Sunday, May 29, 2016
Culinary Croatia Calls -- Part III
I'm still busy and distracted here by the many demands of moving, but I had one of those moments this morning, reading the weekend paper, having gone for a run, showered, then brought my breakfast and cup of tea back to bed with me, still wearing my bathrobe. . . Sun playing patterns on the parquet floor, all the bookshelves emptied and waiting for whatever their new owners decide to do with them, book boxes packed up and labeled, ready for us to find enough room for them in our city space. . . In that moment, I recognised myself as purely happy. Transitory, of course, as happiness will be, but it was there, and it seemed important to share that, so much have I shared sadness and anxiety lately. . .
But happy as I am, I'm going to continue rationing blogging time, and stepping into the breach for me again is Regular Commenter/Sometime Guest Blogger, Dottoressa, who has written a series of posts for us about the culinary traditions of Croatia. Dottoressa and I have been chatting a bit about the possibility of my meeting her in Zagreb within the next year or so, and I firmly hope these plans come to fruition. In the meantime, learning about her country through its food is such a treat, and I love the conversational tone of these recipes. Truth be told, I'm not very likely to try out any of these dishes in the next while -- we're too busy trying to eat up what's still left in the freezer, fridge, and pantry here! But I nonetheless enjoy reading through these homey instructions for fish fillets "all'bianco" -- I can so easily picture myself In Dottoressa's kitchen, watching her measure and divide and chop the ingredients and gently shake the pot and lift the lid to check the liquid levels as it's all cooking.
For Christmas Eve, Good Friday (or any Friday,if you wish) it is custom to eat (and prepare!) dried cod fillets. I started with the original recipe (and the whole house smelled so bad of smoked cod for days), but than turned to this one. My family likes it very much (and for the version with dried cod fillets, we go to a restaurant! My house smells divine and everybody's happy-especially me!)
Cod or hake fillets all' bianco
Serves for four person
About 900 grams fresh or frozen cod or hake fillets (if frozen let it defrost just a bit so that you can cut,not more)
About 9 potatoes medium size,peeled and sliced in about 5 mm thick slices (leave them in cold water before cooking) Divide potato slices in three piles
About 0,5 dcl (1,7 oz?) olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic,chopped finely
2 tea spoons of fresh parsley ,chopped finely
2 table spoons of fine breadcrumbs
Half a glass of good white wine
Take a casserole/pot (better with thick or double bottom,but no problem if you don't have any,you only have to be more careful when cooking and gently shaking the pot from time to time))
Cut fillets in roughly 7x5cm parts( fillets come in different shapes, so this is approximate size ), divide in two piles
Drizzle aprox. 2 table spoons of olive oil on the bottom of the pan
Step 1-Spread one third of potato slices on oil
Step 2- Spread one half of fillets on potatos
Step 3-Spread pinch of salt,pinch of pepper, 1 tea spoon of parsley, some olive oil, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic and one table spoon of fine breadcrumbs
Repeat Step 1, 2 and 3
Step 4 –Spread the last third of potatoes
Pour,very slowly (near the edge of the pot ) 1 dcl ( 3,4 oz ?) white wine and add some water to the level of last potato level
Cook and wait till simmers , than leave on minimum heat for 30-40 minutes,with lid part open a little bit, check from time to time is it lightly simmering and check the level of wine+water,add if necessary (I don't think you'll have to). From time to time gently shake,do not stir. It is done when potato is done ( check with spiky knife or something,it has to be soft)
Try (carefully! It is hot) and add salt or pepper if you like.
Serving idea: With the rocket (Arugula)
From Istra to Dubrovnik,as well as in Dalmatian hinterland, one of the special dishes is called 'peka.' It is a way to prepare veal or lamb meat, or octopus, with potatoes and vegetables, together with olive oil and herbs,in a cast-iron or earthenware pot,covered with a lid with hot coal on the top. It is slowly cooked in an open fireplace. You could order it in advance (it's the best solution! Last summer when I was in a restaurant „Panorama“ above Brela at the Makarska Riviera-what a view!!- Czech tourists were ordering it for tomorrow) or slowly drink our brandy-rakija- there are different kind of rakija,more later–or some of our excellent wines, nibbling on prsut, cheese, olives and homemade bread (often also baked on „peka“ way (or „ispod peke“),as perfect appetisers.
And now Dottoressa gives you a little taste of future posts -- we have her recipe for Pasticada to come, in a future post. . . .
„Pasticada“ is a kind of beef stew, served with gnocchi,traditionally prepared for special occasions. It takes days to prepare and hours to cook. I make it often for family and friends, but I do it my way,simple and easy . Almost everyone is taking it for „the real“ one.
And she leaves us to imagine a sweet for the end of our meal. . . Mmmmm. . .
There are a lot of sweet dishes,I would mention only rafioli (sweet baked pastry filled with almond filling) and a Dubrovnik „rozata“ ( variation of creme brulee)
Once again, readers, be sure to let us know if you try any of these recipes or if you have any memories to share about having tasted them before -- personally, I'm interested in the salt cod recipe, at how much that combination calls to mind the Portuguese bacalhau that always seemed to be served with potatoes. . . And if you have any questions about recipes or geography or any aspect of Croatian life, I know that Dottoressa will do her best to answer them. Let's thank her once again, shall we? Another lovely post, D!