Monday, December 24, 2012

Priganice or Prikle - Croatian donut holes (Week 52)

As promised, I am blogging the priganice from my sister's house on Thursday......but a bit about the recipe and the dreaded family cookbook (photo below.....but don't run out to Barnes and Noble or research it on is now close to being the holy grail of cookbooks.) My regulars have read about the cookbook and the saga of updates and such. Well .....if you know my family, there are at least 3 to 4 recipes for everything. In a prior post sometime back, I discussed priganice (also known as Prikle or Fritulje, etc.) I typically use the recipe in the book that came from my maternal grandmother (who allowed her non-ethnically infused grandchildren to call them things like "do jiggers" (which they also called the hrustule....that recipe coming later). Oh GASP! My Baka's (Baba's) recipe was perfectly wonderful but Stephanie made my Teta Bunny's (aunt Francis) version. Oh Bože moj......yum yum!

Teta Bunny's Priganice

1 envelope dry yeast
1 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees)
3 cups flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 small apples, peeled and diced small ( if they are the really ripe ones from the box sent from our friend Pierre in Canada!)
1/2 raisins (yeah....Kerman or Madera Thompson seedless, please)
Oil to fry
Granulated sugar

In small bowl dissolve the year in 1/4 cup of milk. In a large bowl, mix the flour and the salt. With a wooden spoon, beat one egg in to the flour mixture, one at a time. Mix in the yeast mixture and the remaining milk. Mix just until smooth. Stir in the sugar, apples and the raisins at the end. Dough will be sticky (check it as you make it and remove excess not let it get stiff). Cover and let rise till bubble and about double in size. Meanwhile prepare the oil in the deep fryer. You need about 4 inches in depth. Heat to 375. Dip teaspoons in to oil then grab a spoonful of dough and make a ball (of sorts). Use the second spoon to remove the ball in to the oil. Fry a few at a time. Turn them so that they are evenly deep golden brown. Remove wi a slotted spoon on to paper towels then roll while hot b granulated sugar. Eat while warm.

Do not let them sit around (like over night). Little buggers will be like a golf ball (or so says my Dad). My Dad is the master consumer of priganice. His Dad, my Deda Grandpa Jack, used to make them.....not Grammy. He supposedly made them in to perfectly round balls (no easy task)! Day's family was from the island of Hvar (see post earlier on the Bakalar Festival). As I sit here writing this I am prompted to wish you all "Na dobro vam došao Banji Dan!" ....happy Yule log day! You know how we Croatians are: we celebrate everything.....even a log.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hobotnice - marinated octopus (Week 52)

Let the festivities begin!! We kicked off our holidays at my sister's house with a big batch of priganica (recipe to follow). Basically they are a Croatian version of a donut hole.

Now, since tomorrow is Christmas Eve, I made my annual trek to Central Fish (downtown Fresno.... And ran in to every Catholic friend and relative of my folks.... It's a fish thing!!). My quest was for their cooked octopus. I tried once (with the help of Barica's recipe) to start soley from a raw octopus but the smell was a bit much and my hubby (who is always a good sport when it comes to food) said NO MORE!

So... This leaves us with an option of the cooked octopus - much less smelly.

Here, for your holiday enjoyment, is my easy recipe for hobotnica (marinated octopus). Delightful all by itself (with French bread) or on top of a crisp green salad.

1/2 lb cooked octopus (two arms)
1 medium red onion chopped
1 medium bunch of parsley chopped (about a cup)
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Garlic powder
Sea salt
Cracked pepper

Chop up the octopus - take each arm, cut it in 2 inch sections and split. Take each split and half this then cut in to tiny bite size pieces. Think "salsa" size!

Toss in the onion and the parsley. Drizzle with olive oil (I make a big slow circle around the bowl), then add vinegar to taste. Sprinkle in liberal amounts of garlic, salt and pepper. Put in a sealed container, shake and marinate overnight (at lest 8 hours). Note, you can add chopped tomatoes, garbanzo beans and other things to the mix....I am a purist. Just the hobotnica please.

Really yummy! Each bite is filled with memories (Ante's in San Pedro.... With Ellie trying to force feed me dinner along with her latest match maker efforts, summers in Cavtat at Taverna Domizana....oh my)


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sretan Božić - Christmas Eve Bakalar Event (MY LAST WEEK 52)

Where else but Hvar would you find a festival devoted to a seafood dish that was outlawed in our house years ago by my Dad ("I don't want that &%$# smell stinking up the new drapes!  Cook that %$# outside for God's sake....why do you think your Deda built a kitchen in the tank house!  Even HE knew it smelled bad.....and he was a fisherman!").

Bakalar Festival

Regardless of my Dad and his "decorating tips", Mom LOVES this stuff.  Maybe its the idea of beating up a fish with a wooden mallet (the thing to do after shopping for several hours then enduring midnight mass with sugar-hazed daughters)?  

