Feb 29, 2008

Batter Fried Apple Rings

Well, I am proud to join the “make your own dulce de leche” club!!! All thanks to Rivka of “not derby pie” ! Scrumptious! I can’t believe it was sitting in front of my nose all these years…

Winter is still not letting go; the weatherman actually announced more snow tomorrow, 2-3 inches, to be exact; for crying out loud, he almost enjoyed making that announcement--- I could see it in his eyes, hahaha…
So, to comfort myself, and to enjoy some dulce de leche in style, I made some:

Batter Fried Apple rings

For batter:
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
3 Tbsp sugar
A pinch of salt
1 Tsp baking powder
Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Oil to fry
For dusting:
Powdered sugar

Prepare apples; peel, core, and cut them up in into rings, sprinkle them with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Set aside for a moment.
Now, make batter by mixing eggs and sugar, then milk, and flour in which you premixed 1 Tsp of baking powder.

Dip apple rings into batter, and fry to nice golden brown color. Let them sit for a minute on a paper towel to drain the excess oil, and then serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon, and enjoy with dulce de leche! : )
Apple rings- B4Apple rings- frying
Dulce de lecheApple rings, dulce de leche

Feb 27, 2008

Baked lima beans

It is a mystery to me as to how we came about this wonderful meat shop, but my family, and friends have been loyal customers of Ilowski Sausage Co., for years now. They have the best smoked bacon, and ribs, ever! For those of you in Michigan, if you are close enough visit them; you will definitely be back for more.

Growing up in Croatia, my family smoked meats every year, and we had awesome sausages, prosciuttio, ribs, and much more. I love smoked meats! We just had a big order @ Ilowski’s this w/e, and would you look at that bacon!

It's only in order, with such nice bacon, to share with you, one of my favorite dishes, and another favorite in the former countries of Yugoslavia, baked beans, better known as “prebranac” topped with sliced smoked bacon, definitely not for those who are trying to lose weight : )

Macedonians call it “gravce na tavce”, and it is traditionally prepared in clay pots, but I didn’t have one. Guess it’s time to update my shopping list because I have few more dishes that are just ment to be prepared in clay pots. Yeah, shopping! I do need some retail therapy; this winter has been nothing short of depressing with another blizzard yesterday afternoon…brrrr…

Basically, there is no true recipe; it’s one of those meals you just put together with key ingredients. You can exclude the bacon, or instead of bacon you can top it with some nice sausages. The flavor is just amazing, the garlic and bay leaf really are the key, and of course smell of baked smoked bacon doesn’t hurt : )

Baked beans (Prebranac or Gravce na Tavce)

1 lb large lima beans
2-3 medium onions, cut up
Approx. ¼ cup oil (to sauté the onions and carrots)
1 large carrot, cut up
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp paprika seasoning
Ground black pepper
1 Tbsp of flour

Boil beans for about 10-15 min., and then drain completely, and add fresh boiling water, bay leaf, salt to taste, and then cook beans for 2 – 2 ½ hours over low heat. By then it will be cooked, and most water will evaporate, check occasionally to make sure you don’t completely dry them out. Drain, but save the water, don’t discard.

Cooked lima beansBaked beans-Prebranac, making
In a separate pan, sauté onions and carrots, and when nice and caramelized add paprika seasoning, garlic, black pepper, and a tablespoon of flour, and mix it all into cooked beans. Carefully combine, and put in a baking dish of your choice. Pour the water you saved, over the beans, top with bacon or sausages, and bake. I bake it for about 20 minutes @ 425 F.

Feb 26, 2008

This little piggy...

The fantastic cook that inspired my piggy mission, goes by username “oblakica” (with recipe in Croatian), says the recipe originates from an old Dr.Oetker cookbook. Her recipe calls for two different kinds of dough, and a filling, and it must be wonderful with cheese, oregano and tomato sauce. I am bound to make that next time.

In the meantime, I have only adapted the silly piglet form for my kids, and just to see if it would work, so I made some dough in my bread machine, just French white, and rolled it to about 1/3 inch thickness, cut out circles with coffee cups for faces, small ones for nose with a bottle cap, and cut a bunch of those small ones into quarters for the ears. Yeah, I know, I desperately need more kitchen gadgets, like cookie cutters : )
Piglets B4 oven
I did all that separately; also made small slits in the nose, used peppercorns for the eyes, and put some rosemary for each nostril for more authentic look. Helps to be an artist : )

With all pieces ready, I just “glued it” with egg yolk wash. Bake in a preheated oven @ 405 F, for about 15 minutes or so.

