Croatian Cuisine (aka the story of how I ate all the fish in the Adriatic Sea)

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that it has been a while since my last post. This is because I traveled to Croatia with my boyfriend where we’ve spent our days tanning, drinking great wine, and eating literally all the fish. The Croatian coast lies along the Adriatic Sea which brings a lot of seafood into Croatian cooking. Nearly every night my boyfriend and I ate seafood and attempted to “out-order” each other at the restaurants. Needless to say, I was on a winning streak for most of the holiday until he beat my seared tuna with a monkfish in tomato sauce, sad times.IMG_4610.jpgOn our first night, we went into the Diocletian’s Palace [pictured above]. It was built in the 4th century by Roman emperor Diocletian, and now home to many of Split’s restaurants, cafés and bars. The palace has many small streets and alleyways and was a maze to us at first. After wandering through a few alleyways we spotted a cafe with seats on pillows going all the way up a set of steps called FIGA. Here we had a seafood platter with tuna, monkfish, sea bass, king prawns, mussels, and various grilled vegetables which we both enjoyed very much [pictured below].IMG_4612At first we didn’t quite know what to expect from Croatian food. Thinking it could either be like Italian or other Eastern European cuisine. In fact it is neither. A large part of Dalmatian cuisine revolves around the grilling and barbecuing of fresh fish, meats and vegetables. In addition to the grill, Croatian cruising also features in seafood and lamb stews, which are to die for. One night, we went to another restaurant in the Diocletian’s Palace called Mazzgoon. Here, I had a traditional Dalmatian stew called Gregada which features sea bass, potatoes, herbs, and white wine. My boyfriend had an octopus stew, which was a lot more photogenic [pictured below].IMG_0056.jpgIn Hvar, our apartment owner, Teo, suggested we go to a small local restaurant called Lungo Mare, just down the street where they specialised in grilling. Out on the patio, the chef had a large grilling pit where you could see all the food being grilled, right in front of you. Fish were grilled whole and then filleted skilfully by the waiting staff at the table. Pictured below is a map of Hvar, annotated by Teo with great food recommendations, but also great suggestions of things to see and do in this small seaside town.IMG_4739.jpgAs well as stuffing our faces with seafood, we spent our holiday at the beaches of the Pakleni islands, ordering 80¢ espressos to use cafe wifi, devouring gelato (him – not me!), chilling beneath waterfalls in Krka, fangirl-ing over the tour guide who plays a slave in Game of Thrones (me – not him), sailing with drunk Americans, and all in all just having a great time! IMG_4670.jpgOh, and we took about a thousand selfies.

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Frittata Muffins

Always hangry? On the go? Rushing to the gym, pilates, yoga, work, or uni? Grab one of these frittata muffins to keep you going when you don’t have enough time to cook a proper meal. Even if you aren’t in a rush, they are the perfect snack when that gap between lunch and dinner is just too long! This recipe makes 12 mini frittatas and is entirely made out of eggs, bacon bits, vegetables, and spices; so it is delicious and paleo-friendly.

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You will need to get yourself 9 large eggs, and beat them in a bowl with salt and pepper. Next, add three garlic cloves, and a teaspoon of oregano for flavor. Additionally, fry some bacon bits (approx. 250 g) and drain the excess fat.

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As always, I used the Magimix food processor to cut up my vegetables, but you could also grate them for a similar result.

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This recipe is entirely customisable and you can add any vegetables and spices you want. You could also leave out the bacon bits to make them vegetarian, or substitute the bacon for diced chicken bits. In this recipe, I used one courgette and two carrots. Try to drain as much of the vegetable water as you can in order to make sure the frittata doesn’t get too soggy.

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I also added a chopped red bell pepper and a diced red onion.Then, I combined all the vegetables and bacon in a large bowl and poured over egg mixture. Make sure to mix well and then spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin (or tin with muffin liners).

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Bake at 190 °C for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your muffins. Make sure to check that they are cooked through all the way, as the first time I made the muffins, the centre was still raw and they had to go back into the oven.

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Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 9 large eggs
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 250 g bacon bits, cooked and fat drained
  • 1 large courgette, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced

All of these ingredients can be substituted and can be entirely altered to taste. You could add chopped broccoli, leeks, sweet potato,or fennel. Just try out different variations and decide what you like! You could even add some parmesan or feta cheese on top!

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 °C.
  2. Beat eggs with salt, pepper, and oregano.
  3. Grate or chop all ingredients and combine them in a large bowl. Mix through the beaten eggs.
  4. Spoon into greased muffin tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.

