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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mini Stuffed Peppers

Picture is not so pretty, but these little stuffed peppers are very tasty
A dish here in Bulgaria which we have often with our Bulgarian family, but only when in season, as they are one of the main crops we grow here in the villages. Typically a Bulgarian version will be filled with rice but these are filled with mince. The small peppers when baked like this are lovely & sweet.
Stuffed Peppers
Peppers, cored & de seeded
1 sml Onion  coarsely chopped (or a few more cloves of garlic crushed & chopped)
1 Clove Garlic Chopped
 2 Rashers of Bacon
4 oz chicken livers
8oz Mince meat
1 tbsp Oil
Salt & pepper
Tomato sauce
1 Onion (or 3 cloves Garlic)
1 oz Butter
1 oz Flour
14 oz Canned Tomatoes 
1 tbsp Tomato puree
1 tsp Sugar (or equivalent sweetener)
Pinch mixed herbs
Salt & pepper
Boil fresh peppers in already hot water for 5 mins. Place them in greased baking tray. cook mince, garlic & onion till lightly browned. Season with ground sea/rock salt & ground blk pepper & spoon into the peppers.
Melt the butter & fry onion then place in a food processor with a plastic blade. Add rest of the ingredients & process until smooth. Sieve to remove pips. Bring to the boil in a saucepan & simmer for a few mins all the time stirring. Pour over the peppers cover with a lid or foil & bake in oven 180c (160c fan)  for 40 mins.
Serve with rice

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Fruity Pork

We eat more pork here in Bulgaria than we ever did in the UK. One reason is, its reasonably cheap as meat here goes. Also pork has a taste here unlike the stuff in UK which is very bland, in fact tasteless & hard to decipher in a cooked dish. Off course the best pork is the village pig that has just been killed, wow that is amazing!!!!! Anyway the way round the fact we eat lots of it is to find different ways & recipes to make it different.
The following is a very easy, quick & tasty way to serve pork chops & not an apple in sight. I make my own plum jams & preserved plums in syrupy juice so it was very cheap too.
Pork chops
Oil for grilling
1 tbsp Cornflower
1/2 pint Chicken stock
4 tbsp Plum jam
2 tsp Red wine vinegar
Allspice, a couple of good pinches
Plums, fresh or home preserved. If using fresh large then two will suffice
Brush chops with a little oil & grill both sides till cooked. I have an electric grill I use. Aprox 10 - 15 mins
Meanwhile. Blend the stock with the cornflower. Add jam, vinegar & allspice & season to your taste. Heat sauce slowly stirring all the time till it bubbles & thickens. Add the plums to the sauce (if using fresh then slice them before adding). Continue cooking for a couple of minuets. Spoon sauce over the chops.
Serve with creamy mash potato & veg of your choice or fancy it up for guests. The flavour is really nice, not too sweet & makes a great winter dish.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Spicy Fruity Chutney (no onion)

I can't eat onion, well I can, but I suffer big time for it! I love onions but they have decided after 40 odd years of being my friend they would start to attack me. It's difficult, you don't realise how much they play a part in cooking till you have this problem. I now use lots of garlic in everything I cook as, thank goodness, they are still ok. Finding chutney with no onions is impossible, but why???? I promise you will not notice the difference if you pack it full of flavours & I am not just talking about spiciness, as in this one. All my chutneys are without onion but a couple of heads of crushed garlic does the trick just as well, try them, then let me know :-)
I'm looking forward to having this at Christmas.
You can off course exchange the garlic for onion if you so wish.
2 Garlic heads
2-3lb Marrow, de seeded & peel & chop small
2-3lb Pears, pealed seeded & chopped sml
2-3lb Apples, peeled seeded & chopped sml
1-1.5 Pints Vinegar, dark
1lb Sugar
2tsp Allspice
1tsp Pepper
1tsp Cayenne pepper
2tsp Cinnamon
Peel core & chop the fruit & vegetables very small. Crush & chop the garlic. Put everything in a large pan with the vinegar & spices but NOT the sugar.
Bring to the boil & then simmer till everything is soft & press on the sides of the pan with a spoon to make a softer chutney. Add the sugar, salt & pepper now & stir in till it has all dissolved. Continue to simmer but stirring very frequently, as now is when it can stick & burn. Keep a close eye on it now.
The chutney is ready when a channel remains after drawing a wooden spoon through it.
Pour into clean & sterile jars, seal & leave to mature for at least 6-8 weeks but 3 -4 months is better as not only will the vinegar taste die down but all the spices & flavours will meld together more.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sweet Pickled Beetroot

A nice twist on just plain pickled beetroot.
Still time to make some for Christmas if you can get some nice smallish beets. I much prefer fresh cooked beetroot but as we grow lots they will go off so pickling is the next best thing, cold from the fridge Mmmm.
This recipe is a little different & quite Christmassy.
Quantities of beetroot are rough , enough to fill your jars. I made 3 with the vinegar adjust accordingly but don't over do the spices.
Leave the flavours to develop for min 2 weeks but a couple of months or more will be better :-) Store in a cool dark place if in doubt put in your fridge.

