Perhaps you fell in love with Slovenia’s traditional tastes on a recent trip. Or you remember the delicious food your Slovenian grandma used to make. Now there’s an easy way to bring the authentic recipes to your own table at home.
Here’s why you should order a copy of Cook Eat Slovenia and why it might be the best Slovenian cookbook in English.
- Easy to follow instructions in English. It is also available in German.
- Measurements in both metric and imperial units — the ones used in the United States.
- Each recipe illustrated with photographs that will motivate you to cook, eat and love Slovenian food.
- Organized by season to make the most of farm-fresh ingredients throughout the year.
Špela Vodovc, the Cook behind the Cookbook
Špela Vodovc is that rare person who has managed to combine her passions in life: food, people and the outdoors. I first met her when she was teaching a cooking class in Ljubljana. Watch the video to be inspired by the highlights of this memorable foodie experience. It features some of the recipes that you will find in the cookbook.
A Foodie’s Dream Dinner in Slovenia
Špela was waiting for us at 6 pm with a selection of appetizers and Malvazija, a crisp white wine from Slovenian Istria. It paired perfectly with Tolmin cheese from the Alps, apricot jam, traditional brown bread and Slovene-style creamy cottage cheese with garlic. A pork spread, served in a traditional wooden container dating back to the days before modern refrigeration, brought smiles to the faces of the meat-eaters in our little group.
Our first job was to prepare the štruklji dough, allowing it to rest for 30 minutes while we went on to assemble a few more courses of our meal.
Fritulja or cvrča: a thick omelette with minced wild herbs. This traditional taste of the Goriška Brda wine region on Slovenia’s Italian border was served to hardworking farmers and pregnant women in need of a protein boost. Served on a bed of bitter greens, often foraged from “the nature.”
Toč with pršut (ham in red wine sauce) and polenta. “The pršut and teran are best friends,” Špela explained as she added a generous pour of red wine from the karst region to the saucepan.
Buckwheat kaša with asparagus and flame-seared chicken. Buckwheat is the Slovenian take on risotto, and we mixed in farm-fresh asparagus which was in season at the time of our visit. Chicken breasts were flame-seared with white Malvazija wine, and wine was also added to the buckwheat and asparagus. Without the chicken on top it can also be a satisfying dish for vegetarians. Bon appetit, or as we say in Slovenia, dober tek!
Štruklji for Dessert
By the time we finished with the main courses, the rested štruklji dough was ready to be stretched to the consistency of almost see-through parchment. Špela demonstrated the technique of filling it and then rolling it on a dishtowel. The wrapped tube is then tied with string and boiled in salty water for 20 minutes. The finished product is cut into slices and served. It was the perfect ending to a memorable evening, paired with homemade cherry, blueberry or spruce liqueur.
Cooking with Slovenian Ancestry
As a Slovenian-American who first came here in 2009 to connect with my roots, it was my chance to cook the dishes my grandmother might have made. Sadly, Grandma Anžur died before I was born, so I never had the chance to cook with her. For my dad, who was born in America to a Slovene family, it wasn’t Christmas unless we had “potica.” One year, I decided to try making the family potica recipe with my son, who’s an accomplished cook in his own right.
The classic Slovene dessert, usually walnuts rolled in pastry dough, turned out to be really difficult to make. We had the tattered, handwritten recipe but not the skills. After a full day of dough-making and walnut grinding with Grandma Anžur’s antique grinder, our kitchen looked like a war zone and our potica looked — and tasted — almost authentic. Almost, but not quite.
Another cooking adventure involved beef soup. My son made his version of this classic comfort food for one of our Slovene friends who posted on Facebook, “This is what happens when goveja juha goes to America.” Same, but different.
Spending time in the Cook Eat Slovenia kitchen with Špela helped me learn a few traditional techniques and appreciate more of the flavors my dad was raised with. He was obsessed with quality cold cuts and would have felt right at home in Slovenia where pršut or Kranjska Klobasa sausage is frequently on the table — a meal in itself with cheese and hearty bread.
Slovenia’s TV chefs have elevated some of the traditional recipes to the level of fine cuisine. You can also try lots of different tastes at the Open Kitchen in Ljubljana on Fridays. But there’s no substitute for “domača” or making it at home with your own hands by following the authentic recipes in Cook Eat Slovenia. Špela has already done the math to convert all the measurements from the metric system into US units.
More Foodie Adventures in Slovenia
Cook Eat Slovenia also offers tours that combine Alpine hiking with food and wine tasting. Best to plan ahead for this adventure, as the mountain huts are only open July through September and the tours fill up fast. Future plans call for biking and kayak trips to food and wine destinations throughout Slovenia.
Get all of Špela’s recipes in the Cook Eat Slovenia cookbook: The cookbook makes a great gift for your favorite foodie or anyone who loves the tastes of Slovenia. It’s jam-packed with beautiful photographs, easy instructions in English, and measurements in both metric and US units. Click here to buy the Cook Eat Slovenia cookbook and have it shipped to your home. She also offers Cook Eat Slovenia chef’s aprons and tote bags to bring some style to your next potica-making session.
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