 

Tortilla Española – Spanish Tortilla

…or as my brother calls them: “those Mexican things”, hahaha. I got the base for this recipe from my best friend’s mom, aka my madre número dos. I think the first time I had Spanish tortilla was at my best friend’s house at one of our many sport team dinners, as it is great as a tapa at a potluck-style dinner. A tortilla is very versatile, you can add ingredients to make it taste however you want. I’ve made tortillas with chorizo, chicken, jalapeños or peppers, or you could basically any other ingredient you want. The recipe here is simple and pretty straightforward with potatoes, onions, and eggs, although I also added some red peppers to it.

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The first step is to cut and peel a kilo of potatoes. This is probably most time-consuming part of the process, however making sure that you have thin slices of potatoes is essential. As always, I cheated and instead of manually cutting a billion slices, I used the slicing disc on my Magimix food processor. This thing is literally a lifesaver!

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Next, add the potato slices to a large bowl and coat in approximately a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Now this is where my recipe differs from most conventional recipes: I partially cook the potato slices in the microwave instead of in a frying pan. This can be done by placing the bowl with potato slices in the microwave at the highest setting for approximately 10-12 minutes (with stirring and checking in between) until the potatoes are soft enough to be cut with a fork. While the potatoes are microwaving, you can dice two large onions and two red (or any other color) peppers.

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When the potatoes are done, add them to a large, lightly oiled non-stick pan together with the onions and peppers. Cook these until the onion is translucent.

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Next, beat 8 eggs in a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the contents from the pan to the bowl and cover potato mixture in egg. Transfer the contents of the bowl back into the non-stick pan, cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes.

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Now comes the tricky part: flipping the tortilla. I’m sure that very few people actually own a special tortilla-flipping plate (basically an oversized plate with a handle), so what I do is I get a large plate that fits well over the pan. Then while wearing oven gloves, I turn the pan upside down and transfer the tortilla onto the plate and shuffle it back into the pan. I have ruined many a tortilla by flipping it incorrectly, so through through trial and error I’ve figured out this way that works for me….so good luck!

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Once the tortilla is flipped and back in the pan, cook it for another five minutes and flip it onto a plate and serve!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 8 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Cut and peel potatoes and add to a large bowl. Coat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Microwave potato slices on high for 10-12 minutes until nearly cooked, with occasional stirring.
  3. Add potatoes to large non-stick frying and add diced onions and peppers. Cook until onion is translucent.
  4. Beat eggs and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer potato mixture into the bowl with eggs and mix well.
  6. Return the potatoes now covered in eggs to non-stick pan and cook on a low heat with a lid for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip tortilla and cook for another 5 minutes.
  8. Serve with a side salad and enjoy!

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is another great low-carb (or paleo) substitute for grains like rice. The way this cauliflower rice is prepared, I think I prefer it to actual rice as it has a lot more flavor (and I can eat a mountain of it without feeling absolutely stuffed). I enjoyed this cauliflower rice last night as an accompaniment to Greek meatballs. If you’re a carb-person you could even substitute the cauliflower for approximately 2 cups of cooked rice and then follow this recipe.

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The first step is to finely chop a carrot, an onion and two cloves of garlic, or you can be lazy (like me) and just make the food processor do it for you.

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Next, add the chopped veggies to a pan and sauté (approx. 4 minutes) in a tablespoon of ghee (aka fancy butter, but I guess you could use regular butter or coconut oil) until the onion becomes translucent and the garlic smells fragrant.

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During this time,  if you’re handy,  you can rice your cauliflower in a food processor by pulsing a large head of cauliflower (cut into florets) in about 10-15 pulses. Just make sure you don’t puree the cauliflower, you will regret it.

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Take note: this is what ricey-cauliflower should look like. It is not pureed. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

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Add the cauliflower to the pan with the carrot mixture and add 125 ml of chicken stock. The chicken stock I used was homemade but you could also use about 1/3 to 1/2 a chicken stock cube and dissolve it in 125 ml of warm water, and then add this to the pan. Steam the rice mixture for about 10-12 minutes on a low heat. You want the resulting texture to still be ricey, but if you steam it for too long it will turn into mush, so keep checking and tasting small bits with a spoon.

