with a kilo of mushrooms costing just over 2 leva, this equated to 1 UK pound :-) Too cheap for me to ignore. It wasn't till over lunch I realised just how many mushrooms were in a kilo ;-)
I decided on keeping some for the week ahead & promptly had some in an English breakfast minus sausages, with the gorgeous fungi for dinner.
1lb or so of Mushrooms, peeled & chopped
1 Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed & chopped
1 tsp Thyme
1-2 ltr Vegetable stock
Salt & pepper to taste
Low cal cooking spray
Spray a large stock pot with cooking spray, add onions & cook till transparent. Add the garlic, thyme & mushrooms. Cook for 10 minuets or so. Stir in the stock & cook on a simmer for 10-20 minuets. Blend, season & serve.
You can add milk before you blend to make it creamy.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Mmmmm love, love, love this soup, very similar to the pumpkin soup maybe a smoother creamier texture.
It freezes well, I make two or three batches in one. I save enough for a starter, & lunch over a couple of days & freeze the rest in individual & dinner party portions. This batch is made from Butternut's we grew last year just as we are planting for this years crop. I recommend them as a crop, they are easy to grow, rend a large crop & can be stored for months :-) At the moment other than soup I am roasting them & mashing them, yummy!!!!!
I love the fact that I can batch cook & freeze Butternut as I love them & its great to be able to enjoy them even after the fresh nut has been used up. Lovely!

2 lg Butternut squash, peeled de-seeded & chopped into bite size thick chunks
1 -2 red Onions chopped small
6 cloves Garlic crushed & chopped
2 Potatoes peeled & chopped small
2 ltr Chicken Stock
2-3 tsp Curry powder
1 tsp Home ground Chilli or powder
Cracked pepper to taste
Salt & Black pepper
Spray a large stock pot with low cal cooking spray or use 1 tblsp oil. Heat & add onion & garlic. Cook a couple of minutes. Add the potato, stir in then add pumpkin & curry powder, stir & cook for a couple of minutes. Add chilli powder & pour in stock, stir. Cook covered, on a low simmer for an hour. You can cook for less but the flavour is better if you do it for longer.

Blend the soup till smooth & taste. Adjust the cracked pepper & curry powder if needed. Blend a little after each addition. Makes a lovely thick & creamy soup
You can add Sage or Rosemary, if you wish

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Fat Free Roast Potatoes

I love roastie's but it is something that can ruin a diet or healthy eating plan. It is possible to have your roastie & eat it. Though they are not quite the same as a gorgeous crispy roast potato they are better than nothing.
This is for people who either have never had to try & lose some weight or those who just never thought of doing this.
 If you are serious about watching your fat intake or losing weight give them a try

Peel & part boil potatoes. After draining them give them a careful shake in the colander to break the outside a little, this will make them a little crispier.
Line a baking tray with something non stick (I used foil) spray this with a low cal cooking spray. Tip potatoes on this & space them out a little. Now spray them with the cooking spray (you can also sprinkle them with salt to help with the crisping but I don't as we watch the old arteries :-)
Roast as normal, keeping an eye on the colour, you don't want to burn them!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Chicken Dinner In A Pot, low fat

I am all for one pot cooking, its certainly easy & I can add extra veg if I like but its not necessary. Easy on the purse & easy on the figure.
I have a long line of quick recipes that are filling & nutritious, from my days of owning & running a busy town centre shop & not getting home till 7.30pm. I mean who in their right mind wants to start cooking then, but needs must with a husband who had a heart attack I have to cook from scratch for a healthy lifestyle!
Try this easy to prepare recipe, then while its cooking you can relax.

Chicken drumsticks or legs, skin removed
12 Cloves Garlic crushed
1 Onion cut into quarters
4 carrots roughly chopped
2 Courgette's sliced
1 tsp Tarragon
3/4 - 1 pint Chicken stock
2 tsp Dried celery (optional)
New potatoes skin on or old potatoes cut small, skin on
Salt & pepper
Low cal cooking spray or a little oil wiped over pan
Brown the chicken, add garlic to pan while browning.
Add all the other ingredients then stir in the stock & season to taste.

