20 September 2010

Great British Bake-Off 2

Well, watching the contestants make Cornish Pasties made me keen to give this dish a go.


When I proposed it to Lundulph, his eyes started to sparkle.

And so, since I felt in a very good mood today, I looked up Paul Hollywood's Classic Cornish Pasty recipe for ingredients and went off to the shops. Nothing called "suet" on the shelves, so I bought "vegetable spread" which was listed as "perfect for pastries".

I also wandered down to the butcher's to get beef skirt, sadly they were closed. I even walked in to town for the other butcher, but they were closed as well, so in desperation I asked at the meat desk in Waitrose. "We don't sell beef skirt" was the answer and the chap recommended butterfly steak. And wasn't it just my lucky day - there was one packet left and it was precisely the amount I needed, yay! As an extra bonus it was already cut very thinly, better still!

The recipe stated kneading by hand. So I did, entirely uncertain if I was doing it correctly. Plus I should have used a bigger bowl, I ended up pouring everything out while it was still floury and sticky. But it did come together eventually and looked rather nice. Into the fridge it went and as I was running very late in my schedule, it only got just over 30 minutes rest, instead of the planned 60.

I peeled and diced all the vegetables and the meat and again put them all in a too small a bowl and ended up spilling half on the work surface while trying to mix things together. And the meat kept sticking together in clumps, so not uniform at all. I was surprised at the smell from the swede, it reminded me of mooli, but its texture was much denser, drier and harder.

And so, the fridge rest was over, I divided everything into 4 and set to work rolling out the pasty dough. That worked quite nicely, no stickiness to the dough, no shrinking back etc.

I then piled on the allotted amount of filling and as feared, it was a bit too much perhaps. But I pressed together the edges and made a feeble attempt at crimping. Actually I wouldn't call it crimping, I'm not sure what it is and it sort of did the job but it wasn't pretty. I watched the instructional video afterwards, should have done that first, it shows very well how to do crimping.


And of course the oven was playing up again and I struggled to reach the 170 degrees required for the baking. So my pasties had to bake for 15 minutes longer than the recipe says, but they came out lovely. Lundulph ate one whole one, I just about managed a third. They are big.

I'm now waiting for the other two to cool down, so I can cut them and freeze them. Lundulph said that the pasty continued expanding in his tummy and one whole pasty of this size was perhaps a bit too much for a meal.

But it was great, I particularly liked the pastry, it had a very good texture. There was a clear sweetness coming through from the swede. The filling had cooked well, perhaps the meat was still a touch on the chewy side and I was surprised at the amount of flavour there was, given that it was only seasoned with salt and pepper.

I'm keen to experiment next time, perhaps with fresh herbs in the filling and perhaps also try a vegetarian version.

Great British Bake-Off 1

Well, I've been following the Great British Bake-Off in the past few weeks and have taken copious notes and saved recipes to try out. It's a great show and I hope it won't be a one-off.


In fact when I spotted the first episode, I was a bit annoyed I'd not found out about it earlier, I would have signed up for it. However, having seen five of the six episodes, I'm glad I didn't. I'd have failed miserably. Although I bake, I don't really have something that I'd call my signature bake, I always try new things and make changes to old stuff I've done before.

But I've learned a lot and had even more ideas based on what I've seen, so my baking list has just grown immensely.

I had two egg whites left over from the rabbit fricassée I made the other day and thought meringues is just what I should do with them. And bearing in mind that Lundulph has been obsessing about passion fruit for some time, I decided to try out the Mango and Passion Fruit Meringues.

So, I wandered down to the shops to get canned mango, passion fruit and lime and then set to work.

I still have no confidence in making French meringue, but opted for my usual Swiss variant instead and piped small bowls, which I baked for 2 h, as they ended up a bit thicker than I'd intended. For some reason they bled through and had bubbles come out here and there. I suspect I didn't whisk the mixture long enough for the caster sugar to dissolve completely and bubbled through here and there. I made 18 from the mixture and if I make them thinner next time, I'll get even more.

I also put both passion fruits into the fruit purée and it was really tasty. As Lundulph said, mango and passion fruit do complement each other very well. I saved the syrup from the mango, it was very tasty and I think would be great for moisturising cakes.

So, Lundulph and I had two each with our afternoon tea yesterday and two after dinner. It's absolutely yummy! Though again, making the meringues thinner would allow more space for the fruit purée and the overall balance will be better. They were also a bit too big to eat in one bite, so perhaps reduce the size ever so slightly.

