Istrian Cake with Almonds and Curd

Although Istria is most famous for its delicious seafood, fish, olive oil and wine, it has a few dessert gems. This Istrian Cake is one of those gems, made from favorite Istrian ingredients such as almonds, lemons and curd. Moist and super tasty traditional cake that you can try in your own kitchen and get a little bit of taste of Croatia 🙂

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Istrian cake with almonds and curd - Istrian region

In addition to the original recipe, after I finished the cake and chilled it, I smeared it with apricot jam and sprinkled with almond shavings. If you cannot get a hold of fresh curd, ricotta would make a perfect substitute.

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the round baking pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Round baking pan to make your cake look perfectly round 😀
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things; alternatively, you can use cups, in which case…
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Electric mixer for ultimate combining of your ingredients
  • Zester to zest lemon zest (is there a way to use zest in that sentence again?)
  • Lemon squeezer. You could just use your hands to squeeze lemons if you want to get your hands juicy. Or you could use a lemon squeezer to keep your germs and lemon pits out of the cake. And possibly look fancy while doing it.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients

  • 250 g (2 cups) curd
  • 250 g (2¾ cups) ground almonds
  • 200 g (14 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 250 g (1¾ cups) brown sugar
  • 10 g (4 tsp) vanilla sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of four lemons

Preparation

  1. Combine almonds with ⅓ of sugar, flour and lemon zest and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat with electric mixer, butter with remaining sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add egg yolks to butter and sugar mixture.
  4. With spatula in a separate bowl combine curd with lemon juice and honey and mix in to the butter/sugar mixture.
  5. Add almond mixture to curd and butter mixture.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently stir in with spatula into the rest of the mixture.
  7. Pour the batter into the greased round baking pan.
  8. Bake at 150 °C (300 °F) for 40 min or until the crust gets golden.
  9. After the cake cools completely, smear the apricot jam on top and sprinkle with almond shavings if you wish.
Istrian cake with almonds and curd

Serve chilled 😀

What is your favorite almond cake?

Bučnica: Croatian cheese and pumpkin strudel

This tasty and healthy dish is very popular in continental Croatia.
I have always made it with store-bought phyllo dough, but it just doesn’t taste the same as the one made with homemade pulled dough.
I never tried making the dough myself as it seemed very hard and demanding. Until now.

My mother-in-law visited us for Easter.
I succumbed to peer pressure and “gentle encouragement” and decided to give it a try with her mentorship. Bučnica turned out very delicious, and I was so proud 🙂

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Armed with this new experience, I have to practice some more to get a better grip of it 😀
The adventurous ones among you can try the craft of making homemade dough, and you will definitely be rewarded with an authentic taste, provided you don’t mess it up 😛

How this post works

We’ll split it into the part for the adventurous and part for the impatient.

If you are adventurous…

…follow instructions under Homemade pulled dough.

If you’re impatient…

…just use 500 g of store-bought phyllo pastry sheets (12-15 sheets) and skip to filling.

Which will it be? Tan-tan-tan!

Tools you need

  • Baking pan so you can twist your bučnica to perfection 😉
  • Mixing bowls. Perfect thing to make your Bučnica filling in (and the homemade dough if you dare to make it 😉 )
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
  • Measuring cups to, you know, same.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Peeler to peel the pumpkin. Doh.
  • Liquid measure cup helps you measure liquid ingredients easier, like water and oil.
  • Grater because it’s one letter away from being great, and you also need it to grate the pumpkin.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
  • Kitchen towels to cover your dough while it’s resting.

Homemade pulled dough

Ingredients

  • 500 g (3 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 300 ml (1 1/5 cup) of lukewarm water
  • some oil for coating dough

Preparation

This is for the adventurous. Proceed at your own risk. 😉

We won’t be using any machines. This is a manual process, so roll up your sleeves. You’ll use your hands and your senses. This can be an almost meditative experience. Or so I’m told…

  • Put flour, salt, egg and oil into a bowl.
  • Start kneading with your hand and gradually add water.
  • Continue kneading until the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl and the consistency is as soft as an earlobe. Secret tip from my mother-in-law’s book.

It sounds simple. It is simple. It needs feeling.

After you knead the dough, let it rest for half an hour covered with kitchen towel. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

To pull the dough properly, you need a large area, like a dinning table or a kitchen island. Use a clean sheet to pull the dough on.

