Taste of Croatia
Beautiful Country with Warm Hearted People and Delicious Food
If you have been to Croatia than you know what I'm going to say! If not, let me tell you: We, Croats, love to eat!!! We also love to organize parties and gatherings on almost every occasion.
Tasting of numerous Croatian food specialties and quality wines from taverns to exclusive restaurants is not to be missed by any visitor to Croatia. Several Croatian tour organizers organize gourmet and/or wine tasting tours in different regions while day or half day trips from tourist destinations to village households (naturally accompanied by folklore or musical programme) present traditional dishes. Practically all coastal destinations offer regular boat trips with fish picnic. During organized hunting, fishing and angling trips, adventure tours, organized trips with sports the tourists often take part in the preparation and tasting of local dishes and drink local wines.
This article was made in my desire to make Croatia and it's traditional cooking more familiar to all of you.
Overview of Croatia
Cookbook - A Taste of Croatia
A fearless foodie, a fair-weather sailor and a tireless traveler, A Taste of Croatia author, Karen Evenden arrived in Dubrovnik the 1st day of summer in 2000. When she checked into Croatia, she did not know if she would stay a day, a week or a month. Never did she consider that her visit would last for more than three years. It did not take long for Croatia to seduce her. The Croatian cruising lifestyle was magic...a seemingly endless choice of protected coves, charming medieval villages, fascinating farmers' markets, a rich and potent history and a generous and welcoming people.
A Taste of Croatia...savoring the food, people and traditions of Croatia's Adriatic coast...is both a user-friendly cookbook and an intriguing travel memoir dedicated to the land that the New York Times recently dubbed the "New Riviera." Packed with straight-forward recipes, photos, food facts and anecdotes, the author has created a publication that goes beyond the bounds of what makes a great cookbook...she delivers the spirit of the culture, the country and the cuisine and then ties it all together with a collection of recipes that will make you want to run to your kitchen and start cooking.
Croatian cultural heritage
East Croatia - Slavonia & Baranya
In the eastern corner of Croatia lies Slavonia whose principal city is Osijek. The cuisine of Slavonia owes a lot to the Hungarians that once ruled the region. Using liberal amounts of paprika and garlic, the cuisine is spicier than anywhere in Croatia. As the breadbasket of Croatia, Slavonia produces vast amounts of wheat that is best experienced in one of the delicious local pastries that are often stuffed with walnuts, poppyseeds and plum jam. Their spicy fish dishes and sausages are renowned throughout Croatia.
Homemade kulen, ham and sausage
Fish Paprikash (Slavonski fis paprikas)
Serves 5 - Ingredients:
2 tablespoons cooking oil, 2 onions (minced), 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon hot paprika, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, 3 1/2 pounds various freshwater fish (such as trout, pike and catfish) - cleaned and cut in large pieces, 1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine, 1 to 2 small hot peppers, 1 package (16 ounces) wide egg noodles, cooked
* Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sautÃ©.
* When soft, sprinkle in both the sweet and hot paprika, stir and then add the tomato paste. Pour in 8 cups of water, add the salt and put the fish in the stockpot.
*Simmer over medium heat for about 45 minutes and then add the wine and hot peppers. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add noodles (homemade or fresh noodles are the best choice).
Stuffed cabbage rolls (Sarma)
250 g (0.5 lb) ground beef, 250 g (0.5 lb) ground pork, 100 g (3.5 oz) smoked bacon - chopped, 1 onion - chopped, 50 g (1.7 oz) rice, salt, pepper, 2 tsp paprika, a pinch of nutmeg, 3-4 garlic cloves - minced, 2 eggs, 1 large head soured cabbage, 500 g (1 lb) Sauerkraut -chopped soured cabbage, 250 g (0.5 lb) smoked pork ribs, smoked meat: smoked ham, smoked sausages, smoked bacon, 1 cup tomato juice
* SautÃ© onion in oil. Add meat, bacon and rice. Fry for few minutes. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg and garlic. Let cool, then add 2 eggs. Place heaping tablespoon of meat mixture at core end of each cabbage leaf and roll up, tucking ends in.