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If you want to be fancy, like I was yesterday, you can chop up some coriander (cilantro) as a garnish and put it in a pretty plate. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 125 ml chicken stock
  • coriander, to garnish

 

Method:

  1. Finely chop the carrot, onion and garlic and sauté in a pan with ghee until onion is translucent, approx. 4 minutes.
  2. Rice cauliflower in a food processor (about 10-15 pulses) and add to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the chicken stock and steam, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10-12 minutes.
  4. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Fennel Salad with Red Cabbage and Carrot

Yesterday, I enjoyed the first real barbecue of the summer (minus the two times in Edinburgh where it was still super cold and I didn’t have a real barbecue pit), and all that juicy meat calls for tasty salads! To go along with grass-fed Uruguayan steaks, I whipped up this fennel, red cabbage and carrot salad (almost) without cutting or chopping a thing myself! Below is an image of all the salad ingredients (but I forgot to include the red cabbage, oops).

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The red cabbage (400 g) was purchased from the supermarket already chopped up which made my life a bit easier (although sometimes I feel that spending some time chopping vegetables can be quite therapeutic when I’m stressed out). As I spent my day lounging about the garden and enjoying my summer, I was a bit pushed for time and decided to optimise my use of the new Magimix food processor, featuring a few fantastic rotating chopping discs.

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Firstly, I created carrot “matchsticks” (above) with the fine blades, and then I used the slicing disc to make thin fennel and celery slices (below), which took all of 2.5 seconds to do.

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Next, the two spring onions and coriander (aka cilantro) were cut (manually…ughhhh) and were combined with the rest of the vegetables in a large salad bowl.

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The dressing was made by combing (in a mason jar) three tablespoons of sesame oil, the zest and juice of one lemon, and some salt and pepper to taste. These were then shaken vigorously and mixed into the salad.

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Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 large carrots
  • approx. 400 g red cabbage
  • 1 hand-full of coriander
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped and roasted almonds

Dressing:

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice of
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

  1. Cut the carrot into matchsticks, and finely slice the fennel, celery, and red cabbage.
  2. Mix together in a bowl and add the chopped coriander.
  3. Make the dressing by combining the lemon zest and juice in a mason jar with the sesame oil and salt and pepper, and shake vigorously to mix.
  4. Mix the dressing through the salad and sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.

Avocado and Cucumber sauce with Courgetti

This recipe is such a quick and fresh one to make, which makes it perfect for spring and summer. Courgetti is variable and can be used as a no-carb substitute for any spaghetti, so this recipe is really more about the avocado and cucumber sauce than anything else. Nothing in this recipe requires cooking, as all the ingredients for the sauce are simply blended and thrown together in a large plate. Alternatively, spaghetti can be used instead of courgetti, although I prefer mine with courgetti as a lighter meal.

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The green sauce consists of ripe avocados, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, and fresh basil, with some additional salt and pepper to taste. The addition of lemon juice keeps the sauce nice and green so that you can keep leftovers (if any) in the fridge for a couple of days.

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Once the ingredients are prepped and cut into chunks, they are all blended together in a food processor until a smooth green sauce is formed. I throw the washed basil leaves in without removing the stems, as they will go unnoticed when blended.

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Again, it is very important to taste the sauce at this point so that you can make it to your own taste by adding more salt, pepper, basil, garlic, or lemon juice.

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After the sauce is finished, you should make courgette noodles either by spiralizing them, or by using a julienne peeler, as both methods will give you noodles. The courgetti can be eaten raw, but if you prefer the noodles warm or lightly cooked, then you can toss them in a pan for 1-2 minutes or in a microwave for a minute before serving it on a plate.

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The next step is to combine the courgetti with the sauce and assemble the rest of the ingredients on a plate. I have added leftover roast chicken, cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, and a bit of rocket salad on the plate. When I made this last time, I prepared this meal for my whole family and the assembly of all the ingredients on the plate took more time than making the sauce or the noodles, but food has to look pretty, right?

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Enjoy!

 

Ingredients: (serves 4)

Sauce:

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 ½ cucumbers
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ lemons (juice of)
  • large handful of basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rest:

  • 4 courgettes (1 per person)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • rocket salad
  • 1 jar jalapeños
  • leftover roast chicken

The rest of the ingredients do not have specific amounts as they can be adjusted to how much you want of everything or can even be substituted for other ingredients. For example, you could add baked salmon instead of chicken, or if you are vegetarian or vegan, this meal is still delicious entirely meat free.

Method:

  1. Combine all sauce ingredients (cut in smaller pieces so that it fits) in a blender and blend until a smooth sauce is made. Taste for flavor and adjust if necessary.
  2. Spiralize the courgette and serve raw or lightly toss around in a warm pan for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Spoon sauce onto a plate of courgetti and mix to coat courgette.
  4. Assemble the remaining ingredients on the plate (remember, beautiful food is always better)