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Sunday, February 24, 2008


I learned to make those when I was about 10, and I have two left hands, so they are not as complicated as they look and sound.

Makes ~ 30 crêpes that are ~ 7 inches (15 cm) in diameter. You may get more or less depending on the size of your skillet. Once the skillet is heated, plan on a minute and a half to two minutes per crêpe.


1 cup (130 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 cups (480 ml) milk*
3 eggs
A drop of vanilla extract, optional

* I know that a few people here avoid milk for a variety of reasons. You can substitute water, but whole milk crepes taste a lot better than low-fat, no-fat or water crêpes. I assume soy milk would work too, but I honestly haven't tried.


Beat all ingredients with a mixer. The resulting batter is slightly thicker than buttermilk.
Heat a skillet.
Put a few drops of oil, so the crepe doesn't stick. My friend soaks a cotton ball with oil and runs it across the bottom of the skillet but that's a bit too demanding for me.

Pour a bit of the batter in the middle:

*Quickly* hold the skillet and wiggle it with a circular motion, so that the batter spreads evenly in a thin layer.
It takes a bit of practice to figure out the exact amount of batter you need. My advice is to go easy. If you underestimate the amount of batter, that happens:

But it can be fixed by spooning batter into the holes. The other way around, you get a thick crêpe, and that is not fixable.

When the top layer dries up (happens fast, so stay by the stove), the crêpe is ready to be flipped.

Run a spatula around the edges - that's where it is most likely to stick to the skillet.
Gently slide the spatula under the crêpe:

... and flip:

Cook for about a minute more, or according to taste - we like ours medium baked.
Transfer to a plate.
Repeat the whole thing until you run out of batter.

I cover mine with another plate while they are warm so they soften up.

They go well with sweet or savory filling.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Black-Jack Quesadillas

These are so, so, so good - and pretty good for you.

- 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained (unless you're like me and prefer to use dried. If you use dried beans you must soak them overnight, then cook for 45 minutes. I normally do large batches of different beans and keep them in the fridge through the week)
- Banana peppers (use to taste, about three per quesadilla)
- 8 oz. package shredded cheese
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 cup salsa

- Dump the beans into a bowl and mash to a pulp.
- Stir in the peppers, salsa, and oregano.
- Cover a tortilla with the mixture, add cheese to the top, top with another tortilla and cook until golden in a large skillet with little to no oil.

These are incredibly filling - I was unable to finish mine.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Meatballs with White Sauce

My big problem is that husband likes fried meatballs, while I hate frying for both health and cleaning reasons, and I am not too crazy about meatballs either. This recipe is a decent compromise. Makes 5 servings of 2 meatballs each, and eats a lot of bread :).


For the meatballs:
1 lb (450 g) ground meat (mince)
1 egg
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon of each: salt and black pepper or other spices to taste

For the sauce:
1 egg
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup yogurt
1 bay leaf
lemon juice


Mix the products for the meatballs. Form into 10 balls.
Put the meatballs in a deep sauce pan and cover with water. Add bay leaf.
Bring water to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until meatballs are no longer pink inside.
Remove from heat.

Beat egg, mix with yogurt and flour.
*Gradually* spoon about 1 cup of the hot broth from the meatballs into yogurt mixture. Stir continuously.
When the yogurt mixture and the meatball broth are at pretty much the same temperature, pour yogurt mix into saucepan.
Cook over medium heat stirring continuously for 2 more minutes or until the sauce is at desired density.
Season with lemon juice.
Remove bay leaf before serving.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cranberry Muffins

Original recipe from here. Those are American-style, not English muffins. Cups are American standard cups that hold 240 ml of liquid. This recipe makes 12. You will need one 12-cup (or 2 6-cup ones) regular muffin pan, for which the cups measure about 3 inches/7.5 cm in diameter.

As far as the filling goes, that recipe is very versatile. You can substitute other berries for the cranberries, or substitute the walnuts with chopped apple for cran-apple muffins. Or make some combination of fillings - as long as you keep everything to 2 cups, you should be fine.


