Pučiške krafne – doughnuts made in heaven?

Reason #128: Pučiške krafne – enough said

It’s debatable whether this is a pro or a con of living on Brač. It depends on whether you care about getting fat and whether you possess the necessary willpower to keep a potential addiction under control. I don’t, but I still would not want to live in a world without Pučiške krafne. Ever.

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Krafne are similar to doughnuts and they’re a very typical Croatian pastry available at any store or bakery. The dough is usually filled with marmalade, jelly or chocolate. The Pučiške krafne are shoulders above any other krafne, in my book. They come in two flavors: chocolate and marmalade.

Although you can get them anywhere on Brač, it’s best to come visit Pučišća and enjoy them there, as god intended ;)

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It helps if you’re going to get on a bike afterwards and burn them off.

Pučiške krafne are made at the Grikula pekara in Pučišća, Brač. Each morning their truck delivers these and other baked goods to stores all over Brač. Make sure you ask for the “Pučiške” since all krafne look more or less the same. But they don’t taste the same.

PS I’m now told the best way to try them is warm, straight out of the oven. I have a feeling someone will be camping out in Pučišća this summer ;)

Working man’s beans

Reason #124: eat May 1st bean soup in great company

May 1st is a national holiday in Croatia – International Workers Day and it’s a custom to have a group outing or a picnic, cook a huge pot of bean soup and have fun. It’s an old socialist tradition that is slowly disappearing, but on Brač it’s still alive, luckily.

If you’re going to join one of these bean soup eating festivities, you can go for one of the urban, public events such as the one in Supetar where you could be served by the cool new mayor Ivana Marković…

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Photo source: Ivana Marković FB page

… or you can go old-school and have a picnic at 600 m above sea level, up on the Vidova gora mountain, with the great folks from the “Profunda” hiking club.

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Master Chef stirring the meat and the beans: Jurica a.k.a. “Lola”

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The line forms quickly :)

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The trick is to scoop out your ideal proportion of soup, beans, sausages and meat. 

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Second helpings are not at all frowned upon, but some room should be left for the dessert. Great news, there’s always dessert in Croatia :)

The hardest part of a May 1st outing is getting back home when you’re completely stuffed and relaxed. Fortunately, when you’re at Vidova gora you can always say: “It’s all down hill from here”.

Mišanca – edible wild greens

Reason 113: you can pick your own wild greens and cook a healthy, yummy meal

This particular reason for living on Brač would probably make my top ten on any given day. What you need here is a plastic bag (Konzum, Tommy, Kerum, Studenac… any of these will do ;)), a handy knife, knowing where to look and which plants are edible. The latter two I’m not good at yet, so for now I just go with Aunt Nada and follow her lead. IMG-20140226-01074 Once you’ve got a bag full, you can go home and clean it before cooking. IMG-20140226-01075 Cooking is simple. Just boil the water, add some salt and don’t cook for too long. You can also add potatoes, and if you don’t have a lot of mišanca, add any other greens you can buy or grow, such as blitva (chard). Blitva and potatoes will also soften the otherwise strong flavor of concentrated mišanca, if that’s prefereable. IMG-20140223-01049

Some of the plants that go into mišanca: žutinica, kostrič, radič, divlji luk, koromač, martaduha.

There is a guidebook on Brač wild plants which can help you identify the mišanca plants. Read about the guidebook here.

Sirnica… where’s the cheese?

Reason #111: tasty and sweet traditional Easter bread

sirnice2Photo by I. Cvitanić, via braconline.com.hr

Sirnica (or pinca, as it’s called in some parts of Croatia) is a traditional sweet bread made and eaten at Easter, marking the end of Lent.

As a kid I used to wonder where the cheese was, as the word sirnica contains the word sir=cheese in Croatian.

Sirnica is made with eggs, flower, milk, butter and sugar –  no cheese.

You can buy a decent sirnica at the baker’s or the suprermarket these days, but some people still like to make their own. In fact, they even compete for the best sirnica on Brač, each year on Easter Monday.

sirnice1Sirnice on display at the competition in Škrip. Photo by I. Cvitanić, via braconline.com.hr

This year Selca won first place. Yay!

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Photos by V. Radmilović, via braconline.com.hr

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Team Selca: Marina Jakšić, Ela Tonšić, Sandra and Marta Mančić… and, of course, their husbands ;)

More: sirnica/pinca on Wikipedia and photos at braconline.com.hr

Wild asparagus

Reason #80: here on Brač you can find wild asparagus – super healthy and yummy

If you have good eyesight, that is. They’re notoriously difficult to spot.

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As you can see (hopefully), they’re much thinner than their domesticated counterparts.

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Don’t overcook them, there’s no need. You could even eat them raw, especially if you don’t find enough of them for a decent sized meal.

Season with just olive oil and vinegar. Serve with a hard boiled egg and enjoy!

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And here’s a very short video about “the hunt” :)

Rafioli

Reason 78: delicious cookies with walnut paste stuffing

Not everyone can make great rafioli, but luckily (although my waistline would disagree that’s it’s lucky) I’m surrounded by Bračanke who lead the pack in this art. Especially my Aunt Nada who always spoils me for my birthday with a box full of these.

