Cheers to the New Year with pomegranate syrup - Brindisi all'Anno nuovo con lo sciroppo di melagrana - Nazdravimo Novoj godini sa sirupom od nara!

Folk custom says to eat food in form of many grains on New Year’s eve, it should bring you prosperity and wealth in the new year! I offer you many grains to drink, a healthy pomegranate syrup that will be a treasure for your soul!
During this year and especially during its last month we have baked so, so many perfumed cookies and tasty pastry, we have invented and tasted plenty of new recipes, we were surprised by excellent skills of our colleagues and friends bloggers, we have shared our simple and complicated recipes and suggestions….it was very rich year and all our work and dedication to our hobby deserve a toast. Because our hobby is beautiful, we cook, we take pictures, we enjoy doing it, we comunicate with each other, but it is also demanding and requires a lot of time and commitment.
Therefor we need a lot of new energy and serenity. We need another interesting year that will inspire us more and more, because at the end we create the beauty and we offer it to the world!

Have a wonderful and very happy New Year!


Cocoa and hazelnuts cookies - Biscotti al cacao e nocciole - Keksi s kakaom i lješnjacima

This year arrived to its end...only few days left and it will be over for good! I bet you are all thinking of how good, or bad it was. Well, I'm doing some similar thinking, but I don't want to make plans or firm projects for the new year. Nowadays it makes me unquiet, what if these plans turn to be wrong, or something goes in bad direction, it happens sometime...I don't want things to go wrong anymore, I've decided to live my life day be day, I will change my plans and my thinking each time it will be better then persecuting old ideas. Every new and fresh idea means new beginning and it's fantastic!
But before the new year begins you still have time for last baking and some more cookies will never be too much. You can offer them to your guests, or you can still make some eatable gifts for New Year's eve.  
Hurry up, but don't eat them all by yourself. These cookies are so tasty and remain friable for days. All flavours are well mixed and cocoa flavour doesn't cover the taste of hazelnuts. I like them very much!


Merry Christmas - Buon Natale - Sretan Božić

My Christmas wheat is so, so luxuriant and high this year!
I will transfer it into bigger vase in January, I'd like to see golden sheaf of wheat next summer. Mr. M. and me, we like to experiment planting all kind of plants and seeds in our "garden" on the terrace and see them grow and bloom. The terrace is our courtyard, we observe how seasons are changing and plant life is transforming.
Now our garden is all wet and gray, but soon it will be born again and it will bring us new wonderful surprises and happiness!


Makovnjača Christmas braid – Makovnjača l’intreccio Natalizio – Makovnjača Božićna pletenica

Today is my birthday and this is my birthday gift to you my dear friends! 
I usually don't like to mention my birthday, it's not my nature and it's the wrong moment, because everybody is expecting something more important, Christmas is arriving, but this time it's different, I'm really happy to share it with you. It was a tough year and I, ...we all need peace and joy!
Makovnjača is my favourit Christmas cake, it's so simple, so soft, so, so, so full of poppy seeds, I really adore it. I usually only roll the dough and bake it in the plumcake tray. This time I wanted something different and really sensational. When I started to think about this braid, I didn't condisdered that I want my makovnjača to be very soft, full of poppy fillling and that to make a braid with it might be a bit more difficult. But I love complicated stuff, right, so even if every first idea seams to me so easy...in my head only!...sometimes it turns not to be easy at all. I immagine the perfect picture of my future creature and fascinated by expectations I forget any possible problem, apparently I never see problems and I even don't want to see them! My desire is to get the best result. This time I was lucky, my expectations have been fulfilled!

The dough I made was beautiful and velvety soft, poppy filling was dense enough, so I didn't though about the fact that once rolled and cut in half, the snaky dough would be disobedient. We, me and the snaky dough, fought for just a short while, I was more determined and once I've placed the dough on the baking tray it started to raise and its layers pushed out plenty of poppy seeds that decorated the braid.
I hope you like it as much as I do!


Herb teas - Tisane - Biljni čajevi

Winter is time to enjoy different herb teas, especially warm, but also cold, served with some cookies or sweets, or alone, as digestive, depurative, relaxing and refreshing.
In very next days we will eat much more  then usually, we will exaggerate with all kind of sweets, salty stuff and spices and our bodies will need a lot of liquid, but not only. We will need to eliminate superfluous substances we will ingest with food and beverages, so let's make a good provision of herb teas that will help our bodies to survive the holidays without much suffer.
Nowadays there are a lot of variety of herb teas, but I think that the best ones are the most simply ones, especially if you can harvest them by your own. It is not easy, because you need to reach clean environments without pollution and you need to know when is the very best moment to harvest different herbs. Fortunately we can find plenty of herbs teas in shops and in the pharmacy.
My family still use to harvest a lot of herb teas, I have got some from my mother, some from my aunt and from my cousin and I have also prepared my own herbs provisions.
I really like to prepare a cup of herb tea from time to time and drink it warm and without sugar, especially in the evening before I go to bed.
Christmas is near and we also need something special, there are some special mixtures of herbs and fruits that will satisfy all your senses. These mixtures produce so nice and perfumed steams and will make your enjoy evan more your flavourful cup of winter tea!


