Ljubljana related

03 Jun 2020, 16:57 PM

Coronavirus lockdown is coming to its end just as the cherry season is peaking in Goriška Brda, a picturesque place of stone built villages surrounded by vineyards.

Therefore, we made the decision to celebrate our freedoms and spring with a relatively simple but delicious cherry mousse cake.

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We decided to keep the recipe at its simplest, leaving all the options for upgrade open to our readers: for example, half of the cream can be replaced with cream cheese, different fruit can be used, crushed caramelized almonds can be placed between the layers, the cake can be wrapped in marzipan, and so on. Our goal was to make a great cake with minimum ingredients with an emphasis on cherries from Goriška Brda, which are only available for a short period each year. 

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Ingredients (for a small cake pan with removable sides):
½ kg of fresh cherries (half for the mousse, the other half for the gelatine topping)
3 tbsp. of sugar powder (adjust to your taste)
300 ml of whipping cream
2 large packs of gelatine (one for the mousse, one for the gelatine topping)
125 g of peeled almonds
1 egg white (or two if eggs are small)
 

Make the base of the cake first: roast the almonds so they release some flavour in a pan. Then grind the almonds, mix them with about 2 tbsp. of sugar and add an egg white, which will keep the ingredients together. Place the mixture at the bottom of the baking pan and bake at 175 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes. Check so that it doesn’t burn, although we quite enjoyed the slightly dark caramelised bottom.

Meanwhile, destone half of the cherries and put them in a pot with some sugar and a spoon of water.

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Simmer for about 10 minutes till the cherries release juice and turn slightly soft. Then blend it all up and leave to cool down.

If you’ll be using gelatine powder, add it to the blended cherries when they’re already cooled. Gelatine in sheets (large packets come with 3 sheets, use them all) needs to be soaked in cold water first, then drained and dissolved in the blended cherries while still hot. In either case, the liquid should be cooled down before being stirred into the whipped cream.

Whip the cream then slowly stir in the cooled down cherry blend. Do this when the base of the cake is already cool. Put the mousse on top of the cake and place the cake in the fridge for a few hours for the gelatine to do its work.

Before removing the sides of the baking pan, separate the cake from the pan with a narrow knife. Do the same when taking it off the bottom of the pan.

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If you want your cake to look nicer, repeat the procedure with the blended cherries and gelatine and pour the mixture when it’s cool and starts to thicken over the top of the cake.

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Dober tek!

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10 Apr 2020, 20:14 PM

See more recipes in the award-winning cookbook, Cook Eat Slovenia, available here

You may also be interested in how to make traditional Slovenian Easter eggs.

Easter, the most important Christian holiday, marks the end of the fasting period that starts on Ash Wednesday.

The holiday is an excuse for our family to celebrate together at a table full of Easter delicacies. In preparation, each member of the family is assigned a cooking project, which is lots of fun. The women decorate the Easter eggs, bake the potica, prepare the horseradish dips, while my dad boils and slices the ham. We may be peculiar but, like many other Slovenians, we eat ham with the potica rather than bread. I remember what Grandpa Rudi taught us about the symbolism of every dish: potica represents the crown of thorns, eggs stand for drops of blood, horseradish root for the holy nails and ham for the body of Christ. He often joked that blood should be represented by red wine, which sure enough, became a must at every Easter breakfast, but only for adults.

Serves 6

Cooked Ham

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) smoked ham

Lay ham in a large pot and cover fully with cold water. Cook for 60 minutes at medium heat. When cooked, take off the heat and leave the ham to cool in the water. I like it lukewarm and sliced thin. Pure perfection.

Horseradish with Apples

There is no Easter breakfast without horseradish. You can prepare it by just grating it, finely or coarsely, or with the addition of grated apple, if pure horseradish is too strong for you. This amazing root will kick your breakfast experience up a notch.

30 g (1 oz) fresh horseradish, peeled and finely grated

1 apple, peeled and finely grated

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Apples and horseradish must be grated to equal thickness. 

