Friday, June 29, 2012

Hijacked Kitchen (Week 26)

I am one of those girls who actually LIKES my Mother in Law! She is far, far from a Monster in Law and spoils me completely rotten (and we do the same for her). She lives in Poland and is a marvelous cook BUT this is making it difficult to blog...... My use of the kitchen has been hijacked!

The story goes that we have two kitchens: one for show and the other is her little hide away. Since guests enter the house from the back, you walk past her kitchen and boy, oh boy..... She doesn't like a mess to be in view hence she uses a 6x4 room that once was the downstairs powder room. No joke. It's got a sink, prep area and an range/oven. The microwave is in the perpetually clean kitchen. Out of this little box comes the most amazing soups and other goodies ..... Including the mushroom stuffed chicken and croquettes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Changing Latitudes And Attitudes (Week 26)

In just 2 hours of flight, we went from sunshine, 90+ degrees (and 40% humidity) to overcast and 49 degrees. It's a change but I remain resolute to stay true to the "fresh and local" plan. Last week we drove through the fertile Nevretka valley (Croatia) and today foraged for gooseberries and red currants in the Masovian valley (Poland)..... Changes in latitudes and changes in attitudes..... As well attire (shorts to jeans and a sweatshirt which must certainly make you central valley folks green with envy)!

Arugula with Red Currant Vinaigrette
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped shallots
1 Tbsp wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (hand made from my uncle on the island of Hvar)
1/2 c. red currants
5 c. arugula

Whisk together shallots, mustard, and vinegar. Drizzle in oil. Toss arugula with dressing and plate. Top with red currants.

Kava na jutro (Week 25)

There is something insanely delicious about a relaxed cup of coffee in the morning. Even more so is a cup of Franck coffee from a "Turkish" coffee pot! It's just 8:30 (early by vacation standards) and I am enjoying the morning with a cup of this fabulous coffee and a Sensa (Croatian magazine). The subtitle on the magazine says it all "magazin za sretniji život."

Friday, June 22, 2012

What is it about Croatian pizza?

Sitting here listening to Croatian rap ... Something inherently with this, by the way..... Eating a big fat pizza with ham, salami, mushroom and olive with a draft Karlovačko pivo. What it about pizza that makes us feel like a high schooler? Nothing gourmet just simple pizza with an outstanding homemade crust (crunchy with a hint of sour dough). What could be better? Oh yes, waiting for the soccer game (England vs Spain) to begin. What is it about pizza anyway that comforts us an makes us feel so "right at home"?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"What about Fred......"

So, what about Fred....

Fred (aka the pesky little cat who actually belongs to our Cavtat neighbor) conveniently only shows up when you sit at the patio table (which is our dining room table). He mooch from the table and if you choose to ignore him, he attacks what ever is dangling or laying beneath the table. This is also why he has "other" so nice.

In the last 5 minutes of my peace and quiet, that damn cat has chomped down on my big toe twice, took a full on clawed swipe at my shin and chewed on my sisters hand as it straightened the table cloth.

Being seafood is king around here, cats are everywhere! I am not sure if they are feral or if the locals have just chosen to let the tourists feed the cats in lieu of buying Frisky's or the Cro version (Frisković's). Regardless, Fred is our new meal companion.

Maybe he needs a little kava to relax.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Croatian Farm Fresh (Week 25)

Well.... It's been an adventure.

Our little kitchenette is a combo two burner stove with a mini fridge beneath. Our plan has been to do the restaurant thing every other night and eat in (on our picture perfect balcony) every other night. So far so good!

Our landlord has an amazing garden bs and we are flush with fresh veggies and herbs. Fruit is available at the local farmers market (just opposite the liquor store.... Where we go for our daily liter of local vino. Ivo (husband/landlord) makes his own wine but if I plan to function the next day, I try to stay away from his stuff. His wife, Katica, has an amazing stash of home-made spirits: an herb variety, one from Chinese dates and a new one from sour cherries. We needed a weight for my nephew's fishing gear so a trip upstairs to Katica netted us a couple of shots before breakfast. For an American, this is a bit much but in our culture, this is considered "tonic"!

On to food....last night Stephanie made an amazing dinner of gnocchi, chicken kabobs with a Caprise salad (photos forthcoming).

During our trip in town (Dubrovnik, we are 20 minutes south by water taxi), we walked the old walls. We were amazed by the little but lush gardens that grown in the narrow alleyways around
town. Each more colorful than the next. Fresh and local is a way of life around here!! We also enjoyed a fabulous lunch in Dubrovnik of grilled fish and a shrimp risotto.


Ok California: What are you eating??

