Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Croatian Food Month - 9 Vegan Croatian Recipes

Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions guys! I now have a big list of countries, one for every month of 2012! But please keep the suggestions coming as I love to hear what you guys want and adding it to the list! A-dizzletron and I are having so much fun exploring these cuisines that we previously knew nothing about and I hope that you are enjoying reading them to! We have just finished our last entry for January - Croatia Month, which was requested by an anonymous commenter and we would firstly like to thank him/her/it for such a great suggestion - it was delicious! I'd also like to thank all the fantastic people who helped us out by providing their knowledge of Croatian food. If you'd like to check out the recipes we came up with, here are the links for the 9 Croatian dishes we posted up this month:

Poppy Seed and Almond Kolache
Yumuşacık Poğaça (Fluffy savoury buns filled with creamy potato and pickles - one of my favourites from the month)
Paprenjaci (Cracked Pepper Biscuits)
Posna Sarma (Rice filled cabbage rolls)
Makovnjaca (Poppy Seed Strudel)
Croatian Pizza (with "kulen sausages" and vegan feta cheese!)
Kupus Na Zagorski & Blitva (2 delicious vegie side dishes)
Šljivovec (AMAZING plum pie)

It's quite a list of recipes! All of them were delicious (of course, otherwise we wouldn't have posted them!) but I would have to pick my top 4 as the Yumuşacık Poğaça, Paprenjaci, Croatian Pizza and the Šljivovec. But then the Posna Sarma and Makovnjaca were pretty special too... you see I just can't pick! So you'll have to give them all a try!

So - we are leaving Croatia behind (for now!) and moving on to our February featured country which was requested by Sophie - CHAD! Yes, in February we will be delving into the Northern African landlocked country of Chad (something tells me there will be less sea food then there was for Croatia!). We can't wait to share what we find with you and I hope that if you know lots about food from Chad then you will contact us and let us know! 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Split Pea and Basil Stew

Sometimes I find the best recipes are created when you have something that you need to use up. My vegie garden is growing so beautifully right now and I am a tiny bit super proud of it. It's sort of like my child (except less high maintenance), every time somebody comes over to my house I invariable drag them outside to proudly show them my vegie garden and point out all the changes since last time I dragged them out to see it. My friends are probably sick of this but they will probably have to get over it. I imagine it is similar to if  they went over to somebody's house who had just had a baby - out come the baby photos (despite the fact that the baby is right there for you to look at) so that they can tell you all the tiny ways that the baby has changed over the last month which are all things that probably only they care about. Well, I'm like that with my vegie garden. It's like my child essentially. This is my other child, by the way, and I can tell you that she is definitely much cuter than my vegie-garden-child:

Uli Von Tuftsberg

However, what happens with a vegie garden (as I'm sure any vegie growers know) is that suddenly you get an influx of something which needs to be used up all at once before the plant goes to seed. So, this week the basil in my garden was rather thriving and I knew I needed to use up a fair bit of it to stop the plants going to seed. I was making lunch and what I really felt like was split pea soup/stew. So - the result was obviously Split Pea and Basil Stew! This is probably something I never would have tried if I hadn't had to use up the basil, which would have been a great loss because it was absolutely delicious (seconded by the two guests I had over for lunch that day). So the moral of the story is. Something.

Just to prove what a proud parent I am here is a picture of my basil (isn't it adorable??):

Split Pea and Basil Stew

1 tbsp nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1.5L vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups green split peas
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
5 tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
Cracked pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh basil

To Make:
1. Melt nuttelex in a large soup pot. Add the leek and garlic and sauté until softened. Add fennel seeds and caraway seeds and sauté for a further 5 minutes.
2. Add the split peas, stock, potato, carrot, sweet potato, tomatoes, soy sauce and cumin and bring to the boil.
3. Reduce to a simmer and and cover. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the peas have gone nice and mushy.
4. Grind the basil to a paste in a mortar and pestle (leaving a small handful out to chop and use as garnish) or alternately use a food processor.
5. Add the basil paste and peas to the stew and simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with cracked pepper.
6. Serve topped with shredded fresh basil.

