Eastern Europe

English: Veliko Tarnovo

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  • Spicy Bulgarian Tomato Dumpling Soup
  • Hungarian Pumpernickel Bread
  • Romanian Carrots with Sour Cream

Since it was so hot out I decided to keep it simple. And yes, soup. I think Americans are the only ones who don’t eat soup in the summer. I remember as a kid, a friend’s dad made soup during the dog days of August. “ Soup! Augh! That’s crazy it’s too hot out to eat soup!” I said or something similarly as insolent. He gave some explanation about keeping your body temperature the same as the environmental temperature and how countries with hot climates eat hot, spicy foods. He came from Guyana. The soup was very tasty. I’ve been eating soup all year ever since.

I LOVE soup. It’s easy to make and easy to digest. No oven required so it doesn’t heat up the house as much either. Maureen Vivino, the author of the chapter on Eastern Europe in Sundays At Moosewood relates how she ate this soup in the summertime. A time when tomatoes are in abundance in Veliko Turnovo, the old capital of Bulgaria. Her variation calls for couscous rather than the traditional semolina meal. I went traditional and used semolina rather than couscous. It was pretty simple to make and the dumplings stuck together! It was pretty tasty with the Hungarian Pumpernickel Bread.

As per usual, I did not quite have all the ingredients required on hand. Whenever you find yourself in this predicament, look up this great resource for substitutions at allrecipes.com. It’s a great resource and a dinner saver.

I haven’t been too successful at making bread. I did ok with my bread machine, but when that broke I tried making it by hand. My dough never rises much and the bread is dense. I wish I could bake bread like Maggiesonebuttkitchen. Those look divine!

There are several reasons why I think my dough doesn’t rise. 1) my yeast is either old or expired 2) The water is not warm enough and 3) I do not let it rise in a draft-free environment. If you have any useful tips or tricks for making bread – please post them in the comments. This is a plea for help.

Usually, I just mix the yeast with water straight from the tap. This time I heated the water and used a candy thermometer to measure the heat.

I substituted 1 tsp. Lemon juice for the freshly grated orange peel. The recipe requires you to beat the batter 200 strokes. Oof! My arms started getting tired around 85. I need to get back to the gym.

kneading the dough
kneading the dough

I set the dough in the oven with a pot of boiling water as suggested. I was a little disappointed as it did not rise to super levels, but it did rise. I punched it down and formed it into two loaves on a pan and put them in the oven to rise. This time it did rise and I had to separate the loaves onto two sheets. I baked it. It was good! I served it with cheese and tomato wedges along with the soup.

The dough rises!
The dough rises!

Feeling guilty I didn’t have any veggies I quickly tried to throw together the carrots with sour cream. It was quick and easy, but I was rushed. My son and husband had already sat down and dug into the bread. No one really ate the carrots, which didn’t really go with the soup. I served it warm, but wonder if it would have been better chilled with this summer meal. I ate it cold for lunch the next day and it was quite satisfying.

Soups on
Soups on

The recipes follow below, I halved everything and it was plenty for 2 adults and one child.

Spicy Bulgarian Tomato Dumpling Soup

serves 6

Soup

  • 1 lg onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2-3 tsp hot chili powder
  • 2 tbsp unbleached white flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, tomato juice or water

Dumplings

  • 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking couscous
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup unbleached white flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp fresh dill weed/1 tsp dried
  • 1/3 cup milk or vegetable stock

chopped fresh parsley

grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

In medium soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the oil, stirring frequently, until onions soften. Add tomatoes and cook until golden and tomatoes are soft. Stir in chili powder, flour, salt and pepper and mix well. Pour in stock while slowly whisking to dissolve flour. Coarsely blend in a blender and return to pot. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes.

While soup simmers prepare the dumplings. Cream the butter with the egg yolks until smooth. Place the couscous in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over couscous, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Add couscous, flour, salt, dill and milk to the butter and blend well. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and then fold them into the mixture.

Drop dumplings into the soup by the tablespoonful and cook, covered for about 15 minutes. The dumplings are done when they rise to the top. Test one to be sure. Serve immediately with parsley and cheddar cheese.

Romanian Carrots with Sour Cream

serves 4-6

  • 8-10 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill/ 3/4 tsp dried
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook carrots in a boiling covered pot until tender about 5-7 minutes, drain and set aside.

Melt butter and stir in flour. Cook for a few minutes on medium heat, stirring regularly. Whisk in the sour cream or yogurt until smooth and blended. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until heated through.

Pour sauce over carrots and serve hot or cold depending on season.

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Pumpernickel Bread

yields 2 round loaves

  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup light molasses
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk = 1-2 cups milk + 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups rye flour
  • 2 1/2 – 3 1/2  cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp molasses

Preheat oven to 350.

Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Heat molasses, lemon juice, caraway and salt to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in buttermilk. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Add this to yeast. Gradually add the rye flour and beat 200 strokes. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the whole wheat flour until the batter is stiff. Cover with a cloth and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Knead dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes.Add 1/2 cup of remaining flour and more as needed until the dough is moist but workable. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place for an hour. Punch down the dough, form into two round loaves, and score an X in the center of each loaf with a sharp knife. Place the loaves on an oiled baking pan, about 4 inches apart, and let rise for 45 minutes.

In a small pot, bring the water and molasses for the glaze to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Brush tops of the loaves with half the glaze. Bake bread for about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and apply remaining glaze.

 

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