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the
ADRIATIC
Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Barbara Unković was born in New Zealand, the daughter of a Croatian father and an English mother. She is D.H. Lawrence’s cousin. Barbara holds a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and is the recipient of more than 30 writing awards from the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Her published titles include: Adriatic Blue, Weeds in the Garden of Eden, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Moon Walking, Furry Blur and Naughty Noosa Meets the New Neighbours.

For more detailed information about Barbara, please visit her website at www.barbaraunkovic.com.

the
ADRIATIC
Kitchen

Recipes inspired by the abundance of seasonal ingredients flourishing on the Croatian island of Korčula

BARBARA UNKOVIĆ

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First published 2017

 

Exisle Publishing Pty Ltd

‘Moonrising’, Narone Creek Road, Wollombi, NSW 2325, Australia

P.O. Box 60–490, Titirangi, Auckland 0642, New Zealand

www.exislepublishing.com

 

Copyright © 2017 in text: Barbara Unković

Copyright © in illustrations: Colin Unkovich

 

Barbara Unković asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

 

All rights reserved. Except for short extracts for the purpose of review, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.

 

A CiP record for this book is available from the National Library of Australia.

 

ISBN 978-1-925335-36-1

        ePub ISBN 978-1-77559-327-0

 

 

Designed by Big Cat Design

Dedication

This book is dedicated to my husband Denis, whom I would like to thank for his continued support, encouragement and tireless tending of our organic gardens and olive trees.

Denis was a well-known chef and coffee roaster in the vibrant café and restaurant scene in Wellington, New Zealand, during the eighties and nineties. He owned a number of popular establishments including The Paté Shop, Turnbull House, Bowen Street Café and The Begonia Café.

In 1999, we set up Café 51 in Wellington, followed by Costa Noosa Espresso in Queensland’s Noosa Heads, Australia, in 2003.

By this time, Denis had moved on to become a highly skilled coffee roaster, while I took over supervision of the kitchen and menu design together with my duties as a chef. Although working together proved to be tough at times, we made a great team and I always admired Denis’ passion, drive and dedication.

A special thank you also to my daughter Rebecca Fletcher for her invaluable assistance, and to my brother Colin Unkovich for creating the sensational artwork.

Contents

Introduction

Spring

Peasant Bread

Croatian Sweet Easter Bread

Focaccia Bread with Rocket (Arugula) and Cheese Filling

Focaccia Bread with Parmesan Cheese and Thyme

Roast Garlic

Carrot and Mint Salad

Octopus Salad

Pan-Fried Anchovies

Four Cheese Pizza with Sage and Capers

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters with Fresh Sage

Lemon Marmalade

Fritule

Jam Parcels

Crystallized Peel

Summer

Pan-Fried Eggplant (Aubergine)

Baba Ghanoush

Caramelized Onions

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Roast Red Peppers

Flamiche (Pizza Blanche)

Risotto with Tomato, Basil and Lime

Shrimp Risotto

Black Risotto

Scampi Buzara

Fig Flan

Glazed Figs

Spiced Fig and Basil Jam

Tomato Chutney

Fresh Fig Chutney

Fig and Rocket (Arugula) Salad

Fresh Pasta with Summer Vegetables

Fresh Fig Crumble

Roast Zucchini (Courgette) with Lemon and Mint

Lemon and Lavender Shortbread

Zucchini (Courgette) Bread

Biscotti

Autumn

Basil Pesto

Olives in Brine

Tapenade

Wholegrain Olive and Rosemary Bread

End of Summer Calzone

Stuffed Peppers

Spiced Lentils with Roast Cherry Tomatoes and Shallots

Roast Tomato and Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper) Soup

Leeks and Tomatoes in White Wine Sauce

Olive and Lemon Chicken

Roast Chicken with Pršut

Roast Chicken with Pomegranate and Spinach

Fisherman’s Stew

Vanilla Horseshoe Biscuits

Croatian Pepper Biscuits

Bear’s Paws

Walnut Squares

Grape Jelly

Pomegranate Jelly

Rocket (Arugula) Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Ricotta Almond Tart