Saint Lucia's day and Christmas wheat – Santa Lucia e il grano di Natale - Sveta Lucija i Božićna pšenica

Every year on Saint Lucia's day I'm sowing my Christmas wheat. This is an old Croatian tradition and even if I'm not religious,  I learned this custom from my mother and it is something more then simple religious stuff. I like to watch it burgeons and grows day by day. I like to observe how beautiful and incredible is the nature, it never ceases to amaze me!

Happy Saint Lucia's day to you my friends!

Winter pie - Crostata invernale - Zimska pita

I must admit that I don't like dried figs, I don't like figs at all, neither Mr. M. likes them, but ... then I've baked this pie and I must admit that I liked it, I liked it a lot! Mr. M. is still hesitant, so I think he basically doesn't like it.

All started with Lara's proposal to use dried figs for December round of our contest "ajme, koliko nas je!". Lara is writing Slatki blog (Sweet Blog!) and she is my new friend, for the moment just a virtual friend, but I have the impression that we will meet soon!
But what to do with dried figs? What can I prepare with the ingredient I never ever use....My parents adore dried figs, so do my parents in law. We have a big white fig tree in our "garden with the view" (you all remember why I call it this way, don't you?) and every summer when I go back from holidays I bring plenty of figs with me to Italy and everybody is so, so happy to receive fresh and ripe figs as a gift! Our fig tree produces small, but very flavourful figs (everybody says so!), but my mother doesn't dry them, she use to prepare a jam occasionally. I also prepared it once, because some figs smashed during our return trip, but then this jam went back to Croatia, because I didn't ate it! This is all my experience with figs.
I couldn't miss this challenge and I have decided to try to prepare something with dried figs despite I don't like them, so I mixed figs with almonds and oranges and the result is very good, I'm satisfied because I have prepared a real winter pie and it is another good idea how to recycle your dried figs if you don't finish your Christmas provisions.


White chocolate balls filled with candied orange zests - Palline di cioccolato bianco ripiene di scorzette d'arancia candite - Kuglice od bijele čokolade punjene kandiranim koricama naranče

I hope snow will arrive soon, I like listening the snow falling silently and covering the ground with its soft and cold coat. And it paralyze all around, the traffic, the business, the people, the chaos...all is still and intact...it's perfect! For the moment I wish all this will last for ever, but suddenly the snow melts and this magic atmosphere disappears. 
When I thought about this recipe I was thinking about snow and winter and Christmas season and the expectations that are growing inside of us in these days. Therefor every little ball is hiding a surprise. It would be too simple without it. The combination of flavours I've used match good together. It's a perfect Christmas chocolate candy!


St. Nicholas is arriving - Sta arrivando San Nicola - Dolazi nam Sveti Nikola

St.Nicholas is announcing Christmas gift giving season. He is the first one that arrives in December, quietly, during the night and leaves simple presents to children and to some adults too.
When I was a child I was happy to receive St.Nicholas gifts: some tangerines, some candies and cookies, but all of us children feared to receive thin whip as a sign of bad behavior. Every 5th December eve before going to bed I readily cleaned my largest boots and placed them on the window sill with the hope to find them full of gifts the morning after.
These sweet memories make me still think that St.Nicholas will remember my home address again and again, and he does, maybe not every year, but from time to time he stops at my window sill and leave a simple gift for me.
This simple and perfumed sugar candies are for you, St.Nicholas was so busy this year and he asked me to help him. He trust to see smilie on your faces, because we all need St.Nicholas special gift in these days!


Ajme, koliko nas je! - Pripremali smo crveni radić

Moram priznati da je ovo bio težak zadatak, ali na kraju sam ipak vrlo zadovoljna da sam vam predložila ovu neobičnu i vrlo sezonsku namirnicu!
Ja obožavam boju i svestranost crvenog radića i sigurna sam da ćete ga od sada i vi nastaviti kuhati, a ne samo od njega pripremati nekuhana jela i da ga više nećete izbjegavati na tržnici! Samo je stvar navike, pa će onda i njegov "lagano" gorak ukus ubrzo postati ugodan.
Meni je najglavnije da sam ovoga mjeseca srela puno dragih ljudi u blogosferi i puno novih prijatelja i nadam se da ću vas jednoga dana uspjeti i vidjeti! Drago mi je da vas nisam previše uplašila s mojim izborom, pa evo predstavljam vam najhrabrije učesnike: . . .

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I must admit this was tough challenge, but at the end I'm very happy I have proposed this unusual and top-seasonal ingredient!
I adore the colour and versatility of red radicchio and I'm sure from now on you will all continue cooking it, not just preparing uncooked dishes with it, or even avoiding to purchase it! It's just a matter of habit and also its "slightly" bitter taste will soon become pleasant.
The most important experience this month is that I found a lot of nice people in the blogosphere and a lot of new friends that I hope to meet one of these days too! I'm happy I have not scared you too much with my choice, so I present you the most couragous participants: . . .


