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Breakfast

Bulgarian Burek

The famouse Lebanese author Gibran Khalil Gibran used to say that the orient begins where the toillets smell and people drink boza. Now hundred years later, we are no longer talking of the orient as such little more does any one mention this wonderous drink that could be sampled only in Bulgaria and Turkey called boza. For me however, boza goes well together only with one thing – bulgarian banitza or burek. This lovely multi-layered pastry affair has so many flavour variations and could be enjoyed warm or called anytime of the day. Only the west balkan countries and Turkey really know how to roll their sleeves and make this wonderouse delight that taste nowhere better than home. And home is where I grew up whatching how my mother wowed every special guest by throwing this thin dough pastry to stretch over her head over and over again until seethrough thin cheets were ready to fold into a delicious burek.

I have learned a lot ever since. I have tried tested french culinary techniques shapping marvelous creations with ease, yet still throwing the thin burek sheets to stretch over my head remains an unachievable mystery. Luckily there are other means to achieving the same goal and my carefully descriped simple steps below may guide you in preparing your own home made burek with ease.

Biting into a layer of crispy top sheets sinking into a more mellow dough rich with butter and feta cheese will make you wish to savour every cruble, reaching out for more. Dreaming about the orient into your own kitchen does not get (taste) any better then that.

 

Ingredients

  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • 1tbsp oil
  • 1tsp vinegar
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 500g flour (sifted)
  • 100g butter (or margarine)
  • 1oog feta cheese
  • 1-2 cups of virgin olive oil

 

Method

1. In a large bowl or jar mix together the lukewarm water, the table spoon of oil and the tea spoon of vinegar.

2. Sift the flour in a very large bowl and add one table spoon of salt. Make a well in the center and gradually start pouring inside the water, oil and vinegar liquid with one hand, while mixing the flour and the liquid with the other. Once all the liquid has been poured over the flour, mix together until the softened mixture starts to stick together. Continue mixing trying to absorb as much as possible from the flour. When you notice that the flour is not getting absorbed anymore flip the dough mixture and the remaing flour on to a clean surface (kitchen top or table). Use the remaining flour to stlighly cover the serface and start kneating the dough for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until the it becomes not sticky any more, firm and smooth. Cut the dough in 5 pieces and round each one into a small ball. Lightly grease the serface of a kitchen table with oil and put on top of it one of the balls. With your hand flatten the ball into a disk and pour more oil on top of it so it does’t dry out. Repeat the same with the remaining balls placing them as disks slightly overlapping one another generously greased with oil in-between. Let them rest for 30 minutes.

3. Pour oil on the top of a kitchen table and smear it together covering the entire surface. Grease the base of an oven baking tray and place it (on a chair) close by the oiled table top. Soften the butter and mix together with a crubled feta cheese placing them in a bowl ready to be used in a moment. Take one of the disks, place it in the center of the table and pour more oil on top of it. Oil a wooden rolling pin and carefully try to roll the disk out stretching as thinly as possible. Once you notice that with the rolling pin the dough could not be stretched any more, place the wooden rolling pin aside and starting from one side of the disk start to lift the dough allowing air to go underneath and stretch further as much as possible. Repeat severall times from all sides of the disk until the dough becomes seethrough thin. Sprinkle small bits of mixed butter and feta in the central part of the strentched dough disk. Fold the four sides into an envelop wrapping the feta and butter pieces inside. Place the dough envelop on the pre-oiled baking tray.

4. Oil the table top once more and place the second dough disk in the centre. Repeate the same process up to the moment the dough has become fully stretched then take the envelop dough from the tray and place it in the center of the stretched disk. Sprinkle feta and butter mixture over the disk and wrap the second stretched disk in an envelop shape again with the first envelop inside. Repeat this process until all disks have been stretched and wrapped into one large multi-layer envelop. With the smooth side up (envelop shape down) place the ready burek on the baking tray.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Place the burek inside and let it bake for aproximately one hour until golden brown. Take out of the oven and let it rest for 10 min until slightly cool. Cut into squares and serve cold or warm. Delicious for breakefast served with natural yogurt mixed with a spoon of honey.

Breakfast

Bread Buns

My husband made these lovely Saturday morning breakfast bread buns. I must admit there is something magical about a man in the kitchen early in the morning… Yes, undeniably I am immensely proud of him and he is all mine!

I love Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast at home. No stress and rush to quickly leave for work. No haste to speedily drink my coffee. Savouring every taste, leisurely stretching the time by talking sitting around the table this is our time of togetherness, our time of planing and anticipating the delights of the starting weekend. Indulging in the moment, our table is never shy. Home made scones, American pancakes, toasted bread with speck and scrambled eggs, Bulgarian bjurek. This morning, we savoured these delicious home made bread buns, spread with a thin layer of butter and generous spoonfuls of home made strawberry jam.

 

Ingredients

Makes 6 medium size buns
  • 250g flour
  • 20g yeast
  • 1 1/4dl milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g butter

 

Method

1. Sift the flour in a deep bawl and add the salt.

2. Slightly warm the milk and add in the sugar and the yeast, mixing until disolved.

3. Poor the milk and yeast mixture in the flour and mix until incorporated.

4. Add the egg and the butter and kneed the dough until smooth. Let it rest and rise doubling its size for at least half an hour.

