Saturday, January 25, 2014

Calamari Risotto

My dad made this calamari risotto today and it turned out great!  He loves to make seafood dishes, especially since he likes to go fishing and sometimes brings fresh fish home and we eat it the same day.  I made risotto sometimes, but it never tastes as good as my dad's, so I decided to post his recipe on our blog along with some photos.  My mom also helps with cleaning the calamari, and making salad and appetizers and she also took some of these photos today.  Lunch was really great today!  

Calamari risotto is often made in Dalmatia (coastal region of Croatia) and whenever we would go there to visit my grandma over the summer, we would eat this and it was always delicious.  This is one of my favorite dishes and I'm glad that my dad makes it so well! :)  Here is his recipe:

- about 2 pounds of frozen uncooked calamari (my parents buy them uncleaned and my mom cleans them, but you can buy the already cleaned calamari)
- olive oil
- 1/2 of an onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- About 1/2 cup of tomato sauce or to taste
- salt, pepper and Vegeta (optional) to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pinch of dry rosemary 
- 1/2 cup of dry white or red wine
- 1 1/2 cups of rice (for best results use Arborio rice for risotto)
- 1-2 cups of water
- parsley, chopped

- Saute onion, garlic and parsley in olive oil until golden 

- Add calamari and saute for a few minutes

- In the meantime, cook rice until 'el dente'
- Add wine, tomato sauce, some water, bay leaf, rosemary, salt, pepper and Vegeta and cook for about 20-30 minutes (keep adding water if needed)
- Add rice and cook for a few more minutes

- Add more tomato sauce, salt, pepper and Vegeta if you would like 
- When done, add fresh cut parsley

- In a separate dish, add some olive oil, minced garlic, and about 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley and mix (this can be used during dinner if you would like to add some on top of the risotto to add flavor)
- Serve calamari risotto topped with some grated Parmesan cheese
- Serve with green lettuce seasoned with olive oil, vinegar and salt

Enjoy with a glass of your favorite wine!  Prijatno! :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Gulas (Beef Stew Goulash)

Ivan and I both love Gulas (Beef Stew) and decided to make it for dinner tonight.  Gulas is made in our home country Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in other Balkan and European countries.  It originated in Hungary and each country that adopted this delicious dish adds something of its own to make it unique.  

We used sliced beef for stews and cooked it with onion, garlic, green pepper, some tomato sauce, and seasoned it with salt, pepper and paprika.  We served it with store bought gnocchi, as shown in the photo.  This is a great dish to make when it is cold outside.  

- 1 1/2 pounds of stew meat (beef), cut up in squares
- 1 onion (add some green onions if you would like), chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small carrot, cleaned and cut in circles
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- oil (I used sunflower seed oil)
- tomato sauce (to taste)
- about 2 tablespoons of flower
- water
- salt, pepper and paprika to taste
- store bought gnocchi (or homemade)

- Saute onions and garlic in oil for a few minutes, then add carrot and pepper and keep cooking for a little 
while longer, until soft

- Add beef and saute for 5-10 minutes

- Add about 1 cup of water and some tomato sauce, salt, pepper and paprika and mix
- Add flour, mix in and keep cooking
- If sauce starts to evaporate, add more water
- Add more tomato sauce, salt, pepper and paprika according to taste
- Keep simmering on low-medium for about 45 minutes until the meat is fully cooked
- Keep adding water so that the meat does not burn and so that the meat can cook in sauce  

- Add more salt, pepper, paprika and tomato sauce if you would like when cooked.
- Serve with cooked gnocchi and your favorite drink


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mediterranean Style Baked Tilapia and Potatoes

This is a simple dish that my parents often make.  It is very tasty, but healthy as well.  This is influenced by the way seafood is prepared in Dalmatia (Croatian coastal region) that has a Mediterranean climate and the cuisine is based on seafood, garlic and olive oil (my favorite!).  In this recipe, tilapia fillets are baked with sliced potatoes, olive oil, garlic and parsley and this is usually served with a simple lettuce salad seasoned with vinegar, olive oil and salt.

