…inspired by the cuisines of – well, never mind…
Croatia, with its many kilometres of shoreline, boasts of culinary delights of plentiful fish and seafood. Unfortunately, my Croatia food memory that has imprinted itself most is that of no food. On Easter Sunday, we were stranded on a small island after a storm had shredded our foresail. With depleted supplies (as we had hoped for a rewarding fish platter at our initial target port), we ventured to the other side of the island hoping to stumble across a little village bakery … only to find the place completely deserted.
“Cevapcici” are not a typical Croatian dish, but a Bosnian speciality (supposed to be eaten with bread, while in Austria they are often served with sliced onions and chips). “Ajvar” while being produced by Croatian food giant Podravka, is of Serbian origin. It is supposed to be eaten on bread. Possibly the rosemary potatoes are Croatian…
You need a two step BBQ approach for this one, as you need to grill the peppers and aubergines first, then, about half an hour later, grill the cevapcici. What I did (actually, my dear husband kindly prepared the coals for me) was to use some leftover briquettes to grill the vegetables, then add some new coals on top and leave those to burn down before grilling the meat. The leftover briquettes were from our last Barbecue: by closing the top and bottom vent of our kettle grill, we had “extinguished” them and could reuse them today. Of course, if you have a gas grill, you just turn the knob…
Ingredients for the cevapcici: 250g minced pork, 250g minced beef, 1 tsp salt, 1-2 crushed garlic cloves, 1tsp red paprika, 10tbsp water
Ingredients for the Ajvar: 4 red peppers, 1 small aubergine (you will actually not use all), 1 tbsp olive oil, 1tsp tomato puree
- Mix the cevapcici ingredients together with 10 tbsp of water, and knead for a while (which is supposed to increase the binding of the meat so do not skip). Put aside in the fridge.
- Prick the aubergines. Grill the peppers and the aubergine until their skin is charred. The aubergine will take 15-20 minutes longer than the peppers. When the peppers are charred, put them in a bowl, cover with a plate and let them rest for 15-20 minutes.
- Peel the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds.
- Scrape out the aubergine flesh. Use about 1/4 of the aubergine for this dish, reserve the rest for something else.
- Puree the peppers with the (1/4 of) aubergine, tomato puree and olive oil. Season with approx. 1 tsp salt.
- Make the cevapcici. I tried doing this by first making table tennis ball size balls, then rolling them between my hands, flipping them upside down several times so they come out more even. As you can see, I was not very succesful.
- Grill the cevapcici on a high heat for about 6 minutes, or until cooked through. If you are patient with turning them (as in do not turn before 3 minutes), they will not stick too much.
- Serve with the Ajvar and bread (or rosemary roasted potatoes).
Cooking the UEFA Euro 2016 theme
My sister and I had been toying with the idea of cooking ourselves through the European Soccer Championships for a while. Now that I have time, I decided to follow up and it took me half a day to figure out when to cook what and according to which rule? Will it have to be two dishes from opponents in a match? Will I have to do six dishes a day to represent all teams playing that day? … . In the end, I arrived at the most simple strategy of “24 countries, 13 days – that makes roughly two countries per day”. Now to the food choices, some were easy, but some were pretty difficult (Albania? Never been there, never heard of its cuisine, how on earth am I going to cook something Albanian? And how am I going to make my children eat all that foreign stuff?).