Teta Bunny (aka my Aunt Francis)  gave Mom a recipe for Mock Bakalar.  It's actually pretty good (but, then again, it has potatoes and we all know how I LOVE my potatoes)

  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (Croatian, where else)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (6-ounce) can oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked (I prefer home packed Tuna from Alex and Nellie!!)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup cream (optional)
  • 3/4 cup Bari extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Additional Bari extra-virgin olive oil for garnish (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped KMK Farms parsley
Cover the potatoes with water and cook in a small saucepan until tender. Drain and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, flaked tuna, garlic, cream and 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
Using a hand-held mixer, beat the tuna/potato/oil combination briefly - until the tuna and potato are mixed together and they are just beginning to break up. The combination should be soft and moist. If it appears to be too dry, add more cream in small increments. With the beaters running, add the remaining olive oil in a steady, slow stream. Continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If desired, drizzle with additional olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cheesy Pierogi Casserole (Week 51)

With all the effort last night on the sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi (and little attention/views), I went ahead and made a casserole out of my favorite (actually anything with cheese and potatoes would be my favorite - duh).  This is not 100% my inspiration since my Mom said she saw something similar on The Chew.

Cheesy Pierogi Casserole
10 potatoes, peeled and boiled.
2 large onions diced
1/2 lb bacon cooked to semi crispy and chopped
2 tbsp Bari EVO (olive oil)
4 tbsp butter
1 cup ricotta cheese
8 oz brick of cream cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp powdered garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
package of no bake lasagna noodles
(optional - 1 cup bigos - the sauerkraut mixture)

Mash the potatoes with the ricotta and cream cheese.   Add butter and stir in mozzarella cheese. Set a side.  Saute onions EVO, toss in the bacon and stir until the onions are golden brown.  Make bechamel sauce with the flour and the milk.  Coat the baking dish with Pam.  Place a splash of sauce on the bottom and cover with noodles.  Spoon potato mixture on top.  Sprinkle onion mixture then top with a splash of sauce. Place another layer of noodles and repeat.  In the middle, I added a layer of sauerkraut....just because.

Finish with a final layer of onion mixture   Pour on remaining sauce and top with a sprinkle of cheese.  Bake covered at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes or until pipping hot all the way through.

PS:  Slowing down on my posts as I am not walking towards week 52.  Yes FIFTY TWO weeks of food, fabulous food.  This has been fun and quite an adventure.  I "may" continue this blog in 2013 so help me spread the word, ask friends to follow the blog so I can get some interaction.  This will keep it lively while I am trying to think of something OTHER than doctoral studies!!

Week 52 will be the "sites and sounds" of our holiday (Christmas - Bozic) cooking.  Warm blessings to all of you out there in cyber land for a happy and healthy 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pierogi stuffed with sauerkraut and mushrooms (Week 51)

I feel inspired....ll actually, I'm not really inspired just have my very first Tuesday in months where I am not sitting upstairs in a mountain of books. Tonight it's pierogi dough.

Last week was bigos, a hunter's stew from Poland with sauerkraut and mushrooms, that happens to be my husbands favorite filing for pierogi. It is also his Mom's speciality.

Go back to last week and make bigos. Then pour yourself a bit of vodka and get started.


1 1/4 lb all porpoise flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs beaten
3 tbsp oil
1 cup of water

Four flour in bowl. Make a mound and pour the eggs, water and oil in the center. Add salt and mix to a pasty dough. Turn dough on to floured board and need. Should be a tender dough.

Roll out to about the thickness of a lasagna noodle and cut in to round circles. Place 2 tbsp of bigos mixture in the center of the circle, fold in half and pinch shut. Repeat until dough and bigos are gone. You can also use won ton wrappers, brush with egg mixture and seal.....but this is cheating (but its MUCH quicker).

I place the pierogi on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze till I am ready. Cook in boiling salted water.

After boiling, drain them and then warm up in bacon grease with little frees bacon bits and onion. Delicious!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bigos (Week 50 to 51)

I write this as "week 50 to 51" because I have to make bigos BEFORE I make pirogi (that is coming).  In the Zupanovich-Lucka households, we have a tradition....on your birthday, you get to request what ever the heck you want to eat (so long as it is home made).  For me, I typically want my Dad's BBQ chicken (over vineyard wood), my Mom's pilaf and one of her cakes or pies.  I tried for years to get Mom's lasagna but this is reserved for Gary (darn you!!  hahaha).  My Dad wants his leg of lamb with mostacholli, Dominik wants Stephanie's tri-tip and my husband (the last of the December birthday dudes  wants pirogi stuffed with cabbage, wild mushroom and sausage.  YIKES!! start with bigos since this is what the stuffing is made from
  • 1/2 ounce dried Polish or porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups of fresh crimini, chopped
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or olive oil (bacon drippings is MUCH better)
  • 2 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 big jars of sauerkraut, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/2 pound smoked Polish sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound cooked fresh Polish sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound leftover boneless meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large can of stewed tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine, preferably Madeira
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Hydrate the mushroom and chop   Place bacon drippings in the pan and heat.  Saute the onions and the mushrooms   Put onion mixture in a large Dutch oven or crock pot and add all of the remaining items.  Cook over medium heat for at least an hour.  I personally like to leave it in the crock pot on medium or high for about 6 hours.  I like it well done!!  Serve with hearty bread, a shot of ice cold's a little slice of Poland.


** reserve 2 cups for your pirogi!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fig and Olive Tapenade (Week 50)

Tick-Tock....two more weeks to go.  Here is a tasty and quick appetizer for your holiday parties that gives you a little "valley flavor".
Fig and Olive Tapenade
1 c. chopped figs
3/4 c. chopped pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. (each) rosemary and thyme
1/2 c. chopped pecans
4  oz log of goat cheese

1/2 c. pitted green olives
1/4 c. pecans whole
1 baguette sliced and toasted

Mix all but the last two together and chill for about an hour.  Place bowl of tapenade in the center of a large plate. Place log of goat cheese near the bowl and slice, pushing the slices slightly apart.  Spoon a little of the tapenade on top.  Surround with toasts and sprinkle olives and pecans over the top to decorate.