Bring to the boil, turn down, cover & simmer for one hour
That's it!


One Pot Curried Mince Low Fat

This couldn't be easier, basically it takes as long as potatoes take to boil! I love this recipe especially when I am too tired to"cook" I love it with minced lamb but I can't get that here, so far, so I use pork mince.
This no nonsense, meal in a pot, quick to the table meal couldn't be easier!
New potatoes in skins or old cut small in skins(scrubbed)
2 Onion (red) chopped small
4 cloves Garlic crushed & chopped
1 inch Root Ginger peeled & grated
Low cal cooking spray or wipe the pan with a little oil
Extra lean Minced Pork or;  fry the fat off & rinse the mince with hot water & wipe the pan before placing the mince back in.
2 tbsp Curry powder medium or hot
Jar Tomatoes
1/4 pint Chicken stock
Spinach leaves
Salt & pepper
Very low fat natural yogurt to drizzle

Put the potatoes on to cook. Spray a deep pan with cooking oil (low cal) & brown off the mince then drain, rinse & return to heat. Add garlic, onions & cook till softened.Add Ginger & curry powder & cook aprox 6 mins.Add the tomatoes & stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat & simmer for a few mins.

Add the cooked potatoes & spinach, cover & wilt the spinach. Easy as that!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Pork Biryani, Low Fat

Loving the spicy food when I am on a diet. Its like lying to my brain so I feel naughty & full. I even get the return munchies & have to keep dipping into the pan to eat the left overs!
This recipe can be enjoyed with or without the curry powder or chili. Without it has a gorgeous ginger zing on the tongue & the smell is lovely, so enjoy whichever way you cook it.

2 Onions chopped
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
Low cal cooking spray or wipe the pan with a little oil on a piece of kitchen roll
1 inch Root ginger
2 eggs
Boiled rice
Frozen peas, corn, Green beans
Cooked Carrots, Courgette small chopped, Green beans
1/4 pint strong chicken stock. if you are using frozen veg
2 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp Curry powder or some chili flakes
Fresh ground black pepper
Peel & chop ginger into small pieces, chop the onion & garlic small.
Boil rice. Don't let the rice cook too much
Remove all visible fat from the pork & cut the pork into thin strips, then cut the strips into small pieces so you have something very small but more substantial than minced meat.
In a large deep pan/wok sprayed or wiped with oil brown off the pork & cook till tender.
In another fry pan, cook the onions, garlic & ginger for a couple of mins then crack in the eggs & scramble it through the mix. Add this to the pork stir through, then add the stock & frozen veg & cook till veg is done, skip this if you are using fresh cooked vegetables.
Stir the fresh cooked vegetables, rice, Curry powder (or chili flakes to taste) & cook for 5 mins
Season with black pepper & stir in the soy sauce.
Serve cold as a salad, it's scrummy

Cheeky Chilli Chicken, Low Fat

Another low fat chicken recipe from the village kitchen, Different flavours are achieved by using spices & herbs & this is no slouch in the taste stakes. You can make it as hot or mild as you like,the main point here is to encourage you to cook healthier & enjoy great food when you are trying to shift the pounds.

Chicken legs, skin removed
4 Garlic cloves crushed & chopped
Two large roasted peppers
Mushrooms, thick sliced..... optional
1/2 pint Chicken stock
1/2 tsp liquid sweetener
Jar Tomatoes
Chilli flakes to taste
1 tsp Paprika
Low cal cooking spray or wipe the pan lightly with oil on a kitchen roll
Salt & pepper
Spray or wipe the pan with oil. Brown the chicken Add the garlic & fry for a couple of mins. Add the mushrooms & cook a couple more mins. Add the roughly chopped peppers & cook for 5 mins. Sweeten & stir in paprika, tomatoes & stock. Season to taste, cover & cook on a low heat for 1 hour.
You can remove the meat from the bone or serve as is.

Moroccan Lemon Chicken, Low Fat

Easy food for all & no one needs to know its diet food, after all what is diet food? This is & if you are eating boring, tasteless dinners try this.Its all in the preparation & taking out the fat!!!! Fat is BAD, repeat...... ;-D
I am always trying different ways with chicken as its the best meat for watching our weight & healthy eating but it can just get boring, if you feel the same this is worth a try.

