Author: Fricot Editors

Culinary Adventures On The Orient Express Routes


Roasted Corn Seller At Eminönü, Istanbul

Berlin’s main transport hub was built on the site of an old railway station and yard in the Moabit district inside the intersection of the Nordhafen canal and the Spree river, opposite the heat rows of parliamentary pillars, the green heart of the city a short hop away.

Our train is the one minute to seven intercity express to Prague, a four and a half hour journey eastwards towards Dresden near the border with the irresistible region known as Bohemia in the Czech Republic. We have enough time to pick up an assortment of pretzels from one of the bakeries in the central concourse under the tracks of Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Pretzels and small breads called brötchen are a fact of fast-food life in Germany’s railway stations.

Pretzels are rarely made bald and are never ordinary, coming in various shapes (rolls, sticks and twists, not least the famous knotted-handles). They are coated with coarse salt, seeds or with a topping of cheese and, depending on the region you are in, are available with an assortment of savoury or sweet fillings.

DDR Brötchen — Small Breads Of Old Berlin

Among the brötchen, one particular variety has made a come-back. This is the DDR brötchen. Ostalgie, the nostalgic trend for the good old days of the German Democratic Republic, has brought with it a yearning for the simple traditional food once served in the cafes and canteens of Berlin, Leipzig and other former East German cities. These breakfast rolls were soft and salty, and were made more often than not with margarine and whey.

Our connection at Prague will be the 11:50 train for Nyugati railway station in Budapest, 15 minutes after the Berlin train arrives. So we have decided, from experience, to play it safe because delays are commonplace on the German rail network. A 15-minute delay is not unusual (in fact it is common) and we are not chasing after trains, too old for that nonesense. We are going to stay over for two good reasons.

It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to travel non-stop from Berlin to Istanbul, or from Paris to Istanbul for that matter, unless there was money involved in the form of a wager. The rail route was interrupted for many years by the closure of Sirkeci railway station in Istanbul, the construction of the Bosphorus rail tunnel, new rail track around the ancient metropolis and replacement track in Bulgaria. Now, with fast direct trains through western Europe into the Balkans and eastern Europe, the route is a sub-50-hour, non-stop two-night trip with three changes. So what’s the hurry?

The other reason is the traditional food of this wonderful Bohemian city. Right now in this moment, standing on platform one alongside the cantilevered railway and despite a bellyful of pretzel, the delicious apple loaf of Prague has more appeal than a heart attack in a vain attempt to catch an illusive train. Trains have been known to disappear! Then there is that delicious potato soup still known as old Bohemian soup probably because it still tastes earthy. Bohemian dishes are defined by an unrequited love for crispy roast meats, delicious vegetables, fat dumplings and melt-in-the-mouth sauces. Among these are the pan-sealed slow-baked duck breasts served with light potato dumplings and pear sauce.

Many a long year ago we arrived unannounced in Budapest just after six in the evening and nearly came to regret it. This time we arranged accommodation, primarily to allow us to get a table at Kéhli, one of the city’s most popular restaurants. Buda and Pest are among the few centres of civilisation in Europe where the peasant culture is still reflected in the choice of traditional foods available in restaurants.

In Budapest soups and stews start every meal. The exception is gulyàsleves, the beef soup that is a bit of both. It is also served as a main course accompanied with egg-flour noddles. Kéhli specialises in traditional food including bean, beef, chicken and fish soups and the range of stews including goulash, the beef soup that can be a beef stew — if you want! We are especially keen to try their version of lecsó.

Paprika Flakes

Aromatic onions, fresh paprika peppers and juicy tomatoes, being plentiful throughout the region, are stewed and bottled for use as condiments and in restaurants as a stew or a side-dish. Most households make their own, and restaurants like Kéhli have secret recipes passed down. The home-made versions include numerous additional ingredients and variations of ratios between the peppers and tomatoes. The base sauce is one part peppers to one part tomatoes, a third onions and sufficient oil to sauté the onions and coat the ingredients. The quantity of ground or flaked paprika is always personal.

We have decided to stay overnight because our train into the east leaves at ten past seven in the evening, no time at all to savour the culinary delights of Buda and Pest.

There was a time when this train left at seven in the morning. Now it is an overnight stopping train, with stops up to one o’clock in the night and frequent stops from just after four o’clock in the middle of the night, no time at all to get some shut-eye unless you can sleep like the dead.

You can can find every type of food you desire in Bucharest, just don’t expect to find too many indigenous traditional dishes among the Greek-Moldovan-Ottoman-Russian influences. Cornmeal or corn grits (polenta in Italy, malai in Romania) remain popular throughout eastern and southern Europe, and are now found adorned with savoury toppings and garnishes. In Romania their polenta is called mamaliga and is generally enriched with cheese and cream. But the days when Romanians were known by Russians as mamalizhniki, because they consumed so much cornmeal, are in the past. They still like their malai though. And so do we.

Beef And Paprika Stew

We also like their bean and sausage tradition. Arguably Romania’s most popular dish, the combination of two indigenous traditions (growing beans and sausage making, particularly in the home) has produced a classic. Not far behind is the meat and paprika stew known as tokány. Believed to have been brought south into Bucharest by young Transylvanian girls, marjoram, mushrooms, paprika and sour cream are essential to the success of this stew. Without them tokány does not have the distinctive flavour that make it one of the region’s most popular paprika dishes.

Direct trains between Bucharest and Istanbul have been re-established with the completion of the new track between Dimitrovgrad and Svilengrad in southern Bulgaria and the opening of the new railway terminus for the Marmaray line at Halkali in the south-west of Istanbul. The Bosphorus-bound train now leaves Bucharest North station just after noon and arrives in Halkali at just after seven in the morning. Travellers can now connect with the west and east of Istanbul from Marmaray stops at Yenikapı (for the old city), at Sirkeci (the old terminus station for the Orient Express), and at Üsküdar and Pendik on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

With high-speed tracks being built between Halkali and Kapikule, on the border with Bulgaria, between Dimitrovgrad in Bulgaria and Nis in Serbia, the original southern Orient Express route will soon be back in place. A direct service would require the collaboration of Turkish Railways with Bulgarian and Serbian Railways, and with Croatian, Slovenia, Austrian, Swiss and German Railways. With a direct service between Serbia and Switzerland already in place, the return of the Orient Express is only a matter of time.

The streets of Istanbul are full of aromas that tease and tempt but none capture the tastes of this wise old city like the smell of grilled mackerel. Still known as a street food because of ancient associations with the fishers of the Bosphorus, balık ekmek is synonymous with the tourist centres of Eminönü and the Galata Bridge. Crunchy loaves and oily fishes are a throwback, one of the oldest traditional foods in the world.

Gustave Flaubert thought Istanbul would become the capital of the world and during the first half of the 20th century it was the destination everyone desired, for reasons that are not obvious to us today. Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk insists that Istanbul suffers from end-of-empire melancholy, and it is this state of mind that defines the city on the Bosphorus. Does this emotion touch the souls of the tourist and the traveller? It must do because the overwhelming character of the people themselves is humbleness … and friendliness. If that is a consequence of melancholy, surely it is the city that will benefit?

Anatolia is a food basket, and all Anatolian food is in Istanbul. Traditional Turkish food is, with French, Iberian and Italian, among the best in Europe, shaped by centuries of interaction with the world to the east and west. The cuisine of the Ottoman era is still with us, albeit disguised in the clothes other cuisines have dressed it in.

From fried Black Sea anchovies to doner, şiş and yoghurt kebabs, meat-filled flatbread to rice and chickpeas, sesame breads and stuffed aubergines, sweet honey and pistachio (baklava) pastries and all kinds of börek (rolled) pastries with countless fillings, Turkish traditional food is diverse, reflecting an amazing harvest of fishes, fruits, meats, nuts spices and vegetables.

Bekir Tezçakar In His Old Cafe in 2001

We first met Bekir Tezçakar in November 2001 at a junction in his life as a cafe resident of the Grand Bazaar. We met him again recently. He is older and wiser, a veteran of the sloping streets of the old bazaar with its stone pillars and uneven pave-stones. Cafe Life sits inside a portico adjacent a carpet shop, a skip and a step from the original Cafe Tezçakar on Halicilar Street. He opened Cafe Life in 2004 to compliment Cafe Tezçakar. He now serves espresso, cappuccino and western-style foods, keeping with tradition by offering Turkish coffee, Anatolian tea, apple tea, mint tea and sage tea, and Turkish kebabs and sweets.

‘We must keep our integrity,’ he says. ‘The bazaar is not a museum, it is a very original building, a centre of commerce, a centre of tourism, a place of culture. We can learn many things but we must not lose our tradition. If you lose your culture you lose yourself.’ These sentiments are on his mind because the Turkish people have a fear for their diverse cuisine, their unique culture.

Banu Özden is a food historian. She is also concerned about Turkey’s food traditions. ‘Our recipes go back thousands of years. We place a special emphasis on traditional methods and artisan ingredients. There are certain dishes from the palace cuisine such as kuzu incik (braised lamb shanks with vegetables), karniyarik (split belly aubergines stuffed with ground beef), and revani (semolina cake soaked in syrup).’

‘Some dishes are from Anatolian regional cuisine such as stuffed leaves and vegetables, vine, chard, cabbage, dried aubergines, dried peppers, fresh peppers and tomatoes. Depending on the region and season, these dishes are made on a daily basis. One of these specialties is analı kızlı (yoghurt soup with lamb chunks, chickpeas and bulgur balls).’

Köfte, the word for minced meat in the Farsi language, have been integral to Turkish cuisine since the 1300s when they were introduced to the Ottoman palace kitchens and quickly became popular. Although meatballs have been around much longer, the varied use of minced meat, cooked and raw, in Turkish cuisine has transformed köfte culture. Traditional köfte will contain various meats generally enriched with the same ingredients — breadcrumbs, eggs, onions and seasonings — much like the European tradition. What makes the Turkish meatball different is in the method, established a long time ago. One of the best recipes originated with Mehmet Kamil‘s Melceü‘t-Tabbâhîn (Resource of Cooks). It was adapted by Özge Samanci and Sharon Croxford, of the Istanbul Food Workshop, for their Flavours of Istanbul book.

This painting of a pomegranate seller is hung in the stairwell of Vaha Cafe and Restaurant on the corner of Şehit Mehmetpaşa and Su Terazisi Sokak in Istanbul old town.

The train for Sofia leaves Halkali at 21:40. Until it reaches the Bulgarian border it is slow. It arrives in Sofia at 08:33. As you will see, if you have not made the trip and want to follow in the footsteps of all the fictional characters who have enjoyed rides on the Orient Express, nothing really changes. We will leave them for you to experience yourself.

The restoration of Hadji Dragan’s old houses on Kozloduy near the Vladaya river took four years. Now Hadkidraganov’s Houses present traditional Bulgarian food (and music), and what a feast they offer. Their specials require patience, but the wait is worthwhile, especially when the mushroom and sausage stuffed whole chicken in a clay egg (three hours) and the sofra — beef knuckle, skewered meat, sausages and pork steaks with aubergine purée, beans and potatoes, bread, chutneys and sauces — are at the end of it. But it is the savoury patatnik and the sweet banitsa that we have come here for.

Banitsa — Cheese Spiral Pie

When the farmers of the Rhodope mountains in southern Bulgaria began to grow potatoes, it was a natural progression to cook them with the rural ingredients that formed their traditional culinary heritage — cheese from sheep‘s milk, strong onions, and aromatic herbs such as spearmint. These are the basic ingredients for a good patatnik, but there are always options. Meat enriches the dish, red peppers replace onions, savoury replaces spearmint, but cheese is the constant. Keeping with the Balkan tradition of making pies with filo pastry, patatnik should also be encased in the thin sheets.

Direct trains from Sofia to Belgrade and from Belgrade to Zürich make the return journey to Paris on the old Balkan route of the Orient Express relatively comfortable, if not thoroughly tedious. Sofia to Belgrade is an 11 hour journey, on a day train that begins at nine thirty each morning. Belgrade to Zürich is a 23 hour journey, day and night, and interesting because it stops at Zagreb, Ljubljana, Jesenice, Villach and Innsbrück — all places that should be visited for their amazing traditional food.

It is no longer possible to navigate a timetable that follows the Simplon Orient Express route because there are no through services between Ljubljana and Trieste, the Austrian city on the Adriatic coast. There is no longer a direct service linking Istanbul and Venice, not a bad thing now that the lagoon city is sinking into the Adriatic under the weight of several hundred years of expectation. Intrepid travellers get around this by boarding the train at Ljubljana for Villa Opicina on the border, then a bus or taxi down to Trieste Centrale and from there onto Venice, Verona, Milan, Brig and Lausanne en route back to Paris and the north-west of Europe. The new route through to Zürich is great for our travel story, not so good for our food story because we miss out Italian and Swiss cuisine. So we recommend the stopping trains, that allow for diverse distractions, amiable assignations, memorable moments and, if you are lucky, amazing adventures to recall. Meanwhile …

Belgrade is a culinary gateway. It leads in various directions to the fabulous food of the people who have inhabited these lands for thousands of years. The Ottoman influence is still present but as each of the Balkan countries and regions assert their own cultural identities in the fast lanes of the 21st century, the slow food of past centuries becomes prominent. Among these are the methods used to cook meat, especially beef, chicken, pork and veal.

At Cevap kod Dekija on Strahinjića Bana 71 in old Belgrade, between the Danube and Sava rivers, they make the argument that the grill does not always indicate fast food. ‘It is one of the best and healthiest ways to prepare meat,’ they say and it is hard to argue with them or with this food identity.

Their specialties, made with high quality cuts and products of beef and veal cooked over beech charcoal, epitomise the mešano meso (mixed meat) snack culture of Serbia. These include the burgers, sausages and rissoles known as cevap made from ground beef and paprika — the amount of ground paprika is something between 5% and 20% of the meat. Eveything washed down with strong beer.

