This stew is one of the very traditional meals of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are different variations to this recipe, depending on the part of the country, but this one comes from my mother, who is definitely a good cook. It is a very unpretentious meal, pure and simple, but it tastes excellent. It reminds me somewhat of Bosnians themselves. I usually make it when I know that a large number of people are coming for dinner or party. But even when it is only two or three of you, don’t worry. There is a saying in Bosnia indicating that every time you reheat the Bosnian pot, the taste gets better.
1 kg of meat (beef and lamb in a ratio you like the best. I tend to use ¾ of beef and ¼ of lamb. Make sure the meat is not completely lean.)
2-3 large carrots
3-4 large potatoes
a handful of green beans
a handful of young garden peas
A few garlic cloves
Oil, salt, pepper, vegetable stock, white wine
Wash the meat and the vegetables. Cut the meat in pieces of about 3x3 cm. Cut all the vegetables, apart from beans, peas and garlic in similarly large pieces. Take a large pot (traditionally earthware pot, but anything with a thick bottom will do), put some oil at the bottom, and add a layer of meat. From there continue by adding a layer of vegetables, a layer of meat, etc. and finish with a layer of cabbage and some tomato. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto each layer (add some extra salt on meat layers). Add half a cup of vegetable stock and half a cup white wine. Then cover the pot with either aluminium foil or baking paper, but do not put the lid on. Heat at medium/high heat until boil, then turn the heat down and cook for another 2-3 hours without stirring or opening. You can also put the pot in the oven if you like.
Serve with some freshly baked bread en enjoy!
Asparagus from Holland
Although I have been living in the Netherlands for over 15 years, I somehow failed to find recipes that really pleased me or even caught my attention. Traditional Dutch food is very plane, a piece of meat, a few boiled potatoes and some boiled vegetables. Some yoghurt or pudding as a dessert, and that’s it. There definitely are a few exemptions, including all winter meals such as mashed potato with sauerkraut and sausage, pea soup and thick pancakes with bacon and sugar syrup. My favorite season in Holland is however late spring, beginning of summer, when the markets are full of colorful tulips and the Dutch people fill the terraces to catch some sun tan, because you never know how soon it will start raining again. This is also the asparagus season, and although you may or may not like the asparagus, nobody can resist the thick, fleshy, white Dutch asparagus. In my opinion you shouldn’t be doing too much with them, they are very tasty as such.
1 kg of white asparagus
Small, young potatoes
Hard-boiled eggs, cut in pieces
Blocks of good quality cooked ham
Butter or standard béchamel sauce
Salt and pepper
Place the asparagus for 2-3 hours in cold water. Then remove the hard ends (1.5-2.5 cm from the bottom) and peel the thick skin off, starting about 2 cm away from the head and going down. Asparagus should be cooked vertically, so take a narrow, tall pan, add asparagus, cover with cold water to which you have added some salt and juice of half lemon. Bring the water to boil, and cook for 4-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Remove from the heat and leave in the hot water for another 15 minutes. Then remove and serve on a plate covered with paper napkin.
In the mean time, boil the potatoes and prepare egg- and ham pieces.
You can prepare béchamel sauce if you like; just add some lemon juice at the end to make it a bit fresher. I personally like just to melt some good quality butter and keep it warm at the table.
Serve asparagus with some béchamel sauce or melted butter and pieces of egg and ham on top, with boiled potatoes on a side. Sprinkle everything with fresh ground pepper. A glass of good wine will make this meal just perfect.
Maple pouding chômeur
I have lived in Canada for just over a year now, or I should say, I have lived in Quebec, which is definitely different from the rest of Canada, for a variety of reasons. Quebec in general, and Montreal in particular seem somewhat geographically misplaced in North America and would, with regard to its language, culture and food style easily be situated somewhere between Belgium and France. But then again, what would Quebecers do without their maple syrup?
March and April are lovely months in Quebec. There is still a lot of snow and the maple trees start producing new syrup. You can then go to a “cabane à sucre”, a farm where you can see the process of making maple syrup and have a lunch whereby everything, and I mean everything including pouched egg and sausages, are made with or in maple syrup. But the desserts are an absolute highlight: everything from maple pecan tart, sugar pie to cranberry and blueberry maple cake is just perfect. Pouding chômeur, or the “poor man’s pudding” is simple to make and tastes delicious. But the best of all, it gives your kitchen this old-fashioned sweet smell, bringing back the memories of your grandma backing your favorite pies.
250 ml all-purpose flour
125 ml sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
175 ml milk
50 ml melted butter
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
125 ml raisins
375 ml water
250 ml maple syrup
25 ml melted butter
5 ml cornstarch
In bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg. In separate bowl, whisk together milk, butter and lemon rind; pour over dry ingredients. Sprinkle with raisins; stir just until combined. Spread in greased 2l square glass baking dish.
Sauce: In bowl, whisk together water, maple syrup, butter and cornstarch; pour over batter. Bake in centre of 180°C oven until golden and firm to the touch (about 45 minutes).
The best is if you serve it warm, with some good vanilla ice cream, but cold or reheated it also tastes excellent. I know that the price of maple syrup is high in Europe, but this dessert is worth it!