18 September 2010

Celeriac Crisps

I deliberately chose the smallest celeriac root in the shop, because I don't really like the taste and didn't want to have too much left over from the rabbit fricassée.

But I still had about two-thirds of it left and just couldn't bring myself to putting it on the compost heap.


And so, while the Friday dinner was cooking, I peeled the remaining root and carefully sliced it as thinly as I could, about 2 mm.

I then laid all the slices out on two thin baking sheets that had been lined with baking paper.

I carefully brushed melted butter on the upper side of each and sprinkled a little salt over them and baked in the oven on about 110 degrees C for over an hour.

The pieces shrank massively, got a golden edge to them and curled up. And also were very much like the posh vegetable crisps they sell in the shops. Of course the celery taste came through with a slight delay, so it's not something Lundulph and I will sit and nibble on, but it would work as decoration on dishes or as part of a variety of vegetable crisps. Lundulph suggested I try beetroot next, I'm leaning towards carrot and parsnip (which Lundulph also doesn't like). I have grown Jerusalem artichokes this year, they might work too, but I won't be able to try them out until the first frost, when they can be harvested. Like parsnips, they develop sweetness then.

Bulgarian Rabbit Fricassée

When I cooked rabbit two years ago, my Mum sent me a whole batch of rabbit recipes from one of her Bulgarian cook books. In the end, I did a slow cooked stew, but when I spotted rabbits in our local butcher's, I decided to go through them again and give one a try.

I'd frozen the rabbit, which I found out is a bad idea, as it makes it go rather dry when cooking. Oh, well.

I read through all the recipes and the most appealing one seemed to be the rabbit fricassée. Almost all the recipes called for the rabbit to be marinated for 24 h and they had provided the marinade recipe for it as well.

I also intended to make sure that no small bones ruined the experience by providing an unnecessary crunch.

I defrosted the rabbit and made the marinade.

Marinade Ingredients
2 l water
0.5 l wine
2.5 dl vinegar
1 large carrot
1 medium sized onion
2 bay leaves
20 pepper corn
2 cloves

Marinade Method
  1. Mix the water, wine and vinegar in a large saucepan.

  2. Peel and wash the carrot and onion, then cut in large chunks and add to the liquid along with the bay leaves, pepper corns and cloves.

  3. Bring to the boil and let simmer with the lid on for 15 - 20 minutes, then cool completely before using.

This marinade is for game generally, not just for rabbit. Also wine and vinegar were not specified, so I chose a red Zinfandel wine. For the vinegar, I thought I'd use a stronger one - malt vinegar, but I only had 2 dl of that, so I topped up with 0.5 dl of sherry vinegar.

It was while the marinade was cooling in the sink that my cooker lid exploded.

The instructions said to pour the marinade over the rabbit, then turn it every couple of hours, but my saucepan was big enough for the rabbit to fit in nicely. So in it went and the whole lot in the fridge to marinade for 24 h or so.

Then yesterday I researched on how to joint a rabbit and found these two videos mostly useful and instructive. Part 1 and part 2.

I also sharpened my big chef's knife and took the rabbit out of the marinade. It had soaked up well and had turned purple. OK, never mind. The marinade itself smelt of Swedish mulled wine. Must have been the cloves.

Watching the first video twice, I proceeded to cutting my purple rabbit into chunks. I think my rabbit had a slightly different anatomy to the one in the video, because I encountered some extra bones here and there, but on the whole, I think I was quite successful.


I then watched the second video and ended up with this:


I know the rabbit is a pretty small animal, but the useful bits are very few. But it came with its liver and kidneys, so I decided to add them to the good bits. The rest of the rabbit was to be used for the stock.

1 marinated jointed rabbit
1 large onion
2 large carrots
1 slice of celeriac, about 100 g
2 bay leaves
20 pepper corns
salt to taste

100 g butter
4 tbsp plain flour
2.5 dl milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp lemon juice
fresh chopped parsley

  1. Dice the edible pieces of the rabbit, place in a cheese cloth and tie into a bundle. Place the bundle and the rest of the rabbit in a large saucepan.

  2. Peel and wash the carrots, onion and celeriac and cut into a few pieces and add to the saucepan.

  3. Add the bay leaves and the pepper corns and cover with water.

  4. Bring to the boil, then season well and simmer for about 1 h. Check occasionally and remove any foam that forms in order to get a clear stock.

