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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Cuisine of Slovenia

In Slovenia there are more than 40 distinct cuisines whose main distinguishing feature is a great variety and diversity of land formation, climate, wind movements, humidity, terrain and history.Looking at some Slovenian dishes by region:

In Ljubljana and the surrounding area one can find frogs’ legs baked or fried in batter served as a specialty in the inns. Popular are dishes such as Vsnat which consists of stewed sauerkraut and millet porridge, the most widespread dish from the 19th century is roast potatoes, Ricet a stew of meat and vegetables, known all over Slovenia. Its basis is barley or pot barley. From the rural area around Ljubljana comes kind of festive bread called Jance Vezivka. There is Flying Zganci an ironic appellation for fried chicken legs and wings, which arose centuries ago in working class circles in the former city port on the Ljubljanica River. One of the best recognized dishes, known all over Slovenia is Struklji which is made from different kinds of dough with a diverse range of fillings, baked, boiled, sweet or savory. They were once a characteristic festive and ceremonial dish. The best known of which are tarragon, cottage cheese, walnut, apple and poppy seed struklji.

In Notranjska a tasty dish is Bloke Kohlrabi or Threesome a tasty stew, combining kohlrabi, beans and potatoes, from where the name 'threesome' arises. Naturally, herbs and meat are also added. For centuries Cerknica Lake was richly stocked with fish. Pike was a much appreciated dish which was enjoyed fresh or smoked. In his masterpiece 'the Glory of the Duchy of Carniola', published in 1689, polyhistorian J.V. Valvasor wrote extensively about Cerknica lake, as well as dormouse hunts. Numerous dormouse dishes include Dormouse Stew.

Dolenjska, Kocevska offers: Poprtnik an ancient kind of ceremonial bread that was and is still make around Christmas time. In the past, it had to be on the table for all three Christmases and was richly decorated with ornaments made of dough. Turnips with Ribnican Beans (the Ribnican is a special kind of tasty bean). In the village of Hrovaca near Ribnica there is an annual event called Bean Day to help promote the return of the former glory of this bean. Bean struklji is especially common in Dolenjska, which may be boiled or baked, as a dish on its own or a side dish with roast meat or poultry. Matevz is known in some places as "the bear" or "potato grandfather" and is a creamy, side dish with cracklings or a dish by itself made of boiled potatoes and beans. It is usually eaten with sauerkraut or turnips. Kostel potato dumplings are a typical dish of Kostel-on-the-Kolpa and are enjoyed with salad or served as a side dish especially with game in sauce. A characteristic and traditional Easter dish is Kostel Stomach a kind of stomach stuffed with bread, pieces of smoked pork (ham) and herbs. An excellent aromatic and tasty combination of three traditional dishes is Roast Goose or Duck with Mlinci and Red Cabbage. It used to be compulsory during festivities of St. Martin, the saint of wine (November 11).

Bella Krajina - Bela Krajina Pogaca in 2001 was trademarked as a foodstuff with an indication of traditional reputation. It arose centuries ago on the basis of intercultural contact with migrants from the Balkans, the Uskoki between the 15th and 16th centuries. This ceremonial bread is sprinkled with salt and cumin. Prosta Povitica festive bread from Bela Krajina is also trademarked. Its special feature is its egg filling while the name "prosta" (simple) suggests it is easy to make. Cereal Sausage called Jaglaca or Mastenica and Cmar are two typical semi-dried products from the farm’s annual autumn killing of a pig. The cereal sausage is stuffed with millet porridge and meat, whereas cmar is a kind of stuffed pork stomach. Crnomelj Filling this compulsory Easter dish is called "nadef" in the local dialect. Bread, pork, bacon and spices are stuffed into intestines.

Kozjansko – Korejevec a vegetable stew that takes its name from root crops. At first only turnips and parsnips were used now today mostly carrots and parsnips. Kozjansko Pockets floury pockets of buckwheat dough, boiled in salted water, stuffed with millet porridge and dressed with cracklings and cream. Served as a main course or side dish to meat dishes with sauces. Kozjansko Mlincevka a juicy and filling bread made of layers of walnut and egg filling. Kozjansko Bread Potica a special kind of potica made by spreading layers of bread soaked in milk with warmed cream or whey. The whole is then wrapped into dough leaves and baked. Cheese Zafrkljaca a bread of leavened dough with cottage cheese filling and a folded crust.

Posavje and Bizeljsko – Bizeljsko Mlincevka a bread stuffed with cottage cheese between layers of mlinci (a thin dried flatbread which is easy to prepare - just pour boiled water over it and salt to taste).

Haloze, the area below Donacka Gora and Boc – Haloze Gibanica a sweet or savory bread made of leavened dough and topped with cottage cheese, egg whites and sour cream. Erpica or Jerpica made with whatever dough is left. They are tasty little breads, spread with cream and topped with cracklings.

