Makes 2 individual meringues or 1 meringue tower

For the meringue

6 large egg whites

300g caster sugar

1⁄2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

60g toasted chopped hazelnuts

For the filling

200ml cream

150g mascarpone

4 tbsp icing sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of third of the lemon

For the berry coulis

200g strawberries

200g raspberries

75g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Arrowroot to thicken

To decorate

100g blueberries

150g raspberries

150g strawberries, sliced

Edible flowers, lemon balm and a few sprigs of rosemary, to finish

For the meringues: Preheat the oven to 120°C/fan 100°C/gas 1. Line 2 x 23cm loose base springform tins with parchment paper.

Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl, whisk until stiff but not dry. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Beat in the vanilla, the cream of tartar and most of the chopped hazelnuts.

Divide the meringue mixture into the two tins ensuring they are level on top, scatter the remaining hazelnuts over and place into the preheated oven.

Bake for 2 hours until set. When they’re done, leave them in the oven with the oven door slightly open so that the meringues can cool.

For the coulis

Place the strawberries and raspberries into a saucepan with sugar. Set over a medium heat. Crush with a wooden spoon or fork until the sugar has dissolved & the berries broken down. As this point, taste and add a little more sugar, depending on the acidity of the berries. Strain through a sieve, then return to the saucepan, adding in the zest of lemon and thickening lightly with the arrowroot (the arrowroot get mixed with a little cold water and then added to the coulis and heated through). Set aside and allow to cool fully

For the cream filling, whisk the cream, mascarpone, lemon zest, juice and icing sugar until firm peaks. Then swirl in about 1/4 of the coulis (keeping some pink streaks in the cream mix).

To assemble as two separate meringues: place each on a serving platter, spoon the berry cream mix over, top generously with the fresh fruit and decorate with the fresh herbs and edible flowers.

To assemble as a tower, place the meringue layer on a cake stand, spoon the whisked mascarpone cream into a piping bag and cut off the tip about 2cm up. Pipe around the edge and then fill in the centre. Mix the berries together and arrange some on the edge and more in the centre so that they are level and that the cake will be level when you add the next meringue layer on top.

Once you have the second layer on, arrange the remaining berries and edible flowers hazelnuts on top and place in the fridge for about an hour for the flavours to meld. Then serve and enjoy

Serve the remaining coulis on the side.

Tip: the tidiest method to drizzle the coulis is to fill a disposable piping bag and snip a tiny piece from the tip, thus giving a light drizzle for decorating.

Ingredients

7 Bramley Apples

6 tsp soft brown sugar

6 tsp golden raisins

Chopped pecan nuts

3 egg whites

190 g caster sugar

Note Instead of raisins and sugar you could fill the apples with Apple Jelly

Method

Peel and core the apples. Place sugar, raisins and pecans in the hollow. Place apples in a baking dish, add a small amount of water to the bottom. Bake in oven 160 degrees 25/30 mins Approx.
Whisk egg whites on own until stiff gradually add the sugar, continue beating. Allow apples to cool slightly then top with egg white. Bake in oven at 170 degrees for 10 to 15mins until golden.

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Snowy mountain apple

Pedestrian Bridge

A pedestrian bridge dominates the Drava River. It is one of the most notable symbols of Osijek.The bridge was opened in 1981. It was designed by Mostgradnja, a Belgrade-based company. From 1981 to 1991, the bridge was named “Youth Bridge” (Croatian: Most mladosti). In 1991, the bridge was renamed to current name. It was damaged in the Croatian War of Independence, during the Battle of Osijek, and underwent repair in 1993. In 2007, the bridge was completely renovated. 

Old Town Tvrđa & City Walls

The Old Town Tvrđa

It’s the most popular monumental display that attracts many tourists. Tvrđa has its own history which dates since the 17th century. It was owned by the Habsburgs, Ottomans, Slavonians, and Hungarians. Tvrđa is a complex of historical buildings, and you can visit 2 of 3 museums of Osijek there. Two are located on the main square of Tvrđa (Trg Svetog Trojstva), Museum of Slavoniaand Archaeological Museum. 

The City Walls

At the far end of Tvrđa, alongside the river Drava, are the old city walls of Osijek. This Hapsburg fort, which was the largest and most advanced on the border with the Ottoman Empire, is an extremely impressive sight from the banks of the river.