Horseradish with Sour Cream

60 g (2 oz) fresh horseradish, peeled and finely grated

6 tbsp sour cream

Pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients well. Feel free to change the ratio between horseradish and sour cream to your taste.

book cover cook eat slovenia.jpg

You might know Špela Vodovc from the Cook Eat Slovenia cooking and hiking tours she’s been running for a number of years, or from the cookbook of the same name that came out last year. It’s a beautiful book, full colour, well written and well made, with an excellent selection of tried and trusted Slovenian recipes for all seasons and occasions.

The book itself has won three awards at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2020, for best translated, best self-published, and best food tourism cookbook for Slovenia, and as the second best in the world for food tourism, and third best  for self-published. I have a copy, and it really is a thing of beauty, with photography by Mateja Jordović Potočnik, cooking and food styling by Špela and her mother Branka Vodovc and Špela Vodovc, and design by Gregor Žakelj. You can pick up a copy at various stores in Ljubljana, or order one online here, but for the next few weeks, as we’re mostly stuck at home and not eating out, Špela has kindly offered to share some of her recipes with our readers.

03 Apr 2020, 14:43 PM

See more recipes in the award-winning cookbook, Cook Eat Slovenia, available here

Easter, the most important Christian holiday, marks the end of the fasting period that starts on Ash Wednesday.

Easter eggs, called pirhi in Slovenian, play the lead role at this time of year. They are used as a decoration no household can go without. My family adheres to the tradition of coloring eggs with natural dyes. Onion skin and red wine, Teran specifically, were the weapons of choice used even by my grannies. My mom, on the other hand, uses a technique called “photo-negative eggs”, which she discovered while testing a new natural dye. Use eggs that are one week old to facilitate the peeling process. Keep them at room temperature at least one hour before cooking. Every one of these eggs is unique. They are traditionally gifted to family and friends on Easter Monday, a work-free day.

Eggs in Onion Skin

Start collecting onion skin as early as one month before Easter. There has to be enough to cover the eggs. The more red onion skin you use, the darker the eggs will be. The number of eggs you decorate is up to you. For decoration, pick various spring plants, leaves and blossoms from a nearby meadow.  The more spread out and dynamic the plant, the better the impression on the egg.

20 eggs

Dry skin of red and brown onions

A few pinches of salt

Different types of grass, leaves and flowers

Thread

Stockings, cut in 10x10 cm (4x4 inches) squares

Dying the eggs requires a large pot. Place in the onion skin and pour in enough water to cover the skin. Add a few pinches of salt. Bring to boil, take off the heat and wait until cool. Cooked onion skin will color the egg shell.

In the meantime, prepare the eggs. Place a flower or a grass stalk on a raw egg. Stretch a square of stockings over the egg and wrap around. Lift the egg, pull all the corners of the stocking to form a bunch and tie securely with a thread.

When ready, carefully place the eggs into the water containing the onion skin. After the water boils, cook at medium heat for 10 minutes. When done, gently take the eggs out and wait until they cool down a bit. Cut away the stocking with scissors and wipe the plants off with your finger. Coat with butter or pork fat for a nice shine. 

Eggs in Teran

1 l (4 cups or 34 fl oz) Teran red wine

Egg, as many as you want

Pour the wine into a pot, place in the eggs and cook at medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and leave the eggs in until the wine cools. Carefully extract the eggs from the pot and lay them down to dry. Use a Ruby Red, full-bodied Teran from the Slovenian Karst region for a beautiful scarlet tint and glittery look induced by the crystallization of the sugars in the wine.