Prlekija – Prlekija Tunka a specialty when preserving the best parts of pork, which is first desalinated, then fried and put into wooden vessels and topped with lard. This keeps the meat juicy with full aroma and color. Buckwheat pocket locally known as „kropec" and has a rounded bread form. It is made of a thin layer of buckwheat dough topped with cottage cheese and sour cream. Prlekija Gibanica made of stretched dough that is laid between seven cottage cheese and sour cream fillings. Prlekija Murke a refresing cold dish made of sliced cucumbers, sour milk, sour cream, spices and dressing.

Prekmurje – Prekmurje Gibanica a great and widespread Slovenian dessert. Stuffed with poppy seeds, cottage cheese, walnuts and apples. It’s trademarked as a foodstuff with an indication of traditional reputation and therefore can only be made under this name if the original protected recipe is respected in full. Bosman a richly decorated ceremonial bread, which used to be a compulsory gift to brides, as well as newborns and children being christened. It is decorated with several lines of plaited dough and various dough ornaments, as well as paper flowers. Vrtanek a bread cake made of plaited dough, which was made to mark the end of field work, for example, as a gift to haymakers, or at various feasts. Crackling Cakes also called „fonke", „fanke" or „fankice" are a generally widespread dish in Prekmurje especially at various social events, receptions and celebrations. Bujta Repa once a compulsory dish at lunch at pig-killing time on the farm, in which turnip and millet porridge are cooked together with a piece of pork or two thrown in. Dodoli are zganci made of potato and strong white flour, dressed with lard, onion, cracklings and topped with sour cream. Makovikulinji dough squares or scraps of dough from pasta making, boiled in salted water, dressed with sour cream and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Perkmurje pork and Prekmurje ham the production of many traditional meat products from pig-killing time has been preserved in Prekmurje. These include sausages with buckwheat and millet porridge, pressed sausage, blood sausage and the high-quality trademarked Prekmurje ham. Gibice an old dish made of unleavened dough enriched with lard, cracklings, sour cream and/or poppy seeds.
Prekmurje Bograc a popular thick stew, which takes its name from the large pot it is cooked in. A kind of goulash with three different meats, spices, pepper, tomato, potato and in season, fresh mushrooms. There is an annual bograc cooking competition. Repni Retas a popular roulade made of leavened or stretched dough and stuffed with turnips. A typical Christmas dish.

Slovenske Gorice – Plum Soup a refreshing milky soup made with fresh or dried plums. Kipjena Gibanca or Kvasenica a sweet or savory bread made of leavened flour and topped with cottage cheese and sour cream. Best eaten straight from the oven. Sireki hand-shaped cones made of cottage cheese and peppers and spices, dried in the sun or oven.

Maribor, Pohorje, Drava Valley, Kozjak – Stajerska Sour Soup the soup was originally made after the annual pig kill and included "everything but the squeak" and then was soured in wine. Now it has become a highly popular dish eaten after late nights with lots of alcohol. It also rounds off wedding receptions and New Year’s parties. Pohorje Pisker a typical meat and vegetable stew made of pork, beef and lamb with the addition of buckwheat and mushrooms in season. Pohorje Bunka desalted whole parts of better quality pork stuffed into the pork stomach and beef intestines, mildly smoked and air dried. Stajerska Boiled Struklji with cottage cheese filling then boiled and served with the water, thus the soup, which is dressed with cracklings or lard. Pohorje Omelette a biscuit omelette, stuffed with cranberries and topped with sweet cream, is an example of the invention of heritage in the period after the end of the Second World War. Oblic or Pohorje Zganci made of potato and corn flour and naturally, dressed with cracklings.

Celje, Lower Savinja and Saleska Valley, Lasko – Preseren Figs top-quality fig pralines, covered in plain or milk chocolate are made by the Dobrik chocolate studio in Pongrac near Grize. The delicacy owes its name to the greatest Slovenian poet France Preseren (1800-1849), who often carried figs in his coat pocket and to whom the children often shouted "Doctor, figs, figs!" Milky Soup with Rolls and Plums "usukanci" rolls made of flour water and eggs, called "fortici" are cooked in a milky soup. To enrich the taste, fresh or dried plums are added. Dressed Hop Shoots boiled spring shoots of cultivated or wild hops, dressed with breadcrumbs and pre-griddled in butter. Plum Soup a milky soup with millet porridge, to which cooked dried plums are added. Egg Struklji made of stretched dough, stuffed with eggs fried on cracklings and sprinkled with parsley.

Koroska – Mezerli is an old and extremely tasty dish. It is based on pig, veal and lamb intestines, bread, spices and eggs. It is often served with soured potatoes or as a side dish. Carinthian breaded horseradish a side dish or a thick sauce with meat and roast potatoes, covered with a meaty soup, grated horseradish and sometimes sour cream.

Upper Savinja Valley – Ubrnjenik made of roasted wheat, buckwheat or corn flour, over which boiling salty milk is poured. Sour cream and butter are added. Then balls or dumplings are shaped and served warm or cold with coffee or sour milk. Solcava Cottage Cheese a spicy cottage cheese with salt and cumin matured in pots for three to four months and makes an excellent aromatic spread for brown bread. It also goes well with cold cuts and apples and may be enjoyed with elder or plum conserves or honey. A creamy soup called sirnica is also made from it. Upper Savinja Stomach a top-quality and trademarked cold cut made of high-class pork and bacon.

