Wednesday, 6 October 2010


At my local market, one of the meat vendors has all this exotic meat on display which I have often glanced at. So back in September, for my birthday, I decided it was time to try some of it out. Ok, you do pay premium price, but often can you tell your friends that you're frying zebra, crocodile or kangaroo for dinner? And it's only my birthday once a year so I treated my girlfriend and myself for this package of zebra loin. I had no idea of cooking it so I asked the butcher for a suggestion. He said just to fry it for a minute or less on each side, to eat it no more than medium cooked. I decided just to make a some potatoes in the oven and a bit of exotic ketchup to go with it. And the verdict? It tasted gamey with a hint of liver (in a good way), but it wasn't strong at all. Quite mild in the flavour. Though it was good, I won't be rushing out to get more unless the price goes down. As an experiment it's well worth trying though.
Zebra meat
4 potatoes
2 tomatoes
1 tbsp ginger flavoured jam (or fruit jam + some ginger)
Olive oil

The meat, take it out so it's at room temperature.

Fry the tomatoes with some jam and a bit of ginger in some oliveoil

Add a bit of thyme

Slice the potatoes, season them with salt. Toss them with some olive oil. Put them in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn them, sprinkle them with a bit of paprika. Give them another 20 minutes or until they are crispy.

On a hot grill or frying pan, fry the meat for one minute or less. Add a bit of quality salt. Turn. I use a grill as it leaves nice stripes on the meat (guess why...)

Serve and eat while warm.

A close-up of the meat. Nice and juice...

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sneak preview and Bulgarian Salad

How complicated it is to maintain a blog when you don’t really have access to the old Internet. But I’ll give you a small teaser/taster of what is to come once I return to the 21st century. I’ve been making a great paella, frying up some arepas, meddled with some falafels, and not least will there be a photo tour of our gastroholidays in Bulgaria. The picture below is from an amazing salad we had in Veliko Tarnovo in one of it’s best restaurant called Shtastlivetsa (Lucky Man). And then I tried to copycat it in the picture below.

Ingredients: Lettuce, tomatoes (the best tomatoes I’ve ever had were Bulgarian, without a doubt), cucumber, red onion rings, olives, crispy bacon, chicken pieces fried in paprika and oregano, white bulgarian cheese (similar to feta, but not as salty), jalapeños instead of chilies, and a paste made of mushed red pepper with white cheese. Before serving it’s given a quick shot of olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and dill. It brought us back to Bulgaria if not for longer than the duration of the dinner.

Original version...

My copycat version.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Apologies for poor maintenance of this blog

Hello dear reader of this blog,
I just thought I needed to explain why this blog apparently has gone dead all of a sudden. We were about to buy a house when the owner suddenly pulled out at the very last minute. We had already packed everything, cancelled our monthly bills and were ready to move out. Luckily we could stay in our rented apartment, but they cut the phone bill and thus the Internet connection. So until further notice, I will be cooking away (as soon as all my kitchen tools are unpacked), taking lots of photos and, as soon as I'm back up again I will work my way through new recipes and post them here bit by bit. Not least from the inspiration I've picked up from travelling through Bulgaria this summer. The food there is superb and dead cheap. You'll hear more when our Internet Provider decides to give us our line back.
Until then, happy cooking to all!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Yummy Sourdough Buns with Oats, Sunflower and Flax Seeds

I wonder how many have made the sourdough starter I published about a month ago. Well, I thought not, so you are already hopelessly behind and will miss out on these babies. Ok, you can substitute the sourdough with regular yeast, but, come on, it's not really the same experience. My starter is still alive and healthy and I feed it regularly whenever I'm baking bread (about once a week). And if you haven't got a sourdough culture going, you can't really call yourself a food nerd yet, can you? Furthermore, you might want to check out my recipe for strawberry jam as well. Read on to find out why.
350 ml lukewarm water
3-4 tbsp sourdough starter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
100g whole wheat flour
150g + 250g white flour
25g flax seeds
75 g sunflower seeds
100g oat flakes
50 ml olive oil

Dissolve the sourdough starter in the fingerwarm water. Add the salt and sugar.