“Photo-Negative” Eggs

Eggs, as many as you want

3 tbsp vinegar

5 rose hip teabags

A few pinches of salt

Embellish raw eggs with plants, as in the recipe for Eggs in Onion Skin. Pour water into a large pot, add salt, vinegar and the contents of the rose hip tea bags. Gently lay in the eggs and cook for 10 minutes at medium heat. The acid will color the eggs, which will retain their natural tint only where covered by the plants.

book cover cook eat slovenia.jpg

You might know Špela Vodovc from the Cook Eat Slovenia cooking and hiking tours she’s been running for a number of years, or from the cookbook of the same name that came out last year. It’s a beautiful book, full colour, well written and well made, with an excellent selection of tried and trusted Slovenian recipes for all seasons and occasions.

The book itself has won three awards at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2020, for best translated, best self-published, and best food tourism cookbook for Slovenia, and as the second best in the world for food tourism, and third best  for self-published. I have a copy, and it really is a thing of beauty, with photography by Mateja Jordović Potočnik, cooking and food styling by Špela and her mother Branka Vodovc and Špela Vodovc, and design by Gregor Žakelj. You can pick up a copy at various stores in Ljubljana, or order one online here, but for the next few weeks, as we’re mostly stuck at home and not eating out, Špela has kindly offered to share some of her recipes with our readers.

 

25 Mar 2020, 19:38 PM

See more recipes in the award-winning cookbook, Cook Eat Slovenia, available here

Grenadirmarš is a simple, nearly forgotten dish fondly remembered by older generations. It is supposed to date back to the First World War, when soldiers in Kobarid fought on the Soča Front. An odd combination at first glance, but for soldiers with limited food options, it gave them strength to fight on.

It can be made with just about any pasta. My granny Nuša most often used tagliatelle, which works nicely with sautéed potatoes. It is a handy dish because the ingredients are almost always in the pantry. To keep the dish moist, add cracklings.

In the Primorska region, the recipe includes bleki with sliced and sautéed bacon, whereas in Zasavje it is associated with the food of miners.

This very filling calorie bomb is best served with a bowl of salad. But let’s forget about counting calories and just dig into this soul food.

Serves 4 

800 g (1 lb 12 oz) potato

170 g (6 oz) pasta (tagliatelle)

2 medium-sized onion

5 tbsp sunflower oil or 2 tbsp pork lard

Salt and pepper

Wash the potatoes and cook, unpeeled, in salty water until soft. Drain the water and allow the potatoes to cool a little.

In a large pan or pot, sauté the thinly-sliced onions in oil or lard until golden. In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente in salty water.

Add the potatoes, peeled and thinly-sliced, to the onions, stir for the flavors to bind and for the potatoes to soak up the fat. Add the cooked pasta and sauté over a moderate flame for 10 minutes. Allow the bottom to caramelize, mix and repeat the process so the whole dish turns golden. It’s best when it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Cook Eat Slovenia - Gourmand cookbook awards.jpg

You might know Špela Vodovc from the Cook Eat Slovenia cooking and hiking tours she’s been running for a number of years, or from the cookbook of the same name that came out last year. It’s a beautiful book, full colour, well written and well made, with an excellent selection of tried and trusted Slovenian recipes for all seasons and occasions.

The book itself has won three awards at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2020, for best translated, best self-published, and best food tourism cookbook for Slovenia, and in the top 3 in the world for those last two categories . I have a copy, and it really is a thing of beauty, with photography by Mateja Jordović Potočnik, cooking and food styling by Špela and her mother Branka Vodovc and Špela Vodovc, and design by Gregor Žakelj. You can pick up a copy at various stores in Ljubljana, or order one online here, but for the next few weeks, as we’re mostly stuck at home and not eating out, Špela has kindly offered to share some of her recipes with our readers.

 

27 Nov 2019, 19:01 PM

Some time ago we reported that Špela Vodovc, the woman behind Culinary Slovenia and its food, drink and hiking tours of the country, was starting a Kickstarter to raise funds for a new cookbook that would explain, in clear English and beautiful photos, how to recreate classics from the Slovenian kitchen. That project met its funding goal within a few days, but it’s only recently that I got my hands on a copy of the book itself – by coincidence just in time to recommend it as Christmas or New Year gift to anyone you know who wants to learn the mysteries of potica, štruklji, gibanica, žlikrofi, kremšnita, mlinci and more.