5. Kneed lightly the dough again, cutting it into 6 balls and rounding every ball by shaping it smoothly.

6. Place the buns on a baking tray covered with backing paper. Glaze the buns with egg making them shine. Let them rest for 15 min.

7. Pre heat the oven to 225C. Place the buns inside and let them bake for 20 minute until golden brown.

 

Breakfast

Classic Belgian Waffles

It is 30C outside, beautiful summer day and our “little” happy girl is going to a party. A friend has invited her to join in their family home garden having fun and swimming in the in-door pool. Happy sixteen, I wish I could do the same! Instead as responsible parents we are baking classic Belgian waffles to bring as a gift for the girls and nibble while having fun.

This recipe is a real classic, copied from the pages of the yellow looking booklet, still miraculously kept in the box together with the waffle iron machine. Yet, tested for nearly over a decade in our waffle loving family home.

 

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 250g sugar
  • 500g plain flour
  • 6 free-range eggs
  • 500ml milk
  • 2 packs vanillas
  • 1 tsp baking powder

 

Method

In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

In another bowl, lightly beat the butter, the vanilla and the sugar. One by one add the eggs. Than add the the milk and mix well.

Stir the flour and the baking powder into the egg mixture just until combined.

Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.

Serve with strawberries or syrup.

 

Breakfast

Easy Made Muffins

A friend of mine has recently asked me if I have a really good recipe for easy made muffins, and the truth is that I have hesitated to offer a positive reply. Not that I haven’t made muffins millions of times, and not that they have not been tasty and great, yet when one imagines a muffin there is texture, there is softness and moisture, there are variety of tastes and there is most importantly the shape. This highly risen dome of a roundness that makes it obvious that this is truly nothing else but a muffin. Easy to say, but not quite so easy to do.

This weekend I have had the enormous pleasure of baby-sitting one of my youngest friends, my almost five year old god-child Mina. She is a pleasure and delight, music and dance, sweetness and mischief. She is fond of playing the piano, reading fairytale books, playing with jewellery and  make-up, but most of all she is fond of sweets. And what a better way to entertain a little fire ball than promising her that she can be a kitchen princess and make her own muffins.

As an inspiration I have tried for a first time one of the muffin recipes of Nigella Lawson and now beyond any doubt I am convinced that this is the easiest and most successful recipe I have ever tired. Great texture, soft and moist inside, crisp and round from outside. The flavour is simply a matter of taste, I have used only left over ingredients readily available at home and as a result Mina and me ended up making two types of muffins, chocolate ones with white chocolate chips inside and vanilla and banana muffins. Asking her at the end which flavour did she like the most her answer was simple – I liked them both!

 

Ingredients

Makes 12 muffins
  1. 2 bananas (chopped in small pieces)
  2. 125g vegetable oil
  3. 225g raising flour
  4. 2 medium eggs
  5. 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  6. 2 tbs cacao powder
  7. 100g white chocolate (chopped in small pieces)
  8. 1 package vanilla
  9. 100g Sugar

 

Method

  1. Whisk together the vanilla, sugar and eggs until the mixture becomes white and fluffy.
  2. Add the vegetable oil, the flour and the soda and mix until just incorporated.
  3. Divide the mixture in two. Adding the cacao powder and the white chocolate chips to one and the two bananas cut into small pieces in the other.
  4. Set paper cups into your muffin tray and carefully spoon in the two muffin mixtures into the cups.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Set the muffin tray inside and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

 

Breakfast

American Pancakes & Golden Syrup

American pancakes are something quite recent in out family life.

Last year, while waiting to board the EuroStar train from London to Brussels we have bought some from M&S, and since then they have started to join frequently our weekend breakfast menu.

I have found so many recipes on the Internet, but I must admit, the flavour was always not quite right.

We love Vanilla, and it became only natural that it should be added in the recipe. We love a delicate balance between sweet and salty flavour, so a pinch of salt and a little bit of sugar seemed only fair to be added to our home adjusted recipe.

Serves well with: blueberry jam, maple syrup, golden syrup.

 

Ingredients

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 150g suger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Knob of butter
  • Sunflower oil or a little butter for cooking

 

Method

1. Mix the sugar, the vanilla and the egg together. Gradually add the milk to the mixture.

2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and whisk in the milk and egg mixture to make a thick smooth batter. Beat in the melted butter.

3. Heat a teaspoon of oil or small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter per pancake into the pan to make pancakes about 7.5cm across. Make three or four pancakes at a time. Cook for about 3 minutes over a medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then turn and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden.

 

Breakfast

French Toast

French toast for breakfast on Sunday morning.

This is such a nice alternative for pancakes, especially when there are a few days old left over slices of bread.

My family adores these toasts drizzled over with brown sugar, but powder sugar, any type of fruit jam could be an equally tasty alternative as well.

Ingredients

  • 4 Slices of white bread (a few days old)
  • 1 Vanilla suger
  • 20 ml milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 10g Butter

 

 Method

1. Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla together until they form a foamy consistency.

2. Melt the butter in a hot pan.

3. Dip both sides of each slice of bread in the egg mixture and put it in the bettered pan.

4. Bake until crispy golden.

5. Serve with dusted cinnamon or powder sugar.