Šnenokle

Today’s long-overdue recipe post is for my grandmother, the wonderful cook and beautiful soul who taught me how to properly pick zucchini and how to relish simple meals like steamed fish with wild greens and minimal spices. Unlike widely assumed, spicier is not always better. In some cases, especially when using fresh ingredients, all you need is a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt, pepper and fresh rosemary to make a meal sing. Although I still love curries, Lebanese food and hot-sauce, learning to appreciate the simplicity of Dalmatian food was the best lesson I’ve ever been taught. Although my Nana isn’t known for excessive meals, the desserts she loves are almost always on rotation in her kitchen, not as treats but as necessities. After all, why wait for Friday to treat yourself when you can have a few bites of something delicious every day?

Šnenokle, a sort of trifle composed of vanilla custard and gently poached meringue is one such dessert. I always thought it’s origins were German but after snooping around on the internet for a while I learned that it actually comes from France, where the dessert is typically made with cream, served cold and decorated with sweet, sticky caramel. The Croatian version I grew up eating is decidedly simpler and healthier. My grandmother would probably even say it’s the best, as would any French grandmother or Italian Nonna. As usual with European food, it doesn’t matter. Make it however you want: thick or thin custard, caramel or no caramel, it’ll still be delicious.

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Ingredients:

  •  1 liter of milk ( I used lactose-free milk)
  •  4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  •  5 tbsp raw sugar
  •  2 tsp vanilla paste
  •  3 tbsp cornflour
  •  2-5 digestive biscuits, crumbled
  • 5 tbsp or so chocolate shavings to decorate
How to:
  1. Separate your yolks from your whites. Heat the milk in a large saucepan on medium-high until simmering (re: slightly bubbling).

  2. Beat egg whites on medium-high speed, adding 2 tbsp sugar, salt and cream of tartar when egg whites are white but not yet stiff. Turn up speed to high and beat until completely stiff (ie: you can put the bowl upside down and nothing eggy will budge, proceed with caution).

  3. Turn down simmering milk to low heat. With two large spoons, shape and transport large chunks of meringue into the milk. Once the meringues start to grow, turn them over gently with one of the spoons so that the other side can cook. Do this in several several batches depending on the size of your saucepan and baste meringues with milk as they cook.

  4. Transport ready meringues to a plate to cool down.

  5. Take your milk off the heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and vanilla until very light yellow in color, thick and frothy. Add the three tbsp of cornstarch and combine well. Add a few tbsp of warm milk to the small bowl to bring up the temperature of the egg yolks (so they don’t curdle) and once warmed, return egg mixture to the large saucepan.

  6. Put saucepan back on the stove and simmer mixture on medium until it thickens. Once bubbling, take it off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Pour into a serving bowl.

  7. Add in cooked meringues and crumbled cookies and cover with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate and enjoy cold.

    Yum 🙂

    Prijatno!

Nearly Raw Hazelnut Mocha Cupcakes

The problem with becoming an adult is that at times we feel as if we’re ready to take on the world and nothing, much to our distress, seems to be happening, and then other times,  as if overnight, a thousand things begin happening at once and we found ourselves hiding beneath our Ikea bed covers, wishing we were five again and the only thing we have to worry about is which cheese string to bring to school and which teddy-bear to spend the night with.  It’s my final semester of university and I definitely wish I were still in my onesie sipping on a juice box. If I neglect this blog, it’s only because I have a bazillion other things to do, not because I’ve given up on blogging. The only thing that seems to help calm me down, most appropriately, is good ol’ chocolate – and lots of it. Although my taste in chocolate has evolved from loving Hershey style cookies & creme to relishing 80% Valhrona, when I’m anxious, the velvety stuff is still my ultimate pacifier, helping  my worries dissapear and my thoughts turn to mush. What wine is to the typical college student dark chocolate is to me. Without it, well, I’m a blubbery neurotic mess.

These, shall we call them, “cupcakes” are an absolutely delicious and fuss-free way to get your chocolate fix in minimum time with maximum nutrients. They look, taste and smell decadent but are really very simple, comprised mainly of nuts, dates, avocado, honey and coffee beans. If you replaced the honey with agave and didn’t toast the nuts, they would be completely vegan and raw, but seeing as I love the taste of toasted hazelnuts as well as the traditional south American combination of avocado and honey, I personally wouldn’t change a thing.

They are denser than the treats we all grew up with, but these cupcakes are just as rich and sweet, without the insulin rush of refined sugar. They are perfect for dessert, as a pre-exercise snack or even for breakfast with a tall glass of almond milk. The absolute best thing about these nut and date wonders however, (if you’re not hooked on the idea of chocolate bliss yet), is that they taste just like nutella! So if you’re anything like me, go ahead and eat some chocolate. You deserve it, worry-pants. Hakuna Matata, ok?

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup hazelnuts (toasted)

1/2 cup walnuts (untoasted)

1 cup dates, pitted

1/4 cup cocoa powder (or cacao powder)

4 tbsp melted coconut oil

4 tbsp honey

For the chocolate avocado mousse/frosting:

1 avocado

3 tbsp honey

4 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

2 tbsp dark rum (or espresso)

optional coffee beans for decoration

How to:


1. Toast hazelnuts and put into food processor with next five ingredients.
2. Pulse until mixture sticks together and looks like brownie batter.
3. Press equal spoonfuls of cupcake mixture into a standard 12 cup cupcake tin lined with coconut oil.
4. In same processor, mix avocado, cocoa, salt, honey, vanilla and rum until smooth and creamy like chocolate mousse.
5. Top the cupcakes with the mousse and put cupcakes into fridge to set.
6. Decorate with coffee beans and enjoy!