Chicken, skin removed
2 Onions, cut into quarters
3 Carrots, bite size pieces
Low fat cooking spray
2 tsp Ginger
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Lemon zest & juice
1 /2 pints Chicken stock
Sml jar Olives
Spray a pan with a low fat cooking oil or wipe the pan with kitchen roll with olive oil. Brown chicken & add the chopped onions, carrots, spices, lemon & stock to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover & reduce heat. Cook for one hour until the chicken is tender, remove from the heat & stir in the olives.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Spiced Red Cabbage, Low Fat Version

Mmmm I love the smell of spices & my favourite spices are ginger, cinnamon & allspice so this is almost a perfect vegetable dish for me. Problem is the onion but I am gradually adding a little into my diet & taking tablets so I can enjoy the occasional treat such as this!
A warming side dish you can add to your table & let people dig in & be surprised.
This dish takes a lot of cooking time but can be reheated so cook ahead of time.
Especially enjoy this durig the winter months but actually any time of year. Serve cold at summer garden parties.

1 Head Red cabbage, sliced
2-4 Red onions, sliced
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Ginger
1 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp liquid sweetener
6 tbsp Red wine vinegar
spray cooking oil, frylight or other

In an oven proof casserole dish, layer the shredded cabbage with the onion, ending with a layer of cabbage. In a jug mix the spices with the liquids & pour over the cabbage. Spray the cabbage with the cooking spray & place the lid on. Cook in the middle of a preheated oven 150c for 3 hours (told you it was a lot of cooking!). Stir the mix occasionally

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Zingy Beef Pot Roast, (Low fat) & Not A Tomato In Sight!

I love, love, love a good pot roast & have cooked beef, pork & goat (in Bulgaria) in this way for years, but it usually involves lots of red wine & rakia or brandy!
Now I am on a diet & I want to lose a lot of weight, without compromising delicious food or taste.
We don't need to eat boring foder, or have bland tasteless meals, just because we want to shift the pounds. We just need to watch how we cook, what we cook & what we add to our cooking.
There are lots of compromises out there & the biggest change, for loss of calories in food, comes from cutting off all visible fat & draining off all fat from mince, & not adding fat when cooking. It's the FAT!!!
Add taste with herbs, spices & fat free sauces like soy sauce etc.
This recipe is full of aroma & flavour. A very tasty pot roast, very easy &  very adaptable.
Serve with potato, either boiled with skin, dry roasted or mashed with no milk or fat, mash it with an egg & load up with lots of vegetables.

Beef, all visible fat removed
1 pint of beef stock, made with 2 stock cubes
4 Garlic cloves, crushed You can also add onions if you wish cut in half
Marrow, chopped in cubes. or any other root vegetable of your choice
3 Carrots, julienne style
Roasted green & red Peppers, chopped (you can use non roasted)
1 tsp Paprika
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1tbsp Soy sauce
2 sml Bay leaves
Fresh ground Salt & blk pepper
Chili flakes to your taste
1 tsp Mixed herbs

First trim off all visible fat, if this means you end up with more than one lump so be it.
In a casserole pot add the beef, crushed garlic & sprinkle over the paprika.  Poke the  marrow, around the side of the pork & add salt, pepper, chopped roasted peppers, chili flakes, stock with Worcester &soy sauce's, bay leaves, carrots & mixed herbs.
Place in the centre of a hot oven 220c for 15mins then turn oven down to 150c & slow cook for 4 - 6 hours untill  the meat is so tender it melts. Keep an eye on the fluid level, don't let it get too low.
See, east peasy ;-D

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Slimming Pork Goulash

Pork in Bulgaria is probably the main meat we eat. Its cheap & very, very tasty. Pork is reared by many people in the villages. I would love to raise Pigs for food but I am unable to kill & eat something I have cared for, wimp I know!
People think if you are on a diet you can't eat pork & other meats that it has to be poultry. This is rubbish, a complete fallacy. The only thing you have to do is cut off all visible fat, as you have to remove the skin from poultry. Why would you want to make your life miserable by denying yourself good food??????
So here is a very tasty dish & you can dish this up to everyone its that good!
I have adapted this from a Slimming World recipe. 
Enjoy with rice or mashed potato & green beans. Do not add milk & fat to the potato but fork it, to break the potato, crack in an egg  & mash it well.

