December 07, 2012

Bulgarian Feta Cheese Bread ( Tutmanik/Mesenitza )

I am  posting this recipe for my friends V&M and R, who have been asking for this for such a long time, so I started to feel bad for not responding.  Finally, I have all the pictures taken and all the measurements done!

Tutmanik is very popular in Bulgaria. Every region, every village, and even  family have different recipes and names for it. You may know it as mesenitza, or tutmanik, and the shapes and recipes vary but the basic idea remains the same – make dough filled with the feta cheese, brush the top of the bread with  egg yolk and bake until it starts to smell insanely good!
The standard ingredients for tutmanik are flour, oil or butter, eggs, feta, yeast and lots of flour.


Starter (biga):
  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 cups flour
  • Feta cheese 1/2 lb and more, depending on your taste
  • 3/4 cup Olive oil/ grape seed oil/sunflower oil , depending on your taste. I like using grape seed oil.
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp oil 

First mix the ingredients for the starter. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warmer place to rise, until double its size. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

In a big bowl, mix  2/3-rds of the flour and the rest of the ingredients. Add the starter.

Knead soft dough, adding the rest of the flour.  If dough is sticky, knead in up to 1/2 additional cup flour to form a smooth, soft, elastic dough. Transfer dough to a very lightly oiled large plastic container or bowl. Cover top of container with plastic wrap and let rise until almost increase 1/2 of its in size - around 30-40 minutes. The dough will be rising again, so you don't need to wait for it to double its size.

Warm the oil and put it in a medium pan, as shown on the picture above. Brake the feta to small crumbs.

Cut the dough to 12-16 balls, with the size of a tennis ball or slightly bigger, depending on the portions you would like to make. Put them in the pan to absorb oil.

Grease your hands and begin  delicately pushing dough into 8- to 10-inch circle. Add the feta.

Gently roll the dough, until you form a log. Then twist the log as shown in the picture above.

Make a swirl, tucking the end under neat. Use the same procedure for the rest of the balls.

Beat the egg yolk and the oil. Brush the swirls with the egg mixture.

Cover the pan with a plastic wrap and put it in a warm place to double its size.

Depending on the temperature in your home, the tutmanik will need approximately 60-90 minutes to rise.
Preheat the oven to 360F. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the tutmanik becomes golden brown. If you have doubts use an  instant-read thermometer pushed through top side into center of a swirl. The thermometer should  register 185F to 190F degrees.

Serve with yogurt and enjoy!

November 02, 2012

Thai Squash Soup

I love Thai food. If you are like me then this simple and flavorful soup will completely satisfy your cravings. The recipe does not require expensive, exotic ingredients and special skills. The result is absolutely delicious and especially perfect for cold winter days.
I have cooked the soup with butternut and kabocha squashes, but my favorite is the kabocha squash version.
  • 1 large kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemongrass or lemongrass paste
  • 1.5 " knob of ginger
  • 5 keffir lime leaves ( check Indian supermarkets )
  • 1 hot chili, for example serrano
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Cilantro, for garnish

  • First, prepare the ingredients. Cut the lemongrass into 3 pieces and bruise the pieces until slightly broken. Peel the ginger and grate it.
  • Mix the broth with the squash, the coconut milk, and the rest of the ingredients in a pot. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes. 

  • Fish the lemongrass out of the pot and puree the soup using a stick hand blender

  • Garnish with chopped cilantro, and peanuts to serve.

October 16, 2012

Healthy Bonbons

I found this recipe online and changed it a little bit to my taste.  The best thing, it takes only 5 minutes to make it. You can add sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or dates. The sweetness of butternut squash is perfectly sufficient for me.

Here is my version:

2 tbsp rolled oats
2 tbsp coconut flakes ( I use unsweetened )
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp cooked butternut squash ( could be canned)
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

Process the ingredients in a food processor to make a paste. Roll 6 balls and cover them with cocoa powder, coconut, or grated walnuts, if you wish.

October 09, 2012

Root Vegetable Salad

Hello everybody,

We've been absent for almost an year from this blog. Many wonderful things happened, while we were off, and the most important are the two new, beautiful baby boys that took all our time, and made us forget about the blog :)))
Now, the babies are almost toddlers, and we spend more time in the kitchen again. Glad to be back and share our new concoctions with you.


My dear friend T.V. has been asking for this recipe for ages. Finally, I am ready to post it. Root vegetables can be enjoyed throughout the year, but I prefer them in Fall and Winter, when most of them are in season and taste better. These vegetables are usually inexpensive, and have tremendous health benefits. They grow underneath the ground and absorb many nutrients and minerals available in the soil. 
 For this recipe, you can use any root vegetable that can be eaten raw. I usually buy whatever vegetables are available in stores. On my last trip, I came back with beets, red and golden, watermelon radishes, rutabaga and carrots. The salad is very easy to make and tastes fresh for long time, if kept in a fridge.