Cevap — Paprika Meat Rissoles

Our direct train to Zürich is at 10:35, a reasonable time to get back to the new central station, and we are making good use of it. All we have to do now is make a decision. Do we endure all 23 hours on the train or do we get off at Zagreb (at six o’clock after more than eight hours on the train) or at Ljubljana (at nine o’clock) or at Villach (at eleven o’clock), and then rejoin it for the overnight ride through the Austria Alps?

Do you know! We are going to stop at Zagreb, spend the night, pick up the next cross-border train to Ljubljana tomorrow, spend the night and most of the day in the Slovenia capital, take a local train to Villach over the border in Austria, and then think about our next move.

Is it a roll or is it a strudel? This is the question the peoples of the Balkans and their central and eastern European neighbours have been arguing about for centuries. Potica is the sweet nut roll bread of the Balkan countries, it is also the sweet roll bread of the Czechs and Hungarians. It can’t be a strudel because it is a bread dough rolled thick whereas the strudel is a bread dough stretched thin. What can be agreed is that both types are filled and rolled up.

Potica — Sweet Nut Roll Bread

Believed to have originated in a village called Strukljeva Vas, štruklji is one of the oldest traditional dishes of Slovenia. They are made with stretched thin dough spread with a variety of fillings, rolled up and wrapped in cloth, boiled and cut into short slices. The fillings are variously bacon, beans, bread, breadcrumbs, cheese, crackling, cream, eggs, potato, tarragon, walnuts and more. Strudel are slightly different.

The ascent of strudel was thought to have reached its nadir when this delicate pastry came to epitomise the Viennese kitchen in the 1800s. The thinly drawn dough that makes the strudel iconic definitely has its origins in ancient Assyria. It was associated with the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks and the Spanish Moors, and known as ‘Spanish Dough’ in cookbooks of the 1700s. By then it was an established aspect of pastry baking throughout the period of the Austro- Hungarian empire, moving westwards from Budapest to Vienna and Salzburg.

The strudel went through various changes until it started to resemble a coiled pastry. Fillings included beans, cheese, fruit, gourds, leaf and root vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds and rice. When Anna Dorn mentioned ’solid apple strudel’ in the Great viennese Cookbook in 1827, the strudel had been boiled and baked over open fires for 200 years.

Strudel cookery changed with the emergence of oven baking and white flour. The translucent dough became thin and crispy, and the apple strudel became legend and permanent. Ground cinnamon, soaked raisins and toasted breadcrumbs (from flaky kipfel bread) complimented the tart apple filling to produce a sweet-sour taste.

In Vienna sour cream was added to accentuate that sourness. In Salzburg the apfelstrudel was sweetened and softened with warm milk. In Innsbruck and alpine regions the old style remains constant. And in Berlin kirschwasser was added to the raisins, and walnuts were included in the filling. Sugar was used to offset the acidity of the tart apples, which included a variety that became known as ‘strudler apples’. Gradually, throughout the 20th century, apfelstrudel epitomised the art of the Viennese patisserie, and its Assyrian, Arabian, Moorish, Turkish and Slovenian origins were forgotten, except in Slovenia.

Alpine cookery is characterised by an enduring love affair with the traditional produce of the valleys — apples, barley, beef, cabbage, cheese, freshwater fish, game, goat, herbs, mutton, onions, pork, potatoes — which come together in soups, stews, strudels and stuffed dumplings, and sometimes in leftover combinations. Among this tradition is the pot-stew, known collectively as eintöpf — one of the oldest traditional dishes in Europe, going back eight thousand years. It started as a pot of reconstituted dried meat, greens and cereals, and over the generations evolved with no one basic or standard recipe. This alpine stew is now made with an assortment of flower, leaf, pod and root vegetables, potatoes, dumplings or rice, and meat (bacon, beef, chicken, pork, sausage, veal) cooked in a stock accentuated with cream, fresh or sour, or tomatoes or both for the sauce. Herbs are a typical garnish, and bread is usually served with the stew. The ingredients are seasonal. In the homes the recipes for the stews throughout the year will be based on family traditions.

Schmarrn — Torn Pancake

We cannot travel through the Tyrol without tasting their varieties of schmarrn. Originally known as Kaiserschmarrn, for obvious reasons, this is an aristocratic dish that has been transformed into a traditional dish because of its enduring popularity. Ask an Austrian to suggest their favourite food, and one that is traditional and representative of the country’s food culture, and this is the answer. It was untouchable. Made only with cream, eggs, flour, raisins and sugar it epitomised haute cuisine. Then it lost its kingly status, no more so than in the Tyrol where this torn pancake became all things to all people. The raisins were replaced by red cherries, pine nuts were preferred by those with a creative streak, almonds and hazelnuts got in on the act, and then Radio Tyrol decided that the schmarrn could become an oven-baked version of rösti. They came up with a recipe using streaky bacon and waxy potatoes combined with the basic schmarrn ingredients — cream, eggs, flour, milk.

Zürich main station is an amazing place if you love food, and especially the traditional food of the Swiss. There are fast food and slow food outlets, and across the tram tracks at the front of the station there is a supermarket set up to supply food for those on the go.

The train to Paris is a TGV. It leaves at 34 minutes past the hour every two hours and takes just over four hours to get to the Gare de Lyon. If you have arrived in Zürich in the morning we recommend the mid-afternoon trains. They still go at the same speed, travel the same distance and arrive after four hours on the tracks, they are just less busy!

Bon voyage. Bon chance! Opps. Gute Reise. Viel Glück!

Of course we did not travel to Paris from Zürich, we returned to Berlin from Villach on the night train to Munich, thought about a bleary-eyed change to an early Berlin-bound train and decided against it. After all that travelling we decided we needed a beer, and the Löwenbräu Celler was just around the corner the main station.

The Bavarians believe they have the best traditional food in Germany, and sometimes you have to agree with them.

Here are some recipes to whet your appetite.


Lye Breads


500 g / 16⅔ oz white wheat flour, t550 
245 ml / 8 fl oz water
40 g / 8⅓ oz butter
25 g / 1 oz yeast
15 g / ½ oz malt extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Lye / Soda Solution

2 litres water
50 g / 1⅔ oz baking soda

Sieve the flour into a large bowl, crumble yeast into the flour followed by the sugar and half of the water, stir with a wooden spoon into a loose dough, cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Desired dough temperature is 23°C.

Add remaining water, butter, malt and salt. Work into a soft smooth dough, knead for ten minutes. Leave to rise for an hour.

On a floured surface cut the dough into 16 pieces (roughly 50 g / 1⅔ each), shape into rounds or oblongs. Place on heavily greased baking trays.

With a sharp knife cut a cross in the rounds or several slashes in the oblongs. Leave to rise covered for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Bring the soda solution to a rolling boil, drop the dough into the water four at a time for no longer than 60 seconds.

Place on greased baking trays and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Small Bread Rolls


250 g / 8⅓ oz strong white wheat flour
250 g / 8⅓ fl oz milk / whey
20 g / ⅔ oz yeast

Second Dough

250 g / 8⅓ oz white wheat flour t505
75 g / 2½ oz sugar
30 g / 1 oz butter / lard / margarine
15 g / ½ oz salt
5 g / large pinch barley / wheat malt
Milk, for brushing

Dissolve yeast in a little of the milk or whey. In a large bowl stir remaining milk or whey into the flour with the yeast mixture. Rest overnight at room temperature.

Sieve second batch of flour into a large bowl, add malt, salt and sugar, incorporate the butter, lard or margarine, then add the pre-ferment.

Knead into a soft smooth dough.

Cover the dough and leave to rise until doubled in size, about an hour. Degas, leave for an hour, cut into 10 pieces (roughly 87 g each), shape into balls, arrange on baking trays. Cover, leave to rise for an hour.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

When they have risen, brush lightly with milk. Place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.


Roast Duck Breasts

600 g / 20 oz duck breasts, skin scored
600 g / 20 oz small potatoes, cooked whole, cool
250 g / 8⅓ fl oz chicken / duck stock
2 pears, halved, cored
120 g / 4 oz bacon, cubed small
100 ml / 3⅓ fl oz double cream / yoghurt
80 g / 2⅔ oz spring onion
80 g / 2⅔ oz honey
35 g / 1 oz butter
20 ml / ⅔ fl oz vegetable oil
20 ml + 20 ml / ⅔ oz + ⅔ oz pear juice
10 g / ⅓ oz white wheat flour
Cumin seeds, large pinch

Marinade duck breasts in honey and half of the pear juice for 90 minutes, squeeze out liquid and rub with salt, thoroughly seal in hot oil, transfer to oven at 80°C for 90 minutes, 60 minutes if duck skin is thin. Brush all but one half pear with honey marinade and bake in oven for 45 minutes. Make a creamy mash with butter, cream and potatoes. Drain honey from pears.

With 15 minutes to go until duck is done, heat three teaspoons of oil in frying pan. Incorporate two teaspoons of white flour into the oil until browned. Add stock. Season with salt and crushed cumin seeds. Add honey liquid, pear juice and half pear cut into small pieces. Bring to boil, reduce. Strain.

Sauté bacon in butter and oil with chopped spring onions, pour in cream or yoghurt, keep warm on a low heat.

Slice duck breasts. Serve basted with pear sauce, potatoes or mash, gnocchi and bacon.

A simpler version is produced when the duck breasts are seasoned with salt and pepper, sealed with olive oil in a frying pan,splashed with a liqueur, then allowed to simmer in ground cinnamon, chicken or duck stock for 20 minutes. A squeeze of lemon juice is added to the stock after 10 minutes. The breasts are served with ripe pears dressed with a drizzle of the stock.

Apple Loaf

650 g / 22 oz apples, peeled and cored
500 ml / 16⅔ fl oz milk
200 g / 6⅔ oz cottage cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, separated
175 g / 6 oz white bread, sliced into thick rounds
60 g / 2 oz vanilla sugar
50 g / 1⅔ ozraisins
30 g / 1 oz icing sugar
10 g / ⅓ oz cinnamon
Butter, for greasing

Prepare the apples, keep in water until ready to use.

Soak raisins in some of the milk, about an hour. Then soak the rounds of bread in milk.

Separate the eggs, mixing the yolks with icing sugar and cheese.

Whisk the egg whites with the vanilla sugar.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Grease an ovenproof baking dish, dust with breadcrumbs.

Lay the bread on top of the breadcrumbs.

Grate the apples onto the bread, dust with cinnamon and half the raisins.

Place the remaining bread on top, followed by the remaining apples, grated or sliced, the cinnamon and raisins.

Pour in the cheese mixture evenly across the surface.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove and gently spoon the egg foam over the top, making peaks with a fork.

Turn oven up to 200°C and bake for a further 15 minutes.


Beef Soup

5 litres / 20 cups water
900 g / 30 oz beef, cubed 2 cm
500 g / 16⅔ oz potatoes, diced small
500 g / 16⅔ oz onions, chopped
300 g / 10 oz parsnip / turnip, diced
300 g / 10 oz tomatoes
250 g / 8⅓ oz carrots, diced
250 g / 8⅓ oz green or red peppers
100 g / 3⅓ oz celery, cut small
30 g / 1 oz lovage leaves
4 garlic cloves, mashed
10 g / 2 tsp paprika, hot or sweet
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 bay leaves
Black pepper, pinch
Salt, pinch
Oil, for frying

Sauté the onions in the oil for 30 minutes, increase heat and brown the beef.

Reduce heat, stir in the tomatoes and peppers, add the garlic and cover. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the bay leaves, caraway seeds and paprika.

After five minutes add the vegetables, remaining seasonings and water.

Cook until the potatoes are al dente.

Freshwater Fish Stew

3 kg / 6 lbs 9oz freshwater fish
2 litres / 8⅓ cups water
1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs onions, chopped
80 g / 2⅔ oz Hungarian hot paprika

Wash, top, tail and fillet fish.

Set fillets aside, place the heads, tails and bones in a large pot of water with the onions and half the paprika. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. Strain stock into a clean pot.

Cut the fillets into equal sized pieces.

Bring stock to the boil, turn heat to low and simmer fish pieces for 15 minutes. Add remaining paprika, serve in bowls.


Cornmeal with Smoked Bacon, Curd Cheese and Sour Cream

2 litres / 8⅓ cups water
500 g / 16⅔ oz cornmeal, coarse ground
500 g / 16⅔ oz curd cheese, creamed
500 ml / 1 pint sour cream
300 g / 10 oz hard cheese, grated
300 g / 10 oz smoked bacon, diced
50 g / 1⅔ oz butter, unsalted

Prepare the cooked corn using the previous method, then stir the butter in while it is still hot. This will produce a softer mamaliga. Preheat oven to 160ºC.

Fry bacon over a medium heat for five minutes until it is crispy, pour fat into a large baking tray.

Spread a thin layer of cooked corn on the tray, sprinkle the grated cheese followed by the sour cream, dots of curd cheese and the bacon, repeat until there is only cheese and cream left. Finish with a layer of grated cheese, curd cheese and sour cream. Bake for 45 minutes, until the top begins to brown.

Beans and Sausages

1 kg / 2 lbs 3 oz home sausages / smoked sausages
500 g / 16⅔ oz dried white beans, soaked in water overnight, boiled with a pinch soda, drained
500 g / 16⅔ oz tomato sauce
250 g / 8⅓ oz onions, chopped
200 g / 6⅔ oz carrots, cubed small
150 ml / 5 fl oz beef broth
1 red pepper, de-seeded, roasted, skinned, blended into a paste (don’t use any liquid)
45 ml / 1½ fl oz sunflower oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed
5 g black pepper
2 bay leaves
Salt, large pinch
Parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large, deep frying pan brown sausages whole in the oil, remove, cut into large pieces. Saute onions in the oil, about 15 minutes. Add the carrots and garlic, cook for five minutes. Deglaze with broth, reduce heat, add beans, red pepper paste, sausages and tomato sauce followed by the bay leaves and seasonings. Cook for 45 minutes.

Alternatively, brown sausages in oil, remove, sauté onions and garlic. Place garlic, onions and sausages in a large pot with the beans, broth, tomatoes and seasonings, and bake in a 180ºC oven for an hour.

