My aunt Biserka's recipes
In 2004, we visited my family in Croatia, and my aunt shared recipes that we enjoyed at her summer-house on the island of Brač.
This is intended for my friends and family members (I was appointed to transcribe what Biserka was saying) but if anyone else has tasted some of these menu items in the Adriatic before and wants to recreate them at home, maybe you can make sense of my recipes below.
Dobar tek! (Bon appetit!)
Swiss chard with potatoes (Blitva s krumpirom)
- a few bunches of (soft) Swiss chard
- 1 kg potatoes
- olive oil
- fresh garlic
- salt & pepper
Peel and cube the potatoes, and cut the Swiss chard stems into small sections (see blue-outline in diagram to right), split down the middle. Boil in salty water.
Cut the Swiss chard leaves into sections (see red-outline sections in diagram to the right). Add a bit later to the boiling water. Do not cover. (it makes the Swiss chard gray)
Drain, retaining 1 cup of the boiling water.
Add freshly chopped garlic and olive oil; toss to mix.
Smush some cooked potatoes to the retained cooking water, to make a thick "gravy". Add the potatoes and chard.
Note: There are 2 varieties of Swiss chard generally available. One is the Italian variety, that is lighter-green, with white stalks, and a soft, buttery texture to the leaves. This is preferable; it makes a softer cooked chard. The other variety, with darker, tougher leaves and often colored stalks, is okay, but the leaves will have to cook a bit longer, so throw them in with the stalks & potatoes a bit earlier.
Vegetable soup (Juha od povrća)
- in-season vegetables (carrots, leeks, zucchini, etc. -- whatever's in season)
- Vegeta (or something like vegetable bouillon)
- salt, pepper
- pasta (orzo or other small soup pasta) or dumplings (see below)
- sour cream
Cube potatoes and vegetables.
Add just enough water to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Add salt, pepper and Vegeta, while it's cooking.
When 3/4 done, stop cooking. Add all to blender and blend until smooth.
Return to pot and add water. Cook for another 5 minutes, mixing continuously.
1) Cook pasta separately. Add pasta after blended vegetables done 2nd cooking.
2) Add the dumplings to the soup (see recipe below).
Remove from flame. Allow to cool to warm.
Add sour cream (not when hot). Serve warm.
Tomato soup (Juha od paradajza)
- 1 kg of "pelata" (Italian peeled tomatoes) or Pomi strained tomatoes
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp flour
- fresh garlic
- salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp sugar
Smush the peeled tomatoes with a spoon, until it resembles a chunky tomato soup.
Cook the flour in enough oil to make a creamy paste. Just heat until it starts to yellow -- do not brown it.
Add the smushed tomatoes, hot water, salt, pepper, garlic, sugar and Vegeta while continuing to heat and stir.
Cook for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook orzo separately, and when cooked al dente, add to soup.
Allow to steep together for a few minutes before serving.
Dumplings (Njoki od griza)
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp corn grits
Beat one egg white (retain yolk separately) and pinch of salt until it forms soft peaks.
Sprinkle corn grits in slowly, while folding gently into egg whites.
Fold in beaten egg yolk. Resulting mixture should be "fluffy"-looking grit mixture.
Allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes.
Using a wet tablespoon, scoop the mixture into about 1/3 of the edge of the spoon (see diagram to right). Slide gently into the surface of the just-boiled soup, allowing it to float at the surface. The little dumplings will expand in the soup.
Turn off the heat on the soup, cover, and allow to sit about 20 minutes. The dumplings will cook and set.
Gently mix the dumplings into the soup. Serve.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on January 18, 2013:
I love the idea of this recipe for Swiss chard. Chard is such an under-used vegetable! It's nutritious, beautiful to look at, and has an earthy taste unlike any other veggie.
I haven't tried your aunt's recipe yet. I'm looking for the right bunch of chard. Too often it shows up in our stores looking beaten up and completely unappetizing (which might be part of the reason that it's not a popular veg like broccoli or even Brussels sprouts), but every now and again I can find it fresh and beautiful.
Chard married to potatoes? Perfect. Somehow a recipe like this never filtered down from my Polish grandparents. Or, most likely, this is something they would have made out of what was seasonally available in Poland, but once they came here in 1929 chard was definitely not a staple in an inner-city market, as it is not so much today.
Making kielbasa and cabbage tonight...on the hunt for fresh chard tomorrow.
Oh, one more thought... It would be great to see pics of these heritage dishes. :)
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on May 25, 2012:
Give it a shot! Thank you for your comment.
Dark Putnik on May 25, 2012:
Had my first taste of this dish recently in a restaurant in Tucepi, Croatia. Wow, I'd never been a big fan of Swiss Chard before........but count my as a believer now. Thanks for the recipe I can't wait to try it on my own.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on August 29, 2011:
Thank you! Just sharing my teta Biserka's culinary talents with a broader audience. :)
titikaka on August 29, 2011:
Your blitva recipe is just perfect, and the picture is really helpful too. Thank you for spreading the word about great Croatian food!
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on June 01, 2011:
Thank you for your comment, Peggy. Yes, Central Europe does have some good food; a bit "heartier" and less vibrant than Mediterranean food, but still delicious if well-made and with high quality ingredients. :)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 01, 2011:
These recipes sound good. Thanks for sharing them with us. My grandmother (German descent) used to make two different kinds of dumplings. One was a potato dumpling and the other a smaller one with cracker crumbs and I believe it was bone marrow in the middle. That was long ago, but I still remember liking them...especially the latter one.
Tomislav on April 19, 2011:
Hvala na receptima to me podsjeca na stare recepte moje majke ....
Blitva je super sa krumpirima pogotove kad zgnjecis par krumpira i napravis lagani sug ...to je ki te dobre blitve ....
Amanda Davey from Canterbury, Kent, UK on August 09, 2009:
Thanks for pointing me in the direction of your hub. I shall give the swiss chard and potato recipe a go.
bazu on January 17, 2007:
I'm glad I got your recipe through Amey, since Blitva s krumpirom has become one of my favorite dishes now! The ingredients are so simple, but the result is so complex. Thanks!
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on October 23, 2006:
My pleasure! If you find another recipe in Croatian that you'd like help translating, you can post the link here and I'll make another Hub about it.
amey on October 21, 2006:
thanks so much for sharing these recipes! we just got back from a wonderful month in croatia & i have been searching for a blitva s krumpirom recipe in english! I can't wait to try it.