Pancakes (Palačinke) with Chocolate Sauce and Walnuts

Lemon and Almond Cake

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Adriatic Almond Biscuits

Winter

Mushroom Soup

Leek and Potato Soup

Silverbeet (Chard) and Potatoes

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary and Lemon

Gnocchi with Meat Sauce

Oven Baked Octopus

Croatian Cod Stew

Slavonian Pork Casserole

Dalmatian Shepherd’s Lamb with Potatoes and Broad Beans

Bowknots

Walnut and Coffee Slice

Limoncello

Sugared Almonds

Double Chocolate Fig Truffles

Doughnuts Filled with Jam

Christmas Fruit Cake

 

Glossary and cooking notes

Index

About the artist

Introduction

On my first visit to the island of Korčula I was both astonished and delighted by the abundance of edible seasonal delights flourishing around me. This, combined with the natural beauty of the island, was largely responsible for me choosing to make the island my home.

As I watched the days turn into months and the months evolve into seasons, in the village of Račišće, it seemed only natural to put together this recipe book.

Croatian cuisine is particularly regional and the specialties differ greatly from the mountainous regions of the interior, to the Dalmatian Coast with its hundreds of islands. In Slavonia, in the north-east of Croatia, you will encounter kulen, a hot spicy salami; whereas if you visit Korčula, you will discover pršut, a dried smoked ham, and the renowned black risotto. During my time here I have been fortunate to taste many traditional Croatian foods and dishes.

The influences in Croatian cuisine are varied and come from Italy, Turkey and Austria. Croatian people have lived off the fruit of the land and the sea for several thousands of years. They harvest and enjoy wild fruit, home-grown vegetables and wild herbs including sage and oregano. Asparagus, capers, mushrooms, olives, figs, pomegranates and blackberries also flourish freely here. The Adriatic Sea, which surrounds the island of Korčula, yields a boundless variety of seafood including anchovies, squid, octopus, mackerel and eel.

Throughout Croatia, the main meal of the day is often a drawn-out affair commonly eaten in the middle of the day. The meal does not begin without a glass of aperitif or rakija, the fiery homemade spirits brewed by the locals. There are many different varieties, and on this island the more common ones are walnut or herb, and the most unusual one, blueberry. This long lunch is invariably accompanied by excellent local wine. Here on Korčula we are privileged to enjoy Grk, a dry white from the village of Lumbarda; Plavac, a rich, fragrant red from Blato, Žrnovo, and Pupnat; and Rukatac, an aromatic white from Čara and Smokvića. The combination of excellent wine and superb food ensures a marvellously tasty meal.

This book is not intended to feature only Croatian recipes, but recipes inspired by the fantastic range of fresh, seasonal produce available in this small sleepy village with its lush vegetation, rich fertile soil and hot, endless summers.

My recipes have been tried and tested many times and I pride myself on using only the finest, freshest, seasonal ingredients, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black or distinctive green pepper.

It is my desire to share with you my passion for simple, creative cuisine inspired by the bountiful fresh fare of the beautiful Adriatic.

Spring

This is one of my favourite times of the year. On the Dalmatian Coast spring is usually short and sharp, stretching from March until May. As soon as winter departs the temperature often increases from 13°C (55°F) to 23°C (73°F) in the space of merely a few days. Spring arrives almost overnight and even though I know this is the case, I cannot seem to get used to it. At this time of year, the landscape is a profusion of beautiful flowers. One of the most spectacular sights is the pink and white blossoms on the numerous almond trees. They begin flowering in January. By March, when they reach their blooming peak, the trees are smothered with delicate, snow-like flowers. Fields are dotted with daffodils, wild snapdragons, bright red poppies and vibrant, purple sage. Ancient stone walls are covered with small wild flowers, white daisies and the tiniest bright pink, delicate cyclamen. The countless olive trees are smothered with small, white star-like flowers and in May, tiny vivid tangerine blossoms open on pomegranate stems against a backdrop of small yet bright green, glossy leaves. Hillsides no longer cultivated or maintained are ablaze with bright yellow broom. Spring is the time for preparing this rich fertile soil before planting a multitude of seeds and seedlings. At the end of winter, the landscape is at last awake and alive. It is a joy to behold the beauty of spring in this lush, green land.