Serves 4.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Vegan Šljivovec (Croatian Plum Pie)

This is our last post on Croatian food for this month - which has been a truly delicious journey for both of us. This incredibly plum pie is the perfect way for us to farewell a country which has given us a lot of delicious food experiences. Plums are perfect in Australia right now so it's the perfect time to give this super special pie a try. The beautiful and simple tart flavour of the plums is accented by the lovely crunchy pastry. The fact that it's also free form pie makes it much easier than other forms of pies. This isn't the first time we've posted a free form pie - check out our savoury free form pie: Pumpkin, Cashew and Balsamic Pie. Once again I have to thank the amazing Enola (@rhelune) for not only sending us this recipe but also translating it from Croatian for us - you legend!


400gm of wholemeal flour
2 Tbsp of canola oil
1 sachet (5gm) yeast
1/2 tsp of salt
2 Tbsp of raw sugar
1/2 cup of warm water

7 large Plums, sliced into wedges (about 6 per plum)
1/4 cup of sweet dark rum (or plain brown rum)
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp of almond meal
Juice of half a lemon
3 Tbsp of brown sugar.

How To Make:

1. Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water in a large bowl. Let sit for 10mins.
2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
3. Mix in flour, salt and oil with your hands, until a smooth, elastic dough has formed. Form in to a ball, and leave in the bowl in a warm place, firmly covered with a tea towel, for 15mins.
4. Place plums and all other filling ingredients, except for 2 Tbsp of brown sugar and the almond meal, in a bowl and let sit for 15mins.
5.Dust a smooth, flat surface (like your bench!) with flour, and roll the dough into a circle.
6. Spread the almond meal and remaining 2 Tbsp of brown sugar evenly over the dough, like this:

7. Pour plum mixture into the middle of the dough and fold the edges in, like so:

8. Bake for 45mins.

Serves 10.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

2 Croatian side-dishes: Kupus Na Zagorski & Blitva

Well we've almost reached the end of Cabbage Month... I mean Croatia Month. So we're rounding the savoury recipes for Croatia off with a double whammy - two lovely side dishes (no surprises - one of them is cabbage!). These dishes are a great accompaniment to your main dish, or you can make them both because if you eat them together it makes a great full vegetable-filled meal.

Kupus na Zagorski

½ a large cabbage, shredded finely
4 Tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp brown sugar
1  brown onion
4 Tbsp of smoky paprika
1  tsp cumin
1 green chilli
5 tablespoons vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

How to make:
1. Heat oil in a large pot over a medium heat and sauté the onion and chilli for 2-3 mins.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, sautéing for 5 mins.
3. Turn the heat to low, cover pot and leave to simmer for about 20 mins (or until cabbage is cooked).
4. Enjoy!
Serves 10-12 (as a side dish)

I recommend having some of our Cabbage-Is-My-Friend Tea.


1 bunch chard/spinach
2 medium waxy potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil or to taste
2 tbsp nuttelex
Salt & pepper to taste

To Make:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the 1 tbsp nuttelex.
2. Rinse the chard well and remove the tough stems. Tear into large pieces. Cut the potato into 3-4cm cubes.
3. Drop chard and potatoes into the boiling water and cook until done (about 10 mins).
4. Drain and top with olive oil and 1 tbsp nuttelex. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Goes perfectly with out fabulous Croatian Posna Sarma (Cabbage rolls stuffed with rice).

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Croatian Pizza (with "Kulen" and Vegan Feta Cheese)

I have certainly had such a great time digging around for amazing Croatian-inspired dishes to share with you this month. This particular one might seem a bit odd, I know, since you're all thinking "Pizza comes from Italy right?" - unless of course you're Croatian in which case you are probably thinking "Naša pizza je najbolja pizza na svijetu" (Ok - I used Google Translate for that so if you are Croatian and it doesn't make any sense I sincerely apologise). 

I have two people to thank in the creation of this dish - firstly my awesome and well-travelled friend Amy, who I asked for ideas on Croatian food since she had been to Croatia quite recently. She gave me the usual reply: "lots of seafood". Hmmm. But then she said something which surprised me quite a lot - she said that the pizza she ate in Croatia rivalled the pizza she ate in Italy. After this interesting conversation I jumped on that incredible resource - the internet - and did some reading. Apparently there is some contention among Italian and Croatian people as to whose pizza is superior. I have been to Italy and sampled some sensational pizzas, however, have not (YET) been to Croatia thus cannot provide any opinion. However, as Amy is neither of Italian or Croatian descent/allegiance I trust her opinion and thus thought I would try my hand at a Croatian-inspired pizza. 

