Saturday, 16 June 2012
Interesting country choice from Sam this week, I don’t know too much about Serbia, but the shopping list I drew up didn’t look too exotic at all, lots of vegetables, dairy products and some kielbasa.
Sam and I finished the shop in record time, sauerkraut was the only thing that took a little while to find in the supermarket. Which meant we had time for our fortnightly muffin and coffee at the cafe after the shopping. Although it turned out to be a Mississippi Mud Cake and Sprite (Sam’s choice… interestingly exactly what Ryan had chosen the previous week) The cake was too sweet for Sam though, and he opted out before he;d finished… next time he might take my suggestion of a nice savory scone – but I doubt it.
And literally straight from the shopping and onto the cooking!
Looking at out soup ingredients laid out on the kitchen bench it looked like we’d need some help eating it all so Grandma and Grandpa got the International Dinner call – and were more than happy to help out – it’s always good to get the family together for a dinner and the boys love it!
Stanglice (Salt sticks)
Well there weren’t too many left tonight since we had cooked them a week earlier, and they’re a little habit-forming… but we put the few we had left out, and they disappeared pretty quickly.
Nicely salty, with the cumin seed flavor they were moreish… and I couldn’t help myself for sampling them all week until Saturday.
Kupus (Cabbage Soup)
Pogača (Farmer’s Bread)
While I was searching for recipes, these two stood out as good, honest, traditional Serbian foods.
A simple farmer’s bread, and an everyday winter cabbage soup. And at the very least the kids are guaranteed to like the bread…
The cabbage soup looked good and hearty especially with the good-sized chunks of kielbasa (polish sausage) and large chunks of vegetables, and again, quite simple to make. The aroma while cooking was mouth-watering, the only kielbasa I could find over here was sliced thin like a salami, so I adapted and used chunky chorizo sausage as well – and it seemed to work a treat, I many have found a new favorite sausage meat in kielbasa.
Thanks to “How to Cook with Vesna” for the Kupus (Cabbage soup) recipe – it turned out to be a real treat, and we had enough left over that I’ll be having it for lunch on these cold winter days for most of the upcoming week!
The bread was a yeasted bread, but letting it stand to rise wasn’t really a part of the method. It was simple mixed, kneaded, stood for 15 minutes then baked… a goo quick bread, and given the lack of rising time a lot lighter than I thought it would be. And as predicted it was the boy’s favorite and they even dipped it into the soup, which meant they did get to taste the soup a bit.
Kupus – Sam’s Rating: 5/10
Bread – Sam’s Rating: 10/10
Adults Rating: 10/10
Sweet Cheese Palachinke (Sweet Cheese Crepes)
Now this was an interesting dish, it was a crepe, and the boys love crepes, but with this predominantly cottage cheese filling I wasn’t sure how they were going to take it. In fact I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it – but that’s what this project is all about – stretching the boys (and as an extension, our own) cuisine comfort zones.
The filling was predominantly cottage cheese, with some cream cheese, a little sugar and egg, wrapped up in the crepe and then topped with a mildly sweetened sour cream sauce.
Now the boys have had crepes with lemon and sugar in them, jam and cream, bananas and maple syrup, and berries and cream before,. and even beef mince and tomato sauce for our Brazil night. But a cheese filling was a new one for all of us.
The photo here just shows a single palachinke, and I wished I’d taking a photo of the dish before I’d served up with all six palachinke together covered in the sour cream topping – because it looked more impressive. AS predicted this one was a little strange for the boys. Ryan, who is our cheese-boy – he asks for cheese breakfast, lunch and dinner, but even the promise it was filled with cheese was just a little too strange for him in the form of a pancake/crepe – so he bowed out on the crepe but had seconds and I think thirds of the pogaca (bread). Sam initially was keen, but as we were serving up requested only half a palachinke, which we reduced to a quarter to let him have a taste and decide if he liked it, with a mild dairy allergy when he was younger he’s never been that big on cheese. But to his credit he tried it, and gave it a rating. But had extra bread helpings instead…
As for the adults, we thought it would be interesting, but didn’t expect to love it as much as we did… in fact we raved. It was stunning – how all the flavors came together and just worked, it was a sweet cheese filling, but only mildly sweet not overpowering, more like “custard-sweet” than “ice-cream sweet”, in fact we were a little disappointed when there were non left in the dish.
Palachinke – Sam’s Rating: 3/10
Adults Rating: 10/10
Vanilice (Almond Crescent Vanilla biscuits/cookies)
Now this dessert is not an everyday one, these little cookies are a special crescent-shaped Christmas cookie. So while they’re not everyday food, they’re something that are distinctively Serbian, and quite different from anything we have at Christmas.
The ingredients again were quite straightforward and simple, and making the dough took no time at all, making them all into little crescent shapes in the other hand took a while longer, but Sam jumped in and helped speeding up the job considerably, his first couple were a little wobbly (he recognized his first shape once we had cooked all 50-odd cookies) but after making a couple he figured out a way that worked best for him and was churning out crescent indistinguishable to mine. He use the last bits of dough to make an E, S and R personalized cookie for himself and his brothers (what a sweetie!)
Once they were cooked we let them cool slightly and then they were submerged in a vanilla powdered sugar I had prepared last week and left to mature over the last 7 days.
Ryan didn’t want to try the batter, or even any of the clumps vanilla sugar – that was not until he saw his little brother ask for the piece he refused… then he thought he might be missing out on a good thing – one taste and he was hooked. So when it cam to serving them up for dessert, the boys were right into them – Ryan even asking how many he was allowed – “Five” I said, since we’d made 50-odd and they were quite small – that seemed fair enough.
Well I think we all (adults included) had more than five… but there were still enough left over for us to have them with our cup of tea tonight and for Sam and Ryan to take them in their lunch box to school tomorrow, where Sam might (if he’s not too shy) show the boy in his class from Serbia.
Sam’s Rating: 100/100 (and I think we all agreed on that).
All in all – very impressed with the Serbian cuisine, some of it was a little too different for the boys, but it was refreshingly different for Mum and Dad! and Grandma and Grandpa.
Roll on the next country – in fact I hope Ryan chooses Germany, because we had to buy a rather large can of sauerkraut for the soup and we have A LOT left over… 😀