Breakfast Kifle

Kifle (sing. kifla) are one of the most popular Bosnian breakfast breads. In the US kifle are known as a Christmas pastry filled with walnuts, but in Bosnia, kifle are actually any type of bread or pastry made in a shape of a crescent and today I wanted to introduce the most loved and known kind.

Kifle

Every Bosnian bakery or a grocery store sells kifle. They are always fresh, airy and super delicious. They are usually served at breakfast with variety of spreads such as butter, paté, cream cheese, jam, honey, nutella, etc. Sometimes we slice them length-wise and make sandwiches or they can be served instead of bread at a lunch or dinner table.

They are made out of most simple ingredients, found in every pantry and can easily be prepared at home. I usually make them for a weekend breakfast when everyone is home and can take time to enjoy them.

BREAKFAST KIFLE

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 650-700 g (about 5 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 300 ml (1 + 1/4 cup) warm water
  • 200 ml (about 1 cup) warm milk
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) oil

+

  • 1 egg white (lightly beaten)
  • Salt for sprinkling
  • Butter (melted) for brushing

How to prepare:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer bowl and start mixing slowly
  2. Combine water, milk and oil and while mixer is on slow, start adding liquid to the bowl with dry ingredients.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 3-4 minutes
  4. Now let it rest for about 5 minutes and then mix again 3-4 minutes. Kifle dough is supposed to be medium firm. If it’s too soft, add more flour.
  5. Dust your working surface with flour, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it by hand 10-20 times. Place it back into the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise until double in volume (about 1 hour).
  6. Kifle preparation 1Divide the dough in two. Roll each piece into a 45 cm (18 inch) circle. With a pizza cutter, cut each circle once vertically, once horizontally and twice diagonally to get 8 triangles.
  7. Kifle preparation 2To form a kifla, first fold in both corners at a short side of the triangle. Now pressing down roll the bread until the end tip. You can also shape it to look like a crescent. Place it onto a greased baking sheet with the end tip facing down. Repeat will all remaining triangles.

Kifle preparation 3

8. Cover them and let rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
9. Heat your oven to 400 F (200 C).
10. Lightly beat an egg white and brush over bread.
11. Sprinkle each kifla with salt.

Kifle preparation 4

12. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
13. Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and cover for 10 minutes.

?????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????

Kifle

?????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????

Enjoy! 🙂

Beef Stew with Rutabaga

This is a stew the way my grandma made it; very simple, no fancy ingredients here. It just takes time and Love to make it perfect. My grandma usually made the stew with potatoes and sometimes also with rutabaga which is in my language called “repa”. She would also shred rutabaga and pickle it, or just peel it, cut into thin slices and give it to grandchildren to eat it fresh because it’s healthy.

You will notice this not being a conventional way of preparing a stew (no meat searing); still it works wonderfully and the end result is an amazing combination of tender beef, delicious vegetable and hearty soup.

Beef stew with rutabaga

Beef Stew with Rutabaga

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP cooking oil (I use sunflower)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium carrot (chopped)
  • 1 medium parsnip (chopped)
  • 2 lb (1 kg) stew beef (cut into large cubes)
  • 1 tsp Vegeta spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups (1 l) water (+ a few cups more while cooking)
  • 1 lb (500 g) rutabaga (peeled and cubed)
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

Preparation:

  1. In a heavy bottom cooking pot sauté onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Place cubed beef on the vegetable bed and let it brown well on all sides.
  3. Slightly cover pan and keep sautéing beef and vegetables together for 20-30 minutes. Beef will release juices, so just let everything slowly simmer until all liquid evaporates.
  4. Soon you will hear a frying sound. Make sure you stir well so beef or vegetables don’t burn.
  5. Now is the time to add spices: vegeta, salt, paprika and pepper. Stir once again and make sure meat is well coated with spices.
  6. Add water, bring it to boil and then turn down to medium cover and let is simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours. Some of the water will evaporate, so make sure to check the pot every 20-30 minutes to see if you need to add any water. Meat needs to be covered with water at all times while simmering.
  7. The last 45 minutes of cooking add peeled and cubed rutabaga; adjust spices if needed. Serve warm , garnished with fresh parsley.

