Five cheese baked mushroom and leek farroto

1lb mushrooms
1 leek
1 fennel bulb
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
2tbs butter
Cumin
Turmeric
Curry
Salt
Pepper

Grind some of the following cheeses to make a cup of shredded cheese
Emmenthaler
Grueyer
Talegio
Provolone
Parmesan

1 cup farro
2 cups water and 1 cup chicken stock

Process:

Rinse the farro and then put it on the stove with one cup water. Start adding more liquid as it starts boiling.

In a pan melt the butter and add some olive oil. Drop in the mushrooms sliced. As they wilt and soften, add the leek and the fennel, both thinly sliced. Cover them and let them simmer. Add spices salt and pepper.
Add the wine. Cover and simmer some more.
After about 3 min, add the cream.
Stir in the boiled farro which by now should have absorbed most of the liquid. Incorporate all together. Let it simmer for another 5 min.

Turn the oven on broil 400F to warm up.

Throw the cheese on top and move the pan from the stove to the oven.

Let the broiler melt the cheese. 15 min tops

Serve with a simple spinach salad with lemon dressing.

2015/03/img_6592.jpg

How I Afford to Travel… And You May Not Like What I’m Going To Say

Kate from the States

The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway. I’ve realized that money comes and goes, but the more I make, the harder it is to part with it and weirdly, the less I have, the easier it becomes to budget.

I don’t do that saving account, checking account, travel account thing either. I am not rational. I am extreme. I want to travel and so I do. There is no in between. While I was working my first career job in public relations, I realized early on that it was going to take me forever to save all the money I would need to see the world. I come from a middle class family, I’m the middle child of five and I live in one of the most expensive places in America – Long Island, New York. I don’t…

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Portrait of a Letterpress Printer

“The smell of the ink, the smell of the solvents to wash the machine up, the paper all over the place, the dust.”

A touching documentary about the lost art of letterpress printing, directed by Amberley and Florent from the Of Two Lands production company that showcases the work of Rockley, Australia printer William Amer, who continues to work on old letterpress printing machines.

Christmas Wreath Bread

The smell of this bread is what reminds me of growing up. My grandma made it occasionally and it was the best smell to come home to.. That and the pumpkin rice pudding, and my winter afternoon was made.

I made this bread a couple of years ago on Christmas, and I remember it being just perfect! But I didn’t write down the recipe! I have now made a pledge to never again cook something and not write it here. If not for you guys, then at least for my sake, cause I forget as soon as I finish cooking it.

Christmas Wreath Bread2

So, here is how I recreated my grandma’s Christmas Layered Wreath Bread:

Products:

1 cup milk

2 cups flour

2 eggs (one separated, keep the egg yolk for later)

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs salt

2 packs of dry yeast

1 stick of butter melted (prepare a butter brush)

1 cup of crumbled Bulgarian feta cheese (optional)

Sesame seeds for sprinkling at the end (optional)

Method:

Dissolve the dry yeast in a couple of table spoons of the lukewarm milk, add the sugar and 2 tbs of flower, make it into a liquid batter.

Sift the flour in a big bowl and make a sort of a valley in the middle of it. pour the yeast batter and the the beaten egg plus the egg white in there

Start adding flour into the batter with your hands.. Keep adding and kneading as you go. Once the dough is the consistency of soft putty, pour some flour on a clean cold surface and and start kneading there. Adding a bit of flour as you go..

DO NOT make the dough too hard! It has to be no harder than the soft part of one’s ear.

Shape it in a nice ball, place it back in the bowl and cover with a damp clean towel.

Keep in a warm location for about 30 minutes to let it rise a bit.

Put some nice music on and dance … you’ll burn the calories, you will need to be able to consume your masterpiece, once you’ve finished it…

Back to the bread now:

Take it out of the bowl. Cut in 6 equal pieces.

Take your rolling pin (a marble one would be great as it’s cold and heavy and you won’t have to press hard) and roll out the first piece in a rectangular sheet.