Baked white polenta with cheese and red radicchio - Polenta bianca pasticciata con fontina e radicchio rosso - Zapečena bijela palenta sa sirom i crvenim radićem

I love to prepare tasty dishes with poor ingredients or leftovers, because “less is more”, more attention, more care, more pure flavours…and at the end more inventiveness and satisfaction!
This dish is one of my “empty fridge” recipe. When I cook a lot and leftovers are overflowing the fridge I need to invent something new to use all these small pieces of cheese, or little quantities of fresh or cooked vegetables, or other stuff that are waiting patiently to get of from the fridge.
With just a few ingredients I have prepared this really flavourful dish, I don’t even use a lot of spices, I just leave it as natural as possible. And most of all I have prepared a perfect meal in very short time.
Last week I have cooked some braised meat with white polenta, of course you can’t do the exact quantity of polenta, I never do it. No worries, to recycle the leftovers you just need some cheese, or sauce and vegetables and that’s it! Assemble all together the way you like it most!
Try to do it yourself, I’m sure you will love it!


Soft pumpkin cake with marron glacé - Torta morbida di zucca con marron glacé - Mekani kolač od buče s marron glacé

Last weekend I made this cake with the pumpkin puree and some marron glacé crumbles that remained in sugar syrup after I've finished to caramelise last fresh chestnuts (I have deep frozen some too, but I don't want to scare Mr.M!!!). The combination of these two flavours is really perfect. I'm already thinking about an new recipe without "white flour", because I'd like to get more rustic texture and flavour. One medium size kabocha pumpkin is enough for tasty and dense soup for four people and for one small cakeThis cake remains fresh and soft for few days and it's perfect with a cup of coffee!
Lately I've started to prepare all cakes and cookies using half of the ingredients, otherwise half of the cake get often eaten unwillingly. I never trow away food, because I really hate wasting food. As already said several times, it is too precious and there is too many people still starving in the world. We are very fortunate, food even become our hobby!
So cook what you can eat and if it's too much anyway, recycle your meals, I always do it! And you can also give it to someone and make other people happy too!


Quince compote - Compote di mele cotogne - Kompot od dunja

The air is full of misty rain. It's cold and wet, but there are still nice colours all around that are feeding my imagination. But in these days I feel I need to stop myself, I need to be lazy to recover from the chaos in my head....then all will start again, slowly and decisive. In simple terms: I need a break from the routine. It happen sometime, it's natural. I feel I need to rediscover things I've left behind for some reason. It's time to do it...I need space for new inspirations.


Marron Glacé

Once upon a time chestnuts were food for poor people during long and cold winter months...who could have imagined that we would eat chestnuts as a delicacies nowadays?! It is even very fashionable to prepare and consume each kind of special ingredients, seeds and grains, gluten free and vegan stuff.
I eat everything, I'm lucky, because I have no food allergy and I like practically all food. There are very few things that I don't eat, because I don't like it, but there are also a lot of things that I never tasted and I even never heard about them. But I still have time to discover them…I like to be fascinated by new flavours and tastes.
Every autumn Mr.M. and I, we like to go harvesting chestnuts in the forest. We wait all year long the right moment, when chestnuts are ripe and ready to be consumed. We collect them from the ground, they are neat and wet under the leaves. Sometime they fall directly from the tree and they are so perfect and they smell so good.
It’s strange that I started to prepare marron glacé only few years ago. Since I was a child my mother always prepared so many different cakes with chestnuts, but never marron glacé. So I’ve learned how to do it, also because Mr. M. adore it and I was very curious to discover how these rustic fruits become so charming candies.
Now I prepare them every year, it’s not the easiest thing to do, but the result is so tremendously good and their flavour is the pure concentrate of chestnuts.
Mr. M. is always helping peeling chestnuts, so we chat, we peel chestnuts, we eat some hmmmm ….. a lot of chestnuts and we spend nice and pleasant moments together. This is what I call pure and easy happiness!

Now I have almost finished all chestnuts, I have just few left for another tasty recipe and it will be over for this year. I think I will roast the very last ones, it will be quicker and much easier to do!


Mix salad with red radicchio, walnuts and grilled chicken breast - Insalata mista con radicchio rosso, noci e petto di pollo grigliato - Miješana salata s crvenim radićem, orasima i pilećim prsima s roštilja

Another “red radicchio” idea for this month: tasty, healthy and nutritious. I discovered this dish in a restaurant and I found it immediately very, very interesting. So I couldn’t wait to prepare it myself, but as usually I have changed a bit the original recipe and prepared it my way! It’s quick, easy to do and full of flavours that match so good together.
And if you are missing vibrant colours in this season, here you are. The dark violet red, the ocher and golden brown and the touch of white! You don't need more, you have good flavours and nice colours!
But what is happening with the autumn this year, the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining every day and it is warm. I could "almost" say that I miss rainy and foggy november days. Or it is just the excuse to start cooking typical autumnal specialties like some dense and rich soups for example or a stew meat with polenta... Instead I still offer you the recipe for salad, but very special salad. The recipe is not the real recipe, just the combination of ingredients you like to add most to your dish. This one is my proposal for better start of another messy and chaotic working week!