Beef stew preparation

Beef stew preparation 2

Beef stew preparation 3

SONY DSC

Beef stew with rutabaga

 

SONY DSC

Tarhana Soup {Sour Dough Soup}

Tarhana soup is a well loved soup in my native Bosnia, as well as in some other countries such as Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Egypt, etc. The noodles are made from sour dough and give a soup that specific taste and tomato sauce just enhances its flavor. So, if you like your sourdough bread, I am sure you will like Tarhana as well.

My maternal Grandmother used to make the noodles from scratch. I am not quite sure of how the whole process works, but I can tell you what I remember from my childhood.

The dough is made with flour, water, salt, possibly yeast (some say yogurt too, or with tomato sauce) and it’s left to ferment for 3-4 days (or more). More flour is added to the mixture each day. When the dough is ready, it is divided into hand-size patties which are then left to dry (best in the airy and sunny spot). After they’re dry they are shredded or coarsely grounded into noodles and stored in plastic containers or jars.

I buy my noodles at the store with Bosnian, Balkan or Middle Eastern products. Tarhana soup can be made in several different ways and with various ingredients. This is my family recipe.

Tarhana soup, trahana

Tarhana Soup {Sour Dough Soup}

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP cooking oil
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 of a medium green bell pepper
  • 1 celery stalk (optional)
  • 1 small zucchini (optional)
  • 3/4 lb (about 350 g) ground beef
  • 1 tsp “Vegeta” spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • A pinch of ground white pepper
  • 15 oz (425 g) can tomato sauce
  • 5 cups (1 liter + 200 ml) water
  • 1 cup (about 200 g) tarhana noodles
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sour cream (optional)

*** All vegetables finely chopped

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oil in a cooking pot and add all finely chopped vegetables. Sauté for 5 minutes then add ground beef.
  2. Sauté ground beef and veggies for another 5-10 minutes, then add spices, tomato sauce and water.
  3. Bring it to boil and add tarhana noodles. Stir well. Let the soup simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally as the noodles tend to stick to the bottom.
  4. Noodles will thicken the soup. If it’s too thick for your taste, you can always add a little water.
  5. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or a tablespoon of sour cream
  6. ENJOY!

Tarhana

Tarhana soup preparation

Tarhana soup - trahana

Tarhana soup - trahana

 

 

Bosnian Pancakes {Uštipci}

In Bosnia, we love our pancakes, our bread and just dough-y things in general. 🙂 We make two basic types of pancakes. The first kind is a simpler, less time consuming and I am talking about those today. The second kind is made with yeast and I will share the recipe some other time.

My recipe may differ a bit from others, but basically there are three main components for a good pancake: eggs, flour and some type of liquid (water, milk, yogurt, buttermilk, etc.)

I make my pancakes with Greek yogurt and I really love them. They have a nice texture and they remain soft even when cold (IF there are any left). What I  love about them is that they are small, so you can grab one or two on your way out. They are a perfect bite (or two) size and make a really delicious breakfast. We spread them with variety of savory or sweet spreads or make them into sandwiches. Some people serve them coated in sugar/powdered sugar. I also had them with maple syrup and they were great, even though traditionally we don’t use maple syrup.

If you are interested in how to pronounce “uštipci”, it would sound something like “oosh-tipsy”  🙂

Bosnian Pancakes Ustipci

Bosnian Pancakes {Uštipci}

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of yogurt (I like to use Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

 

  1. Whisk the eggs until foamy, add yogurt and mix until smooth, add salt and water.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder and start adding to the egg mixture, stirring the whole time.
  3. Batter needs to be a bit thicker than for the American pancakes.
  4. Pour cooking oil into a large frying pan just enough to coat the bottom.
  5. Set the heat to medium.
  6. Prepare a large tray and cover with paper towel.
  7. Grab a spoonful (I use soup spoon) of batter and pour onto the heated oil.
  8. Make sure pancakes have enough space to expand.
  9. When you see bubbles forming around the edges of the pancake, it’s time to turn them over.
  10. Fry them until golden brown on both sides.
  11. When done, place on a paper towel.
  12. Bosnian pancakes can be served with a variety of spreads, such as cream cheese, pâté, jam, nutella, honey, etc. You can split them and make mini sandwiches too. They are firm enough to be picked up and they are usually one or two-bites-size. They are delicious warm or cold.