I made this Sunday and used two logs.....there was MORE than enough of the tapenade so be generous!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Winding Down......Easy Split Pea Soup (Week 49)

It is nearing the end of my first semester in the doctoral program and I truly appreciate all of my followers (Gawd....that has a bad ring to it....sort of Jim Jones-ish) hanging in while I struggle through the last of my posts for the calendar year.  I feel like the guy in Chariots of Fire.....running in slow motion.

So, dear friends, let me tell you about my Tuesday night dinner......

Monday is my class day.  Thank you Pha (I think) for bringing in the Mexican munchies and Nancy for the really delicious chocolate cake.  Eating in class makes things SO much better.  Even better was the massive appetizer plate of Mexican goodies (lots of fried goodies and cheese!)'s sort of "guilt free" at this point.  I was feeling like I was run over by a freight train that night.....struggling to fight off a head cold.  Amanda (sitting next to me was also sick and shared her zinc drops - thanks - I owe you).  My thought Tuesday morning was to SLEEP and try to get better (rather than to slide down in to the abyss of illness right before a massive paper was due).

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.......

I slept till 8:15 am when the phone started ringing (questions from the dean's office):  I gave up and got coffee and thought I'd work a bit on my big team project (affectionately known as the "Stinking Elementary Case Study").  Text messages started to appear.....a deaf faculty member with a ton of questions about an event on Friday followed by the dean's assistant needing a (don't laugh.....this shows the importance of my job and my role here at Fresno State) Jib-Jab birthday greeting for the Associate Dean!  I am SOOOOOOO needed!

It was now Noon and I still wasn't sleeping nor was I working on my paper.  The a donor called......refusing to do something she had agreed to do (long story) which required me to "negotiate" with a stuffy nose (very effective).

Somewhere about 10ish, I went downstairs and through together Split Pea Soup.....I was in need of COMFORT FOOD in the worst way.  If this didn't work.....I was going to call my Mommy!

Here ya go:

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
  • 1 1/2 pounds left over ham from Thanksgiving (still whole with the bone and the fat - I was lazy)
  • 2 teaspoons dried leaf marjoram
  • 1 1/2 cups green split peas
  • 1 packet of vegetable "flavor booster" (Swanson's I think)
  • lots of sea salt, cracked pepper and a few dashes of hot sauce
  • 8 cups water

  • I literally threw it all in to the crock pot, switched it on high and walked away.....with a heavy sigh!

    I then spent the next 6 hours fighting with this program called EndNote (it does citations) which decided that it wanted to "do its own thing" -- I went through 5 different versions, 7 "shut downs" through the task manager until I heard "Honey...I'm home!"

    I plodded down stairs, shoulders slumped, heaving ragged breathes and flopped on to the bed "It's been one of THOSE days.....I think I need to throw my shoes. (The shoe throwing thing, in our house, is associated with loosing it over academic research and writing). I think dinner is ready."

    It was......WONDERFUL!  Steaming hot, served with warm crusty La Brea sourdough bread.  Everything was now right with the world.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    My Mom's Raisin Pie (Week 48)

    Here's the deal.....this post has no food pictures!  When you make this pie you will totally understand has this nasty way of disappearing   In our house, poor Mom is not allowed to show up at any family gathering without it and we trade all the other left overs for it.  It is AMAZING with a cup of hot coffee first thing in the morning (I am justifying this as a breakfast item since it has version of Raisin Bran).

    I had this printed in the Dubsic-Lucich Family Cookbook (more on this in the next paragraph) but sitting here away from the bookshelf got me a bit lazy so I called source is always best so the recipe is a transcript of our conversation.

    On the family cookbook:  my wonderful sister (and best pal, partner in crime) enlisted the help of her students and some 10+ years ago did a simple, Xerox cookbook of the family favorites.  It was quick and she did an amazing job.  When my Cousin Laura and her crew decided to throw another family reunion, Stephanie and I got the brainy idea that we should update it "professionally" and add family history...Oh My GOD....what the HELL were we thinking.  It was  a nightmare to put together and getting recipes out of my busy family members was like pulling teeth (with no anesthesia )  Funny thing soon as it was produced (and sold AT COST), they wanted to know where "this" or "that" was in the book and why we didn't add "this" or "that" (such as Teta So-n-So recipe for the most obscure cookie in history). It's safe to say that Volume III will be out the summer of "when hell freezes over!"

    For all my blog get the three photos from our book - 1) the authors - above; 2) below my Baba Dubsic-Lucich's wedding picture and 3) my Teta Anna Dubsic-Ivancovich's wedding picture......we paid extra $ per book to add these!!

    My Mom's Raisin Nut Pie

    Me:  "Hey Mom, Can you read my your Raisin Pie Recipe.  I want to blog it"
    Mom:  "Well....I don't know.  Maybe I don't want to let my secrets out <laughing>.
    It came from the Madera Fair and I altered it a bit."
    Me:  "Mom, I don't want their recipe  - I want YOURS"
    Mom: "OK. Here ya go.  I make it in the 10 inch Pyrex pie pan....oh hold on.....let me measure it.  You know, I always wanted them to make it at Marie Calendars."
    Me: "Well... personally they were stupid not selling this pie!"
    Mom: "It's pretty expensive to make...that's probably why!  emmmm...the bottom says....just a second....darn....this has to be 10.  Oh wait, it does say ten. It's bigger than a Marie Calendars!"

