November 25, 2010

ETL: 30-minutes Corn Bread

I can't wait to share this recipe with you. It was so good, I could've eaten the whole pan by myself. It is again this time of year, when I crave hot stews and warm breads. The fresh, (cold) salads are not on my mind anymore. I know, I know, it means packing a few pounds, but if that is the price, let be it. I won't fight it :)

16 squares
Adapted from Basil and Wine. Krystina knows good food. So far I cooked two of her recipes and they came out great.
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned cornmeal or polenta
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 tbsp canola oil. Per Marulka's suggestion, I'm reducing the oil next time, by replacing 2 tbsp oil with 2 tbsp apple sauce.
  • 1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp flax seed + 2 tbsp water )
  • 1 tbsp vinegar ( I used rice vinegar )
I used polenta bought from Whole Foods. As you see from the picture below, it is quite coarse, not that fine like corn meal. Next time I'll try using polenta from Golden Pheasant. It is even more granular.


Preheat oven to 375.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and the wet ingredients (aside from flax egg) in another bowl. Add wet to dry then add flax egg and mix until the batter comes together.
Allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes. This is the key to ultimate cornbread moistness.

Pour batter into a greased 8x8 pan. Shake and tap the pan to smooth out the batter if needed. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean out of the center.


 Serve with hot stew. I made chili, and the corn bread was just a perfect compilment. 

November 24, 2010

ETL: Thai Curry for Beginners

If you like Thai food like me, you should try this recipe. The taste is 100% good and as close as it could be to the authentic version. I used all the vegetables, I found in my fridge, and a stick of rice noodles. Steamed white or brown rice works as well. Surprisingly, the dish holds well when reheated. I was concerned the rice noodles would get mushy, but they were just fine.

Serves 6
Adapted from Basil and Wine
  • 1 block firm tofu.  My tofu was already cubed, I just squeezed the cubes to take out the water.
  • 2 large bell peppers, yellow and red for colors, cut in strips
  • 3 carrots, cut
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 clove garlic, chopped or minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 Thai chili, minced, I used jalapeno
  • 4-5 basil leaves, preferably Thai
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • Zest and juice of 2 lime
  • 4oz rice noodles 

First chop the onions, the garlic and the chili, Grate the ginger and the lime zest. Juice the limes.

Prepare your vegetables, washing and cutting them in equal sizes. 

Wash the rice noodles with cold water, or act according to package directions, and set them aside.

Dry fry the tofu in a non-stick skillet on medium/medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides. Set aside. 
For omnivores, you can use chicken instead of tofu. Just cube a chicken breast and saute the chicken in a tea spoon of coconut oil.

Add coconut oil to a large pan  on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, chili and ginger and cook until translucent. Add the vegetables to the pan, starting with the vegetables that require the most time to cook, in this case, the carrots and potatoes, then the mushrooms, and the peppers and the zucchini at the end.

While vegetables cook, heat coconut milk in sauce pan. Stir the red curry paste into the coconut milk until dissolved, and the coconut milk is boiled. Add mixture to vegetables and stir to combine.
Add lime zest and juice, soy sauce, basil and tofu. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. During the last few minutes of cooking, add rice noodles. Stir to break them apart and coat them in the curry sauce. Plate with a garnish of lime and cilantro and enjoy!


November 17, 2010

Holiday Sunflower Bread

This bread is named "Sunflower bread" because it looks like a sunflower. It is a traditional Bulgarian bread made for special occasions, like engagement parties, weddings, baby showers, or Christmas.
 I got the recipe from my mother in law and I've been making the bread for years.


  • 2.5 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 500 g yogurt
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 kg + flour. I used whole wheat organic flour from Costco.
Bread preparation:
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 yolk
In a small bowl mix the ingredients for the sponge. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place for 15 minutes, till the yeast rises.
In a big bowl, mix the eggs with the yogurt, salt, oil, vinegar, and pour the yeast mix to it. Start adding flour to the mix till you form the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead the dough to form a smooth, round ball. You may need more than 1kg of flour, depending on the amount of the used liquids. The dough should be easy to knead, not very soft, but not very hard either. Place the dough in the bowl again, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile soften the butter in a microwave.  Grease a 13" pan with butter. 
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter.You'll need a rolling pin to make the bread.

Cut some dough into a size of a tennis ball and set it aside. Divide the rest of the dough into three equal pieces and form three balls.

 With the rolling pin roll the 3 balls into 10-inch circles.

Spread  one third of the soften butter onto the first circle and place the second circle on top of it. Spread the other third of the butter on the second circle. Place the third circle on top of the second. 

Roll the three circles into a big 1/4 of inch thick circle.

Spread the rest of the butter over it. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the circle into 16 equal wedges.

Roll each wedge up, starting from the wide end and following one of the edges, as shown on the images below. 

Lay the rolls into the pan with the pointed tip to the center, spaced equally from each other.
Lightly press the small ball, you put aside at the beginning, into a small circle. Place the circle on the middle of the pan. The small  circle represents the sunflower head and the rolls are the leaves.

Beat the egg yolk with 1/3 tsp olive oil and lightly brush the bread with the mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and dough barely springs back when poked with a knuckle, 45 to 75 minutes.

Adjust the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake until golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Cover the pan with foil for the last 5-10 minutes, if needed,  to prevent the bread from burning and make sure it is well baked.

Cover the bread with a towel and let it cool in the pan for 1/2 hour before serving.

November 13, 2010

Stinging Nettle Soup, aka "Supa ot Kopriva" or "Супа от Коприва"

Words cannot describe how much I like nettle soup and how excited I was today when I saw fresh nettle leaves at the farmers market... I went CRAZY!!! I ran to the ATM to get some cash and got myself a bag of fresh stinging nettle leaves and as soon as I got home I started cooking. Last time I had nettle soup was in 2006 when I went back to Bulgaria and my grandma made it for me. I have been craving it ever since and today I finally had some of this amazingly delicious soup. The flavor is very unique and nutty and it just tastes so so good.

  • 1lb fresh nettle leaves, stems removed, washed well and chopped
  • 3 - 4 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 - 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • some feta cheese to garnish
  • salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika to taste

In a large boiling pot sauté the onions and garlic in some olive oil until soft and translucent. Then add the carrots and cook for 5 min until soft.

Then add the chopped nettle leaves and cook about 5 min, or until all the water is released (nettle leaves behave like spinach and will pretty much evaporate upon cooking so do not get alarmed if the 1 lb of leaves seems too much) and season with salt, black pepper, red pepper and some cayenne pepper.

Then add water (add little by little until you reach a desired consistency), the rice and the walnuts and bring to a boil and cook for ~ 15 minutes, or until the rice is ready.

Serve as is or with crumbled feta and a spoon of plain yogurt and ENJOY!