Welcome to Croatian Month on Gormandize with A-dizzle and K-bobo! We're both pretty crazy about world food and about discovering new dishes, new ingredients and new cooking methods, so a couple of months ago we decided that, starting in 2012, we would feature the cuisine of a different country each month in addition to our regular recipes so that we could learn more about countries whose cuisine is less celebrated internationally. We asked readers for suggestions and came away with a great list of countries to feature over the upcoming months. If you'd like to suggest a country for us to add to the list just visit this blog post and post us a comment!
So, we begin with Croatia. Firstly I'd like to point out that neither A-dizzle nor myself have ever been to Croatia (YET!), therefore we have done our best to research Croatian cuisine from our computers mostly (and from talking to people who have been to Croatia!). So, if you are Croatian or know a lot about Croatian food please feel free to comment or contact us with feedback on the food that we post or with ideas for recipes we can include. My first post of Croatian delights is Poppy seed Kolache - which I made yesterday to serve to my NYE guests. They were delicious and were quite popular with the guests. My version is, of course, vegan and ever so slightly modified :)
3 cups flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp tapioca flour (arrowroot)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup nuttelex (or other non-dairy margarine or butter)
2 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp water
1 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup apricot jam
3/4 cup soy milk
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped almonds (chop and then measure!)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees C.
2. Mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, sugar, arrowroot and lemon zest well in a large bowl.
3. Add the nuttelex in small pieces and then rub into the flour mixture using your hands until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
4. Make a well in the centre and add the lemon juice and 4 tbsp water. Mix well (probably easiest to keep using your hands). Add the rest of the water a tablespoon at a time. The pastry should make a stiff dough which stays together in a ball when kneaded. Turn onto a floured surface and knead briefly. Put aside.
5. Combine all the ingredients of the poppy seed filling except the almonds and maple syrup in a small saucepan.
6. Put on a low heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the mix becomes a stiff paste.Remove from heat and stir through the almonds and maple syrup.
7. Cut yourself a piece of paper into an 8cm by 8cm square to use as a template (this is optional, but it is good to ensure that all your kolache end up the same size).
8. Roll out 1/4 of the pastry dough to about 1/2 cm thick and cut it into squares using the template. There should be plenty of dough so you shouldn't need to scrounge extra squares out of tiny left over bits.
9. Pace 2 tsp of the filling along the centre of the square diagonally (see pic):
10. Bring the two corners over the top and press down gently on them to form a cylinder (see pic):
11. Repeat with using up the rest of the filling mix (you may have a bit of pastry dough left over - you can save this and make another batch of filling sometime or you can use it up by using anything you like in the fillling - such as fruit [fresh or canned], nuts or chocolate).
12. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes (you will need to turn the tray around about 15 minutes into the baking time to ensure even cooking).
13. Cool on the tray before serving. You may like to dust them with some icing sugar for prettiness before serving (I didn't have any!!).
Makes about 20 kolache (plus some left over pastry dough)
Check out our other recipes for Croatia Month:
(Savoury buns filled with creamy potato and pickles!)
(Cracked Pepper Biscuits)
(Rice-filled cabbage rolls)
(Poppy Seed Strudel)