Thursday, 25 February 2016


I always thought making ganache was incredibly complicated. Somehow melting chocolate seemed terrifying. Back in November the chocolate for icing my birthday cake was too hot so it split. But I managed to rescue it and it was good. Very good. 4 months later I fancied truffles. Because it was Valentine's Day (yes, I should have posted this ages ago) I thought I would make some instead of buying them. I read a couple of recipes, bought some chocolate and cream and .... easy peasy.
A bit too late I realised that the better quality chocolate you buy the nicer truffles you will eat. You live and learn they say. They are correct. Anyway, my truffles turned out very chocolatey, gooey and even my not-so-chocolate-loving husband thought they were a real treat. There is nothing sophisticated about making truffles. Absolutely nothing. Mix the ingredients, add some alcohol (always optional) then put in the fridge for about 4 -6 hours to set. Roll out balls and dust in nuts, coconut, cocoa powder... options are endless. Eat. I am serious - it is as simple as that.

Recipe: Makes about 30 truffles
250gr chocolate (I used 200gr dark cooking chocolate 54% and 50gr 85% very dark chocolate)
250 gr double cream
35 gr butter
pinch of salt
alcohol - brandy, wine, Baileys, whiskey  .... I used none so the kids could eat them too

To cover:
cocoa powder, chocolate pieces, ground nuts.... your choice


Cut the chocolate into small pieces and put into a heat proof ball. Melt the butter with the cream in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. Just before boiling point take off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Keep stirring until the chocolate melts. I had to put the mixture in the microwave for about 30 seconds as it cooled down too quickly and the chocolate was not melting. Once the chocolate has completely melted add the salt (I did not use any) and the liquor if using.

Stir well and leave in the fridge for 4-6 hours. I left mine in the fridge overnight. I have been told to use a melon baller to make the balls but since I do not have a melon baller (who has one of those anyway?!) I used my hands. It is not as messy as I thought it would be. I put some cocoa powder in a little bowl and some chocolate pieces in another. With a spoon I took a bit of the mix, roll it between my palms until a ball formed. Then it was rolled in the cocoa or the pieces and on a plate. I kept mine in the fridge the whole time. As it was the morning of Valentine's Day I surprised my husband with a cup of tea and a few of these delicious treats before breakfast.
The kids absolutely loved them too. They keep for about 4-5 days in an airtight container. Mine only lasted 2.5 days - they were that good!
Do you love chocolate? What would you put in your truffles?

Desi in the Kitchen

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


Who doesn't like a little treat with their afternoon cuppa?
I am a type of girl who drinks coffee throughout the day and on rare occasions I treat myself to a piece of chocolate or a tiny slice of a cake that I had made. My husband is not big on chocolate but he is big on biscuits. A while ago he mentioned biscotti and I was instantly inspired. I hadn't had biscotti in at least 5! years and I had never attempted making them. You see, I thought it was so super complicated to make biscotti. After all you bake them twice!!! After some research I found a recipe that seemed just too good to resist. I mean what would you not like? Chocolate chips - yum! Walnuts -yum! Cocoa powder -yum! A super crunchy biscuit which is perfect for dunking - double YUM!!
Original recipe you can find here . As with all American recipes all measurements are in cups/sticks etc so I have converted them in grams for you below:

250gr plain flour
60 gr cocoa powder
90 gr butter at room temperature
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
200gr granulated sugar
100 gr chopped walnuts
100 gr dark chocolate chips (or more)
1 tbsp. icing sugar (optional) - I forgot to use and it still worked out fine

Turn the oven to 180C and line a large baking tray with some parchment paper. Set aside.
Cream the sugar with the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until mixed well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until you get a very sticky dough. A stand mixer is perfect for this - the dough is super thick and sticky and very difficult to beat. If you have a hand held mixer you can simply use a spatula or a fork to combine thoroughly. Add the chips and walnuts.
Divide in two or three and make chocolate logs with your hands. Some flour on your hands will help. I am the first to admit my logs look soooo different but being the first time I have attempted them I think they are okay. Make sure you leave space between them as they will expand during baking.
Dust the logs with the icing sugar (which I forgot ) and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes and cut into pieces with a serrated knife. It is important the knife is serrated - these biscuits tend to crumble and a meat knife (which I originally used) was not very good. Do one cut at a time, take knife out and repeat. 2 or 3 cuts per biscuits will be enough.
I know, it sounds like a lot of work but it is not. Besides it is all worth it at the end. Once cut lay the biscuits with the cut side down and bake for another 10-15 minutes until dry.
Let them cool completely on a wire rack before eating.
Make yourself a cuppa, dunk and enjoy!

Desi in the Kitchen

Thursday, 11 February 2016


Hello hello !

