Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Breakfast for dinner for the love of American pancakes

American pancakes0003

OK, I've been here what....5 years now and I have my favorites from the American cuisine, but pancakes were never one of them. I tried them in different restaurants...and I just can't stand the baking powder smell! Every time it was so strong that it burned my nose.
We were talking with a friend and I shared my dislike of the American pancakes." You can't be serious!That won't do at all!" was her reaction. So, she dared me to try it at home and then to tell her if I like it or not.

I admit the American pancakes won me over with the first bite! The recipe I found and tried was for "Basic Pancakes" and shock and awe-there was no baking powder smell! I guess in the restaurants are adding more baking powder to make the most out of the batter and that has nothing to do with the taste of the pancakes in general. My homemade pancakes were fluffy without the burning smell, they had such a delicate texture, so when you take a bite you hardly have to chew at all!

The mixture of this creamy and light taste combined with the sour-y freshness of the strawberries and the smoky taste of the maple syrup made such a delightful combination, that nobody could stop eating them even when they were full! The result was I had to make the recipe the next day again!
As you probably gathered from the title, I made the pancakes for dinner (  pancakes, sausages, eggs, the whole nine yards) and this was one of the most indulgent things we've done with the kids last week!
So, grab your pans and kids and follow the example! :-)

 * I increased the ingredients, because in my opinion the original recipe does not apply for families with kids that love pancakes. 

 You will need:

3 cups flour
3 3/4 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 tbsp sugar ( you can cut back on that if you want)
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 1/2  to 2 3/4 cups milk ( if you think the batter is too thick, feel free to add more, just do it a little bit at a time!)
3 tbsp melted butter
 * You can add things to that original batter and experiment with it, like fresh fruit,  nuts, spices, even spinach and tomatoes for coloring the batter in red and green etc.
American pancakes0005 


1. Sift the dry ingredients- flour, baking powder and salt together. 

2. Beat the eggs with the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter.

3. Combine the dry ingredients with the eggs, then gradually add the milk until you have the desired consistency.

4. Heat a large ( the largest you have) nonstick pan to medium high. Pour a ladle of the batter into the pan. When you notice small bubbles coming up on the surface, take a spatula ( a wooden or silicon one is preferred so you don't scratch your pan) and turn the pancake over. You do not need to grease the pan! 
* Instead of a ladle you can use a measuring cup, it makes your work so much easier! Just pour in a circular motion until you reach the desired size of a pancake.  I usually make them small, so I can pack my son for school the next morning.   

5. Serve hot with toppings as you like- fresh fruit, whipped cream, nuts, maple syrup, honey etc. I even make peanut butter and Nutella spreadable chocolate sandwiches with these pancakes, they are to die for!


In Bulgarian/На български 

3 ч.ч брашно
3 3/4 ч.л бакпулвер
4 1/2с.л захар ( може да намалите захарта ако са ви прекалено сладки или ще ги сервирате със солена гарнитура)
3/4 ч.л сол
3 големи яйца
2 1/2  до 2 3/4 ч.ч прясно мляко ( Ако мислите, че сместа ви е прекалено гъста може да добавите още мляко, но внимавайте да не я направите прекалено рядка)
3 с.л разтопено масло
 * Може да добавите още неща към сместа, това е основна рецепта. Може да добавите пресни плодове, ядки, подправки, дори смлени спанак и домати за оцветяване в червено и зелено.


1. Пресейте сухите съставки- брашно, бакпулвер и сол заедно.
2. Разбийте яйцата със захарта в голяма купа. Добавете разтопеното масло.
3. Смесете сухите съставки с яйцата, като добавяте постепенно и млякото, докато получите желаната консистенция..
4. Загрейте на 3 най-големият тиган с незалепващо покритие, който имате. Излейте черпаче от сместа в тигана. Когато започнат да се образуват балончета на повърхността на палачинката я обърнете обратно. Желателно е да използвате дървена или силиконова шпатула, за да не нараните повърхността на тигана. Няма нужда да намазнявате тигана с нищо! Палачинките се пекат, не пържат!
*Вместо черпак може да използвате мерителна чаша, така се излива по-лесно в тигана и имате по-голям контрол над големината на палачинките. Американските палачинки не трябва да земат цялата повърхност на тигана! Можете да печете 3-4-5-6 заедно, в зависимост от големината на тигана ви.
5. Сервирайте горещи, гарнирани с пресни плодове, сладко, сметана, ядки, кленов сироп, мед и т.н. Аз понякога правя сандвичи на децата с останалите палачинки с фъстъчено масло и Нутела. 