Serve with a combination from bread, pickles and salad. garnish with parsley.


Lentil Soup

This is Bekir Tezçakar’s lentil soup.

1.5 litres / 6 cups + 2 fl oz water
250 g / 1 cup red / white lentils, washed
150 g / 5 oz carrot, diced
150 g / 5 oz tomatoes
100 g / 3⅓ oz onion, chopped small
30 ml / 1 fl oz vegetable oil
10 g / ⅓ oz white wheat flour
5 g / 1 tsp black pepper
5 g / 1 tsp paprika flakes
Salt, two large pinches

Sauté onions in oil over a low heat in a large pot until they take on a brown colour at the edges. Stir in flour, fry for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots and lentils, stir, add water and seasonings, bring slowly to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook until the lentils are tender. Leave to cool for 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a blender, blend to a paste, return to pot, reheat, taste and season again.

Garnish with paprika flakes.

Beef and Lamb Meatballs

700 g / 1 lb 7⅓ oz beef and lamb, double minced
90 ml / 3 fl oz water
60 g / 2 oz onion paste
30 g / 1 oz butter
2 tsp green pepper, ground
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp salt

Combine meat, onion paste, cinnamon, pepper and salt, knead for five minutes until the fat comes off on the hands, shape into 25 g balls. Place small bowl in the middle of large frying pan. Put butter and water into bowl, arrange köfte around bowl. Cover, cook over low heat for 45 minutes. Serve with a sauce made from the cooking juices reduced with the butter-water liquid.


Cheese Filo Spiral


300 g / 10 oz strong white wheat flour
150 ml / 5 fl oz water, warmed
1 egg
10 ml / ⅓ fl oz sunflower oil
Flour, for rolling

Sieve the flour onto a clean work surface, make a well, add egg, oil and water, form into a soft dough, knead and leave to rest for an hour. On a floured surface roll the dough into thin sheets 1 mm thin, no less than 25 cm x 35 cm, for 24 sheets.

Filling (for 12 sheets)

350 g / 10 oz Bulgarian brined white cheese
4 eggs, beaten
100 ml / 3⅓ fl oz yoghurt
50 g / 1⅔ oz butter
1 egg yolk, for glazing
Oil, for brushing
Bicarbonate of soda, pinch

Crumble cheese into yoghurt, add eggs, butter and soda. Oil a filo sheet, drizzle with four tablespoons of filling. Twist the roll into a tight spiral in the middle of a greased baking tray. Repeat process, arranging each roll around the previous roll, to form an elongated spiral. Preheat oven to 180ºC. glaze top with egg yolk. Bake at 175ºC until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve with yoghurt.

Cheese and Potato Pie

300 g / 10 oz potatoes, mashed
150 g / 5 oz sausage meat, cooked
100 g / 3⅓ oz Bulgarian brined white cheese
2 eggs
Parsley / Mint
Butter, melted
12 filo sheets cut to size of baking tray, greased with butter

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Mix eggs into cheese, meat and potatoes, season with salt and some chopped parsley or mint.

Grease tray with butter, place a sheet of filo lightly on the bottom, repeat with four more sheets. Spoon mixture into tray. Place remaining greased sheets on top.

Bake for 40 minutes.


Ground Beef Rissoles

1 kg / 2 lbs 3 oz beef, minced
45 ml / 3 tbsp water
2 tsp paprika, ground
2 tsp seasonings
Olive oil, for greasing

Bring all ingredients together in a large bowl and knead until the fat in the meat starts to separate onto the hands. Leave to stand for an hour in a cold place. Shape into large or small croquettes, thick or thin. Oil a baking tray and place them together without touching each other. Bake at 200ºC, 30 minutes for the large cevaps, 15 minutes for small cevaps.


Sweet Rolled Cake Bread


750 g / 3 cups + 1 oz white wheat flour, t550
500 ml / 1 pint milk
250 g / 8⅓ oz strong white wheat flour
250 g / 1 cup vanilla sugar
4 egg yolks
50 g / 1⅔ oz yeast
30 ml / 1 fl oz brandy
2 lemons, zest, grated


300 g / 10 oz walnuts, ground
150 ml / 5 fl oz cream
4 egg whites
50 g / 1⅔ oz vanilla sugar
25 g / 1 oz biscuit crumbs
1 lemon, zest
5 g / 1 tsp orange, zest
Cinnamon, pinch
Brandy / Kirschwasser / Maraskino, splash
1 egg
Icing sugar

Sieve flours together. Dissolve yeast in 300 ml / 30 fl oz warmed milk with 50 g / 1⅔ oz of sugar. Stir in 200 g / 6⅔ oz flour, whisk into a smooth batter. Leave to ferment for eight hours.

Mix egg yolks with remaining milk, sugar, lemon peel and brandy. Add this mixture to remaining flour, then add the liquid dough. Knead for 15 minutes. Leave to rise for an hour, degas. Leave to rise for another hour, degas a second time. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1 cm thick. Spread filling on top of dough, roll up, seal both ends and shape into a cylinder. Place on greased baking tray. Leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Brush the top of the potica with beaten egg and bake at 180ºC for 60 minutes. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Stuffed Potato Pasta Dumplings

This quantity makes 150 pieces.


300 g / 10 oz white wheat flour
2 eggs
20 ml / ⅔ fl oz milk
20 ml / ⅔ fl oz olive oil


500 g / 16⅔ oz floury potatoes, baked, cooled
50 g / 1⅔ oz pork belly / smoked bacon, chopped small
50 g / 1⅔ oz onion, chopped
5 g / 1 tsp chives, chopped
5 g / 1 tsp marjoram, chopped
Olive oil, for frying

In a large bowl combine the flour, eggs, oil and milk. Fold out onto a clean work surface, knead into a smooth dough. Leave for an hour in the refrigerator. Pour a splash of olive oil into a frying pan and give the bacon or belly five minutes, remove with a slotted spoon. Sauté onions for 15 minutes in the same pan, leave to cool.

Scoop the potato into your bowl, add the bacon or belly and onions, knead into a soft dough, add herbs, season. Form the mixture into small balls, the size of hazelnuts. Roll the first dough thin, place balls at 3 cm intervals, fold dough over and press between each dumpling to form ears. Make a hollow in the top of each dumpling.

Freeze or use immediately.

Cook the stuffed dumplings in boiling salted water until they float to the surface. Serve with meat sauce.


Roast Goose

4 kg / 8 lbs 12 oz goose
6 sweet-sour apples, peeled, cored
30 g / 1 oz sugar
10 g / ⅓ oz marjoram sprigs
Apple compote / Redcurrant Jelly

Season skin and cavity of goose thoroughly, place marjoram inside. Put apples in the cavity with the sugar. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Place on a rack in a baking tray, baste with fat and juices every 20 minutes. Roast for three hours at 180ºC, until the skin is crisy. Rest for 30 minutes. Serve with compote or jelly.

Apricot dumplings are a suitable accompaniment.


Old-Style Apple Pastry


300 g / 10 oz white wheat baking flour
160 ml / 5⅓ fl oz water
30 ml / 1 fl oz vegetable oil
Salt, large pinch


5 kg / 3 lbs 4⅔ oz apples, peeled, cored, cut into 3 mm slices
250 ml / 8⅓ fl oz sour cream (optional)
200 g / 6⅔ oz caster sugar
125 g / 4 oz breadcrumbs
125 g / 4 oz raisins
90 g / 3 oz butter


100 g / 3⅓ oz icing sugar
60 g / 2 oz butter

Combine flour, salt, oil and water, knead into a smooth dough, cover with clingfilm, leave for 45 minutes.

Melt butter in frying pan, increase heat and fry breadcrumbs. Remove from heat, mix in sugar. Place dough on a floured cloth, roll out until transparent.

Preheat oven to 220ºC.

Spread sweetened breadcrumbs and raisins along a third of the dough. Arrange apple slices on top. If using cream, spoon onto apples.

Dress the other two-thirds of dough with melted butter.

Using the cloth, fold the buttered dough over the filled dough, seal at ends, brush surface with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes. Take out and brush with remaining butter.

Bake for 15 minutes. While still warm, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Torn Sweet Pancake with Pine Nuts

300 ml / 10 fl oz cream (or 200 ml / 6⅔ fl oz milk)
240 g (4) eggs, separated
175 g / 6 oz white spelt flour
45 g / 3 tbsp pine nuts
45 g / 3 tbsp vanilla sugar
40 g / 1⅓ oz butter
Salt, pinch
Icing sugar, for garnish

Whisk egg whites into a stiff froth. Beat egg yolks and cream or milk, add flour, sugar and salt, then the pine nuts. Fold in egg whites.

Melt butter in a very large frying pan, pour in the mixture, fry over a medium heat until brown. Turn and brown the other side. Break with two forks in a quick movement, add a little more butter and brown thoroughly.

Place on serving plates, garnish with icing sugar.


Toasted Potato Lumps

1 kg / 2 lbs 3 oz potatoes, whole, boiled, rested overnight, peeled, grated
300 g / 10 oz white spelt flour / white wheat flour / cornmeal
50 g / 1⅔ oz butter
10 ml / 2 tsp peanut oil / vegetable oil
10 g / 2 tsp sea salt

Mix potatoes with the flour and salt to form small lumps. If they are too sticky add more flour. In a large heavy based frying pan over a high heat, melt the oil and half the butter.

Reduce heat to low, throw in the floured potato pieces. using two wooden spatulas, distribute around the pan until the maluns are brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Finish with the remaining butter. Serve with apple sauce, a few slices of cheese on the side.

Zürich Pan-fried Potatoes

1 kg / 2 lbs 3 oz Urgenta potatoes, grated, squeezed, dried
4 onions, sliced
30 g / 1 fl oz oil
15 g / 1 tbsp caraway seeds, soaked
Salt, large pinch

Mix onions and potatoes, sauté in a frying pan over a medium heat for 15 minutes. Place a plate on top of the frying pan, invert onto the plate. Oil pan and slide potato cake back. Cook for 20 minutes.


Spinach Dumplings

160 g / 5⅓ oz semolina, fine
100 g / 3⅓ oz spinach
70 g / 2⅓ oz breadcrumbs
70 g / 2⅓ oz butter, for dough
50 g / 1⅔ oz curd cheese
3 egg whites, beaten until stiff
3 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, crushed, chopped
Nutmeg, large pinch
Salt, large pinch


60 g / 2 oz semi-hard cheese, grated
30 g / 1 oz butter, browned, for finish

Blanch spinach, squeeze out excess liquid, chop finely. Beat butter with egg yolk until foamy. Add semolina, breadcrumbs, spinach and cheese, season with nutmeg and salt. Add garlic, then gradually fold beaten egg whites into the mixture.

With wet hands shape mixture into eight dumplings.

Simmer in boiling salted water for 20 minutes. Remove dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with cheese and a drizzle of the browned butter.


Toasted Cheese and Ham Sandwich

This Parisian snack has travelled to the four corners of Europe since it appeared in 1910. The buffet car on the TGVs between Paris and Geneva once served croque-monsieur as good as any Parisian café, proving the maxim that quality ingredients make the dish! These being rustic country bread, good cheese and cured ham. The deluxe version contains a béchamel sauce topping, and some versions include mustard. A baked or poached egg on top turns monsieur into madame!

16 slices (8 cm x 8 cm) appenzeller / gruyère / semi-hard cheese
8 slices (10 cm x 10 cm) thick white bread, crusts removed
8 slices (8 cm x 8 cm) cured ham
4 baked / poached eggs (optional)
60 g / 2 fl oz béchamel sauce (optional)
60 g / 2 oz mustard (optional)
Butter, for spreading

Place a slice of ham between two slices of cheese, then between slices of buttered bread.

Grill for five minutes each side until the bread takes on a light toast. For a richer croque-monsieur, spread béchamel or mustard made with a large quantity of cheese on top after grilling one side, grill until a brown skin forms.


Food Stories | Boxty is Back and Other Potato Revolutions

Sausage, onion sauce and potatoes – a Swiss tradition.

The potato changed the European landscape. For many it was subsistence food – feast or famine. In the low countries, in Germany, Poland, Ukraine, in the Baltic states, in Russia, in Scandinavia, in the islands of the Atlantic fringe, in central Europe, in the Balkans … the potato became the dominant crop, changing everything.

We can see today the impact of the potato on traditional food. A protein package, it symbolised working life by providing energy and well-being in every imaginable kind of form.

The potato was baked, boiled, cooked, fried, mashed, powdered, stewed, stuffed and sautéed. It produced national dishes in many countries, and replaced standard ingredients in traditional dishes.

Now it is used as a filling for countless breads and pastries, such as štruklji, the strudels of Slovenia. It is used a thickener in soups, such as the French bouillabaisse, the Finnish lohikeitto, the Greek psarósoupa, the Monasque l’estocafic, the Irish chowder and the Scottish cullen skink. It is used as an bulking and thickening agent for stews, such as the chickpeas and meat stew of Spain, the veal and vegetable stews of the Austrian and Italian alps and the steppes of Ukraine. It is used in pastries and pies, and in omelettes and pancakes.

But for all these uses, perhaps the mashed and puréed versions are the most versatile, because they become the ingredient for griddle cakes and farls, and for countless preparations.

The griddle pancakes
of Norway.

Paul Farrelly of Killeshandra was 19 when he got laid off from the building sites. It was the boat for England or boxty for Ireland. He decided to stay and now, four decades later, he has a thriving business making and selling boxty to shops in Cavan, Leitrim and Longford, and via Musgraves of Cork to various Centra and Super Value outlets around the country.

He says it was one of those little accidents of life. Accident or not, to make a success of an artisan food business in the early 1980s required more than providence.

His mother Nan, who ran a home bakery, provided the expertise and skill, and away they went grating and squeezing floury kerrs pinks to make a boiled boxty rooted in the tradition of west Cavan life.