Place it on the same surface you kneaded the dough on.

Using your brush, spread some of the melted butter on the sheet of dough. Then sprinkle some of the crumbled feta.

Do the same with each of the remaining 5 pieces of dough. And place them on top of the first one, forming a layered dough rectangle.

Now, roll up the rectangle from the long side into a tight roll and as you roll it, try to elongate it slightly.

Take a sharp long wet knife and cut the roll into 6 triangular pieces.

Then cut each piece into two, forming little 90 degree triangles.

Take a round baking pan and grease it with the remaining butter liberally.

Arrange the end pieces of the dough in the middle of the pan, on their bottoms, so the tops look like a flower.

Arrange all the other triangles on their short sides facing with their long sides towards the center. Arrange them around the center flower. They don’t have to touch. They will rise one more time in the oven and fill up the remaining gaps.

That left over egg yolk, take it and stir it with a bit of warm water (to make it easier to brush on the bread)

Brush the top of the bread as thoroughly as you can.

Put in a 350 degree oven. Don’t wait for the oven to heat up. The warming up process will help with the secondary rising of the dough making it flakier.

Now start your second dance session for another 45 minutes and you’ll burn enough calories to have a couple more pieces of the bread. 🙂

Et Voila!

Christmas Wreath Bread

Enjoy!

Nettle Soup

Ingredients

Products:
200 grams nettle (possibly fresh young leaves of nettle)
1 TBS flour
1 onion
1 TBS paprika
50 ml olive oil
l hot water
handful of mint leaves and parsley
3-4 TBS rice
salt
When soup is ready, you add:
1-2 egg yolks
200 grams plain yoghourt
Serve with
fresh lemon slices
plain yoghourt
 nettle soup

Directions

1. Blanche the nettle in boiling water for 1-2 minutes to kill the burning effect of the leaves. Drain and let it cool down. Chop roughly and make sure you remove any rough parts of the stems or leaves.

2. Heat the oil in a pot where you will be cooking the soup. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add the flour and stir, then add the paprika, then water. Let it come to a boil. Don’t cover with a lid as it may overflow when it starts boiling.

3. Add the rice to the boiling soup. Salt it. And after about 5 more minutes add the nettle, then immediately turn down the heat to low. Let it boil lightly for about 10 minutes Add the parsley and mint.

4. At this point, turn the heat off. In a small bowl stir the egg yolks and yoghourt, add to this mixture a ladle-ful of the soup while you keep stirring. Then add ladle by ladle more soup until it almost fills the bowl, all the while stirring the mixture. Then pour the bowl back into the pot again, while stirring the soup the whole time. The purpose of this exercise is to diminish the chances of the egg yolks breaking up into small pieces from the heat. You want the mixture to be smooth. Serve the soup with a lemon juice and/or plain yoghurt (one or two TBS)

Yoghourt Apricot Clafoutis

I am not the one to cook fruit into anything. Fruit should be consumed raw and preferably right off the tree or bush or plant. But in this day and age, only few have this luxury. Most of us ‘pick’ their fruit in the grocery store. And when some fruit look so appetizing that you are tempted to buy in bulk. And then you don’t get to eat them in time and before you know it, they are beginning to look a little tired… So, what do you do to save them and save the money you spent on this precious fruit? I decided to try a clafoutis. Although traditionally made with cherries, and milk, I decided to give it a little Bulgarian twist and add yoghourt to the batter, in an effort to add some more tanginess to complement the apricots. As I made the dessert and took it out of the oven, I went to get my camera to take a picture for this blog post, but by the time I got back, it was too late! All my little and big men have smelled the deliciousness and this is what I found.
apricot clafoutis

Here is my quick recipe
You will need:
A Mixer – I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer! Mostly because I can put things in it and walk away for a minute or two, doing something else, while it is doing its job.
Measuring cups – My favorite are a set of stainless steel cups from 1 cup to 1/2 of teaspoon beautiful set I got at Bed Bath and Beyond.