Pulling the dough is an art in itself. Like kneading, it requires feeling and finesse. Pull it gently with your hands. Be extra careful not to create holes. Sounds simple. Is simple. Requires finesse.

After you pull the dough, sprinkle it with oil and then oil the edges.

Spread the filling like in the photo above.

Roll the dough by lifting the sheet the dough is on and let the dough roll over itself. You might need to help it with your hands if it doesn’t start rolling on its own. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense right now, you’ll know it when you see it. And don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect, it’s not supposed to.

Twist the snake-shaped roll into a greased baking pan to fill it tightly, like in the image below.

Coat with oil and it’s ready for the oven!

Filling

  • 1 small grated pumpkin or zucchini (about 500 g)
  • 500 g (2 cups) cottage cheese or tofu
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 250 g (2 cups) sour cream (soy for vegans)
  • oil or a little melted butter to coat pastry sheets

Bučnica can be salty and sweet, depending on whether you add salt or sugar in your filling. You can use any type of pumpkin you like. For vegetarian variant, instead of cottage cheese, use fresh tofu.

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C (390 °F).
  2. Grate the pumpkin, lightly salt and leave it for 20 min to let the water out. Drain the pumpkin with hands to displace the remaining water.
  3. Drained pumpkin mix with other ingredients. Add sugar or salt, depending on whether you like it sweet or savory (I like the savory one!)

Rolling the store-bought phyllo dough

If you’re the adventurous type, skip this part and follow the steps for the adventurous under Homemade pulled dough above.

  1. Count the sheets. Divide into 3 or 4 equal batches.
  2. Spread one sheet and sprinkle it with melted butter or oil, place another sheet on it, also sprinkle with butter or oil, coat one part with the filling and fold into a roll. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
  3. You will get 3 or 4 rolls, depending on the pastry package size. My grandma used to make two sweet and two savory rolls by dividing the filling and adding sugar in one and salt in another part 🙂
  4. Place the rolls on the baking sheet previously smeared with oil or butter. Coat the rolls with melted butter or oil.

Now that the dough is rolled and resting in the baking sheet

  1. Bake about 30 minutes or until the surface is slightly brown.

If you’d like to make a proper sweet pumpkin strudel, replace the sour cream with the sweet cream, add vanilla sugar, and dust it with powdered sugar when it’s baked.
Serve the savory one hot with plain yogurt.

Have fun with exploring savory and sweet Bučnica 😀

I am really interested in your stories. Let me know how it went for you and did you make the adventurous or impatient variant. Sweet or savory?

Pinca – Croatian Easter bread

Happy Easter! Have a peaceful and blessed Easter Sunday 🙂

Pinca, also called Sirnica, is a traditional Croatian Easter sweet bread.
It is a rich yeast dough, made with a lot of butter (sometimes lard) and eggs, flavored with citrus zest, candied and/or dried fruit, rum or rosewater.
To make the dough into Pinca, you shape it into a round loaf, cut the characteristic cross with kitchen scissors and brush with egg wash before baking.

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In the past, Pinca was the pride of almost every household, each having their own family recipe. It was traditionally kneaded on Easter Eve and baked on Easter morning.
Today, along with French Salad, it still often finds its way to the Easter breakfast table.

Jump to recipe

Pinca - Croatian Easter bread

A while back, when Google+ was still very alive and kicking, we made many great friends there and had tons of fun! We did live cooking hangouts, wrote a book together and much more. One Easter the members of Foodies+ Group, us included, obviously, were making Pinca.
Since Google+ sunset, group moved to Facebook, so come aboard!

My Foodies+ friends, not only made wonderful Croatian Easter Bread, but they became ambassadors of Croatian culinary customs around the world!

You can see photos of all of their pincas at the end of the post!

A HUGE thank you for making that Easter special to:

  • Azlin Bloor, based in UK, but with versatile heritage and cooking experience makes her one of a kind. Check her amazing food collection on her site LinsFood.
  • Mirella Kaloglou shares many food tips on her site Little Cooking Tips. Check her great insight on Greek gastronomy!
  • Balvinder Ubi, my fellow Canadian, has a wonderful gluten free recipes blog Simple Gluten Free Kitchen, Indian style.
  • Rita Dolce, currently living in Spain, but with Middle Eastern background, has many sweet things to share with you on her site Dolce Rita 😉
  • Shana Shameer, Asian cooking expert, shares her knowledge on Asian cuisine on her site Recipes are Simple.
  • Indrani Sen, living in India, a cook, a techy and a traveler, shares her amazing food, tech and travel experience on her site Indrani’s recipes cooking and travel blog.
  • Joy Stewart, living in USA, married into a Peruvian family, shares many interesting South and North American dishes on her site The Joyous Kitchen.
  • Kanak Hagjer blends Indian flavors in her delicious Indian dishes on her site Blending Flavours.

