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Monday, 30 August 2010

Tikvenic Tikva Banitsa or Pumpkin Pie


Or Tikva Banitsa. There are so many variations on Pumpkin pie but by far the tastiest for me has been the village Tikva Banitsa.
Pumpkins are another veggie grown in most village properties. Great big patches of green lilly pads (thats what they look like) in the summer crawling across the ground up & along fences & in the grape vines with little peeps of orange poking through then in the autumn as the leaves die down you are treated to their secrets with nobly crooked or perfect round bodies littering the mud floors. Beautiful orange green & yellows all shapes & sizes, all squash here are called by one name, not like us who have lots of names for different varieties. This year I have grown the orange round pumpkins as a trial I managed to get 12 decent size fruits lots were lost or came to nothing. Next year I plan on many more & different varieties too, all very exciting for a novice like me. I am particularly proud as I grew mine from seeds of the pumkins I cooked with last year. My favourite thing to cook with them is soup & scones but banitza is my next recipe to perfect! So much more to the humble pumpkin than a haloween lantern, just what have I been missing all these years! & please if you are in America stop buying the canned junk use fresh!!!!

I have been given two recipes. One a scrap of paper where I have scribbled ingredients & a get on with it attitude which I was about to do. The other a new friend has sent me a recipe from a Bulgarian cook book with the oven times & temps on, so I am combining the two & this is my Tikva Banitsa!
I dare say this will be changed & variated over the years & there are many Banitsa's out there including a no pastry Banitsa I am determined to make but I need the round Banitsa tin as it's a well runny affair!

Filo Pastry
Sunflower oil or melted butter
Pumpkin chopped into small chunks
8 - 10 oz Sugar to taste Brown if you have it, if you do use less of it.
5 oz Walnuts chopped
1 tbsp Cinnamon
Honey optional drizzle it over each layer

Oil pie tin well

Cook the pumpkin in a little water or steam till soft, drain it well push out some of the excess water
Mash the pumpkin then add the sugar & cinnamon & cook together over a very low heat stirring till all the water has gone.
Add the walnuts to pumpkin & mix it through well.
Layer the filo pastry & mixture oiling the filo on each layer don’t forget to drizzle with honey if you are using it!

end with a layer of filo & oil the top.

Cook in a pre heated oven 220c 425f till slightly brown then
180c 350f for 40-50 mins
Fan oven 200c then 160c

I cooked this today & got the thumbs up from my neighbours in fact they wolfed it down, so it must compare very well :D

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Potato & Vermicelli soup or Kartofi e Fide Soupa

This simple soup is a firm favorite with the our friends in the village if you have any leftover Goat or Chicken you can bung that in too!
A very rustic simple dish that is delicious I love it & will be making loads this winter but without the oil as it will be a frequent visitor to my table.
It's actually one of my favorites & very filling so if your having it as a starter you may want to dish up just a little. As with most village recipes there are no fixed weights & measures its mainly done on knowing or if like me, pure guess work!!! It always comes out perfect. I would have this as a main or a light lunch with crusty rolls from Kaufland Mmmm If I have friends from the village for dinner it will be the second course after the salade then would be followed by a meat dish. I serve it hot but most Bulgarians don't eat hot food,  so you would be very fortunate to get it barely warm, serve it with Limontus although i have it with fresh ground black pepper :D

1 kg potatoes, Peeled & cut into small cubes
4 x Spring onions ( if like me you can't eat onions use Garlic instead)
3 x Eggs
Handful Chubritsa/Savoury or Oregano
Oil For Bulgarian taste use Sunflower oil but you can use olive etc or if you want a healthier option it won't hurt to leave it out!
2 x Chicken stock cubes (if your using Bulgarian stock cubes leave out the salt)
3/4 tsp Limontus
Parsley, fresh if you have it

In a large pan of water bring to the boil salt, oil, & onions or garlic. When boiling add the potato boil until soft, then add the fide/vermicelli. In a separate large bowl whisk 3 eggs with the limontus (if you can get it) & add the chubritsa/oregano & whisk.
When the soup is ready add the stock cubes.
Take the soup of the heat & ladle some liquid slowly into the egg mixture stirring all the time,
 then tip back into soup & whisk.

