Sunday, January 18, 2015

Easy Homemade Sushi

Mountain Retreat  Original (6 of 10)
I have posted previously the basic recipe how to make maki sushi so I won't re-post again but feel free to check it out. In any case, I wanted to try some new variations and they came out pretty neat. For example, I always made rolls that were with sushi nori on the outside. This time, I tried making the sushi with rice on the outside, some with black sesame seeds, some with avocado on the outside, some with smoked salmon etc.
They came out much  better than expected.

Mountain Retreat  Original (10 of 10)

 I have to say I need sharper knives though. I really had a tough time slicing the avocado properly for the lineup on on top.
On a different note,I did finally get a bamboo mat so making sushi this time was a bit different. In my honest opinion, I had tougher time making the rolls as tight as I used to make them without the mat. I am thinking I will probably watch some more videos on how to do it with the mat. A lot of sushi chefs praise the use of the mat for rolling and I have the suspicion that I might be doing it wrong, that is why I am having a harder time rolling them with it.

Talking about new ingredients, I never used cream cheese in sushi before. I simply got one package and cut 2 stripes out of it, it looked almost as imitation crab. In combination with the salmon, it was amazingly delicious! Of course, one other reason to use cream cheese was that my little one doesn't like fish and I needed to make something that she likes, so that pushed things in that direction as well.
In any case, sushi is much easier to make than most people thing and if you haven't tried it before, I highly recommend doing it. It's really interesting to test out all of the combinations one can make with 5-10 different ingredients.

Mountain Retreat  Original (3 of 10)

For these sushi rolls I used :
- Smoked salmon
- Shrimp
- Crab rolls
- Cream cheese
- Cucumber
- Avocado
- Carrots
- White sesame seeds
- Black sesame seeds
- Sushi nori seaweed sheets
- Sushi rice
- Rice vinegar
- Sugar
- Salt

* I love sushi with raw fish, but I don't use raw fish at home because I don't trust the sources where I can buy it from. However, if you have a good supplier, by all means, include raw fish.  

As garnish I used ready made pickled ginger, sweet soy sauce dipping sauce, spicy mayo, wasabi. Most of these you can find in any big grocery store in the Asian food section.
Considering I made the traditional for many Japanese restaurants ginger salad and miso soup, the experience was much like going out to our favorite sushi place.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Best Gluten Free Tapioca Flour Crepes Recipe Ever


I don't usually do video and today was completely unplanned but I was so excited to share this amazing recipe! I did publish the Coconut crepes recipe before and it is indeed a delicious one, but this is so much closer to texture and taste to the real crepes, that I can absolutely honestly say, it's the best crepes that I've had. I am not saying that about gluten free crepes only, I actually like that recipe better than the regular gluten crepes. The texture is so delicate and the taste is amazing!

 Of course, part of the reason I made the spur of the moment video is to demonstrate how easy it is to make them, because a lot of people are intimidated that it's very difficult, and in fact it's not.  I was thinking of editing the video out because I dropped the phone at one point when I was recording, but then I thought, what the heck, it makes it that more authentic, right?
As Julia Child would say " What happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen" LoL :-)

The  Best Gluten Free Crepes with Tapioca Flour 

Ingredients :

1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup gluten free cornstarch

3 eggs
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup coconut milk ( you can also use regular too)
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Coconut oil ( for greasing your pan)


1. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then mix the rest ( except the coconut oil) in a blender until well belended.
2. Gradually add the dry ingredients and blend well.
3. In a greased with coconut oil pan over medium heat pour enough to cover the bottom of the pan ( about 1/4 cup, it depends on the size of your pan of course)
4. Flip the crepe and when done place on a piece of a parchment paper ( the first pancake only, the rest you can place on top of each other).

Of course, watch the video and you will see exactly how I do them too.

I would be very happy to hear your comments when you try this recipe, so don't be shy..:-)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gluten Free Crepes With Coconut Flour

Christmas Eve 2014  (3 of 5)

I love crepes and I was really bummed that I couldn't find a good gluten free recipe. I tied many different ones, but after a bit of experimenting,  I think this is the best, easiest and most delicious recipe I've tried. The subtle coconut flavor makes it that much better.

By the way, the taste and texture are different than regular crepes. The gluten free ones are much more richer, fuller, if I might say so. Have in mind that while they are warm, they are much more delicate than regular crepes. Bake on lower temperature so they don't fall apart when you are trying to flip them. The process is MUCH different than making regular crepes and it might take a few tries to get them right, but the taste is totally worth it.


6 eggs
1/2 tsp of sugar ( you can substitute with anything you use as a sweetener)
1 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp coconut oil ( or regular butter)
4 tbsp coconut flour
pinch of salt

Makes about 7 crepes
Christmas Eve 2014  (2 of 5)


1. In a stand up mixer beat the eggs first on slow, then gradually increase to high. Beat until the egg mixture is doubled in size.

