Friday, May 20, 2011

My Sizzling Baccala ~ Cod with Potatoes ~ Bakalar s krumpirom

Two things to remember about bakalar (Serbian)~ or baccala (Italian) is that your house will smell a little unpleasant and someone is sure to stop in that day to visit…. AND….. your pot will always boil over. It never fails for me. But it is so worth the trouble.

I first remember eating bakalar, salted codfish, as a child on St. Nickolas Day which occurs on the 19th of December during Advent. I didn’t love it….that would come later. This was my grandmother’s Patron Saint Day, so the house would be full of visitors. She served an array of lenten foods (posno) in keeping with the strict dietary rules of the Orthodox Church, of which bakalar was a staple. Roasted red peppers with garlic were always an accompaniment as well as kidney bean salad with onions.

My Mom’s and Baba’s recipe were a little different than mine below. They boiled the potatoes and codfish and finished it off in the oven with onions and garlic. It was quite good but the color of the fish would turn darker and the onions would carmelize and sweeten the dish. I now prefer my mother-in-law’s way of cooking it, which she learned from her mother-in-law. Seems Baba liked her fish, garlic and potatoes to stay white and pure. So look for the whitest fish at the market and start soaking 2 to 3 days before you serve it.
My first video! Rookie...I forgot to say 'Scuse me' as I coughed!

3 pounds dried codfish (boneless)
7 to 8 potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 to 1 ½ cup oil heated in heavy duty skillet
8 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt….wait to taste
Black pepper

Rinse, soak, repeat the fish for at least 2 days in a very large pot, rinsing several times a day. I leave mine on the counter so I remember to rinse. Use cold water. If it is too large, you can cut the fish in pieces.

Start to cook on low to bring water up to boil

Place the whole potatoes to cook. When they are almost done I bring the bakalar to a full boil as I peel and cut the potatoes in cubes. Mince the garlic fine as it will only cook once the hot oil hits it. Cook fish about 15 minutes…it will flake when done. Drain. Add fish & cubed potatoes in large sturdy bowl and mix. Lay finely minced garlic on top and leave it there…DO NOT MIX…cover and keep warm until oil is ready.
Heat oil until it starts to smell like hot oil…don’t walk away from the stove area. I use a cast iron skillet. Insert a toothpick or a potato skin to see if it sizzles. Carefully, with gloves, pour the oil over the garlic and watch it SIZZLE!!!!!! Serve immediately.
Soaking the fish!

Prijatno! More info on baccala below

Baccalà— is Italian for salted codfish—comes mostly from the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, where it’s fished, salted and exported all over the world. Here are some tips for how to choose and prepare your baccalà from a Delallo website that I copied
1. When you pick out a piece of baccalà remember that the color of the meat should be close to white and the skin light colored. If the meat color tends towards yellow, do not buy it.
2. If sold whole, try to buy a long, thick fish; if possible it should be a bit more than one-inch thick in the middle of the filet.
3. If it’s not already packed and wrapped in plastic, and you’re allowed to smell it, remember that its odor, even if a bit intense, must be of fish and nothing else (no chemical smells should be evident).
4. Prior to soaking, cut your baccala into large pieces. Cutting the fish before soaking helps speed up the re-hydration process.
5. At least two days prior to cooking (but we recommend 3 days if you have the time), you should begin soaking your salted baccalà in fresh water (at least 36-48 hours). First wash the pieces thoroughly, eliminating all the salt on the surface, and then completely submerge in any container that will hold a lot of water; change the water at least three times a day (every eight hours or even more frequently). While soaking, keep the baccala in a cool place. Refrigeration is not necessary.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Koljivo (Wheatberry) for Breakfast? You bet!

You can read my recipe for Koljivo

Full of fruits and nuts and honey.....yum!