    1 c. white corn syrup
    1 c. brown sugar ...."say scant....I make it on the short side."
    1/3 c. melted butter
    1 tsp. vanilla
    "1 cap full of good brandy"
    3 whole large eggs
    1 c. chopped nuts ..."I use over a cup.  Maybe a cup and a half....not fine but medium chop"
    2 c. raisins (sun-dried Thompson) "the original said a cup and a 1/2 but I add more since the pie is bigger and I like less custard'
    1/4 tsp. salt
    Juice of 1/2 of a medium sized lemon
    3 Tbsp. flour
    1 pie uncooked crust

    Using an electric mixer, mix syrup, sugar, salt, butter, juice, brandy and vanilla - beat till creamy   Lightly beat eggs in a separate bowl.  Pour the eggs in to the syrup mixture and beat lightly.  Place raisins in a zip lock bag and add 3 Tbsp. of flour.  Shake and dust with flour.  Pour raisins in to a wire mesh strainer, that "thing" or colander, to remove the excess flour and set aside. Fold raisins in to the custard mixture with spatula by hand.  Pour in to prepared 10 inch uncooked pie shell.

    Evenly sprinkle 1 cup or more of chopped nuts over the custard filling.  Lightly press nuts down and bake at 350 approximately 45 minutes or until center is a slightly soft.

    Mom:  "Do you know what I mean here? The center is a little soft when you touch it....I have made it when it hard all the way across and that was OK.  It should be firm but dead center should be a little soft.  Not squishy like the ones I made for your birthday."
    Me:  "Mom, I would have ate it RAW"
    Mom:  "Don't for get to write in there that you need to serve it in skinny slices.....
    Me:  "and I thought that was so I could have MORE pie to my self after the guests left?"
    Mom: ".....with strong coffee.  Very rich and delicious.  Tell them it's from their Teta Kay Lucich Zupanovich"

    Thanks Mom!!  I love you!!

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Pumpkin Soup (Le Potiron Tout Rond) - One down and one to go (Week 48)

    As always the case in my cooking "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".....

    I started out with the idea to surprise my hubby with a 100% from scratch pumpkin soup (using the wonderful recipe from Julia Child that I found in my "box set" of cookbooks from my son - Dom... I love you!!).  I made this killer turkey broth and really needed to get ride of my Thanksgiving decorations.  Oh well......

    Problem is, I decided to use the bread crumbs in the unmarked bag (instead of the store bought canister).  I was really trying to do the "from scratch" thing properly.  That ziplock bag contained graham cracker crumbs!

    Guess still tasted great!

    1 1/2 breadcrumbs (and if you want to be "funky" use the graham crackers!)
    one large 4 lb or so pumpkin
    1 T. butter
    one onion finely minced
    6 T butter
    1`/2 tsp. salt
    Pinch of pepper
    1 tsp. Dalmatian sage (dried and ground)
    1/2 coarsely grated Swiss cheese
    1/2 c. heavy cream (the original called for solid cream and no broth so take your pick)
    2 c. broth (I used the broth from my smoked turkey)
    1 bay leaf

    Cut the pumpkin like you are going to do a Jack-O-Lantern (cut the top off and remove the seeds and the stringy stuff.  Rub the inside with 1 T. of butter and sprinkle lightly with salt.

    In a saute pan, put the remainder of the butter (6 T.), the onions and brown.  Add the crumbs and the seasonings and cook to a paste.  Add the liquids and stir to blend.  Pour the contents of the saute pan in to the carved out pumpkin.  Add cheese and stir to blend.  Liquid should come up to about a 1/2 inch from the edge of the pumpkin.  Lay the bay leaf on top and cover with the pumpkin lid.

    Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 1 and a 1/2 hours (until the pumpkin is beginning to soften on the outside and the contents begin to bubble.  If browning too much cover with foil.

    To serve, dip a long handle spoon inside and scrape the inside to add to the soup.
    I also like a dash of Tabasco now and then but this time with the graham crackers it was PERFECT!

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    Leesa's Amazing Chess Pie (Week 48)

    After the football game (and the catered brunch) we packed it up for home and a slice of Leesa's amazing Chess Pie!

    I really only intended to take a photo but it's sat there looking so amazing and inviting .......I HAD to finish it. I begged her for the recipe. This is especially for my sister and my pal Anita ......enjoy!

    4 eggs
    1/4 c. lemon juice
    2 c. sugar
    1/4 c. milk
    1 T. flour
    1/4 c. butter
    1 T. cornmeal
    Rind of one lemon (zest)

    Beat eggs until light. Mix sugar, flour and cornmeal then add to eggs. Add juice, milk, rind and melted butter. Pour in to pie shell and bake 10 minutes at 350. Reduce heat to 300 and bake for 45 minutes longer and set.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    What up Doc? (Week 47)

    This is new.....hubby emailed me at work to tell me he's making something "nice" (I did him a big favor today) so when I got home he kicked me out of the kitchen and proceeded to set the table. Hummmmmm..... While I am exhausted and study every week night and part of most weekend (I.e. this is NO fun for a lazy diva like me), there is no flipping way I am going to quit the doctoral program any time soon..... My Ph.d. Hubby has become "the master chef"! What's up with my Doc?