Have fun making them!

Bosnian pancakes prep

Bosnian pancakes prep 2

Bosnian Pancakes Ustipci

 These are some of the ways to enjoy them:

Bosnian Pancakes Ustipci

Egg Foam Pie {Šampita}

Egg Foam Pie? I know it sounds weird, but that would be a literal translation for one of my favorite childhood desserts. All of my Bosnian friends know what I’m talking about here – šampita! 🙂

Šampita is one of many traditional Bosnian desserts. It’s been around for a very long time when fancy ingredients were not available and the most basic ingredients were used to make a dessert. It’s easy and quick to make. Bakeries usually make it with just a layer of puff pastry on the bottom, but this is a kind that’s made at home and it belongs to the category of sugar syrup soaked desserts, such as baklava, gulab jamun, etc. The cake part will soak up the syrup from the meringue and it will be moist and meringue is just sweet enough, fluffy with a hint of lemon.

To me, šampita tastes like childhood, like worry free days, like playing outside, picking flowers, and endless laughter and happiness.

Egg Foam Pie

Egg Foam Pie {Šampita}

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs at room temperature (divided)
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • 6 TBSP milk
  • 6 TBSP cooking oil
  • 6 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Syrup:

  • 24 TBSP (about 250 g) sugar
  • About 0.85 cup (2 dl) water

Also needed:

  • 9 X 13 inch baking pan 2 or 3 inches deep (22 X 23 X 5 cm)
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 oz chocolate (about 50 g)
  • 2 TBSP sour cream

Preparation:

  1. Divide eggs. Place egg whites into a large mixing bowl. Beat egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow, then add milk, oil and at the end flour combined with baking powder.
  2. Pour the batter into the baking pan covered with parchment paper and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until you notice edges starting to get lightly brown.
  3. While the cake is baking, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and mix them at the highest speed. When they are done add lemon juice and mix some more. They are done when you turn the bowl upside down and they don’t move. Leave the egg whites in the bowl as you will have to add the syrup.
  4. While the meringue is in making, place sugar and water for the syrup into a small pot and bring it to boil. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Then remove from heat and slowly start pouring into the egg whites while they’re still at the highest speed. You will notice the volume of the mixture quickly increasing.
  5. Now the cake should be done too, so remove it from the oven and spread the meringue all over the cake. It doesn’t matter that it’s too hot. Spread evenly and smooth it out and place it in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove it from the oven and set it on the counter.
  6. If you wish, you can melt chocolate, combine with some sour cream and drizzle over the cake.
  7. Place it in the fridge and let it cool completely. Enjoy this moist, light and fluffy dessert.

Egg Foam Pie 1

 ♦

Egg Foam Pie

Egg Foam Pie

Egg Foam Cake

Egg Foam Cake

 

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Hello my friends! I hope everyone is doing well; I missed you all! 🙂 I took an involuntary baking break while I was trying to complete some remodeling projects in the house before the winter gets here. I have not completely abandoned my artistic expression, I started two paintings and plan to finish them before the end of the year and I’ve discovered a new passion: poetry. I’ve always liked reading poetry, but have never tried to write anything. Well, a few weeks ago a “What if I tried” thought crossed my mind, so I started thinking and putting the words together and for now they sound very good to me. I am not sure if I am going to share it with the world yet, but I am sure of one thing: writing poetry brings me so much joy!