The next step is of course..... what do I put on a Croatian pizza? I couldn't find much about this on the net so I was very lucky when I managed to have some great twitter conversations with the other important person in this story (a Croatian person!): Enola (@rhelune). Through these fantastic conversations I gleaned a few key ingredients to a Croatian style pizza. The first of them was "Kulen" - a spicy fermented paprika sausage. Obviously real kulen is out of the question for a vegan (and for an Australian, for that matter - as I am as of yet unaware of any underground market in imported Croatian sausages) but I figured I could make something replicating the flavours of this without too much difficulty. The other is ingredient was cheeses - Enola told me about Kaymak, which is a type of clotted cream. However, I thought I might try my hand at something a bit less heavy and remembered coming across quite a few Croatian recipes on the internet that used feta cheese. So - my challenge with this dish was to invent Vegan Kulen and Vegan Feta Cheese - both of which are featured on my Croatian Pizza below. I invented both from scratch and I'm very happy with how they both turned out - delicious!

Big, big thanks to Amy and Enola and I hope they like what I came up with on their suggestions! If you are Croatian or Italian please feel free to argue passionately about whose pizza is better in the comments section below :)
3 vegetarian sausages, thinly sliced
1 heaped tablespoon smoky paprika
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp water
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Feta Cheese:
125-150g hard tofu (that means it should NOT be in a punnet and should retain it's shape completely when you squeeze it)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
2 cloves garlic, crushed

6 small thin crust pizza bases (I like these because you don't have to cut the pizza up at all - just pick it up and eat it! But you can make this on a larger pizza base of course)
12 tbsp passata (or tomato paste for a richer tomatoey flavour)
Baby spinach
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
5-6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
Olive oil, to drizzle

To Make
1. To make the Kulen: Combine all ingredients in a bowl - mix well and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients so that they can marinate (try to leave for at least 15 minutes - but longer is greater).
2. To make the Feta: Squeeze as much of the water out of the tofu as you can and crumble it into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt and garlic and mix well. Taste test - it should be nice and salty and sour. If it is not salty enough add more salt, if it is not sour enough add more lemon juice. Set aside for at least 10-15 mins while you prepare your other ingredients.

3. To assemble: Place the pizza bases on a lined baking tray. Spread 2 tbsp passata on each base.
4. Layer the ingredients on: first the baby spinach, then the mushrooms, then the tomato, then the kulen. 
5. Finally, grab a small handful of the feta cheese and sprinkle it in the middle of the pizza. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
6. Bake in the oven at about 180 degrees celcius for about 10-15 minutes, or until the crusts are nice and crunchy and the feta cheese is slightly browned on top. This will vary depending on the type of bases you buy and how hot your oven is - so keep an eye on them.

This is what they looked like before baking.

Makes 6 mini pizzas (serves 3).

Check out our other Croatian Recipes:
Poppy Seed and Almond Kolache
Yumuşacık Poğaça
Paprenjaci (Cracked Pepper Biscuits)
Posna Sarma
Makovnjaca (Poppy Seed Strudel)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Vegan Truffles in 3 Flavours: Tahini Temptress, Paprika Paradise and Strawberry Gum Seduction

This is our second contribution to the Death By Chocolate Blog Hop - as the fabulous hostesses were very kind and allowed that we could have a special consideration for this hop and post one recipe each (since we have 2 authors on this blog). This was a huge relief really because chocolate is probably my favourite thing ever and if I had had to fight K-bobo for it things would have got messy (in a melted chocolate everywhere kind of way - kind of like they did anyway.... as you'll see from pics below).

K-bobo has already contributed the incredible Black Forest Shots to the hop, so I thought I would go with a more traditional way to die consuming chocolate - decadent creamy truffles. There really is no end to the flavour combinations you can create with truffles, and they take little effort whilst looking and tasting mighty fine. K-bobo came up with the frankly genius idea of smoky paprika truffles, and I just couldn’t resist trying my new strawberry gum (the ground leaves of a eucalyptus tree with an amazing strawberry passionfruit flavour) and combining two of my favourite things: tahini and chocolate. And the result? These truffles pretty much Blew.My.Mind.