3 eggs
1 cup plain Bulgarian yoghurt
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
vanilla essence (1 teaspoon if liquid or 1 package if powdered)
1 lb apricots
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of brown sugar

In the Kitchen Aid mixer, add the egg whites with 1/2 of the cup of brown sugar and the vanilla. Place the mixer first on 2 for a minute and then gradually increase until the egg whites look like snow. Scoop them out in a bowl and set them aside

In the same bowl, no need to rinse, add the egg yolks and the sugar and start the mixer on 2-3. Sift the flour mixed with the baking powder in a bowl and add the mixture gradually to the mixer while the the yolks are being beaten. Add the yoghourt too.

When it looks like everything is well incorporated and the batter thickens, stop the mixer, lift it, so it opens the bowl and mix in the egg white snow with a rubber spatula.

Grease a rectangular ovenproof glass pan with the coconut oil and pour the batter in. Arrange the pitted halved apricots into the batter and cover with the last table spoons of brown sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 30 minutes.
To make sure it’s baked well, take a tooth pick and poke the batter. If the tooth pick comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready.

Serve with whipped cream, or in my case just leave the dessert unattended for a few minutes…
Enjoy!

Four Features to Publish Your Poems

Are you planning to,share your poems? Some good shortcuts and features to help with formatting. You know…the prosaic stuff..

The WordPress.com Blog

Earlier today, we kicked off National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo. Since you’ll be writing a poem each day, here are four easy-to-use features in your Post Editor to help with publishing your poetry.

Blockquotes

When you format your poems, consider blockquotes to call out bits of text. You can display text in a blockquote by placing it inside <blockquote> and </blockquote> tags in your Text Editor, or by clicking the blockquote button in your Visual Editor:

blockquotes

Here’s an example of how text is displayed in a blockquote:

Sifting through my Camera Roll

thousands of images not posted online

I hunt through my library

see the outtakes

and rejects of my days

the stuff I’d felt wasn’t good enough to share

yet these are the photos

unshared, unfiltered

that really tell my stories

“Fragments on Time”

Preformatted text

You can also use preformatted text to distinguish text within…

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Fight-Frost-with-Fire Zen Soup or Ginger Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Fight-Frost-with-Fire Zen Soup or Ginger Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Winter has certainly dragged her huge feet on our Georgia front porch this year… For better or worse, this has inspired me to become a huge fan of soups. So I am experimenting and adding and subtracting and have basically been able to create about 20 different soups just by adding something or taking something out.
They have all turned delicious so far, so I am trying to keep a record of all of them so I can duplicate them, and of course, share them with friends.
So here is my Ginger Wild Rice Chicken soup in honor of the crazy catastrophic ice-storm that has paralyzed the South.

Ingredients for a large Dutch Oven pot
1 large onion
2 Organic free range chicken breasts
½ head of celery root
2 large parsnips
4 medium or 2 large Idaho potatoes (the ones you would use for mashed)
4-6 medium carrots
3-4 inch ginger root (depends on how much you like ginger)
1 stalk leek
2 small jalapeno peppers
4 boxes chicken broth (or 2 boxes chicken and 1 box veggie broth)
Spices:
Pink Himalayan salt to taste
Black Pepper
Turmeric
Curry
Cayenne (for later or while cooking IF everyone enjoys a little zing)
Coconut oil
Cook Separately:
½ cup of black wild rice in 3 – 4 cups of water
Optional:
1 cup mushrooms
¼ cup heavy cream
1-3 garlic cloves
Curry, salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes to serve:
1 bunch Parsley
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Or Lemon juice

