2/17/2022 - Bulgaria - Country #25

Updated: Apr 18

Bulgaria was a lovely country to visit as I got to go there with my parents - and we didn't even have to leave my apartment! (We didn't have to, but we did, to enjoy a lovely hour-long walk in the dusk as our Bulgarian meal baked).

I instantly knew the moment I saw moussaka on this list of Bulgarian foods (https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=E211US714G0&p=bulgarian+food) that that was the one I would make for Bulgaria. Mom has made moussaka before and it is a crowd-pleaser. It is basically lasagna's cousin. This is the recipe I used Best Greek Moussaka (Eggplant Casserole) | The Mediterranean Dish. I also made pumpkin strudel from this recipe - Tikvenik (Bulgarian Pumpkin Strudel) | Tasty Kitchen: A Happy Recipe Community!.

I assembled both the moussaka and the strudel at the same time - hence, the pictures are in and out of order.

Firstly, I got out all the ingredients.

Next, you're supposed to par-cook your eggplant a bit before it gets put into this casserole or it won't cook fast enough to keep up with the other ingredients. Mom's recipe calls for frying, but we both appreciated that this recipe just had us broiling the eggplant. It saved on steps, ingredients, and calories.

The eggplant was first salted to draw out some of the bitterness. Then it was broiled until brown.

Next, the meat tomato sauce and the bechamel (basic cream sauce) were created. Mom was especially helpful in making sure the bechamel sauce didn't burn ;)

While these sauces were being prepped (meat cooked off with onion, spices and tomato added, let it bubble - and cook off a roux of fat and flour and add dairy and cook until thickened for the bechamel), the strudel was also assembled. Mix pumpkin, sugar, nuts, and spices together. Roll out the thawed phyllo dough, paint with golden melted butter, fill with filling, and roll 'er up.

These logs were curved together to create a circular shape. This strudel baked off while we assembled the moussaka.



Blurry moneyshots!!!

The moussaka was hot and delicious. The bechamel and the tomato meat sauce worked together to combine fat, acid, and meatiness to the eggplant. The eggplant wasn't al dente and it also wasn't mush; it held its shape, but gave way to the gentle bend of a fork. It was comforting and lip-smacking good and tasted good served with wine :)

The strudel was also served with decaf coffee and leftover vanilla ice cream from Belgium. Look! At! The! Flakes!!! Buttery and crispy, it tasted like fall on a plate (which admittedly is weird in Feb., but whatever).

Country stats:

Day made: 2/17/2022, Thursday

Day post made: 3/24/2022, Thursday (happy birthday, Heidi!!!)

Would I make it again? 8.5/10; yes; the strudel needs to be saved for autumn, but this is going to be my go-to moussaka recipe

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