1 kg Beetroots cooked & peeled.
1 ltr vinegar, dark
6 tbls Sugar
1 tsp Allspice
6 peppercorns
1 tsp cinnamon
2 or 3 Bay leaves
Cook the beetroot till they are tender this depends on the size of the beetroots. Best way is to keep the root & leaves attached while you cook them. Cool, & then rub between your thumb & fingers to remove the skin. Then cut off root & leaf stems. Can jar whole or in slices.
Meanwhile, Stir sugar into the vinegar, add the spices & heat gently. Leave to infuse for a couple of hours (or more).
Slice or place the beetroots into clean & sterilised jars fill with the spiced vinegar, making sure you share out the peppercorns & cloves & stirring to get the spices shared too. Store for a minimum of 2 weeks, the longer the better.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Traditional Bulgarian Meatball Soupa

Yum this is very nice & pretty filling. I was a bit concerned as to whether it would be enough as a main meal, you can't very well serve it with veg or pasta! So we had bread to mop up the soup & were very full.
I would suggest it would also be a good starter but only two balls per person. Personally I can't wait to have it again & think it will be a regular for us during the winter.
The Bulgarian's use a lot of oil in their cooking but I prefer to cook lower fat meals. All my recipes are a healthier versions & none of the taste is compromised. There is enough natural fat in the pork or beef to give it plenty of taste.
1lb Minced beef or pork (the soup above is made with pork)
6tbsp Rice
1 tsp Paprika
1tsp Chubritsa/savory or oregano
3 pints of water
2 Beef stock cubes
1/2 bunch spring onions sliced or 4 cloves garlic crushed & chopped
1 Bell pepper chopped
2 carrots thinly sliced, julienne style
3 tomatoes chopped1 sml chilli sliced & de seeded
1 egg lightly beaten
Juice of 1 lemon
1tsp Parsley
Mix the meat rice paprika & chubritsa & season. Mix thoroughly & squeeze into smallish balls & roll in flour.
Mix water, stock cubes, salt, pepper, onions, carrots & tomatoes in a large pan, cover & bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minuets. Add meatballs cover & boil again, then simmer for 60 minuets. Add chilli after first 20 mins.
Add parsley for the last 5 minuets.
Beat egg with lemon juice, stir 2 tbsp of soup into the mixture then stir egg mix into the rest of the soup. Stir till soup is thickened slightly. DO NOT BOIL.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Monastery Gyuvech

Gyuvech is traditionally made in a clay pot and was made by the Rila Monastery kitchens, hence the name of this dish. You can use beef or chicken  too, even fish, though I can assure you I will not be posting a fish one on here, ugh. There are many different Gyuvech dishes in Bulgaria, this is but one. This is one of my favourites, very tasty and easy as putting a salad together. The wine gives it body, therefore lending itself to both an evening meal as well as a dinner party meal. In fact I would recommend it for serving when guests are coming as you can cook the first half then put it aside till the last hour giving you time to make all the rest.  No rushing around :-)

600g Pork or other meat
a little Oil or frylight
1 Onion sliced or diced
2 lg Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 pint chicken stock
Large splash of white wine :-) keep refilling if necessary
300g Mushrooms
150g Red Pepper cut into strips
100g Olives
100g Rice
Parsley optional
Cut meat into cubes, remove all visible fat. Fry in little oil or spray pan with frylight or a little oil and seal meat. Add onion, cook till onion is soft. Add 1 tomato chopped, stock, wine, season to taste. Simmer for 10 mins then add sliced mushrooms and pepper.
Cover and continue to cook till tender. Add extra wine and water as necessary.
Pour into clay pot, add rice and olives, cover, bake in oven 200c (180c fan) for 15 mins.
 Then arrange sliced tomato on top. Cover, cook on a low shelf at 160c for between 45 - 60 mins.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Mixed Pepper Loaf