- 5 tilapia fillets
- 8 potatoes, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- olive oil to taste
- about 1-2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
Vegeta to taste (optional)

- Peel and slice potatoes into 1/4 - 1/8 inch thick circles like seen in the photos
- Use a slice of potato to spread olive oil at the bottom of glass baking dish
- Put a layer a potato slices to cover the bottom of the baking dish and add some salt and pepper on top
- Place the tilapia fillets over the potatoes
- Pour some olive oil over the tilapia fillets, then evenly distribute minced garlic, chopped parsley, bay leaf, Vegeta, salt and pepper on top

- Finally put the top layer of sliced potatoes to cover everything and add more olive oil, salt, pepper and Vegeta on top if you wish

- Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 F for about 30-40 minutes
- Take aluminum foil off and keep baking for another 10-15 minutes or until top layer of potatoes gets a gold color

- Serve with simple lettuce salad seasoned with olive oil, vinegar and salt and with a glass of your favorite wine


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Curried Red Kidney Beans and Cauliflower (Rajma Masala)

Maja and I are big fans of Indian cooking. We always remember curries and other amazing dishes we had on our trip to India. Just like everything else in India (sounds, sights, smells), a lot of Indian dishes are cooked to evoke maximum sensory experience. Of course the main thing which stands out in Indian cooking is the use of many fresh, aromatic spices, which give the food those wonderful smells and tastes.

This is a very simple, vegetarian recipe we've cobbled together from others on the web, which still has a nice spicy kick to it. It's best if you can have fresh spices and grind them just before using them, but that's not absolutely necessary.

- vegetable oil for cooking
- 1 onion
- 1 small cinnamon stick (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon of minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger (ginger powder also works)
- 1 teaspoon of ground fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin seeds
- 3 green cardamom pods, cracked open and ground
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala spice (if you don't have it, you can easily make it yourself; just google simple garam masala recipe)
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) or fresh whole tomatoes, cut into slices or cubes
- 1 minced serrano chile (2 dry chili peppers work too; you can add more if you like your dishes to be hotter)
- 6 cups of cooked red kidney beans (you can drain them before using them, or you can add the liquid too and adjust cooking time for the liquid to condense)
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch florets
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of loosely packed cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
- 6 to 8 cups of hot cooked rice

- Before starting, it's good to prepare, grind, measure,, and combine all spices and ingredients. Once you start cooking, it is hard to prepare them on time, and it's easy to skip an ingredient.
- Heat oil in a big saucepan over medium-high heat
- Add onion and fry until it's translucent
- Stir in cinnamon, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, fennel, cumin, and cardamom and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes
- Add cayenne, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala and fry, stirring, for 1 minute
- Stir in tomatoes
- Stir in serrano chile, kidney beans, cauliflower, and 1 1/2 cups of water (or you could use chicken stock, if you are not a strict vegetarian)
- Lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer until cauliflower is tender and liquid has thickened into a thick sauce (add more water if necessary). Stir occasionally. I like to cook it for an hour or longer. You should be fine as long as there is enough liquid and it's not burning.

- Add salt if necessary (I usually don't add much salt at this point)
- Stir in lemon juice and cilantro
- Serve with rice and plain yogurt on the side (recommended since the dish has a lot of spices and you will want something to cut the spiciness)


The original recipe can be found here:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Yesterday we made some Thai food for dinner.  One of my favorite Thai dishes is Chicken Satay and I love the Spicy Peanut Sauce that is usually served with it.

Even though I love this dish, I did not know much about its origins, so I did a little research.  Satay (or sate) is a dish that originated in Java, Indonesia, but it is also popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Thailand.  The meat (such as chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish or even tofu) is seasoned, skewered and grilled and served with a sauce.  Turmeric is important when it comes to marinating satay and it gives the dish its yellow color.

The above photo shows Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Sticky Rice that we made a while back.  Ivan made the Sticky Rice by cooking Jasmine Rice in coconut milk.  In the end, the rice is very sticky so that you can use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to shape it nicely and present it on a plate.  Yesterday we did not make rice, but instead I made Thai Steamed Broccoli by steaming cut up broccoli and 2 cloves of minced garlic, then mixing in a bowl with some soy sauce, fish sauce and toasted sesame seeds.  You can see a photo of last night's dinner at the bottom of the post.

