Sunday, March 13, 2016


I typically do my cooking on Sundays. Occasionally I would cook on a Saturday if I knew I was going to be gone on a Sunday (like for Easter, for example). But now that I’ve decided to stop by Center for Inquiry on Sundays for coffee and conversation about science and reasoning, I’m experimenting with cooking on Saturdays. I may still keep it on Sundays for the most part, though. We’ll see. Life is an experiment in and of itself. 

These are so versatile. I could eat them all day.

Yesterday, I started the day with making my bread, kifli. I made kifli when I did Hungarian food, but this one was a little different. This Macedonian kifli has feta cheese rolled up in it and topped with sesame seeds. To start, I poured in 1 c milk (make sure it’s lukewarm, mine was cold and didn’t proof my yeast), ½ Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp flour, and a packet of yeast. I sat this to the side for about 10 minutes. Then I added in ½ Tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 25 mL vegetable oil, 2 egg whites (save the yolks for later), and 3 c of flour. Mix this until it magically turns into a dough. I had to add a little more flour here and there to stop it from being too sticky. Once I kneaded it for several minutes, I covered it and let it rest for about an hour. After it rested, I kneaded it for another minute, forming it into a log shape. I cut mine into thirds, and rolled each third out into a large disk, not making it too thin. Cutting it into eight pieces, I spread the feta cheese along the widest end of each triangle and rolled it up like a crescent roll. When I had done this with all of my dough, I brushed each one with an egg wash (made of the egg yolks I saved earlier with a splash of water), and topped with sesame seeds. The recipe called to bake them directly on a baking sheet with 4-5 pats of butter placed around the baking sheet. I didn’t want to clean up that mess, so I used parchment paper instead. I baked this at 375ºF for about 20 minutes until most of them looked pretty browned. The family really liked these. I just wished that I put more feta cheese inside of them. But I liked the combination of the feta cheese and sesame seeds. Mine were pretty small, but that may have been because I cut the recipe in half. I also could have just cut the “log” in half instead of thirds and made larger rolls, too. But size aside, the flavor was good, and there were plenty left over. 

These were kind of like a baked beans with paprika.
The next dish I made was a side dish called tavce gravce. I had a little trouble with this one. I put my Great Northern beans into a pot and covered them with some water. Then I added in some vegetable oil, some green chilies (probably not authentic, but I didn’t want to make it spicy), and some onions. I cooked them for about an hour until they were soft. I definitely should’ve been watching my water levels a little closer. I’m pretty sure the bottom of the beans may have been scorched a little. I had to keep adding a lot of water as it cooked. Just before they were due to be done, I made my roux of oil and paprika and poured it on top of the beans. I was supposed to add in some salt at this point, but I forgot so I just added it in when I served it. Then I transferred it all to a casserole dish and baked it at 400ºF for about 30 minutes. To be truly authentic, I should’ve transferred it to a clay pot, but I don’t own one, so a casserole dish it is. Other than needing some salt at the end, I thought it was pretty good. I actually used an applewood smoked sea salt, which gave it a nice smoky flavor. And strangely enough, I never really did find any evidence that I burned the beans, so I got lucky, I suppose. 

For those who need protein...
And then came the main dish: selsko meso. This carnivore’s delight was actually really tasty. I started with making meatballs: I mixed ground beef with some grated onion (that’s really hard to do, it turned out half grated, half diced), a little salt, garlic powder, dried basil, and dried oregano. (The spices were my choice.) Then I fried my meatballs until they were done and set them aside. I cut my pork loin into cubes and fried it in the same oil I did my meatballs in along with a little onion once it was almost done. I added in some diced ham, mushrooms, red pepper, salt, and a little tomato paste (I thought I had a can of tomatoes, but I apparently used it. I’m just grateful I saved the tomato paste from the other day). I let this sauté for about five minutes before adding my meatballs back in. Then I poured in about a ½ c of chicken broth (with 1 tsp flour added in and mixed well) and about 2/3 c of pinot grigio. Then I transferred this to a casserole dish and baked it at 400ºF for about 30-40 minutes (the recipe called for 1–1 ½ hours, but we were hungry). I thought this was rather tasty. I didn’t put in as much wine as it called for, and I think it made it taste better that way. Wine can overpower a dish, even if it's a somewhat lighter wine. So, after trial and error in the past when cooking with wine, I’m glad I played it safe by cutting it back a little. I think it would’ve been better over some egg noodles, though. An idea for next time, I suppose. 

Very much of a comfort meal.
And even though I was taught how to read and follow directions in kindergarten some 30-odd years ago, I still apparently have trouble reading and following directions for a recipe. I tried to make a Macedonian dessert called bombici, which is basically a chocolate graham cracker truffle. But I skipped a step, and it didn’t set up. And I was too tired to try again. Again, another recipe for another day. It reminded me of those exercises when we were in school where the teacher would hand us a paper with 27 different things to do on the paper. The first item was to read all the directions first, followed by 25 random things to do, and the last one said, “Ignore all the other things, just put your name on it and turn it back in.” I suppose I didn’t really learn my lesson with that one. As with the quasi theme with this meal, there’s always next time.

Up next: Madagascar

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