Breakfast Koljivo:
1 /2 pound wheat
½ cup sugar, may use brown sugar
1 chopped Granny Smith or other apple
1 cup golden raisins
I cup dried cranberries or cherries, soaked in ¼ c apple juice
½ pound coarsely chopped nuts (instead of finely grinding them)
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla, and/or almond extract
Cinnamon, clove or a pinch of nutmeg to taste
Dollop of rich creamy Greek Fage Yogurt

Dessert Koljivo:
Žito sa šlagom, (pronounced ZHEE-to) with cream:

Wheatberries (koljivo) prepared the same as above recipe
Dried cherries soaked in ¼ cup rum or brandy instead
Cinnamon and sugar to taste
Raisins if desired, may leave apples out
3 TB Nutella microwaved with 2 TB cream, mixed and poured on top of wheat(this is optional)
Whipped cream for topping
The term wheatberry or wheat berry refers to the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), comprising the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheatberries have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. They are often added to salads or baked into bread to add a crunchy texture; as a whole grain, they also provide nutritional benefits since they are an excellent source of dietary fiber.
Whole wheat usually takes at least 3 hours to cook.


ŽITO ~ Koljivo for Parastos ~ Slavsko Žito ~ Memorial Wheat

One of my favorite recollections as a child at church was to stay for memorial services for the departed, after regular liturgy, and then eat the koljivo out of little white cups in the back of the church. I know, weird, huh? My brother and I loved the stuff! If there were 2 families, we’d wait in line to try them both. Whenever I make ground wheat for Slava, Patron Saint Day (Slavsko Žito), I make extra because my family loves it for breakfast with yoghurt or for dessert…more recipes to come on that later.

During memorial services (for Greeks and Serbians: Parastos), the family or friends of the departed will prepare the koljivo which is placed in front of the memorial table before which the service is chanted. The wheat for Slava and the wheat for parastos (Koljivo) are two different things. In both cases, the wheat symbolizes resurrection and eternal life (St. John 12:24); however, Slavsko zhito is prepared for the glory and honor of the Saint and for the repose of the souls of those departed members of the family who commemorated that Saint. We do not pray for the soul of the Patron Saint, but we pray that he or she intercede to the Lord our God for the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore, you should never place a candle in the Slavsko zhito.

Christ reminded us that except a grain of wheat die it cannot rise again, even as it was necessary that He die, be buried, and on the third day rise again so that we all can triumph over death.

For more info:
For more info on Slava please visit Mim B's wonderful site:

Memorial services are usually held on the fortieth day after the repose of an Orthodox Christian, as well as on the one-year anniversary. No written church rule exists, but the wheat is customarily left whole for parastos …”Nemoj mleti (meljeti) dušu ……“don’t grind the soul” is/was an old wives tale!!! You can grind it if you wish or use mixed grains as I do. When you cook the whole wheat, especially the hulled wheat, it pops open anyway. Today you can find wheat with the shell removed in health food store or in any import stores….so much easier to cook, less than an hour as opposed to 3 to 4 hours. My husband’s aunt only used fine cracked (bulgur) wheat which really didn’t need cooked. Sometimes only boiling water was enough.
More here:

Whole grain on left, cracked, and hulled grain on the right(Note it is lighter in color)

Most recipes in old cookbooks are so confusing and tedious that it leaves young women not wanting to prepare koljivo. Remember, women had to leave the wheat to dry over night on a cloth so that it could be ground thru a meat grinder without making a mess. Then they had to add water or liquids to make it moist again once ground. The food processor has made this item a one day deal. Easy peasy. Don’t skimp on the nuts…..same amount of nuts to wheat. I’ve tasted some watered down koljivo before. It NEEDS nuts!

• 1 pound hulled wheat berries, or cracked wheat
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 pound ground walnuts or almonds, finely ground, or pecans
• 1 ½ C white sugar or confectioners sugar or a combo (try Splenda)
• 2 T vanilla, rum or almond flavoring
• ¼ cup honey
• Splash of Amaretto liquor or rum (optional)
• 1/2 teaspoon clove or cinnamon to start with, may add more later