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grilled Squid (lignje na zaru) overlooking the Adriatic (Week 24)

Always my very first meal when I arrive in Croatia.... Grilled squid with a side of Swiss chard and baby potatoes. This is my absolute favorite which must be "washed down" with a healthy amount if "stolno vino" (table wine), best is Dingac (nice red from same area as the DNA for Zinfandel). I apologize for a crummy photo but after 27 hours travel and the barely tolerable airplane food (worst being German airline food!)..... I didn't "stage" this dish. My nephew has ćivapćici with kajmak.....and just look at that view!! Yes they were tasty (see prior post for recipe). Kajmak is a spread with a mixture of butter, salt and a cream cheese (I use feta at home).

Dobar tek!! Good appetite.

So.... What are YOU eating in California?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Calling all foodies.... Fresh, Local and Hitting the Road (Week 24)

As I sat on the living room couch eating a stir fry of local veggies (in an attempt to clean the fridge), I say good bye (for about a month) to my beautiful, bountiful San Joaquin Valley! Adios peaches and nectarines. So long sweet corn, Swiss chard and vine ripe early girls! I'm off on an adventure and I am taking my followers along. I promise to cook (when I can in my tiny little kitchenette) and savor as much of the local tastes possible. Hopefully my wifi will cooperate!!

What I ask of my foodie friends is to follow the blog so that you can keep me (and the readers) posted on what you are cooking in your neighborhood ....share please.

Farewell.....Fresno Fresh!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup)

I really had to reprint this from BS in The Kitchen.  Delightful recipe with outstanding presentation and honor of Julia Child's 100th Birthday!
Cold Leek and Potato Soup (Vichyssoise)
  • 6 cups of chicken stock (or veggie if you want to make it a veggie dish)
  • 3 cups of sliced leeks
  • 3 cups of diced potatoes
  • salt to taste (roughly 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 cup of 2% milk (you can also use whipping cream for a richer dish)
  • salt & white pepper to taste
  • Minced chives to decorate
In a large stock pot simmer together the chicken stock, leeks, potatoes and salt for roughly 40-60 minutes until the potatoes and leek become tender. Puree the soup with a blender, food processor or immersion blender.
Stir in your milk. Season to taste. You can also over salt slightly because the salt will loose its punch once the soup has chilled.
Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with minced chives to enjoy this light summer soup.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Palacinka (Crepes) Filled with Meyers Lemon Curd and topped with fresh peaches (Week 23)

    Croatian Palacinka (crepes) 
    1 cup white flour
    1tbsp Granulated Sugar
    1/4 tsp Salt
    2 Eggs, fresh
    1 1/2 cups Milk, 1%
    1 shot of Croatian plum brandy

Mix all ingredients in to a thin batter.  Spray a nonstick pan with a bit of Pam or other spray oil.  Put a ladle full in the pan and swirl around till coated.  When top is dry, loosen the edge and lightly flip over.  Do not deeply brown both sides, it will create a touch and brittle crepe.  Flip it out on to wax paper.  Fill with lemon curd (see prior post) and top with sliced peaches.

This was the Sunday morning request from my husband.....his favorite!

Apricot Baklava Strudel (Week 23)

Thanks you Sunset Magazine for showing up at the same time as a big bag of fresh Honey Rich apricots. With a but of my Dad's almonds and some of their honey we have a perfect Sunday treat for our early Father's Day celebration.

On our menu (because my Dad and my Hubby get their favorites) are my peach salsa with homemade chips, lamb and beef kabobs, pasta with my Mom's knock out red sauce, hobotnice on field greens and grilled asparagus.... and the Apricot Baklava Strudel!

Apricot Baklava Strudel

  • 1/3 c. honey (from my Dad's almond bees)
  • 1/2 c. sugar divided in two parts
  • 12 oz ripe apricots, quartered
  • 1/2 c. each raw almonds and pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon
  • 10 sheets of filo dough (12x17 inches
  • 1/2 c. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375.  Bring honey and 1/4 c. sugar to a simmer in a sauce pan.  Stir to blend.  Remove from heat and add to apricots, then set aside.  Whirl nuts with cardamon and 1/4 c. sugar in a food processor till mostly ground. n Set aside 2 Tbsp. of this for topping.

Lay a piece of parchment paper on the work surface.  Working with 1 sheet at a time, set o the paper, brush with butter, sprinkle a scant amount of nuts and repeat, stacking the filo and pressing down to seal.

After 10 sheets are down, spoon the apricot mixture along the long side and roll up.  Arrange roll on the diagonal on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment.  Brush with honey mixture and sprinkle with remaining nut mixture.

Bake until golden brown and juices are bubbling.  About 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool completely before slicing.