Add the wholewheat flour and 150g of white flour. Set it aside somewhere warm and wait for this "sponge" to come alive. It's active when it is quite bubbly and frothy. It took about 1 hour in my case but might depend on your sourdough starter and room temperature.

Add the seeds and oats. Mix them in.
Stir in the oil. Add the rest of the flour.

Knead the bread for about 10 minutes. No, not 3 or 5 or 15 minutes... 10 minutes!

Form the dough to a ball. Rub it lightly with olive oil and set it aside covered until it has doubled in size. Again, this depends on so many things, so just keep an eye on it. When it's doubled in size, it's ready.
Punch down the dough and divide it into 10-12 balls, which you shape in the palm of your hands. Cover them and let them rise one last time. It took me about 45 minutes. Sourdough is quite slower than industrial yeast.

Bake in a very hot, preheated oven at 220º for about 16 minutes. It's always a good trick to add a tray with water in the oven and/or spray water into the oven with a vaporiser. This raises the humidity in the oven and makes the buns puff up more. Transfer to a cooling rack once they are done. Don't cut into them right away, but way at least 20 minutes.
And then you will be rewarded with these goodies which are actually really healthy and good for you. That is until you spread them with butter and add a dollop of homemade strawberry jam.

My favourite Pizza Sauce

This is not the first time I publish a pizza recipe. But I'd like to elaborate a bit on the key topping; the tomato sauce. I've been further experimenting and have now reached what I personally think is the perfect pizza sauce. I've borrowed ideas from left and right and will now pass on my idea to you. It's always dangerous to talk about the perfect recipe because taste is so individual and tied up with experience and memories. But give it a try and let me know how it turned out.
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, smashed, not crushed
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 a cayenne pepper, whole
2 tomato vines
1 can of quality tomatoes, chopped
1/2-1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Start by warming up the oil and throw in the dry herbs, the garlic and the cayenne. Stir constantly for 1 minute. You want to heat up the spices, not burn them.

Add the tomato and the vine. I usually freeze the stalks whenever I buy tomatoes on the vine. There is so much flavour in the vine, but apparently they contain a very small amount of a poisonous alkaloid called tomatine. However, the amount should be so small that it is virtually harmless. But just in case you are pregnant, best to avoid this step. I then cook it in a preasure cooker for 10 minutes. I guess you can also slow cook it at a low heat for longer.

Then, remove the vines and blend the sauce.

Add sherry vinegar to taste (depends on how sour the tomatoes are). Add the sugar and taste for salt.

Let it cool off before spreading it onto your pizza.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Quick Butter/Flour Dumplings

This is just more like a quick idea than an actual recipe. I was making a simple stew yesterday and was kind of short on veggies to add to the dish, so I remembered these flour dumplings people used to make as a filler. I don't know if it was during war time, recession or whatever, but I thought 'why no give them a try'. It's really simple, cheap and not at all as floury as I expected. You need 2 parts flour (I mixed half corn flour/half wheat flour) to one part butter, some salt and pepper, a splash of water and that's it.

Mix the flour with salt and pepper and the butter until it has a sand-like texture. I wizzed it quickly in my foodprocessor.

Add a bit of water until it starts binding together. I used perhaps 1/2 dl. Put it on the table.

Roll it into a sausage, cut it into small lumps and shape them into balls. I'm sure that if you have children, they will love to help you with this.

Make sure there is plenty of liquid in the stew as the dumplings do absorb quite a bit. Boil them for about half an hour. Make sure they are fully submerged.