Tools

  • Kitchen scissors to make that final touch, the characteristic cross on the top 😉
  • Pastry brush helps you finalize your Easter Bread by applying the whisked egg on it.
  • Mixing bowls. To combine all the ingredients together, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things; alternatively, you can use cups, in which case…
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
  • Whisk to whisk the eggs.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
  • Parchment paper. Although not really a tool per se, it’s used in preparation of Pincas, so you should be aware of it when preparing to make it.
  • Baking sheet to put all your little breads on.
  • Kitchen towels that you can get in many colors, as dough rises better under the towel, towel keeps the conditions moderate 😀

Ingredients for the dough

Makes 5 small Pincas

  • 750 g (7 cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 sachets (14 g, 1½ tbsp) dry yeast
  • 170 g (14 tbsp or 0.875 cups but good luck measuring that) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar (10 g, 2½ tsp)
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) lard (it can be substituted with butter)
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) warm milk
  • 80 g (2/3 cup) sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 40 ml (3 tbsp) rum
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) mixed candied fruit
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • finely grated zest of ½ lemon

Ingredients for the egg wash

  • 1 whisked egg
  • sugar to taste

Preparation

  1. Soak raisins in rum.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl. Add salt, sugar and vanilla sugar.
  3. Dissolve yeast in warm milk and add to the flour mixture. Add eggs, yolk, sour cream and citrus zest. Then add candied fruit and raisins together with rum. Knead until soft dough forms. Make sure to knead it for about 10 minutes. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  4. Punch the dough and knead it again, adding melted and cooled butter and lard. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until again doubled in size.
  5. Shape the dough into 5 round loafs and place them onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Let them rest for 30 minutes. Using kitchen scissors, cut a cross into the surface of each bun. Brush the surface with whisked egg and let stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. While still hot, brush again with whisked egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Pincas from around the world

What does your Pinca look like?

French Salad

Do not let the title fool you – this fine salad has absolutely nothing to do with France. The secret lies in the fact that the French salad is called Russian salad (salade russe) in France. If you look around in their culinary dictionary under that name, you will find recipes that have approximately the same ingredients as French salad Croatians make. Now let see what the Russians have to say about it…

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For Russians, this salad has – you guessed it – a different name. It’s called “Salad Olivier“, named after the chef who created it in the 1860s. Lucien Olivier was a chef at the renowned restaurant, “Hermitage”, in Moscow. Shortly after Lucien created it, this salad has become the most recognizable restaurant dish. Its recipe was a strictly guarded treasure, and even to this day we do not know how this popular appetizer was really done. What we do know is that it contained veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, pieces of lobster, capers, small cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and soy beans.

At the turn of the 19th/20th century, one of Olivier’s assistant chefs tried to get a hold of the recipe. At one occasion while the chef was gone, Ivan Ivanov, his assistant chef, took some of the dressing and realized what was the secret recipe made of​​. After that, he went to work in the competitive restaurant “Moscow”, where he served a surprisingly similar salad. After that, Ivan has even sold the recipe to some publishers and salad began to gain popularity. The result of its popularization was a change of ingredients – everything that was seasonal or expensive was replaced by more affordable ingredients and little by little, the “French” salad as we know it today came into existence.

This version was obligatory dish at ceremonies in Soviet Russia (especially on New Year’s celebrations) because all required ingredients were available in the middle of winter. In addition to Russia, it is a common guest on tables in Iran (where they add chicken bits) and in Spain and Portugal.

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls to mix the ingredients in 😀
  • Large pot to boil the peas and the carrots in, and a…
  • Small pot to boil the eggs in.
  • Chef’s knife comes in handy for cutting eggs and pickles.
  • Cutting board also comes in handy for cutting the ingredients mentioned above
  • Measuring spoons because it’s meal preparation, and being precise pays dividends.
  • Measuring cup. See previous point.
  • Kitchen scale because cooking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen peas and carrots mix (approx. ½ kg)
  • 400 g (2 cups) mayonnaise
  • 1 small jar of dill pickles (or smaller)
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of sour cream (maybe a bit more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Hard boil eggs.
  2. Separately boil the carrots and peas in salted water. When cooked, strain and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the hard boiled eggs and dill pickles into cubes, preferably of the same size as peas, and mix together in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, mustard, and a tablespoon of mayonnaise.
  5. Mix in with the vegetables and eggs, then add what’s left of the mayonnaise and mix until combined.