Zasavje – Grenadirmars a roasted and dressed dish made from boiled potatoes and pasta, in some places with the addition of eggs. Krumpentoc omelettes or burgers made of grated potatoes that used to be made in glassmaking families in Hrastnik. Zasavje Liver Sausage a typical semi-dried sausage with liver filling which is enjoyed warm or cold.

Gorenjska- Buckwheat Pockets dough pockets made of buckwheat dough and filled with cottage cheese or colostrum. Served in summer with salad or in winter with stewed sauerkraut or turnip. Govnac also called presnek and is a thick dressed stew made of fresh chopped cabbage and potato. Suitable as a main dish or as a side with boiled or roast beef. Buckwheat Porridge with Mushrooms a tasty and aromatic combination of boiled buckwheat mash and fried fresh mushrooms.

Rovtarsko, Idrijsko, Cerkljansko – Idrija Zlikrofi Ravioli with Meat Sauce these smaller, boiled dumplings made of softer pasta dough are stuffed with potato, onion, fat and spices. They are a typical dish that came to Idrija along with the miners’ life at the start of the 20th century. Smukavc a dressed stew made of kale, as well as radicchio, turnip, cabbage and potato.

Soca Valley – Potatoes with Cottage Cheese boiled unpeeled potatoes with cottage cheese have been a characteristic dish of this Slovenian region since the 19th century. A tourist event called "Potato Night" is organized annually in Bovec. Bovec Cheese first documented producton goes back to the year 1328 when it was made on the Trebacina plateau. It was initially just sheep cheese but today it is made with the addition of goat’s and cow’s milk.

Goriska Brda – Frtalje or Cvrtnjaki egg omelettes also called cvrce include various fresh herbs, scented plants, but also prosciutto and sausages. Kuhnje the dialect term kuhnja is used in Brda for a whole range of the most diverse tasty meat, vegetable and pasta stews that are otherwise known as minestre (minestrone).

Goriska - Zvarcet a tasty veal sauce made as a side dish to polenta, zganci, pasta or rice. Goriska Sausages in Wine fried sausages are cooked in white Brda wine, which are served with sour cabbage or turnip, mustard and horseradish.

Vipava Valley - Vipava Jota a sauerkraut stew with beans, potato, dressing, flour, garlic and pepper. Skuha a stew made of lentils or beans with spices, soured with wine. Sausages and ham leftovers are also cooked in it. Vipava Prosciutto made of the best pork produced in Slovenia. It is made by MIP from Nova Gorica under the common trademark „The Tastes of the Vipava Valley".

Karst – Karst Jota is made from sour turnips or sauerkraut, but always also includes potatoes. Sweet Karst Jota is a specialty and is made witih mashed potato and beans with the addition of carrots, spices and a spoonful of vinegar. Karst Pancetta a meaty bacon dried in Karst into a tasty pancetta which is an important component of the otfer of Karst cold cuts and is essential in the preparation of some dishes.

Brkini, Karst Fringes – Fuzi a special kind of hand-made pasta, where squares of dough are rolled into a tube. Boiled fuzi are an excellent accompaniment to game in sauce and roasts.

Slovenian Istria – White and Red Cod – Bakala is probably the most popular dried cod product and in its white version a typical Christmas Eve dish. The red version goes well with boiled potatoes, bread and polenta. Calamari or squid are prepared in a number of ways. They are usually grilled (they may also be stuffed) and fried. Calamari Risotto is excellent.

Bogracs Gulyas (Kettle Goulash)
Yield: 6 Servings


4 tbl. bacon fat
5 Lg onions, coarsely chopped
2 Lg green peppers, chopped
3 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tbl Hungarian paprika
3 lb Stewing beef, in 1" cubes
Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
6 oz Tomato paste
1 tbl Sour cream, at room temp.


Preheat oven to 325f. Heat fat in a deep heavy pot. Cook the onions, peppers, and garlic until the onions are limp and transparent and paprika has lost its raw taste. Add beef and remaining ingredients except sour cream. Stir well to combine. Simmer in preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Adjust oven temperature during cooking time so contents of pot remain at a simmer. Serve in shallow soup bowls with a tablespoon of sour cream atop each serving.
Fižolovi štruklji (Bean Štruklji)

50 dag white flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Bean Filling
30 dag cooked dry beans
2 eggs
2 dl sour cream
black pepper
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
7 dl thick sour cream

1. Mix ingredients and knead into smooth and elastic dough. Divide into three balls, brush with oil and let rest on floured board for approximately ½ hour.
2. Roll out all three balls until thin, brush with oil and stretch dough as thin as possible.
3. Cut off the edges.
4. Filling: Mash cooked beans, add all listed ingredients and thicken with breadcrumbs.
5. Spread filling on stretched dough sheets. Use tablecloth to roll them tightly into three rolls. Place into baking tin and bake.
6. When baked, pour sour cream over them, cut into pieces and serve with sauerkraut, sour turnips or lettuce. By Rasma Raisters

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