Here is the recipe that we used to make Chicken Satay, as well as the recipe for Spicy Peanut Sauce:

Chicken Satay:

- 2 pounds of skinless chicken breasts
- 1 package of wooden skewers

  Satay Marinade:
  - 1/4 cup of minced lemongrass, fresh or frozen (you can substitute 1 tablespoon of grated lemon peel)
  - 2 shallots or 1 small onion, sliced
  - 3 cloves of garlic,
  - 1-2 fresh chilies, sliced, or 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  - 1 thumb-size piece of galangal or ginger, thinly sliced
  - 1 teaspoon of minced fresh turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon of dried turmeric
  - 3 tablespoons of ground coriander
  - 2 teaspoons of cumin
  - 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  - 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
  - 5-6 tablespoons of brown sugar
  - 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

- Soak wooden skewers in water while you prepare the meat (to prevent burning)
- Cut chicken into squares and place in a bowl
- Cut up all ingredients well, or use chopper or food processor
- The marinade should taste sweet, spicy and salty (Add more sugar or fish sauce/salt to adjust the taste - or add more chili to make it more spicy)
- Pour the marinade over the meat and stir well to combine (Allow at least 1 hour for marinating, or up to 24 hours)

- When ready to cook, thread meat onto the skewers (fill up to 3/4 of the skewer, leaving the lower half empty so that the person grilling has a "handle" to easily turn the satay during cooking

- Grill the satay on your BBQ, or on an indoor grill, or you can broil in the oven on a broiling pan or baking sheet.  Place satay close beneath the heating element and turn the meat every 5 minutes until cooked.  Depending on how thin your meat is, the satay should cook in 10 to 20 minutes

- Serve with rice and Spicy Peanut Sauce (and in this case Thai Steamed Broccoli)

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
  - 1 1/2 cups of creamy peanut butter
  - 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  - 3 tablespoon of water
  - 3 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  - 3 tablespoon of soy sauce
  - 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  - 1 tablespoon of hot sauce
  - 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger root
  - 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  - 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  - 3 teaspoons of sesame oil

- In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, coconut milk,water, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil.  If you want to add cilantro, add to the mix just before serving.

Enjoy!  :  )

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Biskvit Cake with Apricots and Sour Cherries

Today I decided to write about this simple, but very tasty, dessert that my mom often makes.  It is called Biskvit Cake and is similar to a Sponge Cake.  It is usually made with fresh apricots and sour cherries just like the one shown in the photo that my mom recently made.  It can also be made with other fresh fruit such as blueberries, red currants and raspberries.

This dessert is made in Bosnia and Herzegovina and my family in Croatia makes it as well.  Even though I have made it several times in the past, it never tastes as good as my mom's does, so I am going to share her recipe below. :)

- 6 Turkish coffee cups (~ 3 cups) of flour
- 5 eggs
- 4 Turkish coffee cups (~ 2 cups) of sugar
- 3 Turkish coffee cups (~ 1 1/2 cups) of oil (or less if you prefer, but the cake might not turn out to be as moist)
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 2-3 apricots - pitted and sliced
- about 1/2 pound of sour cherries (or regular cherries) - pitted and sliced in half (you can also add some red currants or blueberries if you wish)
- add 1/2 packet of vanilla sugar (optional)
- add some grated lemon peel (optional)

- separate egg whites from yolks
- mix yolks with sugar and vanilla sugar
- beat egg whites until stiff and add to the yolk/sugar mix
- add oil to the mix
- add about 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to flour and add to the mix (you can also add some grated lemon peel)
- when all of this is mixed well, pour mix into the baking pan
- arrange cut up fruit onto the mix and push in until the fruit is not visible and is covered
- bake in oven at 375 F (~ 190 C) for about 40 minutes until golden
- let cool and cut into squares
- sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional)
- can be served with whipped cream

Prijatno!  : )

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


This time I am going to write about one of my favorite desserts.  The above picture is not actually mine, but I found it online and it looks very similar to how mine look when they are done.  I do have some of my own photos of the process of making them below.