Final result...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Coconut and Lime Ice Cream

It's summer and the temperatures are finally on the rise after a long and wet spring. And with the sun comes the craving for ice cream. I've bought a motorised ice cream churner and is thus set for whatever may come my way. Last year I posted various recipes for home made ice cream (banana, strawberry, vanilla, cheese cake and a fail attempt at mint flavour) and now I'm back with a more exotic flavour: Lime and coconut. It's really simple and sooo refreshing. You should give it a try.
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of sugar
Juice of 2 limes + the zest of one of them
Pinch of salt

Slowly heat up the can of coconut milk, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the lime juice and the grated zest of one of them. Let it cool down and then place it in the freezer for 1 hour.
When the mixture is really cold (almost freezing) add it to your ice cream maker. If it's not cold enough it will take a long time to make. Churn until it has the consistency of a sorbet and transfer it to a container. Freeze further to harden the ice cream.

Here's the final result. It get's quite hard in my freezer, so I needed to take it out 10-20 minutes before serving. Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Semi-wholewheat Sourdough No-knead Bread

No-knead recipes are now everywhere and is quickly becoming the most popular bread baking method around. I first heard about it through NY-Time's food journalist, Mark Bittman, where he showed the simplicity of this method stating that even a 4-year-old could make a better bread than your typical baker. That was quite a statement. (Un)fortunately, I'm not 4 years old but I had to try it for myself anyway. First time was a success. I then saw my food guru, Chef John Mitzewich, from do a Italian ciabatta with the same recipe, and later pizza dough. The road was open to experimentation...

The key to this bread is making a dough which isn't too dry or too wet in a flour/water ration of aproximately 2:1 with a very small amount of yeast and a teaspoon and a half of salt. For any good bread you need to deelope the gluten in the dough, which is basically two proteins which makes the flour elastic. This elasticity alows the dough to expand around the tiny bubbles made by the yeast fermenting. As a result the bread will rise and become more chewy and not be flat and crumbly. In traditional bread baking, gluten is developed by kneading the bread for about 10 minutes. Larger amounts of yeast is also needed to speed up the rising process.

In this no-knead method, however, the the mount of leavening is reduced and the kneading step is skipped, hence the name. A small amount of leavening agent is used which creates a slower rising, up to 18 hours. This in turn, not only helps developing the gluten by itself, it also makes the bread more flavoursome. I'd sofar only used yeast, but since I made my sourdough starter I've been experimenting with this. Here's the recipe I came up with:
120g wholewheat flour
340g bread flour
1.5 tsp salt
330 ml purified water
aprx. 60 ml sourdough starter
Alternative recipe - Ingredients 4-year-old method:
4 cups flour
2 cupswater
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp yeast

Start by mixing the dry ingredients, flour and salt.

Whisk out the bubbles of your sourdough starter and measure out about 60 ml. Dissolve in the water. Add it to the flour.

Mix it together until you have a ball of dough. It shouldn't be too sticky, but likewise not to dry. This is where a bit of practice will help. Now you are done. Leave it covered at room temperature. Originally, they say you need 18 hours but I've found that it depends a lot the temperature. The last I made I left only 10 hours, as we're starting to get warmer nights now here in Spain.

When it's risen to a bit over double and starting to look wet on top, it's about ready. The dough is now very sticky and elastic as you will see when you pour it out on a well-floured table.

Spread more flour on top and on your fingers. Punch the dough a bit and stretch it and fold it over itself. Shape it into a ball. Place in a well floured proofing bowl and leave it covered with a tea towel for 1-2 hours.

Heat up your oven to 230º. The original recipe now call for using a dutch oven (cast iron stewing pot) which should be place in the oven so it's smoking hot. I'd just like to say I've made bread with out it which turned out fine as long as you remember to add a bowl of water into the oven to increase the humidity. Anyway, when the oven is hot, quickly transfer the bread to the pot. Score it on top with a sharp knife. Put a lid on and bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes or when the internal temperature of the bread hits 93ºC (yes, you can use and oven thermometre for bread making as well).

Here's the final bread. The last crucial step is not to cut into the bread for the first 30 minutes. At this time the bread is still baking. What you can do to make this time g faster is put your ear close to the bread and enjoy the small crackling noises it makes when cooling down.