How I do it:
I’m all about the Martha Stewart cut-up-your-ingredients-and-place-in-separate-bowls before I start. I just like the neatness of it, and the peace of mind, that I am not forgetting anything
So I start with the onions – chop the whole head finely (do not use a food processor! That thing mushes the onion into a paste… Put in a bowl and cover with a plate or clear wrap. Its vapors will flavor your kitchen, as opposed to your soup. Cover it to preserve taste, and aroma.
Chop in rugged tiny chunks the carrots and put in another big bowl. I like to take the carrot from its wider side, and cut a small diagonal piece off the end, then turn the carrot and cut again, and turn and cut… until it’s all done. That way they are not the boring perfect round circles and just give more chunkiness to the soup
If you haven’t used celery root before, you should. It’s much more flavorful than the stalks and doesn’t have the stringy texture. Peel and chop it like the carrots. Chop the potatoes and the parsnips. Peel and slice your ginger as well
Add all the ingredients from the carrots to the parsnips in the same bowl. You will dump them in the soup together, so no need to use more little bowls.
Put the ginger separately. You want to keep its flavor strong until you use it.
Use a paper towel to dry your chicken breasts and chop them into small bitesized chunks.

This is a good time to put your rice to cook. Just don’t forget to stir it every once in a while. Burned to the bottom of the pan rice tastes yuk! You don’t want to have this happen to you.

IF you have opted to add the mushrooms, clean and chop them in quarters and throw them in a pan with some melted coconut oil. Let them wilt, add the cream, spices. Keep a couple more minutes while stirring to let everything incorporate. Turn off heat and set aside.

The Main Event:
In your Dutch Oven, melt the coconut oil (or butter if you must) and drop the chicken chunks to brown on all sides. This is not to cook them thoroughly, but to give them a bit of a sautee before you cook them with the rest of the ingredients. After you have flipped them around a few times, take them out of the Dutch oven, one by one, and place into a bowl for later.
In the same oil that is now already hot, drop the chopped onions. Let them become translucent. Stir to incorporate the chicken fat into this.
As soon as they are soft and translucent, drop the bowl with all the root veggies (my experience shows, this is where you may find yourself needing a little more butter (try saying it with a English accent and it will make you feel less guilty – A li-uhle moh bu-her!)
After a few stirs, add your spices (good time for the salt as it will release the water in the veggies and the sautéing will be easier)
Now comes the time of the chicken stock and/or the veggie stock or broth. I like Pacific brand, but there are others that are equally organic and delicious. I don’t fill the Dutch oven all the way yet. I just pour enough stock to cover the veggies.
Cover the pan, and let it reach boiling. Once it does, reduce temp to say half or even less.
Take your handheld mixer and mash up some of the veggies at the bottom (this can be done as much or as little as you like – the point is to create a little thickness to the soup so you don’t have to use thickener, i.e. glutenous substances)
After you’ve reached the desired consistency, add the chicken, the rice (which by now should’ve cooked) and optionally – the mushrooms.
Stir well and cover. Leave everything to incorporate for at least another 10 minutes on low.
Prepare your plates (bowls) and garnishes (parsley and lemon juice)
SERVE HOT! Bon Appetit!

Ridiculously Easy Mediterranean GlutenFree Frittata

Ridiculously Easy Mediterranean GlutenFree Frittata

There are some weekends that I Just wanna linger in bed and if I had the choice I’d rather stay longer in bed, than make time for a healthy breakfast.
But with this super easy frittata I can have it all!

Here are all the products I use:
(all these ingredients are easy to prep the night before – chop some of your scallions and jalapeños and keep in containers ready to use)
2 eggs, or 1/4 cup egg whites (if you don’t want the yolks)
A handful of fresh baby spinach
A handful of cherry tomatoes halved
1 jalapeño pepper seeds removed, chopped
3-4 scallions – chopped
1-2 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp ghee (or coconut oil or olive oil)