I am so happy with the results, and the kids love them, of course! I make bread often, almost every day, so these piglets are certainly coming back to the table!
Yummy piglets
My kids ate all those little pigs in no time! I managed to get only one, just to try, and even though it’s just plain bread dough, they have something extra to it!!! I only used like a third of my dough, the rest I baked as a loaf, I wish I made more little pigs… : )

Translation of the original recipe by Oblakica (the best I could)
(link to Croatian version on top of this post)

Makes about 20 piglets:
400 g (13 1/2 oz) all purpose flour
1 package instant dry yeast
1 egg
2 dcl (7 oz) plain yogurt
1 dcl (3 1/2 oz) warm milk
a pinch of salt
Puffed or flaky dough:150 g (5 1/2 oz)flour
100 g (3 1/2 oz)magarine (unsalted)
pinch of salt
Filling:As much as you like: cheese(she used Gouda), tomato (pizza) sauce, oregano;
or something else you would like for filling
Wash:Egg white to use as «adhesive»
Egg yolk and some milk to brush @ the end

First, make first dough by mixing all ingrediens, and let it rise in a warm place. In the meantime, make puff dough with second batch of ingredients, and then mix it into the risen dough (yes, mix'em together), and work it well on a floured surface. Roll the dough and with a round cookie cutter or something else cut out circles about 3 inches in diametar or desired size. Leave some dough for ears and noses :)

Make filling with cheese, tomato sauce (pizza sauce), and oregano. You can be creative and use different kinds of ingredients to make a filling of your own. You can also add ham, or salami, or vegetables.

Place half of circles onto baking sheet (aligned with parchment paper), brush edges with egg white wash. Put some filling in the middle, cover with other half of circles, and press the edges to assure nothing will come out while baking.

Remainder of the dough use to make smaller circles for nose, and for ears by cutting them into quarters. Use egg whites wash as «adhesive» for ears and nose. For nose make somewhat smaller circles. For eyes and nostrils use a toothpick to make little lines and then inside, put cumin, pepper or something similar.

Now that you have little piglets, let them rise again for a little while, and then brush them with a little bit of egg yolk wash mixed with a little bit of milk. Bake for about 20-25 min. @ about 385-405 F.

My note: you can use something else for the eyes if you are concerened about kids biting into peppercorns. Oblakica didn'tuse peppercorns, but other herbs. My kids just took the peppercorns out. Enjoy! I am sure for whomever you make them, they will be a hit!!! :)

Feb 8, 2008

Peaches - Breskvice

Breskvice (peaches) are very traditional in all the countries of formerly Yugoslavia, and are a must at weddings, holidays and any special occasion. Of course I would, from time to time, come up with a special occasion just to make them : )
There are many recipes out there, and really you can’t go wrong with any of them, the method is pretty much the same, and you can jazz up the filling any way you like, you‘ll see. I go traditional way, with peach jam (my homemade, and you can use whichever jam you like), walnuts, and crumbs from the cookies, as well as more kid friendly, or shall I say Chocoholic friendly version with Nutella instead of jam, mhmm….
I have adapted this version of bisquits from Croatian Herald, and I use a filling from a recipe of unknown source. The "styling" process is my own making :)


For the cookies (about 16):300 grams of flour
150 grams of butter or margarine
100 grams of fine sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp of sour cream
½ package of baking powder (7 grams)
Now, if the above quantity is not enough for you, double it!

For the filling:
Crumbs from carving the peach halves
As needed peach jam (or some other jam)
Ground walnuts (or some other nuts)
Filling option 2:
Instead of jam, use Nutella, the rest is same
some rum, if you like

Also needed:
200 ml of milk
4 Tbsp of sugar
Yellow and red food dye
Vanilla extract, or strawberry and mint,
or banana, whatever suits you
Sugar for dipping peaches

In no particular order, mix all the ingredients until smooth. It may seem at the very beginning like that is just not going to happen, but just keep mixing.
Now wash your hand, and then oil them, and start making little balls a bit smaller than a walnut. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake them in the preheated oven, 385 ° F, for about 15 minutes.

They will still be white, so don’t think they are not done, don’t burn them, take them out, cool them for a bit, just enough to handle them in your hands, and with a small knife, or some other tool, carve holes in each of the halves, very carefully. C’mon, it’s so worth it! : )

Leave the crumbs you are getting, and when you are done, “grind” them through your fingers to get finer crumbs, and now add as needed, or to taste, jam, and walnuts, to make filling thick enough to fill the halves, and when sticking two together, to be able to hold it. Remember you can substitute jam with Nutella, for filling option 2.

Now that you have little pale peaches, prepare two cereal bowls, or some other bowls, with 100 ml of milk in each, mix in 2 Tbsp of sugar in each, and couple of drops of yellow food dye in one, and couple of drops of red food dye in the other bowl, and mix a bit. Add flavoring (I use vanilla), but you can also flavor the red with strawberry, and yellow with mint, or flavor both milk mixtures with banana or some other flavor, or you know what, just play with it!!! Also prepare sugar for dipping in a plate or something of that kind.

Quickly dip each peach in yellow milk, and then in red milk, but not one peach half in one color, and one peach half in other, rather dip them in the manner in which each half will get dipped in both colors, for more natural looking peaches : ) Now, I pat them with paper towel for a second or two, to make sure they are not to wet for the next step, rolling them in the sugar. I learned this over time, and you will get better every time, and they will look better, and better, and you will play with flavors.

When you are done with coloring all the peaches, and rolling them in sugar, let them sort of rest overnight , and enjoy!

Peaches in progress!