If you want a french salad with the twist, you can add couple of boiled potatoes and an apple of your choice (both cut into cubes)!

Chill before serving, preferably over night.

What other dishes with interesting history do you know?

Croatian Christmas Bundt Cake (Božićni Kuglof)

This cake is perfect for any Sunday family dinner. Although usually made during the Holiday season no one is going to complain if they have a bite or two in the off season. The addition of the apple makes this bundt cake a bit better than the others. Unless you’re a weirdo who’s into dry bundt cakes.

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The combination of nuts and dried fruits I use in this recipe works very well to create a balanced flavor and texture. It received five star rating across the board with all the testers who got to sample it.

Croatian Christmas Bundt Cake cross cut so inside and outside of the cake is visible
Inspiration to get your mouth watery

Traditional Croatian recipe (the way grandma used to make it) has raisins (but who really likes raisins? Zvonimir raises hand, alone.) and arancini. Arancini denominates two different foods, one is what you easily find when you Google it, the other one is what I actually mean here. A dried orange peel covered in sugar, traditional Croatian dessert from the coastal region. Why can’t they just pick an original name? Sigh…

As fun as it would be to rant about language and baking history, you’re here to get your hands dusted into sweet, sweet…

Tools you need

  • Bundt cake pan because you’re making a bundt cake and, well, that’s what you make bundt cakes in 🙂
  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the bundt cake pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue!
    Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Peeler to peel the apple
  • Grater because it’s one letter away from being great, and you also need it to grate the apple
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Electric mixer. Mixing is great and all, but doing it by hand can get exhausting. Sometimes you can outsource that work to a family member. Other times you need a bit more power.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients

Servings: 6 people

  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 50 g dried cranberries
  • 50 g thinly sliced almonds
  • 50 g coarsely cut walnuts
  • 1 peeled, grated apple
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 1 package (9 g) vanilla sugar
  • 110 g all purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 50 g cornstarch
  • 1 package (14 g) baking powder
  • 90 g melted unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • powdered sugar for coating
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 °C (340 °F)
  2. Soak dried cranberries in rum until soft
  3. Mix flour and cornstarch with baking flour and spices (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves)
  4. In a separate bowl mix eggs with both sugars until foamy
  5. Into eggs and sugar mixture mix in with spatula
    • Dried cranberries with rum
    • Apple
    • Almonds
    • Walnuts
    • Flower mixture and melted butter at the end
  6. Mix well until compact
  7. Oil or butter bundt pan and dust with flour
  8. Bake for 45 min until golden brown. Pro tip: pick with a toothpick and if nothing sticks, you’re golden.
  9. Leave the cake in the pan until it cools
  10. Take the cake out of the bundt pan and dust it with powdered sugar

Wrapping up

If you’re the adventure type who likes to stray from a beaten path, test it with any other nuts or dried fruit as you desire or have available in your pantry.

Let me know in the comments which combinations worked well for you and share this on social media.

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

Hungarians once ruled Slavonia, eastern continental part of Croatia. They must have had a great taste in food because you can still see their influence in Slavonia’s cuisine. Using liberal amounts of paprika and garlic, the cuisine is spicier than anywhere in Croatia. Also, if you want to make this dish really authentic, shop for a good, heavy cauldron and use open fire. It can make a great camping dish. Be responsible with fire.

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Chicken Paprikash is one of the most prepared stews in Croatia, along with two other spicy stews, Fish Paprikash and Čobanac. You should try them all when you get the chance. But first thing first…

Tools you need

  • Chef’s knife to cut all the vegetables
  • Large pot, about three liters or more to fit all the ingredients
  • Cutting board to, yes, cut things on it 🙂
  • Ladle to scoop the paprikash out of the pot and onto the plate once it’s ready
  • Peeler to peel the carrots
  • Measuring spoons if you’re a perfectionist and don’t want to guesstimate the spices 😉

Ingredients

Servings: 4-6 people

  • 1 kg chicken piece (breasts, back… with bones and skin)
  • 2 large onions, finely minced
  • 3 large red peppers
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons of oil
  • 3 teaspoons sweet ground paprika (red, dry)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon chilli or hot paprika
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 300 ml water or chicken broth
  • Vegeta seasoning to taste (usually from half a teaspoon to a tablespoon or more)
    You’ll find Vegeta seasoning often in Croatian recipes, especially stews and soups. It gives them a distinctive aroma that’s hard to replicate without it. It contains a mix of finely cut dried vegetables and spices. It’s also salty so you may want to put it in and give it a taste before adding salt.