My hope is that these chocolate sandwich cookies will bring you joy of making and of course joy of tasting! They are a treasured recipe from my old-yellow-falling-apart recipe book that I started when I was about thirteen years young. These cookies are not too sweet. Cocoa gives them just a hint of gentle bitterness and the vanilla frosting just a right amount of sweetness.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

[Printable recipe]

Cookies:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) flour
  • 65 g (2.2 oz )powdered sugar
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) cocoa
  • 13 g (2.5 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 185 g (6.5 oz) unsalted butter (room temperature)

Frosting:

  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 4 TBSP flour (or corn starch)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) powdered sugar
  • 2 packs vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 160 g (5.6 oz) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)

Chocolate glaze:

  • 75 g (2.6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) unsalted butter

Preparation:

  1. For the cookies, combine all dry ingredients and mix for a few minutes. Add egg and butter and mix on slow until resembles a crumbly mixture. Flour your working surface and knead the dough by hand until nice and smooth. Flatten it, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the cookie dough rests in the fridge prepare the filling.
  3. Mix the flour with a couple of spoons of milk until smooth. Let the milk boil at a low temperature and pour the flour mixture into boiling milk. Whisk constantly until it starts thickening, then remove from heat and let it cool completely.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix all together. You may add an egg yolk for a nice color, but it’s not essential. Now add this mixture to the flour base and whip it at high speed until well combined and fluffy.
  5. Now line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface roll out the cookie dough to about 1/2 cm (or 3/16 inch) thick and cut out cookies with a round cookie cutter (about 3-3.5 cm or 1 ¼ inch in diameter)
  6. Bake at 180 C or 350 F for about 12-14 minutes.
  7. Cool down completely. Glue two cookies together with the frosting.
  8. Melt chocolate and butter, let cool down for a few minutes and pour a teaspoon of the glaze on the top of each cookie.

?????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????

Flour_Milk frosting

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

By request of some of my readers, I will try to post more cooking recipes to my blog. One of the most liked Bosnian summer meals are stuffed peppers.

If you’re not familiar with Bosnian cooking, you should know that we like to cook from scratch, use fresh ingredients, seasonal vegetables and we take pride in what we do. Even though the ingredients and spices are simple, preparation and cooking process are lengthy and produce flavorful, hearty and memorable meals.

I usually make stuffed peppers two ways – stuffed with ground beef and cooked in sauce and the vegetarian way, stuffed with potatoes and rice and baked in the oven.

Today I would like to introduce ground meat stuffed peppers. I usually use ground beef for stuffing. Ground pork, or mix of ground beef and pork can be used as well. I have not tried making them with ground chicken or turkey. I also add a potato to the stuffing mixture, but that’s optional. Also the rice doesn’t have to be precooked. I half-cook mine, since I’ve had stuffed peppers where rice was not fully cooked and I want to avoid that. Most common peppers used in Bosnia are white peppers. I suggest not to use green bell peppers for this recipe, except if they are really small. A good substitute in the US are cubanelle peppers. I usually serve my stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes, but they can be served just by it self and with an addition of some good crusty bread to dip into sauce.

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 white peppers (2.4-2.8 oz OR 70-80 g each)
  • 1 1/3 lb (600 g) ground beef
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) rice
  • 1 large potato (finely chopped)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Vegeta spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)

       + for the sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½  cup (120 ml) tomato puree
  • 4 cups (1 l) water

Preparation:

  1. Wash and dry peppers. Cut open the top and remove all the seeds and membranes. Set aside.
  2. Cook the rice halfway (about 5 minutes) and strain. Set aside.
  3. Finely chop vegetables.
  4. Place ground beef in a medium bowl and sprinkle with all the spices.
  5. Add all vegetables, rice, egg and parsley and mix into a compact mass.
  6. Stuff each pepper and set on a plate next to the stove.
  7. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan. Lightly brown peppers on each side (just until fragrant, remove from the pan and place back on the plate.
  8. Pour the oil from frying into a cooking pot. You will make the sauce now.
  9. Lightly heat the oil, add 2 tbsp flour and stir gently until smooth.
  10. Add ground paprika and salt and stir for about 1 minute. Don’t let it burn.
  11. Add tomato puree and water. Stir and let it boil.
  12. When the sauce starts boiling, place all the peppers inside. Turn the temperature down to medium and simmer for about 45-50 minutes in a half covered pot.