Risotto with red radicchio and provolone cheese - Risotto al radicchio rosso e provolone - Rižoto s crvenim radićem i sirom provolone

In the beginning I couldn't believe that you can cook and bake red radicchio and that its slightly bitter taste get soften during cooking. I was used to eat only raw and fresh radicchio, I only prepared the salad with it. But then I convinced myself that I must try to prepare it in a different way. And this was one of those brilliant discoveries that make me very satisfied of myself.
In this season I find so many varieties of radicchio in the market and there are so many inviting recipes all around in the blogosphere that must, really must be cooked.
But the best way to fall in love with radicchio flavour is to prepare the risotto, simple and creamy risotto full of autumn flavours.


Ajme, koliko nas je! - tema za novembar

Jako sam sretna i ponosna, jer sam nova domaćica u igri "ajme, koliko nas je!" za mjesec novembar 2015. godine i nadam se da ću dobiti puno zanimljivih novih recepata. Kada sam dobila poziv od Kristine odmah su mi se počele vrtiti ideje u glavi, ali nije bilo lako odabrati samo jednu namirnicu. Jesen nam nudi različite boje i okuse, pa mi je prvi zadatak bio odabrati najpopularniju namirnicu koja će se lako uklopiti u bilo koje jelo. Htjela sam odbrati namirnicu koja će upaliti vašu kreativnost, obavezno sezonsku, ali ne previše kompliciranu za obradu. Nadam se da sam u tome uspjela. Željela bih da uživate u pripremi jela i da jedva čekate da mi pošaljete vaše recepte. . . to će biti još jedna lijepa inspiracija i avantura!
Imate vremena novembar za reckanje, kuhanje, pa i za pečenje crvenog radića! Ako ste kao ja u stalnom trku, slobodno šaljite recepte iz vaše arhive.

Vaša remekdjela šaljite na alex(dot)gorek(at)gmail(dot)com

Što nas više ima, to će nam biti zabavnije!

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I’m so happy and honoured I will be hosting the contest "ajme, koliko nas je!" for the month of November 2015 and I hope I will receive plenty of interesting new recipes. When I've received the invitation from Kristina the ideas started instantly bursting in my head, but it was not easy to choose only one ingredient. Autumn is offering the variety of colours and flavours, so the very first task was to identify the most popular and versatile ingredient. The one that will turn on your creativity, very seasonal, but not too difficult to be cooked. I hope I did a good choice. I want you to enjoy preparing and sharing your recipes. . .it will be another beautiful inspiration and adventure!
You have time whole November for cutting, cooking and also baking red radicchio! If you are running as I do, send me recipes from your archives. 

Send your masterpieces to alex(dot)gorek(at)gmail(dot)com

More people - bigger fun!


Chestnut bread - Pane di castagne - Kruh od kestena

Walking in the forest is so therapeutic for my soul, it removes the melancholy of these autumn days. It's a joy to breathe fresh and moist air. The scent of musk and mushrooms is so sweet and pleasant and the rustle of leafs and branches under my foots is the only sound I can hear around. The slowly movemente of trees is just a reaction to air fluctuation, but it's so soft and subtle.
I love my "new" forest, I always need to have the forest close to me. In this place I find the peace of mind. It's amazing how similar my Italian and my Croatian forests are. Same trees, same humus, same scent, same fruits....chestnuts, rosehips and plenty of mushrums under bronzed leafs.
Another thing I find so therapeutic is keading the bread, touching the warm dough and smelling  the warm perfume of the fresh baked bread. And while I was walking in the forest harvesting chestnuts, I was thinking about this bread, rustic bread made of these sweet fruits. And I couldn't wait long before making it. And it was really good and tasty. I almost didn't have time for taking pictures of it, because autumn afternoons (especially weekends!) are often dark and grey. But the real excuse is, that we broake it and eat it still smoking hot!


Proja, traditional Serbian corn flat bread - Proja, la focaccia di mais serba - Pirotska Proja (za "Patin petnaesti")

My uncle bakes the best original "proja" I've ever tasted. It is amazingly soft and tasty and it's really difficult to get a cornmeal dough with soft texture. My mother still keeps his handwritten recipe as a souvenir and we all love my uncle's specialty served with a cup of good yogurt for dinner. Often the cornmeal is used only for the cornmeal mush combined with some sauce, well...a lot of sauce, or with plenty of melted butter and cheese. And I can assure you, it is divine when served with a good braised meat and vegetables. So is "proja" too, served with good cheese, or thin slices of lard it is really divine, especially if still hot!
This time I offer you a kind of very, very rustic "proja" recipe. It comes from an old cookbook wrote by Serbian author Spasenija Pata Marković and it's part of the contest I found in the web - more precisely in this foodblog. Since some time I like to take part of these easy and amusing contests and to meet nice and very able cooks from all over the Balkans. This is my contribution to this round of "Patin petnaesti" contest.
The recipe is really simple and it's made with old-fashioned ingredients, ingredients that I don't use in nowadays cooking, but the flavours are genuine and we should discover them again. I'm trying to do this!
As the recipe is just a part of the joke, and this post would appear poor without pictures, I went to the countryside to find some corn left after last summer harvesting. I "stole" some leftover corns from the moist ground, as this time the setting had to be as much rustic as possible!
My advice is to serve "proja" until hot, or to reheat it, because it harden quickly and cornmeal flavour is more intense if the dish is hot.


