Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bulgarian Shopska Salad

Hey! I just returned from a trip to Bulgaria! Bulgaria, you say?
Yes, indeed.
I was working for Indiana's Maple Leaf Farm duck producers as a sort of culinary ambassador. They have just launched a duck farm in Bulgaria and they will be the first American company to produce duck in the E.U.  I had the hard job of doing a cooking demo for a cooking academy in Sophia and doing a cocktail party with my fried and Maple Leaf Farms corporate chef Dale Miller at the American Ambassador's residence.  Such is the grueling life of a chef!
The early part of the week I was in Bulgaria was a culture immersion for sure. We were treated to tours and meals by our host Maria Polimenova, who herself is quite a culinarian! 
On to the food in Bulgaria. It is very fresh and simple. Their produce is excellent! and they everyday salad eaten in Bulgaria in season shows that off. It is called the Shopska Salad.
If you visit, you'll encounter it. There is no real "recipe" so to speak, It is similar to a Greek Country Salad as there is no lettuce. Here is a basic rundown.
serves 2
In a salad bowl add
3 large medium ripe tomatoes, cut in largeish chunks
2 cucumbers, peeled, and cut into generous cubes
1/2 sweet bell pepper, cut into medium dice
1 small sweet onion, shaved thin
good quality olive oil
red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 cup mexican queso blanco or ricotta salata (these are the closest I could find to their "fresh cheese"), grated large or shredded

Dress the veggies olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Top with cheese and a kalmata olive.
That's it. That is how it was presented in every place we ate. And it was always refreshing and delicious. 

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