*** Sauce will reduce during the cooking and will become thicker.

Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or just with bread.

Long grain rice

White peppers

Ingredients for stuffed peppers

Stuffing mixture for peppers

Stuffed peppers

Browning stuffed peppers

Stuffed pepper sauce

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Cherry Upside Down Cake

Hello dear friends! Here is the history of another childhood cake that I really, really LOVE:

My father’s sister (my favorite aunt) had a wild cherry tree in her backyard. It was growing quite close to the house, it was very tall and surpassing the roof of their two-story home. I loved visiting my aunt! I would often stop by her house to have a glass of juice, a treat and to get some auntie love. She would take my hand, lead me through her bedroom to the open window and she would reach out and grab a cherry branch. I would stand there, holding the branch, picking the sweet, little cherries and stuffing them in my mouth. Didn’t wash them either and I am still alive! Can you believe that? 😉

cherry

In February of 2004 we moved to our first home here in the U. S. Snow and cold prevented me to explore my backyard and see what’s there, but when the spring came, imagine my surprise! Right in the corner, just a few feet from the house there was a wild cherry tree! God sure works in mysterious ways!   Having that wild cherry tree in my yard, almost next to my bedroom window made me feel just a little more at home.

cherry

Auntie’s cherry upside down cake is mouth-watering good, moist, lightly sweet and served with vanilla whipped cream on top. Since my wild cherries are not ripe yet, I used bing cherries this time. Nonetheless, it was GOOD, and I mean really, really GOOD! I hope you give it a try while cherries are in season.

 cherry upside down cake

Cherry Upside Down Cake

[print recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 900 g (2 lbs) cherries  + 5-10 cherries for the decoration
  • 5 TBSP sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 TBSP hot water
  • 100 g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 TSP vanilla extract)
  • 125 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
    • 2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa (OPTIONAL)
  • 500 ml (about 2 cups) heavy whipping cream
  • sugar and vanilla to taste

Also needed:

  • 1 medium cake pan (about 8-9 inch or 20-23 cm)
  • Circular piece of parchment paper, 1 -2 inches larger than the pan circumference.

Method:

  1. Wash and pit the cherries.
  2. Line the cake pan with parchment paper. You should have about 1-2 inches extra which will line the walls of the pan.
  3. Place the cherries on the parchment paper and sprinkle with sugar and vanilla sugar. Paper will keep all the cherry juice from running out of the pan and cake will be nice and moist.
  4. Crack the eggs into the mixer bowl and add 3 TBSP of hot water. Mix at high speed for a minute or two.
  5. Add sugar and vanilla and mix for two more minutes.
  6. Combine flour and baking powder, reduce the mixing speed to slow and add the flour to eggs until just combined.
  7. At this point you can take 1/3 of batter and add 2 TBSP cocoa to it.
  8. Pour the yellow batter onto cherries, then pour the cocoa batter on the top of it and swirl around a bit with a fork.
  9. Bake at 365 F (185 C) for about 30 – 35 minutes. Cool completely and then leave in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
  10. Whip the heavy cream until dense; add sugar and vanilla after your own taste.
  11. Invert the cake onto the serving plate, spread with whipped cream and decorate with fresh cherries.

Bing cherries

Cake preparation
Cake preparation

Cherry upside down cake

Cherry upside down cake

Šape…or…Bear Paws shortbread cookies

Šape are one of the most loved, traditional Bosnian treats. When translated to English, šapa (sing.) simply means a “paw”. The old tins were shaped like bear paws, hence the name. I remember playing with my grandmother’s šape tins when I was a little girl. They had that gray and brownish patina from years of use and I wish I had somehow saved them…Today the tins come in all different shapes and can be purchased here. A madeleine tin can also be used to make šape.