1. Place washed wheat in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with several inches of water and let stand for 1 hour or overnight. Drain and refill with enough water in large pot. It is starchy and you want to add lots of water, just as you would with pasta.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender. Add water if necessary. When wheat is done (anywhere from 60 minutes for shelled or hulled wheat to 3 to 4 hours for whole wheat), rinse in cool water and strain. Let the wheat stay in the strainer overnight if you are not in a hurry. You don’t need to dry it completely because you are going to grind it if you wish in a food processor.
3. Mix wheat with walnuts & sugar that you have ground fine in a food processor. Add flavoring and spices. Here’s is your chance to customize it. Practice different flavorings. I love the combo of ground almonds with some cinnamon, almond extract, honey & Amaretto. You may have to add more spices or sugar. Easier to add than be too sweet or cinnaminny... is that a word?. Let it sit for awhile and come back to it later once the flavors have absorbed.
Transfer to a large glass bowl (I use my best crystal bowl)and decorate with raisins, almonds, or nuts in the sign of the cross. Some people mound the koljivo to resemble a grave and cover completely with powdered sugar.


Serbian Lamb & Cabbage Soup (Ličani)

The use of the ketchup enhances the sweetness of the great lamb and cabbage combination. This soup is one of my family’s favorite soups! I make it when I have leftover BBQ lamb from Easter.

I’ve made it for our chuch as well when there is leftover lambs from picnics…yes, it does happen sometimes!

My Teta Seka from Canada used to make this. I want to give credit to her, although I’ve never written her recipe down and usually mix up the ingredients at times. She was my mentor for ‘No Knead Pogacha’ as well
You can use barley or brown rice instead.

1 to 2 pounds leftover BBQ lamb or fresh
4 qts water
5 carrots, julienned or sliced
1 small cabbage head, chopped
¾ cup rice
¼ to ½ cup ketchup
1 hot banana pepper or jalapeno, slit but left whole
¼ bag of fine or extra fine noodles noodles
2 T vegetable or chicken base
Lawry’s Garlic Salt
S & P to taste

If using frozen BBQ lamb bring to a boil in at least 4 qts of water. Simmer and carefully remove the meat from the bones and return to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until carrots are cooked. Add noodles last. I prefer to use the extra fine noodles made by the Kolo Sestra Sestara Sveta. Petka of Aliquippa’s St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church. I am fortunate enough to be able to buy them as they are the BEST ever!!!

If you are using fresh lamb then I would prefer to brown the meat in a little olive oil then add the remaining ingredients. Don’t replace the ketchup with tomatoes or you wont get the same wonderful flavor. I leave the peppers whole to give the soup a little heat, they can easily be removed later. If you think you added too much ketchup you can add a tablespoon or 2 of vinegar. The ketchup gets it a great color. Start with 1/4 cup then add more squirts if needed.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011



It is commonly believed Wacky Cake may have been created as the result rationing durind WWII, when milk and eggs were scarce. Active ingredients in wacky cake include flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, vegetable oil, white vinegar and vanilla extract. Some recipes add brewed coffee instead of water. The cake may be topped with powdered sugar or even served plain.

It is a common dessert in homes during the lenten season for that little something sweet. It is surpringly moist and delicious!!!

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar*
6 T cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
¾ cup oil
2 T vinegar
2 t vanilla
2 cups water
Mix well….by hand or mixer, and pour into an ungreased 13x9 pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
Dust with powdered sugar when cool.

I made mine with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup Splenda* and I used Rich’s frozen Non-Dairy Whip Topping. It comes in the freezer section, you thaw and whip it. I pour this into my coffee as well during Lent…I just can’t drink coffee black. It is in keeping with lenten guidelines of allowable products


While not as savory and tasty as regular pork and smoked meat laden sarma, this recipe is sure to please the palate during Lent. Serve it with a boiled potato if you wish!

• 30 to35 cabbage leaves …..2 heads of cabbage
• 2 ½ cups of partially cooked rice (preferably brown rice) or pearl barley
• 3 large onions, finely chopped
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 2 grated carrots
• 1 cup chopped celery
• ¼ olive oil
• 2 sm cans mushroom, chopped
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
• ¼ cup of finely chopped fresh parsley
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 teaspoon of cumin
• 1 tsp Cavender’s Greek seasoning (optional)
• 1 hot or jalapeno pepper, halved (I add this to almost everything I make!)
• 1 lg 28oz can tomatoes, finely chopped
• 3 to 4 cups of water (approximately)
• 2 T vegetable base

Make the filling: Combine onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, cumin, in olive oil and saute in pan for 5 minutes. Let cool in large bowl.
Add 2 ½ cups rice in 5 cups water and boil for 20 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed. Brown rice is not done at this point. It will continue to cook and swell in size during baking. Let cool. Combine with above items and add 2 cans chopped mushrooms and season to taste.

