First of all, there are some very traditional foods in this area, and as basic as bread is the chicken soup that is served at the beginning of almost every meal. This soup is made by boiling the entire chicken, then using the meat for something else. The broth is richly flavourful, and can be duplicated only by the best of the free-range organic chickens found in our Farmer’s Markets at home. There are very few vegetables in this soup. It is all about the broth and the nourishment of the farmland. This particular time, Lori, Vanja’s sister-in-law, included knedle. This is a very specific kind of noodle-dumpling. Pava, Vanja’s mother, makes hers with the chicken liver. It is deadly delicious, and I am not a liver fan at all. This one was very pillowy and mild made with eggs and white semolina (griz). A wonderful, perfect, and admittedly expected welcome home for Vanja!
Then, a rolled ground meat mixture with smoked prosciutto, cheese, and dill pickles. Apparently this is her own creation, but clearly inspired by the traditional rolled meats with cheeses from the region. She also made some potatoes with spinach in a bechamel type of cream and some roasted red peppers with cheese and the same type of cream (flour and milk). Hard boiled eggs decorated her mashed potatoes and an oven roasted chicken (the one boiled first, for the soup) was served with a really delicious mushroom gravy. She served some shredded cabbage and the traditional Serbian Salata: red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion. A really delicious, and nutritious meal so satisfying either hot, or cold.
See this happy and very appreciative brother?
And then, at the beginning, and the end of the meal, one would never forget to serve, or to partake of the sljiva: the home distilled plum brandy found in every home and offered to every guest throughout the entire country. Just one whiff of this stuff put me in a tizzy for a few minutes!
No room for the kolac (cake) that was made with tender loving hands. Not sweet at all, but creamy, and a lovely treat with coffee later!
Laku noc! Good night. What a long and satisfying day. XO