2. Gradually add the sugar, milk and oil.

3. Sift the flour and the salt, then gradually add it to the eggs mixture.

4. When done, let the mixture stand for 15-20 minutes, then beat with the mixture again.

5. Grease ( with olive oil or coconut oil for more flavor) then heat a non-stick pan on medium to low. When heated, pour with a ladle from the mixture and cook for a minute or so, then flip the crepe.

Christmas Eve 2014  (5 of 5)

6. Garnish with Nutella, fresh fruit, whipped cream, honey, nuts, chocolate- you choose.
Bon appetite!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gluten Free Honey Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas Eve 2014  (16 of 45) 

Christmas baking this year was very rushed.
Aside from working on Dec 24th, I had no plans to bake cookies at all, because I still had to make the traditional Bulgarian odd number dishes for Christmas. Yes, I had no plans, but my daughter did. :-)

 She fluttered her long eyelashes and gave me the cute puppy eyes that only she can, and I my plans changed. I was really worried to try cookie recipes, because I have tried baking only one kind of gluten free cookies before. I was extremely surprised by this delicious recipe and I have to say, we liked it as much as the traditional honey spice cookies that I make, if not more.

 Gluten Free Honey Gingerbread Cookies 


2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup cornstarch ( gluten free!)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice ( I don't like, it, so I skipped that)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg granulated sugar for sprinkling 


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Mix the flours, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices and salt together.

3. Beat the softened butter with the dark brown sugar and white sugar on medium with your mixer. After 2 minutes, increase the speed slightly, then add the egg and honey.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture and fold in the dough. When done, divide the dough into 60 equal pieces, roll into balls, then place on a parchment paper covered pan. Press the balls with the bottom of a glass to make them flat, then sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar.

5. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until golden brown, then let them cool in pan for 2 min outside of the oven. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack completely.

6. When completely cold, place in a dry storage container. I usually place a piece of apple to keep them soft and chewy, because most baking soda cookies harden when they cool.

They are perfect for Santa or simply to enjoy with your afternoon tea. Yum!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bulgarian Luteniza/ Lutenica Tomato Spread for Appetizers -- Gluten Free

Bulgarian tomato spread for appetizers

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my family making Luteniza. The whole family ( parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and more) gets together, everyone participates and the amounts of the spread that are made are enough to make a canning factory jealous. Even though it was a hard work for a young child, I loved the fact that no matter what, everyone stuck around to make this amazing spread. It didn't matter if you were mad at someone or not getting along with another, everything was forgotten and everyone pitched in.

From washing pounds over pounds of tomatoes, pureeing, roasting peppers and eggplant, peeling carrots and making food for everyone ( you know, eventually everyone is hungry), it is a very authentic, typically Bulgarian experience that will always stay engraved in my mind as one of the most heartwarming memories I have.

Is it because of the experience that everyone in Bulgaria is so fond of Luteniza or because the taste is nothing like anything I've tried elsewhere, I can't say. What I know though is that I love sharing that tradition with my children and we had a great time making it yesterday.

For those who would like to try, you can read further.


5 lbs tomatoes
3.5 lbs red peppers
1 eggplant
1 white onion
1 red onion
4 large carrots
4 apples
10 garlic cloves
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil


1. Wash the tomatoes well and cut 1lbs the way you cut for a salad. The other 4 lbs blend on the lower setting of your blender, so it is still chunky, but not too much.

2. Put the tomatoes in a large pot ( I use 12 qt for tamales) to boil on medium-high. You have to stir often ( usually I have one person constantly stirring while the rest of us are preparing the other ingredients)

3. Wash and then roast/grill the peppers. When done, skins and all, blend in a blender. If your blender is not great, peel the skins off. I have a Vitamix and it blends them completely without losing the flavor from the skin.
*Note: You can either grill the peppers or roast them in your oven. I roast them and it is working out fine. 

4. In a blender blend the apples until completely smooth then add  them to the tomatoes in the pot. Stir well.

5. In a large skillet saute the onions, garlic, carrots and eggplant with the olive oil. Set aside when soft. When cool, blend them in the blender until completely smooth, then add to the tomatoes.

6. Add the salt, pepper and the oil from the sauteed vegetables. Stir well.

7. Stir well the vegetable spread on the stove. It takes 3-4 hours to have the spread thicken. It has to be so thick that you can put it on a piece of bread and not get it soggy. I usually test by taking a small amount of the spread and placing it on a clean, dry plate. If there is a large "watery ring" around the thicker mixture, it's not done yet.

8. When done, place in clean, dry jars, put screw on lids and turn them with the lids down as shown on the picture. When cool, turn them with the lids up and check if all of them are well closed.


* Note: You can eat the Luteniza immediately. However, if you would like to store it, follow steps 9 and 10.

9. Next day place the jars in a pot of cold water lids up, then boil for 5-7 minutes. Take them out, place them with the lids down and let them cool.

10. When the jars have cooled down, you can turn them with the lids up and store them in a cold, dry place. They can be stored for up to 10 months.


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