Prepare cabbage leaves: Remove the core of the cabbage, and stick a large fork into the center. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 3 Tbs of white vinegar, and immerse the cabbage to loosen the outer leaves. When the outer leaves start loosening, remove them using the fork. Return to pot and repeat until all cabbage leaves have been removed. Chop middle part of cabbage and place on the bottom and corners of roaster or greased pan.

Prepare rolls: Remove hard core from each leaf. Place about ¼ cup filling for each roll at the core end, roll , fold in each side and roll up. Roll loosely as they swell during cooking. Place each sarma seam side down in your pan. (They may be flash frozen at this point and used at a later date. This recipe makes enough for a large roaster pan. My large roasting pan no longer fits in my new oven, so I make the same amount and freeze the rest
Place tomatoes on top and cover with 3 to 4 cups of water which has 2 T of vegetable base or Vegeta added. Cover with foil
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hour.
Make a zafrig or roux and pour over sarma and slightly mix adding more water if need and bake for another 30 minutes. This is optional. Taste at this point to determine if you want more flavor.

Zafrig (roux)
• ⅓ cup oil
• 1 large onion
• ⅓ cup flour
• ½ tsp paprika
Prepare the zafrig (roux). Use equal parts oil to flour. Saute onion in oil in skillet until translucent. Add flour, salt, pepper and paprika (for slight color), stirring to prevent burning, until zafrig starts to brown (5 minutes maybe). Remove from heat and pour over soup, using the liquid from the sarma to mix the roux.



Before I post anymore recipes I have to tell you all something. I never buy boxed broths. They are far too expensive and are far too easy to make yourself. I’m NOT talking about homemade broth from scratch….although homemade is the best to use….just ‘Who has the time for that?’

Bouillon cubes are way too salty. I’m talking about the soup bases out there for sale. Most can be found on the grocer’s shelves, others in kitchen supply houses open to the public, like GFS…my new favorite place to shop, or Costco.

Here are some of them. The vegetable bases are fabulous to use during Lent when we Orthodox refrain from meat or dairy products.
Give them a try…..they will make things easier on yourself. Not all require refrigeration after opening. Be careful of the salt, especially with the Vegeta. I think they enhance most recipes and I sometimes add them to veggies and always add them to rice dishes.

More easy recipes to come using these products.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Taramasalata - Lenten Greek Caviar Spread

Taramasalata, (tahr-uh-muh-suh-lah-tuh) is spread traditionally made from taramas, the salted and cured roe, caviar, of the carp. The roe is mixed with either bread or potato, lemon juice and olive oil. It is often called ‘poor man’s caviar’…. a specialty of Greece and other Mediterranean countries.

This creamy spread is a favorite of ours during Lent and
is a tradition of my family to serve it on Christmas eve. My hubby’s Mom made it every year since she and her husband enjoyed it on a trip to New York in a Greek restaurant in the 60s. She has been making it ever since. So have I once becoming part of this family. I love it as an appetizer or meze. We invite guests to try the tarama on a crispy piece of bread before I tell them what’s in it! They are not disappointed. Serve it with red or yellow peppers, lower in carbs.

You can find jars of ready made taramasalata. I prefer making my own. I buy the tarama at Stamoolis Brothers in the Strip in Pittsburgh. You can find carp roe caviar at most Greek or Middle Eastern markets.

Today I made it with wheat bread for the first time. Turned out just fine….and better for you!


4oz fish roe (4 Tbs)
8 slices day old bread, moistened with enough water to be soggy
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 c olive oil or vegetable oil

Remove the crusts from the bread and squeeze the water from it. In a food processor, combine the bread with the roe and blend well. Add lemon juice and onions and process again. Gradually add in the oil, like you do when making mayonnaise until it is light and fluffy, pale pink in color. Depending on how much water was in the bread, you may not have to use all the oil. Makes about 3 cups. You can cut the recipe in half. Serve with crackers, raw vegetables or olives
Ingredients: Remember to buy just the tarama, not taramasalata!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Kad je supa, jest ćemo skupa!!! That’s what my old Kum used to say to us! When there’s soup, we eat together.

