May 31, 2012

Croatian Easter Breakfast

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Happy Easter, all!

Remember when the Easter Bunny came around and hid eggs for you to find in your yard? And sometimes in your grandparent's yard? And sometimes the park? Man, that bunny can get around! Well that was practically the only tradition I had for Easter every year. I don't recall large family gatherings and lavish meals.

My better half, on the other hand, has grown up with Easter being a huge family get-together. Neither of us are around family this year, so in honor of one of the traditions that her family celebrates, we prepared a traditional Croatian Easter Breakfast...even though she's not Croatian (but her uncle-in-law is).

Honestly, I don't think a tradition could be any easier. 4 things make up breakfast. That's it. They all go hand-in-hand, yes they do. It's quick to prepare as well (unless you make one from scratch). Learn all about Croatian Easter Breakfast. Happy hopping!

Ingredients

Per Person:
1 hard-boiled egg
1 slice of ham
1 green onion
1 slice of raisin bread

Directions

1. Hard-boil an egg. Easy. Done.
2. Heat up a piece of ham (or not - either way works). Easy. Done.
3. Wash a green onion. Easy. Done.
4. Slice one piece of your favorite raisin bread. Easy. Done.
You've gotta love how absurdly simple that was. I did! Yet it tastes great. Most importantly, it brings a little tradition into the home for us to enjoy.

May 22, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

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A lovely Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread is the perfect way to lighten up your day.

With soft swirls of cinnamon, a light and springy interior, and raisins throughout, what more could you ask for?

The absolute true beauty of this is that it's not sugared down. You can taste the subtleties of the different ingredients, which compliments a nice spot of tea. Use in your own Croatian Easter Breakfast or any which way. Enjoy!
Yields 1 loaf

Ingredients

1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 egg
1/6 cup white sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/6 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup raisins
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions

1. Let milk warm to room temp.

2. Dissolve yeast in warm water, and set aside until yeast is frothy. Mix in eggs, sugar, butter or margarine, salt, and raisins. Stir in milk. Add the flour gradually to make a stiff dough.

3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes. Place in a large, greased mixing bowl, and turn to grease the surface of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled.

4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Moisten dough with 2 tablespoons water. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon, and sprinkle mixture on top of the moistened dough. roll up tightly; the Roll should be about 3 inches in diameter. Tuck under ends and place loaf into well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Lightly grease tops of loaf. Let rise again for 1 hour.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes, or until loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow. Remove loaf from pan. Let cool before slicing.

May 07, 2012

Ribollita

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I learned this from an excellent cooking class on gourmet soups taught by Chef Bernard Kinsella. Ribollita is Italian for awesome. OK, really, it's Italian for reboil, I believe. Anywho, it's essentially just boiling up a simple stew or soup of whatever vegetable you happen to have on hand. Something about the preparation method though really has a huge impact on the flavor. Enjoy!


Ingredients

1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 stalks of celery
2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (fresh is fine too)
3/4 lb of Swiss chard (or 1/2 head cabbage), chopped
1/2 pound cooked lentils or beans
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (1/8 cup dried will work too)
4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
optional: 4 slices of stale bread, torn into bite-size pieces

Directions

1. Heat a large pot over medium low heat and add olive oil, onion, garlic, celery, salt, carrots, and zucchini. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes so that the veggies sweat out their flavors and do not brown.

2. Stir in the diced tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the Swiss chard (or cabbage), lentils or beans, basil, and parsley. Stir and mash a few of the lentils/beans to thicken the soup. Cook for 10 minutes.

4. Add the vegetable stock (or water) and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

5. If using bread, add and cook until it has broken down, about 10 minutes.