Добър апетит!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sarmi, Halupki or just stuffed sauerkraut ( cabbage) rolls for vegetarians

It was very difficult to think of a title for this post. 
If I had named it only Sarmi, the Bulgarian readers would have guessed what it is about, if I had named it only Halupki, the Slovak audience would have know, so I decided to go the long way and include everything that would give you an idea what I am going to show you today.
In general, Sarmi is a sauerkraut leaves stuffed with rice and ground meat. However, since my husband doesn't eat meat anymore, I decided to make a vegetarian version, so he can enjoy too.  If you are a meat lover, you can very well subsitute the buckwheat with ground meat. The process of making is the same. 
This is a dish that in my family at least was prepared around Christmas time and New years. I still remember the lunches we had on 1st of January at my grandmother's house, the traditional thing she made were these sarmi, although she used meat. Try it, you  might find you like it!
For those of you who don't know where to find sauerkraut heads, you can either make them yourself ( I am going to post a recipe about it too!), or you can look for it Turkish, Serbian, Russian, Macedonian and sometimes even Asian stores. I realize it's not a common product you are going to use, so for all of you who would like to try the taste, but can't find leaves I have a recipe of Sauerkraut with sun-dried tomatoes and buckwheat recipe coming up! Look for it in the next couple of days!
You will need for the sarmi:
2 large sauerkraut ( cabbage) heads ( you will not use all of it, just the large leaves)
1  1/2 quart the water from the sauerkraut ( if you don't have it, you can use regular water, just add a little bit of salt to it, it wouldn't be the same, but close enough.
1 large  onion
1 1/2 cup white rice
1 cup buckwheat
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp paprika
4 tbs vegetable oil
You would need for the sauce
1 egg
1 tsp paprika( in addition to the 1st one)
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp yogurt

1. From the 2 large cabbage heads remove the largest leaves, set them aside. 
This is how the cabbage looks when it is prepared as a sauerkraut, it has to have yellow transparent in places color! 
 2. In a large non-stick pan  fru the onion, white rice and buckwheat together. Add the black pepper, salt and paprika.
* Note: if you want to make it more spicy, you can add chayene pepper instead of paprika, or if you want more "eastern" taste, you can add some curry to it. 
*Note 2: This recipe is very basic, if you like to take the experiment a little further, you can try adding ground meat, bacon, chopped mushrooms, walnuts, olives, even raisins to it.  I didn't want to overwhelm my kids with the taste, that's why I prepared it that way, but I can assure you that I have prepared it with each of the things I listed( well not all of them at the same time) and I confirm it is delicious!
3. Add half of the sauerkraut water and let it simmer until all the water is absorbed.In the pan you are going to cook the sarmi in place sauerkraut leaves to cover the bottom.
4. Place each cabage leaf with the base towards you, spread a tablespoonful of the rice on it and then fold like a blanket.Place the ready sarmi in the pan and have in mind that they have to be very close to each other, to hold their shape. Then add a second row, and a third row if there is a s space.
*Note: It would be best if you have a pressure cooker for this recipe, but if you don't allow yourself at least 2 hours for simmering. 
PigsInBlankets-Vegetarian0013 PigsInBlankets-Vegetarian0012
5. Place a large plate on top or the last row ( you are going to use it as a "weight" to hold the sarmi down, use an old and heavy plate, and be careful when you take it out later, it might break!) and add the rest of the sauwerkraut water.Place the lid on and let it simmer on Medium Low on your stove for at lest 2 hours.
*Note: If you see that it's still not ready but it doesn't have more water left, you can add water as many times as you think nececary. Just don't do it on top of the hot plate, because it might break.

6. In a small pan mix the egg, paprika, yogurt and flour. Place it on the stove and stirr constantly over medium high. After a minute and a half ( the egg has to look cooked, but the mixture should be liquid) spread the sauce over the sarmi.
PigsInBlankets-Vegetarian0022  PigsInBlankets-Vegetarian0024
 Serve hot with a red wine and a lot of black pepper!