Culinary Slovenia: Working to Expand Tourist Stays from Four Days to Seven

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Indeed, the book takes you on a tour of all four seasons and Slovenia’s 24 culinary regions, and with more than 100 dishes over 200+ pages you’re certain to find plenty of old favourites along with some you’ve never heard of. Each recipe is presented alongside a picture of the dish itself – providing inspiration as well as some serving suggestions – and thus the book also works a practical guide to Slovenian cuisine, one that outside the kitchen you can use to spot dishes in the wild and expand the range of items you order from the menu or the market, providing a checklist of things to seek out.

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And the recipes are so easy-to-follow, no doubt due to the years of experience the author has explaining these dishes in classes, that anyone who knows a frying pan from a sieve will be able to put together a shopping list, come home and produce the desired results. This is, after all, traditional, hone-style food, made using standard techniques, and the words foam, emulsion and sous vide seem to appear nowhere in the text.

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The book itself is a well-made paperback, strongly bound and suitable for the frequent use it’ll enjoy. Although written by Spela Vodovc the book was designed by Gregor Žakelj (of VBG design studio) and the photos taken by Mateja Jordović Potočnik, while the food was styled by Špela and her mother, Branka Vodovc (with the pictures taken in the latter’s home)

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As Slovenian cuisine gets more of a global reputation, due to the sterling work of its producers, chefs and promotors, we can expect more books that attempt to explain the canon to interested readers. With Cook Eat Slovenia, Špela Vodovc has set a high standard indeed, and one that’s available for just €24.99. While further distribution is being arranged the easiest place to find a copy is in Felipe Dvore, the fancy kitchenware store just opposite the Tourist Information Centre and next to Lolita Café by Triple Bridge in Ljubljana, or online here – with shipping worldwide in around 10 days for the furthest locations.

20 Jul 2019, 17:59 PM

July 20, 2019

While some recipes require great technical skills, there are others that just require high-quality ingredients and minimal processing.

Fresh porcini (jurčki) are one of those ingredients that should be treated with some respect, and similar to truffles not to be destroyed with over-processing. 

Mushrooms are not the easiest food to digest, which is why you should avoid eating them in the evening. Also, they are great with eggs, the main international breakfast ingredient.

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Ingredients (one person):

1 medium size porcini
2 eggs
½ onion (or 1 shallot )
1 clove garlic
olive oil
salt
pepper
fresh chopped parsley
 

Scramble eggs in a bowl and add salt and pepper. 

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Stir fry chopped onion on olive oil till it loosens up, stir in garlic just so that it releases the fragrance, then add mushrooms. Stir fry and add a little water (or white wine) and simmer for about 10 min till all the liquid evaporates. The mushrooms should be slightly soggy, not white and a bit smaller once are cooked. Add the eggs into the pan and stir till they are done. Put on a plate, sprinkle parsley on top and serve immediately with a slice of bread.

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Dober tek!

30 Jun 2019, 17:37 PM

June 30, 2019

If you don’t find the image of a boiling octopus disturbing, you might want to try and prepare this creature in the way it is usually prepared and served along the eastern Adriatic coast: marinated in Trieste sauce and served on fresh lettuce leaves.  

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Ingredients:

1 onion for the pot, and you can also add bay leaves and whole pepper seeds

5-6 cloves of garlic
chopped parsley
lemon juice
olive oil
vinegar
salt and pepper
 
 

Clean the octopus and boil till soft (about an hour). If you have time, you can freeze the octopus before boiling (after you have cleaned it), which will make it more tender. Alternatively, you can beat it before cooking.

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We should have found a bigger pot
 

Smash the garlic cloves and chop the parsley for the marinade, which will also consist of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Take the cooked octopus out of the pot and remove the skin and suction cups in case you don't find them appetising. Dice the tentacles and marinade them for a few hours.

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Take the salad out of the marinade and place it on fresh lettuce leaves for serving.