While this soup (is it a supa or a čorba?....thick enough to be a čorba, but containing no roux) does not come from any of my ancestors, it was derived by me from necessity. With the Lenten season upon us, we Orthodox Christians refrain from eating meat, eggs and dairy products. I will be posting mostly Lenten foods until the arrival of Pascha ( Easter).

It is a different take on the classic chili recipe. This hearty soup, thickened with the addition of barley, will satisfy the biggest of appetites. Use whichever beans that you prefer. Same with the diced tomatoes…..plain or with green chiles added……it doesn’t matter!


• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 1 cup diced carrots
• 2 cups diced celery
• Chopped jalapeno or banana pepper * optional
• 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 2 cans sliced mushrooms
• 2 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped or mixed*
• 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, semi-drained
• 1 (15 ounce) can white, black or Northern beans
• 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 2 tablespoons cumin
• 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
• 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
• 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
• ¾ cup barley cooked in 4 cups water for ½ hr, drained, rinsed if too starchy
• 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1. Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions, celery and carrots in the pot until tender. Add peppers and spices. Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until peppers are tender.
2. Mix the mushrooms into the pot. Stir in the tomatoes with liquid, beans with or w/o liquid, kidney beans with or w/o liquid, and corn. Season with cumin, oregano, basil, and garlic powder. Add drained cooked barley. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Extra water may need to be added if it get too thick. Top with cilantro just before serving.
Some of the interchangeable ingredients
Enough soup for a day or two!!!

Christians should make every effort to fast as well as they can, in secret, so that God would see and bless their openly with a holy life. Each person most do his best in the light of the given ideal.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rizogalo – Greek Rice Pudding

Rizogalo, (pronounced rezo-GAH-LOW, and roll that ‘R’) is creamy thick custard like Greek dessert. This recipe originated from an old cookbook of mine from 1957 from the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It has been modified by me throughout the years. I love the addition of golden raisins and orange peel. They are both optional.

It’s a great way to use leftover rice. Turn leftovers into creamy goodness! This gives me a chance to show you all some of the beauty of the Greek Islands from our vacation a few years back

1 cup uncooked rice
2 ¼ cups water
½ tsp salt

2 cups milk + ½ cup milk
1/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of ½ orange (or lemon)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tbs butter
1 Tsp vanilla

Cook rice in deep saucepan, covered, in salted water until water is absorbed and rice is done. Remove from heat. This makes 4 cups of cooked rice.

Mix 2 cups of milk and 1/3 cup sugar together and pour back into rice with cinnamon stick and simmer over medium heat until thick and creamy (15 to 20 min) Half way through I add the orange zest.

Stir remaining ½ cup milk and 2 beaten eggs together ( I pour this through a fine strainer) and return to pan stirring constantly until mixed. Add raisins, butter and vanilla. Cook for a few minutes more.

Serve warm or cold. I garnish it with whipping cream and a dash of cinnamon.
Serves 6 to 8

Warm and yummy!
Typical restaurant on the island of Mykonos
View from our fabulous hotel terrace, Vencia Hotel

Spectacular view of the Caldera in Oia!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gibanica – Serbian Cheese Pita – Pita sa sirom

Gibanica (pronounced GHEE-ba-nee-tza or Gi-BAN-itza) is also known as cheese pita. This is a recipe for slano pita (salty). It is served as an appetizer or mid-meal, as in our family during holiday meals. There are sweet gibanicas which I will post at a later date.This savory cheese filled pie is popular throughout Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, where it is called Cheese Pita (pee-ta)

You can make this in a 9x12 pan, a round casserole pan or on a large sheet pan with individual rolls. Our family loves the crisp end pieces so we roll them like a log using 3 sheets of filo with filing down the middle, minus the water. This is the way my hubby’s Baba Jovanka made them. I started crumpling them because that was the way my Teta Seka did it… there is no set way to do it!