I love this loaf, Mmmmmm
I am not a big bread eater, mainly through an intolerance of wheat, but the occasional loaf of rustic homemade specialty breads is my thing :-)
Loving the breads made incorporating the crops we grow, that makes them so much more special.
This is one of my favourites. It has a lovely taste & can be eaten alone with no butter, but is best used alongside a meal.
Its fantastic with mince, soups or casserole style meals that it can be dipped in Anything with an Italian flavour. 
Freezes well too. Slice it first so you can take out just what is needed
7 fl oz Milk
4 fl oz Water
500g Bread flower
2 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Dried Yeast
1/2 Red pepper
1/2 Green pepper
1sml Orange pepper
1sml Yellow pepper
De seed peppers & chop into small pieces, set aside.
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk & water. Sift sugar, salt & flour into bowl & bring together to form a stiff dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead, push, fold & slap dough until smooth and elastic, about 4-5 minutes. Place on a prepared baking tray. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, knock out the air for 30 seconds to 1 minute, by bashing & squashing it. Add mixed peppers & fold into the dough until incorporated. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover, place somewhere warm and leave it to rise until doubled again, about 1 hour.
Bake at 200c for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Knock on the bottom, it should sound hollow.

Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Pizza Bulgaria

If there is such a thing. We don't have take a ways here, we have the ability to take home food from VT but only when we are there shopping as its a 45 min drive. So no fast food deliveries to our house, which is great as it stops us being lazy & means when we eat out it is out & a treat. Even so sometimes the equivalent cooked at home is a treat too. Hence Pizza.
We love this thin crust pizza & I made two for a friends BBQ party & it all went before we had a chance to grab a slice. It generated lots of compliments too. Obviously this is pizza so use whatever you fancy.
Pizza Dough   I use a bread machine to make my dough.
To make A medium size pizza
5fl oz Water
1 tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil
8 oz Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Dry yeast
Place the ingredients in the machine in list order, put the sugar & salt in seperate corners & the yeast in a well in the centre. Set machine to dough only.Topping

Tomato passatta, puree, paste etc. I use passatta as I don't like it too strong!
Garlic crushed & chopped or/& onion sliced 
Mozzarella cheese
Spicy sausage or salami, sliced
Cirene/feta cheese, crumbled
Red & Green Peppers, sliced or diced
Yellow or Cheddar cheese, grated
Tomato slices
Olive oil
Dried Basil
Can add sliced mushroom
When the dough is ready knock it back gently on a floured surface. Roll out the dough & putting your hand in the center hang the dough over it & stretch it. As you can see from the photos it doesnt have to be a nice shape, round or square lol.
Place on an oiled oven pan. Spread a thin layer of tomato paste over the dough.
Sprinkle over garlic/onion. Crumble over cirene/feta cheese, peppers, then meat, mozzarella, tomato & cheddar. Sprinkle over basil & drizzle with olive oil.
 Bake in pre heated oven 220c (200c fan) for 15 - 20 mins till cheese has melted & dough is cooked.

Edam or Elemental cheese

Boiled eggs with salami

Cirene Po Shopski

A traditional Bulgarian earthenware pot, dish.
This is the first time I have made this dish & it was really lovely, I will definitely be cooking it a lot more to have with all sorts of things
Can be served with chips to dip into it, which will make it a Bulgarian version of egg & chips, or as a side to meat, sausage, kufte & kebabche.
I served this with chicken drumsticks but next time I think I will cook the chicken & add it to the pot under the top layer of cheese, Mmmmm reminds me of a dish I used to cook years ago with chicken & cheese, very scrummy.
Ingredients are approximate; Serves 4.  Halve for two servings
400g Cirene or Feta cheese, chopped small.
150g Cheddar or yellow cheese, grated.
4 eggs.
2 Chilli, chopped sml or a little sprinkle of dried in each pot, optional.
2-4 Tomatoes sliced.
2-4 Roasted Peppers.
Chubritza or Oregano
4 Gyuveche pots with lids
Put a layer of crumbled or chopped cirene cheese in the bottom of the pots, then add peppers, sliced tomato, chubritsa & chilli, if you choose. Finally add the grated cheddar cheese on the top, place lids on the pots & bake in pre heated oven 180c (160c fan) for 20 minuets till the cheese has melted.
Break an egg on the top, replace the lid & cook till the egg is cooked to your liking.
We have ours hard

Friday, 4 November 2011

Autumn Chicken

A lovely light dinner & taste bud tasty.
Its pear harvesting time here & all the villagers seem to do with them is preserve them in jars or make Rakia out of them. Both of which are very nice & well worth doing but I would used the fallen pears for Rakia, preserve some jars & cook with the rest. There are only so many upside down pear cakes & frangipane's that can be frozen & so apart from the normal desserts I tried this. Yep, sounds a bit unusual but its very nice & different. I would serve it to guests.