Strawberry gum might seem like a bit of an obscure ingredient, but it can be bought from some fruit and vegie shops or quite easily online here at Herbie's Spices. Trust me it is well worth getting - the flavour and the aroma are incredible


250g of dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup of soy milk
¾ tsp of ground strawberry gum
¾ tsp of smoky paprika
2 Tbsp of unhulled tahini
¼ cup of toasted sesame seeds, for coating
Cocoa powder and sweet paprika for dusting.

How to make:

1. Heat the soymilk in a small saucepan until small bubbles appear and steam rises off the pan.
2. Take off heat, add chocolate and stir vigorously until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth.
3. Divide the ganache into three small containers/bowls or as I used, ramekins:
4. Add the smoky paprika to one of the containers and stir until combined. Add the strawberry gum to the second container and stir until combined. Leave the third as it is, cover the containers and chill in the fridge for eight hours or overnight.
5. Time to roll some truffles!

Strawberry Gum Seductress:
Remove strawberry gum ganache from the fridge. Place about ¼ cup of cocoa powder on a small bowl, and using a teaspoon or a melon baller (these are perfect!), place a spoonful of the ganache into the cocoa, tossing it in the cocoa until covered. Then dust your palms with some of the cocoa and roll the ganache piece into a ball, and place on a serving plate/whatever plate you like. Repeat until you run out of ganache.

Paprika Paradise:
follow the instructions above, adding 1 tsp of smoky paprika to the dusting cocoa. When the smoky paprika truffles are rolled, sprinkle the tops with some sweet paprika for colour and added flavour.

Tahini Temptress:
Now we get to the double sesame amazingness! K-bobo perfected the technique for these, so I’ve included step by step photos of her making them like a champion. First, toast your sesame seeds in a small pan, stirring them over a low heat until browned, and transfer them to a small bowl. Allow to cool completely. Then dust your palms with a little cocoa and take a spoonful of the mixture, this time without dusting it in cocoa. With your fingers, mould the spoonful of mixture into a pancake shape, like this:

Then get a pea sized amount of tahini and place it in the middle, like this:

Now carefully fold in the edges of the ganache until it is sealed, and very gently roll into a ball with your palms (your palms will get pretty chocolaty with these!). Lastly, place the rolled truffle in the bowl with the toasted sesame seeds and gently roll until covered in seeds. By the end of making of making the double sesame truffles, your hands should look like this (cue chocolaty jazz hands!):

8. Enjoy your truffles!

Makes approx. 35 truffles

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Vegan Makovnjaca (Croatian Poppy Seed Strudel)

Makovnjaca was one of the first recipes which I came across when I started looking into Croatian Food for our January featured country - Croatia (obviously). There were a lot of different recipes out on the internet with quite a lot of variation - however, I can't credit it this to any of them because I pieced this together using ideas from a few different websites and then changed it to make it vegan. So, although it is a traditional dish - this one is very much my own recipe for it and therefore I can't comment on it's authenticity (perhaps a Croatian reader can help me out with this?).

As far as I could glean there were two types of makovnjaca on the internet - a light bready/cakey one and a denser and less fluffy strudel/danish one. This one is of the latter variety, as the pastry does not rise to make a fluffy cake. It was very delicious, particularly because it wasn't overly sweet. Before beginning Croatia Month I had never even thought to use poppy seeds as the fillings in my desserts - but having make 2 now (see the Poppy Seed and Almond Kolache recipe - link below) I am definitely a convert and will be trying to work it into my other desserts as much as possible to explore some new flavour combinations. Poppy seeds are also a good source of anti-oxidants, essential volatile oils, dietary fibre, B-complex vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese and potassium. They can also act to soothe anxiety and irritability and ease pain due to very small levels of opium alkaloids present in them.