On my bucket list is to make filo from scratch and hand pull the dough as my mother-in-law does it. That’s another blog post for another time. Besides, my nails are too long to attempt it! Please take a few minutes and watch this village lady make hand rolled pita…truly an art!

So beautiful and delicious songs are made about it!
Volim Majko Sirom Pitu

1 package filo (phyllo) dough
2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup sour cream
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese, mashed well
½ pound finely diced or shredded Brick cheese, optional
4 tablespoons of sparkling mineral water
4 eggs, separated
½ stick melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Beat egg whites and set aside

Any round or rectangular pan will do, preferably glass.

Grease the pan with oil or melted butter. Lay 4 sheet of filo into the dish, covering all edges, letting some of the filo hang over the sides. Brush each layer with some melted butter.
• As always when working with filo sheets, cover them with a damp towel so they will not dry out*

Remove four filo leaves, brushing with butter, setting them aside for you to use as a top, ensuring you have enough dough. (Use scissors to trim them into a circle if you are using a round pan).

• Stir together yolks, feta, sour cream and ricotta or cottage cheese and brick. Stir in the mineral water. Gently fold egg whites into mixture

Carefully dunk a sheet of filo into the mixture. Gently crumple it and place it into the pan accordion style. Repeat until all the filling is used. DO NOT get discouraged if the filo sheets break in the mix. Just scoop them out. If you have any leftover filling, just pour it around the pan. Place the ‘lid’ on top. Fold the overhanging filo back over the top. You may place a few extra leaves on top, as they will protect the rest from burning. They can be removed if they get too dark (we love to eat those pieces)

Bake at 400F. for approximately 45 minutes until the top is dark golden brown.

Serve warm or cool.
• Reheats beautifully in a 350 degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes in tinfoil.
• If you have a plate big enough, you can invert the finished pita onto a plate. They serve it this way in shops that sell pita. I saw it flipped into a pizza box to sell it whole in a Serbian store in Niagrara Falls.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Serbian Bean & Sauerkraut Soup – Grah i Kupus

Every eastern European country has their version of this soup. Jota, Kupusnyak, Grah i kupus, Kupus i Grah….whatever… is delicious!  My Dad used to make this for us when he had a day off from the mill.  He was a great cook!  My Teta would serve it with diced potatoes in it.  I’ve done it with potatoes when my version came out too salty, as the potatoes would absorb some of the salt.  Just depends on the sauerkraut and how well you rinse it. My Baba used to serve it with a side of polenta.
I save the hocks and less desirable pieces of our roasted Christmas suckling pig, Pečenica, and freeze them for soup making during the winter months.  Smoked hocks can be purchased at any supermarket near the bacon section.  I load up on smoked ribs whenever I can find them.  Use bacon if you can’t find any. 

Serbian Bean & Sauerkraut Soup – Kupus i Grah
1/2 lb. dried pinto beans, cranberry or kidney beans  (may use more)
2 smoked ham hocks
1 lb. smoked pork ribs
12 to 15 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, smashed, but whole
2 lbs.  sauerkraut, drained
1 lb of kielbasa (optional)
3 potatoes, peeled and chunked (optional)
Few splashes of Liquid Smoke (if you have no smoked meat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the pinto beans and soak them overnight in about 1gallon water.  Sort and clean the beans and transfer them to a large pot or Dutch oven with 1 gallon water. (Or if you forget like I usually do, use the quick soak method.  Cover beans with water, bring to a rapid boil, shut off the heat, cover for an hour and drain and rinse.)  Add water, ham hocks, pork ribs, bay leaves and garlic and bring to a boil again, skimming off any foam that may arise to the top. Rinse sauerkraut thoroughly in a colander. Drain sauerkraut and add to pot with beans Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 2 to 3 hours until beans are tender, adding more water, if necessary.
Clean meat off of bones and return to soup. Discard bay leaves before serving.  Prepare the roux for thickening and flavor of the soup.  Don't skip this step.