My plan on blogging 3-4 times a week is not really working out - various commitments prevent me from spending much needed time for writing. But I am keeping to my gym routine! Yeah baby! It is hard, I am not going to lie but I think it is worth it. Going to the gym straight after drop off means I am home by 10:30 am and have plenty of time to get on with my day - cooking, cleaning, laundry.... you know what mum's life is like. After the gym I am tired but I am also more energised. I do not find the trip to the grocery store an inconvenience anymore, in fact I welcome the walk. I think my muscles see it as a light stretch following a whole hour of hard work. Lets face it, cross-trainer, running mill, the bike or whatever else you may be doing in the gym is hard work. Unless you are in a right state of mind exercising can be demoralising and difficult, impossible even. This time last year I was going to the gym 5-6 times  a week. I was not losing any weight, in fact I kept gaining. The personal trainers were clueless but my doctor had the answer - it was because of the meds I was on. I gave them up and some weight dropped off. After a gruelling diet in the summer I lost a lot of weight (yes, I promise, I will do a post on it soon) and now I use the gym to keep the weight off. You know me, I love baking and cooking and I like to eat. Exercising 3 times a week allows me to eat chocolate regularly alongside sausage rolls, biscotti or a slice of Apricot Almond cake .
From Monday I intend to swim at least twice a week. My husband lost a bunch of weight following a change of diet (I did that :) ) and swimming three times  a week. My body retains a lot of water so swimming should be a good way of getting rid of it. I was surprised to find out that what I thought was fat was actually water. And water is at least twice as hard to get rid of when compared to fat. I have upped my water intake to minimum of 2 litres a day (I was only drinking 1 l at best) - they say to easiest way to get rid of water in your body is to keep drinking it. So that's what I am doing and hopefully results will follow soon.


February. Oh, February! The month of love is here.

With Valentine's Day only a couple of days away it is time to start thinking about what you will be doing on the day. Are you going out? Are you ordering in? Or will you just carry on as if it is not Valentine's Day? When we first met I was living in Germany and my now husband was just visiting a friend for a couple of days. It was a love of first sight (we met in the middle of summer). Over the next year we went to Paris together, he came to Bulgaria for New Year, I went to England for some much wanted sightseeing and meeting his parents. Somehow his work schedule did not allow him to come and see me on Valentine's Day. So we talked on the phone for about 5 hours that day. The following year we got engaged and I moved over here. However, I had to go back to the Germany to finish my exams and I flew back on ... yes, you guessed it, Valentine's Day! Hubby had told me he would meet me at Waterloo as he couldn't get time off work to come and collect me from the airport. I went through security and remember looking out for the train ticket office. All of a sudden my name was called. I turned around and there he was - standing tall and as handsome as ever with the most beautiful bunch of dark red roses. It was the best Valentine's Day ever. Slowly over the years the novelty of the day however, seemed to have worn off. We were married, living happily with our two cats - did we really need to celebrate our love on a particular day? I'd like to think we celebrate our love most days!
But we have always tried to make this day special in one way or another - last year he drew me a bath and cooked whilst I was soaking in the most aromatic bubbles ever. The year before I took him out for the day and did things I absolutely hate but he absolutely loves. (no, now its not the time for me to elaborate). This year it is on a Sunday so we have decided to take the kids out for the day. We have not decided about dinner just yet.
If you however, would like to surprise your loved one with a home cooked meal these are some ideas I have put together for you.


If you love mushrooms, make this! All you need is a couple of flat Portobello mushrooms, 1 egg and some cheese. Wipe the mushrooms with a kitchen towel to remove any dirt. Discard the stalks. Beat the egg lightly, grate some cheese and mix. Brush the top of the mushrooms with some oil and put on a baking tray. Top the mushrooms with the mix and bake in the oven 30-45 minutes until cooked through. (Time will depend on the size of the mushrooms).

If you don't like mushrooms, make a light salad. Mozzarella balls, avocado and plum tomatoes - simple and delicious. Drizzle some virgin olive oil on top and season lightly. Yum!


My Butternut Squash and Bacon quiche is the perfect dinner - you can make it in advance and simply reheat in the oven before serving.
For vegetarians : Cime di rapa Lasagne is the thing to make. Again, make the day before and reheat before serving.


Cookie dough pots

 or if you are not feeling like eating chocolate - Angel Food Cake.
To make this cake extra special dot some pink or red food colouring in the icing  and there you have it - a lovely pink cake to go with the lovely Day of Love.
Whatever you decide to do have fun and enjoy yourselves.