Recipe in Bulgarian / Ако искате да прочетете рецептата на български, кликнете тук.
Рецептата на българси е с месо, но както писах и по-горе, можете спокойно да замените месото с елда, така ще направите сармите вегетариански. Процесът на приготвяне е същия.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brown Beef and red skin potatoes soup

Beef and red skin potato soup0026
As I was bragging yesterday, I got myself my very first pressure cooker and  I tried a soup that my guys at home like very much- Brown Beef  and red skin potatoes soup.
Depending on how fresh is the meat ( and how old was the animal) it can take from 60-80 minutes to be read and that's a lot of time to make s single soup. That's why I am very happy that I found this convenient way of doing it faster with the pressure cooker.
I am taking in consideration  the idea for doing series on the pressure cooker. Yesterday for example I did sauerkraut with rice and buckwheat for 20  minutes, and it takes up to 2 hours sometimes.
But, as Kung Fu Panda says, enough talk, let's COOK! :-)
Beef and red skin potato soup0001 Beef and red skin potato soup0007

You would need 
1 1/2 lbs lean beef cut into 1 inch cubes
5 qt water 
2 cups baby pearl onions ( whole)
2 lbs baby red skin potatoes ( thick slices)
2/3 cup carrots ( sticks)
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes ( whole)
3 bay leaves
salt and black pepper to taste
 1 tbsp olive oil

* if you like spicy food, you can add crushed red pepper to that, I don't do it because of the kids, my husband and I, we add it later to our bowls of soup.
Beef and red skin potato soup0016 Beef and red skin potato soup0017
Cooking time!
If you are using pressure cooker
1. Place all ingredients except the water in the pressure cooker and mix well together. ( What I did was I seared the meat before I added the vegetables, but you can very well skip that step, since the meat can cook perfectly without it, I just wasn't sure because I used the pressure cooker for the first time).
2. Add the water and close the cover securely. Place the pressure regulator on the vent pipe.
3. Cook for 15 minutes with a rocking pressure regulator( measure from the time the pressure regulator starts rocking). When it's done let the pressure drop of it's own accord, do not cool the cooker at once in this recipe. Serve with fresh herbs like chopped parsley and/or spices.

If you are using a regular cooking pot
1. In a large ( 6qt ) cooking pot place the tablespoon olive oil and heat. Add the meat and sear for couple of minutes, then add the water 20 minutes from since the water started boiling add the spices. Boil for 40 minutes.
2. In a separate pan stir fry the vegetables as you add them in the following order- onions, carrots, potatoes and last the tomatoes.
* If your meat is not getting tender within 40 minutes since the boiling started, add 10 -20 more.
3. Add the vegetables to the meat stock and place on medium heat for 20 minutes.
4. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and or/spices.
Recipe in Bulgarian/На български
700 грама телешко( или говеждо) месо нарязано на 2.5 см кубчета
5 литра вода
2 ч.ч. малки лукчета ( цели)

1 кг малки червенокожи картофи( на дебели шайби)

2/3 ч.ч моркови ( на пръчици)

2/3 ч.ч малки доматчета ( цели)
3 дафинови листа
сол и черен пипер на вкус 
1 с.л зехтин 
 Ако използвате тенджера под налягане:
1. Сложете всички продукти освен водата в тенджерата и объркайте добре. ( аз запържих предварително месото съвсем леко, но няма нужда да правите това. Тъй като ми беше за пръв път да ползвам тенджера под налягане нямах представа как ще се свари, но сега не бих запържила предварително).
2. Добавете водата и затворете капака добре. Сложете регулатора за налягане (  може би на български се казва вентил?)  на капака на тенджерата.
3. Варете 15 минути от момента, в който вентила започне да се клати и съска. Оставете тенджерата да изстине сама, не я изстудявайте изведнъж. По принцип се прави,но за тази рецепта е по-добре да не го правите.Сервирайте с нарязан магданоз и подправки.
Ако използвате обикновена тенджера за готвене:
1. В 6 литра тенджера сложете 1 супена лъжица зехтин и запържете месото за няколко минути, след това добавете водата. По средата на варенето добавете подправките.Варете 40 минути. 
2. В отделен тиган запържете зеленчуците с 1 с.л зехтин в следния ред- първо лук, след това моркови, след това картофи и  накрая добавете доматите.
* Ако месото ви няма признаци да се свари бързо след като минат първите 40  мин от варенето, може да удължите периода на варене с 10-20  мин повече.
3. Добавете зеленчуците към месния бульон и варете още 20 мин.
4. Сервирайте с нарязан магданоз и/или подправки.
Още снимки на супата.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Do you dare to use pressure cookers? (Presto 6Qt Aluminum Pressure cooker Review)