Roasted pumpkin seeds - Semi di zucca tostati - Pečene sjemenke buče

Pumpkins are finally all around in the market and it means eating baked pumpkins, boiled pumpkins, braised pumpkins and all possible sweet and savoury, old and new pumpkin dishes. I simply adore pumpkins and dish after dish I've learned how to use it in many ways.
When I was a child I didn't eat pumpkin at all, I didn't like its sweet flavour and I couldn't imagine a savoury dish can be prepared with the sweet vegetable. I remember large fields full of big orange fruits laying idly on the ground and waiting to be piled un in the courtyard. I guess pigs were enjoying the view of piles of orange and crispy fruits, but I was always a bit negative. I liked the colour, the shape and the big size was so amazing to me, but I didn't like the taste of it. The pumpkin was only good to get the roasted seeds to be munched during long winter months...but nothing more, I was strict at that time....then things changed. And changes brought new experiences!
So I started to cook and to experiment all kind of culinary combinations and then I found the sense of the sweet-in-savoury dishes. I embraced pumpkins, let's say it was an inspiring change in my culinary evolution.
To be loyal to my cooking philosophy, I'd like to introduce this year pumpkin season with simple and very basic no-waste idea. Nowadays there are many varieties of pumpkin in the market, not just the big, orange ones that I remember. The best one for me is the green Japanese pumpkin, Kabocha and its seeds are also the best to get your home-made roasted seeds.


Summer memories - Ricordi dell'estate - Sjećanja na ljeto

I need to remember summer time, sunny, bright and colourful. I need to remember joy and happiness. It was dreadfully warm and billion of mosquitos "fell in love with me", but I beared the tremendous itches and continued walking around in the forest and in my parents garden through the grass and plant without thinking about it.
Sea water had healing touch, for my body with billion stings and the exhausted soul. It was hevenly fresh and pleasant.
I need to remember these moments! Autumn is slowly introducing its nature. I'm feeling the breeze all around and morning air is misty. Few hot late summer days left and finally autumn will triumph with its gray and damp touch. Summer is definitively over now, but autumn will give us plenty of generous gifts. I cherish the new season, the one I love most of all!


Buckwheat cake with plums - Torta di grano saraceno con susine - Kolač od heljdinog brašna i šljiva

New season started and the summer is definitively over. You can feel it in the air, fresh breeze cooled down days and nights, but trees are still green, foliage has still not changed colours to autumn shades. Daylight is shorter and moonlight is so, so bright.
Now I can definitively say I have finished my summer supplies of  fruits and vegetables. At least I have consumed  the fresh ones (still some tomatoes left, there are such a plenty of them this year), but I still have some deep frozen left, because I didn't want to waste any of them. Last Saturday I baked this rustic cake with plums and it was so good that I baked the second one the very next day. I find that buckwheat flour is excellent for so many recipes, both, sweet and savoury. Its rustic flavour is amazingly delicate and the cake remains soft for few days.
Try it yourself and you will fall in love with buckwheat as well!


Mini cherry tomatoes and scamorza cheese frittata in whole wheat flour crust - Frittata di mini cherry pomodori e scamorza in crosta integrale - Omlet od mini cherry rajčica i scamorza sira u kori od integralnog brašna

Birds are still not on the wire, trees are still full of green leafs and these last summer days are still hot and bright! Last weekend I spent with my family again and I fully enjoyed these free moments. I  walked in the forest and enjoyed the generosity of our garden. It is so full of plants and trees, but I like it this way, wild and free. 
Before first September rains ruin all green shades and leafs become soggy and loose their form, the garden is still offering all its richness of colours and flavours. This year the production of tomatoes was enormous, even these small cherry tomatoes continued to ripen day after day and while walking in the garden it was impossible not to eat some directly form the plant.
These little red balls are so interesting and decorative and their intense redness gives warm touch to every dish. Some of them are already frozen and I will use them during winter months added to a vegetable or legume soup. What I have prepared now is a kind of union between frittata and quiche with some cheese, little mint and greek yogurt. Practically I have opened my fridge and invented something that turned good and tasty.


Plum jam - Confettura di susine - Pekmez od šljiva

My grandma used to prepare very special plum jam, the one with peaces of dark blue rinds rolled up as small scrolls immerged in sweet violet pulp. Its colour was so dark, near to black. It was sweet and you could feel a delicate citrus smell coming our from the jar. There was no recipe for it. All was added and combined roughly, she never use the scale. This is exactly how my mother prepare her jams and preserves today and it's amazing how she always use the exact quantity of ingredients to get the perfect result! Her plum jam (and not just plum jam!) is even better then grandma's. It is simply perfect,  my mother's homemade jam is my favourite "brand"!
Little by little I've started to prepare some jams and preserves too following my grandma's and my mother's suits. I'm so amused while I prepare it and I'm very proud of myself, because I prepare very good jam too! The easier jam I've ever made is this plum jam. Plums are full of pectin and fructose, you don't need to use much sugar and you don't need to cook it too long. This year our plum tree was full of fruits and I've brought with me to Italy so, so many plums, but we couldn't eat all of them, so I deep-freezed some, I made a cake and at the end I prepared this simple jam.