Boxty has been a traditional food in the north-western counties for a very long time. There is an association with halloween and the late crop of the year. Its similarity with the Swiss pan-fried grated potatoes and with the potato dumplings of the Baltic countries may be coincidental, or not.

Farrelly believes credit for its longevity should go to the mother of invention and those intrepid home cooks, who always found ways to use left-over potatoes from the daily pot, and refused to throw out bad potatoes, cutting off and grating the good bits for various uses. Mixing raw and cooked potatoes is not unique to Ireland. Baking floured potato cakes on a griddle and boiling potato dumplings are traditions in numerous European countries where the potato was a subsistence crop.

Farrelly is glad boxty now has a profile. In 1983 boxty was an enigma. It was known in west Cavan, Leitrim, Longford, parts of Mayo and in north Roscommon but not in east Cavan or Monaghan or the rest of the country.

When he tried to sell their boxty, one woman queried him. ‘Why would I want to buy your boxty, when I make my own?’

But Farrelly and Nan persevered, buying custom made equipment from a factory in Broughshane in county Antrim, and very gradually Drummully Boxty was established.

By refining the traditional method and by using good rooster potatoes from county Meath, Farrelly and his mother created a business that now employs three people, keeping them all at home, away from the ignominy of migration, rooted in their place.

Just like the song.

Boxty IRELAND dumpling potatoes

The Farrelly Family Dumpling Boxty

Traditionally boxty was made on the griddle, with the starch from raw potatoes, mash from boiled potatoes and salt. Gradually the method changed to boxty boiled in a pot, boxty fried on a griddle or in a pan, and boxty baked in the oven.

Flour was added to pan boxty, then milk and bicarbonate of soda to form a batter that could be cooked like a pancake.

Flour was also added to baked boxty along with butter or lard or bacon fat, seasoned, and shaped into farls.

Drummully Boxty is made with potatoes and salt, and boiled.

It is cut and fried, baked or grilled.

  • 500 g rooster potatoes, peeled, grated and squeezed to release liquid
  • 500 g rooster potatoes, boiled, skinned, mashed
  • 10 g salt
  • Water, for boiling

When the hard starch has separated, pour away the clear liquid, and quickly add to the mashed potatoes, season. Shape into large dumplings, 8 cm in diameter at the round end, and boil for 20 minutes

From Cheese, Chowder and Comfort Food: Ireland’s Food Renaissance.

Bacon, Black Pudding and Boxty with Vegetable Roll and Baked Beans – a Modern Irish Breakfast

Brændende Kærlighed DENMARK Burning Love!
potato mash with bacon and onions, herbs

In Denmark it is the tradition to serve mashed potatoes garnished with bacon and onion and the specialities of the region where you originate. These accessories can come from a selection of cheeses, pickles and sausages as well as beetroot, carrot and cucumber, and berries, herbs and fruits. With the industrialisation of the country in the 19th century, migrating workers brought their traditional dishes to the city. This dish, euphemistically known as burning love because of the piping hot potato mash, epitomised the food of the provinces, each putting their own version into the mix.

  • 1 kg floury potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled
  • 300 g bacon, cubed small
  • 300 g onions, finely chopped
  • 200 ml cream or crème fraîche
  • 150 g beetroot, peeled, diced
  • 50 g butter
  • 50 ml milk
  • 5 g chives, chopped
  • 5 g parsley sprigs
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • Nutmeg, large pinch
  • Pepper, large pinch
  • Olive oil, for greasing
  • Personal accessories

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the beetroot on a greased baking tray with the thyme, bake for 15 minutes. Fry bacon in a pan without fat or oil until it is crispy, set aside. Sauté onions in the bacon fat in the pan until golden. Return bacon to the pan and heat through. While the potatoes are still hot, mash with the cream and milk, season, and keep warm over a low heat. Melt butter. Spoon into the centre of a deep plate, make a hollow in the middle, add bacon and onions followed by the butter, then the beetroot. Surround the mound with chives, parsley and personal accessories.

From Nordic Food.

Chervonyy Borsch UKRAINE red stew

Among the Slavic cuisines, traditional Ukrainian food is considered one of the most diverse, and its peculiarities are the consequence of being restricted to baking in a hot oven and cooking on hot plates. Ukraine borrowed much of its food culture from neighbouring countries but the arrival of the potato in the 19th century impacted heavily on the use of traditional cereal, fish, meat and vegetable products. The predominance of pork and veal, garlic and onion, berries and fruits, grains and herbs, leaf and root vegetables were the result of an agrarian lifestyle. A hallmark of these ingredients is borsch, totally representative of the diversity of native dishes. Borsch can be green, red and cold. In the old days borsch contained beetroot and bread, but nowadays this version is rare. A technically sophisticated dish, modern borsch uses several culinary techniques and a large number of ingredients.

This is the recipe for red borsch by Andrey Kokarev, head chef at Estadio in Kharkiv.

  • 3 litres water
  • 1 kg meat bones
  • 700 g potatoes, cut into strips
  • 600 g cabbage, cut into strips
  • 500 g veal
  • 300 g beet, cut into strips
  • 300 g green leaves, cut into strips
  • 300 g salo (salted pork fat)
  • 300 g tomatoes, blended
  • 200 g carrots, cut into strips
  • 200 g shallot, chopped
  • 100 g parsley root, chopped
  • 100 ml sour cream
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 allspice berries, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Sugar, large pinch
  • Vinegar, splash for beets, splash for stew

Simmer bones for two hours, add veal and simmer for 90 minutes, strain liquid and retain the meat. Sprinkle some vinegar on the beets, fry in oil for 15 minutes, then add a small amount of broth and stew for 20 minutes. In a separate frying pan sauté carrot, parsley root and shallot in butter for a few minutes, then add tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Return to the large cooking pot. Cook potatoes in the meat broth for 15 minutes, then the cabbage for 10 minutes, season with salt. Add stewed beets for 10 minutes, then the fried vegetables.Simmer everything for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cut veal into bite-sized pieces, add to the pot with the spices. Remove pot from heat, add garlic, herbs and salo, cover and allow at least 20 minutes of infusion. Serve in large bowls with a tablespoon of sour cream for each diner.

From Traditional Tastes of Europe.

Zürcher Rösti

Johann Jakob Strub brought the potato to Switzerland. A native of the canton Glarus, he was a lieutenant in the English army and according to legend returned home with a bag of seed potatoes from Ireland.

Potatoes were cultivated in Glarus in 1697.They spread to the neighbouring cantons and by the middle of the 19th century prötlete herdöpfel, fried potatoes, replaced barley porridge as the preferred breakfast among farming families around the growing city of Zurich.

The recipe travelled south-west into the Bernese countryside and over the mountains into the Roman canton of the Valais, where it was called pommes de terre roties. It became the morning meal among the French-speaking farmers, was shortened to roties – rösti in Swiss-German.

By the mid-20th century variations of the original recipe began to appear. The Roman west preferred boiled potatoes, the Germanic east used raw.

  • 1 kg potatoes, grated, squezzed and dried
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 30 g oil
  • 15 g caraway seeds, soaked
  • Salt, large pinch

Mix onions and potatoes, and sauté in a frying pan over a medium heat for ten minutes. Place a plate on top of the frying pan, invert onto the plate. Oil pan and slide rösti back. Cook for 20 minutes.

The rösti story is told in Cooked, Cured and Curdled: The modern story of traditional food in Europe and in Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps.

Recipes with Potatoes

Älpler Fondue SWITZERLAND fondue with macaroni, potatoes
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Anjovisläda SWEDEN anchovy, potato gratin
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Bela Krajina SLOVENIA cream of potato soup
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Boerenkool Stamppot NETHERLANDS mashed potatoes, onions, kale, smoked sausages
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Bolinhos de Bacalhau PORTUGAL fish and potato balls
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)

Herrengröstl / Tiroler Gröstl ITALY AUSTRIA left-over meat and potato
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)

Brav u Mlijeku MONTENEGRO lamb in milk with potatoes
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Bryndzové Halušky SLOVAKIA potato noodles with Bryndza cheese, smoked bacon (Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Bulviniai Paplotėliai su Brokoliais LITHUANIA broccoli, potato cakes
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Chowder IRELAND fish soup with potatoes
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Colcannon IRELAND kale and potato mash
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Cuchêla ITALY bacon, pork ribs, potatoes, salami / sausages, seasonal vegetables
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Frico con Patate e Cipolla ITALY cheese, onion, potato fritters
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Gamsi Obara SLOVENIA chamois stew
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Hobotnica Ispod Peke CROATIA slow-cooked octopus with potatoes
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Idrijski Žlikrofi SLOVENIA stuffed potato pasta
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Marillenknödel AUSTRIA apricot potato dumplings
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Patatnik BULGARIA cheese, egg, potato pie
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Rösti Berner SWITZERLAND pan-fried boiled potatoes with bacon
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Rösti Ursprünglich SWITZERLAND original pan-fried boiled potatoes
(Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps)
Skordalia GREECE garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, potatoes, walnuts
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)
Touffâye BELGIUM fricassee / fricot / stew with potatoes and sausages
Truita de Patata i Ceba CATALONIA potato omelette
(Traditional Tastes of Europe)

Varieties of potatoes are discussed in Cooked, Cured and Curdled: The modern story of traditional food in Europe.

Legendary Dishes | Bündner Bohne und Gerstensuppe (enriched barley soup)

Bündner Bohne und Gerstensuppe SWITZERLAND Grabünden bean and barley soup

Barley soups were once a daily stable of northern European traditional food. They were earthy – suffused with the aromas of herbs and spices, forest mushrooms, root vegetables, enriched with stock from the bones of pig and poultry. Krupnik, the Polish version, is the epitome of this type of barley soup – hearty and not too thick, whereas in the Swiss mountains the people made it an art-form. This is the version from the east of Switzerland, the canton of Grabünden, now cooked throughout the confederation.

  • 2.4 litres hock stock / water
  • 4 smoked pork sausages, chopped small
  • 250 g potatoes, chopped small
  • 250 g bacon / ham, cubed
  • 150 g cabbage, sliced
  • 150 g carrots, cubed
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 100 g barley, soaked overnight
  • 100 g celeriac, chopped small
  • 100 g onion, sliced
  • 100 g white beans, soaked overnight
  • 50 g butter
  • 15 g sunflower oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Chives, bunch, chopped
  • Pepper, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Sweat cabbage, carrots, celeriac, leek and onions in butter and oil over a low heat, about 15 minutes. Add barley and beans, water, bay leaf and bacon or ham. Cook for three hours. Add potatoes and sausages after 150 minutes, cook for 30 minutes. Season, serve garnished with chives.

Vevey Food Market

Fruit, vegetable and mushroom stall at Vevey market – photo © Sebastien Staub

Travellers arriving in Vevey by train have a choice of exits. Our exit is unseen, back along the platform in the Valais direction almost to the end, a right turn onto an imperceptible path that leads into Rue de la Glergère.

This narrow street dissects Rue des Communaux, the road that fronts the buildings of the railway station, and Avenue de la Gare, the main thoroughfare through the town, and comes out on Rue du Simplon.

It is a short walk through a tree-lined plaza to Rue du Théâtre and the Läderach chocolate shop at number eight, a story for another day because we have arrived on market day in the expansive Grand Place, a short walk further along.

By chance we have arrived on the cusp between the last warm days of autumn and the first cold days of winter. There is a slight chill in the dry air. As the morning progresses the air begins to warm. The sight of dark clouds over the lake is a sign of rain.

The market at Vevey has a reputation beyond the Grand Place. Traders who frequent the circuit of market days between Vevey and the Valais towns arrive with produce from the region and from across the lake in Savoy. Grenoble grown fruit and vegetables add to the rich harvest from Vaud and the Valais.

Cheeses, salamis and sausages are among the artisanal specialities, but today the queues form between the bread stall, selling typical Swiss breads of all shapes and sizes, and an old man standing behind a small fold-out bench.

He is the mushroom man, selling the last fruits of the forest – cepes, chanterelles and oysters – of the season. An elderly woman, clearly of his acquaintance, shows him a large brown paper bag. He takes a sharp look inside, then weighs the contents on his machine. In seconds they agree a price. He adds the new bounty to his dwindling stock.

The famous pork pies of Vaud

The area between the Rue du Simplon and Rue du Théâtre is artisanal Vevey. At the end of Rue du Théâtre where the street joins the Grand Place, a street faces towards the east. This is the Rue des Deux-Marchés.

On the right is Fromagerie Wyssmüller where they specialise in fondue, packaging a range that includes a blend of mature Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourgeois cheeses – the classical mixture.

On the left, a little further along, is Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Favrel Fils, a bakery specialising in the breads and pastries of the Swiss Riviera, and including taillé aux greubons and tarte à la crème.

Now we are back on Rue du Simplon where the Vevey branch of the Macheret Fromagerie chain of cheese shops offers much more. Like Wyssmüller, Macheret displays the artisanal produce of the region, including paté à la viande and saucisses aux choux.

The famous smoked pork and white cabbage sausages of Vaud

We are now going to meet Françoise Lambert, curator of the Historical Museum of Vevey, to learn the history of the market. Vevey market is held in high esteem, she says, because the location – one of the largest natural squares in Europe – allows room for a diverse range of artisans and traders. It has been that way for hundreds of years.

‘It dates back to the middle ages and its actual location – the Place du Marché – outside the wall of the city is attested from the 14th Century. It took place on Tuesdays. In 1470 a part of the population asked the Duke of Savoie Amédée IX to bring it back in the city because of security and comfort reasons, others asked to keep it in the Place du Marché. Finally, the “big market” continues to be present at the square every Tuesday while other smaller markets are in the city every Thursday and Saturday. Amédée IX established four trade fairs – St. Antoine (January 14), St. Georges (April 23), St. Marie-Madeleine (July 22) and All Saints Days (November 1). Nowadays the fair of St. Martin (November 11) still exist and it’s always a big success.’