  5. Remove the bundle and place its contents into an oven-proof dish and keep warm in the oven.

  6. Strain the stock and discard the rabbit carcass and vegetables.

  7. Melt the butter on medium heat. When it bubbles, add the flour and stir vigorously for a couple of minutes.

  8. Slowly add the milk, while stirring briskly. It'll lump together a the beginning, but as more milk is added it will turn liquid again.

  9. Once all the milk has been added, continue with the stock until you reach a thick gravy consistence.

  10. Cover the sauce and let it bubble slowly for 10 minutes.

  11. Take off the heat and stir in the two egg yolks and the lemon juice, then pour the sauce over the rabbit, sprinkle the parsley and serve.


The recipe recommended that this dish be served with mashed potatoes, so I made Delia's Perfect Mashed Potato, which I've done on many occasions and it has never disappointed.

I had also picked what is probably the last runner beans of the season and I cut them in pieces and steamed, then stirred through with knob of butter at the end.

Given all the effort, this was a bit of a disappointment. The recipe didn't actually specify the amount of water to use, I got almost 2 l stock in the end. It also didn't specify how long to cook for, it just said until it goes soft. Well, it was soft when it was raw and when I checked it after an hour it was quite solid. I wanted to be on the really safe side and gave it another 30 minutes and the meat was very dry, so no more than an hour. And I suspect the freezing contributed a lot to the dryness as well.

The liver and kidneys were very strongly flavoured and I think I'll save them next time and make pate from them, rather than add to the rabbit dish.

I used about 6 dl of the stock for the sauce and it made up way too much for the handful of meat, but the sauce very good and might work with white meat of chicken and turkey, as it had quite a nice aroma. And I have over a litre of stock left, which I will freeze in portions, it is also quite good.

In all, the marinade was good and I'd like to try it on other meat. The sauce would be well worth using elsewhere. I'm glad and proud that I managed to joint the rabbit on my own and I now need to buy a slightly smaller, but much sharper knife than I currently have. And I'll repeat the slow cooked recipe next time, it was so much tastier.

And stay away from runner beans after July. The ones I served last night were so very stringy, it was practically impossible to eat, I ended up splitting them in half and just scraping off the inner-most bits.

Lundulph said the dinner was OK, but it's not one we should repeat. Though perhaps the liver and kidney put him off for the rest of the fricassée. Once you'd eaten a bite from them, the flavour remained in the mouth and it was impossible to taste the actual rabbit.


Well, I've been having evil thoughts about my cooker lately, mainly to do with the fact that it doesn't have a fan in the oven, thus resulting in bread with almost white underside, as not enough heat ends up underneath.

Multi-zone cooking it's called and is probably really good for a roast dinner, where you need to cook several things at different temperatures, but for bread, you want heat both above and under.

And perhaps the cooker picked up bad vibes from this and decided to explode its lid last Thursday. Luckily at the time, I was in the living room, sorting my recipes. That's when I heard a large bang from the kitchen and was almost afraid to go in and see what might have caused it.

But that was just a moment's hesitation. I carefully opened the door to a floor covered with small dark glass pieces and wondered what on earth they were - all glasses I have are clear. Then I noticed that the two bread tins I'd placed on the cooker were sitting at a slightly odd angle and realised that the toughened glass lid was no more. I rushed in and removed them, thinking I might have left a hob on and closed the lid and that would have caused this disaster.

I then spent the better part of the evening cleaning up, while trying not to imagine how shredded I would have been if I'd been in the kitchen at the time of the explosion. Well, the kitchen was in need of a good clean anyway.

I then had a long talk with my parents and my sister on the phone, thus completely forgetting about my two loaves and they almost tried to escape from the tins after over 6 h of proofing, when I'd originally intended to do only 3. This was not detrimental in any way, in fact I might have stumbled upon something good.

I also did some search on the internet about this. I've only had the cooker for barely 4 years. But it seems that this is nothing new. And there are lots of theories about it. The one that appealed to me is the placing very hot or very cold things on the lid, thus weakening the glass and causing it to shatter in a highly dangerous way. I do place frozen things on the lid to defrost. And I do put things that I've taken out of the oven on the lid as well, though not at the same time as the frozen things. And I do close the lid very soon after using the hobs, without letting things cool down first. Still, this shouldn't happen. Why don't they use the same stuff they use on ceramic hobs? That seems to be able to take a bit more beating.

Mainly though, it seems that the glass of the oven lid is the one to explode in such a dangerous fashion. Well, I have a double oven, that makes it 2 more chances of this happening, though on a slightly smaller scale.