Scrambled eggs with mini cherry tomatoes and chives – Uova strapazzate con pomodorini cherry e erba cipollina – Kajgana s mini cherry rajčicama i vlascem

I’m so lucky to have my parent’s garden (I use to call this place “the garden with the view”, because we have this beautiful bird’s-eye view to the Kvarner Bay!) full of fruits and vegetables during all year long and every time I go back home I bring to Italy some fresh produces. Some means plenty! No need to go to the market several weeks upon my return! But this is part of my travels and being emigrant. I’m also lucky because I have now two homes, I belong to two countries and two different ways of living. Even if my two countries are “neighbours", there are so many different habits and customs and I definitely needed to get used to many new things. After all is said and done, I like all the changes I did and all new changes that still happen day after day. This is life!
Speaking about vegetables again, I must admit that tomatoes are my favourite vegetable (or fruit?!), so I don’t mind if my refrigerator is still full of tomatoes of all sizes. This is the only vegetable that I buy during winter months too, I really can’t resist to it…and I really love, love, love tomatoes. When I was still living in Croatia I used to eat the tomatoes picked directly from the plant. I can remember the sweetness of cold and juicy tomatoes…I assure you, it is heavenly good.


Aubergine hand pizzas - Pizzette di melanzane - Mini pizze od patlidžana

Recept sudjeluje na kontekstu  "ajme, koliko nas je!" domaćica Jelena s bloga JelinaJela:


In these last years I’ve discovered plenty of new varieties of aubergines that I didn’t know before. In the market you can usually find the same old dark violet and oblong fruits, more or less puffed up. Last year I’ve tried the “pearl aubergines”, very long and thin light violet fruits that are perfect condiment for a pasta together with cherry tomatoes and black olives. This year I’ve cooked light violet striated puffy aubergines with a bright white pulp and less seeds inside. What I like most of aubergines is their slightly bitter flavour, therefor I never peal aubergines and I never let them lose the water before cooking them. This procedure is usually recommended in all recipes: peal the aubergines, cut them, put some salt on them and leave them to rest for some time in a colander.
It was so hot this last July and August, I almost didn’t have a willpower at all to turn on the oven, but it’s better to cook something in the oven then to stay near to the heat of the burner. Luckily the aubergines can be cooked in the oven and it was easy to make a decision what to prepare with them.
If you like Italian food and you like aubergines as much as I like them, you will love this trat for sure. This is not a complicated stuff, you just need to assemble all ingredients into small pizzas and bake them in the oven until the cheese get melted and golden brown. It is similar to another tasty Italian dish, the wel-known Parmigiana, but much easier and quicker to prepare.
The result is a “hand-pizza in one bite”. It is still aubergine season here in Italy and nice ripe aubergines can be found in the market. I think I will have to repeat these pizzas one of these days for dinner.

Buon appetito!


Tomatoes confit sometimes come back! - Pomodorini confit a volte ritornano! - Mini rajčice confit se ponekad vraćaju!

Some days are hard, some are even more hard....all year 2015 is so hard and it runs, runs, it doesn’t stop running and we are already in August, means end of summer, means autumn, means end of another year! The good thing is that we are going to holidays, finally we will relax and forget the haste and all hard days we went through in last months – I’m going home again, another few days and I’ll enjoy the nature, the sea, the food and the feelings.
The recipe that fit well to my present mood is the one I’ve already shared here last year, the one that make me think about new recipes, the one that gives me energy and willpower to continue making something (this is how I am!). I also did some new pictures that I really liked so here we are again: sweet, sweet flavour of tomatoes confit will make you smile and you won’t stop thinking about a new recipe in which you can use them…


Basil pesto – Pesto al basilico – Pesto od bosiljka

I remember a sort of green condiment for pasta that my mother’s friend once brought to us from Italy as a very precious gift for us. She recommended how to use it and she was sure that we would like it as much as she did, but when we tasted it for the first time I was so disappointed, I didn’t liked it at all. My mother couldn’t convince me that it was tasty and she wanted to make me believe that she like it sooo much! I didn’t trust her, because she is not a good liar, so we kept the remaining pesto for a long time in the refrigerator before we threw it away definitively.
I grow to like basil pesto when I moved to Italy and I’ve spent my first Italian summer in Tuscany. We often had pasta with basil pesto for lunch, it is so quick and easy to prepare. Moreover during summer months you can find plenty of fresh basil on the market, you don’t have to grow your own basil plant in vase, if you don’t have garden or balcony. What is the secret to fall in love with basil pesto? Well, to do it homemade and fist enjoy the flavour and perfume the basil emits while you mash it, second you enjoy its beautiful taste!
After so many years, now I know the reason why we didn’t liked it the first time we ate it. It was not freshly prepared, but the one from the supermarket. Maybe it was the best one you can buy, but nothing can be compared with the basil pesto you prepare in your kitchen. Something was missing in the recipe we’ve got from our friend: potatoes and a squirt of quality olive oil. Our first pasta with basil pesto was not awful, it was edible, but the one we eat nowadays is divine.