Serve with limontus, black pepper & crusty bread!
Can use this recipe as a base for chicken or other meat soup just add precooked meat & bones to the mixture but I would recommend as is!!!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bourkanche krastavitsa e Otset or Pickled Gherkins

 Gherkins & peppers are a staple part of the Bulgarian diet always on the food table while the borkans are in the cellars & the shops are always full of the processed variety. Part of village life grow them then pickle them & put them on the table whenever anyone visits, these make up a messe with fresh laid hard boiled eggs sprinkled with paprika pepper. Mmmm I tell you we have a good life here! 
This is my village way of pickling & very nice they are too, you can add more sugar for a sweeter pickle, these are quite tart but go down lovely with a chasha of Rakia & a nice shopska salade

You will need.... per jar
5 cloves of garlic
fennel head
5 pepper corns 1 dsp sugar
1 dsp salt
5 dsp vinegar
1 asprin... optional

Fill jars with gherkins Add all ingredients & fill to top with water.
Seal jar & turn to mix all ingredients together. Stand jars in sun for 5 days & rotate the jars every day.
If you do not add the aspirin...... Place a cloth in the bottom of a large pan place the jars of pickles on & fill till jars covered bring to the boil & boil for 10 mins.
These pickles keep for at least a year longer actually, I am still eating the ones I canned last year & they are delicious!

Malko Godishninata Keyk or Anniversary Muffins

Its my Anniversary today so in the absence of my husband (who's working away in UK) & no outing to celebrate I developed this recipe & hope its nice!!!
The fruit is from my Garden
Malko Godishninata Keyk/Anniversary Muffins
230g Apples peeled & chopped
130g Plums large purple chopped
225g Plain flour
100g Caster Sugar
75g Butter or Margerine
3tsp Baking powder
Pinch Salt
2 tsp Vanilla sugar
1tsp Vanilla essence
225g Milk with dash of lemon juice or Buttermilk (I have never used Buttermilk)

Makes 10 muffins Preheat oven 200c

Toss chopped fruit in vanilla sugar.
Cream together Butter & sugar.
Lightly mix in flour, baking powder & salt.
Make a well & add milk mixture with vanilla essence, only moisten do not beat as you want the floury bits to make the muffin fluffy.
Fold the fruit into the mix lightly.
Spoon into Muffin cases
bake in preheated fan oven for 20 mins otherwise 25 mins
These muffins are best baked the day before eating as this enables the muffin to soften & the fruit to develop its flavour.
Enjoy xxx

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Courgette, Marrow, Cucumber & Apple Chutney or Tikvichka, Krastavitsa & Yabulka Chutney

My Bulgarian friends don't have an equivalent of chutney & have no idea what it is. They eat bread dry with every meal no butter or marg, chutney or jam, Although they do know jam & their Baba's used to make it, but  they don't seem to nowadays.
This is made from garden produce everyone grows
I have masses of apples in my garden & I'm not an apple eater so I do other things with them as I can't stand the thought of them going to waste. Last year we fed loads to the neighbours pig but this year I was determined to do as much as possible with what I have. So there will be various chutneys, cake, Rakia & Muffins along with any other recipes I can find, I may even do an apple pie mmmm.
Anyway back to this......
This is my own Chutney recipe & packs a bit of a punch, if that's not to your liking leave out the Cayenne pepper!
I gave the small jar to my friends & they said it was very hot, not many Bulgarians like hot!!! I left mine stored for a few months & it was not hot

2lb Apples
1 x Cucumber
1 med Marrow
1 x Courgette or 1lb if you can only get tiddlers
1lb 8oz Onions
1 pint Malt Vinegar
1lb Brown Sugar or golden sugar
1tsp Salt 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2tsp Ginger, ground

Peel, core, chop the apples. Finely chop the onion. Cut cucumber, marrow & courgette/s  in half, scoop out the seeds & peel off skin. Chop finely.
Place apples onion & veg in pan with the vinegar & bring to the boil, simmer till its soft.
Add sugar, salt & cayenne, stir till sugar has dissolved & continue simmering till the chutney has thickened.
make sure you stir it occasionaly to stop it sticking!
Pour into sterilised jars with airtight lids
Sterilise clean jars by 1/4 filling with water & heat full power in microwave for 4 mins, I do the lids by boiling them!