Swept up into the turmoil of war, Osijek became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1526. However the town was liberated on Friday, November 29th 1687, at 11 a.m and In the early 18th century, the newly rebuilt churches started ringing their bells in memory of the happy moment, and they still do today, on friday’s at 11 as if it was noon.

Wine Tasting in Tvrdja 

From all sides the city of Osijek is surrounded by vast vineyards on the Danube river and on the slopes of Papuk mountain, where some of the most famous, largest and oldest (13th, 15th and 16th century) Croatian and even regional wineries produce their golden wine drops. But on the other hand, there are only two wine tasting bars in Osijek. The reason for this is the proximity of vintners and their wine cellars. If you want to taste the wine at the place where it’s produced, we have several suggestions. You can visit Baranja wine road that’s located north of the city, the wine route of Erdut county to the east along the river Danube, the wine road of Đakovo county on the slopes of the mountain Dilj and the wine route around Našice and Feričanci on the slopes of mountains Krndija and Papuk. Not too far away from them there are mountain vineyards near Požega and Kutjevo but also in Vukovar and Ilok.

Osijek is most famous for its beer, but it is surrounded by vineyards, try the wines of Danube region vineyards in the Osijek’s old town Regional Wine Cellar. The local wine varieties include Pinot, Chardonnay, Merlot, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt delicious as the Marasca cherry and the pride of local winemakers – Golden Welschriesling (Graševina).

We tasted 2 wines from the Central Danube region, white Graševina (Italian/Welsch Riesling by Kolar Winery) and red (Cuvee by Josic Winery), made by wine producers from Osijek, in the Regional wine cellar located right next to the Watergates and the city walls and we listened to some a medley of traditional music from Slavonia region on the typical traditional instrument in eastern Croatia (Slavonia), a mandolin like instrument “tamburica”. ( show pics of the wine )

wine tasting

Vodenica na Dravi (The Watermill on the Drava)

A very interesting vessel, mill-boat, stands near the ferry “Kompa”, old Water-plant and the viewpoint over the river Drava .Tradition of mills on the river Drava dates back to the Middle Ages and their golden age was in the mid-19th century. At that point there was 60 of them in Osijek on the river Drava. By the mid-20th century on the great Slavonian rivers Drava, Sava and Danube there were hundreds of mills and the last one in Osijek stopped working in 1944. Miller’s craft was one of the most respected crafts there was.

The Mill’s restoration was part of the ‘Miller’s Road project’ the main goals of which are the revival of old traditional crafts and their presentation, the strengthening and development of cultural tourism in the cross-border area and Osijek, Osijek-Baranja County and the Hungarian County of Baranja.

Osijek Green Market 

At the Green Market, locally grown fruits and vegetables are displayed on tables under umbrellas. Items are weighed using traditional balance scales and weights. Fresh-made cheeses and meats are sold from glass cases indoors and small shops surrounding the market sell fish – some so fresh they are still swimming.  

chris@vmiproductions.ie

Restaurant Galija 

Enjoy fresh river fish and other regional and national delicacies from Croatia’s central Danube region on a river-ship with the stunning views of the Drava river and the city waterfront. From the restaurant-ship’s main deck you can even board the Danube river cruiser and explore this mighty European river from Osijek up north to Vienna or to the southeast towards the Black Sea Coast…

The dishes Catherine tasted:

  • pate made of freshwater fish with spices, cottage cheese with red paprika as added typical spice
  • the fish entree was smoked and marinated bream (in Croatian it’s Deverika)
  • grilled pike/perch (zander) which was filleted or in Croatian “Smudj, or Smuđ”  – Smudj is considered to be the best quality river fish, it is a very aggressive species in water but very delicate outside as it dies instantly once out of the water, it is known as “the knight of the fresh waters because it’s fearlessness and appearance as if wearing a silver knights armour. It lives in clean unpolluted waters)
  • Osijek’s crème pie ( krempita ) a typical egg custard cream known thru ought former Austro-Hungarian Empire, especially in Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia. It is a very popular cake made at special occasions at home and served in almost all patisseries in Croatia. The one from the restaurant Galia is made by their partner patisserie Sunčana (the Sunny patisserie) which has protected their wide known recipe from 1950’s as the Osijek’s Creampie. Other famous Croatian crème pies come from cities of Samobor and Zagreb. 