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

There are many variation of this stew in Croatia. In Zagreb area instead of serving it with pasta, people add potatoes or home-made dumplings. But in Slavonia, they make it spicy and serve with noodles.

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot.
  2. Add 2 large onions finely minced and sauté them until they are soft and transparent.
  3. Add chopped red peppers and carrots cut into slices.
  4. Chop the chicken into small pieces. Add chicken pieces and sauté it until the meat is white.
  5. Add wine and sauté it for 5 more minutes.
  6. Spice the stew with sweet and hot paprika, salt and pepper. The spicier, the better!
  7. Add water or chicken broth to cover the chicken.
  8. Cook for 50 minutes or until chicken is soft on low heat.

Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes!
As a salad, we recommend pickled red beet 🙂

Enjoy!

Bazlamača – Croatian Sweet Cornbread

Old fashion, almost forgotten Croatian sweet cornbread was a typical Croatian breakfast over the centuries 🙂

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Croatian Northwest cuisine is based on breads, especially corn breads and all related dishes. This cake makes a great breakfast, which you can compliment with jam or fruit. Yum!

Bazlamača - Croatian Sweet Cornbread

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the baking sheet, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue!
    Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Baking sheets come in different shapes and sizes and it’s good to have a variety available in your kitchen. I used 46 x 33 cm baking sheet which works very nicely with these amounts of ingredients.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Turner spatula like the one in the photo above. You can eat with your hands if you can’t help yourself but it makes plating a lot easier, especially while Bazlamača is still hot
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. Burns hurt and take time to heal. You don’t want to take time off from baking, do you?

Ingredients

Servings: 6-8 people

  • 250 g cottage cheese
  • 75 g sugar
  • 0.5 l of milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 l of sour cream
  • 150 g of corn flour
  • 150 g all purpose flour
  • 20 g baking powder

The traditional Croatian recipe (the way grandma used to make it) has much larger measurements since in the old days families were larger. But that’s another topic entirely 🙂

Preparation

  1. Mix both flours with salt and baking powder.
  2. In another bowl mix cottage cheese well with milk, sour cream, sugar, salt and eggs.
  3. Combine the two mixtures and mix until you get a smooth, medium thick batter.
  4. Grease the baking sheet. Pour the batter in and bake at 180 °C until golden brown.
  5. When the cake is done, allow it to cool slightly and cut as desired. Cake’s surface can additionally be sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Wrapping up

I like topping it off with different jams. Other options are honey, custard, maple syrup…

What do you think this would go well with?

Tell us in the comments bellow.

Beef Stew with Polenta

We planned to make a traditional beef stew. We added some Mediterranean spices and pelati. We got stew Dalmatian way 😀
Anyway, try making this dish by replacing beef with octopus, squid or other seafood and you will get a genuine Dalmatian brudet.

(Zvonimir: Jasmina wanted a stew, I was in a mood for brudet, so we compromised 😀 )

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Beef stew with polenta

Tools you need

Ingredients

  • 600 g of beef chopped in small cubes
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-5 small tomatoes – pelati
  • 1.5 l of water
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp of chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp bread crumbs
  • mixed dry seasoning: thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil and oregano
  • 2 tbsp of sunflower oil

Preparation

Fry chopped onions and garlic on oil.
Add meat, salt, pepper and fry until golden brown, then add parsley and bay leaf with mixed seasoning.

Mix well and add pelati and water. Cook for about 40 minutes to an hour until the meat gets soft and tender.
Finally add a tablespoon of bread crumbs and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Add more spices or salt as desired.
Cook to the boiling point.

Polenta

Ingredients

  • 50 g of corn meal
  • 1 l of water
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Preparation

Boil the water, add salt and oil.
Gently pour the cornmeal into the boiling water, stirring constantly, to avoid creating lumps.
Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning polenta.