‘During the 18th Century  the market was organized in a rigorous way. We know, for example, that various sounds from Savueur’s Tower (the actual entrance of the “rue due lac”) indicated the opening of the trade for different goods: 7am for the butter, 8am for the wheat and so on. At the bottom of the Place du Marché, under rows of chestnut trees, cheese, butters and others dairy products were sold. The Grenette, built in 1808, became used as a covered place for the wheat.’

‘Being so close to the lake with a lakeshore, easily reachable, the expansive square was an important crossroads from north, east and west and linked Vevey to several villages and important cities. Everything helped the development of the market, which was known in the whole region.’

Local produce continues to attract a regular clientele. ‘We find all the regional products that are not necessarily in the big supermarket, like the fresh fishes of the lake,’ she says, adding that the amount of produce from France has been increasing since the mid-2000s.

Carlow Food Market

With its 15th anniversary in sight, Carlow’s food marketeers have cause to celebrate. During its short existence it has presented a strong image to town and country, at its height attracting a turnover of half a million euros.

Founded in August 2004 as the direct result of a local enterprise scheme to energise the community, John Hayden, the local rural resource worker put in charge of the project, had posed the question: ‘Would you be interested in a food-only / producer-only market, with handicrafts once a month?’

Consumers and producers alike said they would.

It was agreed there should be two stallholders each of bread, fish, meat and vegetables – for variety and competition – because these foods were seen to be essential to the success of a food market. There were 16 stallholders.

It got off to a good start. The town council adopted a hands-off approach. The original stallholders became Carlow Farmers Community Market, took out collective and individual insurance to indemnify the town council against claims (there have been none). 

They registered as a group with the revenue commissioners, acquired licences from the Health Service Executive to trade in the space provided by the council in the centre of the town. In turn the council passed a bye-law to allow the group to trade on a Saturday between 9 am and 2 pm. Local businesses supported the market. 

Then the mood changed.

The market has an ageing population and hardly any young blood coming through. There is a shortage of bread and pastry makers, vegetable growers and artisanal producers. 

And the group is shrinking. There are now only ten stallholders.

There is a strong feeling in Carlow and in the country in general that the attitude of the state towards small-scale producers who are not interested in the export market must be challenged, for the sake of local, seasonal food production.

Vegetable growers Charles and James Ryan had their growers license withdrawn by the Department of Agriculture over an auditing issue with new guidelines by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that got blown out of proportion when arbitration would have resolved the problem. 

The fact that they have been closed down and ordered off the market for an issue that has nothing to do with food safety angered market goers. A petition in support of the Ryans was signed by over 100 people on one morning of a cold January day.

There is a constant fear that more stallholders will be lost. Jimmy Mulhall, who sells organic meat and meat products, has been researching food markets, travelling to France to see their models and looking at the closed markets in Dublin. If he decides to move his business indoors there is a possibility he will not bring his truck to town for the open market.

Raw-milk cheese-maker Elizabeth Bradley has been under investigation by the authorities and is determined not to be forced out of business or out of the market, where she sells cheeses from Ireland, France and other countries.

Other threats to the market include the town council’s plans for the space the stalls presently occupy, the lack of a manager to deal with bureaucratic problems (like the Ryans), logistical issues (like new stallholders) and marketing issues (like the website and general awareness).

Blinded by the Light!

Nadja Saralam, an Australian who works at the cheese stall, says Carlow needs its food market. ‘It is a growers / producers only market. So everything is grown and produced locally, and you can talk to the vendors about their growing methods and environmental values, and be comfortable in what you’re buying. You’re dealing with the people who really do produce what they sell, and know the food terrain.’

‘I love grabbing a bunch of carrots, and knowing they were pulled from the ground only a few hours previously. You certainly can’t beat the quality of the food you buy there, and prices compare to supermarkets. I no longer bother to shop anywhere else.’

Saralam is full of praise for the local producers. ‘I believe one of the best things you can do for the planet is to buy locally from responsible producers, and primarily eat seasonal, non-imported foods. Despite Ireland having lost its cheese culture, there is still a really good selection of Irish cheeses on the market. The stall at the Carlow market is run by a cheese maker who farms and produces cheese just four kilometres from my house – you can’t get better than that!’

Legendary Dishes | Icli Köfte (bulgur meatballs)

The Turks took these delightful Assyrian meatballs to their hearts (and stomachs) a very long time ago, and now produce numerous variations on the very old original recipe. In Istanbul the proliferation of Syrian restaurants has increased the competition to produce the best icli köfte among chefs.


  • 500 ml water, boiled
  • 350 g bulgur, fine ground
  • 150 g semolina, fine ground
  • 30 g walnuts, fine ground
  • 5 g cumin seeds
  • 5 g sweet paprika
  • 5 g salt
  • Semolina, coarse, for coating 

Soak bulgar and semolina in the hot water, leave to rest for 30 minutes, then add the walnuts and seasonings. Wet hands and knead into a soft dough.


  • 250 g beef / veal, double minced
  • 200 g onions, chopped
  • 100 g walnuts, coarse chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
  • 4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml pomegranate molasses
  • 15 g red pepper (paprika) flakes
  • 15 g / 30 g red pepper paste
  • 5 g sumac, ground

Sauté onions in oil, about 15 minutes. Add the meat, break and fry for three minutes. Add paprika, sumac and walnuts. Increase heat, stir for three minutes until the walnuts release their oil. Stir in the molasses and paste, leave to cool. If desired work the herbs into the mixture. Divide dough into walnut-sized pieces, about 30 g. Using thumb and forefinger make a cavity with thin sides in the bulgar dough. Place 10 g of filling inside the cavity, push down and fold dough over the filling, seal and shape into a ball. Deep fry in sunflower oil at 190°C until golden or shallow fry in a large frying pan or bake in a 200ºC oven or boil in salted water.

*A note on the red pepper paste, it can be bought in jars but it is easy to make if good fresh red peppers, preferably Turkish, are available.

*The crust for icli köfte is not always made with bulgar. Semolina became a crust ingredient along with nuts aeons ago. Wheat grits have also played a part while in more recent centuries potatoes have been combined with eggs and flour. Some recipes call for double-ground meat to be added to the various flours that define the crust. The bulgar can be coarse ground and also fine ground, the latter producing a crispy crust. The cooking method is also variable.

*According to Sahrap Soysal, author of A Cookery Tale, fried icli köfte are called irok, while the boiled version is known as igdebet.


Pellegrino Artusi Recipes

Here at Fricot we have food heroes who need to be known. Among those we place in the pantheon of culinary excellence is Pellegrino Artusi. In 1891 he published a cookbook, and changed the world. 

Born in Forlimpopoli in 1820, prejudice led him to Florence where he re-established himself as a banker and became a man of leisure in his later years.

In 1880 at the age of 60 he set up an experimental kitchen at his home in the Piazza D’Azeglio. Then he spent ten years compiling anecdotes, ideas and notes about the authentic recipes of Italy’s diverse regions and with the assistance of cook Marietta Sabatini and housekeeper Francesco Ruffilli tested them to perfection.

After an unsuccessful search for a publisher, he published his book at his own expense, giving it away to friends until it caught on and went through numerous editions. The 13th had 790 recipes compared to the 475 in the first, self-published edition.

‘Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well’ changed the way Italians thought about their food.

His book is unique. Hardly anything published since has surpassed it for its simplicity and fidelity. Of the 790 recipes in the book almost all are regarded as the templates for the modern versions.

Here are some of Artusi’s recipes.

Broccoli Romani broccoli with wine

Pellegrino Artusi gives an interesting twist to broccoli cooked with pork belly and sweet white wine.
  • 500 g broccoli heads, washed, blanched, cooled in ice water bath, drained
  • 250 g fatty pork belly, chopped small
  • 250 ml sweet white wine
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Salt, large pinch

Chop broccoli coarsely.

Heat a frying pan and start rendering the fat from the pork belly. When the pork is crispy add the broccoli and cook for five minutes. Add wine, cook over a medium heat until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Fagioli all’uccelletto Toscano Tuscan beans with sage and tomato sauce, bird-style

Only the good cooks of Florence would take an aroma intended for game bird dishes, transfer it to the range of protein-rich beans grown across the peninsula and keep the original name. So this is not a bird and bean dish, it is a bean and herb dish, sage prominent. The medium – tomato sauce flavoured with black pepper and garlic – remains the same. Pellegrino Artusi recorded a more rustic version. Sage leaves are fried in oil, the beans and seasonings are added, sauteéd for a few minutes, finally sufficient tomato sauce is added to coat the beans. Usually served with soft bread, this is a truely ironic dish.
  • 500 g borlotti beans / cannellini beans, fresh / cooked
  • 350 g tomato passata
  • 90 ml olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (optional)
  • 10 g black pepper
  • 1 sprig sage (optional)
  • 1 sprig rosemary (optional)
  • 5 g salt
  • 5 g oregano leaves, whole (optional)
  • 5 sage leaves, whole

Sauté garlic in the oil for five minutes, add half of the pepper and herb leaves. Increase heat, fry for two minutes. Add beans, coat in the mixture, and then add the tomato passata and the herb sprigs. Heat through, and serve with bread or as an meat accompaniment.

Vitello Tonnato veal with tuna sauce

Vitello tonnato is a typical antipasto of Piedmontese cuisine. It is prepared with a specific cut of meat marinated in dry white wine and flavorings for half a day, boiled in marinated water, cut into thin slices and covered with a tuna sauce in oil. The sauce is prepared by blending hard-boiled egg yolks with capers, anchovies in salt, oil, white wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pellegrino Artusi refers to a method where the anchovy, caper and tuna sauce that is the essential element of this cold dish becomes a marinade, infusing the sliced cooked veal with pungent flavours. 
  • 1 kg veal, rump, whole
  • 3 carrots, peeled, whole
  • 3 parsley roots, scrubbed, whole
  • 3 stalks celery, whole
  • 1 onion, peeled, whole
  • 100 g tinned tuna, minced
  • 2 lemons, juice
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 25 g capers, minced
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Water, for cooking
  • String, for tying

Make four deep cuts in the centre of the veal, push an anchovy into each one, tie meat together. Stud onion with cloves. Place the veal in a large saucepan with the bay leaves, carrots, celery, onion, parsley and salt, cover with sufficient water and bring to the boil.  Simmer covered for 45 minutes, until meat is tender, soft to the touch and not tough.

When the veal has cooled, untie the string and cut into thin slices.

Mince the remaining anchovies with the capers and tuna, pour in the lemon juice and olive oil to make a thin sauce. Use as much oil as necessary.

Serve the veal with the tuna sauce, with soft white bread.

Alternatively marinade the meat in the sauce for eight hours, bring up to room temperature, then serve.

Calentita / La Farinata de Ceci / L‘oro di Pisa / Panelle (chickpea fritters)

Calentita – chickpea fritters of Gibraltar

Sea and serendipity created the Ligurian street food known as la farinata. Once upon a time over seven centuries ago it had a different name, the consequence of a storm in the Bay of Biscay following the battle of Meloria between the republics of Genoa and Pisa.

Fed on chickpea gruel, the rowers of one ship cursed their luck when they realised their food supply of chickpea flour and olive oil had been contaminated with the salty water of the sea during the storm. Some hungry rowers ate the chickpea pulp, others could not stomach it and left it in their bowls.

The following day, tempted by their increasing hunger, some rowers noticed that the pulp had hardened in the sun and was more palatable. Back on dry land the Genoese experimented with the accidental combination, baked it to a crisp and named it the ‘gold’ of Pisa. Later it became la farinataor la farinata de cecialthough some Genoese call itfaina de ceixi, from the local dialect.

It is a fanciful story, given the long culinary history of the venerable chickpea, and we would not dare tell the Italians, especially the people of Genoa, that one of their legends is not based on reality.

Domesticated chickpeas were found at Abu Hureyra in northwest Syria and at Çatalhöyük in central Turkey, archaeological sites that are respectively 11,000 and 9,000 years old, and are celebrated as one of the original civilised crops. Cultivated from the wild variety, the chickpea called desiis a native of Anatolia. A small angular chickpea, it is now grown across the region. Introduced into the Indus Valley, it was developed into the round kabulichickpea.

The ancient version of desihad to be eaten fresh within days of harvesting because it dried quickly into hard stone-like lentils. Humusor humous– blended chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, oil and sesame seed paste (tahini) – was the obvious solution and now chickpeas and sesame seeds are seen as an essential culinary marriage. Dishes made with the combination are associated with the Arab countries, the Caucasus, the Levant and the eastern Mediterranean.

Chickpeas gradually formed an integral aspect of the traditional food of the Mediterranean basin. The Phoenicians, being Levantine traders, probably brought them to Tunisia and to Spain, where they are now indigenous and an essential ingredient in traditional Spanish food.

Chickpeas and rice is a popular dish throughout the Mediterranean. Rice with chicken and chickpeas is a national dish of Spain. Chickpeas feature in soups and stews. Chickpea balls are a typical Greek snack. Egypt’s national dish kushariis made with chickpeas. In Cyprus they make a snack with mashed chickpeas. Armenia has a unique dish called topik, a chickpea and potato shell stuffed with a tahini mixture of currants, onions, olive oil, pine nuts and spices. 

An ancient fermented bread made with chickpeas and white wheat flour has made a comeback in Turkey. Emir Ayşe Özer and his colleagues at the Cukurova University Department of Food Engineering in Sarıçam / Adana described the process.

‘It was prepared in two stages. In the first stage chickpeas were coarse ground in a mortar and pestle and subsequently soaked with boiling water and some salt in a glass jar. The jars were incubated at 37-40 °C for 16-18 hours. In the second stage flour was added to obtain a dough. The dough was leavened and then cooked. The bread had a typical odor and taste.’

And of course chickpea flour, called gram flour in Asian countries, is incredibly versatile. In the Indian sub-continent it is used to make a popular savoury confection called gathia

That brings us back to the chickpea fritter.

Famous as street food in the shape of lozenges, rectangles and squares, these golden fritters are more than a snack, they are history and tradition. Called panellein Palermo, calentitaon the rock of Gibraltar and l‘oro di Pisa in Genoa, it is hard to believe that a mixture of four ingredients – chickpea flour, olive oil, salt and water – could be cooked differently to produce the same result.