600g wholemeal flour
150g nuttelex
100g castor sugar
200ml warm soy milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
4x 7g yeast sachets (28g)
5 tbsp water

2 cups poppy seeds
1 cup soy milk
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp apricot jam
1 tsp cinnamon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp rum

To Make
1.  Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm milk and leave for 15 minutes.
2. Sift the flour into a bowl and cut the nuttelex into it. Rub the nuttelex into the flour with your hands until it forms a crumbly mixture with no large bits of nuttelex.
3. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture, golden syrup and a few tbsp water. Mix well.
4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Put back in the mixing bowl and cover it with a tea towel. Let stand in a warm place to rest (it won’t rise much, so don’t worry if it doesn’t).
5. Put the poppy seeds, soy milk, jam, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the mixture is thick and the jam is completely dissolved. Remove from heat stir the lemon zest and rum through.
6. Divide the pastry dough in half and roll out one half into a large rectangle (use the baking tray that you’re going to be using to determine the length of the rectangle.
7. Spread half of the poppy seed filling mix evenly over the rectangle. Roll up like a jam roll. Trim the edges to be neater and place on a tray lined with baking paper.
8. Do the same thing for the other half of the pastry and filling. Brush the tops of the rolls with either soy milk or melted nuttelex.

9. Bake at 170 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the tops are browned slightly. Allow to cool completely.
10. Slice into 2cm slices and serve.

Makes 2 makovnjaca.

Check out our other Croatian Recipes:

(Savoury buns filled with creamy potato and pickles)

(Cracked Pepper Biscuits)

(Rice Filled Cabbage Rolls)

Croatian Pizza

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Chickpea and Cabbage Salad with Tahini Dressing

I've recently bought the amazing 'Appetite For Reduction' by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and honestly it is the best book she has ever written (except maybe Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but that is in a league of it's own). The first section in the book is dedicated to the most amazing sounding salads and I am literally planning to make them all starting from the first and working my way through. Salad is something, however, that I find recipes are often basic, boring and something I could have made in my sleep and I often think they are a waste of space in a cookbook. However, there is something very exciting about salad recipes which make you drool just reading them - mostly because salad is so easy to make.

As a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, however, I am not an enormous advocate of salads and would strongly try to dissuade anybody thinking of going on a raw food diet against doing so. This is because eating a lot of salads and raw foods expends a lot of extra heat in your body in order to digest it and can result in cold in the interior. Cold foods can also damage the functioning of your Spleen Qi, and therefore may cause digestive problems, bloating, water retention and even weight gain. So - I advise salads to my patients only in moderation and when I eat salads I often try and make sure that at least some of the ingredients are cooked (see my Marinated Tofu, Broad Bean and Broccoli Salad, my Glass Noodle, Green Bean and Black Fungus Salad, or my White Bean Salad).

However, this salad doesn't involve cooking any of the ingredients, therefore I recommend not having it too often. Whenever I eat a salad like this I always drink a cup of herbal tea with it to help warm up my Stomach and aid in the digestion of the food. In this case the tea you should drink is my Cabbage-Is-My-Friend Tea, there are two reasons for this. As this salad contains raw cabbage I would recommend having a couple of cups of this tea with and after your salad for a carminative (anti-flatulent) affect. Secondly, it contains herbs which aid in digestion, therefore may help prevent any damage to your Spleen Qi caused by the cold nature of the foods. 

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 carrot, grated
1 small cucumber, finely diced
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1x 300g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp pepitas
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp unhulled tahini
1 clove garlic
2 tsp soy sauce (substitute tamari to make this salad gluten free)
Cracked Pepper, to taste

To Make
1. Combine the lettuce, cabbage, carrot, cucumber and chickpeas in a bowl and mix well to combine.
2. Sprinkle the cherry tomatoes and pepitas over the top.
3. Add a little zest from the lemon.
4. In a small bowl or cup, combine the tahini, lemon juice (from the half lemon) and garlic and mix quite vigorously until the tahini is all smooth and has turned a paler colour (due to the lemon juice). Add the soy sauce and mix well to combine. Add pepper to taste (you will not need to add salt, as the soy sauce is salty enough).
5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Eat straight away.

