Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Whole Green Pea - Dill Soup with Dumplings

This is a great soup for early Spring, although I make it through the whole year thanks to frozen peas and dill... and this is rare dish that my whole family likes. Yes, my kids are very picky eaters.

Green peas are among early vegetables that my father produces in his garden. Their season is very short, and birds like to eat them too. But, the sweet taste of fresh peas and soft texture is something that you never forget. However, I am happy with frozen peas, I don't mind it at all. Even with frozen dill I am fine. This soup always goes with the dill, you should remember that.

Dumplings are addition of my hubby. His grandma used to make them. Although he is a meat-lover, he is a big fan of this vegetarian soup.

You need:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large carrots, sliced
2lb frozen or fresh green peas
4-6 cups vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper to taste .
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

For dumplings:
2 eggs
8 tablespoons flour
80ml water
1/2 teaspoon salt


Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, and after 3 minutes add minced garlic. In 1 minute put sliced carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add green peas and stir to coat. Pour in vegetable stock. Increase the heat until soup starts to boil and cook on low heat with a lid on for 15-20 minutes. Season it and add fresh dill.

In the meantime make the dumplings. Beat the eggs and add flour, water and salt. Stir it until you get loose batter. With teaspoon scoop the batter for each dumpling and immerse it into cooking soup. Batter is sticky and it may take few seconds in the hot liquid for dumpling to detach from the spoon. Dumplings are ready when they pop up. It will take 5 minutes or so.

Serve it hot.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spiral Rolls with Phyllo Dough

Gibanica, one of the most popular dishes in Serbia, is a Cheese Pie made with phyllo dough. After using same old recipe (and getting great results) for years, I finally decided to experiment and make this traditional pie a bit differently. Instead of laying flat layers of phyllo dough, this time I rolled it into spirals. Original recipe find here.

The pie turned out beautifully, in my opinion even better than the original recipe. Phyllo dough was so crispy and flaky on the top, and I loved soft layers of cheese and dough in the middle. And it was nice for serving too.

I also made two filling variations: one with spinach and the other plain egg-cheese, because my kids do not like spinach. Do what you like, but I prefer cheese-spinach combo, especially in the Spring time. If you like it too, check out another recipe where I use this combination.

You need:

12 sheets of phyllo dough, I prefer thicker for savory stuff, left 2 hours on room temperature
1/2 cup Canola oil
5 eggs
1lb Feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup Kefir or Greek yogurt
1 package of frozen spinach (optional), thawed and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 stick of butter

You need one large or two smaller baking pans


Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Grease the pan with oil.

In a bowl mix beaten eggs, Kefir, crumbled Feta cheese, spinach, salt and pepper.

Open phyllo dough package, unfold sheets and cover them with damp kitchen towel.

Take one phyllo sheet and spread oil over it using pastry brush. Next, add cheese-spinach filling liberally, keeping in mind you need filling for the rest of sheets. Then, start to fold sheet diagonally to get the longest possible roll. Once folded, roll it into spiral shape very carefully and place it on the baking pan. Repeat the same with the rest of phyllo dough.

When you are done with rolling, cut butter into small cubes and place them on the top of spiral rolls. Put the pan into the oven, on the middle rack, and bake rolls for 30 minutes, until they become golden brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nescafe Frappe with Baileys and White Chocolate

Today is Saint Patrick's day. Today we had snowstorm again. Today is a day after elections in my home country and I wasn't happy with the outcome. Sometimes you have to do something to cheer yourself up. Sometimes you add some booze to your coffee. On Saint Patrick's day you go with Irish Baileys.

You need for one glass:

2 teaspoons Nescafe instant coffee
1 - 2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup hot milk
1 tablespoon or more, Baileys
1 tablespoon crushed white chocolate


Heat water and milk. Put into serving glass 2 teaspoons of instant coffee and sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of hot water. Use handheld milk frother to make foam, it will take about 1 minute. Pour rest of water,  Baileys and milk. Add crushed white chocolate. Serve hot and with a straw.

Note: You can adjust the amount of any ingredient to your taste. Cold version of Nescafe Frappe find here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dried Fig, Date, Pecan and Honey Balls

Another healthy dessert. I made those for my girlfriend who is vegan. No baking, no hustle, no sugar, no fat, just mixing healthy stuff, that is all. And, yes, they are irresistible.

You need for 20 balls:

220g pecans
350g dried figs, remove stems and chop them
100g dried dates, chopped
30g honey


Grind pecans in food processor, then add dried figs and dates. Mix until you get coarse paste. Add honey and after pulsing for few seconds move mixture to fridge to harden for about 30 minutes. Use your hands to make balls. Place them into paper liners. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Healthy Dark Chocolate Truffles with Prunes and Walnut

Super easy, super fast and healthy dessert. For me, these days it is all about healthy food choices because I plan to look fabulous this summer:) To find healthy and at the same time tasty dessert is hard, but this one meets both requirements. I found the recipe on Mihaela's blog, Tortelina, and I knew it right away - combination of chocolate and prunes with dark rum and walnuts - this can't be bad.