This dessert is called Tufahija and it is made in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It is made by cooking apples in water with sugar, then stuffing them with walnuts and baking them until golden.  It is served in a nice bowl or on a nice plate and topped with whipped cream on top and you can even add a cherry on top.

This dessert was actually introduced to the people in Balkans (including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia) during the Ottoman Empire rule, but it originates from Persia.  In fact, the word tufahija originates from the word tuffàh which means apple in Arabic language. 

Here is my recipe for Tufahije:

- 8 apples (medium sized Golden Delicious or similar)
- 200 grams (~ 1 cup) of sugar
- 80 grams (~ 1/2 cup) of ground walnuts
- 1 egg white
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 liter (~ 4 cups) of water
- 2 packages of vanilla sugar
- whipped cream
- cherries (optional)

- Wash and peel apples (save the apple skin for later)
- Take out the middle of the apple with an apple corer or a potato peeler (make enough room so that you can stuff them with the walnut filling at the end, about 1 inch in width)
- Boil water and add 50 grams (1/4 cup) of sugar, 1 vanilla sugar, and lemon juice to it
- Add apples to boiling water and cook until soft (about 8-10 minutes each)

- Take apples out carefully with slotted spoon and let them cool
- To the leftover water, add the rest of the sugar and the apple skins and let it cook until it boils
- Strain the water to get rid of the apple skins and let the syrup cool
- Heat the oven to 360 F (~ 185 C)
- Beat the egg white until stiff, add ground walnuts and 1 vanilla sugar packet and mix well
- Fill the apples with the walnut filling and place them in a baking pan
- Bake apples for about 15 minutes
- When done, take apples out, cover them with the syrup and let them cool

- Serve the apples in a nice bowl or plate with whipped cream on top, and you can even add a cherry!
- Bon Appétit!  Dobar tek! :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bosnian Musaka

This dish is a variation of the Greek Moussaka, but this is how we make it in Bosnia and we call it Musaka.  It is one of my favorite dishes and growing up, my mom always made it with just potatoes and ground beef.  In this recipe I added some eggplant to change it up a bit and add some different flavor to it.  We serve it with some sour cream on top and it goes well with green lettuce salad tossed with olive oil, vinegar and some salt.  Here is the recipe for Musaka that my mom gave me and that I now have memorized whenever I make this delicious dish:

This recipe is for a low-fat version of this dish.  You can make it a bit more rich by substituting sour cream for the plain yogurt.

- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of plain yogurt or sour cream (I use low fat sour cream)
- 2 cups of milk (I use low fat milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
- pepper to taste
Vegeta to taste
- 10-12 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin circles about 1/8-1/4 inch thick
- eggplants (optional) - use 1 big eggplant or about 5-6 small Indian eggplants sliced the same size as the potatoes
- Olive or other oil such as sunflower or canola
- 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped

- Measure 3 tablespoons of oil into the baking dish.  Tilt the dish up and down and from side to side to even spread oil.
- Saute the chopped onion in the skillet until translucent
- Add ground beef and saute, breaking up beef as it cooks.  Keep cooking until meat browns.
- While meet is cooking, in a bowl, beat eggs and mix with yogurt/sour cream and leave for the end
- Preheat the oven to 450 F (~ 232 C)
- Peel and slice potatoes so they are thin, as uniformly as you can, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick
- If you choose to use eggplant, slice them the same size as the potatoes, put some salt over them and leave for about 10 minutes, then wipe the salt and bitter juices that came out with a paper towel - this takes away the bitterness of the eggplant
- Place sliced potatoes in a large bowl, add a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, a few pinches of Vegeta (optional) and mix so that all of the potato slices are covered in oil, salt and Vegeta.
- In the baking dish, put a layer of sliced potatoes so that the surface is fairly even.  Overlap slices to cover up empty space in between slices.
- Spread the meat and onion mixture evenly over the potato layer.
- Now layer the eggplant slices on top of the meat layer if using them
- Make another layer of potatoes to completely cover the meat (and eggplant), keeping the top surface as flat as possible.
- Pour the egg/yogurt/milk mixture evenly over the top of Musaka.  (If you did the layering right, it should not come all the way up to the top of the pan.)
- Cover the Musaka tightly with aluminum foil.  It helps if you spray the underside of the foil with Pam so the potatoes don't stick to it
- Put Musaka in the oven and cook, covered with the foil, for an hour.
- After an hour, take the Musaka out and remove the foil.  Put back into the oven for about 20-30 minutes more until the top is golden.  If the fork does not go in easily, continue to bake until the potatoes are done
- When the Musaka is done, let it cool for about five minutes in the pan and serve cut up in squares
- Traditionally it is served with green salad and you can put a spoonful of sour cream on top of each Musaka square like seen in the photo above.
- Enjoy! :)