Take a nonstick pan and melt the ghee (clarified butter) or whatever other fat you decide to use.
Crack the eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork until homogenous
Add all your veggies and the feta in, stir to coat as much as you can
Remember, we are not aiming for the perfectly shaped frittata, so don’t worry if stuff is sticking out of the mixture, it’s sort of like an omelette with a salad built in…
Pour everything in the melted ghee, and turn a couple of times in places where you see it needs to cook a more.
When the eggs stop being runny and the spinach has this bright green wilted look, your frittata is ready.
Throw into a plate of your choice, and sprinkle with spices of your choice. I personally go for the caliente cayenne and the tasty turmeric, but you can go wild with whatever rocks your palette!
Enjoy and share with someone special! just double the quantities 🙂

Pork Kebap Bulgarian Style

Pork Kebap Bulgarian Style

This is Pork like you’ve never had it before! I cooked it with my mom and insisted on writing the recipe down, so I remember every detail of the way she and my grandmother before her used to make it.

Every time I start this dish, the aromas transcend my kitchen walls and I time travel to me being 4, sitting in grandma’s kitchen. It’s still dark on a cold January morning. I couldn’t sleep, I heard some noises in the kitchen, so I went to check it out. Grandma was already up for hours. She gave me a cup of warm milk, tucked me in a huge throw in the couch and told me to nap some more. .. I did, and dreamed a delicious dream……

So you can see why I love everything about this dish.
The beauty of it is, that it’s simple to make, and makes the house smell so cozy, you’d be able to close your eyes and imagine a mountain cottage and pure white snow falling peacefully outside, while the fire is quietly crackling…

This is a great recipe to utilize that type of pork that you may deem too fatty to grill or cook in any other way. But especially because it’s fatty, it makes perfect kebap material!
So here is my Grandma and Mom’s recipe:

Products:
1 lb of shoulder pork meat
5 onions (medium) chopped
1/2 lb canned tomatoes
1 cup red table wine
3 jalapeño peppers chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp black pepper crushed
5 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
3 tsp turmeric
1 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp savory
1 bunch of chopped fresh parsley

Chop the onions
Cut the meat in cubes
Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven and drop the meat to brown on all sides
Add the onion slices, then the jalapeno peppers
While the onions and the meat are simmering, use a hand held mixer and roughly crush the tomatoes. You don’t need to juice them all the way. .
Add all the spices to the meat, onions and jalapenos, and mix well.
Add the tomatoes to the pan and mix all together.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375F
Put the Dutch Oven in the oven and bake for 1hr.

Dutch oven is the easy and effective way. I personally like to use a clay pot with a lid that I have from Bulgaria. I transfer the mixture from the Dutch Oven into the clay pot and put in a COLD oven, rather than preheated. (However tempered your clay pot is, I would rather not chance it and have it crack in a hot oven with all that food in it. .. It may make a mess much bigger than you can imagine.)

The only difference between baking it in a Dutch oven and a beautiful clay pot, is that the presentation is more authentic, but the taste is pretty much the same.

Serving options:
Best way to serve this is while it’s still warm, on top of either warm polenta, or rice or quinoa, with sprinkled fresh parsley on top.

All of the above make good gluten free additions.

Optional Polenta recipe:

1 cup corn meal
1 cup cold water
4 cups cold fat-free milk
Mix well and put on the stove
Keep mixing pretty much the whole time while it’s cooking
Mix until it becomes a thick mixture and the boiling resembles molten lava
Then turn it off.
Take an oven proof dish
Melt one stick of butter in the microwave
Pour half of it in the oven proof dish (it’s good to have a narrow dish so that the liquid butter can form a deep layer.
Pour the cooked polenta in it on top of the butter.
Then pour the rest of the melted butter on top and bake in the 375F preheated oven for about 20-25 min. It only needs to get slightly brown on top. As soon as you take it out of the oven, cover it with an aluminum foil and a towel on top, so it stays soft and juicy.

Goes great with a robust red wine – a Chilean Cabernet or an Argentinian Malbec of your choice will complement it very well!

DOBUR APETIT!
ENJOY!