Little oil or frylight
4 Chicken joints, skinned
4 Rashers of Bacon, chopped
1 Onion diced
4 x Cloves Garlic, crushed & chopped. **** If using onion just use 2 cloves.
2 x Ripe firm Pears, pealed cored & quartered
20 fl oz White Wine
Salt & Pepper, freshly ground.
Brown the chicken in a little oil or frylight. Cook on both side for a few minuets. In another pan fry the garlic, onion & bacon till onions are soft. Pour in wine, with a little thyme & seasoning. Add the chicken joints & cook covered for a few minuets then add the pears & cook uncovered till the chicken is tender. The wine will reduce to make the sauce. If it reduces too much add more wine.
Serve with; Crushed Minted new potatoes in their skins or buttered mash potato (add an egg while mashing) & fresh seasonal vegetables.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Aubergine, Leek & Bacon Tart

Its the end of our season for peppers & aubergines, although there are still some in the markets. It's time to find something new to do with them other than preserving them or making ratatouille! Its also leek season & boy are they stunners, almost as tall as me & very fragrant. I'm trying to hone my pastry making skills so I decided to make a tart using the leeks & the end of season veg. This tart was a very tasty success, after a very strange looking first effort.
Add whatever vegetables are in season at the time, I have added bacon & ham but it makes a stunning vegetarian pie & suits either lunch or dinner. Experiment with tastes &  enjoy.

220g Plain Flour
55g Butter, cold
55g Lard, cold
pinch Salt
3tbsp COLD Water aprox
In a large bowl sift flour with salt, cut the butter & lard into knobs & rub in with tips of fingers until like soft breadcrumbs. Add enough COLD water to form pastry into a soft dough ball. Turn onto floured surface & form into a flat round, cover in foil or cling film & rest in fridge for 30 minuets or more. Roll out the pastry on the floured surface till it is bigger than the tart or pie pan. butter or grease the pan & drape the pastry in. Fit it to your pan & fork holes on the bottom. Put in the fridge to chill while you heat the oven to 230c (210c fan). When ready blind bake the pastry case I line the base with foil & if I have them fill with beans, but without beans has been fine. Bake for 10 minuets then remove foil & bake a further 5 mins. Reduce oven temp to 180c (160c fan)
2 Leeks Sliced
1 large or 2 small Aubergines de seeded & sliced
1 Onion sliced
3 cloves Garlic crushed & chopped
2 Roasted Peppers sliced. You can use un roasted 1 red 1 green or other colours
2/3 large Mushrooms pealed & sliced
4 rashers streaky Bacon chopped. Leave out to make a vegetarian tart.
3/4 slices Ham chopped. Optional
3 Eggs lightly beaten
12 fl oz Milk full or semi skimmed (not skimmed)
5 oz hard Cheese finely grated
Feta cheese to crumble over. Optional
1 tbsp Flour
Ground black Pepper
pinch Ground rock/sea Salt
Spray a large pan with oil or frylight, Brown leeks & aubergine then add onion, garlic, peppers & mushrooms, Spray with more oil if needed. Stir till softened & browned. Add the bacon & ham, stir well, but don't cook too much.
While this is cooking beat eggs & milk with some salt & pepper in large jug or bowl. Grate cheese on very fine & mix with the flour.
When everything is ready. Combine the cheese into the milk & add the vegetables. Tip into the pastry case & level. This is where you can crumble some Cirene/feta if you like.
Bake in center of oven for 35 - 40 mins
Stand for 5 mins or so to allow it to set before serving.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Spicy Chilli Beef

One of my favourite recipes for the winter & today I am grinding all this years chillie's to spice up winter food. Good recipe for those who can't stand kidney beans. Easy for those of us who enjoy good food but life too. Great for when you have been out or working all day & want to entertain friends but are too tired to put in a lot of cooking time!

1 x Onion finely sliced
1 x clove of garlic or if no onion half a head. Crushed & chopped
1 x Green pepper de seeded & chopped
1 x tbsp Sunflower oil or Frylight
250g Minced beef
2tsp Coriander
2tsp Ground Cumin
1tsp dried Chillie's ground
1/2tsp Oregano
Lg Jar or can chopped Tomatoes
1 Beef stock cube
7g Fresh Coriander
Freshly ground Blk pepper & rock/sea salt (if you grind rock/sea salt you get more flavour & use less)
Heat oil & add garlic & onion, if using, & fry for aprox 5 mins. Stir in mince brown then add spices & oregano. Mix well, add tomatoes, peppers & stock cube. Sir then season &cover simmer for 20 mins. While simmering chop coriander & add to mince.
Serve with rice.