Bourbon Glazed Salmon

This Bourbon Glazed Salmon is one of my favorite recipes for preparing salmon.  I have prepared it this way for a while and everyone who tries it really likes it.  The salmon does not taste heavy and it does not become dry after baking.  The side dishes that go well with it are Italian Herb Baked New Red Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus, as shown in the photo that I took last week.  This is a great combination of flavors and if you make it you are going to love it!  Here is the recipe:

- 2 pieces of wild salmon
- 2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated finely
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1/3 cup of soy sauce
- 2 spoonfuls of honey
- juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons of bourbon
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- sesame seeds

- Place salmon in a ziplock bag
- In a bowl, whisk ginger, garlic, soy sauce, honey, bourbon and lime juice
- Pour mix over fish, close ziplock bag and allow to marinate for 1/2 to 1 hour
- In the meantime, heat oven to 400 F (200 C)
- Place fish on foil lined baking pan and place in oven nearest to heat source
- Bake 6 - 10 minutes, turning once
- Sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds when done

Side Dishes:

Italian Herb Baked New Red Potatoes:
- Wash about 15 new red potatoes well
- Put potatoes in bowl, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and some italian herb mix
- Mix all together and put potatoes to bake until done (about 30 - 40 minutes)

Steamed Asparagus:
- Wash and clean asparagus and steam for about 8 - 10 minutes until done

And the dinner is ready to be served!  Just add a glass of red wine and enjoy! :)


A few years ago we visited New Orleans and loved the cuisine.  We tried gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, tasty seafood and other great Creole dishes!  I did some research over the years and found a few good recipes for jambalaya.  By combining a few different recipes that I liked I came up with my own.  So here is my jambalaya recipe:

(Servings: 6)
- 1 cup of coarse chopped yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
- 1 cup of chopped sweet green pepper
- 3/4 cup of finely diced celery stalk
- 4 tablespoons of bacon drippings (I usually substitute sunflower seed oil or similar to make it healthier)
- 3 tablespoons of minced parsley
- 6 ounces of smoked ham cut into 3/8 inch cubes (I used spiced sausage instead)
- 1 large bay leaf crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon of crumbled leaf of thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
- 1 can of tomatoes (1 lb/14 oz) (I used two smaller tomatoes - chopped and saved their juice)
- 1 can of tomato sauce (8 oz)
- 1 3/4 cup of cold water
- 1 3/4 cup of uncooked converted rice (I used regular long-grained rice)
- 1 1/2 pounds of medium shrimp, raw, shelled, deveined (I used 1 pound of cooked shrimp)

- Set large kettle over moderate heat (I use a Dutch Oven)
- Saute onion, garlic, green pepper and celery stalk in the bacon drippings for 8 to 10 minutes until they are limp and golden
- Add parsley, ham cubes (sausage cubes), bay leaf, thyme and cayenne pepper
- Saute, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes
- Add salt, tomatoes and their juice, tomato sauce and water
- Simmer the kettle, uncovered, for 5 minutes, breaking up any large clumps of tomatoes
- Set burner to medium/low so it simmers gently
- Stir in rice, cover the kettle, and boil the rice for 40 minutes (or until the rice is cooked making sure to add water if rice starts to stick to the bottom)
- Add the shrimp, cover the kettle and simmer for 15-20 minutes until shrimp are cooked through, the rice is done, and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed
- Taste the Jambalaya and add cayenne pepper, salt and cajun spice if needed.
- Enjoy! :)
If you decide to try this recipe, I would love to hear from you!  Let me know how it turned out and/or send me a photo too! :)