Bear paws are made from simple ingredients, readily available in every household. Biting into a šapa can instantly take me back to my grandmother’s little kitchen, with wooden floors, green credenza and an old tin box she kept them in. Šape are made for birthdays, feasts, weddings, christenings, Christmas and almost every other special occasion. They are sort of a shortbread cookie, originally made with lard, but are just as good made with butter. Traditionally, walnuts are used in the cookie, but I’ve seen them made with shredded coconut, poppy seeds or spiced with cinnamon. The crumbly dough is pressed into tin forms, placed onto a cookie sheet, baked and tossed in powdered sugar. They simply melt in your mouth!

?????????????????????????????

Šape or Bear Paws

[print recipe]

Yields about 30-35 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120 g /4.2 oz lard (or 140 g /4.9 oz butter)
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz ground walnuts
  • 300 g / 10.5 oz / 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 13 g / about 1 tsp baking powder
  • A few tsp of milk (if needed)
  • 1 – 2  tbsp honey (optional)

+

  • Powdered sugar
  • Baking tins
  • Butter (melted) to brush the tins

Preparation:

  1. Beat lard (or butter), sugar and vanilla for about 3-4 minutes, then add egg and lemon zest and mix for couple of more minutes.
  2. Add ground walnuts.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder; add to the lard mixture.
  4. The dough will be crumbly. If too dry, add a tbsp or two milk
  5. Brush the tins with melted butter, fill them about 2/3 with dough.
  6. Place the tins on a cookie sheet and bake at 180 C / 355 F for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown color.
  7. Let them cool down for a minute or two, remove from tins and liberally dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea or dip in milk! 🙂

Sape preparation

Šape forms

Šape

Šape

Šape

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

As per request of one of my dear readers, I wanted to introduce this much loved soup of our grandmothers. I am not sure where the soup originates from (Austria perhaps), but it is well known all over the old continent. It is delicious, easily made and filling.

The base for the soup can be chicken or veal stock and dumplings are made from farina flour. This flour is coarse and resembles grits, but unlike grits, it is made from wheat. Apparently for many years I was confusing the name for semolina and farina flour. I recently learned that semolina is mainly used for making pasta and gnocchi and farina is used as cereal (cream of wheat). In Bosnia farina is called griz and in Germany grieß. We mainly use farina for dumplings and desserts. If you happen to go through my recipe index, my Semolina Pudding should actually read farina pudding (I promise I will change that).

chicken soup with farina dumplings

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

{print recipe}

Chicken stock:

  • 1. 5 – 2 l (1.5 – 2 quarts) water
  • 100-200 g (3.5 – 7 oz) chicken (I usually use breast without skin, but dark meat can be used as well) or veal
  • 2 medium carrots (cut once lengthwise and once across)
  • 1 parsnip (cut once lengthwise and once across)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 parsley twigs
  • Vegeta
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley (finely chopped)

Farina dumplings:

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) farina flour
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 50 g butter (1.7 oz)- at room temperature
  • 1 egg

Preparation:

  1. In a stock pot filled with water add chicken and all the vegetables. Bring it to a boil and then lower the temperature and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock and set aside all that’s left in the sieve.
  3. Return the clear stock into the pot. Finely chop chicken, carrots and parsnip and put back into the stock.  Onion, celery, and parsley can be discarded. Spice with vegeta, salt and pepper. Let it simmer lightly.
  4. Dumplings need to be prepared immediately before you want to add them to the soup. Do not let the dumpling mixture sit and wait, because they will not turn out good.
  5. For the dumplings combine farina with salt, pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl. Add softened butter and egg and make a mixture gently mixing with a fork. Do not use electric mixer. Do not over mix.
  6. Take a small spoon and grab some of the mixture. With another spoon help shape the mixture into a nice oval and put it into simmering soup. Work fast. Dumplings will start expanding and coming to the surface.
  7. When they are about triple in size, turn off the stove, add chopped parsley to the soup and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving. If dumplings are made right they will have a soft consistency, somewhat grainy texture and will not be hard or fall apart.

*** I suggest not to make these dumplings with hands as you may squeeze and press the mixture too much and then they will be too hard after they are done.