2 beets,
2 golden beets,
2 turnips
2 watermelon radishes
1 rutabaga
5 carrots
1 bunch cilantro
3-4 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp vinegar and/or lemon juice
salt to taste

Clean and peel the vegetables. I used a food processor to shred them, that is why I cut them to pieces that would fit the opening of my food processor.

Add salt, olive oil, vinegar, cilantro, and dill to your taste. You can store the salad in your fridge for about a week.

July 01, 2011

Fiesta Farro Salad


I prepared a nice summer farro salad inspired by a similar dish I had tried at Il Cane Rosso in the San Francisco Ferry Building. Less tomatoey, more festive because of the touch of cilantro and the (semi) home-made tortilla strips...

It was perfect on a nice summer evening - filling because of the whole grains and at the same time light and refreshing because of the fresh veggies without lacking flavor (freshly boiled corn and grilled peppers are key!)
Farro works great here not only because it has a rich nutty flavor but also because it has the right amount of chewiness and can stand up to the juicy tomatoes and peppers.

Here are the ingredients I used:
  • Italian farro (love Costco's variety)
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Grilled red/yellow bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Diced cucumber
  • Diced onion
  • My best extra virgin olive oil
  • Rice vinegar (I'm a die hard Trader Joe's vinegar fan)
  • Cilantro
  • Tortilla strips
  • Feta cheese (cotija cheese would be great too!)
  • Salt a black pepper

May 24, 2011

Fresh Peas and Carrots Pasta Salad

We got a big bag of fresh English peas from the vegetable box and I decided to use them in a pasta salad. The shelling takes a while but let me tell you, the effort was well worth it! The peas were really flavorful and together with fresh carrots and bell peppers made for a delicious pasta salad dish.

  • 3 cups fresh shelled peas
  • 2 cups finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped kalamata olives
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1/2 bunch basil (finely chopped)
  • olive oil, salt, black pepper

Bring ~1 L of water with some salt to a boil and add the fresh peas and boil for 2 min, then immediately remove from the hot water and put into a bowl with iced water to stop the cooking process. Repeat the same with the carrots and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Boil 1 lb of penne pasta for 9 - 10 min (or according to instructions) in slightly salted water. Drain the pasta but make sure to save ~ 1/4 cup of the water. Do not rinse the pasta after draining, but instead sprinkle with olive oil and mix well to prevent it from sticking together. Also add couple of table spoons of the leftover pasta water to make sure the pasta stays hydrated and does not stick.

Let the pasta cool for ~10 min and then add the peas, carrots, peppers, olives and the chopped basil. Mix well and season with salt, black pepper and some more olive oil. Lastly, add the feta cheese, mix and enjoy!

April 20, 2011

Creamy Asparagus Soup (with no cream :)

Very delicious, nutritious and easy to make soup made from fresh asparagus. Muhlio Muhlev suggested adding in some cauliflower and potatoes and the soup turned out very tasty. For a vegan recipe, omit the butter and cheese!

3 lb fresh asparagus - chopped into 2cm pieces
1 small leek
2 stems fresh garlic
1 fresh spring onion
2 sweet potatoes (or regular potatoes)
1 head of cauliflower
2 table spoons of unsalted butter
2 table spoons of olive oil
salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and cumin to taste

 1. Finely chop the leek, garlic and onion and sauté over medium heat in 2 table spoons olive oil for 5 min, or until soft and translucent.

2. Add the asparagus, cauliflower and chopped sweet potatoes and sauté for additional 5 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and some cumin to taste.

3. Add water and bring to boil and boil for 10 min or until all the vegetables are fully cooked.

4. Carefully transfer to a blender (do it in several batches) and puree the soup. Once it is all pureed, transfer back to the original pot and add 2 table spoons of butter. Heat for 2 min and stir well until the butter has completely melted.

5. Serve with some shredded Parmesan cheese and some croutons and ENJOY!


February 26, 2011

Bibimbap (Mixed rice with vegetables) - Bulgarian style

This delicious dish is a perfect refrigerator cleaner. You can use any type of vegetables, meat, or cheese to compose this dish. It is an ideal food to serve when you have friends over. Just prepare everything in advance and arrange in individual clay pots. Bake and serve when your guests come.

6-8 servings

  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 different colors bell peppers, julienned
  • 1 bunch of collard greens (or spinach), julienned
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 chicken thighs, cut into small bites
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups steamed rice

 First steam the rice.

Till the  rice is cooking, clean and slice the vegetables. 


Brown the chicken in 1 tbsp oil. Add spices to your taste, such like salt, fresh ground black pepper, cumin, and savory.

Take out the chicken, add a another tablespoon of oil and saute the onions. Season the vegetables.

Turn the oven on to preheat to 400 F. Next saute the peppers, and the jalapenos.

Then the Collard greens. Add oil if needed.

Arrange the ceramic pots on a cookie sheet. and start layering the ingredients. Start with the rice.

Next add the carrots, onions, peppers, greens and the chicken. Crack an egg on top of each, add a pinch of salt and black pepper on the egg.

 Place the lids and bake for 30 minutes. Take out the lids at the last 10 minutes.

Pour a glass of red wine and enjoy!