Easy Pickled Garlic Or Vinograd Bourkanche Otset Chessun

Garlic is a much grown vegetable here in fact there is two growing seasons, summer Garlic & winter Garlic & they have distinctly different flavours this is my winter Garlic, as yet I have not grown summer Garlic. Again Garlic is grown in every village & I think almost all houses. I know my friends eat it till its gone & will have skin permiating of the pungeant smell for weeks then all of a sudden its gone! Me I like to hang it & use it all year as I can't eat onions I use this instead so I have preserved it in different ways & also use it fresh from my garlic plaits hanging in my kitchen.
I have been waiting for my garlic to dry for a while now & have had it hanging plaited from hooks outside my kitchen. Well I finally got round to pickling some, talk about lots of faffing,
Here is the recipe, but it needs to be left in the fridge for two weeks to cure so be prepared!

Whole peeled Garlic Cloves
Whole Chilli
Red Wine Vinegar
Slices of Red Pepper
To peel the garlic, first break heads into cloves then place in boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunge into cold water. Drain well & pop garlic out of casing, do this by squeezing gently from the thin end.
Now sometimes it wont pop out but it will peel easier!
When you have peeled your Garlic fill jars, Putting in one whole Chilli & some sliced Pepper, up to you what colour or you can mix it.
Put in one dessert spoon Salt in a large jar adjust for smaller jars & fill to top with Red wine vinegar, in Bulgaria I used the one with the red grapes on the label.& place lid.
Shake the jar/s to dissolve the salt & store in fridge two weeks to "cure".
This should keep almost indefinitely if covered & kept in fridge

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Italian Grape Cake

Oh my goodness this is theeeeee best cake EVER!!!! Thats if you like grapes of course.

Our grapes vines are mixed with both red, white, sweet and dry. I use the sweet red to make this cake and it is gorgeous. Its originally from the Italian vineyard area's of believe it or not, Italy  :-)
My mum gave me this recipe, its one she procured years ago on her travels there, when not many people had travelled to destinations outside England ooh many moons ago. I fell in love with this cake the first time she made it and it has been my all time fave ever since along with the rest of the family. So this is my mums recipe, made now from my own vineyard,  it brings me lovely memories every time I make it. My husband never had it till we moved here as it was always my mums special cake but with our vineyard I had to make it, it's now his favourite too along with the Yabulka! (Apple)
I hope you enjoy this recipe, if you like grapes then I guarantee you will adore this cake, it's really moist!

12oz black grapes
Heaped tsp baking powder
7oz Margarine
7oz Caster sugar
4 Eggs
12oz SR Flour
First you need to de seed the grapes, unless you have bought seedless of course!
Cream together sugar and fat.
Add 1 egg at a time with 2oz of the flour till its all mixed in.
add baking powder then grapes mix well to a stiff mixture
Pour into the greased tin andbake for 40 - 45 minuets at 180c or 160c fan
If not ready check it every 4 mins till it is cooked

serve this cold on its own or with cream or mascarpone cheese, Enjoy!

At the moment with no proper kitchen or storage space all I have available are these round tins but if you have a square cake tin this is best as you can cut the cake into squares, then it goes further!!!!

Vinograd Apple Cake

This is a traditional English recipe but I now live here and use village eggs and my home grown apples.
I am not a fan of the apple as it is, which is such a shame as we have masses, but in a cake, yum!
I have cooked many an apple cake here and it goes down very well with my Anglo/Bulgarian friends so I proclaim it as a soon to be traditional Vinogradian recipe. The recipe has been asked for and given to quite a few Bulgarians and is spreading round the region, the last one I took to a big celebration was talked about for weeks :-) Some English friends also adopted it and take it to all the Brit parties they go to so it is spreading through Northern Bulgaria. Try it and take it to your next Bulgarian party, they will love it.
This cake is delicious on its own, (I prefer it this way), sprinkled with icing sugar or served warm with ice cream and cream if you can get it or make it! So, perfect with café, as a hot or cold desert or just a quick snack.
It freezes well to so if like me you have a glut of apples batch bake and freeze to enjoy all winter!
Please don't use frozen or cooked apples as this cake is beautifully moist. If you use anything other than fresh Apples it will be horribly soggy.