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The Rafioli Army, prepared for battle with hungry Bračani :)

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The crust is hard and the filling is soft and very, very yummy. If you like walnuts.

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Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika)

Reason #68: it’s easy to plant collard greens and they’re super nutritious

Collard greens, or raštika and kupus, as it’s known here, is all the rage among health freaks out there. And it just happens to be the most basic veg over here, next to blitva.

So, I decided to plant some of my own. With the help of my aunt Nada, who’s  basically my Mr. Miyagi for all the Brački skillz.

IMG-20140226-01076First you get some seedlings from teta Antica (above).

IMG-20140226-01077Then you take a motika, eng. hoe (the tool, not the other kind), and you dig a deep, narrow hole.

Plant the seedlings and water them. Make sure the soil doesn’t go dry until they take.

IMG-20140226-01078I will report back on them over the summer.

Brudet

Reason #66: cook a delicious meal out of almost any fish

Selca is not a big place, and as discussed before, there’s no big fish market for us to to pick and choose what’s going to be for dinner. Sometimes it’s just a local guy who caught a bunch of small fish. Take it or leave it!

When you get a bunch of small fish that you can’t do much else with – you make a brudet, one of the yummiest dishes ever. So, we’re not complaining here, at all.

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There’s 6 types of fish in the bunch. Plus, a few shrimp.

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Cute :)

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Ok, so this is simple:

Again, like with practically any other meal here, you start with olive oil and onions. When they’re soft, add the fish.

Prepare some water, vinegar, Vegeta (spices, not the Dragon Ball character), konšerva (concentrated tomato paste), pepper, parsley… what else? I can’t remember. But that’s close enough.

Add that mixture to the fish in the pan. Cook for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of your fish.

While that’s cooking, make palentacornmeal porridge, to serve with the brudet.

My first attempt at brudet was pretty good. I forgot to add pepper and I could have used more vinegar.

The hardest part for me it’s cleaning the fish before cooking. I’ve only done it twice so far, so I still mess up the whole kitchen and it takes me forever. Aunt Nada suggested I do it outside next time. Good idea.

UPDATE: Ok, so, after she saw the post my mom called to complain. She said, ‘What kind of a pale ass brudet is that?!’. There’s an eternal tug of war between the two of us when it comes to how much konšerva should go into meals. This subject deserves its own post at some point.

But, yeah, you might want to add a bit more tomato paste than I did.

Pašta fažol

Reason #50: a hearty, traditional bean and pasta meal

One of my favorite “basic” meals from Bračka cuisine. Pašta fažol (pashta fah-joel) can be made with different kinds of pasta (spaghetti, penne, subiotti, pipe, etc.), depending on what you like.

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This is a more soupy version of Pašta fažol, with spaghetti and without any meat. Beacause that’s how I like it :)

Fažol is the Dalmatian dialect word for beans and like many words in our dialect vocabulary, it comes from Italian: fagioli.

My mom says Pašta fažol has traditionally been a poor man’s meal, because beans were cheap back then and the wealthy could afford more fancy food. Plus, the beans would make them fart and that wouldn’t be classy :)

These days you can just buy canned beans, but the proper way to do it is to buy dried beans and soak them over night.

The type of bean is runner bean (šareni grah) from Central and South America.

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Like nearly any Dalmatian meal, you’ll base this on olive oil, onions, garlic and parsley. You can also fry a spoonful of flour to thicken the whole thing. Then add water and the beans.

The cooking will depend on how old the dried beans are. Anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. It’s best to use a pressure cooker to shorten this process.

It’s best to cook the pasta separately so you don’t overcook it. Put it aside and just add when the beans are completely cooked.

You can add cured meats for flavor.

My mom will add a bit of concentrated tomato paste (konšerva) for color. I don’t.

Don’t forget a couple of bay leaves when you start cooking, so you …. you know…. keep things more quiet “downstairs” later on ;)

Prijatno!

Prickly and edible

Reason #23: you can prick yourself on a sea urchin (and you can eat it, too)

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The bad news is that this stunning creature’s armor consists of incredibly sharp and thin “needles”. If you step on one, the needle goes into your flesh and breaks off, making it really hard to remove. I will usually get them out with a sewing needle myself, but to first-timers I suggest getting a nurse to do it.

The good news is twofold:

  1. there aren’t that many of them. In fact, at most beaches you won’t even see them.
  2. the water around Brač is so clean and clear that you can easily see them and avoid stepping on them :)

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Warning aside, if you’re really careful and touch them gently, you can actually pick them up in your hand. They will move in your palm and tickle you. It’s very nice. Put them back where you found them when you’re done, though.

Unless you’re going to eat them :D

Beans ❤ Bay leaf

Reason #19: pick some bay leaves and de-gas your beans

Bay leaf is very common here on Brač. Beans and lentils are also a common food here. You might already know this, but if you put the two together you’re gas free!

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Pick the leaves. Leave them in the open to dry (spread on a shelf in the pantry, for example). Put one or two in the pot when you cook your beans. That’s it!

On Brač you can either grow your own, pick them in the wild, or get them from a neighbor’s bush. Just make sure that, like with anything, the neighbor is ok with this ;).

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