Saturday, November 11, 2006

Grandma Medicine

I got cold and as soon as my parents heard it they sent me huge amount of of lemons, oranges, grapefruits and tangerines from their garden.

That's because they deeply believe that mixture or lemon and honey can cure anything!

I have to admit that I always first try with "grandma medicine" before I run to antibiotics, pills and similar. And it usually helps just fine!

So it was this time too. Few days of overeating vitamins from this delicious fruits and I'm feel much better now. Maybe aspirin would be faster, but this was testier for sure!

Although I did eat and drink lots of these vitamin bombs I still have too much that I'm afraid that we will not succeeded to eat them before they start to rotten. So within next few days you can expect my posts, recipes, StepBySteps... for lemon cakes, lemon/orange/tangerine curds, candied lemon and orange peels...

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fresh Adriatic Fish - going crazy!

We came to Zagreb few weeks ago and I needed some time to adjust to "Zagreb state of mind" which is quite different from "Split state of mind". I wanted to see so many dear places and people, and then there were so many obligations I had to do... uf! And all that time I was thinking how I should write a post about about Sunday coffee on Gornji grad, visit to Museum of Zagreb, power breakfast, visit to organic food market, my latest culinary creations... but somehow it all stayed in my head since I couldn't stop for one minute, concentrate, and put it all in writing.

I hope I finally got tuned and I promise to catch up with my backlog. Well, I have to since we are going beck to Split very soon and than it will be all crazy again!

Photo - an advertisement for rye bread from year 1936 which we saw in Zagreb Museum.

I wish I was Hercules to do all I need to do these days. I'll make my self one big healthy sandwich with rye bread. Maybe it will help!



Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Going wild!

Well, better wild than crazy!

The thing is that I noticed, reading through my blog, one could easily conclude that we eat only fish.
So, to prove that’s not the case I decided to post about delicious weekend we spent in company with our friend who is a hunter, and his family. And our menu followed the theme.

Our friend brought wild quills he hunted and we deiced to prepare them “ispod peke” – traditional way of preparing food under baking lid (peka = domed lid) covered with hot ashes.

I’m an “omnivore” and I rarely let something ruin my pleasure in eating, or even worst, some prejudice or “moral dilemma” discourages me in enjoying certain food, but I know I could never be the hunter. To prepare those little birds, to hold them in hand and pluck their tender feathers, was really the agony. Maybe it is hypocritical, since, at the end, I did enjoy to eat them, but still, I know I could never kill the animal.

On the other hand, I prefer to eat wild game over the animals raised at farms because you can be sure that in the woods there are no antibiotics, hormones or any other growth promoters that big producers use to feed their animal. Also, it seems to me, there is much more dignity in life and death of the hunted wild game than in life and dead of the animal rose at some industrial farm.

So, the birds were there, they were dead, what else I could do but to eat them! And, I suppose it is better to enjoy it! That at least gives some sense to their sacrifice. I believe, if I were the bird, it would to me!

Luckily, our friend brought the quills already de-gutted so at least we didn’t have to bother with that, but still, in front of us was an awful task of plucking the birds.

Some like to peel entire skin from the bird (by pinching below breast at anus and pulling skin off the entire bird together with feathers), but it is better just to pluck the feathers and to leave the skin because it will keep meat moist during the cooking and at the end it will add more taste thanks to the skin’s special flavor.

Pluck the feathers by pulling sharply towards the tail but be careful not to tear skin. This is so called “dry pluck”. If there are some feather residues, just burn them carefully with fire. You can also “wet pluck” the birds by dunking them in hot water for about a minute and then it will be easier to pluck the feathers without tearing the skin.

After plucking rinse the birds with water and wipe dry. Cut off the feet.
Wrap the quills in bacon and seal it with toothpick.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of the dish with slices of bacon. Slice the onion and spread over the bacon. Place the wrapped quills on the onion and cover them with vegetables (potatoes, carrots…). Add some garlic, bay-leafs. Season with salt and pepper.

While preparing the food, prepare the wood fire

When wood had burn out in red ember, arrange it in ring shape, leaving the clear circle in the centre.
Place the dish with quills in the centre. Cover it with “peka” (baking dish), and put embers over peka. Leave the quills and vegetables to cook in its on juice for about 45 minutes.

The meal was delicious and made me forget all previous dilemmas and torments. The quills and vegetable released lots of liquid, their flavors converged, you could taste quills in vegetable, bacon disappeared leaving just the discrete smell on quill’s crunchy skin, vegetable melted in mouth, meat was firm but tender and the sauce was saturated with smells and tastes of life in wild woods.

Divine Perfection!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Picture of the thousand flavors

This bunch of old, yellow, grassy papers is my parents' cookbook collection.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousands words. Well, I don't know about words, but I know that between these shabby pages, all tastes, smells and senses of my childhood are hidden.

And we are not talking about delicate Proust's Madeleine, but about rich, savory domestic food, prepared in domestic traditional way of our grandparents. It is Mediterranean, it is Balkan, it is Dalmatian. So many flavors… so many different cultures and histories... all hidden in the food.

The backbone of the collection is The Bible of Dalmation cuisine called "Dalmatian cookbook" written by Dika Marjanovic - Radica. The book is the equivalent to "Silver Spoon" in Italian cuisine. It's the book that was usually gifted to newly married, to new cooks, young wifes...

If Dika's book is backbone of my parents cookbook collection, my mother's wonderful, handwritten private collection of recipes is the flash. These recipes are collected for almost forty years and they are mostly named after the source of the recipe, so we have Ana's yellow cake, Nardeli's tart, Margi's fritule, Nada's krostule...

The sources are my mothers friends and her clients from her hairstyle saloon that she runs for more than 35 years. And you know there is some serious "recipe traffic" going on in hairstyle salons.

This summer I'll spend with my parents in their wonderful house in my hometown Split
in Dalmatia (coastal part of Croatia). My plan is to explore their recipe collection and to use Internet and blogging to digitalize it, so that I have them at disposal wherever I go and that I can share it with my friends who all like my parents cooking.

I decided to write this blog in English for several reasons. The first one is my "broken English" that desperately craves for some practice. So, feel free to correct my grammar and wrong spelling.

The second one are some of my "international" friends that I keep neglecting, so this seams as a good way of "keeping in touch".

At last, but not least, since I noticed that there is a small number of cookbooks about Dalamtian, and Croatian cuisine in English and I decided to make my humble contribution to change this regardless my "linguistic limitations".

That it's for my first post!

I'll be back!