    The interesting dish seen below is called "Jesienny kabaczek" (autumn squash).... Roasted spaghetti squash. Spaghetti removed and mixed with broccoli, young Brussels sprouts, baby potatoes and sliced Polish sausage then baked with cheese. Yummmmmmm

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Autumn Butternut Tart (Week 46)

    We had guest this weekend and I thought.....what better time to try out something totally new on an unsuspecting couple. Thank GOD they were good sports and this little gem is rather tasty.

    I had to run a few errands (such as tracking down a donor who's check needed to be rewritten) otherwise I would have missed (yet again) the farmers market at Kaiser ......and Mike and Sandy Smith. Their organic leeks and Swiss chard made this recipe fabulous.

    3 c. chopped butternut
    1 leek chopped
    1 bunch of Swiss chard
    2 tbsp. Bari olive oil
    1 c. Gruyere cheese, shredded
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    Dash of nutmeg
    Salt and pepper to taste
    3 eggs beaten
    1 pie crust

    Place oil in sauté pan. Add butternut squash, leeks, chard and sauté till lightly brown, tossing gently. Chard should be wilted and leeks slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove any excess water or moisture.

    Prepare tart pan (with removable bottom),grease, line with pastry. Preheat oven to 400.. Bake tart for 15 minutes till dry. Let cool.

    Toss shredded cheese in to the veggies (cooled) and add the eggs and seasoning. Pour vegetable mixture in to tart and bake for 30 minutes or until set. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Central Valley Flavors (Week 46)

    For those of you following along, I have been nagging on and on about the favors of our beautiful, bountiful Central Valley. I am totally and unabashedly proud of the Fresno Bee for their amazing Central Valley Flavors. I am also thrilled to see the colorful and creative recipes from my pals Michael Smith and Robyn Nelson.

    Whoa...... They even picked up my kotonjata recipe :-)

    It's about time we took a celebratory view of our fantastic Food Culture!!!
    Go Fabulous Fresno!!

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Peka or Croatian Dutch Oven cooking (Week 47)

    Getting ready to lock myself in my study  "cave" for the night and I MUST have something tasty.  Tonight Wojtek and I are making pork ribs (sort of "peka" style-- under the bell) and grilled artichokes.  We are doing this together since neither of us are 100% good with the artichokes (Leesa's recipe...thank you!).

    Peka is (from prior posts and seen in the above photos from Croatia) meat cooked "under the bell" or in a dutch oven that is upside down (this is the best non-Croatian way of explaining it).  The cook time takes about 45 minutes for this smaller cut of meat for the two of us so it is just enough time to get on the treadmill (another must if I plan to eat this with all the butter,etc).

    Here is the non-Croatian way to make Croatian Peka....

    Heat your BBQ grill till the gauge reads 350

    Using a large Dutch oven (one with a lid that can be used as a small pan), take the smaller pan and use as the base. Coat liberally with olive oil. Place ribs in the oil, bones up, and season with sea salt, cracked pepper and garlic powder. Throw in one quartered red onion, a couple of Italian peppers and a sprig or two of rosemary. Cover with the big pot on top.

    Place away from the direct heat and turn the gas down (if you are using gas). If you use smoker chips, I think this is a nice option and gives you sort of the old world wood thing..... Cook for about 35 minutes.

    Serve with roasted potatoes!

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Roasted Cauliflower and Blue Cheese (Week 45)

    Will wonders ever cease!  My sweet husband (the man who typically can't boil water) was in the kitchen on Wednesday making dinner (wearing a camo apron that read "Grill Master"...befitting!  He pushed me out of the kitchen, refused any help and said to rest up till dinner.  This can mean a good thing or a bad thing depending.  Tonight was a huge surprise (at least it was for me).  He made grilled chicken breast (marinated in ranch dressing) and roasted cauliflower.  It was amazing and here's his quick and simple recipe:

    • 1 head of cauliflower, with the flowers removed from the core, washed and separated
    • 1 cup baby finger potatoes (yellow and purple - from Costco), chopped in 1 to 2 inch pieces
    • a few tbsp Bari olive oil
    • Cajun seasoning
    • powdered garlic
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cu blue cheese crumbles.

    Take the potatoes and cauliflower and put in a microwave bowl and cook till just tender (about 3 minutes).
    In a grill pan, pour the oil oil and add the potatoes and cauliflower   Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper.  cook till slightly charred (golden brown not black as in burned).  Remove from heat and sprinkle with blue cheese.  He is really, really surprising me!! DE-lightful!!

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Eight More Posts to go.....(Week 44 and counting)

    Oh my...can it be? I am coming to the end of my odyssey and I have only 8 more weeks of posts to go.  Any suggestions on how I should make the end of the trail?  With a 6 units spring semester in my doctoral program and another 6 in the summer, it will be hard to keep the pace.  GOD help me when I loose my wonderful summer vacation and have to give up my Saturdays in the fall (maybe I'll start a blog on Friday night martinis!)  Oh yeah....that's me in the back row, in pink underneath the "E"....yes, I wore a helmet and I swung through the trees on a zip line (not a good look for me, by the way, the only "zipping" I do is through the mall!).

    We'll have to see if there is a "demand" for my snarky posts and odd little recipes   For now, I will ask that you share the blog with your friends and ask them to "follow me".  The more folks in the San Joaquin Valley enjoy the "fresh and local" the healthier and happier we ALL will be.

    While I am on that kick.....get out there and MOVE (you know, healthy eating and active living!!).  Our forefathers and their friends all ate local and did a hard days work.  I am sure my great grandmother didn't have an aggravated carpal tunnel from the 800+ text messages per month logged to my iPhone.  I also don't think she had "computer butt" (something I am battling).