You need:

250g prunes, chopped
2 tablespoons dark rum
100g coarsely chopped walnut
100g dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa)

For glaze:
100g dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa)


Soak prunes in dark rum and put aside for 30 minutes.

Melt 100g of chocolate.

Place prunes in food processor and pulse for couple of seconds. Add walnuts and chocolate and stir all well. Move it to fridge to harden for 15-20 minutes.

Make balls with hands. Melt the rest of chocolate and dip the balls into it. Place them on a parchment paper. Move to the fridge. After 1 hour they are ready to be served.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lucija's Meat Pie with Phyllo Dough (Pita sa mesom)

I was looking for a meat pie recipe when my husband said, "Let's call Lucija, she used to make very good meat pie, she will give you the recipe." Lucija, his sister-in-law, married to his older brother, lives in Belgrade, Serbia, and thanks to advanced technology we can clik on video call over Skype and get in touch in a second. That's how I got the recipe. We, emigrants, are very grateful for today's free-of-charge ways of communication!

To be honest, I never made this pie before, but the recipe is good and dish is easy to make, so I wanted to share it with you.

Thanks Lucija for a good recipe!

You need:

1 package (1lb) phyllo dough (thick sheets if possible), left out of fridge for 2 hours
3 tablespoons Canola oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 1/4lb ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or plain Kefir
3/4 cup Canola oil
3/4 cup sparkling water
5 eggs


In medium size pot heat the oil, add chopped onion. After 2-3 minutes of cooking on medium high heat, add ground beef. Stir the meat until you break clusters. Add salt and black pepper. Cook it for 15 minutes. At the end stir in 1 egg. Place the meat aside.

Mix together Greek yogurt, sparkling water and oil. Beat the rest of eggs in another bowl.

Open the phyllo dough package, unfold sheets and cover with damped kitchen towel.

There are two ways of making meat pie with phyllo dough: first is making 4 rolls and then placing them in baking pan, as I did, and the other one is layering phyllo sheets one by one over baking pan which is easier way. I tried first way because I thought my baking pan wasn't big enough for whole phyllo dough sheet.

Preheat the oven to 395F.

Divide total number of phyllo sheets by 4. I had 16 sheets, so used 4 of them to make one roll. Place two phyllo sheets over work surface, using a pastry brush spread lightly the yogurt-sparkling water-oil mixture over it. Place additional 2 sheets over it and brush it with the same mixture. Then spread 1/4 of cooked beef over it. Fold into roll and place in the baking pan that you previously lined with parchment paper.

Repeat the same with the rest of phyllo sheets until you get 4 rolls. Using sharp knife cut the rolls into square pieces as I did on the picture above. Pour the yogurt mixture evenly over the cut rolls and let it soak into dough for 10-15 minutes. Do the same with beaten eggs and wait another 10 minutes.

Move the pan to the oven and bake for 40 minutes until the top becomes golden brown.

Serve it warm, best with plain Greek yogurt.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Warm Slivovitz a.k.a Shumadian Tea

My husband is a guest on my blog...

Nothing is better on a cold winter day than Warm Slivovitz.

Slivovitz (Šlijivovica) is a plum brandy and Serbian national drink. Actually, it is much more than that, it is a symbol and beverage with almost mythical power. Overall hospitality of a household is measured by the quality of Slivovitz it can offer to their guests. Especially if it's homemade, using micro-distillery such as one that my father-in-law has. Births and weddings are saluted with a glass of it in your hand. Last respect it paid to the departed, again with a glass of Slivovitz in your hand, right there at the cemetery. Many people never wash shot-size Slivovitz glasses, confident that no germ can survive on the their surface due to high alcohol content of the drink. When I was sick as a child and had a fever, my parents would put a cloth soaked with Slivovitz around my ankles, believing it will take the fever out.

Serbians were never much fond of the tea, but they still needed something to warm them up and make long winters more bearable in the age before TV and Internet. So they invented Warm Slivovitz. Since the best-known region for making Slivovitz in Serbia is called Shumadija (Šumadija), Warm Slivovitz is often, half-jokingly, called Shumadian Tea. 

Bitterly cold winter in Baltimore inspired me to make one for myself and share the recipe with you..