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Peasant Bread

ZVON, A YOUNG ENTHUSIASTIC CROATIAN CHEF FROM ZAGREB, SHARED THIS RECIPE WITH ME. IT WAS TRADITIONALLY BAKED UNDER A METAL OR EARTHENWARE PEKA OR BELL COVERED WITH BURNING EMBERS FROM A HOT, OPEN FIRE. TODAY, IT CAN BE BAKED SUCCESSFULLY IN A VERY HOT FAN-FORCED OVEN. TO PRODUCE A BOOST OF STEAM TO HELP ENSURE A STRONG, EVEN CRUST, POUR A CUP OF WATER INTO A DISH IN THE BOTTOM OF THE OVEN IMMEDIATELY BEFORE YOU CLOSE THE DOOR TO BEGIN BAKING THE LOAF.

Ingredients:

250 grams (about 2 cups) strong bread flour (high gluten content)

250 grams (about 2 cups) plain flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 grams (1 tablespoon) fresh yeast, crumbled

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon liquid honey

500 millilitres (2 cups) tepid water, approximate

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In a large bowl, sift together the two types of flour. Using a knife, make two indentations in the flour — one on each side. In the first indentation add the salt followed by the oil. In the second indentation, rub in the yeast using your fingertips. Add the sugar and honey to this indentation.

Add water to the yeast, honey combination. Mix, pulling in the surrounding flour.

Next, add water to the salt, oil combination and mix into the surrounding flour. Combine the two sections of flour, beginning with the yeast area first, and mix all the ingredients together with sufficient water to form a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board (if you can knead without flour, so much the better). Knead for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and coat the top with olive oil. Place in an oiled stainless steel bowl and cover with a baking cloth or clean tea towel. Leave it to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Flatten the dough, reshape into a ball and leave it to rise again for 30 minutes. Repeat.

When shaping the dough into a ball for a third and final rise, ensure there is a spine or seam on the underside of the dough. This helps the loaf retain its shape during baking.

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking tray. Leave uncovered and let rise once more for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

At the end of last rise, oil the top of the dough thoroughly.

Bake for 20–25 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven, wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack.

Croatian Sweet Easter Bread

KNOWN IN CROATIA AS SIRNICA, THIS EASTER TREAT IS SIMILAR TO THE TRADITIONAL ITALIAN SWEET BREAD, PANETTONE. THE ADDITION OF CITRUS ZEST, CRYSTALLIZED PEEL AND ALLSPICE MAKES THIS BREAD A SPECIAL INDULGENCE.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon sugar

60 millilitres (¼ cup) warm water

8 grams (1 tablespoon) fresh yeast, crumbled

185 millilitres (¾ cup) milk

75 grams (5 tablespoons) butter

500 grams (about 4 cups) plain flour, sifted

100 grams (about ½ cup) sugar

½ teaspoon salt

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten

¼ cup crystallized lemon peel (see recipe on page 31)

zest from 2 lemons

zest from 1 orange

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

milk to brush

limoncello to glaze (see recipe on page 102)

vanilla sugar

In a small bowl, dissolve the teaspoon of sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the water. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes until frothy.

Place milk and butter in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until butter melts. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool until lukewarm. Stir in the frothy yeast mixture.

Using a wooden spoon, beat in 125 grams (about 1 cup) of sifted flour, followed by the sugar and salt. Cover with plastic food wrap and leave in a warm place until bubbly (about 20–25 minutes).

Mix the beaten egg yolks and the remaining sifted flour into the yeast mixture. Add the crystallized peel, lemon and orange zest, allspice and nutmeg. Mix to a soft dough using a knife. The dough must be very soft and almost difficult to handle. It may not be necessary to use all the flour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and coat with olive oil. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a baking cloth or clean tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 70–90 minutes, until almost doubled in size.