Recipe: Adriatic Mussels in White Wine & Parsley

The winter is the best time to indulge in mussels on the Adriatic coast of Slovenia and Croatia.  This is a very simple recipe for steamed mussels and ensures the taste of the fabulous, succulent mussels shines through and is not dominated by any other ingredient.

Adriatic Mussels

Here’s my foolproof recipe…

Ingredients

1kg mussels, with the beards and any barnacles removed, any open mussels should be disguarded

250ml white wine (Malvasia would be ideal)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tbsp parsley, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

Put oil, wine, parsley and garlic into a stock pot and heat until it reaches a simmer

Place the mussels into the pot

Put a lid on the pot and allow the mussels to steam for 4 to 5 minutes

Serve when the mussels are open, with bread to mop up the sauce

Related Images:

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Baked Cauliflower Cheese

While the Russians may not have created signature cauliflower cheese they do indeed have their version and enjoy it with gusto.  It’s a great side dish or one for their zakuski board.  It’s by far one of my favourite ways to eat cauliflower, only perhaps overshadowed by fried cauliflower in breadcrumbs.

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe Cauliflower Cheese

Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients

Cauliflower florets

3 tbsp plain flour

100g butter

500ml milk

500ml sour cream

100g grated hard cheese

Instructions

Boil the florets in water for five minutes, drain and set aside

Heat the flour in 50g butter until golden brown

Add another 50g of butter to the pan and the milk

Whisk continuously to prevent lumps

Allow the sauce to thicken, then add sour cream

Simmer for five minutes

Put the cauliflower into a greased gratin dish

Pour over the hot sauce

Sprinkle with grated cheese (to ensure the top browns, add a few tbsp of butter to the top)

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe Cauliflower Cheese

Bake in the oven on 180°C until golden brown (approximately 25 minutes)

Related Images:

Recipe: Balkan Rack of Lamb in Sour Cream

Rack of lamb

There are parts of the Balkans that lamb just isn’t popular, however, there are regions in which dishes such as rack of lamb are simply adored.  As with most cultural traditions and traits related to this region, food can be highly polarised.  Now lamb is in season this foolproof recipe should provide you with a show-stopping meal suitable for any guest.

Balkan Rack of Lamb

Ingredients

1 rack of lamb

50g butter

3 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp cracked black pepper

1 tbsp cornflour dissolved in a small amount of water

2 tbsp sour cream

1 tsp tomato puree

1 cup red wine

250ml lamb stock

1 bay leaf

Instructions

Mix the rosemary, salt and pepper into the butter

Rub the butter onto the rack of lamb

Pour wine and stock and place bay leaf into roasting tin

Place rack of lamb above stock

Balkan Rack of Lamb

Cook in the oven according to taste (rare, medium, well done etc.)

Remove lamb from oven, cover and leave to rest

Put roasting tin on hob

Add cornflour to roasting tin and stir

When the gravy reaches a simmer add the sour cream and tomato puree

Carve the rack of lamb and place on plate with sauce drizzled over the top

Serve with seasonal vegetables

5th Lošinj Cuisine Festival in Croatia

5th Lošinj Cuisine Festival, Croatia

If you happen to find yourself in Croatia this April, make sure you head down to the 5th Lošinj Cuisine Festival held from 8th to 22nd April.  This year’s festival is marked by a project entitled “Around the World with Lošinj Sails” which aims to revive and recall the historical and cultural heritage of Lošinj’s maritime tradition and its golden era from 1853 until 1884, when Mali Lošinj was known as the maritime center of the Eastern Mediterranean.  The catering facilities involved will provide visitors with the opportunity to taste the dishes of Lošinj Captains, prepared with a modern twist.  From the looks of below, who could possibly resist?

5th Losinj Cuisine Festival

Book your spot now by visiting 5th Lošinj Cuisine Festival.

Related Images:

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Marinated Sardines

Talk to most people about Russian cuisine and the likelihood is they’ll say, “Don’t they just eat meat and potatoes; or eat caviar and drink vodka?”  I’m hoping to try and change people’s attitudes as there is so much more to this nation’s cuisine.  One of my favourite Russian zakuski dishes (though I realise they are not to everyone’s taste) are marinated sardines.  They are served cold so they are an ideal starter for a dinner party as they can be prepared in advance.

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe Marinated Sardines

Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients

Sardines, gutted and cleaned

2 white onions, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 parsnip, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

500ml fish stock

1 bay leaf

4 tbsp cider vinegar

50g plain flour

Instructions

Toss the sardines in flour and fry in oil until browned

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe Marinated Sardines

Remove sardines from pan and allow to cool

Meanwhile, fry the vegetables in oil

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe Marinated Sardines

Pour over the stock and add the bay leaf

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes

Add vinegar to taste and leave to cool

Pour the marinade over the sardines and allow to marinade for up to three hours

To serve, place on a platter and drizzle over the marinade

Related Images:

Slovene Orehove Rezine / Walnut Syrup Cake Recipe

There is something about delicious, moist, cake which makes me reminisce of summer holidays spent in Kranjska Gora.  The first time I arrived, Mira, the Grandmother, had created possibly the most intricate and exquisite cake in honour of my arrival.  I was quite blown away but I was soon to realise that cake is a longstanding tradition of the region.  The Slovenes certainly put our fairy cakes to shame!  This festive period I decided to do a little baking of my own and in honour of the Detela family I baked a Orehove Rezine, a walnut cake with a superbly sticky syrup.  I must say though, I thoroughly cheated by using a mixer but you can use a mixing bowl and wooden spoon and do it the old fashioned way too!