1 1/3 cups (165 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
2/3 cup (135 g) white sugar + 1/3 cup (70 g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1/3 cup (70 g) shortening
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk**
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chopped cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts

* Original recipe also calls for nutmeg and ginger but I skip them
** Recipe uses orange juice, but I prefer them with milk


The main principle of making muffin batter is to mix the wet and the dry ingredients separately, and combine them in the end, mixing with a wooden spoon (no mixer!) just so all the dry ingredients get moistened. Proper muffin batter may be lumpy, but that's OK. Overmixing creates a dense heavy texture, and that is not the purpose here.

In a large bowl sift together flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. In a small bowl beat egg, milk, vanilla and shortening together. Stir into dry ingredients until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.

Spoon into muffin pan - this one is more dough-like than batter-like, so pouring is kind of difficult. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 25 minutes or until brown.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Egg Bread

Siri had asked for bread recipes. This is the one I make most often; the recipe is from my bread machine manual.

Ingredients for an M size bread which is, I think, 1 lb/450 g:

3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup milk* with the egg**
1 teaspoon dry yeast

* Recipe says 1 1/2 tablespoon dry milk + water but I never have dry milk around the house, so I use straight milk.
** Break the egg into the measuring cup and fill the rest with milk until it reaches the 1 1/4 cup mark.

Put in the bread machine in the order which your manual recommends and voila! If you feel like it, the dough is very easy to form into fun shapes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Making your own stock

I have just used up the last of my canned broth and am now looking to start making my own stock. Any tips?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Request for mango recipes.

Today we discovered that we have a mango tree and there are a lot of fruit on it.
So my question for you guys is do you have any great mango recipes to share?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Tofu & Peas/Chicken & Peas

This is an incredibly easy, delicious, and filling dinner to make. The recipe calls for garam masala, but I really hate the taste. I've made this so many times and it's always gotten rave reviews.

  • 1 Large Onion - chopped
  • 1 Package firm tofu, cubed/2lbs chicken thighs, cut up/2lbs chicken breast, but up (I recommend thighs if you're using chicken)
  • 2.5 Cups (or a regular sized bag) frozen green peas
  • 3 garlic cloves (or however many you like.)
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 15.5 ounces Canned Diced tomatoes
  • 2 tps. garam masala if you're using it.
  • In a large skillet heat the oil and garlic cloves. When it's heated, cook the chicken or tofu. If it's chicken, place it in the skillet and sauté it until it's golden brown. For tofu, keep flipping it until it's golden brown on all sides. The recipe originally called for frying it in 2 cups of olive oil...obviously not so healthy.
  • After the chicken/tofu is golden brown, add in the onions and sauté until soft. Add in the tomatoes (undrained!), peas and garam masala, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
This is an incredibly hardy and filling dish, plus it's pretty to look at. Everyone who has tried has liked it, and my family is full of picky eaters who don't "that foreign stuff" I cook. When I cooked it with chicken I used bone-in thighs, which made it much heartier. Darker meat also tends to give more of a taste to the meal than white meat, however I'm prejudiced. No one in my family likes white.

Vegetarian Paella

This was unbelievably delicious, even if the rice didn't cook quite through. I recommend using minute rice or cooking the rice half-way beforehand. Also, unless you're made of money, use tumeric instead of saffron. I'm still amazed that a teaspoon of something could cost $7.

Recipe, as always, from

  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch-long strips
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch-long strips
  • 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 15-oz. can vegetable broth
  • 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking brown rice
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads, dissolved in small amount of hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Set aside half the red pepper strips for garnish. Add all remaining pepper strips to onion mixture and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes (with liquid), broth, rice, saffron mixture, thyme and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in artichoke hearts, peas, half the parsley and salt. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste and add a little water to moisten if needed. Cook, stirring, just until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer paella to large, shallow serving dish and garnish with circle of reserved red pepper strips. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve hot.

We just used green peppers, as red were twice the price. :-)

Homemade Hot Cocoa.