* Line casserole bottom with 1/2 inch chopped cabbage (Sauerkraut). Place cabbage rolls on top, placing them seam-side down. Add another layer of chopped cabbage, then layer of smoked pork ribs and smoked meat. Arrange sauerkraut on top.
* Add enough water to cover rolls. Add tomato juice. Cover and simmer for about 2 to 3 hours.
Meat lovers and vegetarians alike will find favorites among the over 200 easy-to-follow recipes featured here, from classic dishes like Strudel with Saut�ed Cabbage and Potatoes with Swiss Chard to the famous Dalmatian specialty, Stewed Beef and Black Risotto, which is prepared with cuttlefish ink. Also included are over 50 dessert recipes for all variety of strudels, fine tortes, and cookies. The author's introduction to Croatia and its cuisine provides insight into the development of the culinary tradition through the centuries, as well as into the specialties of the various regions in Croatia. The addition of a chapter on Croatian wines completes the culinary tour offered though the pages of this book.
Stuffed bell paprika (Punjena paprika)
10 large bell peppers, 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) ground beef (or mixed meat), 1 onion - finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves - minced, 1 egg,
2 Tbsp rice, 1/2 l (2 cups) tomato sauce, 4 Tbsp flour, 4 Tbsp oil, salt, pepper
* Clean out the peppers.
* Combine ground beef, onion, garlic, egg, rice, salt and pepper. Stuff the peppers with the mixture.
* Make a roux: heat oil in heavy pot. When oil is hot, gradually add flour, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes.
* Place stuffed bell peppers in a pot. Pour tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers. Cover and cook on low heat around 1 hour.
* When peppers are soft and meat is done, add the roux to the tomato sauce. Let boil for few minutes.
Wallnut roll (Orehnjaca)
1 packet dried yeast, 120ml warm milk, 300g plain flour, Â½ tsp salt, 1 egg - separated, 50g sugar, 50g butter - melted, grated rind of Â½ lemon, icing sugar for dusting
Filling: 200g ground walnuts, 100g sugar, 50g raisins, 100ml milk, 25g butter - melted, 2 tbsp rum, 1 tsp cinnamon
* Dissolve the yeast and 1tsp of sugar in the warm milk. Allow the yeast to rise for 10 minutes or until foamy.
* Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture, egg yolk, sugar, butter and lemon rind, and mix to form a soft dough. Turn out the dough on to a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Place in a mixing bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
* Meanwhile, make the filling. Pour the boiling milk over the walnuts, sugar, raisins, butter, rum and cinnamon and mix well. Set aside to cool.
* Preheat the oven to 170 C.
* On a floured work surface roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 5mm thick. Spread the filling evenly over the dough and roll up, making sure that the filling is sealed inside. Place, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes. Brush the roll with beaten egg white and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden.
* Cool before slicing and dust with icing sugar.
Learn more about Croatia - book list
North-east Croatia - Zagreb & Zagorje
The cuisine of Zagreb and northern Croatia (Zagorje) with its cold winters and chilly springs is based on hearty meat dishes, with sides of beans, hearty soups and cabbage-based salads. Bread is often maize or barley or both. Filling and tasty, the cuisine from this part of the world is more like peasant fare than anything else. Homemade cheese, polenta, game and local fresh-water fish are staples in Zagorje.
Spit-roasted pork (svinjetina), duck (patka) or lamb (janje) is scrumptious. Austrian influence is most pronounced, especially in the delicate pastries.
Famous Turkey from Zagorje
Zagorje Cheese Strukli (Zagorske strukle)
Serves 8 to 10 - Ingredients:
5 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 5 eggs, 1 tablespoon cooking oil, pinch of salt, 2 1/2 pounds dry curd cottage cheese or ricotta, 1 cup (2 sticks) butter - melted, 4 cups heavy cream
* In a large mixing bowl make a dough from the flour, 1 egg, the oil and a small amount of salted water. Keep kneading the dough, either in the bowl or on a floured surface, until bubbles start to form and dough becomes smooth. Then shape the dough into a ball. Coat the surface with cooking spray, cover with a clean dishtowel and let stand about 15 minutes.
