Cuttlefish stew – Brudet od sipa

After my photographic distractions (which I very much enjoy, and I hope you like them, too), I’m continuing with my Croatian posts.

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Brudet is a fish stew of humble origins. Fishermen used to prepare it to use up left over catch that they didn’t manage to sell. So whatever didn’t go at the market, ended up in the pot.

One of my favourite brudets is my mum’s dark and rich, unctuous sauce you can see above. It’s made with cuttlefish, and served with warm polenta.

 

Cuttlefish Brudet

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SOURCE: My mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: 40 – 60 min

CUISINE: Croatian (Dalmatian)

SERVES: 6 – 8

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Ingredients

Vegetable/olive oil

6 medium yellow onions, chopped finely

2 large carrot, grated

1.5 kg cuttlefish, cut into pieces

Water

1/2 medium head of garlic, cloves chopped finely

a small handful of parsley, chopped finely

a bit of chopped celery leaf

1/2 tbsp tomato pure

2 dl white wine

5 – 6 bay leaves

salt, pepper

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Method

1. Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable or olive oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, this is important, and it will form the base of the stew, in which the onion acts as a thickening agent.

2. Now add the cuttlefish, and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cuttlefish is cooked, and the onions start melting into the sauce.  Add water if it starts sticking.

3.   Add the garlic and the herbs, some salt and pepper, and keep stirring.

4. When the onion is softened, and starts disintegrating into the sauce (or a little before that if you’re in a hurry), add a little more water,and when the water evaporates, and some more to form a thick sauce. The herb and the garlic will still taste a little raw. Continue cooking until the flavours deepen and mellow together. The cuttlefish will become soft, too.

5. Towards the end of cooking, add the white wine and the bay leaf, adjust the seasoning, and cook  for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Serve warm with polenta. Also good with crusty bread!

My dad likes a drizzle of olive oil over his brudet. Give it a go if you fancy it.

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Note: Squid also works in this recipe.

ps. Also try some warm polenta with yoghurt! I love it!

 

I’m submitting this to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Anna of Anna’s Cool Finds. This event, originally started by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, is organised by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything.

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The Cake

The cake

For many years now, this cake has accompanied every celebration in my family home. A sponge cake, one half made with ground walnuts, the other left plain, with a filling of rum, vanilla and lemon. It is only fit that it follows my third blogiversary. 🙂 I’m sure my mum would approve.

Sorry about the atrocious photos. They were taken with very little light coming from a very weak tungsten bulb, handheld.

Mum's torte

Mum’s Walnut

Cake

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SOURCE:  Mum, recipe adapted from the one she got off a family friend

PREPARATION TIME: about 1 h

COOKING TIME: about 30 min for the filling, and 1 h for baking

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: A crowd!

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INGREDIENTS:

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PLAIN SPONGE

6 medium eggs

6 tbsp of sugar, heaped

10 g vanilla sugar, or 1 tsp of good quality vanilla extract

6 tbsp plain flour, heaped

6.5 g baking powder

a pinch of bicarbonate soda

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WALNUT SPONGE:

6 medium eggs

6 tbsp of sugar, heaped

10 g vanilla sugar, or 1 tsp of good quality vanilla extract

7 tbsp finely ground walnuts, heaped

2 tbsp plain flour, heaped

6.5 g baking powder

a pinch of bicarbonate soda

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FILLING:

7 dl milk (full fat, or semi-skimmed)

3 tbsp corn flour, heaped

3 tbsp flour, heaped

250 g butter, at room temperature

300 g icing sugar

20 g vanilla sugar, or 2 tsp of good quality vanilla extract

Juice of 2 lemons

2 tbsp rum, or to taste

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TO DECORATE:

About 20 – 30 whole walnut halves

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METHOD:

Note: It’s a good idea to start with the filling, so it has time to cool while you prepare the sponge cake.

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I. FILLING

1. Stir in the corn flour and plain flour into the milk, until smooth, and with no lumps.

2. Put the milk to boil, stirring constantly, avoiding lumps to form. When it thickens, leave to cool. (It’s supposed to be fairly thick, barely leaving the spoon when you tap it.)

3. Meanwhile, beat the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and lemon with an electric whisk until smooth. Add rum to taste, and possibly more lemon if you like it more lemony.

4. Combine the butter and milk mixtures, and mix well together.

5. Leave to cool again. (Mum says this makes it easier to spread later on.)

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II. SPONGE

Note: both the walnut and the plain sponge are made in the same way. Ground walnuts are added at the same time as the flour.

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1. Preheat the oven to 180 C, and grease and flour a 25 cm tin, or two. Sift the flour and baking powder and bicarbonate soda together.

2. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla into a mixing bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until the volume doubles in size, and when you lift the mixer out of the bowl, the egg mixture that drops from it traces a ribbon on its surface.

