I attended the Bulgarian Cookery class at the public library tonight. An assortment of people from the community showed up to watch Anna make the heart-warming stew. Most people were there to learn more recipes – I went for the samples, to learn about Bulgaria and the recipe (below).

Fresh garden veggies for the stew. Bell pepper, Italian flat leaf parsley and garlic chives.

Unfortunately we didn’t actually learn anything about Bulgaria – I guess I just thought that would be part of it – but we did learn about the traditional stew and watched it being made step-by-step. No pre-cooked beauties flying out of magic ovens here. There were not hot plates but there was an open flame burner, oh the danger! Anna shared a lot of extra things with us as we went along, I thought they were interesting but maybe since I don’t cook everyone else already knows them. I will share those first and then share the recipe for at least one person I know who wants it (missed you tonight Sarah Z!).

Fun facts:

  1. Sea salt doesn’t corrode the arteries the way mined salt does.
  2. When cooking with herbs, choose two or three of your favorites, any more and it’s “chaotic”.
  3. Planting garlic chives will keep bunnies out of your garden but pick off the flowers or they’ll spread like crazy
  4. It’s easier to change your religion than your diet.
  5. Cayenne pepper is sold in thermal heat units – usually 25k – but we’re using 90k
  6. Swallow-tailed butterflies will nest in your Italian flat leaf, so grow extra so you don’t get mad at them
  7. To avoid crying while cutting onions, don’t cut the root off until the end. Cut around it to avoid letting the sulfur dioxide out.
  8. To get rid of the onion and garlic smell on your hands rub them with something steel.

Since I really don’t cook (although I did make my own Ramen for lunch today) this will probably be the only time you ever get a recipe on the blog, so enjoy!

Bulgarian Stew – garnished with parsley, plain yogurt and a slice of baguette.

2 onions
4-6 bell peppers (chopped)
1/2 cup red wine (or prune juice)
1/4 cup prune juice
1/2 cup dry lentils (or one can – I am not sure she was happy I asked how many cans 1/2 cup was)
1/2 cup dry navy beans (or one can)
3 cloves garlic (optional, not traditional)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp paprika
3 cups veggie stock (we learned how to make our own)
fresh thyme, marjoram and basil (finely chopped)
sea salt and pepper to taste

We learned two methods for cooking this stew, which was pretty tasty although I thought it needed a little more salt.

Method 1 – put it all in a crock pot and leave it at low for 4-6 hours.

Method 2 – start with the prune juice, put in the garlic, add the onions and a little salt. Let the onions cook until translucent. Add wine. Add tomato paste. Add cayenne. Add paprika. Add lentils and beans. Add peppers. Add stock. Add a little more salt. Add pepper. Let boil. Add herbs if they’re dry or wait until right before you serve to stir in the fresh ones. Garnish with parsley, yogurt, etc. Enjoy!

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