Serves 2

Monday, 16 January 2012

Black Forest Shots

Black Forest Cake always reminds me of my childhood because my mum made the best one ever and my brother used to request it as his birthday cake every single year without fail. However, doing shots doesn't remind me of my childhood at all because I had good parents. So... I guess this recipe is like combining the past with the future. Or something wanky like that. Really though - all you need to know is that these are sooo much easier and faster to make than a Black Forest Cake. Plus, what could be cooler than eating a whole (mostly liquid) cake in one mouthful? There is also something quite fun about shots which you have to chew as you take them. So, with that random group of good points about these shots, you can see that you obviously have to try them. I'm also planning Lamington Shots and Tiramisu Shots to go up at some stage in the same series.

Ingredients (per shot)
1 pitted morello cherry (see note below - for the love of god read the note!)
½ measure vanilla vodka
½ measure cherry brandy
2 tsp of the juice from the jar or can of morello cherries
1 tsp chocolate ganache (see recipe below)
2 tsp coconut milk

Chocolate Ganache (makes quite a big batch so if you are only making a few shots you may want to halve it)
1/3 cup soy milk
100g dark chocolate, broken up into small pieces

To Make
1. To make the ganache, heat the soy milk in a small saucepan until small bubbles start to appear on the outer edge of the milk (don’t let it boil). Remove from the heat and stir in the broken up chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is all melted and the ganache is deliciously glossy (don’t put it back on the heat!). Allow to cool slightly.
2. Put the morello cherry in the bottom of the shot glass.
3. Add the vanilla vodka, cherry brandy and morello cherry juice.
4. Add a generous teaspoon of chocolate ganache to each glass (it will sink into the middle of the booze).
5. Pour the coconut milk over the shot glass over the back of a teaspoon to make it sit at the top of the shot.
6. Consume immediately and make another :)

NOTE: I would highly recommend checking each cherry to make sure that it is in fact pitted before putting it in the shot, as my experience of buying jars of pitted morello cherries is that roughly 1/4 of the cherries in the jar actually still have pits in them. So - if you don't want your cocktail party guests choking on cherry pits I recommend checking by inserting a sharp knife or skewer into the cherry first.

This post is part of the Death By Chocolate Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, click on the list of posts below or on this badge to see all the other entries submitted to the hop:

P.S. I can't even tell you how many times I accidentally typed shit instead of shot when writing up this post - hopefully I noticed them all and changed them......

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Cabbage-Is-My-Friend Tea

If you read this blog much then you'll notice an influx of cabbage over the last week or so. This is partly due to lots of delicious cabbage-y Croatian recipes, and partly due to the fact that we had lots of cabbage left over from all out Croatian cabbage cooking to use up. Now, cabbage is delicious - however, there is a catch and you all know what it is. So, in order to address this problem I have devised this carminative tea of fennel seeds, caraway seeds and fenugreek which is not only delicious but eases the digestion and allows you to eat as much cabbage as you like without stinking out the whole world. Hurray!

Not only is this tea carminative but it's also very good for you in other regards as well - because all these ingredients have fantastic properties which can be beneficial to your health*:

Fennel Seeds:
1) Can be a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins (including B group), as well as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, molybdenum and many other useful elements and nutrients.
2) Has been shown to produce anti-spasmodic, pain-reducing and fever-reducing effects
3) Can help stimulate milk flow in breast feeding women
4) Is a natural treatment for problems of digestion - including bloating, flatulence, constipation, IBS, cramping and pain of the abdomen
5) Can help regulate oestrogen in women and alleviate PMS symptoms
6) Can act as an aphrodisiac and increase libido
7) Is an effective weight loss aid

Caraway Seeds:
1) Treat digestive disorders such as diarrhoea, colic, flatulance, cramps and poor appetite.
2) Can help ease cramps during the menstrual cycle and can act as a natural pain reliever for dysmenorrhoea (period pain)
3) Can increase the production of milk in breastfeeding women
4) Can help fight bronchitis and coughing

1) Can lessen mood fluctuations and PMS during the menstrual period
2) Can increase libido
3) Improves digestion and metabolism, including treating flatulence, acid reflux, bloating and constipation (acts as a milk laxative)
4) May help regulate blood sugar levels and stimulate production of insulin
5) May help lower high cholesterol levels
6) Eliminates bad breath

What a wonderful lot of properties! Now you see why you should be drinking down this tea even if you haven't had any cabbage recently!