In Palermo salted chickpea flour is mixed with sufficient water to make a thick batter, poured onto a flat surface to cool, cut into desired shapes and then fried in olive oil.

In Gibraltar two methods are employed. Some cooks use less water and put much more olive oil in the baking tray. Other cooks use a ratio of four parts water to one part flour (1 litre to 250 g) but finish the cooking under a grill to enhance the colour. The calentita are cut into squares, sprinkled with cumin seeds and served with harissa.

In Genoa the method is more precise, with roughly one third chickpea flour to water (for example, 900 ml water to 250 g / 300 g chickpea flour), left to soak for 12 hours, then seasoned with black pepper, salt and sesame oil. The mixture is poured onto a tray covered with a heavy layer of olive oil and baked in a hot oven for 50 minutes, until the edges take on a golden red colour.

Calentita chickpea fritters

Called calentita after the Castilian word caliente for hot, the chickpea fritters made on Gibraltar reflect the culinary origins of this street food, its journey around the Mediterranean basin and out into the world. The same recipe is used in Algeria and in south America. There are subtle differences, clearly all a matter of taste!
  • 1 litre water
  • 250 g chickpea flour
  • 30 ml olive oil (more if necessary)
  • 5 g cumin, ground (optional)
  • 5 g harissa (optional)
  • Salt, pinch

Sieve flour into a bowl, add water and salt. Rest mixture for at least 12 hours, stirring occasionally with a whisk to aerate the dough.

Pour the mixture with choice of amount of oil into high-sided baking trays, leave to rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

Bake for 45 minutes until it is golden brown on the surface.

Cut into pieces, sprinkle with ground cumin and serve with the harissa.

La Farinata de Ceci / L‘oro di Pisa chickpea flour fritters

Sea and serendipity created the Ligurian street food known as la farinata. Once upon a time over seven centuries ago it had a different name, the consequence of a storm in the Bay of Biscay following the battle of Meloria between the republics of Genoa and Pisa. Fed on chickpea gruel, the rowers of one ship cursed their luck when they realised their food supply of chickpea flour and olive oil had been contaminated with the salty water of the sea during the storm. Some hungry rowers ate the chickpea pulp, others could not stomach it and left it in their bowls. The following day, tempted by their increasing hunger, some rowers noticed that the pulp had hardened in the sun and was more palatable. Back on dry land the Genoese experimented with the accidental combination, baked it to a crisp and named it the ‘gold’ of Pisa. Later it became la farinata or la farinata de ceci although some Genoese call it faina de ceixi, from the local dialect.
  • 900 ml warm water
  • 250 g chickpea flour
  • 75 ml olive oil, for baking tray
  • 30 ml sesame oil
  • 10 g green pepper, ground
  • 5 g salt

Pour chickpea flour into a large bowl. Gradually add warm water. Whisk for three minutes to remove any lumps, cover and leave for 12 hours at room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 250ºC, and leave a baking tray, roughly 25 cm x 35 cm, to warm for 30 minutes. Spoon off the froth that rises to the surface of the chickpea mixture. Whisk, add seasonings and sesame oil.

Pour olive oil over the tray, followed by the chickpea mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 220ºC, bake for 50 minutes until the edges are golden-red and the surface is golden-brown.

Panelle chickpea fritters

For the Palermo touch, panelle should eaten in bread rolls with a squeeze of lemon.
  • 750 ml cold water
  • 300 ml vegetable oil
  • 250 g chickpea flour
  • 30 ml sesame oil
  • 10 g green pepper, ground
  • 5 g salt
  • 2 sheets of baking paper / parchment

Put chickpea flour in a large pot, whisk in water and seasonings. Bring heat up gently, stirring all the time until the mixtures starts to come away from the edges of the pot.

Pour the mixture onto the sheet of paper or parchment, cover with second sheet. Using a rolling pin roll into a very thin layer, around 3 mm.

Remove paper and cut dough into 5 cm squares.

Bring oil up to frying temperature, fry the squares until they begin to puff up and turn golden.

Dry panelle on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt.

Tarhana (cereal-vegetable-yoghurt powder)

Tarhana / Tarkhana TURKEY ARMENIA cereal-vegetable-yoghurt powder

Claimed by the Turks (Armenia has a slightly different version), tarhana (pronounced tra-hana) is a popular fermented cereal food associated with ancient Asian cooking and regarded as an essential source of proteins, minerals, acids and vitamins.

Cereal flour (wheat or corn or chickpea), yoghurt, yeast, onions, tomatoes, green peppers and red peppers, herbs and spices (from garlic, mint, thyme, dill, tarhana herb), and salt make up the ingredients, commercially and domestically.

The vegetables and spices are blended cooked or uncooked in sufficient water to make a paste. Some methods use commercial tomato, green and red pepper pastes. Flour, yeast and yoghurt are added to the paste to make a thick batter, which is kneaded daily and fermented over several days.

When the moisture has been reduced and the fermentation has slowed, the mixture is broken into pieces, then sun or oven dried. Finally it is ground into powder for use in soup or rolled into layers for a snack. In powder form it can be stored for up to three years without deterioration.

In Armenia and Turkey generations of experimental cooks have made tarhana a variable feast. Flavourings have been used to relieve the sour acidic yeasty taste. Mint is especially popular and garlic is revered, but the tarhana herb, a member of the parsley family, is the secret ingredient gradually being revealed.

Before food scientists realised that the yoghurt to flour ratio affected the taste and the quality, local cooks played with the amount of yoghurt and their results are reflected in the regional variations of tarhana made in the home. Scientists now argue that more yoghurt and the use of set yoghurt increases the nutritional benefits.

Traditionally tarhana was made without yeast. Despite the argument from the food scientists that the yeast-yoghurt formula increases the amount of beneficial lactic acid, many home cooks prefer to take their yeast from the air. 

Tarhana has never left the home, despite the advance of large-scale commercial production. Fermented in the cool of the kitchen, it is dried in the heat of the sun, packed with love and sent out to family and friends.

In Armenia it is called tarkhana, made with wheat and yoghurt in a 1:4 ratio, used in soup with oil and mint.

Several cooks also use cracked or crushed wheat as well as flour in the preparation of the fermentation batter. This would be known as the Greek method if the Turks did not argue that they have always used cracked wheat or bulgar, as they do on Cyprus, where the tarhana is culturally compromised by its Greek or Turkish origins.

Tarhana is the epitome of a popular traditional dish. When made into tarhana çorbasi, the easily digested Turkish thick creamy soup, it is consumed by all ages and desired by the poorly and sick, inevitably the clue to its longevity

Turkey’s popular dishes do not exist without a story to root them in the food culture. At the end of the day during Ramadan, the Sultan decided he should find a meal among the people. Disguised, he found a home where he was served a simple soup containing mutton pieces.

‘What meal is this?’ he asked.

‘Sultan, it is a darhane meal,’ said the host humbly, implying it was a ‘poor house’ meal.

The name gradually changed to tarhana.

Tarhana Çorbasi tarhana soup

More tarhana.
  • 700 ml water
  • 65 g tarhana powder

Mix the powder with some of the water to make a paste in a saucepan. Add the remaining water and bring gradually to a low boil, simmer for ten minutes. Serve with a small cube of butter in each bowl.

Gingerbread Architecture

From Rome to Radovljica

… the GINGERBREAD traditon …
At Lectar (gingerbread master) in Radovljica they have been making gingerbread
by hand since 1766. Gingerbread has been a Slovenian traditional food since the 1300s. Specialist gingerbread bakers appeared in the 19th century, when the tradition of giving gingerbread gifts became popular.

Gingerbread has been an established European food tradition for over 800 years. Known in Roman times as a vehicle for the exotic spices from the east, the tradition gradually spread to the rest of Europe.

Celebrated as a festive food, in the form of cakes, balls (and nuts) biscuits and pieces (used to make elaborate designs such as houses), gingerbread is whatever you want it to be. There is sufficient evidence to show that clever cooks took advantage of the myriad ingredients to produce big and small culinary masterpieces.

The base for gingerbread was honey (and still is in many countries) combined with a variation of six spices – cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pepper and ginger, dried and ground into a powder.

The clever cooks of Slovenia and Sweden in particular do not regard gingerbread as a mere food item. For them it is more, a warehouse of hard and soft biscuits to be erected and decorated, adorned with creams and icings and nuts and candied sweets. For them gingerbread and its adornments are bricks and slabs made with butter, cream, flour, honey or molasses, milk, nuts, peel, soda, spices and sugars, mortar and plaster made with butter, cream and sugar in much the same way that a real house is filled with beauty, creativity and love, a gingerbread house is filled with flavour, creativity and all things sweet and unctuous. 

Elsewhere in Europe gingerbreads are celebrated with creations that are simple, such as the spice nuts of the Netherlands, or with creations that are complicated, such as the gingerbread biscuits and cakes of Germany.

In Switzerland they make gingerbread without ginger!

It is there in the plateau below the Alps, bordering France and Germany, that the bakers continue to follow the older tradition by producing honey biscuits and pastries flavoured with spices.

These honey gingerbreads tend to be made in all shapes and sizes, and none taste the same. Each baker uses recipes passed from the generations but are fond of a tweak now and again. They also follow the tradition of using potash (calcium carbonate) instead of bicarbonate of soda to put air into their gingerbread creations. What elevates their gingerbread onto a different level is their deliberate choice of fresh ingredients. The quality of honey is the difference between a piece of gingerbread with a depth of flavour so strong you can taste the forest and one that is inferior. This also explains why their gingerbread bears are expensive.

Gingerbread Cake ENGLAND 

This is an old English recipe adapted from the imperial measurements. Moisture is the secret to the success of these spongy gingerbread cakes, so expect to make several attempts to get it exactly right. We used Chinese stem ginger soaked in syrup. The flour is soft wheat anything around type 450.
  • 450 g white wheat flour, sieved
  • 336 g syrup
  • 284 g milk
  • 225 g ginger nuts, chopped small
  • 225 g brown sugar
  • 175 g orange, juice and grated rind
  • 170 g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 15 g ginger powder
  • 12 g baking powder
  • Tip of knife bicarbonate of soda
  • 5 g salt

Line three loaf tins with greaseproof paper and scatter ginger pieces along the bottom of each tin. In a saucepan melt the butter, syrup and sugar over a low heat. Grate the orange rind into the butter mixture, add the juice and leave to cool. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the baking powder, ginger powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the egg to the milk. Use an electronic whisk or mixer to combine all the ingredients. Divide the batter between the three tins. Preheat oven to 180ºC on the fan, put tins in oven. Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 170ºC for ten minutes. Test with a small knife or skewer, if it comes out clean the cakes are ready. Allow to cool in the tins.

Pepparkakor SWEDEN gingersnaps

Crispy pepparkakor are known in Europe as gingersnaps despite being more like ginger breads than ginger biscuits. Another product of the monastic life, pepparkakor got their name because ground ginger was believed to be a member of the pepper family. They made a good travelling food, eventually making their way into Sweden in the 13th century. Adopted as a traditional treat, they became associated with Saint Lucia during the end of year festivities. Originally made with flour, honey and ginger, they evolved to include cinnamon and cloves, raising agents and softeners like butter and cream. The round shape gave way to numerous shapes, from christmas trees to hearts and stars, while the old rounds and squares were made thicker to be used as building blocks for the construction of gingerbread houses. The gingersnap was flavoured with all kinds of spice, fruit essence and coated with icing. They are crushed in cheesecakes and trifles, served with cream cheese and smoked salmon and stacked with cream fillings. Gradually the recipe evolved, molasses or syrup or treacle, butter, egg and sugar replaced the honey, and other spices were added.
  • 350 g white wheat pastry flour
  • 125 g honey
  • 125 g butter
  • 100 g almonds, ground
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 15 g cinnamon, ground
  • 15 g ginger, ground
  • 10 g cloves, ground
  • 5 g baking powder

Melt butter, honey and sugar over a low heat for ten minutes, add spices, bring to the boil, leave to cool. Pour into a large bowl, whisk in the egg. Sieve the baking powder, flour and ground almonds into the bowl, work into a dough. Cut into four pieces, refrigerate for an hour. Roll first piece on a floured surface as thin as possible, without letting the dough break. Cut into rounds, about 80 pieces. Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays. Repeat until dough is used up. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Bake each tray for 10 minutes. Cool pieces on a wire rack.

Pepparkakor modern version

Cream or milk started to replace butter, ginger came to the fore, soda was used to give the biscuits a lift and the dough was rested before rolling.
  • 500 g white wheat pastry flour
  • 150 ml cream, whipped
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 100 g golden syrup / molasses
  • 30 g ginger, ground
  • 10 g baking soda
  • 5 g white pepper, ground

In a large bowl add the sugar to the cream, fold in the molasses or syrup, then the ginger and soda. Sieve flour into the mixture, refrigerate for eight hours. Cut dough into six pieces. Roll first piece on a floured surface as thin as possible. Cut into rounds or squares, about 80 pieces. Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays. Repeat until dough is used up. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Bake each tray for 12 minutes. Cool pieces on a wire rack.

Kruidnootjes NETHERLANDS ginger nuts

A freshly ground sweet spice mix is the starting point for these aromatic nuts. It can be bought ready packaged but home grinding and grating whole spices gives a fresh kick to these nuts. Traditionally the spice mix is 2:1 cinnamon to each of cloves, ginger and nutmeg with a lesser amount of white pepper. Intrepid bakers also use cardamom, coriander, fennel and anise.
  • 250 g flour
  • 125 g brown sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 45 ml milk
  • 15 g traditional spice mix (speculaas)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Salt, large pinch

Sieve flour and baking powder into a large bowl, mix in spices and salt. Add sugar, cut in the butter, the milk, one tablespoon at a time until the dough is firm but soft. 

Rest dough for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Cut the dough into 10 g pieces, roll into balls and place on a lightly buttered baking tray. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, shorter for softer nuts.