Orehove Rezine

Here’s the recipe…

Ingredients

175g walnut pieces, broken up

150g butter

150g soft light brown sugar

60ml set honey

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

50g plain flour

50g wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

65g polenta

75ml milk

For the syrup

90g golden caster sugar

60ml set honey

120ml water

For serving

Sour cream

Lemon rind

Instructions

Heat oven to 180°C

Place walnut pieces on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes

Put butter, sugar, honey, eggs, vanilla extract, flours (including bran pieces) polenta, nuts and milk into mixer and mix until a smooth consistency is achieved

Grease and line a cake tin

Fill the cake tin with the cake mixture

Orehove Rezine

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes

To make the syrup,

To make the syrup, put the sugar, honey and water into a pan, gently heat until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer for five minutes

Turn off the heat and when the cake is ready drizzle over the cake

Orehove Rezine

Serve with a dash of sour cream topped with lemon rind

Related Images:

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Tomatoes Stuffed with Mushrooms

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

There are many Russian zakuski dishes (small, introductory dishes usually part of a welcome board serves to guests on arrival) that also double as impressive, party-piece starters.  These tomatoes are no exception.  The large tomatoes are stuffed with a mushroom and sour cream sauce which can all be prepared before baking for just 30 minutes before serving.  Ideal!  Should you have any mixture leftover it can be frozen for up to one month and used as a pasta sauce or sauce for a grilled chicken breast.

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients

500g mushrooms, chopped (I use a mixture, wild are best but shitake and chestnut will do if availability is limited)

125ml sour cream

25g butter

1 white onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

4 large beef tomatoes

100g grated Gouda cheese

Instructions

Gently fry the onion, when softened add in the mushrooms

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

When sauteed add in the sour cream and parsley

Allow the mixture to cool

Cut the lids off the large tomatoes and hollow out the middle

When the mixture is cool, fill the tomatoes

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

Sprinkle the tomatoes with cheese and bake in an oven at 180°C for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top

Related Images:

Assorti Delivery – Russian & Asian Cuisine in London

A little while ago I came across a take-away menu for Assorti in London’s West End.  Assorti is a very small restaurant serving up traditional Russian and Central Asian cuisine and providing take-away and delivery to those who want to enjoy these dishes at home.  Let’s face it, this is an eternity away from pizza, Chinese or Indian to which we have all become accustomed to.  The small restaurant is open Monday to Sunday, 12 noon to 10.30pm.

Check out the menu below…

Assorti

For more information visit www.assortidelivery.co.uk

Related Images:

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Meatballs Braised in Sour Cream

The Russians are not commonly famed for their cuisine yet the nation boasts some fantastic dishes.  In my opinion, the simple are always the best and I love these Russian beef meatballs braised in sour cream which would make up a zakuski board for guests upon arrival.  They are very easy to make, though they do require some time as it is best to chill them thoroughly before cooking to prevent them breaking up.

Russian Beef Meatballs in Sour Cream

Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients

500g minced beef

50g breadcrumbs

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1 small white onion, grated

20g plain flour

25g butter

3 tbsp sunflower oil

700ml sour cream

Instructions

Mix the beef, two tbps of parsley, breadcrumbs and onion

Form the mixture into small balls

Roll the balls in the flour

Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes

Fry each ball in oil and butter

Russian Beef Meatballs in Sour Cream

Rest the meatballs until just before serving

When you want to serve them, heat sour cream in a saucepan and add the meatballs

When everything is thoroughly heated serve and sprinkle with remaining parsley

Related Images:

Recipe: Soča River Trout Wrapped in Pršut

When I first visited Slovenia the Detela family took me out to a restaurant one day for lunch.  This was the dish I ordered and I love it!  It’s fresh, tasty and as I found when I tried to make it recently, not actually that difficult.

Soška postrv s pršutom

Check out my recipe below…

Ingredients

1 trout per person gutted, cleaned and patted dry

4 slices of proscuitto ham per fish

1 clove of garlic per fish, crushed

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley per fish

250ml white wine

50g butter

Seasoning

Instructions

Generously butter a roasting dish large enough to fit the fish laying flat

Place the garlic and parsley into the fish

Wrap the prosciutto ham around each fish to seal it, season with salt and pepper

Soška postrv s pršutom

Place fish into roasting tin

Pour wine over fish

Place in oven on 180°C and roast for 30 minutes

Remove the fish from the oven and keep warm

Simmer the juices until slightly thickened

Serve the fish with the sauce poured over it and a generous wedge of lemon

Related Images: