The finals have FINALLY arrived and I totally wish Croatia wins over France, simply due to the fact that I want to see a new team take the cup home. So my recipes today come from both Croatia and France.
The only thing I knew about Croatia was the fact that it was part of Yugoslavia before and has a side to it that touches the Mediterranean. The other thing I knew about it was from my football knowledge because the Davor Suker team of 1998, mesmerised us all and I am so happy to see them back again!!! Now when I say that I was aware of the Croatian coastal side that touched the Med, I just didnt realise that most of their dishes would also be so similar to Greece or the rest of the Med!!! However the mainland cuisine takes some Slavic influences and their cuisine is accordingly designated into zones with some interesting dishes like black rissotto and “Peka”, which was meat/fish cooked with vegetables in a terracotta dish over burning embers. However I did the obvious and stuck to something which was easy for me to source and not too heavy on the pocket and I made stuffed peppers but used a Croatian recipe this time. I asked the lovely folks to be found on the instagram handle of @eatoutzagreb to suggest some recipes and they were most helpful!!
And by the way the meat I used came all the way from the UK, when a friend took pity on the non existence of beef on this island and sent me 2 packets!!! My friends, needless to say, are like me! 😀
And now France or as their team is called Les Bleus. My connection with France is definitely a stronger one as I did a diploma in the language while at university and although I promptly forgot most of it, knowing the language of a country and styudying it for 3 years automatically gets you more acquainted with their culture. So although I still play with the idea of going to study at Cordon Bleu, my dish today again draws its inspiration from the simplicity of French cuisine, a quality it is generally not known for. People normally tend to forget how huge the country is and how multifaceted their cuisine can be. But today, my dish is a the quintessential pastoral delight which was made even more popular with the cartoon where a teensy mouse makes it to impress a haughty food critic! je vous presente: Ratatouille! 😀
Punjene Paprika or Stuffed Peppers from Croatia
- 2-3 large peppers/capsicum, de-seeded and cleaned out with a carving knife or spoon, do not throw away the insides
- 1 cup rice
- 1-2 large Spanish onions, diced
- 3-4 large tomatoes, de-seeded and blended into a mesh.
- 1/2 cup minced beef (you can also leave this out and make it vegan)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 cup chopped celery and parsely
- 1-2 bay leaves
- ~Salt and pepper to taste and olive oil
Brown half the onions then add garlic and after 1 minute pour in the tomato puree and cook. Mix the rice with the rest of the onions, some more garlic, meat, all the greens, the insides of the peppers, salt, some lemon juice if you want, pepper and a bit of olive oil. Once the tomato sauce begins to thicken add the bay leaves and cook a bit more. Take it to a consistency where the rice can easily be cooked without turning into a total pot of blob! Now add the rice and daintily place the peppers within and cook for about 20-25 minutes. I used a pressure cooker to save energy, cost and time.
The Croatians normally make a mashed potato and tomato sauce adding some flour to further thicken it but I really wanted to just have the rice, which is also something they do.
Ratatouille de France
- 1 zuchhini cut into round discs
- 1 aubergine in round discs
- 1 potato into round discs as well (its allllll round)
- 1-2 tomatoes, pureed
- 1 garlic chopped
- fresh or dry basil.
- Salt and pepper and olive oil to taste
Arrange the discs in a circular motion (like the mouse in the pic below) then sprinkle salt on top, pour some olive oil and mix the tomato puree with the garlic, more salt, basil and pepper and finally pour this on the nicely arranged veggies. Stick it into an oven and bake it to the point where it holds and is not breaking at your touch.
Take it out and serve it with a flourish and say pour vous seulement mon cher to your loved one!
May the best team win (CROATIA that is!) 😀 And if France wins again (oh mon dieu!) I will kill that little mouse! 😮