I'm a big lover of hot chocolate and whenever I get a strong sugar craving I'm apt to make this. It's very, very good, if a bit involved. The recipe is as follows:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup Half and Half
I normally skip the half and half, as we never need it for anything else.
  • Instructions
  • Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.
Now I always up the vanilla amount, normally at least a tablespoon to two tablespoons. This would also be fantastic with Bailey's Irish Cream.


Aka Snezhanka salad. It's named after this Snezhanka. You will need a cheesecloth for this one ;), though Google says a clean dishcloth will do the same job.


3 cups yogurt
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup diced walnuts
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, red pepper, lemon juice to taste


Line a bowl with a piece of cheesecloth.
Put yogurt on cheesecloth.
Tie cheesecloth in a pouch and leave it hanging above the bowl to drain.

The rule is 1 hour of straining per cup of yogurt, though it depends on the quality of yogurt.
3 cups of yogurt yield 1 1/2 to 2 cups of strained yogurt, again, depending on the quality of yogurt.

Properly strained yogurt for this purpose has a consistency between that of sour cream and that of cream cheese. You have to be able to eat it with a fork.

* Reserve the drained liquid - I use it in my breads, as it has vitamins and minerals.

Remove yogurt from cheesecloth.
Add cucumber, diced walnuts, garlic and spices to taste. Stir carefully.
Serve chilled.


Aka dolma. I realize that most people won't ever make them by hand but I had leftover vine leaves and I figured that as long as I am making them, I am going to make pictures.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup rice
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 pound (500 g) ground (minced) meat
diced raisins, optional
diced mushrooms, optional
salt, pepper, thyme to taste
~ 50 pickled vine/grape leaves

You may skip the meat and make them vegetarian.
You can also substitute pickled cabbage leaves for the vine leaves, but the taste will be different.

Edited to add: in the US you can find cabbage or vine leaves in most Eastern European or Middle Eastern grocery stores, or in the ethnic food section of big chain grocery stores like Safeway. They come in a glass jar and are usually in the pickles section.


In a skillet heat olive oil.
Saute onion, raisins and mushrooms.
Add ground meat and cook until it divides into crumbs and is no longer pink.
Add rice.
Cook for 5 more min until rice gets translucent.
Remove from heat, add spices.

Apologies for the poor quality pictures that follow - my kitchen is dark and I was trying not to smear any oil, rice or pickle juice on my camera.


Drain vine leaves.
Put leaf with the stem facing toward you. Cut stem if it's still there.
Put a teaspoon of rice and meat mix in the middle of the lower part of the leaf right above the stem.

Wrap it like a burrito:
1. Take the side of the leaf that's toward you and roll it forward once, so it flips over the filling.
2. Tug in the left and right sides of the leaf towards the middle.
3. Roll forward.

Here is the major caveat: you want the sarma to to be tightly rolled, so it doesn't unwrap when rice cooks and expands *but* you also want the rice to have the space to expand, so it shouldn't be too tight.

Sarma rolling is an art, which I don't claim to have mastered. I am happy when the majority of my leaves are not torn by the expanding rice :).

Repeat the whole rolling procedure about 50 more times :) until you run out of either filling or leaves.

Arrange sarmas, loose end down, in a slow-cooker pot.
Cover with a plate or prop them with something else that is moderately heavy and won't allow them to float and unwrap.

Pour enough water to cover them.
Drop half a teaspoon of filling in water.
Cover and cook on low until the filling you dropped in the water is cooked.

You may put them in a regular pot and simmer for about 2 hours but you run the risk of either the top layer being undercooked or the bottom layer being overcooked. The crockpot provides a more even temperature.

You can serve them warm or cold. They go well with yogurt and they freeze well.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Raffaello Cake

Recipe by natalyna. This is a light sponge cake with a deliciously rich icing that makes a nice alternative to chocolate or whipping cream icings.


For the cake:
6 eggs
7/8 cup (180 g) sugar
1 1/4 cup (160 g) all-purpose/plain flour

For the icing:
14 oz (400 g) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (9 oz, 250 g) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup (100 g) shredded/flaked coconut

Edited to add: there is no chemical leavener (baking soda or baking powder) in sponge cake. My book says that all the raising is done by the denaturation of egg protein (thus the huge amount of eggs required) and the expansion of the air trapped in during the mixing. That is why it's very important to follow the mixing and baking instructions exactly, including sifting of the flour.