Zafrig (roux)

  • cup oil or bacon grease
  • 1 large onion
  • cup flour
  • ½  tsp paprika
Prepare the zafrig (roux). Use equal parts oil to flour. Saute onion in oil or bacon grease in large skillet until translucent. Add flour, salt, pepper and paprika (for slight color), stirring to prevent burning, until zafrig starts to brown (5 minutes maybe). Remove from heat and pour over soup. Add 1 cup cold water into pan, scrape bottom, stir until thickened and add to soup. Mix well and cook for another ½ hour or so.  This soup thickens when refrigerated because of the ham hocks and only GETS BETTER the next day.  We like to serve ours with finely chopped raw onion on top.

    Soaking the pinto beans

    Smoked pork hocks

    Smoked pork ribs

    Yum.....better the next day!


    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Dalmation Style Fish - Lenten

    This easy, wonderful fish recipe has many options.  I've had it with lots of ketchup and an addition of brown sugar.  Too sweet for my taste.  I prefer a lighter version.  Don't leave out the vinegar, it's a key ingredient!
    Make it as spicy as you wish with the type of peppers you use.  I don't always use the wine.  If a bottle is open around the house I use it.  This makes a great lenten meal.

    It's origins were from the Dalmation coast in Croatia, where seafood was abundant



    ·  2 lbs frozen or fresh cod or any firm fish
    ·  ¼ cup Olive oil
    ·  ½ cup celery, chopped
    ·  2 large onions, sliced
    ·  1 cup peppers, sliced (assorted red, yellow & hot)
    ·  3 cloves of garlic
    ·  1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
    ·  1/2 cup red or white wine  (optional)
    ·  1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    ·  3T tomato paste or 3T ketchup
    ·  Salt, Pepper & Flour for dredging *
       Several dashes of Tabasco Hot Sauce

    5. Serve over rice pilaf or polenta.  Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

    *This can be done without this step.  I’m sure it is better for you w/o the added flour.


    Galettes (Italian Waffle Cookies)

    Galettes (Italian Waffle Cookies)

    This simple, sweet cookie needs no topping.  This recipe comes from my Italian kumovi or comare from the Pittsburgh area.  Thanks,  Rosemarie and Nonnie Vi  for this recipe you gave me years ago!  Men seem like this cookie, maybe because it has no sweet frostings on it.

    Anytime I’m asked to bake for a wedding I make these cookies.  Ethic weddings in these parts require massive amounts of cookie baking. ( I had 550 guests at mine, but that's a whole other blog!) This recipe makes a whopping 12 dozen cookies…. and my daughters always enjoyed helping me with the waffle iron.


    1 lb oleo, or butter or mix of the two (I use 3 sticks oleo & 1 stick butter), softened
    2 ½ cups brown sugar
    1 ½ cups sugar
    10 eggs
    5 TBS vanilla, Ameretto, or Kahlua (I prefer the vanilla)
    4 ½ cups flour

    Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs a few at a time and mix well. Add vanilla and mix in flour.
    Heat waffle iron. (Can be refrigerated at this point if you’re not ready to make.) 
    Drop by spoonfuls onto a galette maker or waffle maker set to medium (can do 4 at a time) Close lid and let cook for approximately 1 minute or until they appear lightly  browned in the middle and lighter around the edges.  You will need to adjust time to your waffle iron (practice on a few). Remove cookies to a wire rack or on a clean cotton cloth.

    I place them on a clean cotton towel then move them to another clean towel when they cool a bit. You need to keep moving them so they don’t ‘sweat’ on the cloth.  I do it this way because I don’t have the wire racks to accommodate 144 of these little delights.  Finished cookies should be 1 ½ to 2” in diameter.  Dust with sugar if desired.

    NOTE:  I almost forgot....take a scoop of ice cream and place between 2 cookies, wrap and freeze.  Mini ice cream sandwiches!!!

    Prijatno!  Buon appetito!

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Presnac - Savory Serbian Cheese & Spinach Pie

    Presnac (pronounced  preh-SNATZ) is a savory cheese dish of Serbian origin.  This can be made by itself, with or with out spinach or any green vegetable, or layered between a dough or phyllo dough.  A similar dish is called  ‘Zeljanica’, a cheese and spinach pie, when encrusted in pastry or phyllo leaves.