I was mostly worried that I'd forgotten to switch off a hob before closing the lid, this terrified me immensely. But as I taped up the metal bar at the back, which held the glass lid to the cooker and had a lot of sharp bits sticking out of it, I noticed that it kept pushing a small metal piece, as the lid opened and closed and I realised that this was the gas cut-out, should one indeed close the lid when hob is on. Puh! Even if I had forgotten it, it wouldn't have continued to burn.

So, now I have a maimed looking cooker and am seriously thinking of replacing it. With one that has a fan in the oven, so I can get a more even temperature when I bake my breads. Sadly there wasn't much available on the market, only one oven in fact.

There were also no cookers that had a metal lid instead of a glass one. It would probably buckle, but that won't fly through my kitchen and pierce me.

I baked my breads at nearly Midnight, when I finally remembered them and they turned out absolutely lovely.

As for the cooker, I'll live with this one for a bit longer, hopefully new models will come out that do the things I need them to do. And are easier to clean.

16 September 2010

Rhubarb Jam Second Batch

Well I'm not sure what I did right this year, but the rhubarbs sprouted new leaves after I picked them earlier this year. Enough for a second batch of jam.

Looking at my entries before, I didn't write down details on what I did, so will do that now.

750 g trimmed rhubarb stalks
800 g jam sugar
8 g pectin (1 sachet)
2 dl water
1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp lemon juice
20 g unsalted butter
2 tbsp punsch

  1. Place the jars in the oven on just over 100 degrees C.

  2. Wash and dice the rhubarb and place in a large saucepan with a thick bottom.

  3. Add the sugar, pectin, water and vanilla essence and stir round, then heat up on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

  4. Boil until the rhubarb is soft and starts disintegrating and the setting point is reached, about 15 - 20 minutes.

  5. Add the lemon juice, butter and punsch and stir in well, then remove from the heat.

  6. Distribute into the hot jars, close the lids tightly and allow to cool.

Of course the punsch can be exchanged for a different liqueur or omitted altogether, like in the first batch. I actually used 0.5 dl and it was a bit over-powering, so I've reduced the amount. It's still very tasty though.

11 September 2010

Rump Steak With Pepper Salsa

It is once again time for Ye Olde Recipe Collection, I did say I'd picked out two cards at the beginning of the week.


This was originally planned for last night, however, due to my DIY-ing, I ran out of time, and so postponed to today.

In addition I had a bit of a baking day today. The main thing I did was the strawberry mousse cake, which will be for Lundulph's birthday celebrations tomorrow. Lundulph agreed that I would do the same cake a second time, in order to get the gelatin amounts right. Fingers crossed that it works, I botched up folding the strawberry purée into the whipped cream and it went all runny, but I definitely used the right amount of gelatin. I think.

Then I decided to make a large batch of bread and once and for all reduce the amount of sourdough in the jar in the fridge. I fed the starter in the evening before and ended up using 500 g of it on a 1:2:3 formula, where the liquid was 500 g water and 500 g Guinness. This was very interesting, as the 1500 g flour was far from enough, I ended up with a thick batter instead of dough, so I ended up adding a further 200 g flour. And this time I went through the process properly with two stretches and folds during the rising and properly shaping the loaves and tucking in to get the surface tension and got a fantastic oven spring. Also, despite using white flour, thanks to the Guinness, the breads ended up looking rather brown, almost like rye bread. They are gifts to the family for tomorrow, so I've no idea what they taste like, I hope it's good.


Then finally I got onto the evening meal. The recipe is from Waitrose again. The card doesn't actually make any recommendations as to how to serve as a complete meal, so after conferring with Lundulph, we settled on potatoes, as being the best carb accompaniment to a steak. Then I spotted some nice looking curly kale in the shop and decided to give it a go. I've had it once before at a dinner at our neighbours a few years back and remember it was nice.

The salsa part seemed a bit on the not enough side, so I decided to double it. I also thought that a plum tomato wouldn't work grilled and de-seeded, so I went for a beef tomato instead.

2 large red peppers
1 large beef tomato
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 hot red chilli
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

2 beef rump steaks
crushed black pepper

new baby potatoes
sliced curly kale

  1. Pre-heat the grill on medium high. Wash the peppers, tomato, oregano and chilli.

  2. Quarter the peppers and remove the seeds. Halve the tomato and remove the woody stalk part.

  3. Grill the peppers skin side up for about 10 minutes, adding the tomato halves skin side up after 3 minutes.

  4. In the mean time, chop the oregano and chilli and mix together with the olive oil and vinegar in bowl.

  5. Steam the potatoes and the curly kale according to instructions on the packet.

  6. Once the peppers and tomato are done, their skin should be blackened. Place in a plastic bag or a saucepan with a lid and let stand for a few minutes. Then peel the skins, de-seed the tomatoes and dice both finely and stir in with the oregano, chilli, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

  7. Sprinkle crushed black pepper on the steaks and fry them to the required doneness, then serve with the potatoes, curly kale and salsa.