It does rise, but don't expect it to double in size.


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C).
Separate egg whites from yolks.
In a small bowl beat egg whites until peaks form.
In a large bowl beat yolks with sugar until they form a pale yellow foam.

* From this point on, mix with a wooden spoon only.

Little by little incorporate beaten whites into egg yolk mixture.
Sift flour (do sift it!) and add it little by little to egg mixture.
Butter and flour a 9-inch pie form/24 cm pie dish.
Pour batter in pie dish.
Place pie dish at the lowest part of the oven that you can.
Bake at 325 F (165 C) for 30 to 40 min or until it's golden in color and springs back to touch.
Avoid opening the oven door for the first 20 minutes of baking.
Cool on a wire rack.
Cut cooled cake into three layers.
I used a 12-inch pie dish instead of a 9-inch one, and the cake was wider and shorter, so I only cut it into two layers.

For the icing:
Beat softened butter and condensed milk until smooth.
Add coconut flakes and stir. You may add a bit more coconut if you feel that the icing is too runny.
Leave in fridge for about an hour to stiffen.

I find that cake, and sponge cakes in general, a bit dry but husband likes it as is. If it's too dry for your taste, you can drizzle the layers with milk or juice before icing them.

Glue layers with icing, ice top and sides.

A slice:

Cabbage Crockpot Dinner

Cabbage (both fresh and sauerkraut) is big in Bulgaria and though it's allegedly easy to cook, I've never been able to replicate my mom's cabbage dishes. Then I found this recipe that I've adapted for my own use. The original recipe has potatoes, which we didn't like in combination with cabbage, so I've skipped them since.

For 1.5 quart/1.4 liter crockpot

4 cups* (about 470 g) cut/shredded cabbage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 3/4 teaspoons salt**
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5 oz (150 ml) broth
1 pound (450 g) fully cooked sausage***, cut into serving size pieces

Edited to add: the sausage is of this type, sans the grill marks :).

* About 3 cups, or enough to fill a 1.5 qt crockpot to the brim (cabbage cooks down).
** Cabbage takes in spices very well, and it's really easy to make it poisonously salty! So try it with this amount of salt first and then decide if you need more.
*** It seems that the sausage leaks some of its oil and spices onto the cabbage, so if you substitute tofu, it might be a bit bland.


Cut cabbage. Chop onion.
Put cabbage and onion into crockpot.
Arrange pieces of sausage on top.
Stir spices into broth. Pour on top of the cabbage.
Cover and cook on low until cabbage is tender, about 6 hours.

Makes about 3 servings.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Slow-cooker/Crock-Pot Recipes?

I just got my refund check and decided to splurge on a slow-cooker. Does anyone have any recommendations? Also: Any recommendations for bread? The stuff we've been making hasn't been exactly tasty.

Spinach, Tomatoes and Chickpeas

I'm a big lover of "frying pan" dishes - dishes where you just dump various items into a frying pan with olive oil and garlic, then simmer. They're particularly good when you haven't a lot in your kitchen and you really want food. (We never have prepared foods in the ho use)

This one turned out quite good, so I thought I'd share it.

  • Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans - A cup to a cup and a half. You can use a can (15.5 ounces is the normal amount in the US).
  • Spinach - Four or five handfuls, six if you have small hands. This isn't an exact measurement, but keep in mind that spinach shrinks when it's cooked. It may look like a huge amount when you place it in fresh, but it will quickly change. If you want to measure then use four cups.
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Can (15.5 ounces) of diced tomatoes.
  • three or four garlic cloves
  • 3 tsp. of oregano or curry, if you prefer that
  • Heat olive oil in large frying pan, add in garlic. Simmer until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add in the tomatoes and garbanzo beans (if you're using raw make sure they're cooked first), then the spinach.
  • Stir well, sautée for 10 minutes or until spinach is wilted throughly.
It's very good and filling, plus you can't get get simpler than this.