    While you are out and moving ....get in touch with the Community Food Bank!  Did you know that (in 2010) Fresno County ranks top in the nation in food hardship.  This is such a shame given that we are in the "breadbasket" of the world.  Our Community Food Bank reaches over 90,000 individuals weekly to make sure no one in our area goes to bed hungry.  Big shout out to my pal Andy -- Good Job!  Join the FOOD FIGHT October 10 to November 10th to help support holiday meals for the needy in our area.  For more information, contact the  Community Food Bank ASAP at 559-237-3663 x108.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    Kitty LItter Cake - Happy Halloween (Week 44)

    I was going to make something fun for Halloween but it looks like I am going to have to suck it up and be lazy this year.  However, I did tell a few of my pals about this hysterical cake that my sister made and now the recipe is in demand.  Here it is --- the Kitty Litter Cake.  Totally gross but really tasty.  My hope is that Stephanie will weigh in with any extra gross tips.

    1 spice or German chocolate cake mix (personal preference for Duncan Hines)
    • 1 white cake mix (ditto on the preference...with white cake it DOES make a difference)
    • 1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix, prepared
    • 1 large package vanilla sandwich cookies
    • green food coloring
    • 12 small Tootsie Roll candies
    • You'll also need: (note the word "NEW"...eeewww...)
    • 1 new kitty litter pan
    • 1 new kitty litter pan liner
    • 1 new pooper scooper


    • Prepare cake mixes and bake according to directions (any size pans).
    • Prepare pudding mix and chill until ready to assemble.
    • Crumble white sandwich cookies in small batches in food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but about 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup cookie crumbs, add a few drops green food coloring and mix until completely colored.
    • When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble into a large bowl. Toss with half the remaining white cookie crumbs and the chilled pudding. Important: mix in just enough of the pudding to moisten it. You don't want it too soggy. Combine gently.
    • Line a new, clean kitty litter box. Put the cake/pudding/cookie mixture into the litter box.
    • Put 3 unwrapped Tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until soft and pliable. Shape ends so they are no longer blunt, curving slightly. Repeat with 3 more Tootsie rolls bury them in the mixture. Sprinkle the other half of cookie crumbs over top. Scatter the green cookie crumbs lightly on top of everything -- this is supposed to look like the chlorophyll in kitty litter.
    • Heat 3 Tootsie Rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake; sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Spread remaining Tootsie Rolls over the top. For the coup de gras take one Tootsie Roll and heat until pliable, hang it over the side of the kitty litter box, sprinkling it lightly with cookie crumbs. Place the box on a newspaper and sprinkle a few of the cookie crumbs around for a truly disgusting effect!
    See all the "cool" stuff you learn when you follow my blog.....LOL!!  Who knew Tootsie Rolls could double as .....??

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Grilled Standing Rib Roast (Week 44)

    After nearly a month of crazy weekends, I finally tackled my parents for a Sunday afternoon lunch (and mooching a meal off Mom and Dad - yeah!)  My Mom has purchased a really nice standing pork rib roast and made the most amazing lunch -- oh my God wonderful with a side of locally grown and totally fresh grilled veggies.

    Grilled Pork Rib Roast

    • 1 pork rib roast (3 to 4 pounds)
    • Fresh rosemary
    • Garlic cloves (lots)
    • Sea salt and cracked pepper
    • 1/2 c. Olive oil
    • 2 c. fresh curly Italian peppers
    • 2 red onions, chopped
    • 2 c. red potatoes quartered
    • 2 small Japanese eggplants, sliced length wise

    Rise roast and pat dry. Bast entire roast with olive oil and cover the ends of the bones with foil.  Poke holes in the meat and insert rosemary and garlic cloves.  Rub with sea salt and pepper generously.  Preheat grill to medium heat.  Place over indirect heat and cook for 1 1/2 to two  hours or until internal temp is about 150 (do not go to the pork setting at 160 because it will continue to cook after you take it off and it will be BONE dry).  My Mom was having a "cow" saying that it was over cooked (she ALWAYS says this and it is ALWAYS great!).  Cover and let sit for 8 to 10 minutes.

    While the roast is o the grill, take the remaining olive oil and and place in a low sided baking pan.  Heat oven to 350 with the pan in the oven (until the oil just starts to smoke).  Remove from oven and add the last four items above and coat with the hot oil.  Season with salt and pepper and a couple of dashes of garlic powder then return to the oven until veggies are completely browned (about 30 minutes more or less).

    Serve  the pork with the veggies and lots of French bread to mochie the pan juices then head outside with your wine glass and play bocce!

    Živjeli, moji prijatelji!

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms (Week 43)

    Let's start off with "happy talk" - I was at the Vineyard Farmer's Market (now my usual Wednesday stop because I have absolutely NO time during the day nor time on a Saturday thanks to the mountains of work heaped upon me by my professors....wah, wah....I know) and saw these beautiful  full squash blossoms BEGGING for a little love!

    Squash blossoms always remind me of my maternal grandmother (my Baba).  She was a bundle of energy, wit and sarcasm rolled into a pint size 4'11' frame.  She read the Wall Street Journal, instigated political arguments between my aunts, drove like a complete bat outta hell (barely seeing over the dash board), and treasured her plastic Jesus (on the dashboard through 2 or 3 accidents, missing an arm and such).  She passed away at age 93 (I think.... because I never dared ask) shortly after leading me in to her closet and telling me I had to keep an eye on "the girls" so that she wore the dress SHE wanted when she was buried....."and don't forget the slip!  I bought that special for this dress!"

