Saturday, July 2, 2016

Culinary Croatia Calls, Part V in a Continuing Series

We've been having some lovely weather in Vancouver, and I've been taking advantage of it to get outside with Pater and enjoy the city. We're trying to find a balance between spending time together and having some solo time, between cycling or walking, running or sitting at the beach, between eating out at the various restaurants and caf├ęs and fast food ethnic places we like in the neighbourhood and cooking meals at home, between going out to concerts and movies that are now within a 10-minute walk and staying home to read or watch Netflix for free.  And when I'm on my own, letting Pater do his thing wherever, I've been reading or sketching or working on my languages or meeting friends or running with my sister. . In short, there hasn't been much time for blogging, and I'm giving myself permission to post a bit less often.

But I have written a post on friendships and transition, and that's going up on Monday (when I know many of you will be busy celebrating your red, white, and blue Independence Day). And I have a few Short-and-Sweet-ish posts for the week that I hope you'll visit. I even have some fall travel news I'm getting ready to share. . . 

For now, though, Pater and I are planning to head off on our bikes this morning and visit a Farmers' Market or two along the way -- I'll be bringing my camera, as usual. . . We're meeting family for dinner tonight, and Sunday plans are still up in the air, but I'm thinking we might ask a few people over for an easy brunch. What about you? Any plans? A long weekend here (ours started yesterday, with Canada Day) and for all my readers south of the border. . . such an expansive feeling, especially in summer. . . . maybe you'll even have time to try Dottoressa's cake. At the very least, you'll be able to imagine yourself in Croatia, on holiday, as you read another of her lovely posts describing the culinary culture of her country.

Thanks so much, again, for guest-blogging, Dottoressa. And, as usual, thank you for so generously answering any reader questions or comments. 

Zagorje region  --  Northwestern Croatia

 It has a rich historical and agricultural heritage, green hills and valleys, old castles and a great number of thermal wells turned into bathing and wellness resorts with therapeutic effects. My grandmother used to spend a lot of summers here when I was a child. 
 The cuisine is based on meat, hearty soups („zagorska“ soup, thick bean soup, potato soup, all kind of vegetable soups), pastry and vegetable dishes.
Some of the specialities are homemade soft cottage cheese with cream (usually as appetiser), strukli (boiled or baked pastry filled with cottage cheese,eggs and cream- I used to make them myself, but there are excellent frozen ones to buy, so you only have to cook and serve).
Turkey with „mlinci“ (very thin dough, first baked and than boiled for a second)-this is our traditional Christmas lunch
Sunday lunch is usually based on roasted meat, like  chicken, pork, veal, with potatoes and salad. It begins with chicken broth or beef soup with a lot of vegetables and thin (homemade) pasta, similar to vermicelli.
Maize flour is used for bread, „zganci“(polenta) with milk or some of the desserts, like „zlevanka“. This is a variation on the theme, a recipe from my friend, where we add  sour cherries instead of cream. Honey cookies and Pepper cookies were also traditionally sold on Fairs, nowadays as souvenirs. You may get one when flying with Croatia Airlines. There are also strudels,with apple or cottage cheese. Orahnjaca or makovnjaca are dough rolls with walnuts or poppy seeds.

Before Dottoressa shares her delicious cake recipe with you, let me interrupt to say that she and I emailed back and forth to clarify her European measurements which will be different from those used in North America (even in Canada, where we're used to metric, we refer to the units differently). 
Here is Dottoressa's helpful and gracious response to my enquiry: 

In a maize cake, as I've written, I think that 2,5 dcl (250 ml)  is one cup and 125 ml is half a cup
250 g is 0.55 lbs or around a cup or litle more 
All purpose flour and confectioners sugar (whatever it is) = 1 cup of flour/sugar is 125 gr or 4.5 ounces
1 cup of  bread flour is 136 grams or 4.8.oz
1 cup of white,granulated sugar is 201 g or 7.1 oz
So, for a vanilla cakes 100 g of sugar (granulated white) could be half of cup.

