October 17, 2010

Spinach and Sorrel soup, aka "Supa ot Spanak i Kiselec"

Another one of my all time favorites and a great soup for all you vegetarians and vegans! Alternatively, it can be made with spinach only, but I really like the taste of sorrel - it adds slight sour-flavor that is surprisingly refreshing and delicious. As always, feel free to scale up or down, depending on how many hungry throats you will be feeding :) ... And I have to give Plodova Salata credit for this soup, since she made it for me first and kindly provided sorrel from her garden!

1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, sliced
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 lb fresh baby spinach, washed (or 2 lbs if you are not adding any sorrel)
1 lb sorrel (this is "киселец"... I only had frozen kiselec), washed and coarsely chopped
1 cup rice
Spices: salt, black and red pepper, cayene pepper, cumin, savory

In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic with some olive oil over medium heat. Then add the carrots, celery, bell peppers and all the seasonings / spices and continue cooking until all the vegetables are soft (5 min). Then add the washed spinach and sorrel and cook for additional 5 minutes or until all the leaves have released water. Add water (~ 1.5 - 2 Liters) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the rice and simmer for 20 min. (TIP: If you are in a hurry, you can reduce the cooking time by adding pre-heated water to the spinach.)

Serve and ENJOY!

Also for the non-vegans, this soup goes incredibly well with a spoon of plain yogurt and some feta cheese! Double Enjoy!

October 09, 2010

ETL:Bulgarian Vegetable Stew - "Gyuvetch"

There are many healthy and tasty vegetarian dishes in the Bulgarian cuisine. One of them is the famous gyuvetch. Many people cook gyuvetch with meat, beef, lamb or pork. Traditionally it is cooked with seasonal vegetables, baked in  in a clay pot. Since not many spices are added to this dish, the key is to find the perfect selection and proportion of vegetables and cook them the right amount of time to get the best blend of flavors and texture. For me the gyuvetch is one of the most difficult dishes to cook, and extremely rewarding when I get it right.

Here is my humble version of gyuvetch:


1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 small or 1 big eggplant, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
1 celery stalk, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
1/2 lb green beans, chopped
2-3 bell or other kind sweet peppers
1/2 okra cleaned and cut at 2 " pieces
1 can diced tomatoes (optional )
2-3 Yukon gold potatoes
few sprigs mint and savory
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste and 1 tbsp paprika
1 cup Veggie broth

First clean and chop all the vegetables. Try to cut into similar size pieces to get the veggies cook simultaneously. Also the dish looks better when you get a mix of good shaped and bright colored vegetables. You must be careful to not overcook the vegetables to keep their colors fresh.
Saute the onions and garlic. I added salt, a little bit dry mint, and savory (chubritza).

Meanwhile boil water and pour it over the okra. You must soak the okra in hot water for 10-15 minutes and rinse it to get rid of the slime.

Add  first the carrots, then the celery, and then the eggplant to the pot and saute them for 2 minutes before adding the next veggie.

 Add the peppers and the green beans and sate them for 2 minutes.  

Then add the paprika and pour the broth. Cook for about an 30 minutes, before adding the okra, and the zucchini. After 30 more minutes add the potatoes. Cook them for about 20 minutes and then add the tomatoes. Always add the tomatoes at the end, otherwise the acids from the tomatoes would prevent the vegetables from cooking.

Cook till the potatoes get soft. Add parsley, and serve with MM's brown rice on a side or dip the Marulka's crusty ciabatta in the delicious sauce.