SOFFA magazine

19 December 2013

Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it – Hot off the press all the way from Prague!

A wonderful magazine was born from the passion and talent of three gifted women – RADOSTINA BOSEVA, ADÉLA KUDRNOVÁ and LENKA HLAVÁČOVÁ.

SOFFA magazine is a design magazine filled with mesmerizing stories and takes you for a joyful journey to places in Central and Eastern Europe; meets you with intriguing and artistic people, their taste and style; reveals you attractive design ideas for stunning interiors and entice you with mouthwatering dishes and fresh produce and last but not least – shares the love for all beautiful.

I can’t be happier for three of them and I am very proud that one of them is my dear and close friend Radostina.  She is very shy to talk about herself but I commend her as a very gifted and inspiring photograph with lots of feeling streaming from her images.

And I am also so proud to be a part of their first step in this remarkable and promising journey with my featured story about Our Family’s Christmas Baklava the Star of Bethlehem.

Enjoy the delightful pilot issue of SOFFA magazine with their Christmassy ideas and warm wishes for a Happy New Year – head over here!

Till my next post!
My very best wishes,

© 2013 - sophia terra~ziva.  all rights reserved


18 December 2013

Christmas in our home was exciting time with endless fuss in the kitchen and with some staple dishes on the menu:  Stuffed Turkey with herbs, turkey giblets and wild mushrooms risotto on a “bed” of sauerkraut seasoned with smoked paprika; Russian Salad; Fortune Banitza - filo with Bulgarian brined sheep cheese with fortune wishes inside, and of course our own baklava “The Star of Bethlehem”.

The baklava was a special family thing that we prepared with a great pride as it was cut in a unique way that resembles a star and we, the children, were eager to name it after the star on Christmas that marked the birth of baby Jesus.  Dad would take the big trays with the turkey and the baklava and slide them with the snow sled to the Old Bakery around the corner.  Those were the days that by Christmas the snow would pile up to our chest, and the Old Bakery was still working.  Their ovens were wood fired and they were baking the big dishes for the local households.  We use to leave there our baklava for baking, because it is an art to have it properly done on very "slow fire", which would not be always the case in our kitchen's oven...  As far my Mum can recall, the recipe and the tradition of cutting was passed down by her great grand-uncle who was an adventurer, travelled a lot around the world and in his older days settled down and opened an inn.

As much as this delightful dish is famous, there is no secret ingredient.  However, if there was something special to look for, that were the few little tips that we would whisper from generation to generation about the care a baklava should be prepared with – use clarified unsalted butter, bake slowly, poor hot syrup on cold baked pastries and just like in the fairytales it takes three days and three nights to be made.  And here is the "road" to get to this delightful Christmas treat:
1 kg of filo pastry
500 gr of unsalted butter (clarified)
500 gr walnuts crushed
1 cup of sugar
Grated skin of one lemon
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1 litre of water
1 kg sugar
1 whole sliced in half lemon
1 whole sliced in half orange (optional)
Divide the pastries into three portions.  Divide the walnut filling into two portions.  Spread gently one portion of the filo on a big round tray and cover with the mixture of nuts.  Continue with the next portion of filo pastries.  Repeat with the filling of walnuts.  Cover with the last portion of filo pastries.  Cut thoroughly into small diamond shapes using a very sharp knife.
Clarify the butter and pour it while still hot onto the cut pastry making sure that the butter goes between each cuts.  Put in an oven and turn it on 125 degrees Celsius.  It will take about three hours to be ready.  Check occasionally and look for the distinctive golden colour.  Let the baked baklava rest overnight and cool down well.  The next day prepare the syrup by mixing all the ingredients and cooking on low temperature until it looks glossy and thicker (that will take about half an hour) and pour it hot over the cold baklava.  Let it rest another day and then refrigerate.

This enjoyable flaky syrupy desert is perfect to serve with your home-made liqueur or a nice coffee.
Let the Star of Bethlehem watch over you and keep you safe and prosperous in the coming New Year!!!

Till my next post!
My very best wishes,

© 2013 - sophia terra~ziva.  all rights reserved


1 December 2013

Christmas is around the corner and we already have started to gather for lots of family celebrations.
Here is one very traditional pastry dish we prepare for Christmas Eve feast.  I need to be clearer – we make this dish almost on weekly basis but the special thing is that for Christmas Eve we add special wishes and the buds from a tree that starts to blossom during winter time and it is known as Dog’s Tree.  It represents strength, resilience and good health.  Since Christmas in Australia is summery season, I replaced the buds with the ones from my Apricot tree in our backyard.  We always try to put a wish worthy and thoughtful (no Porsche, Paspaley pearls and bubble ice cream included!).  The list goes – “WISDOM”, “FAMILY”, “HEALTH”, “WEALTH”, “LOVE”, “WORK”, “LUCK”, “HAPPINESS”...
This pastry dish can be seen in many shapes and cuts around Bulgaria but the one that stays with the strongest meaning and blessing is the Fortune Banitza twisted in coil.  The spiral shape symbolises the Circle of Life, the endless journey for inner peace, love and success.  And most of all, my children love the crunchy and beautiful texture we get, when Banitza is swirled around.  When ready to eat, we always cut and keep one piece of this dish for "Grandpa" God.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and start rolling these pastries!
You need:
1 packet of good quality filo pastries
2 egg yolks
500 gr Bulgarian brined sheep cheese
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Remove the cheese from the brine and soak it overnight in plain water to remove some of the saltiness and to allow mellower taste.
Keep the filo pastry wrapped in damp kitchen towel to protect them for drying.
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
In a big bowl mix roughly the cheese and the eggs without overbeating and let it have a lumpy texture.
Spread one sheet of filo pastry, brush over olive oil with fast strokes. Place over second sheet and repeat.  Cover with the third sheet and spread at the longer side of the pastry some of the feeling.  Place in one of the fortune wishes.  Working fast, roll gently the pastry into a tube and start twisting it into a coil.  Leave the end of it slightly undone, so it can be easily connected with the next roll of pastry.  Continue with the next roll as you allow some of the pastry undone so it can be connected and twisted into the previous and to continue the smoothness of the coil.  At the end brush with olive oil.
Place in the oven and bake until golden.

Now it’s time to see what fortune we’ve got!  What's yours?  I've picked again the “kitchen chores”...

Till my next post!
My very best wishes,

© 2013 - sophia terra~ziva.  all rights reserved

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