Well, the two beef rump steaks I got were good, but one was rather thick and frying them together proved a challenge. Besides I was a bit distracted with the potatoes and curly kale, thus I didn't cook the steaks long enough and didn't turn them quickly enough, thus the thicker steak seemed almost charcoaled on the outside and was way too rare in the middle. I had to fry it for another couple of minutes. The thinner steak was good for me, I like it medium rare or well done, so it was fine, but felt a bit on the grisly side. So if I'm to do this again, I won't go for rump steak, but for something fancier.

The curly kale wasn't as nice as I remember it. What mostly put me off was the texture, it felt a bit like paper. Lundulph seemed to like it though.

The salsa was a really nice surprise, I hadn't made any thoughts about it, but it turned out really well. Of course, grilling peppers isn't quite the same as roasting them in a pepper roaster, in the 10 minutes, they didn't cook through like they do in the pepper roaster, but I think this actually was an advantage for the salsa. The beef tomatoes were quite fleshy and didn't go too mushy under the grill. I generally don't like grilled or fried tomatoes, unless blended, so this worked well.

On the whole a bit fiddlier than expected, but was a nice meal. The salsa was the best, I thought, and I'm glad I made a double amount.

9 September 2010

Caramella Cooks Is 4

Well, what do you know, it's 4 years since I started recording my recipes. In a way it feels a lot longer.


I've also neglected my Ye Olde Recipe Collection project and went through my cards the other day and decided on a couple of recipes that looked easy and quick enough to do. You see, I'm rather busy during the days this week, so quick ad easy is crucial.

The one I did last night was Waitrose's Oriental salmon with salad onions. However this recipe calls for a griddle pan, something I do not possess (yet). The recipe card is for 2 portions, but the salmon fillets in the shop looked so nice, I bought two packs, which amounted to 4 portions and that's what I adjusted to. Well, I tripled the marinade as I always find the given amounts are not enough.

3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 dl grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
4 salmon fillets with skin still on, about 600 g
2 bunches of salad onions
600 g potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sweet paprika

  1. Mix together the soy sauce, ginger and olive oil, then marinade the salmon in it for about 10 minutes. A good way to do this is to put the fillets in a food bag together with the marinade, tie the bag well, then shake around to get the fillets covered.

  2. Clean and trim the salad onions, clean and dice the potatoes, then steam them until completely cooked.

  3. Pre-heat the oven on the slow cook setting, just over 100 degrees C. Heat up a frying pan on medium heat.

  4. When the marinating time is up, fry the salmon with the skins down for a few minutes, then turn around once and fry for another couple of minutes.

  5. Transfer the salmon to an oven safe dish and put in the oven to finish cooking and keep warm.
  6. When the potatoes are done, transfer to an oven safe bowl, drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle paprika and salt and stir around, then also place in the oven to keep warm.

  7. Pour any left over marinade into the frying pan again and add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes just so they start to soften a bit, but not so that they begin to wilt.

  8. Distribute the onions on four plate, place a piece of salmon on top of each, then add the potatoes and serve.

When I fried the salmon, it went opaque very quickly and I panicked a bit thinking that I'd overcooked it and took it out and served it, but it wasn't quite ready in the middle. Thus, finishing it off in the oven would get it cooked through, without burning the surfaces completely.

Despite the simple marinade, the flavour was very good. The original recipe recommended crushed potatoes, I added the paprika and it blended in quite nicely. The salad onions had lost the oniony edge and had developed a sweetness that combined nicely with everything else as well.

Alas, these were the last few of our own homegrown potatoes. I guess the compost that we grew them in, our very own, wasn't strong enough for the hungry plants and we got 3 portions in total. I think I'll buy something stronger for next year, as it's definitely worth growing them.

5 September 2010

Bulgarian Vegetable Stew

I had some errands to do in London the other day and decided to meet up with Lundulph in the evening and go for a meal somewhere. This was not planned and we spontaneously decided on Belgo Centraal. We've been there several times before and it's always been a good experience. Not so this time. Although part of the restaurant seemed to be closed off and the open part was half full and we got to choose our table, it seems that we needed to be got rid off quickly. We got two full minutes to study our menus and place our order.