Chicken stock

Making Farina Dumplings
Making Farina Dumplings
Farina Dumplings Mixture
Farina Dumplings Mixture
Make Farina dumplings using two spoons and shaping them into an oval
Make Farina dumplings using two spoons and shaping them into an oval

SONY DSC

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

Bosnian Bean Soup {Grah}

Just when I thought the winter has lost its grip on us, it’s snowing again and it’s bitter cold outside. I guess I’ll have to patiently wait for the spring.. In the meantime I decided to cure the winter blues with a cup of familiar, good Bosnian Bean Soup. In Bosnia and the regions of Balkan, this soup has been around for hundreds of years. It is simply called “beans” (grah) and when you say “grah” everyone knows what you’re talking about. Most families have their own, family recipe which they swear to be the best one around. I think my recipe is pretty darn good too! 🙂 This flavorful, hearty soup is made from dried beans, so it takes a while to be done, but I’ll tell you the wait is absolutely worth it. If you would find yourself in a conversation with an older Bosnian lady and if you (God forbid) mentioned that you have used canned beans to make grah, she would be seriously mad (if not offended) and she would use all of her powers of persuasion to change your mind and to point you in the right direction when it comes to preparing grah. 🙂

Although I am not going to be mad if you use canned beans, I would strongly suggest – don’t. I am speaking from my own experience here. Take the time and make this soup the proper way and you will be rewarded with a best cup of bean soup you ever had.

Since I don’t have a way to get the real Bosnian beans here in the US, I tried substituting them with pinto beans, black eyed peas and kidney beans. None of these have worked too well. Recently I found peruano beans which are just perfect for this soup and if not the same, then they are very similar to my favorite Bosnian beans.

As we (Bosnians) are pretty serious meat eaters, we like to add some nice smoked meat to the soup. I usually add authentic Bosnian smoked beef, but smoked pork ribs or similar will also give it a great flavor. Smoked meat from Balkans would require a whole new post, so I will just say that if you would really like to have some, try any store with products from Balkan. Serve the soup with some good, crusty bread. This is essential because you will be dipping that bread into soup and using it to pick up the last drops from your cup! In the winter time we also might serve this soup with pickled vegetables such as pickles, pickled peppers, sarena salata (a mix of various pickled veggies), pickled peppers stuffed with sauerkraut, etc.)

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

{print recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 500 g (17 oz) dry peruano beans
  • 1-2 l water
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 of a green bell pepper
  • 250 g (9 oz) smoked beef (cubed)
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP vegeta
  • 1/4  TSP fresh ground black pepper
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP cooking oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1 TSP ground paprika

Preparation:

*** Soaking the beans in cold water over night will reduce the cooking time.

  • If you have pre-soaked the beans, rinse them, place in a large cooking pot and go to number 1.
  • If you didn’t soak the beans, place them in a cooking pot, add water and let it boil for a few minutes, rinse and add fresh water.
  1. Finely chop onion, carrot and the bell pepper. Add it to the beans and let it boil. Reduce the temperature to medium, cover the pot slightly and let it cook for about 1 hour. Occasionally check if water level has decreased, add additional water to always keep the same level of liquid in the pot.
  2. After 1 hour add all spices and cubed smoked meat (polish sausage or similar can be used too, but then you will add them at the last half hour of cooking time). Cook for another 1 to 1.5 hours. To check if beans are ready take a few out of the pot and squeeze them between your thumb and index finger. If they are soft and creamy, and the peel comes off they are ready. The soup will look thick and it will smell wonderfully.
  3. Now add tomato paste and let it incorporate well into the soup.
  4. It is time now to make the roux to thicken the soup.
  5. Peel and finely chop 3-4 garlic cloves. Using medium setting, heat 2 TBSP oil in a small frying pan. Toss the chopped garlic in oil just until fragrant.
  6. Add flour and mix it with a wooden spoon until all crumbs disappear and flour starts changing its color to a very light brown. Now add paprika and again mix well. Pour the roux into the soup. This might produce a lively reaction. Give it a nice stir, reduce the heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  7. Serve warm with a slice of a nice, crusty bread.
  8. This soup freezes well and keeps well in the fridge for at least 3-4 days.
Smoked beef meat
Smoked beef meat
Steps of making roux
Steps of making roux