You need:

1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup Slivovitz - you can find it in well stocked large liquor stores.
1/2 cup water


In a small sauce pan, melt sugar over medium heat until it's dark brown in color. Now add Slivovitz and water. As you add cold liquid, caramelized sugar will immediately firm up. Keep the heat on, stirring until all caramelized sugar has melted back again and until the liquid starts the boil. Although Slivovitz is a very strong spirit, a lot of alcohol will evaporate as you heat it up, and you will end up with a smooth and relaxing warm beverage, comparable to mulled wine. Pour into heat-resistant glasses and enjoy.

You can alter proportion of sugar, Slivovitz and water in this recipe depending on your taste.

Serves two.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tulumba, Fried Dough Soaked in Syrup

I have been planing to make this delight for almost two years. This is a calorie bomb, so I hesitated, and it didn't look like an easy thing to make. I had everything that's needed: foolproof recipe from Maja, tool for dough piping she gave me the when we met in Belgrade for the first time (we organized a small meeting of Serbian food bloggers), and finally, a gorgeous Turkish dish for serving.

Like many other Turkish desserts, such as well-known Baklava or Kadaif, this one is soaked in water-sugar-lemon based syrup too. I don't know what is so special about Tulumbas, but people from Balkans cannot resist them. They never sit in the fridge for too long.

So I made Tulumbas, and when they were gone I decided to immediately start sugar-free diet :) To feel less guilty than I did, you can use half the amounts from the recipe below. Go to Maja's blog to see pictures of whole process of making Tulumbas.

You need for syrup:

2lb sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 lemon, finely sliced
Few kumquats, sliced, optional

You need for dough:

1 3/4 cup water
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup +1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

You need for frying:

4 cups Canola oil


You should make syrup first. In a medium size pan cook water with sugar until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat, add sliced lemon and cook for 10-15 minutes. Put the syrup on a side to cool down completely and then move to a fridge.

To make dough, in a medium size pot, bring water, salt, sugar and oil to boil. Turn the heat off, add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until you get smooth dough. Stir in beaten eggs and mix until dough becomes smooth and sticky.

In a large size pan add Canola oil. Do not turn on the heat yet. Fill the piping tool with dough, use star tip, and start to pipe small ridged tube shapes 2 - 3 inches long into pot with cold oil. Since the dough is sticky, you can use kitchen scissors to cut shapes loose. If you don't have the piping tool, a pastry bag with wide star tip will do it. Keep adding shapes until surface of the pot is filled. You won't be able to fit all dough into one pan, so you'll probably have to fry three or four batches. Now turn the heat on to 4 out of 6. Fry Tulumbas on both sides until they puff up and become golden brown. While frying, they will roll over on their own or you can tap them. When Tulumbas are done, turn off the heat and place them into the pot with cool syrup. While Tulumbas are bathing in the syrup, fry the next batch, but wait for 10 minutes for oil to cool down between batches. In the meantime, remove first batch to a serving dish. Repeat the same with the remaining dough. In the end, if some syrup is left over, pour it over Tulumbas in the serving dish.

Serve Tulumbas cold and keep them in the fridge.

Piping tool for Tulumbas

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chestnut puree (Kesten pire)

I craved this desert for a long time. It is not easy to find chestnuts here, and if you do, they are so expensive. My husband payed $18 for 3 pounds of chestnuts in shells, he couldn't resist it. But, I swear, at least one third of them were rotten and useless. My advice to you is to buy them already shelled and cleaned, in a bag, I found one in Whole Foods. It is more expensive than chestnuts in shells, but overall it is a better value.

I will be honest, cleaning chesnuts is a big pain. I did it both ways, roasting and boiling, and I don't have any preference. It is going to be a torture for your thumbs. But as soon as I tried my chestnut puree, I was transported to other time and other place, and the taste brought so many childhood memories. It was worth it, after all.

Chestnut puree is, I guess, French stuff, they use it in many cakes. So this is a basic recipe and you can use it to make other sweet treats. Or, you can serve it with whipped cream as I did.


400g chestnuts in shells or 300g chestnuts without shells
500ml (2 cups) milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For whipped cream:

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar


1. Cut into chestnut shell with paring knife all the way around as I did on the picture, or cut the large X into round side. This will make it easier to remove the shell after boiling.

2.  Bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Boil the chestnuts for 5 minutes. Do multiple little batches, rather than all at once, as the shells need to be removed quickly after you take chestnuts out of water.

3. Peel the shells. They are hot and you have to be very careful.

4. Add sugar to milk and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and add chestnuts. While the chestnuts are cooking, stir them regularly. It will take about 1 hour to have them soft enough. Pour in dark rum if you like, or vanilla extract. Remove from the heat and let it cool down.

5. Using hand blender, blend cooked chestnuts with milk until you get a smooth paste. Scoop it in serving glasses or bowls.

6. When the puree is cold add whipped cream on top of it.  Keep it in the fridge. This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of chestnut puree.

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