Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Bread (Sirnica) - The Sequel!

There are many, many obligations in my life now and, sad to say, I don't blog like I used to....we can all thank the doctoral program in educational leadership at Fresno State!  However, there are just some things that MUST go to the top of the going to Stations of the Cross and heading home to make Sirnica.  

Well....I was missing my grandmothers (Grammie and Baba) when I dragged out the family recipe so I decided to toast them both (with that homemade slivovica from Boris poured in to two of Grammie's glasses: one for the Bakas and one for me). I then headed outside to talk to the dog and dress us alike for the occasion (note the bright pink bandanas).  Bissou was not impressed but it lifted my melancholy .

I left him outside to chase the ducks and went to work on my bread.

This year's bread is a bit different.  I "strayed" from the Jerkovič recipe and chose to use my Mom's from the now out of print family cookbook (long painful story about my short lived career as a publisher LOL).  I have separated the steps in the my Mom does.

Next, turn on some Oliver (or go to You Tube and play one of his older pop songs. Oliver is sort of like the Cro version of Sinatra).  Turn it up.  You'll suddenly get the urge to talk with your hands and swear about the underwear of saints (another long story).  Next step, walk over and shut the windows and doors .....cause you don't want any Propuh in the house......

Now...get baking!

Sretan Uskrs!

1/2 c warm water
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
3 packages of fresh yeast (old stuff will kill ya!)
1/2 c flour

1 1/2 cubes of butter
1/2 c regular milk
1 c sugar
6 oz evaporated milk

3 whole eggs (organic is best)
1 egg separated (save whites for brushing tops)
Zest of one orange
Juice of one orange
1/2 lemon zested
1 T anise flavoring
1/2 c sugar
4 oz slivovica (or high quality booze that is lighter colored, like a brandy.  NO vodka or gin. Yuck!  If also used some tangello from my pal Robyn)
2 1/2 c flour (to start....more like 5 c all together)

Take top section and place in a bowl and mix to a batter.  Place batter in a quiet warm spot (you may have to move a sleeping Croatian.....they like those spots for naps. Mom says try the oven (which should be off!)

Move to group two and place them in a sauce pan and mix and warm till butter is melted.  Keep on low and don't boil.

Take all of the final group (#3) BUT the flour and mix them in a very large bowl.  Slowly mix in the sauce pan stuff alternating with sifted flour.  Should be a batter at this point.  Mix in the batter next to the sleeping Croatian guy ...the stuff in the off oven).  Mix well and add flour until it makes a soft dough.  Fold on to a floured surface and kneed for 8 to 10 minutes.  Place dough in greased bowl and let raise for about an hour.

Punch down and shape in to round loaves.  I put mine in cereal bowls or those tin foil baking pans. Let ire to double their size while preheating oven to 350.  Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Note: about 10 minutes before complete, brush with egg whites and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Heaven when toasted.  Dobar tek!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Turkish Coffee (Turska kava) request!

I have been asked a zillion time by my non-Croatian friends how to make my Turkish coffee (Turska kava, aka "that muddy coffee").  Most recently my dear pal and "sista from anotha blista" asked how she could replicate a little Dubrovnik in Poolville, Texas.......... so here it is, complete with an instructional video (in two parts with a bonus "Wojtek's version").

Here's what you need before you start:
  • 1 Turkish coffee pot (I like them small and under 12 oz, available at the middle eastern stores if you are not lucky enough to get it in Croatia)
  • Sugar cubes
  • Dark roasted coffee with a specific "Turkish grind" (I prefer Jubilarna Fine Ground Coffee from Franck available at Minos Imports)
  • Water

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ma' boys and da gumbo!

It isn't every day that we actually get BOTH of our boys over for dinner (typically it's the heavily orchestrated holiday dinner.... Or a drive by).  With that in mind and noting the season, we are having gumbo, jambalaya, sautéed spinach and corn bread. Guess my southern (Croatian) roots are showing .....

1/2 c flour
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c chopped celery
3/4 c chopped yellow peppers
1 T garlic minced (I added double)
2 T hot sauce
1/4 t of both thyme, cayenne pepper and oregano 
1/3 t salt
1/4 t white pepper
3/4 chopped tomatoes 
6 c of chicken stock
1/2 lb chopped chicken
1/2 lb shrimp
1 T file

Add oil and chopped veggies (no tomatoes) and lightly sautée. Add flour and spices then continue stirring until deep golden brown. Do not burn!  

Add broth, tomatoes and meats. Summer for 15 minutes.  Add a little warm broth to a cup and stir in the file to make a paste.  Add paste to gumbo. Simmer for another 30 minutes and pour over cooked rice (mine looks like a rich stew!)


Next up Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nothing says LOVE like Lasagna!

My husband has become quite the cook.  I on the other hand have become a bad blogger thanks to my studies.  I'm sorry all....when the dissertation is done, I promise you an abundance of happy, healthy recipes.  For now, Hubby is the King of the Kitchen.....quite to my surprise.....and to the shock of my whole family.

As most of you know, Hubby likes to hunt (wild game) and, as such, I have been blessed with a full freezer.  He tells me that I am suppose to drain the freezer before summer.....oh good luck!

This weekend he treated me to an amazing marinara sauce that I turned in to lasagna the second night (because we ALL know that the sauce is better on Day Two!):

3 lbs. ground meat (deer from Montana)
4 onions, coarsely chopped
2 bell peppers (red and green), coarsely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
7 splashes of Maggi
Big sprig of rosemary
Bunch of fresh basil
3 small sprigs of oregano
3 or 4 healthy shakes of Slap Yo Mama seasoning
1 tsp or 2 of Vegeta ('cause we all know you can't cook in our house without it)
4 Tbsp olive oil (note this goes up or down depending on the meat....which is very lean!)
4 cans of organic tomato sauce

Put the oil in the pan and saute all the veggies and herbs.  When onions are translucent, add the meat and brown.  When browned, put in crock pot, season the heck out of it and add 4 regular cans of organic tomato sauce.  Cook for 6 hours on low.

Now on to the our house this is a VERY big deal.  My Mom's lasagna is TOPS.  It is the requested items at your birthday dinner and only around for special occasions.  It is LOVE on the plate.  I am really, really lazy so I do not go through all the trouble to boil the noodles, etc. so when Hubby finished the sauce, I found a super easy way to make lasagna.  For the record, my Mom and Dad both loved it and even my Teta Bunny thought it was tasty (she is an excellent cook)....rave reviews all around.

1 package of O'Solo Mio lasagna noodles (ready to use, fresh pasta)
2 8 oz packages of grated cheese (Italian blend is best)
2 to 3 c of my husband's sauce
1 cup fresh spinach leaves

Spray 9 x 13 with Pam.  Put a big spoon of sauce on the bottom.  Layer the noodles then add sauce and cheese.  Repeat and add a tin layer of spinach.  Repeat and top with more cheese.  Bake at 350 about an hour and until the center is warm.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Elk Paprikás

After a bit of a hiatus, I am attempting to start the year off with a journey back to my kitchen. After completing my comprehensive exams last Saturday, I thought "I need a serious mental holiday" restores my sanity (or at least the amount of sanity I am capable of!).

I dusted off a few of my favorite cookbooks and found nothing new enough for my BOLD return so I pulled out my Gundel's Hungarian Cookbook (bought on a trip to Budapest in 2000).  Gundel was one of Hungary's premier chefs whose book was first published in 1934 .....45 editions later, it is in my kitchen!

In all of our wild European adventures, nothing compares to the food in Budapest.  Such flavors and OH-My-GOD the wine and the music were divine!  The stories we could tell (such as taking a huge risk and booking a room in remote, little recommended pension in the center of the old district.....turned out to be a 900 year old castle and the only place to sleep other than the communist-style Hilton!)

Gundel also has a wonderful restaurant in the newer section of town 

Elk Paprikás
7 T lard (I use olive oil since lard grosses me out)
1 onion finely chopped
3 tsp paprika
2 - 2.5 lbs cubed elk (or you can use lamb or beef)
1 medium fresh tomato
1 c finely chopped bell pepper (I used red)
1/4 c flour
1 1/4 c sour cream
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Brown the veggies and set aside. Onions should be slightly brown. Brown the cubed meat.  Combine the two sets in a Dutch oven or in a crock pot and cook on simmer until meat is tender.  In the crock pot, this easy and you can just set it on low for 4 hours or so.  The difference between a Paprikás and a Pörkölt is that a Paprikás is more of a gravy and, as such, when the dish is ready, you must mix the flour and sour cream together and stir in to the cooked meat. 

The cookbook suggests serving with galushka dumplings but rice or boiled potatoes are also nice.  There is some "issue" in Eastern Europe with sour cream served with green salad..... But I'm going with a big green salad!

Always a rebel :-)

Monday, January 6, 2014

How to make White Chocolate Cashew Brittle

This is Stephanie, my (very talented) sister's recipe (from the family cookbook):

1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 T corn syrup
3 T water
1 c. toasted cashews
32 oz. white chocolate

Enjoy (and get a look at the "bed head" LOL)
Thanks Stephanie

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pumpkin decorations?

What to do.... Christmas decorations up but thanksgiving leftovers and decorations are all over the place. Came up with a little fun one: twice baked pumpkins!

While you are making you big batch of stock and putting up your tree, cut the top off your baby pumpkins, scoop out the seeds then bake  for 40 minutes at 350.

When cooled, scrape the pumpkin in to a bowl and add the equal amount of left over mashed potatoes and about 1/4 c of shredded cheese per pumpkin (assuming these are the little one that are about 4 inches high). Mix with a little olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper then stuff the pumpkin shells and bake until warm throughout.