Tagliatelle alla julienne with summer flavours – Tagliatelle alla julienne con sapori estivi – Tagliatelle alla julienne s okusima ljeta

This tremendous heat is making our life so difficult, but this hot summer is offering plenty of fresh and coloured vegetables and the aromatic herbs on my terrace are growing so strong and healthy this year. Nevertheless they need a lot care and water too, but it’s a gift to have the possibility to pick your own plants whenever you need some. I’m pretty sure I will find a space on my terrace next year to plant some vegetables too. The courgette is the one I’d like to try to cultivate, because we like to eat them prepared in so many different ways. Its flowers are so interesting, not flavourful, but so coloured, like a sun! If I had a garden with many courgettes, I’d put the flowers in the vase too. In my parent’s garden the courgettes grow very quickly, if you “forget” your courgette plant for one day you risk to find so big fruits and so many of them that you must give them away to neighbours and friends. I like to search for flowers hidden under big leaves and I like most the small courgettes with the flower on it, they are crunchy and the yellow petals give some coloured touch to each dish. And they get cooked in very short time and it’s not bad during hot summer days.


Rose-water poached peaches with quinoa – Pesche schiacciate sbollentate nell’acqua di rose con quinoa –Pljosnate breskve poširane u ružinoj vodici s kvinojom

I was so attracted by this recipe that I couldn’t wait even for the weekend, so I did it the day after I read it. And I did well, because it is absolutely the “summer desert” I was looking for.

If you like peaches and flavour of red roses this dish will surprise you with the sweetness and its exquisite taste. This is a top season for peaches and it was not difficult to find doughnut peaches – small, flatten and sweet fruits with a white pulp. The combination with the rose-water is the perfect one, there is no need to add other spices to it, it is already so naturally perfumed and flavourful. Replacing the rice from the original recipe was a good choice, because I don’t like sticky rice and quinoa has grainy texture that I prefer. What about the smell? It’s beyond words, you must try it!


Rose-water syrup – Sciroppo di acqua di rose – Sirup od ružine vodice

The temperature in these days is so hot and last week it was even worse. I’ve tried to avoid cooking complicated stuff and staying long time near to the burner. Nevertheless I haven’t lost the appetite! But during hot summer days my preferred food is something fresh and ready to go (out) from the fridge. Now the fridge is full of fruits, vegetables and water. Everything must be fresh and almost icy. I usually don’t prepare ice – now I have ice in deep freezer too!
Despite of the big heat I haven’t lost the will to prepare something new and interesting. And despite of big heat, my red rose is full of flowers again. I’ve decided to use some blossoms and to prepare the rose-water. Rose-water is so fascinating to me and it’s incredible how many recipes you can prepare with it. My red rose is so perfumed and so red that the rose-water has very good flavour. Its coloure is deep and almost dark violet. I like to prepare it and to smell the beautiful scent rose’s petals give off while immersed into boiling water. This year I’ve decided to make something very easy (last year I’ve prepared Lokum, do you remember?), so the syrup was the perfect choice.
I’ve read several recipes of rose-water syrup and I’d like to share the recipe that I’ve used (I’ve adjusted a bit and combined more recipes). So the idea of making rose-water syrup is not mine, but this one is prepared the way I like it. It is so exquisite and refreshing, I’m sure you will like it a lot, it’s worth to do it homemade.


Sour black cherries in syrup – Amarene sciroppate – Višnje u sirupu

I adore sour taste of fruits while not too ripe. For the same reason I prefer jam made of sour black cherries. Sour black cherries always have slightly sour taste (they have it in the name too!), they are not too sweet, but their flavour is absolutely perfect. I find the best ripe fruits at the end of June in the near village at my friend’s orchard. I want them to be fresh and not “stressed” because of long traveling to reach our city market. And then the “big” work can begin. It takes some time to pit all these tiny fruits, if you do it manually…and how do I do it? Manually, of course, but in this way my preserves are even more tasty!
Usually I bring my “preserves for winter” from Croatia, homemade by my mother, but in last years I started to prepare them by my own too, following the family recipes and traditions. It makes me so satisfied and proud, because these (my!) preserves are so good! And my parents are so curious to taste some of my “creations”. I like to experiment new combinations and flavours and they are so fascinated by this. So now, when I go back home, I usually bring with me some preserves too. Isn’t it extraordinary? In August, when I get back home, I’m sure I will find jars full of sour black cherries taking sun immersed in liquefied sugar and grappa waiting to become liquor.
This year I wanted to try something different then the ordinary jam (of course the jam was prepared too)!I also red Angela’s cookbook (“Racconti di Cucina” written by Angela Frenda) and I’ve found a similar recipe that inspired me and made me think about the sour black cherry liquor my mother prepare each summer. But I wanted to prepare something with no alcohol. So I have done some research in the web, I’ve found so many different recipes and at the end I have decided to combine all these new knowledge and prepared my sour black cherries in syrup!
.....and now I have enough cherry stones to make homemade cherry stone boule. I don't like to waste, so I try to use almost everything.....