* While the dough is resting, make the filling: Mix the cheese with the remaining 4 eggs in a mixing bowl. Add salt and 1/2 cup of melted butter. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
*Sprinkle a large work surface such as a kitchen table with flour. Roll out the dough to paper-thin thickness. Then spread out the cheese mixture evenly over dough. Brush the dough with 1/2 cup melted butter. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion.
* Cut the roll into 20 pieces (the cutting is traditionally done with the rim of a plate).
* Boil the strukle in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain and arrange in a greased ovenproof dish. Preheat oven to 400Â°. Pour the remaining Â½ cup butter over the strukle and top with cream. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden.
$ Double the recipe and freeze strukle after boiling them. Prior to baking, thaw slightly, place in ovenproof dish and top with butter and cream and then bake.
Chocolate Walnut Bars (Bajadera)
Makes 4 dozen - Ingredients:
2 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter - creamed, 3 cups ground tea biscuits (Arrowroot type), 3 cups ground walnuts, 3 squares (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate- grated, 1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
Glaze: 3 tablespoons milk, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter, 6 squares (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate
chopped walnuts (optional)
* In a medium-size pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add sugar, simmering until thickened slightly. Then add the butter, tea biscuits and ground walnuts. Mix all ingredients well, until dough forms. Remove from heat and divide into 2 equal halves. Knead the grated chocolate and rum extract if desired, into one of the halves of dough.
* Press the chocolate dough into a greased 11x 13" baking dish Sprinkle some water on your hands to keep the dough from sticking to them. Spread the lighter batter on top of the chocolate, press evenly covering chocolate.
* Glaze: in a small saucepan on the stovetop, heat the milk, sugar and butter. When the butter has melted, add the chocolate squares. When the glaze is smooth, pour over top of the dough in the baking dish. Sprinkle finely chopped walnuts over top (if desired). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into small thin bars.
$ Use a microwave to combine all ingredients. Grind the biscuits in a food processor or use graham cracker crumbs.
? Use light butter and skim milk.
Meals along the Dalmatian coast are heavily influenced by their Italian ancestry which is why the coastal resorts tend to fill up with Italians in summer. Often the meals begins with a nice plate of pasta; black risotto or spaghetti in squid ink sauce is especially popular.
Dalmatian cuisine relies heavily on the fresh fish and seafood that are caught (or farmed) offshore.Look for sea bass, grouper,scorpion fish, pilchards, mackerel, squid and sea bream. Fish is usually grilled with local olive oil, garlic and lemon.
Meat isn't forgotten either. Thin slices of smoked Dalmatian ham are often on the appetiser list.Lamb is popular either boiled or baked. Dalmatian pasticada is a meat stew (beef stuffed with lard and roasted in wine and spices) often served with gnocchi.
Dalmatian deserts are usually a simple matter, often involving dried figs and raisins, almonds, honey and eggs.
Sea, fish and vegetables
1 kg. mixed fish, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 medium onions - chopped, 4 large cloves garlic - minced, 1 cup tomato purÃ©e mixed with 1/2 cup water, 2 tblsp wine vinegar, 1 tblsp Vegeta*, 2 tblsp chopped parsley, salt & pepper to taste
* Cut fish into equal size chunks and flour lightly.
* Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and quickly fry the fish on all sides.
* Remove the fish and reduce the heat to medium.
* Add the onion and fry until soft.
* Add the tomato mixture and the garlic and simmer for 10 minutes.
* Add the vinegar mixture, the fish, Vegeta and parsley and cook over medium heat without stirring until the fish is done (about 10 minutes).
* Serve with chunks of polenta.