2 Leeks, trimmed & outer layer removed
4 Cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Cloves of garlic chopped
1 - 2 lb Pork (2lb will make enough for friends or to freeze)
2 Red peppers, chopped
Fry light (if you cannot get this, wipe a small amount of oil over a non stick frypan) If you are in Bulgaria get family to send it over it will be a massive help.
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Paprika
1/2 pint of beef stock
Jar/tin Tomatoes in sauce
Chop the pork into bite size pieces, remove all visible fat.
In a pan, lightly brown to seal the pork, add leeks & stirring occasionally cook for 3 mins. Add bay & garlic & cook a couple of mins. Add the peppers & sprinkle over the paprika stirin & cook for 5- 7 mins.
Pour in tomatoes & the beef stock combine, grind in black pepper & sea or rock salt.
Bring to the boil, cover pan & cook for 60 - 90 mins or till pork is nice & tender.
Enjoy, gorgeous & filling

Friday, 2 March 2012

Big Beefy Burgers

Mmmmmm I love juicy fat, full of meat burgers. We don't just have to have them as a treat though.
Here in Bulgaria its not like shopping in the UK, we can't buy extra lean mince beef, but what we can do is mince our own. Back to basics here in lots of things, well it keeps us busy ;-)
I enjoy making these burgers, they are so easy & I look forward to them all day when they are on the menu.
I can even have these on my diet with egg & bacon in a bun or with pasta n sauce, potato etc, which is always good!

1 red onion, chopped small (can use white)
4 or more cloves of Garlic, crushed & chopped small.
250g Minced beef (lean or very lean for a healthier burger)
2 tsp Worcester or Soy sauce
1 tsp Parsley
Salt & pepper
Oil or Fry Light (for frying)
Add onion & garlic to the mince meat & mix in. Add parsley, Worcester sauce & season, mix it all together.
Divide into 4 portions, shape into balls & then flatten into burger patties.
Cook gently in a fry pan for 10 - 15 mins depending on your taste & thickness of burgers.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bulgarian Keftedes or Kufteh (Bulgarian Burgers)

These will be on every Bulgarian village table & in every Bulgarian restaurant these will be on the menu. Most will have Cumin added but for me I prefer them without.
So, its a battle between Burgers & Keftedes. I prefer Burgers but love to be able to cook the Bulgarian version for my friends, they appreciate the effort I go to, to learn traditional village cooking. I do really like the moistness of these too. These are good Keftedes,  pleasing both us & our Bulgarian family.
I have made large keftedes in this photo but they can be halved or even halved again. So 1 Keftede can actually make 2 -4 depending on your appetite & taste.
Keftedes are found in many countries, here is my recipe.......
500g Minced Mutton
1 Slice of Bread
1 Egg
1 Onion, chopped sml
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed & chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt & Pepper
Fry light  or Vegetable oil
Soften the bread in some milk, then squeeze it out.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, use your hands. Form into balls then flatten.
Spray with fry light or brush with oil & on a very hot griddle cook for 5 mins or so on each side
The Bulgarians serve these with baked rice, but I serve them with Pasta with a tomato, basil & chilli sauce.

Yorky Pud's

These were baked in a muffin tin, came out huge
Who doesn't love a Yorkshire pud? But yet again this easy roast dinner accompaniment has been taken over by the frozen food section in the local supermarket. Easy to open a packet & shove them in the oven for a dinky pud to add to your plate. Very convenient, yes but as good as homemade, no way!
So here we are in Bulgaria with no convenient frozen packs & thank God for that :-)
I can't help but love these little puddings, with roast dinners, I also serve them up with sausages, pork chops, pot roast & filled with mince. Just on their own with gravy is lovely too, in fact anything you serve with veg & gravy :-D
I used to make them years ago then running my own business not getting home till 7.30pm 6 days a week I turned to convenient foods. Its easy to get used to second best when you are busy.
Being in Bulgaria living a country lifestyle means more time & enjoyment in the kitchen. Now this recipe is not for all you wonderful cooks out there its for us normals who need reminding of real food that doesn't come ready made from the freezer :-)