I have been cooking for a while, 23 years to be exact and if there was one thing I've always been scared of, that is a pressure cooker.
The previous generation story
My mom married before she knew how to cook, so you can imagine the amount of experiments my family went through. At that time my parents lived in my grandparents' house and my mother's first cooking lessons came from her mother-in-law, which was not with the best intentions at the time.
It is beyond me how you can put a pressure cooker in the hands of someone who ( forgive me Mom, you are the best cook now) never boiled an egg before, without a simple instruction how cooking is done with this pot.
So, it figures, my mom blew up the thing, covering the whole kitchen ( ceiling included) with chicken noodle soup. Thank God nobody got hurt, but some say, you can still find traces of noodles in that kitchen.
Of course my mom never wanted to see a pressure cooker in her life again, and she devoted herself in condemning this "wretched pot" as she used to call it. She told me the story time and again, adding some reassuring details from time to time, like who got burned/killed by a pressure cooker. She would never, ever want to hear about a pressure cooker being used and at that point I was resolved that this is the most scariest thing in a kitchen and I should avoid it at all cost.
Current generation revelations
However, in the last couple of years I discovered that these "wretched things" pressure cookers are not extinct, even more people continue to use them very successfully.
Cabbage ready in 3 min?
Potatoes in 5 minutes?
Sounds pretty good to me!
You all know I love to cook, but I love more better having time. So if I can find something, anything to cook faster, I'm all for it.
"If the pressure cookers are so dangerous, how come people still use them?", I asked myself and as a very good child I continued the tradition to doubt my mother's words and to explore for myself the dangers of using a pressure cooker.
Now, I might be a good child, but I am a smart one too, so I didn't tell my mom about my intentions. ;-)
 I did it!
So, I got myself a nice Presto 6Qt Aluminum Pressure cooker.
Since I never used one before and I've never tasted food from one or even seen how one is used, I thought that it would be a good idea to write a review telling all the pressure cooker virgins out there what happened when I used it for the first time.
The box is here, I open it and here it is, my first pressure cooker, shines with promise of less time spend in the kitchen.
First impressions
- It looked very sturdy, very durable kind of pot. Nice material, I would say it looked more expensive than the money it costs.
- One unpleasant surprise was that I would have to put together the pot. I am not screwdriver shy in any case, but attaching stuff to something that might blow me up intimidated me and I spent good 2 weeks waiting my better half to have the honor of attaching the handles etc.
Getting to know each other
- After my husband put it together we found out that he assembled the handles backwards ( it almost looks identical on both sides so it was easy mistake to make) and we couldn't close it. He switched the sides and then it closed very easy. So easy in fact, that I can close and open it with one hand. Of course I don't recommend doing that with hot things inside.
- The manufacturing lubricant was rather difficult to remove. I used regular dishwashing detergent and warm water, but it still took me about 15 min to clean it up.
Time to cook!
I choose the " Beef and red skin potato soup" recipe ( the link leads to the recipe), which is one of the most time consuming soups I make, because of the beef. I wanted to give the pressure cooker a really good test drive.
Once the pot was on the stove, I felt a rush of confidence and decided there is nothing to it. I added the ingredients as I always do for my soup, added the the water and closed the lid.
At this point I started to feel kind of nervous. All the stories my mom told me began to unfold apocalyptic images in front of my eyes but I got a grip and about 7 min after I put it on the stove, the pressure regulator on top started rocking and the real cooking began.
I used to make that soup for good 70-80 minutes.
The pressure cooker made it for 15 minutes after the pressure regulator started rocking. So this makes what, 7+15 min=22 minutes total cooking time.
I can live with that ;-), for the extra hour I gained I could even go to a spa that day.
Taste test
Now we can talk about a lot of things and this pressure cooker can have many advantages including faster cooking, but if the food tastes like ....well, you get it, the other relatively means nothing.
So, let's talk about the taste.
- this was one of the most flavorful soups I ever tasted and I used nothing more than salt and pepper.
- The discoloration of the vegetables was minimal! Something I always wanted to achieve with a regular pot.
- The texture of the meat was more delicate than the one I cooked in the regular pot, without making it mushy.

-It saves me time
-That exact pot costs less that the quality you get suggests
-It saves me time
-It's really easy to work with ( once you read the manual)
-It saves me time
-It is healthier to cook in a pressure cooker than in a regular pot
-Did I mention it saves me time? ;-)
- It's not dishwasher safe. Unfortunately for that price if you want to get a good pressure cooker you have to get aluminum, and you can't wash aluminum in the dishwasher. However, since you are not supposed to store the food in aluminum too, it cleans very easy with water and warm soap right after cooking. I hate washing dishes by hand, but this really takes a minute.

Answer to the most important question:
Are the pressure cookers dangerous to use after all?

What I have to say is this- in the "right hands", a fork is dangerous.

Three simple rules to rule out the danger cooking with a pressure cooker:
1. Read the instruction FIRST!
2. READ the instruction if you have ANY questions.
3. Use common sense

Overall I would definitely recommend it and if I ever get on my mom's good side again (after causing her almost a heart attack when I told her I got a pressure cooker) I'll even get  her one! :-)

Popular Posts

Related Posts with Thumbnails