3. Add the flour to make the plain sponge, or flour and walnuts for the walnut sponge. Fold in with the mixer turned off, and then switch the mixer back on and mix briefly, until combined.

4. Pour the mixture in to the prepared baking tin, and bake until the cake is risen, and a toothpick or skewer inserted inside it come out clean. This should take about 20 – 30 min.

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Repeat the process to make the walnut sponge, using flour and walnuts in place of flour only.

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III. ASSEMBLING THE TORTE

1. When the sponge cakes have cooled, cut them both in half, and then spread the filling on top, alternating the the brown and yellow cakes. Decorate with the remaining walnut halves, and chill.

This cake gets better with keeping, and can ‘survive’ in the fridge for about 4 – 5 days, provided it’s not eaten before that!

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Notes:

Instead of walnuts, you could use almonds or hazelnuts, but we usually use walnuts. I think the original cake might have had 1 chocolate layer, 1 walnut, one hazelnut and one plain.

The cake

Photos updated 7 May 2014.

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More sweet Croatian recipes on this blog:

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Orahnjaca (Walnut roll)

Orahnjaca or orehnjaca (pronounced ‘orahnyacha’ and ‘orehnyacha’ respectively, and with an audible ‘h’ sound, like the ‘h’ in ‘hotel’) is roll with a yeasted dough and walnut filling. I used to think it was Croatian, but it looks like I was wrong, and the similar cake is popular all over Eastern Europe.

This is my mum’s recipe. Like a lot of good things, it takes a bit of time and attention, but it’s well worth it.

One word of warning though. We don’t really cook on a small scale here, and in this case, without thinking about dividing it into portions. The recipe below yields 2 large rolls (about 36 cm long, 7 cm tall, and 10 cm wide). When the cake is baked, it is cooled (barely!) and then eaten by the whole family throughout the day, or for a few days if you’re lucky and if everyone is not at home, until it runs out. It’s not really a dessert as such, though I wouldn’t stop you if you wanted to serve it as such. I’d just say it’s better after lunch, than dinner, if the dinner is your main, big, meal.  You could think of it more as a piece of cake to eat with your morning coffee, or during the day. But whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

 

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Orahnjaca (Walnut roll)

 

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SOURCE:  Mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 2 h (includes 1.30 h resting time)

COOKING TIME: about 1 h

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: Loads!

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DOUGH:

400 g plain flour

7 g powdered yeast

80 g butter, melted

2 large eggs

80 g sugar

2 dl warm milk

1 lemon – zest only

a little salt

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GLAZING – optional

1 egg yolk, beaten

10 g vanilla sugar

some lemon juice

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FILLING:

300 g ground walnuts

70 g sugar

1 dl boiling hot milk

2 tbsp dark rum

20 g vanilla sugar

a little lemon juice

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METHOD:

I. DOUGH

  • Warm the sifted flour slightly in the oven (on low heat). Mix in the powdered yeast and salt, and then add all the other ingredients. Stir to combine and make a soft dough.
  • Set aside until doubled in size. Mum’s special tip: Place the bowl with the dough over a bowl of warm water. That should speed it up, and it will take about an hour.

II. FILLING

  • Put the ground walnuts into a bowl and pour the hot milk over. Add all the other ingredients, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.

III. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

  • When the dough has risen, divide it in half, and then roll each piece to 6 mm thickness. Divide the now cool filling in two, and spread over the dough. Roll each piece, and place onto the baking tray, leaving a large gap between the two rolls (they spread when they bake).
  • Leave to rise for 30 min.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 C, and butter and flour a large baking tray. Mum’s is 36 x 36 cm.
  • Before placing the rolls into the oven, you can glaze them with beaten egg yolk and lemon, and sprinkle with vanilla sugar, if you want. This is what mum does.
  • Bake the rolls for about 1 hour, or until done. Test with a skewer or a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Enjoy!

   

I’m submitting this to Ajme koliko nas je blogging event, hosted by Jasenka. The theme for the event is nuts.

 

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More sweet Croatian recipes on this blog:

  • Fritule (aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon zest, orange zest, grape brandy (loza in Croatian) and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar)

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Mum’s recipe: Liver in Onion and White Wine Sauce

This sauce is simply gorgeous. Sweet carrots and onions, white wine and soft liver with a hint of garlic and parsley on a bed of buttery soft mashed potatoes – heaven!

The basis for this delicious sauce is a mixture of onions and grated carrots, cooked until dark golden brown. This is typical for Croatian meat sauces (see also Venison Stew Hunter’s Style). You will also notice that the garlic is not added with the onions, but roughly half way through the cooking or later, so that it does not mellow down, but it imparts a fresh zingy taste to the dish. You may omit the parsley if you must, but I wouldn’t because it really contributes to the overall taste of the dish. Celery leaf is something that is used a lot in Croatian cooking, e.g. in sauces or in soups, but it can be replaced with extra parsley. Any kind of liver can be used. This recipe is my mum’s.