Restaurant Didin Konak

This restaurant is located in Kopačevo (Kopački rit/Baranja).

Enjoy the wild game roasts, many varieties of goulash and the regionally famous fish-paprikash or a typical breakfast from Croatia’s Danube region. The restaurant is located in a typical house from Croatia’s eastern region of Baranja and in their Pension you can relax after exploring the nearby green marshlands of Kopački rit Nature park.

The dishes Catherine tasted:

Kulen sausage and fresh cottage cheese with tomato salad as cold entrée, 

catfish pörkölt as warm entrée (Perkelt od soma), 

fish-paprikash as main course and fresh veggies from their own garden. 

Desserts were  Mađarica cake, Poppy seed roll, homemade elderflower juice, baked pastry “kiflice”, cheese and apple strudel, fruit jams and knedla sa šljivama = plum knoedl (plum dumplings made of potatoes dough filled with cooked plums)

Kopački rit Nature Park

Kopački Rit (Kopački Tršćak), is a nature park in eastern Croatia in the municipalities of Bilje and

Kneževi Vinogradi. It is located northwest of the confluence of the Drava and the Danube, situated at

the border with Serbia. It comprises many backwaters and ponds along the Danube. It is one of the

most important, largest and most attractive preserved intact wetlands in Europe.

Kompa Ferry  

Bridges of Osijek are not the only ones that connect river Drava shores. The cable ferry over the Drava river has been operating in Osijek for quite a long time, all the way back to 1916. Using Kompa to cross the Drava river is a definitely one of those things you must do when in Osijek.

Catherine and Ann in Donegal

Snowballs 

Makes approx.24.

Ingredients 

50g butter

400g Digestive biscuits

200g bag of pink & white marshmallows 

405g tin of condensed milk

Fine coconut to roll in

Bowl of cold water to keep hands moist 

Method 

Crush biscuits to fine crumbs in a large bowl. Melt butter and add melted butter to crushed biscuits and mix to combine.  Add condensed milk and mix well, consistency will be sticky.

Dampen hands and take a tablespoon of the mix and flatten on palm of hand. Add one marshmallow to centre of mix and pull mix up from hand to cover mallow completely. Creating a ball shape. Then roll in coconut. When all done leave in fridge too chill for 10mins. 

Apple Pie

Ingredients 

3 medium size cooking Apples

350g plain flour

Pinch of salt

40 g castor sugar 

175 g margarine or butter cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons of cold water 

Optional cinnamon 

Method 

Sieve flour and salt into mixing bowl. Rub in margarine until mix resembles breadcrumbs.Add sugar and 2 tablespoons of the water mix with a round bladed knife. Till dough begins to cling together add other spoonful of water if needed. Gather together with finger tips to form a rough ball and place in a cool place for 30 mins.

Half your ball of dough. Roll it on a lightly floured surface to size of plate or tin you are going to use. Lay pastry on plate cover with your peeled cooking apples. Sprinkle with some sugar about 1 tablespoon and a little shaking of cinnamon if liked.

And a little sprinkle of water over the apples. Roll out remaining half of pastry on a lightly floured surface and cover the pie. Put a little slit in centre of pastry. Brush top of pastry with egg yolk or milk. And put into a pre heated oven 190 degrees for 40 to 45 mins till pie is a nice golden.

When brown colour, take out and let cool. Sprinkle small bit of sugar on top. 

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Snowballs and Apple Pie
Prawn and Scallop Skewers on a bed baby spinach, courgette sautéed Chorizo

Makes 4 skewers 

Ingredients

For the drizzle 

60g chorizo, finely diced 

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 lemon, juice and zest  

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp chopped dill

Salt and freshly ground black pepper  

For the skewers

16 raw prawns

8 scallops

8 to 10 bay leaves  

1 lemon, sliced

For the vegetables 

100g chorizo, diced 

1 clove garlic, minced 

3 spring onions, , sliced thinly 

2 yellow pepper, sliced thinly 

2 red peppers , sliced thinly 

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey (to taste)

100g baby spinach

2 courgettes, sliced into ribbons 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish

Lemon slices

Dill sprigs 

Method

4 metal skewers or 4 wooden, if using wooden soak them in water for at least an hour.