Yogurt Parfait with Prune & Shiraz Compote

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This recipe is a really great way to use up prunes that are too old and hard to eat but still good enough that you don’t want to throw them away. Seeing as there are only six ingredients, the recipe itself isn’t very complicated and even resembles one of my great aunt’s Dalmatian recipes in it’s ease and ambiguity. Like her old, yellow tinged, tomato stained notebook would say, cook it to taste and not a moment longer. If you’d like it thicker and more jam-like, cook the compote longer with the lid uncovered. If you’d like it more like a compote, add more liquid. If you feel it needs salt, by all means, add as much as you’d like.

Dalmatia is a coastline region  in the south of Croatia that had been part of the Venetian empire for hundreds of years. You can notice this heritage both in the Dalmatian dialect and in their cuisine, which is flavored richly with nuts, dried fruits, cinnamon & wine. The same history goes for Istria, the coastline at the very north of the country which borders with Slovenia and is only an hour away from Italy via boat. The photo underneath was taken this summer in Rovinj, a bilingual Italian-Croatian city in Istria where traditional dishes steeped in port are rightfully king.

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Prunes & wine are an especially common combination in both regions and can be found in both meat dishes and desserts. Here, I switched the recipe up a little, adding Shiraz instead of the traditional port, dates for sweetness instead of sugar and a little vanilla for extra depth. I chilled it in the fridge, layered it with some Greek yogurt and pistachios and had it for breakfast. Wine for breakfast?? o pa naravno! – but of course!wpid-IMG_20131203_155930.jpg

Ingredients:

500 g prunes (about 2 cups)

2 cups port (or any sweeter red wine, I like Shiraz)

100 grams dates (less than half a cup)

1 tbsp vanilla beans

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp orange zest

How to:

  1. Mix all ingredients except for orange zest in a medium sized saucepan or pot, bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat to low and cook for about an hour, adding water if you feel the mixture is too thick.
  3. Stir in orange zest and either cook longer (for more of a jam) or add a little more wine to thin the mixture out.
  4. Cool and eat with gelato, crème fraîche, granola or as I like to do, with vanilla Greek yogurt

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Fridays are wonderful. In my mind, they’re synonymous with beauty sleep and freedom.  Sure, Friday mornings and afternoons can be stressful if I have a paper to hand in or an exam to write, but Friday evenings? totally my jam. During the week I’m so busy studying, writing papers and running around campus that sitting down for an actual meal becomes really difficult, impossible even, I just don’t have time! Dinners are planned days in advance, breakfasts are eaten in minutes and lunches are spent in the library. Me, my textbook & a subway sandwich – the three very unexciting amigos (thank goodness for sriratcha). Come Friday, I’m ready to relax, which means hitting up a yoga class, reading a good book & most importantly, having a few leisurely meals. My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and this particular dish has everything I love; chocolate, raspberries, almonds & chia seeds!

Don’t let anybody fool you with talk of chia pets, chia seeds are the bomb. They’re full of antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and fibre, have little taste and have a similar crunch to poppy seeds. These days you can find them in almost any supermarket, I think even Walmart sells them.  Also, they’re just really fun to play with. Chia seeds soak up liquid like a sponge, creating a gel-like substance that can substitute egg whites in recipes. If you leave them overnight in liquid, they turn into something like tapioca pudding -which leads me to this simple recipe. For a chocolate chia pudding, simply toss cocoa powder, chia seeds, nuts, stevia and some salt in a container, cover with almond or coconut milk and go to bed. When you wake up, you’ll have a beautiful thick pudding, which you can either eat as is or turn into a mousse by pureeing in a blender. So versatile, so easy and oh so delicious.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp stevia

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground almonds

1/2 cup milk

How to:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in either a plastic container or a small bowl
  2. Cover with milk and add any other sweeteners or toppings
  3. Leave overnight or a minimum of 5 hours to achieve optimal thickness
  4. Serve in a bowl with fruit and nuts or smothered in whipped cream for added decadence. I served mine with a side of oatmeal, raspberries, maraschino cherries and valhrona chocolate pearls.

 

French chocolate mousse

 

I learned how to make this mousse while studying abroad in France and it has since been a staple in my home, not only for it’s ease, but for it’s bordering-on-ridiculous simplicity. Honestly, a child could do it. All you need are eggs, chocolate, water, honey and any other toppings you fancy. I love anything mocha so I crushed some chocolate covered coffee beans and threw that in but you could also use coffee flavored chocolate or even orange or mint flavored chocolate to get the job done. Only rule for this mousse? good quality, fresh ingredients. No Hershey’s chocolate, no cheap eggs, no white sugar. Get to it!

Ingredients:

200 grams dark chocolate (60-80% cocoa solids)

120 ml water

3 eggs, separated

pinch of salt

2 tbsp honey

How to:

  1. Melt the chocolate and water in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (with quite a distance between the bottom of the bowl and the water)
  2.  Once melted and smooth, let cool for a couple minutes and stir in the egg yolks, quickly and with care so the egg yolks don’t turn separate omelet-style
  3. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until peaks form, then add honey and whisk slowly to incorporate
  4. Fold chocolate mixture into egg-white mixture slowly and carefully so the mousse stays nice and light
  5. Stir in any add-ons (nuts, chocolate chips, espresso beans, you name it!)
  6. Chill for a few hours and devour