1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp whole fenugreek

To Make
1. Put all ingredients in a tea pot and fill the pot with boiling hot water. Allow to steep for 4-5 minutes.
2. Strain into a mug and drink.
3. Refill the tea pot with more boiling water next time you want a cup of tea - you can use the same set of seeds all day and keep refilling, although you may find you will need to steep for slightly longer times as the day goes on.

*A small disclaimer on this: most of this information was gathered from various reputable websites, however, I did not have the time to trawl through research papers to find supporting evidence to these claims. Therefore you should take it as you would take any information you read on the internet (with a grain of salt). But not literally of course, because I don't think this delicious tea needs any salt added.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Posna Sarma (Croatian Rice-filled Cabbage Rolls)

You know how sometimes you just make a dish and think to yourself: "Man, that looks like some delicious ugly". Well this is one of those dishes, there wasn't much I could really do to it to make it photography pretty but you'll just have to take it on taste value rather than looks - and in order to do that you'll have to cook of of course :) This is now recipe number 4 in our delicious exploration of Croatian foods and I have been enjoying myself sooooooo much trying lots of new foods (to check out our other recipes, check the thumbnails at the bottom of the post), I have to say I have never made cabbage rolls before but now I see they are a delicious, low carb and unprocessed option instead of cannelloni. These ones are stuffed with a lovely rice and vegetable mix but you could substitute any kind of cannelloni style filling - this is particularly good for me as I have a severe pasta weakness and am trying to cut myself down to having pasta only twice a week - it's hard.

On the other hand, if you are a bit scared of cabbage due to it's flatulent reputation (not entirely unjustified) - they I suggest you have this with some of our Cabbage-Is-My-Friend Tea which will take care of any worries you have in that area so that you can happily enjoy cabbage as frequently as you like!

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 cup uncooked long grain rice, rinsed
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp fresh oregano (or substitute 1 tsp dried)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 whole cabbage
1 tin sauerkraut
1 can tomato soup (check to make sure it’s vegan)
1 can pureed tomatoes
1 cup water

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees celcius.
2. Heat oil in a large saucepan or frypan and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the carrot and celery and continue to sauté until the vegies are softened, about 10 mins on a medium-low heat.
3. Add the rice, tomatoes, herbs and seasonings plus 1 cup water to the saucepan and cook, covered, on a low heat for 10-15b minutes. The rice should start to soften but not be completely cooked.  Remove from the heat and stir the chopped garlic through.
4. Meanwhile, pull the tough outer leaves off the cabbage and discard. Wash thoroughly and steam the whole cabbage for 10 minutes or so until the outer leaves are softened and easier to pull away.
5. Remove as many of the outer leaves as you can (until you reach the inner parts which are not as well cooked) and then put the rest of the cabbage back in the steamer for another 5 mins so that you can remove more of the leaves.
6.  Cut the thick stems out of the cabbage leaves and begin rolling. Add about 2 tablespoons of rice mix to the edge of the cabbage leaf and roll over once. Fold in both of the edges and then continue rolling to the end. Put aside. Keep going until you use up the rice filling (or you have to stop because your dish isn’t going to be big enough for all of them.
7. Take some of the leftover centre part of the cabbage and slice it very thinly. Layer this cabbage along the bottom of a big lasagne/casserole dish. Next spread the sauerkraut (drained if necessary) over the top of the cabbage.
8. Place your cabbage rolls over the top of the cabbage and sauerkraut, tucking them in close to each other so that they hold each other together, like this:

9.  Mix the tomato soup, tomato puree and ½ cup water together and pour over the top of the cabbage rolls. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes.
10. After 30 minutes remove the aluminium foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes (keeping your eye on it to make sure the tops of the cabbage rolls don’t burn.
11. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10-20 minutes before serving.

I made 12 cabbage rolls, however I had some of the rice mix and some cabbage left over – I was more restricted by the size of my baking dish.  Feeds about 6 on its own or 12 if served as part of a group meal.  Serve with Croatian Blitva.
Prepares well in advance and can be frozen.

Check out our other recipes for Croatia Month:

(Savoury buns filled with creamy potato and pickles!)

(Cracked Pepper Biscuits)

(Poppy Seed Strudel)

Croatian Pizza