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

Best Wishes for the New Year and a finished soft pastel painting

As we are counting the last hours of the old year and looking forward to the new one, I just want to reflect on the past year and say that it went pretty well for me. I tried to focus on doing things I love. I’ve baked a lot, trying to be inventive and try new things. I’ve tried to take better photos of my food and my surroundings. I tried to spend more time painting. I have actually finished several paintings out of which two were sold in a charity event helping needy Bosnian families and one got an award and it is still displayed in our local museum gallery. I tried to spend more time with my kids, be a better parent, be a good friend and a listener. I tried to keep an open mind and an open heart to the new things that came along. Have I succeeded? Not sure. I am sure of one thing though: I will not stop trying and hoping that this new year will be better in every way not only for me, but also for all of you that are reading this post and for the whole world.

peace on earth

This is my latest painting. The original photo comes from a Croatian photographer Boris Stromar and can be seen at Boris’ website. With Boris’ permission I have used this photo as a reference. The painting depicts river Una, one of the most beautiful rivers of Bosnia and Europe.

This is how I started:

Remembering Bosnia_first drawing

Completed painting:

River Una

Choco-Coconut Squares (Cupavci)

Coconut! You either love it or you hate it! Some of my friends who hate coconut say it’s because of the texture… My daughter used to hate coconut, never wanted to even try anything that had a slightest hint of it, until one day she worked up the courage to try these and fell in love with them.

These choco-coconut squares are a frequent guest at the table of many Bosnian families. If you like chocolate – coconut combination, I can guarantee you these will knock your socks off! 🙂 Now, in Bosnian language these have a specific name. It is weird and funny and quite unappetizing (the name I mean). That’s why I didn’t try translating it into English. Despite the weird name, this desserts is very popular, it is easily made and super delicious!

Choco-Coconut Squares (Čupavci)

[printable recipe]

For the batter:

  • 5 eggs (divided)
  • 125 g (4.4 oz) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp.  vanilla extract)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) self –rising flour
  • 50 g (1.7 oz) plain bread crumbs
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) milk

For the chocolate – coconut dip:

  • 150 g (5.3 oz) semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) butter
  • 100 g (3.5 oz)sugar
  • 150 ml  (about 2/3 cup) milk
  • 150-200 g (5 – 7 oz) coconut (unsweetened, organic, finely shredded)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) heated raspberry jam (or your favorite jam)

Also needed:

  •          28 X 22 cm (9 X 11 inch) rectangular cake pan,
  •          parchment paper,
  •          cooling rack,
  •          small cooking pot and a stainless steel bowl (for the hot water bath)

Preparation:

1. For the batter divide the eggs. Beat the egg whites with a smidgen of salt until firm, set aside. Beat the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla until pale yellow and all the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes).

2. Add milk and mix slowly for another minute. Now start adding flour combined with bread crumbs mixing at a low speed. At the end fold in the egg whites by hand until just combined.

3. Pour the batter into the cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 195 C (385 F) until the top starts getting golden yellow color. Remove from the oven and from the pan  and place it on a cooling rack.

4. When the cake has cooled down completely, cut it horizontally into two halves. Lightly heat the jam and spread over the first half, lay the second half on the top. Now cut the whole cake into squares. If you make three cuts to the longer- and 5 to the shorter side you will get 24 squares.

5. Heat the water in a small cooking pot. Melt the chocolate and butter over hot water bath. Add sugar (if desired), mix it smooth and add milk at the end.

6. Dip each cake square into chocolate. Make sure every side is well coated and then dip in coconut.  Let them rest for about an hour. They are best served at the room temperature!

ENJOY!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSCSONY DSC

My new pastel painting from the Bosnia series – Part 3 – DONE + a new one in making

I’ve finished this painting couple of weeks ago. I am really happy how it turned out. All is left is to frame it and enjoy looking at it! 🙂 I named it REMEMBERING BOSNIA.

Update 01-06-2013: Won an honorable mention for this piece and an article in the local news paper.

This is the new one that I’ve started this week. The theme is the same: Bosnia and river boats.