Serve the stew with polenta by pouring the stew over the polenta. Lettuce seasoned with vinaigrette makes a great addition to a complete meal.

Enjoy 🙂

Croatian Cabbage and Beans Stew – Prisiljeno zelje s grahom

Sister Stefania Papailiopulos (try reading that fast three times in a row) from Varaždin, Croatia, held this dish worthy to include it in her published book “Our food and our health” way back in 1939.

Stews are excellent for your digestion and are a necessity in your diet.
This stew is tangy, crispy and healthy. Croatians usually use sour cabbage (sauerkraut) for various stews in winter. During the summer, when fresh cabbage is available and sauerkraut is not yet prepared, this stew with a touch of vinegar has that sourly taste of sauerkraut. The original name in literal meaning says “forced” cabbage with beans, because fresh cabbage is forced to taste like it’s sour 😉

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Cabagge Beans Stew

Tools you need

  • Mandolin slicer is a useful tool to have in your kitchen and if you have one you can save time and use it to slice cabbage.
  • Chef’s knife to cut the cabbage and onion
  • Large cooking pot, about three liters or more to fit all the ingredients
  • Cutting board to, yes, cut things on it 🙂
  • Ladle to scoop the cabbage stew out of the pot and onto the plate once it’s ready
  • Measuring spoons if you’re a perfectionist and don’t want to guesstimate the spices 😉

Ingredients

  • half a head of fresh cabbage
  • 250 g of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar, but all are good)
  • salt, pepper, sugar to taste
  • 500 ml of cooked beans (you can use canned)
  • Vegeta seasoning to taste (usually from half a teaspoon to a tablespoon or more)
    You’ll find Vegeta seasoning often in Croatian recipes, especially stews and soups. It gives them a distinctive aroma that’s hard to replicate without it. It contains a mix of finely cut dried vegetables and spices. It’s also salty so you may want to put it in and give it a taste before adding salt.

Preparation

  1. Cut cabbage into stripes, thinner or wider as you prefer.
  2. In a large cooking pot heat up the oil and add finely chopped onion.
  3. When the onion gets transparent add cabbage stripes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Splash vinegar and simmer until the cabbage is cooked. I like it crunchy, but if you prefer it to be softer, cook longer until it’s tender enough.
  5. Dust with flour, fry until the flour gets sticky and at than add tomato paste and sugar.
  6. Stir and add water to cover the cabbage.
  7. Boil for 5 minutes, than put the cooked beans in and cook just long enough to warm them up.
  8. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Wrapping up

Serve with sausages, ribs, or just eat it with bread as a vegetarian treat that it is!
Our suggestion is to try this stew with ground meat fritters.

Which protein would you serve with this stew?

Ground Meat Fritters – Faširanci

I am presenting you the all time favorite meal of all the kids throughout Croatia!

These fritters smell of childhood memories. I loved mine with spinach and mashed potatoes, but they are often served with vegetables stews. My family had them with kale stew most often for some reason.

Croatian moms like this fritters because they can camouflage a bit of veggies inside, but I like them as they are.

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Ground Meat Fritters - Faširanci

Tools you need

Ingredients

  • 450 g of ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of dry bread
  • flour or bread crumbs
  • sunflower oil
  • spices of your choice
  • salt, pepper, parsley
  • Vegeta seasoning to taste (optional, but recommended)

Croatians often use half pork and half beef meat. You can also make them with chicken or turkey meat, but they are going to be much drier.

Preparation

Mix minced meat with beaten egg. Add all other ingredients and knead well with hands. Cover the mixture with cling wrap and leave in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.

For these fritters we use a day or two aged bread that you soak in milk before adding to the mixture. It is very important that you squeeze the bread well to drain all the milk before adding to the mixture.

You can play and add spices that you like (chili powder, sweet paprika), but salt and pepper are required.

Unlike parsley and garlic, which are crushed or very finely chopped, onions previously need to be fried on oil until transparent.

It is important to knead the mixture well with your hands to get all the ingredients combined and to get fritters more compact.

Let the mixture sit for at least half an hour before frying, so that all the ingredients are well imbued.

In a deeper pan warm up the oil.

From the mixture, form balls and flatten them with hands. Size them based on your preferences. I like them thin and palm size.

Bed them in flour and fry in hot oil over low heat on each side until golden brown.

Serve with mashed potatoes, vegetables, various stews or salads. Goes great with Croatian Cabbage and Beans Stew!

Enjoy 🙂