Sunday, July 8, 2018


The July 4th holiday has come and gone. So it’s high time people stop letting off fireworks already. Seriously, we have one neighbor who thinks it’s cool to let off fireworks using some kind of cannon (which disturbs me every single time). And then last night, someone was letting off fireworks at 3am! Yes, they’re pretty. I get it. But I’ll never understand people’s obsession with it. Let’s keep it in the hands of the professionals. 

Salty cheese-filled pastries. What's not better than this?

One thing that’s NOT in the hands of a professional is cooking food from Serbia today. The first thing I’m starting with is Kiflice, or Serbian cheese rolls. The first thing I did was get my cheese filling ready: I took my crumbled feta cheese and smashed it with a fork to break it up. Then I added in an egg white, 1 tsp of chopped green chilies, and 1 tsp of minced garlic, stirring everything together. It shouldn’t be runny, but firm like cream cheese.  Then I warmed up about 50mL of milk to room temperature (maybe slightly warmer) and dissolved my yeast packet, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp of flour into it. My yeast had apparently gotten warm, so when I poured it in, it clumped up. I stirred it together and set it off to the side until it turned frothy. After mixing my flour and salt together, I added in my yeast mix along with an egg, oil, and more milk. Once the dough started to come together, I formed it into a ball and covered it in plastic wrap to rest for about an hour. After it rested, I kneaded it for a minute before dividing it into 5 balls. I rolled each dough ball out until it was about a ¼” thick and divided it into 8 segments (cut like a pizza—in fact, using a pizza cutter made this super easy). Then I took some of my feta cheese mix and placed it on the wide side of the triangles and rolled them up like crescent rolls. Once I had done all 40 of them, I brushed the top with an egg yolk and milk mixture and sprinkled paprika on top. Just before I put it in the oven, I took 3 Tbsp of butter and divided each square into quarters and placed these small butter cubes throughout the baking sheet so that it would melt and make them crispy. It was also a little difficult to get them off the pan, but they were really tasty. I thought these were fantastic, and my family agreed.

I have a 9-year-old son. I know what it looks like. But it TASTES 109% better.
My main dish for today was Serbian Cevapcici. These were pretty much like uncased sausages. They were meant to be grilled, but I didn’t want to mess with setting the grill up, so I pan-fried them instead. I mixed together some ground beef and ground pork (I left out the ground lamb because I couldn’t find it where I was) along with an egg white, some minced garlic, salt, baking powder, black pepper, a little bit of cayenne pepper, and paprika. Using my hands, I mixed everything together as much as I could. It’s still gross to handle raw meat, and I’ve been like that since I was a kid. I was supposed to form these into finger-like sausages about ¾” thick, but mine were much bigger and probably a little misshapen. But they held up and tasted far better than they looked. I loved these, but I would probably make meatballs out of them instead of this shape when (not if) I make these again.

Someone needs to have a cookout so I can make this again and bring it.
To go with this, I made two side dishes. The first one was Krompir Salata, or Serbian Potato Salad. This was a nice alternative to the usual potato salad, and I’ll definitely repeat this one. I boiled 4 cubed yellow potatoes and placed them in a bowl after they cooled a bit along with some onions. In an old spaghetti sauce jar, I added in some white vinegar, some olive oil, minced garlic, diced roasted red peppers, salt, sugar, and some black pepper and shook everything together. Then I tossed the dressing on top of the potatoes and onions and stirred. This was fantastic, except that I used four potatoes instead of the six the recipe suggested, but I forgot to adjust my oil amounts. So, outside of being a tad oily and having to drain off as much as I could, I loved everything about this. I hadn’t ever used roasted red peppers in a jar, but I will definitely think about using these again.

This picture looks better than it really was. Actually, it wasn't that bad.
And finally, I made Prebranac, or Serbian baked beans. I went with some Great Northern beans and boiled them for what seems like forever and still wasn’t enough. While that was going on, I chopped an onion and fried it until it started to brown. I put that in a bowl and mixed it with some garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. When my beans were finally almost done (ok, my kitchen was super hot by that time, and I was tired), I put them in a dish, added a layer of onions, a layer of beans, onions, and finally beans. I sprinkled some garlic powder on top, added a couple of bay leaves, and drizzled the pan drippings from my sausage on top. Then I put it in a 375ºF oven for about 35 minutes. It was actually pretty good minus the few beans that were still a little undercooked, and the top was a little dried out. Beans are still on my list of dishes that I need to work on, especially if I’m making something from dry beans. I just don’t have the patience for something that takes that long to soften up. (Well, I don’t know… I have been married for 13 years.)

This was a surprisingly tasty meal. Very full of flavor!
The days that I cook typically take up most of my afternoon, and I’m usually pretty tired afterwards. Today was no exception. My kitchen was like 192º in there while I was cooking. But cooking today almost had a different purpose – it was more therapeutic. I went to a funeral calling for a 2-year old yesterday, and then my car decided to give me a bunch of weird messages and drive like crap. Seeing how I never have money more than 22 minutes after I get paid, I’m hoping it’ll be a cheap and quick fix. So today, baking served a different purpose for me. This might be a stressful few days coming up, but at least we’ll be well-fed. I guess it’s like what the French say, c’est la vie.

Up next: Seychelles

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