Kruidnootjes are part of the tradition associated with the spiced moulded biscuits produced on Saint Nicholas Day – known as speculaas in Belgium and the Netherlands, spekulatius in Germany.

Lebkuchen GERMANY gingerbreads

These gingerbreads are neither one thing nor the other anymore. Traditionally made into a sticky dough with candied fruit, eggs, nuts, honey and spices, and associated with Nürnberg (in 1643 the city’s gingerbread bakers formed a guild), lebkuchen are baked throughout alpine Europe, with countless variations that have nothing in common. Even the traditional spice mix is missing from some versions. Other versions omit ginger, some are known to contain cream, and several use spelt instead of wheat flour. This version remains faithful to the honey, nut and spice content. It includes all of the spices that were known to 11th century bakers, and suggests the wild flower honey that made them irresistible to children of all ages through the generations.


  • 255 g sugar
  • 215 g hazelnuts fine ground 
  • 180 g (3) eggs
  • 80 g forest / wildflower honey
  • 60 g spelt flour
  • 50 g candied lemon peel, chopped small 
  • 50 g orange, zest
  • 25 g walnuts, chopped small
  • 45 g vanilla sugar
  • 10 g candied ginger, chopped small


  • 4 g cinnamon, ground
  • 3 g allspice, ground
  • 3 g ginger, ground
  • 1 g anise, ground
  • 1 g baking powder
  • 1 g cardamom, ground
  • 1 g cloves, ground
  • 1 g coriander, ground
  • 1 g nutmeg, ground


  • 65 g icing sugar
  • 10 ml kirsch / brandy
  • 10 ml red wine

Blend eggs and sugar into a froth, add remaining ingredients and leave to rest overnight. Spoon 80 g of the mixture into 12 moulds. Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes. Leave to cool, then apply the glaze.

Basler Läckerli SWITZERLAND gingerbread biscuits

The Basler Läckerli is a small, rectangular gingerbread biscuit (without the ginger), thin glazed and dusted with icing, a much harder bite than the Belgian and Dutch variety. It is one of several Swiss variations of gingerbread that began when oriental spices arrived in 11th century monasteries. Läckerli is believed to mean ‘to lick’.
  • 700 g flour
  • 20 g baking powder or 10 g potash
  • 500 g liquid honey
  • 300 g sugar
  • 30 g cinnamon, ground
  • 15 g clove, ground
  • 15 g nutmeg, grated
  • Cardamom, pinch
  • 100 g almonds and hazelnuts, chopped
  • 100 g lemon and orange candied peel, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 150 ml kirsch
  • Glaze (100 ml water to 150 g sugar); icing sugar

Bring honey and sugar slowly to a boil, simmer until sugar dissolves, cool. Mix nuts, peel and spices with the zest and kirsch. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, gradually adding the honey syrup and the nut paste. Knead into a pliable dough.

If using potash, mix with cherry brandy.

Rest overnight.

Roll the dough out to a depth of roughly 6mm onto two greased parchment sheets, place on baking trays making sure the dough is evenly distributed all around.

Rest for an hour.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Make the glaze and apply evenly, dust with icing sugar.

Cut into 5 x 5cm rectangles.

Making a large batch is worth the effort. Kept in air-tight containers they will stay fresh for several months, slices of apple will soften them.

Läckerli are broken into pieces and dissolved slowly in the mouth. 

Replace wheat flour with rye flour to get the authentic 17th century version.

Older recipes use more almonds, usually the same amount as the sugar.

Many homes added milk to the mixture, at a ratio equal to the honey and flour, the milk mixed with the honey. Some homes added eggs, mixing them with the sugar.

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Around the World in 80 Legendary Dishes 80 stories, 80 recipes
Balls & Burgers 90 recipes
Blue Window | Alpine Recipes and Stories 100 stories, 125 recipes
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Catch of the Day 25 fishes, 225 recipes
Fricot Traditional Tastes of Europe 60 ingredients, 60 regions, 360 recipes
Fricot Traditional Tastes of Switzerland 50 stories, 225 recipes
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Aromatic Cheeses of Europe 50 traditional cheeses, 125 recipes
Abundance: Food Travels in Old Savoy 100 stories, 125 recipes
Beans & Legumes 90 recipes
Bowl and Cup | The Soup Tradition 90 recipes
Cauldron: Fish Chowders, Soups and Stews 90 recipes
Chocolate Curiosities 90 recipes
Cooked Cured and Curdled | The Story of Traditional Food in Europe
Ears, Strings and Tubes: The Pasta Dilemma 125 recipes
Food Artisans of Europe 24 artisans | 24 countries | 24 stories, 50 recipes
Food Cities of Europe 75 cities, 75 stories, 150 recipes
The Fabulous Food of the Po Valley: Food Travels in Italy 125 recipes
Traditional Tastes of Poland 50 stories, 225 recipes
Fricot Traditional Tastes of Slovenia 50 stories, 225 recipes
People Place Produce | Sustainable Food Security for the 21st Century
The Bread with Holes & other Crusty Stories
Well Dug: From Boxty to Rösti 125 recipes


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Legendary Dishes | Champignons avec de l’huile d’olive et l’ail (white mushrooms in olive oil)

Champignons avec de l’huile d’olive et l’ail FRANCE white mushrooms in olive oil

This is a salad tradition that is slowly dying out – sliced Parisien (white) mushrooms in olive oil and garlic.

  • 250 g white mushrooms, sliced
  • 250 ml olive oil
  • 2 garlic bulbs, peeled and crushed

Soak mushrooms in garlic and oil for two days, drain oil and serve on a bed of crispy lettuce.

Legendary Dishes | Flæskesteg med Rødkål Smørrebrød (roast pork and red cabbage open sandwich)

Flæskesteg med Rødkål Smørrebrød DENMARK roast pork and red cabbage open sandwich

When each member of the smørrebrød family is presented in an array, they provide a perfect glimpse into Denmark’s culinary traditions, past and present. Among these are flæskesteg (roast pork) and rødkål (red cabbage). Together on dark rye bread they epitomise Danish food, crispy and crunchy. Flæskesteg med rødkål og brunede kartofler (roast pork with crispy crackling and red cabbage with caramelised potatoes) is one of Denmark’s signature dishes. It usually comes topped with cucumber slices, orange slices and halved prunes.

Legendary Dishes | Flæskesteg med rødkål og brunede kartofler (roast pork with red cabbage and browned potatoes)

Flæskesteg med Rødkål og Brunede Kartofler DENMARK roast pork with red cabbage and carmelised potatoes


  • 2 kg pork, boned rolled collar/shoulder with thick skin
  • 2 large onions, halved crosswise
  • 25 g salt

Preheat oven to 190°C. Lay pork on onions in a deep baking tray. Cook for two and a half hours. Once the pork is in the oven, prepare the red cabbage and potatoes.

Red Cabbage – 1

  • 2 kg red cabbage, chopped into small pieces
  • 8 cooking apples, cored, cut into large chunks
  • 300 ml red wine/cranberry juice
  • 300 g wild berry jam
  • 180 ml sunflower oil
  • 60 ml balsamic/wine vinegar
  • 50 g butter
  • 45 g cumin seeds
  • 15 g nutmeg, grated
  • 10 g seasalt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • Pepper, large pinch

Pour oil into a large deep pot and sauté cabbage for five minutes over a low heat, stirring constantly.

Fold in the apple, coating the pieces with the oily cabbage, cook for ten minutes.

Turn heat to high, add wine or juice, vinegar and jam. Bring to the boil.

Stir, reduce heat to low, add spices and simmer for two hours uncovered, until the cabbage is soft with still some bite in it.

Add butter, cover and leave to melt, about five minutes.

Red Cabbage – 2

  • 2 kg red cabbage, chopped into small pieces
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 125 ml currant juice
  • 100 ml vinegar
  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g oil
  • 15 g pepper
  • 10 g salt

Pour oil into a large deep pot, add butter and sauté cabbage for ten minutes over a low heat, stirring constantly.

Turn heat to high, add juice, vinegar and wine. Bring to the boil.

Stir, reduce heat to low, add seasonings and simmer for two hours uncovered, until the cabbage is soft with still some bite in it.

Red Cabbage – 3

  • 2 kg red cabbage, chopped into small pieces
  • 8 cooking apples, cored, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 450 ml orange juice
  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g oil
  • 50 ml vinegar
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Pepper, large pinch

Pour oil into a large deep pot, add butter and sauté cabbage for ten minutes over a low heat, stirring constantly.

Fold in the apple, coating the pieces with the oily cabbage, cook for ten minutes.

Turn heat to high, add wine or juice and vinegar. Bring to the boil.

Stir, reduce heat to low, add seasonings and simmer for two hours uncovered, until the cabbage is soft with still some bite in it.

Carmelised Potatoes – 1

  • 1 kg small potatoes, whole
  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g sugar

Parboil potatoes. Leave to cool and dry off.

Heat sugar over a high heat for three minutes until it dissolves, add butter to make a syrup, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. 

Add potatoes and quickly carmelise in the syrup. 

Serve with crackling, pork meat, gravy and sweetened red cabbage.

Carmelised Potatoes – 2

  • 1 kg small potatoes, whole
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 50 g butter

Parboil potatoes. Leave to cool and dry off.

Heat sugar over a medium heat for five minutes, add butter and stir with a wooden spoon. 

When the butter is amalgated and the mixture is bubbling gently into a foam, add potatoes, coat completely, turn up heat and brown, constantly turning, about three minutes.

This method produces softer brown potatoes.

Serve with crackling, pork meat, gravy and sweetened red cabbage.

Legendary Dishes | Sun over Gudhjem Smørrebrød (smoked herring open sandwich)

Sun over Gudhjem Smørrebrød DENMARK smoked herring open sandwich

One of the most iconic members of the family is Sun Over Gudhjem, after the Bornholm island town where the silvery-white herrings of the Baltic sea are transformed into golden fish by the smoking process, ‘the gold from the sea’.

Sun Over Gudhjem is made with a slice of rye bread, two smoked herrings, chives, radish and a fresh raw egg yolk on top, the aforementioned sun.

But there is only one place to taste this delicious treat and that is on Bornholm. Despite its location midway between Poland and Sweden in the Baltic sea it is relatively easy to get there, two and a half hours by bus from Copenhagen.

Smørrebrød pieces embrace the entire culinary range of Danish foods – fish, meats, vegetables with dressings, seasonings and toppings – and this isn’t the place to list the myriad ingredients or discuss the rapid changes in recent years that have seen the re-emergence of this Danish institution with the emphasis on fresh, local food by imaginative cooks and chefs.

Af Ole Troelsø’s The Insider Guide to Smørrebrød is a better place to start.

Legendary Dishes | Leverpostejmad Smørrebrød (liver paste open sandwich)

Leverpostejmad Smørrebrød DENMARK liver paste open sandwich

Buttered bread (the literal meaning of smørrebrød) is an inadequate term for these high-topped luncheon enterprises, but one branch of the family sits nicely with the concept of a simple open-faced sandwich. Butter is lavishly spread on a thick slice of rye bread, followed by a sprinkling of salt and a thick layer of liver paste. After that the choice of modest toppings is personal. Danes choose a combination of cucumber, fried bacon, fried onions, lemon, lettuce, mushrooms, pickled beetroot, pickled gherkins, red pepper, salted meat, savoury jelly. Leverpostej was among the first smørrebrød pieces in the late 19th century and it remains popular.

Legendary Dishes | Pane Toscano (unsalted Tuscan bread)

Pane Toscano ITALY unsalted Tuscan bread

Pane Toscano should be made with type 0 flour, from soft wheat containing the germ.

  • 1 kg flour
  • 550 ml water
  • 200 g biga
  • 30 g sourdough
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Mix and knead ingredients for at least 20 minutes. Leave to rise covered for an hour. Dough temperature should be 25°C.

Shape into large rectangular loaves with rounded corners between 450 g and 550 g.

Rest for two and a half hours, degas twice, remove to baking tray after last folding.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Bake for 25 minutes until the crust is dark brown.

The crumb should be ivory-white. There should be a toasted hazelnuts aroma about the bread.

Legendary Dishes | Dalmatian Pašticada (sweet pot beef)

Pot Beef Slices in Aromatic Sweet Sauce
Dalmatian Pašticada CROATIA MONTENEGRO sweet pot beef

Every June a festival is held in Petrovac on the Montenegrin section of the Dalmatian coast. The event is a celebration of pašticada, a traditional dish insanely popular with the inhabitants of this stunning coastline, served free with several other coastal specialities.

Along the Dalmatian coast the method of flavouring the beef differs slightly, but the sauce is generally made with prunes and raisins, occasionally with figs. Prosek, the Balkan sherry wine, is another essential indigenous ingredient. 

For Split travel guide Pero Milos pašticada was integral to his young life. Prepared for carnival, for weddings and for New Year’s Eve since the mid-20th century, the cut of meat for pašticada varied along the Croatian Dalmatian coast. In Split pašticada is part of brunch (ten o’clock to noon) and made with beef fillet is simply delicious. Generally it is made with the rump or the silverside.

There are similarities between pašticada and the sauerbraten, the soured beef of Bavaria. Pašticada is different because it is sweet, although some versions are sweet and sour!

  • 2 kg beef fillet / leg / loin / rump / silverside
  • 350 ml water
  • 250 ml red wine vinegar
  • 200 g pancetta fingers / prosciutto slices, rolled into a cigar shape
  • 6 garlic cloves, halved
  • 6 rosemary sprigs
  • 6 cloves

Make deep cuts at each end of the beef, stuff with pancetta or prosciutto. Make shallow cuts in the body of the beef, insert garlic halves. Puncture the beef with cloves and rosemary. Place in a deep bowl, add vinegar and water to completely soak the beef. Cover and leave to marinate for at least 24 hours, 48 hours is better.

Finish 1
  • 100 g raisins
  • 60 ml marinade liquid
  • 6 figs, dried, chopped

Soak the raisins and figs in the marinade for eight hours.