Monday, 24 May 2010


It’s wild, it’s fungi... its’ sourdough. Ok, so you want to bake bread, but you haven’t got any yeast. On the other hand you’ve got 4 or 5 days to spend. Why not try and make your own sourdough starter. Sourdough is a wild yeast culture, where instead of using industrial yeast, you take advantage of the wild yeast flying around in the air and in the flour. I’ve been trying a couple of times to get a soughdough starter going, but haven’t really been successful sofar. Everytime it started bubbling a bit and then just went flat and died. Yeast is a living organism which needs the right amount of care and attention plus good conditions for living. If it’s too hot they die, if there isn’t enough stuff to feed on the stop reproducing, and (which I think is why I didn’t have much success previously), you your tap water has chlorine in it it might also kill the little germs. So, yes, you will be growing your own small bacteria, which is why it’s so fun, and if you’re further interested in the science behind it I recommend looking it up on wikipedia. The method which finally brought me a good healthy sourdough starter was one posted on Breadtopia, a great page for the homebaker in you. And should you have any doubts about how to do it, look up his much more elaborate video guide on how to make this starter.
3 1/2 + 2 + 5 1/4 tbsp + 120ml wholewheat flour (apparently recently milled flour is not as good as older flour)
60 + 30 ml unsweetened pineapple juice
3 tbsp + 60 ml purified water (i.e. bottled water)
On day one, start by mixing 3 1/2 tbsp wholewheat flour with 60 ml. pineaple juice. I used some from a can, just make sure there is no sugar added.

Then you have to leave it for 48 hours at room temperature, mixing it well 2 to 3 times a day. This will mix in the yeast forming on the surface.

W ater will gather on top, which is perfectly normal. Just mix it in.

After 48 hours, add 2 tbsp of whole wheat flour and 2 tbsp of pineapple juice. Set it aside for another day or two.

You should start to see small bubles forming on the surface. This is the fermentation going on. It should also start to smell a bit of yeast or beer. It's all good. If there is no fermentation after 2 days, and/or if it starts smelling strange or grows any kind of mold, discard it and start again.

Provided all is well, feed it 5 1/4 tbsp of wholewheat flour and 3 tbsp of purified water (I used spring water from a bottle). Mix it in and leave another 24 hours at room temperature, stirring 2 to 3 times.

It should now have risen a bit and gone frothy or bubbly, this means your sourdough is almost ready. Notice how the starter is now thick with bubbles.

In a larger container mix 120ml of wholewheat flour with 60 to 80 ml of purified water. Add your sourdugh starter to this. Stir well and leave it another 24 hours before you start using it.

If all has gone right, you now have an active, living yeast organism. Put the mixture in the fridge until you're going to use it. This will slow down the process of fermentation. Take it out of the fridge 24 hours before using it to re-animate it. It's also recommendable to feed it 1 or two days before use by adding equal amounts of water and flour. This will strenghten the culture. If you are not using it, keep it in the fridge but pour away half and add a fresh mixture of flour and water once a week or every two weeks. But reportedly, it will even last up to month even if neglected completely. Good luck.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Mother-in-law's Lemon Sponge Cake

This recipe has been handed down through my girlfriend's family for generations and is a one tasty sponge cake with a hint of lemon and olive oil. What I particularly like about it is the simplicity of measuring everything. You start out with a cup of yoghurt and then the same cup is the measuring cup for everything else. I guess you can also substitute the olive oil for neutral oil, and/or the lemon for vanilla, cocoa powder etc.
1 cup of youghurt
1 cup olive oil, mild in flavour
2.5 cup sugar
2.5 cup flour
3 eggs
1 sachet bakingpowder (16g)
Peel of one lemon, finely shredded or chopped

Here's the end result, so you know what to look forward to.

Mix all the ingredients by using the yoghurt cup as measure.

Add the flour, sugar, eggs, lemon (I tried with lime, which wasn't as good) and baking powder.

Blend the ingredients together until you have a smooth dough.

Wipe a springform pan with a bit of olive oil, then dust it with flour. Pour the dough into the form and bake at very high heat for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature and bake for another 10-20 minutes. Check if it's done by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean it is done.

Let the cake rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it. It will deflate a little. Enjoy