To make the drizzle, heat a medium frying pan over a medium heat. Add the diced chorizo and sauté until most of the oil is extracted and the chorizo is crispy. Spoon the oil off, leaving a little in the pan, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and zest and the rapeseed oil. Stir in the dill and set aside.

To prepare the vegetables, place the diced chorizo in a dry pan and heat until the oil is extracted and the chorizo crisp, remove some of the oil. Add the spring onions, yellow and red pepper slices and garlic.  Sauté the peppers until just cooked, before pouring in the balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and freshly ground black pepper, Set aside 

To assemble the skewers, thread the scallops, bay leaves, prawns and lemon slices onto the soaked skewers.  

Heat a chargrill pan over a medium heat and brush the skewers with oil. Chargrill for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until the prawns and scallops are cooked, drizzle sauce over the top and season with freshly ground black pepper. 

To serve, arrange the courgette ribbons and baby spinach nicely on the serving plates, and scatter over the pepper / chorizo mix. Arrange the skewers on the top.  

Spoon more drizzle over, garnish with dill and lemon slices.

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Serves 4

3 x 4 cutlets racks of lamb, (allow 3 cutlets per person)

For the marinade

2 tbsp chopped parsley

4 cloves garlic, chopped finely

3 tsp Dijon mustard

100ml olive oil

2 tbsp honey

1 lemon zest only

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa

2 tbsp chopped coriander

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp chopped mint

75ml olive oil

1⁄2 cucumber, deseeded, diced and drained of excess juice

1 small red onion, diced

1 large (or 2 small) tomatoes, desseded and skinned, diced

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsp Dijon mustard

500g Greek natural yoghurt

Rocket and sprigs of flat leaf parsley and coriander, to garnish Baby potatoes, to serve

To prepare the marinade, mix the parsley, garlic, mustard, oil, honey, salt, pepper and lemon zest in a bowl. Then spread over the racks of lamb. Refrigerate for an hour at least for the flavours to infuse.

To make the salsa, separately blitz 1 tbsp chopped coriander, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp chopped mint and the olive oil and set aside Then combine all other ingredients, season to taste and put in a serving bowl. Drizzle the flavoured oil over the top and set aside.

To finish the lamb, preheat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Then heat a large frying pan with a little oil on a medium to high heat, add the lamb to the pan and sear until brown and caramelised.

Transfer the racks of lamb to a roasting tin and place in the oven for about 12 minutes for medium, basting with the glaze from time to time. 16 to 18 minutes for well done.

Allow the racks to rest in a warmer for 10 minutes.

To serve, scatter some rocket on a serving board or platter, arrange the lamb on top and serve with yoghurt salsa, baby potatoes and a salad, garnishing with the remaining herbs.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Peach Dressing 

Serves 4-6 

1kg assorted heirloom tomatoes – cherry and beefsteak

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, partially skinned and seeds removed

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 tbsp basil or coriander, torn

2 tsp mint, chopped

100g hard goat’s cheese, crumbled / shaved

2 tbsp baby capers

Salt and pepper to season

For the peach salad dressing

1 large ripe peach, peeled, stoned and chopped 

100ml extra virgin olive oil 

50ml cider vinegar

1 tsp honey (to taste)

1 tsp parsley and mint

Salt and pepper to season

For the salad: Soak the red onion in hot water for about 5 minutes, then remove and pat dry. Slice the beefsteak tomatoes and halve the cherry tomatoes. Slice the cucumber.

To make the peach dressing: blitz together all ingredients and check for seasoning, adjusting as necessary.

To serve: arrange the tomatoes, onion and cucumber on a large serving platter.

Scatter over the herbs, capers and crumbled cheese. Drizzle some of the dressing over and serve with the remaining dressing on the side.

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Smoked Mackerel Pate

Ingredients

300g Smoked Mackerel

1 Small lemon

280g creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese

Ground pepper

Optional 1 tsp Horseradish 

To serve with toasted Sourdough Bread

Method

Remove the skin off the mackerel Put the cheese or creme fraiche into the blender/processor Add in desired amount of lemon juice Flake the fish into pieces with hands, add into blender Season with pepper, add the horseradish here if you choose Blitz for a few seconds, check for desired texture, blitz again if needed Spoon into dish or individual ramekins Chill for a few hours or overnight

Serve with toasted sourdough bread

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smoked mackerel pate

Ingredients

For the Herring Rolls

12 filleted herrings 1 onion, cut into rings bay leaves

Marinade ¼  pint of Stout ½ pint brown vinegar 1 dessertspoon brown sugar 5 cloves White & Black peppercorns Salt

Method

Wash the herrings, place a ring of onion and a piece of bay leaf at the tail end of each fillet and roll up. Secure with cocktail stick if necessary. Place rolled fillet in a baking tray & add the Guinness & vinegar mixture and all other ingredients.  Cover with greaseproof paper (or foil) and bake in a moderate oven for 30/40 mins.