    I like it without the pastry.  Lower in carbs!.  It makes a great appetizer, brunch, or side dish.
    This particular version is mine. The addition of ricotta gives it a velvety richness.  It can be made using flour or cornmeal, or the combination of both.  I used fresh spinach leaves, just chopping them slightly.  Of course, frozen can be used or left out entirely.  I serve it over a layer of tomato sauce or marinara….fantastic!


    ¼ lb fresh spinach (3 large handfuls out of a large 1lb bag) chopped
    6 eggs, separated
    1 lb container of cottage cheese, small curd
    ½ lb ricotta cheese
    ¾ cup cornmeal
    ½ lb shredded muenster or brick cheese
    1 stick melted butter, reserve 2 T
    1 tsp garlic salt, I prefer Lawry’s
    ½ tsp white pepper
    Marinara sauce for plating, optional

    Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees.
    Beat egg whites in separate bowl and set aside.
    Beat yolks, cheeses, melted butter, cornmeal and pour into beaten egg whites.  Gently fold so as not to deflate egg whites.  Add garlic salt and pour into a greased 9x12 pan.  Sprinkle the reserved 2T of melted butter over the top (esp since I used fresh spinach)  Bake for 1 hour.  Cool in pan.

                              Cut in squares and serve.  Or cut and serve it over a puddle of marinara sauce.

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Easy No Knead Pogača ~ Pogacha ~ Serbian Flat Bread

    Easy No Knead Pogača ~ Pogacha ~ Serbian Flat Bread

    Pogacha (POH-gah-cha), also known as pogaca, is a bread eaten in Serbia, Croatia and throughout the former Yugoslavia.  Many recipes abound for pogacha over the web but most, if not all, breads are kneaded.  Not this one!  Trust me!  Mix and let rise in the same bowl.  My hands do not touch this dough. 

    When I was younger I would go visit my Teta (aunt) in Canada and every morning she would have fresh bread made before I woke up.  Nothing like the smell of fresh bread wafting through the house.  So I got up early one day and watched her make it.  So easy….thanks Teta Seka!
    Bake Time: 40 to 50 minutes *
    ·                        1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp of sugar
    ·                        1 package active dry yeast
    ·                        3 teaspoons salt  (1 Tbl)
    ·                        1 ½ cups water
    ·                        3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    ·                        4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose


    1.               In a 2 c measuring cup, dissolve yeast in ½ c warm water with sugar. Let proof (5 to 10 min).  In a large bowl add 4 cups of the flour and salt and make a well. Add yeast mix and 3 T oil then the remaining 1 ½ cups water and mix with spatula until mixture is smooth.
    2.               Add the remaining flour, a little at a time,  until you can no longer mix by hand with spatula, 2 or 3 minutes.  (You may not use the entire 5 cups of flour)  DOUGH WILL BE STICKY.  NO KNEADING IS REQUIRED.  Do not be tempted to add more flour like you would if you kneaded the bread, this pogacha is more lighter in texture.  Clean around the top of bowl and spray with PAM, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
                  Heat oven to 360 degrees. Punch dough and ‘dump’ it into a  greased round pan or shape into a round loaf onto a greased sheet pan.  Let rise for 20 minutes in a warm place. Sprinkle top of bread with a pinch of kosher salt and a quick spray of PAM.  Bake 40 minutes * until golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting……or just pull it apart and enjoy hot with a piece of butter or cheese in the middle!!!

     This was mixed by hand with the spatula.  Dough never leaves the bowl.  How easy is that?????

      *This took about 40 minutes in my electric oven but takes 50 minutes in my new gas oven,          so check time until it is golden.  You can tap the bottom to hear a hollow sound signaling it is done.  Sometimes I’ve cranked up the oven to 400 in the last 10 minutes if it seems like it’s not browning.  Some people cover their out of the oven bread in a cotton towel to retain the moisture.  I only do this if I forgot to set a timer and baked it too long

    Don’t be afraid to add toppings on this like olive oil drenched sliced sweet onions, chopped rosemary or cheeses right before baking.   Prijatno!

                                                        This recipe is lenten