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Liver in Onion and White Wine Sauce

 

 

SOURCE: Mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 – 10 min

COOKING TIME: 40 min min

CUISINE: Croatian (Dalmatian)

SERVES: 3 – 4

 

Ingredients

Vegetable/olive oil

2 onions, chopped finely

1 large carrot, grated

500 g liver 

Water

Tomato pure

3 – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

a small handful of parsley, chopped finely

a bit of chopped celery leaf

2 bay leaves

2 dl white wine

salt, pepper

 

Method

1. Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable or olive oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, this is important, and it will form the base of the stew, in which the onion acts as a thickening agent.

2. After the onions are done, add the liver. When it’s cooked, add a little water and stir. This will further soften up the onions, so they are almost melted. When the water evaporates, and some more, and repeat the process until you get a mushy saucy mixture.

3. Add a little of tomato pure, garlic and the herbs and some more water to cover the liver. Cook until it becomes soft. Then, add the wine and the bay leaf, and cook until the sauce thickens, or for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes, and a side dish of lettuce/salad leaves with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and red wine vinegar.

 

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This week Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, whose blog I love! So, time to take part in this event again, once again with using parsley, the herb that’s ubiquitous in Croatian cooking!

Three Asparagus Recipes

Time to post my 3 asparagus recipes for the One Perfect Ingredient event! If you still haven’t done it, there’s still time to take part, and enter the competition to win Marcus Wareing’s new book! Here’s HOW!

One Perfect Ingredient, Three Ways to Cook it by Marcus Wareing

For some more info asparagus, check out my previous post: One perfect ingredient: ASPARAGUS.

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 RECIPE 1

This is how my mum and my grandmas prepare asparagus: boiled with whole eggs, and seasoned with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Eaten with bread. Simple and delicious.

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Asparagus with Eggs   OR   Sparoge s jajima

 

SOURCE: Family recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 15 min

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: 1

 

INGREDIENTS:

A small handful of wild asparagus

2 eggs

water

red wine vinegar

olive oil

salt

METHOD:

1. Prepare asparagus, as advised in this post. Cut the shoots into about 7 cm pieces.

2. Put the eggs into enough water to cover them. Add the asparagus, and cook until the asparagus become soft. I like them slightly al dente.

3. When the asparagus are done, take the eggs out of the water, peel them, and cut into pieces, which you then add back to the asparagus. Reserve as much of the cooking liquid as you want, and add it to the asparagus and eggs (My mum eats it as a broth actually!). It’s nice to have some sauce to dip the bread in! Then, season with salt, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Eat with some good crusty bread! Enjoy!

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RECIPE 2 

The next dish is a bit of a treat. My mum saw this recipe on TV, and it became an instant hit in the family! Not a big surprise, given that it contains prosciutto! 🙂 You can also use bacon or pancetta.

 

Istarska fritaja  OR  Istrian Frittata

 

SOURCE: As seen on TV

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 15 min

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: 2

INGREDIENTS:

A small handful of wild or regular asparagus

a little water 

4 eggs

oil

2 thick slices prosciutto, cut into pieces

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METHOD:

1. Prepare asparagus, as advised in this post. Cut the shoots into about 3 – 5 cm pieces.

2. Warm the oil in a wide pan, and then add asparagus pieces to it. Cook on a low heat, until softened. Add a little water. This will evaporate quickly, and steam the asparagus slightly.

3. When the asparagus is al dente, add the prosciutto pieces to it, and cook until the prosciutto is cooked, and it changes colour. Then add the eggs, and cook, stirring, until the eggs have set.

We serve this with some nice bread and a salad of lettuce seasoned with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

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RECIPE 3

The final dish was inspired by the previous recipe. Actually, you could say it’s a vegetarian version of the previous recipe, because all I did was to replace the prosciutto with feta! In retrospect, the only thing I would do differently, is to add feta after the eggs have set. This would make it look prettier, and it would separate the tastes of individual ingredients a little.

 

Asparagus and Feta Frittata

 

SOURCE: My creation, inspired by the previous recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 15 min

SERVES: 2

INGREDIENTS:

A small handful of asparagus

a little water 

4 eggs

oil

100 g of feta cheese, cut into pieces

salt and pepper

 

METHOD:

1. Prepare asparagus, as advised in this post. Cut the shoots into about 3 – 5 cm pieces.

2. Warm the oil in a wide pan, and then add asparagus pieces to it. Cook on a low heat, until softened. Add a little water. This will evaporate quickly, and steam the asparagus slightly.

3. Beat the eggs lightly, season, and stir the cubes of feta in. When the asparagus is al dente, add the eggs, and cook, stirring, until the eggs have set.

I serve this on a piece of buttered toast and with a leafy salad.

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