Finish 2 
  • 300 g onions, sliced
  • 300 celeriac, grated
  • 300 g carrots, grated
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped small
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 10 g mustard powder

Pour four tablespoons of oil into a deep pot (slightly larger than the piece of beef), gently fry the carrot, celery, celeriac and onions. When the vegetables have reduced stir mustard power into the mixture. The pot should have a steam hole to allow a slow evaporation of the cooking liquid.

Finish 3
  • 2 kg marinaded beef
  • 30 ml olive oil

Remove the beef from the vinegar, strain vinegar into a bowl. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan, brown the beef on all sides.

Finish 4
  • {browned, marinaded beef}
  • {fried vegetables}
  • 500 ml beef broth / bouillon made with 30 g Vegeta
  • 500 g red grapes
  • 150 ml prune juice
  • 60 ml marinade liquid (optional)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Nutmeg, large pinch

Carefully place the browned beef into the pot with the fried vegetables, add the broth or bouillon, grapes, prune juice and, if a sour taste is required, some of the marinade liquid. Cook over a low heat for two hours.

Finish 5 
  • {soaked fruit}
  • 250 g prunes, stoned
  • 100 ml Prosek (dessert wine) / sherry / red wine
  • 100 g sour apple, cored, peeled, chopped
  • 30 g tomato concentrate / puree
  • 15 g honey

Add the soaked fruit and their liquid, the prunes and apple. Gradually bring up the heat. Add the wine. Cook for 30 minutes, adding the tomato concentrate and honey after 25 minutes. When the beef is starting to fall apart, the pašticada is ready. 

Finish 6
  • Cooking mixture

Remove the beef from the pot, leave to rest covered with foil for ten minutes. Meanwhile blend the cooking mixture into sauce. Cut the beef into thick slices, serve with the sauce. Pašticada is traditionally served with gnocchi.

Country Profile | Albania

Despite Ottoman influence that is still evident today and more recent Greek, Italian and Turkish methods, Albanian traditional food remains faithful to ancient origins, as far back as the Illyrians, based on meat, dairy, fruit, legume, nut and vegetable products and in quixotic techniques of food processing and cooking.

Lesley Blanch tells the story of a ‘bandit’ hiding out in the mountains whose favourite food was honeyed potatoes. Simple yet pleasurable, yet only part of the story. Albania has always been famed for its honey and the rural innocence of its produce.

A largely mountainous country, the equal rural-urban split among its three millon population has allowed those traditions to re-emerge in the early decades of the 21st century, so much that Albania is seen as a country with a diverse culinary heritage that should be celebrated and developed. 

Meat from unique breeds of calves, goats, lambs and pigs is used in numerous traditional preparations, from gammon to salami, and specifically in the closed-pen and spit-roasting methods of cooking various cuts. Wood-fired ovens remain popular, despite modernity.

Although traditional recipes have survived into the modern era, there is a genuine fear that many recipes have already been lost. Chefs Rajmond Çomanaj and Tefta Pajenga are concerned, to the extent that Çomanaj issued a plea to his country people to look out for old cookbooks and Pajenga highlighted regional traditional recipes on her TV show.

Pajenga said the tendency to combine foreign foods with native foods was a development that could not be stopped. Many recipes now deemed traditional were once foreign. The Ottoman pastries called byrek are a domestic treasure, a street food desired by the young who take great delight in seeing anything, savoury, sour or sweet, put into the filling. 

The feta (white cheese) and spinach filling is popular throughout the region because it is traditional to the Balkan region, but it is obvious that the pies made in Albania are unique to their area, like the shapkat of the south, which is made with cornmeal, curd cheese and spinach or leek.

Nowhere is that old Ottoman influence apparent than in the choice of confections, particularly with byrek, hallva and kadaif, and in the use of rice and yoghurt in numerous traditional preparations.


Almond + Apple + Apricot + Aubergine / Eggplant + Bay / Laurel + Basil + Bean + Beef + Berry + Cabbage + Carp + Celery + Cherry + Chestnut + Corn / Maize + Dairy + Duck + Eel + Fig + Game + Garlic + Goat / Kid + Goose + Grape + Green Bean + Honey + Lamb + Lemon + Marjoram + Melon / Watermelon + Mint + Mullet + Octopus + Okra + Olive + Onion + Orange + Parsley + Peach + Pear + Perch + Plum + Potato + Poultry (egg and meat) + Pumpkin / Squash + Red Cherry + Red Pepper (paprika) + Rosemary + Sea Bass + Sole + Spinach + Squid / Cuttlefish + Tomato + Trout + Turkey + Veal + Walnut + Wheat + Wild Boar + Wild Plants



Ajvar red pepper sauce

Ballokume Elbasan cornmeal biscuits

Birjan chicken / lamb and baked rice

Bukë me Miell Misri corn bread

Bukëfiqe dried fig dessert

Burani me Spinaq (dhe Mish) whole rice with spinach

Byrek filled pastry 

Byrek me Kos e Djathë të Bardhë white cheese-yoghurt pastry 

Byrek me Kungull pumpkin pastry

Byrek me Mish (Mesnik) meat pastry

Byrek me Spinaq spinach pastry

Çervish aromatic sauce with chicken / dumplings

Djath i Bardhë white cheese

Djath Kaçkavall yellow cheese

Fërgesa Tirana Tirana stew

Filetë Pule me Rroshnica chicken with garlic-flavoured dumpling grains

Gjel Deti me Përshesh turkey with bread mash

Gliko Fiku të Egër wild figs in syrup

Gliko Portokalli oranges in syrup

Gurabie cakes

Hallva sweet walnut paste

Hallvasi almond-sesame seed honey paste

Harapash Mëmëlikë lamb liver with cornmeal

Hasude me Arra nut dessert

Jahni stew

Japrak stuffed grape / vine leaves

Jufka Dibre me Pulë chicken with Dibra noodles

Jufka Shtepie home-made filo pasta

Kabuni me Rrush të Thatë sweet rice with raisins

Kaçamak cornmeal mash 

Kadaif sweet walnut pastries

Kapama me Filetë Viçi beef fillet of Kapama

Kofshë Pule me Tërhan të Ëmbël chicken with wheat grains

Kos me Mjaltë Voskopoje yoghurt with honey Voskopoja

Krap në Tavë carp casserole

Kulaç cheese yoghurt scones

Kulloshtër pasture pie

Mantija meat parcels

Mëlçisë të Skuqur fried liver

Meze appetisers

Mish i Pjekur në Hell spit-roasted meat

Mish Qengji me Salcë Limoni lamb with lemon sauce

Musaka me Patate potato-meat bake

Paçe lamb’s head soup

Patate të Pjekura baked potatoes

Patate të Mjaltit honey potatoes

Patëllxhanë të Mbushur stuffed aubergine with cheese topping

Pelte me Mjaltë e Arra jelly with honey and nuts

Petanik të Korça bean pie of Korça

Petulla fried dough balls / pancakes

Pispili me Presh cornmeal-leek pie

Pispili me Spinaq cornmeal-spinach pie

Pogaçe Vakti yoghurt breads

Pulë me Arra chicken with nut sauce

Pulë me Qull chicken cooked in cornmeal-garlic sauce

Qahitë të Çamëria layered buttered pastries of Çamëria

Qeshqek me Pulë cracked wheat risotto with chicken

Qingj në Hell skewered lamb

Qofte meatballs

Qofte me Oriz-Qifqi Gjirokastre egg-rice balls

Qumështor me Miell Misri cornmeal-milk pie

Raki grape / plum liqueur

Revani Berati me Miell Misri corn meal dessert of Berat

Shapkat cornmeal, white cheese and leek / spinach pie

Shurupi i Thanës red cherry syrup

Speca të Mbushura stuffed peppers

Sultjash rice pudding

Supë me Qofte meatballs in soup

Supë Pule me Arra chicken and walnut soup

Tasqebap fried beef

Tavë Dheu beef casserole of Tirana

Tavë Dheu Pikante spicy sausage casserole with olives and peppers 

Tavë Korani (koran) trout casserole

Tavë Kosi lamb and yoghurt casserole

Tavë me Kumbulla Shahine lamb with plums

Tavë me Mish Qengji dhe Qumësht lamb and milk casserole

Tavë me Pllaqi e Mish Viçi bean and beef casserole

Tavë me Speca dhe Patëllxhanë aubergine and peppers casserole

Tavë me Speca të Mbushur stuffed peppers casserole

Të Brëndshme të Qengji fried lamb offal

Trahana sun-dried fermented wheat and sour milk / yoghurt

Turli meat and / or vegetable stew



aromatic sauce with chicken / dumplings

Traditionally this sauce is made with trahana powder, from fermented young wheat and sour milk or yoghurt, and can also be made with cornmeal or white wheat flour but each reacts differently. The trahana and wheat flours produce a sauce, the cornmeal produces a mash. The choice is left to the cook. Usually chicken is cooked in a sauce, while meatballs made with beef are cooked with the cornmeal to produce a mash.


  • 1.5 kg chicken legs and thighs, separated
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • Oil, for greasing

Season the chicken pieces. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry, in batches, the legs and thighs until they are thoroughly browned. Place the chicken in a greased baking tray. 


  • 500 g beef mince
  • 100 g cornmeal, fine ground
  • 1 egg
  • 45 g butter
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt

Combine the minced meat with the seasonings, add the cornmeal, knead until the fat starts to separate and then add the egg to form a loose dough. Shape into 50 g balls. Heat the butter and gently brown the meatballs. Place the meatballs in a greased baking tray. 


  • 300 ml butter / sour cream
  • 150 g trahana powder / cornmeal, ground fine
  • 150 ml water
  • 10 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 45 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 10 g black pepper
  • 10 g red pepper flakes
  • 5 g salt

Prepare the chicken or meatballs. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the trahana or cornmeal and stir, using a wooden spoon, until the mixture takes on some colour. Add the garlic, cook for a few minutes. Turn heat to low, stir in the vinegar and gradually add the butter or sour cream. If using cornmeal add sufficient water to form a sauce, a little less for the trahana. Season with the black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring the heat up but do not boil. Pour the sauce into the baking tray with the chicken or meatballs. Bake for 40 minutes.

fried liver

  • 500 g lamb liver, cut into 6 cm x 1 cm strips
  • 4 tbsp (60 g) white wheat flour
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram

Sieve the flour into a large bowl, add marjoram, red pepper flakes and salt. Dredge liver in the flour, shake off excess flour and divide into two batches. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Start frying first batch of liver. After a few minutes, when the liver turns colour, add a tablespoon of oil and fry until the strips are crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with second batch. Serve with onion salad. 

sautéed beef / lamb / veal with onions

There are subtle differences between the food cultures of Albania and Kosovo, which are more obvious with dishes that are regarded as traditionally Albanian, stews being among those where the ingredients dictate the content and method. This slow-cooked meat and onion stew is one of them. In Albania it is made with meat (usually lamb), onions, tomatoes, usually in the form of a paste, and a hint of paprika, whereas in Kosovo beef is preferred, red wine will replace tomato pasta and the hand that holds the paprika will have a heavy shake.
  • 2 kg onions, chopped small
  • 2 kg beef / lamb / veal, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 250 ml water
  • 90 g butter 
  • 60 ml red wine / tomato paste
  • 45 ml olive oil 
  • 30 g paprika
  • 15 g salt
  • 5 g cinnamon, ground
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Black pepper, pinch 

Put the chopped onions into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, toss and leave covered for an hour. Heat oil in a frying pan, brown meat in batches, place in a large pot with the onions, butter and water. Deglaze the frying pan with wine, add to pot. Bring to a low boil, add bay leaves, cinnamon and half of the paprika. Cover and cook over a low heat for 90 minutes, add remaining paprika, cook for an hour until the meat is tender. Serve with potatoes or with rice.

fried dough balls / pancakes

These delicacies have a schizophrenic existence. They exist as a batter and are fried as pancakes or they exist as a dough and are deep-fried as balls. The ingredients remain the same – flour, milk, yoghurt and sugar usually with an egg. They can be leavened with baking soda or yeast, and they can be unleavened. Butter is used in some versions. Sweet paprika will give a spicy hint. And lemon, as essence and zest, will add a depth of flavour. Vegetables are grated into the mixture and cheese is a popular topping.
  • 200 g white wheat flour, t00 (for batter) / 425 g white wheat flour, t00 (for dough)
  • 200 ml whole milk, warmed in 30 g vanilla sugar
  • 125 g yogurt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 10 g sweet paprika 
  • 10 g yeast, dissolved in vanilla-milk
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Combine the beaten egg and yoghurt, whisk in the yeast mixture and add to flour (for batter or dough). Leave the dough for an hour, the batter for 30 minutes. Add sufficient oil to cover a heavy-based frying pan, make the pancakes to the size of your choice. Cut the dough into 25 g pieces, shape into balls, deep-fry. Serve the pancakes with fruit, honey, jam or jelly, or with a combination. Dust the balls with icing sugar, serve hot.

cornmeal, cheese and leek / spinach pie

  • 1.5 litres whole milk
  • 1 kg leek, sliced thin / spinach, chopped
  • 400 g cornmeal
  • 250 g + 60 g white cheese, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 2 scallions / spring onions
  • 30 g butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt

If making the leek version, simmer the leeks in the milk over a low heat for 15 minutes, drain the milk, leave leeks and milk to cool. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Whisk the egg, oil and milk, add seasonings. Fold in the cornmeal, the leeks or spinach and spring onions, finally the bulk of the cheese. Grease a baking tray with the butter. Spoon mixture into the tray, top with remaining cheese. Bake for 60 minutes.



Albania Traditional Cuisine from Albania Tourism first appeared in the early years of the 21st century and quickly went through various drafts. Albanian Cooking, published in 1997, is now out of print. 


Shije is an interesting portal into Albanian cooking. It features some of the country’s traditional foods with reinterpretations that reflect the diversity of the produce and the imagination of the domestic cook. In 2018 there were 135 variations of traditional recipes. It also features interpretations of recipes from neighbouring countries, and variations of classic traditional cuisine from the world.