Desi in the Kitchen

Thursday, 4 February 2016


Wow! That's all I can say really, simply WOW! These are by far the nicest biscuits I have made in a while. I am not a biscuit eater and when I make some it is mainly for my children. But then I tend to stick to chocolate chip cookies or gingerbread ones. A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the web looking for an inspiration and I found it - a recipe for ladyfingers which looked too good to be true. Eggs, some sugar and flour and in less than 30 minutes you have savoiardi biscuits ready?! I mean, come on! Surely this wasn't possible?! I had to give this recipe a go. The original recipe can be found here. Why I like savoiardi? Because I LOVE tiramisu. It is my greatest indulgence ever. I made one last weekend and will blog about it over the next few days. You always need good savoiardi biscuits to have  a great tiramisu. So step one: make the savoiardi yourself!
Here we go:

This recipe makes about 24 ladyfingers

3 eggs
67 gr granulated sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt
64gr plain flour
30-50gr icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C. Lay parchment, silicon mat or baking paper on couple of trays.
Separate the eggs. Add the sugar, vanilla essence and salt to the yolks. Beat with a mixer until thick, pale and fluffy, probably around 3-4 minutes. In another bowl beat the egg whites until thick and stiff, peaks should stay firm. Depending on your mixer this can take anything from 3 to 7 minutes. Add the egg whites to the egg yolks in 3 batches, mixing slowly with a rubber spatula or a metal spoon. Wooden spoon will knock the air out. (I have no idea why, but that's what all great chefs say. I tend to listen.) Gently sieve the flour over the mix and slowly fold it in until it is all smooth.
Get a piping bag (I did not use a nozzle). Fill up the bag, cut the end off and pipe the biscuits onto the prepared trays. Dust well with icing sugar and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
The sugar is instantly absorbed and the biscuits start to shine. Dust with icing sugar again and put in the oven straight away. The second time you dust them the sugar will stay on top.
Bake for about 13-15 minutes until they are a nice golden brown colour on top.
Transfer to a cooling rack straight away and serve immediately.

You can store them in an airtight container for a couple of days.
I was surprised with the result - they were pure heaven. So lovely, light and melting in the mouth... I only had 2! I had to dip the second one in my coffee to see how it is holding the liquid - after all I am making another tiramisu on Sunday and I will be using my homemade ladyfingers!
Easy, simple, delicious. Is all I'm saying. What do you think?

Desi in the Kitchen

Monday, 1 February 2016


You know you have hit the jackpot with your kids when they come asking over and over and over and OVER again for that one dish you made awhile back. I felt so incredibly happy last week. My children had friends over a play date and the girls asked for some snacks. I had blueberry muffins and some crackers. All of a sudden Annabel asked me if she could please have a piece of banitza. I had last made it 10 days earlier so the fact that she wanted some.. Oh, pure heaven for my soul! For me this dish represents my roots - it is a dish I grew up with. It is suitable for breakfast, snack time, lunch or dinner! People back home make/buy it all the time. When I first moved to the UK I struggled a bit to find the right filo pastry sheets so I started bringing some with me every time I went back home for a holiday. Even now I prefer the Bulgarian pastry sheets to the ones you can buy here in any supermarket - the Bulgarian ones are thinner and drier which results in a crispier bake. However, my kids love both versions equally and it is a dish which now once again has a prominent place in our diet.  I mean what is not to love? Flaky pastry layered with crumbled Bulgarian soft cow's cheese ...mmmm, I am craving some just writing about it! This is a nice change from the usually sweet afternoon snack my kids have and it is one they absolutely love and enjoy. I guarantee you every Bulgarian woman (and probably the majority of men) can do this dish in their sleep - it is not complicated at all. You need about half an hour prep time though so roll up your sleeves and give it a try!

2 packs of filo pastry sheets or 500gr
4 eggs
250-300 gr Bulgarian cow's cheese or Greek salad cheese
250 gr yoghurt
140 gr melted butter


Take the pastry sheets out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you need them. Butter a roasting tin really well. Cut the pastry to fit the tin, saving all extra pieces.
Beat the eggs with a fork until foamy. Add the crumbled cheese and yoghurt and mix well.
Put one sheet on the bottom of your tin. Spread melted butter over it. Put another sheet, add some more butter. Put another sheet - add a layer of the egg and cheese mix.
Another sheet goes on top, more butter follow. Every third layer should have some of the egg and cheese mix. Continue until all mix has been used up. I use the cut out pastry in every middle layer to make sure it is all used up. You should aim to finish with three sheets of filo pastry on top of each other. Once this is done cut it into nice big squares before putting into a preheated oven to 190C. This helps in creating an even bake. Bake for at least half an hour or until the pastry has turned golden brown.
Take out of the oven, sprinkle with some cold water and cover with a tea towel until it has cooled down. Remove from the tin, cut again into squares and serve.
In Bulgaria for breakfast you will have it with some yoghurt or with ayran (a yoghurt drink). It will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.