Dalmatian Lamb with New Potatoes and Peas (Dalmatinska janjetina s mladim krumpirom i graskom)
800g leg of lamb, 4tbsp olive oil, 1 onion - chopped, 3 garlic cloves - chopped, 500g new potatoes, scrubbed or peeled
150g tomatoes - skinned and chopped, 1 bay leaf, 1 rosemary sprig - chopped, 50 ml fresh lamb stock, 250g frozen peas, salt and ground black pepper, parsley - chopped
For the lamb stock:
lamb bone, 1 onion - sliced, 1 carrot - chopped, 1 celery stick - chopped, 1 rosemary sprig, 1 bay leaf, 5 black peppercorns, 1.5 litres water
* To make the stock, cut the lamb off the bone into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
* Place the bone in a large saucepan add the onion, carrot, celery, rosemary, bay leaf, peppercorns and water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours.
* Strain through a sieve. The stock is now ready to use.
* Preheat the oven to 190 C.
* Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, lamb chunks and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, bay leaf and rosemary. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir in half of the stock, bring to the boil and then transfer to a terracotta dish or suitable casserole pot. Place in the oven and cook for about 1Â½ hours. When the lamb is almost tender add the peas and some more stock. Cook for another 10 minutes.
* Sprinkle with parsley and serve with some crusty bread.
Black Risotto (Crni rizoto)
Serves 4 -Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds cuttlefish, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 large onion - minced, 2 cloves garlic - minced, 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, 1 small tomato - peeled and diced, water or fish broth, 1 1/2 cups arborio rice, 1 tablespoon olive oil (for rice), lemon slices for garnish, parsley for garnish
* Wash the cuttlefish under running water. Pat dry. Remove the dark outer skin and cartilage from the cuttlefish. Next, very carefully, take out the ink sac and reserve for later use. Cut the cuttlefish into small pieces.
* Heat a large, deep skillet with the olive oil over medium heat. SautÃ© the onion and garlic. When soft, add the cuttlefish and parsley. Salt and add the pepper and tomatoes. Stir to mix and then add some water or fish stock to the skillet and sautÃ© until the cuttlefish becomes partially tender. At the same time, bring water or fish broth, that you will be using to cook the rice to a simmering boil in a separate saucepan.
* Rinse the rice, and then add it to the skillet along with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to coat the rice in oil and skillet juices and sautÃ© for about 1 to 2 minutes. Then add the simmering water or fish broth 1/2-cup at a time, stir until the rice absorbs the liquid and wipes the sides of the pot as you stir. When the rice dries out, add another 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid (reduce the additions of liquid to 1/4 cup after 20 minutes) and continue to stir-cook. Remember to stir well and always loosen the rice from the bottom of the pot so that it doesn't stick. Never drown the rice in the liquid, since risotto is not boiled rice. It will take the risotto about 25 to 30 minutes to cook if you are using arborio rice. The rice when done will be tender but al dente, or firm to the bite.
* Close to the end of the cooking time and before removing the rice from heat, add the contents of the ink sac to the risotto. Stir to mix well. Remove from heat and place on serving platter. Garnish by surrounding with sliced lemons and sprinkling additional parsley if so desired.
* Black risotto may be served on its own with salad and crusty bread or it may accompany grilled fish or squid including calamari. Actually, it is sinfully delicious with any seafood!
Dalmatian Stewed Beef (Pasticada)
Serves 8 to 10 - Ingredients:
1/2 to 3/4 cup cooking oil, 3 1/2 pounds beef round, 1/4 pound smoked bacon - cut into 1/2-inch pieces, salt and pepper to taste, 1 pound soup vegetables chopped (carrots, celery, parsley root, parsnips), 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary, 1 bay leaf, 15 to 20 peppercorns, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup white wine, 1 cup beef stock, 1/2 cup pitted and halved olives, juice of 1 lemon
* Heat the oil in a large deep Dutch oven or a deep stockpot with a lid. Make pockets with a sharp knife all over the beef round and insert the smoked bacon pieces into the pockets. Season with salt and pepper. Then fry the round quickly in oil to brown all sides. Remove and transfer to another dish. Brown the chopped vegetables in the same oil. When the vegetables have become lightly browned, add the rosemary, bay leaf and peppercorns. Stir and then place the meat on top. Cover the dish and stew on medium heat for about 2 1/2 hours, adding water when necessary. When the meat is tender and done, remove it and once again transfer to another dish.