Easy enough to work out the conversions for yourself, now, and I will leave Dottoressa's recipe as she sent it, just adding that she points out, and I concur, that 180 degrees Celsius is a moderate oven for baking, that is, about 350 degrees Farenheit. . .  The pan size is a bit tricky: I work out almost 16x14x2.5 inches, not at all a conventional size here. I'd probably make this up in two pans, myself, but I'd love to hear what any of you use. I think the roasting pan that comes with many ovens might work well, as D suggests, and perhaps a lasagna dish?

                                          Maizeflour cake or „ Zlevanka“
(From my friend Lo)
3 whole, free-range eggs
2,5 dcl plain sugar (it is actually a cup,I suppose, but I like to have exact measures when baking cakes)
1,25 dcl sunflower oil
2,5 dcl milk
2,5 dcl maize flour 
2,5 dcl wheat flour
2 bags of baking powder (here it is 10 g each= 20g)
3 bags of vanilla flavoured sugar (also cca 30 g)
Lemon zest

-oven at 180 grade Celsius 
-mix all together (see,how easy!)
-take cca 40x35x6 cm pan (we got it with the oven,if you have only small ones,make a half of everything). Spread  little oil on the bottom and sides and coat with some flour 
-pour the mixture slowly in the pan
-take 340 g of stewed sour cherries without pits from the can,drained (measured before sieving), and put on the mixture ( not exactly one by one,but not all together-you've got the picture,no?)
Bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven (control the baking at the end through glass)

You can serve it warm or cold.

Mmmmm, sounds delicious, especially if we were eating it under a Croatian sky, with a cup of their beloved coffee. Be sure to let Dottoressa and I know if you try this -- and maybe tell us what substitutions you made as you adapted the recipe for your kitchen.  Now, off you go and have a lovely weekend, but if you have a few seconds to spare, you know your comments are always welcome -- what will you be doing this first weekend in July, as the second half of our year gets underway?


  1. Happy Canada Day and wonderful weekend!

  2. D, this looks delicious...I must wait until I have company or I would eat it all myself. Do sour cherries in the can have any sugar added? The ones I buy are frozen and not sweetened but I can adjust for that as required.

    1. Thank you Georgia,I love cakes,especially mine :-), and for me works better not to start at all,because it is hard to stop.
      Of course,you can add sugar to the cherries,as much as you like. My are from the can and are bitter-sweet enough
      Have a nice weekend!

  3. I want to try this using blueberries! I love corn meal, I assume that's what we are talking about? European cakes avoid the American over-sweetening, I prefer them.

    1. It would taste heavenly with blueberries and the colour would be great.
      Yes,it is corn meal
      Some of our cakes are too sweet,too-this one is heritage and it is just the right for my taste
      Thank you Lisa

  4. I am going to do this very soon, because I love the taste of maize/corn but I have never tried it in a sweet recipe.
    Your and mater's expanations of measurements reminded me of the "measuring cup" my mother had in her kitchen. It was a cone-shaped metal container with measurements on the inside which translated the amount (volume) of different substances (flour, sugar, rice, oats...) into weight(grams).
    Here we buy cherries in a jar, already sweetened, but not too much. I imagine they would be just right for your cake.

    1. What a great idea for a "measuring cup." Right now, in my temporary small apartment space, I only have a 2-cup glass measuring cup, with the metric units on one side, imperial on the other. No good at all, really, for accurate dry measures . . .

  5. Thank you Eleanore,I love your story and memories you have shared with us.
    Tha "measuring cup" could be very useful now too!
    You can use cherries as sweet as you like
    Hope you would like the cake :-)

  6. Eleonore,I am so sorry,I write wrong your name in my answer
    Please,excuse me

    1. Never mind. With small changes in spelling my name exists in many languages. That's what I like about it;-)

  7. Happy 4th of July to all Mater's readers who celebrate it!

  8. Looks great...maybe I sould break my hard and fast rule about no baking.

  9. Thanks,Susan!
    It's easy-peasy,and it has not zillion of calories!

    1. And thanks to you, Dottoressa, for continuing to respond so generously and helpfully to all commenters. We appreciate this very much!

    2. Thank you Frances!
      The pleasure was all mine :-)
      I like to talk with you all

  10. so happy to hear that you are sketching! Missing you but still looking forward to a visit before too long

    1. Good to hear from you -- hope all is well on the island, and yes, give me a shout next time you'll be in the city and we can meet up! xo


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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