We decided to skip starters and ordered our mains and our beer. The only info on the various beers was the alcohol content, so we had to take a chance on them.

Five minutes later our food arrives, but no beer in sight. No way they could have cooked the food that quickly. In fact, my food was lukewarm and although I generally don't mind that at home, it's not what I'd expect in a restaurant. Lundulph's dish seemed a bit hotter, it was steaming, but he thought the portion was a bit on the small side.

Anyway, our beers arrived and they were OK. We ate our food and the plates were promptly removed as soon as we finished and we were asked if we wanted dessert. If we'd said no, we would have had our dinner in a total of 25 minutes. Not acceptable! But I wanted some ice cream, last time we went I had what I believe is the best chocolate ice cream I've ever had, wonderfully smooth. So we ordered dessert. The ice cream was good, they called it Dame Noir and was supposed to be dark chocolate ice cream with white chocolate sauce and Chantilly cream. Well, it was mostly dark chocolate ice cream, with perhaps a couple of drops of something white, which I guess is the white chocolate sauce and a blob of whipped cream, not Chantilly. The ice cream was good, but not as silky smooth as the one I remembered. So on the whole, this was a disappointment and we paid and went home.


So a little comfort food would be in place and yesterday I finally cooked a яхния (yahnia) which is Bulgarian for stew, generally in tomato/paprika sauce. There are several recipes in my Bulgarian cook book. After my last visit to the PYO, I had runner beans and courgettes in the fridge and wanted to take out some more of our lovely potatoes, so ended up combining tree of the recipes - the one for potato stew, the one for runner bean stew and the one for courgette stew. And it turned out lovely and comforting, just as I hoped it would.

I also wanted to use some of the chillies on the plant I got from Lundulph's Mum a couple of weeks ago, it's very prolific and I can't keep up with it.

2 medium onions
550 g courgettes
450 g potatoes
350 g runner beans
0.5 dl grapeseed oil
45 g butter
2 tbsp sweet paprika
0.5 dl tomato purée
6 dl boiling water
450 g potatoes
350 g runner beans
3 hot red chillies
1 tbsp corn flour
1 dl water
1.5 dl fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp dried dill
salt to taste

  1. Start by washing, trimming or peeling the onion, potatoes, courgettes and runner beans. If the runner beans are large, try to remove as much of the two stringy veins along each side of the beans.

  2. Dice the onion fairly finely, dice the potatoes and the courgettes into about 1 cm cubes. Cut the runner beans into pieces of about the same size as the other veg.

  3. Heat up the grapeseed oil in a casserole dish on medium heat, then fry the onion for a few minutes until it's soft. Then add the courgettes and keep frying and stirring until they begin to soften as well.

  4. Lower the heat, then add the butter and stir it around to allow the courgettes to pick up the flavour. Sprinkle the paprika and stir in well, the onions will pick up the colouring and go orange brown.

  5. Stir in the tomato purée into 6 dl of boiling hot water, then pour into the saucepan and stir in the potatoes and the runner beans. Chop the chillies and add them as well. Then allow to simmer gently for 20 - 25 minutes, until the potatoes are ready (they'll take the longest). If the stew seems to go dry, add a bit more hot water.

  6. Stir in the corn flour into 1 dl of water. Then add it to the stew, season to taste and add the parsley and dill. Allow to cook for another 5 - 6 minutes to thicken it up.

The stew is supposed to be a quick one, but cleaning and dicing vegetables takes time. Still, well worth the effort I think, though I might increase the paprika next time. The original recipes state either use fresh chopped tomatoes or the tomato purée. I don't like cooking with fresh tomatoes, so went for the purée option.

And the casserole dish I used doesn't have a lid, so the stew lost moisture and I had to add some more water half way through cooking.

The chillies turned out hotter than I thought. I'd used one earlier in a large batch of pizza sauce and it was not really noticeable, so I thought they were on the mild side and bravely put in three with seeds and all and there's quite a kick to it now.

Most of the recipes in my Bulgarian cook book finish with "serve with yoghurt". My Mum disagrees with that and so I've grown up without having yoghurt on everything, though I was considering it for this stew, when I realised how spicy hot it was. I don't think it'll improve the flavour though and would probably make it look unappetizing, so better not.

I had some pork chops in the freezer, so Lundulph had one with the stew, whereas I went for all vegetarian.

This also leads me to wonder if the courgettes and aubergines must be fried before being added to a gyuvetch and maybe that's why I've been failing there.