3 Eggs, whisked.
115g Plain flour.
Couple of grinds of, sea or rock Salt.
285g Milk, semi skimmed.
Oil for each mould (1 tbsp each)
Pinch Mustard powder
Whisk everything together & stand for 30 mins.
Pre heat the oven to 220c. Heat the oil in the tins for 5 mins till very hot & spitting.
Spoon the mixture very quickly into the oil, as you want the oil to be really very hot for all of them. Place quickly in the oven & cook for 15 mins.
I use a processor to mix mine now as my hands are not good enough & I can't get a big enough rise, but you can use a balloon whisk by hand or if you have good wrists a fork ;-D If you do mix by hand...... Mix the eggs into the flour then add the milk, salt & mustard & beat until smooth with no lumps.


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Pickled Eggs Various

Am I being typically English or just preserving something else? I hope this is still being typically Bulgarian, even though it's not something they do. I have given Bulgarian friends a jar & they were bemused but enjoyed them nonetheless. I think the reason Bulgarians don't pickle eggs is that they don't need to preserve them, whereas we like the taste!
Yes I love pickled eggs & they are a great food when I'm watching my weight but it never occurred to me, befor now, to pickle them.
I had a eureka moment when I was pickling cabbage & onions, as we have lots of eggs & we are given some beauties by friends who keep chickens. So along with the normal pickles & preserves I am adding eggs.
Here are a few recipes & I have to say one I am not keen on but each to their own taste!
Good old plain.........
Measure how many eggs per jar before cooking. I always measure half a jar of vinegar, this should be enough.
Per Jar
Hard boiled eggs, peeled.
6 Peppercorns
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt 
Chilli flakes (optional)
1 Onion sliced
Bring vinegar, peppercorns, sugar, salt & chilli to boil. Slice the onions into large thin slices, layer with eggs in the jar. Strain vinegar mix & pour over the eggs.
Seal in a sterilised jar & store in a cold place or fridge. Once opened store in the fridge
My favourite Egg is pickled in beetroot juice! After eating the beetroots don't throw away the juice. Literally all you do is put the eggs in the juice & store in the fridge. See my pickled beetroot recipe, after 2 weeks they are ready to munch.
These are my least favourite, too vinagery for my liking, but they are interesting & if you like the stronger pickle taste then these will be your kind of egg......
Eggs, hard boiled & peeled.
2 pints Vinegar
10 blk peppercorns
1 Chilli pepper chopped ot dried chilli flakes
2 tsp Allspice
10 Cloves
3 Cinnamon sticks
Place eggs in sterilised jars
Heat vinegar & spices until liquid begins to boil, then turn down & simmer for 10mins or so. Remove from heat & cool liquid, strain &. pour over the eggs making sure they are covered completely.
Seal the jar & store in a cool dry place. Leave for 2 weeks, minimum.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Marrow, Plum & Apple Chutney (no onion)

If you are a regular to this blog you know I am intolerant to onions & have to improvise without losing flavour. Chutney is a favourite preserve, I love making it out of all sorts of mixtures & this is one of my preferred recipes.
This chutney lasts forever & is fabulous in sandwiches, with salad, burgers you name it ;-)
2 Heads of garlic, crushed & chopped
1 lg Marrow, peeled & chopped (scoop out seeds, wash, dry & store for planting)
500g-1kg Plums
2lb Apples, peeled cored & chopped
1lt  Vinegar
1tbsp Ginger
2tsp Cinnamon
2tsp Allspice
1tsp Nutmeg
1kg Sugar
2tsp Salt
Put the plums in a large pan with a little water & heat till the plums soften. Turn of the heat & skim out the stones.
Add all the ingredients, except the sugar, stirring after each add.
Bring to the boil, then simmer till all is soft. Keep an eye on it & stir frequently.
Add the sugar & stir till it is dissolved. Cook till it is thickened, the apple has cooked down & you can run a spoon through leaving a channel behind.
Spoon into sterilised jars, wipe rim & seal the lid & leave to cool down.
You should hear the lids popping. When the chutney is cold check the jars are sealed properly by pressing the centre of the lid, it should NOT move.
Store for 3 months before eating, for all the flavours to develop.