    She taught me about fresh and local food.  She loved to cook and taught me that veggies were actually good when you covered them with liberal amounts of olive oil and garlic.  She had a garden that made the farmers markets look bare and could turn nearly anything in to a colorful, multicourse meal heaped high with love and laughter.  I miss her.  I miss coffee with her.  Oh lord.....I miss her cooking!!!

    Mom's cooking is pretty close (Mom is a stretched out version of my Baba - complete with the stubborn, refuse to get old, drive like a wild woman streak).

    .....ah but those fried squash blossoms......

    Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms
    6 to 8 large squash blossoms (must be FRESH), male blossoms with the ends on

    3 oz goat cheese
    4 oz cream cheese
    4 oz butter
    2 good shakes of Tabasco
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

    1 egg, beaten
    1 cup flour
    1/2 tsp salt of any sort
    1/2 cup chilled water

    Oil for frying

    Wash, drain and pat dry blossoms.  Mix well the cheeses and the butter along with the Tabasco  cilantro and seasonings.  Mix the next four ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.

    Gently open the blossom.  Stuff with a little over a tablespoon the cheese mixture and twist closed.  Refrigerate till ready to fry.  Repeat till blossoms are filled.

    Heat oil.  Dip blossoms in batter, dredge in flour and fry till golden   I kept the stems on since it was easier to drain and remove.  I cut the stems before searing.  Yummmmmmmmm!

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    I got the CURE... Dry Salt Cured Local Black Olives (Week 43)

    I just had to take a break - sick of homework and the fall weather looked wonderful.... So I tooled over to my sister's house to forage. Steph has an olive tree that, for all intents and purposes, is suppose to be "ornamental" (looks good for the photos then leaves squished olives all over her drive way!)

    There are tons if "ornamental" trees around town so why not do something "useful" with these messy landscape goodies!

    Dry Salt Cured Olives

    • Lots of black olives (3 to 4 cups)
    • Clean canning jars (I saved a monster size pickle jar.... Works for me!!)
    • A 48 oz. box of kosher salt

    Place olives in a colander and sort through the ugly ones. Toss out any bruised, speckled, dented, cut or unevenly colored olives. Remove any stems. Sterilize your jars (hot dishwasher does great). Put a layer of salt on the bottom of the jar and add olives, layer and repeat until the jar is filled. Turn jar upside down and shake it a bit so the salt gets all over the olives. Put in a cool dry place and let sit for a 2 to 3 weeks. Turn and shake every couple of days and add more salt. After a month return them to the colander and sort out any icky ones then repeat the salt process again and store. Be sure to sample them at this point.  If ready (not bitter) add warm water to cover, 4 tbsps. good red wine vinegar and add a layer of extra virgin olive oil.  I put mine in the fridge and .......perfect olives.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Bulldog Bites - Guilty Pleasures 101 (Week 42)

    There is something to be said for working on a college campus in this day and age.... Long gone are the cafeteria ladies and the weird over cooked (canned) veggies and plastic trays (I opted for nasty burgers and flat beer at the Bucket-Delta Gamma had cold cuts... Bleh!). My nephew (16 and a student at University High) told me about the Bulldog Bites (the bulldog red roach coach parked on Maple Mall Monday, Wednesday and Friday). He raved about their grill cheese and, being a grilled cheese addict, I had to give it a try!

    Not exactly a Dusty Buns "Le Grilled Cheese" (which is about as close to crack as one can get for a foodie) but sinfully yummy none the less. A perfectly delightful quick fix at only $3 (yes.... $3). It's grilled onions, apple and Swiss cheese on what might be sourdough.... Not sure but yes, yes yummy!!

    OH MY GOD! Could Fresno be actually developing a Food Truck Culture?  
    Be still my beating heart!

    Today I gave their sweet potato fries a try (for $1.75... Why not!). They came with a curry sauce but were a bit soggy - probably from the container which "steamed" them in the walk back to my office. I guess this was God's way of telling me to honor my Dalmatian root and "park it" under a tree and enjoy a few quite moments enjoying fall on campus.  The Hubster recently found my errant petanque set which are now in the trunk of my car......time for a little afternoon diversion!!

    If you're on campus, swing on by and give them a try. They are parked just south if the Satellite Student Union!! Fresh and local....YES but greasy and good hahahah!!

    Sunday, October 7, 2012

    The Cro Joe's special - the Croatian version of a Joe's Special (Week 41)

    My sister and I had a wonderful family dinner on Friday night complete with my civapcici and her kajmak. It was fabulous and, on Sunday morning, armed with leftovers, I made what I am calling the "Cro Joe Special" for breakfast.

    I love a Joe's Special!! the story goes, a customer came in to the Original Joe's (in San Francisco's tenderloin district) and ordered a spinach omelette   It was late so the chef added hamburger and ...a legend was born!  Interesting to note, Ante Rudin, one of the original partners at Joe's, was Croatian.  He came from the island of Prvik Luka at at very young age.....sounds so much like BOTH my grandfathers!!  I'd like to think my funky little dish would make Ante proud!

    I am grateful that my hubby gave me a 2 second warning so I could shape a photo. Standard in my house......It was gone quickly!!

    The Cro Joe's Special

    Place olive oil in skillet. Heat and add potatoes. Sauté then add remaining ingredients. Cook till fully warmed.