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Dober tek!

13 Jun 2019, 08:34 AM

June 12, 2019

Ljubljana Iceberg is an autochthonous Slovenian variety of crisp lettuce, which originates from Ljubljana and its inner and surrounding gardens, and in the 19th century spread to Graz, Vienna and Prague. It represents the main central Slovenian salad ingredient that has been dealt with as a delicacy - eaten fresh and only slightly seasoned with garlic, oil and vinegar. That is, at least till the 1970s, when fashions of taste changed in favour of more lasting lettuce varieties, which affected the development of this variety as well.

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Heads of the all green Ljubljana Iceberg, at the central Ljubljana marketplace
 

Originally, Ljubljana lettuce had a reddish edge on its leaves and did not have a pronounced head. It only lasted for a very short period of time after being taken from the garden and had to be eaten more or less the same day.

In the 1970s a red edge was no longer desirable for consumers in Slovenia; therefore, a breeding selection was made in favour of plants with a green edge and a bigger head.

In recent years autochthonous varieties and home grown produce has regained its previous value, and today the original Ljubljana Iceberg seeds with the red edge are available again, all thanks to the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, who managed to find genetic samples of the original variety in Dutch, Czech and German gene banks (source) .

Since we have no garden, we had to buy our lettuce at the market place, where the only available version was the all green one. Which is fine as well.

Ljubljana Iceberg forms a fine a delicate salad and needs little extra excitement in the form of other ingredients. All we need is a pinch of salt, a chopped clove of fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

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Serve immediately after seasoned.

Dober tek!

24 Apr 2019, 16:54 PM

April 24, 2019

Frtalja, also fritaja is a common Littoral but also central Slovenian spring omelette made of chopped spring shoots of all kinds mixed into eggs and fried.

In the Littoral fritaja is often composed of one sort of greens, such as wild asparagus, lemon balm or fennel, while other ingredients usually join them in more central parts of the country, including nettle shoots, yarrow, chard, spring onion or wild garlic (ramsons).

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lemon balm
 
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common yarrow
 
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fennel
 
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Ingredients:

A small bag of available young fresh herbs: lemon balm, fennel, nettles, common yarrow, chives
3 eggs
salt
olive oil
 
 

Chop up herbs, whip the eggs, salt and mix all together.

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Preheat the pan, add some oil, spread the mixture across and cover.

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If your frtalja is rather thin and you worry it might break while being flipped over, divide it into four parts, then turn each one separately.

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The whole thing should be done in about ten minutes or so.

Serve with any other spring dish or eat just like that.

Dober tek!

15 Apr 2019, 17:36 PM

April 15, 2019

What fried rice is to the Far East bread dumplings are to Central Europe: a culinary answer to the problem of staple food leftovers. The solution in both cases comes in a dish that is often a favourite of both kids and adults. Bread dumplings are usually served with meat and gravy, mushroom sauces or goulash, in our case Segedin.

As usual, there are certain things one wants to pay attention to in order to avoid some unwanted results. With bread dumplings, this means we don’t want the mixture to be too sticky when shaping it into balls, or too hard once boiled and ready to eat. And we just might have found the perfect recipe.

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Ingredients:
1 whole baguette or an equivalent amount of older bread (not hard)
60 g of smoked bacon
1 onion
2 tbsp. of olive oil
3 eggs
1dl milk
2 spoons of sour cream
1 tbsp. of flour
fresh parsley (leaves)
 

Chop the onion and bacon and stir fry in olive oil till the onion softens. Dice the bread and add it to the pan. Let it fry a little and soak the fat in.

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Move the bread mixture into a bowl and wait till it cools down. Mix the eggs with the sour cream and milk and stir into the bread mixture. Add flour and parsley and mix again. Leave it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then shape into balls using your hands.

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Boil the dumplings in salted water for about 10 minutes, then take them out and serve them with a mushroom sauce, meat and (lots of) gravy, goulash or Segedin.

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Dober tek!

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