Pickled Red Cabbage

Mmm Pickled cabbage, it sounds nice to me but I have only ever had sauerkraut,so when my friend said he liked pickled Red I thought I would make some.
At the moment I am a pickling addict, so I have looked at lots of recipes on the internet & made up my own. Try using your imagination too don't cheat & buy ready mixed pickling spices, its easy to experiment & you can make one jar at a time using different combinations, just remember to write them on a label, so you know what works & what doesn't!
Pickling in Bulgaria is a little different as the vinegar (otset) here is not as strong. Basically its salad vinegar (cheap) or wine vinegar (more expensive). It can still be done & is just as good but it will have a slightly different taste.
Don't listen to anyone who says you don't need to let it mature a week or two, you do or the vinegar will be over powering & the flavour will not be steeped enough.

1 Head of Red Cabbage shredded. remove hard core (outer layers removed)
Layer the cabbage in a bowl, layer cabbage then salt till finishing with a layer of salt. Cover with a plate. After 24 hours wash off salt & drain well.
Pack into sterilised jars, push down well.


Spiced vinegar
Small muslin square & string
1 pint Red wine vinegar
1 Cinnamon stick
2oz Sugar
4 Cloves
1/4 tsp Allspice
6 Black pepper corns
Med piece root Ginger, peeled & chopped
Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. In the muslin place all the spices, ginger & break the cinnamon stick adding to the spices, tie the muslin into a bag.

Add the bag to the vinegar, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins.
Remove from heat. Pour over cabbage while hot & seal, or you can wait till it is cold. Try both & see which you prefer.
Wait at least a week before eating to allow flavours to develop.
Great for the up coming BBQ & garden party season.

This cabbage needs to be in the jar for a week minimum,  two will be better.

Friday, 24 February 2012

No Onion Chicken Chasseur

A very warming meal in winter, a meal light enough for summer & a great help yourself  pot for a garden party.
Chicken Chasseur is another easily prepared meal, it's not high on my special dinner party list but its very tasty & can be a great alternative sauce for pasta
Chicken, skinned, boned & cut into bite size pieces
Mushrooms sliced
1/2 pint chicken stock
Head of garlic crushed & chopped
Jar of Tomatoes
4 floz White wine
Olive oil or fry light
Salt & fresh ground blk pepper
2 tsp Tarragon
Cook the chicken in oil or fry light, turning & browning on both sides. Remove from pan.
Add to pan wine, stock, garlic, mushrooms & tomatoes. Stir together then add chicken  back to pan & bring to simmer. Cover pan & cook for 1hour.
Serve with pasta rice or mashed potatoes

Japanese Chicken Teriyaki

I love the taste of this dish. I used to have this on my numerous trips to Bali. It was what I would have after a hard days bargaining for stock. It has its own taste & goes just as well with pork. I serve this with noodles but it goes nicely with rice too.
I love the fact it is easy to make, tastes great & is quick to cook. Most ingredients are in our cupboards, so give it a go.
Oh & to make it a good meal when watching your weight, use liquid sweetener but if your not watching your weight use sugar.

Chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
1 Red pepper cut into thin strips
2 cloves of garlic crushed & a few spring onions chopped. OR  A head of garlic crushed & chopped, but no onion.
2 floz Soy sauce
2 floz Worcester sauce
2 tbsp Red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar or 1 tsp liquid sweetener
A little olive or sunflower oil for frying or use Fry light
Fry the strips of chicken in the oil or fry light, till meat is cooked through. Remove from pan & keep warm.
In the pan heat together soy, Worcester sauce, vinegar & sugar or sweetener. Add garlic & cook a couple of mins. Stir chicken back in with pepper & onion, if using. Cook for around 5 mins, stir frying till the sauce has thickened to your liking.
You can have the sauce thick & sticky or a little runny, your preference

Serve on a bed of noodles & enjoy!!!!!