* Add the flour to the vegetable mix, stirring thoroughly. Add the wine and stock and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens. When it has thickened to a gravy-like consistency, strain it. If so desired, you may purÃ©e the vegetables and add them back to the sauce (add liquid if the sauce becomes too thick). Add the olives to your sauce and season with lemon juice and salt. Slice the meat, arrange on a platter, and either pour the sauce over top or serve separately.
Learn more about Croatia - DVD
Istria & Primorje
Istrian cuisine shares much with Dalmatian cuisine. Along the coast, fish and seafood reign while the interior hills are devoted to their meat dishes.
Scampi Buzara is a delightfully messy dish based on local scampi (prawns) stewed in a tomato and white wine sauce.
Istrian dried ham (prsut) is a point of local pride. First the pigs are fed a special way, then the meat is smoked according to local custom with spice mixes passed down for generations. The resulting delicacy is thinly sliced and the bones are used as a flavouring for vegetable and bean soup (manestra).
Jota is another hearty soup based on beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, pork and bacon. Naturally, it's more popular in the rural interior.
Perhaps Istria's most famous gastronomic specialty is its truffles. Istria produces truffles all year that may be white or black depending on the season. Whether stirred into an omelette or combined with fresh pasta, a truffle meal in Istria is not to be missed!
Scampi Buzara (Skampi na buzaru)
1.5kg fresh scampi (prawns), 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 small can peeled tomatoes, 2 tsp garlic, 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1tsp Vegeta*, 2 cups white wine, salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
* Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the breadcrumbs until they just start to toast.
* Add the garlic, parsley, tomatoes and Vegeta and simmer for 10 minutes.
* Add the wine, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
* Add the scampi,lower the heat, cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes.
*Vegeta is a powdered flavouring used frequently in Croatian cooking.
Istrian Minestrone (Istarska manestra)
Serves 8 to 10 - Ingredients:
1/2 pound romano beans soaked overnight, 1 1/4 pounds smoked pork spareribs, 1 cup diced soup vegetables (carrots, parsnips, celery, etc.), 1/2 pound sweet corn kernels, 1 bay leaf, 1 cup small pasta shells, 1/4 cup cooking oil, 1 large onion - minced, 1/2 cup canned peeled tomatoes, 2 tablespoons vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
* In a large stockpot add the beans with the pork cover with water and cook over medium-heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and drain the water. Add fresh water to cover the diced soup vegetables, corn and bay leaf and simmer for at least 2 hours.
* When the soup is near the end of the simmering time cook the pasta separately. Heat the oil in a separate skillet over medium-heat and brown the onion. Add tomatoes, stir briefly and add to the soup along with the cooked pasta. Stir in the vinegar before serving. Add salt and pepper. You may also remove the meat, cut it into smaller pieces and return to the soup.
Bean soup (Jota)
200g white beans, 500g sauerkraut, 250g potatoes - cubed, 500g dried spareribs, 100g bacon - chopped, 4 cloves garlic - minced, 3 bay leaves, 2 tblsp fresh finely chopped parsley, salt & pepper to taste
* Soak the beans overnight then put in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 1/2 hour.
* Cook the sauerkraut with the dried spareribs in a large pot
* While the beans are still slightly hard, add to the sauerkraut and spareribs along with the cooking water.
* Add the bay leaf, bacon, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.
* When the beans and spareribs are nearly done add the potatoes.
* When all is done, remove the meat and serve separately from the soup.
1 egg, 1 cup yogurt, 1-2 cups flour, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp rum or brandy, 2 tbsp sugar, raisins (optional)
* Mix all ingredients.
* Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of batter in hot oil and fry, 2 or 3 at a time, until golden, about 4-5 minutes, turning with a slotted spoon as necessary.
* Drain on paper towels and dust with confectioners' sugar.