225g Butter or Margarine
450g Apples peeled, cored and chopped small
Finely grated rind zest and juice of 1 lemon
225g caster Sugar
3 large Eggs
225g Flour (if not in Bulgaria SR Flour)
3tsp Baking powder or if using self raising use just 2 tsp
1 - 2 tsp Cinnamon
Put oven on 180c or 160c fan
Grease and line a 23 – 24cm cake tin
Toss apple in lemon juice. I do this while I am peeling and chopping so it keeps its colour.
Cream butter, sugar and zest until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time adding a little flour with each egg to keep it smooth.
Sift remaining flour, cinnamon and baking powder into the bowl and fold in.
Drain the apple well and stir into the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into cake tin and level top.
Bake for 1 hour until well risen and brown. After 10 mins remove from cake tin, cool and dredge with caster sugar or icing sugar, if you have it.
If it starts to look a bit too brown while cooking cover with baking paper after 45 mins

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Traditional Baked Rice Pudding with Bulgarian Twist

Mmmmhmmm nothing better in winter or like today on an overcast day warming creamy smooth rice pudding, just like Mummy used to make! Oh but healthier I will put both healthy & unhealthy, has to be done occasionally, recipes here. Unfortunately I can't have the unhealthy one as I have not yet found what I need although I can get a litre of full fat Jersey milk from our friend Gosho the vet. made it with this once & it was truly lovely, I am always looking to make better & creamier rice pudding here in Bulgaria its a challenge!
Years ago there was a milk churner that turned full fat milk into cream, my Mum had one! Well I am desperate to find one as you cannot buy cream here not dairy cream its all long life made from vegetable fat??? Oh My Goodness!!!! You cannot substitute that for the real thing, so I get cravings! When I get to go back to UK I must go to Cornwall & have a proper clotted cream teas or if that's not possible I will get one in Rye or Battle when I visit my mum :D Right that's settled lets get on with the rice pudding!
I have one in the oven right now, can't wait!!!  I am looking forward to my soon to be born grandchild coming over to spend time with Nanna & feeding them traditional English heritage puddings I have such fond memories of my childhood based around food. Both my Mum & my Nan were cooks & my Nan always used to say "This is what they give mad dogs" ie; it calms the soul :D & I have to agree with her.

So, This is what you give mad dogs.....
For a healthier option.....
2 pints Semi Skimmed milk; or for even healthier Skimmed
4 oz Pudding rice; or if in Bulgaria just oris  :D
4 Tsp Sugar
Vanilla Essence
2 tsp Cinnamon or to taste
2 tsp Nutmeg or to taste the more nutmeg the better for the skin !!!!!
You can use mixed spice instead if your not making a skin.

Pre heat your oven to 170c
Grease a pudding bowl or dish with butter or margarine
Wash the rice & mix with the sugar & milk add vanilla, stir it well, mix into this the cinnamon depending on how much you like this spice its just as good without it but I love it, so for me I use lots but a little will do just as well.
Bake in oven 30 mins then give it a good stir then bake again 30 mins & another stir. After the second stir sprinkle over your nutmeg, a whole fresh grated nutmeg is best but ground nutmeg will do fine too.
Now bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours undisturbed. Enjoy hot or cold. Depending on what consistency you like
For a Bulgarian twist serve with Plum compote (see recipe blog all things Sliva) you can also serve it with just the plum juice so one day plums next day juice.

Once in a while recipe.......
2 pints of milk made up with... 1 sml can Evaporated milk then make up to 2 pints with full fat creamy milk
4 oz Pudding Rice
4 Tbl Sugar, you can stick to Dsp if you don't want it sweet
1 oz Butter
Vanilla Essence
2 tsp Cinnamon or to taste
2 tsp Nutmeg or to taste
You can use mixed spice if your not making a skin

Follow the same directions for cooking but dot with butter after all the stirring has been done, Enjoy!!!!!!
If the Evaporated milk is too much just use milk & pour a little evap over your individual serving.
You can also use single cream instead of Evaporated milk, hey whatever works for you personally I would try them all :D