The dish is served with Buttered Baby potatoes and green beans with a sour cream, onion and apple dip on the side.

Ingredients

Butter Baby potatoes Green Beans Salt & Pepper Sour Cream Greek Yoghurt Grated eating Apple Chopped Onion

Method

Boil the potatoes until tender, drain, season and toss gently with a little butter.  Boil the Green Beans in water for about 5 mins and drain. Mix equal quantity of sour cream and Greek yoghurt together. Add finely chopped onion and grated apple. Season to taste. 

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Makes 1 x 23cm 

For the base

300g digestive biscuits

½ tsp ground ginger

150g butter, melted

For the filling 

300g soft cream cheese 

100g crème fraiche

50g soft dark brown sugar

3 eggs 

3 tbsp espresso coffee

3 tbsp Irish whiskey

For the cherry sauce

1 tbsp arrowroot

4 tbsp water (or port)

350g jar pitted morello cherries (retaining juice too)

3 tsp caster sugar

2 star anise

To finish

150g cherries with stems attached, to decorate

Small sprigs of lemon balm or mint, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 170∞C/fan 150∞C/gas 3. To prepare the tin, generously brush a 26cm loose base tart tin with melted butter.    

To make the base, place the biscuits in a food processor and crush until fine crumbs form. 

Transfer the biscuit crumbs to a bowl, add the ginger then pour over the melted butter and mix thoroughly until the crumbs are completely coated. 

Tip them into the prepared tin and press firmly down into the base and up the sides. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, mix the cream cheese, crème fraiche, dark brown sugar, eggs, espresso coffee and whiskey together in a large jug.

Pour the mixture into the biscuit base and smooth evenly. Place in the oven to bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until just set.

Carefully remove from the oven and cool completely before removing from the tin.

For the cherry sauce: Drain the cherries, reserving the juice. Mix the arrowroot and the water (or port) together in a small bowl. Add the reserved juice, sugar, arrowroot mix and star anise in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the cherries. Set aside to cool slightly. Remove the star anise before serving

To decorate, arrange the cherries with stems attached as well as some sprigs of lemon balm or mint in a quarter moon shape on the one side and serve with the cherry sauce.

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Serves 6 

Ingredients

1 kg sour cabbage leaves

300 g smoked meat (bacon, ribs, roughly chopped)

400 g sour cabbage (finely chopped) 

2 laurel leaves or Bay Leaves. 

1 teaspoon mixed ground black pepper

For the Stuffing

2 tablespoons oil 200 g onion (finely chopped)

30 g bacon (finely chopped)

400g minced pork

400g minced beef

4 cloves of finely chopped garlic

1 egg

80g white rice

100 ml water

1 teaspoon ground sweet pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the Roux

3 tablespoons oil 1 tablespoon flour 1/2 teaspoon ground sweet pepper 1 tablespoon tomato paste 300 ml water

Method

  1. Sauté finely chopped onion and bacon in heated oil.
  2. Add minced meat, garlic, an egg, rice, water, ground sweet pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir well.
  3. Separate cabbage leaves from the root and cut off hard parts. Rinse under water.
  4. Add meat mixture to one leaf, roll and push the ends towards the middle.
  5. Take the half of chopped cabbage and spread it on the bottom of a pot. Spread smoked meat on top of the cabbage. Arrange the rolls circularly on top of everything, add laurel and black pepper and cover everything with the remaining chopped cabbage.
  6. Pour enough water to cover the cabbage and put on the stove to cook. When it boils, lower the heat and let simmer for 2 hours.
  7. For the roux, sauté flour on oil until it becomes light brown. Stir constantly, and slowly add sweet ground pepper, tomato paste and water.
  8. Add the roux to sarma and stir well. Let simmer for a little longer. Serve sarma with mashed potato.

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sarma