Homemade butter - Burro fatto in casa - Domaći maslac

Probably I've already told you that I hate wasting things, especially food. It's so pity to throw away something so precious, while billion of people in the world, children and adults, are suffering from hunger and chronic undernourishment.
Said that again, last day I didn't use all fresh cream I've both for peach clafoutis, so I have prepared fresh homemade butter and buttermilk. I have used the buttermilk while fresh for another delicious and quick recipe (I need to bake it again, because we devoured it in a moment and there are no pictures of the cake). Butter can be stored in the refrigerator for days, so it's worth to do it on your own, if you don't know how to finish your fresh cream.
It is fascinating how this white liquid transforms in a soft cloudlike whipped cream and after a while turns into its solid form. And it even changes the nuance! What to say, this is pure chemistry!


Peach Clafoutis – Clafoutis con le pesche – Clafoutis s breskvama

Happy solstice and midsummer! We have reached the longest day in the year and already half of the year passed by. It’s incredible how the time is running and how quick seasons are changing…so we need to stop and slow down a bit and try to enjoy “our” moments. For this special day I have baked this cake that has all sunny coloures, so it is perfect for the celebration. The taste of peaches go so well together with the freshness of mint, so mint tea was the perfect choice to accompany this clafoutis. I have some mint plants growing in the vase on the windowsill, the plants I have planted last year from the branches I’ve brought with me from my mother’s garden. These plants have survived the winter and now are in the bloom. I’ve picked some fresh mint leaves and prepared the mint tea while my kitchen was already full of perfume of peaches and vanilla.


Puff pastry pies with summer fruits - Sfogliatine ai frutti estivi – Pite od lisnatog tijesta s ljetnim voćem

After some time away from the kitchen and from the blog I ‘m back now! I’m starting slowly again with my usual kitchen activities and day after day things are going better and my mind is running through so many ideas. I don’t want to lose any moment and any new ingredient. I can’t stop doing something, or thinking about new things to do next. It seams crazy, but that’s it! This is me!

But I don’t want to exaggerate anyway, so let’s start with something easy, coloured and tasty, something full of summer flavours.
Again I have used ready puff pastry, my faithful fellow in tough moments….and a lot of fresh season fruits (I ate a lot of fruits while I was preparing these pies too!).


Cocoa roll with strawberries and mascarpone cream - Rollata al cacao con fragole e crema di mascarpone - Kakao rolada s jagodama i kremom od mascarponea

This is the best combination ever: chocolate and strawberries! At least it is in this very moment, while we are enjoying eating this cake! It is soft, creamy and full of strawberry flavour and it's perfect for these late May days. When I buy fruits and vegetables I choose them "one by one" - can you imagine the situation?... patiently, because I like them to be beautiful and photogenic, of course! I swear, these strawberries were the most beautiful in the shop. My intention was to bake something, I did'n have clear idea what I wanted to bake initially, but this was absolutely not a problem. There is always something in my kitchen that can inspire me and the decision suddenly can be made.
Sometime I don't have time to take pictures, especially if I prepare something during the week when there is no good light in the evening and no time to do it the morning after. Or we are simply eager to eat and . . . damn it, I'm forced to do it again!
This recipe is simple (do I say this too often?), I've just added some cocoa to it, because the original recipe should always be changed a bit, right?! The only difficulty might be to roll the sponge-cake as quick as possible, without burning your hands!


Apple strudel bites - Bocconcini di strudel di mele - Mini štrudle od jabuka

Last day I was driving near to the big wild apple tree that is in full blossom now, offering big white flowers and light pink buds. Its flowers are perfumed and bees and other insects are buzzing around them all day long. Suddenly I’ve remembered that I still have some apples in the fruit basket and it was a right moment to use them before they get too old and dry and before the strawberry season begins…
Some time ago I wrote: I have always in the fridge one roll (even two) of puff pastry … and as my apples were waiting in the fruit basket already for weeks I’ve decided to prepare something very quick, some kind of apple strudel bites! And bite after bite we have finished these sweet and spicy hand pies in a while.


Frittata with artichokes – Frittata con i carciofi - Fritaja s artičokama

When I decided to cook my very first artichokes I was little scared. I didn’t know how to start cleaning these so big and so dangerous vegetables. My first artichokes were the Sardinian artichokes with so sharp thorns that can terrible hurt your fingers! So I spent my first half an hour for cleaning just four artichokes and then I do it again and again and it became so natural to me. Now I need less time to do it, but I’m still very careful when I do it, especially until I cut the thorns from the leaves and the petals.

Here are some advices for the beginners:
When buying artichokes choose the ones with the petals well closed, this is the sign that artichokes are fresh. The stem should be long and wide, so you can use it, because it’s edible too.
To avoid hurting yourself, start with Romanesco artichokes that have no thorns.
Before you start cleaning the artichokes prepare the large bowl with cold water and 2 -3 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar. Put cleaned and peeled artichokes into the water to avoid that the vegetable oxidize.
Use gloves if you don’t want to get your hands dyed.
Cut of the stem about 1cm under the globe and peel it with the knife. Put the pieces into the water.
Remove the external petals and peel the globe with the knife until you remove all hard parts of the globe. Cut it into two halves and remove the internal hair and thinly petals, because they can also have some small thorns. If you need entire artichokes, gently open the petals and remove the hair and central petals with the teaspoon. Fresh artichokes should have very short hair or even no hair at all. Put clean artichokes into the water.

It will take more time to clean the artichokes, then to cook them. This is incredible, but it’s true! These big vegetables are so delicate and tender inside!