    Add eggs and let them set. Spoon on to plate  and serve with toast smeared with kajmak.
    Oh yeah.....the Kajmak.  Kajmak is said to be Serbian but Stephanie and I fell in love with it in Zagreb so for's Croatian.  It is a wonderful spread that goes very well with meats and other items.  Here is my "quick" kajmak recipe".....I am hoping my sister comments on this so she can add her two cents in to this.  My civapcici are better than hers and her kajmak is better than mine!

    1 cup feta
    2 cups cream cheese
    1 stick of butter, softened

    Mix together and blend well.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    A perfect goodbye!!

    Oh Alisa.....what a fabulous swan song!  We will miss you but will follow your tweets :-)

    Roasted Baby Pumpkins (Week 40)

    This months its all about pumpkins.....I love fall and pumpkins are just delightful so stay tuned.  I have a few goodies to share over the next few weeks.

    Thanks to the Fresno Bee, I am reminded to make these wonderful little treats.  Originally, my pal Donna brought these as a first course to one of my pot luck dinner parties and I completely fell in love!  I later made them for thanksgiving dinner and they wee a huge hit.  I can not take 100% of the credit as this recipe came from the Vintage Press in Visalia. 

    Roasted whole baby pumpkin with lemon butter sauce
    6 baby pumpkins
    8 ounces, smoked chicken
    4 ounces, Jarlsberg cheese
    2 tablespoons, hot chile sauce
    1 onion, chopped
    1 tablespoon, butter
    6 ounces, heavy cream
    1 tablespoon, chopped chives
    Freshly ground salt and pepper
    Carefully cut the top off each small pumpkin. Retain. Discard the seeds and season the pumpkin with salt and pepper. Sauté butter and soften onion over medium heat. 
    In a bowl, combine chicken, cheese, cooked onion and chives. Season with salt, pepper and chile sauce.  Stuff pumpkins with chicken mixture and add one ounce of heavy cream per pumpkin.
    Place the top on each pumpkin, cover with foil and roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with one ounce of sauce.

    1 cup white wine
    1 ounce champagne vinegar
    2 ounces heavy cream
    6 ounces unsalted butter
    Juice of one lemon
    1 tablespoon chives
    Freshly ground salt and pepper
    Red and pink peppercorns
    Simmer shallots, wine and vinegar into sauce pan, reducing by half.
    Add heavy cream and reduce, adding butter as needed.
    Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
    Garnish with chives and peppercorns just before serving.
    -- Vintage Press Restaurant, Visalia

    Read more here:

    Read more here:

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    The Magical Mystery Tour (Week 40)

    Good LORD!  Week 40 already?  Hard to believe that I have rounded the corner and I am heading to the finish line.  This has been an amazing fun journey and my very first (successful, sort of) blog.  It's a hoot but I have to say that with the horizon holding far to many case studies and literature reviews, I may be cutting back (or blogging my husband's cooking!)

    Today I am trying something completely new.......I am giving you a photo (taken by one of my followers of a dish that she/he prepared.  Take a look.....

    OK.....the magical mystery tour begins:

    1.  What is it (its name)?
    2.  Which course (or how is it used)?
    3.  Ingredients?
    4.  Preparation?

    Please enter your answers in the comment section and win a "local" prize.  I am judging on creativity and over all enticing yumminess (is that even a word???)

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Spanish Tortilla (Week 39)

    Where did this week go? I know..... To massive amounts of homework and a paper! Yikes!

    Robyn to the rescue! Robyn brought over some beautiful fresh eggs so from this we are making Spanish Tortilla (the last time I had this was at a Spanish restaurant in town.... Boy I miss then!)

    Spanish Tortilla
    1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
    2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut in to 1/4 inch slices (I opted for red with some of the skin on... My favorite)
    1 onion quartered and thinly sliced
    2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    Ground pepper
    1/4 cup machego cheese, shaved
    8 large eggs beaten (need about 10 of the smaller ones, so I made due with a mix)

    In an oven proof skillet,heat Poland add potatoes, onions and salt. When oil bubbles, reduce to medium and continue cooking until potatoes are tense but not brown.

    Using a slotted spoon transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Add eggs (with paprika) and stir gently to mix but do not break the potatoes. Strain oil into glass measuring cup and wipe skillet.

    Using 3 tablespoons of the oil, add to skillet and cook over medium heat. Add the egg and potato mixture, stirring constantly until eggs set but still not messing up the potatoes (2 minutes). Spread mixture over the pan in
    an even layer and cook till firm. Shake occasionally and preheat the broiler.

    Sprinkle with cheese. Broil for about 2 minutes on high till light golden brown.

    Remove from oven, place large plate on top and flip. Here is where I learned the value of 1) a non stick pan and 2) the true weight of my cast iron skillet! Let sit at least 20 minutes at room temp and up to 2 hours before serving.

    Garnish with little rosemary.


    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Central Valley Flavors (Week 38)

    I guess I am really slow on the "uptake" but did you know that the Bee does a custom publication called Central Valley Flavors?  They are celebrate all of our wonderful fresh and local produce.

    So local foodies, send in your recipes, tips and comments by email to no later than October 5th.

    Be sure to put RECIPE in the subject field.  Include your name, phone number and where you buy your ingredients (a special somewhere).  I'm putting the word out to all my fans and followers, as well as my FB and Twitter friends......if you are a local farmer or grower, a local chef or just someone who appreciates all of those local ingredients....SHARE SHARE SHARE!!