Halfway there

Being surrounded by food all day every day, I thought I’d be writing so much more this year. Wrong. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. It’s fitting it in – I must get around to it!

I’ve always been full of admiration of people with children who manage to study – now, so much more so. And I’m a mere pretender – my “full time” course gives me Fridays off, I work very part time and I only have one midget to run around after. I’m in awe of those who hold down full time jobs, study and run a household with three or four children. Legends. I have no excuse for not writing.CityAndGuilds-logoIt was back to school yesterday after a week off post exams. While I know it’s not a med degree, I’m still stoked to have got over 90 per cent for both the Food Safety and the City and Guilds Level 3 exams – it would be fair to say that it’s been a while since I studied for anything. City and Guilds is an interesting system – exam questions are randomised from a large bank and no two exams are the same. So I guess I was lucky with how my questions fell.

I’d like to send a big shout-out to my wonderful friends who help with childcare and to the husband who does the morning drop-offs – I couldn’t have done it without you all. Half way there, four months to go as I now work towards my Diploma. There’ll be wine all round come October (and perhaps the odd drop before).

One of the things I’ve found more interesting than I thought I would have has been the food safety component (yes, I know I’m a geek). I’m now particularly eagle-eyed when I eat out. While some cafes/restaurants are pristine, I’m certain others are but a breath away from a food poisoning outbreak. Those tummy bugs we blame on kindy/crèche, are just as likely to be as a result of poor hygiene at the local.

One thing you’re not going to get at my place is food poisoning. I’m now like a woman possessed with my sanitizer. And while poorly cooked minced meat is a red flag for e.coli, you’ll have nothing to worry about if you cook today’s recipe properly.IMG_9982I’m going to share a dish that is popular in Croatia and one that my sisters have been asking me to post for some time. Cevapcipi (pronounced “chev-up-chu-chi”) is a skinless sausage that is common in many Balkan countries and is similar to koftas. Traditionally, it’s served barbecued and often in a pita bread or a wrap with onion (raw – blah!) and a yoghurt dip. There are countless recipes, but all are simple. The country or region you are in will dictate the combination of meats. I always use three. I also add parsley to mine for flavour and play around with quantity of paprika.

What you’ll need
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
250g minced lamb
1-2 small onions, finely chopped (I often use red onions)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Good handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
Healthy grind of salt and pepper

How to make them
IMG_9912Mix together the meats – I usually use plastic gloves to do this.
IMG_9916Add the other ingredients and mix well.IMG_9919Cover with cling film and pop in to the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
Roll mixture into cocktail sausage size (think cheerios) and pop onto a plate and in the fridge until required.IMG_9922If using right away, roll in oil before cooking them.
To cook, you can:
a) barbeque them – make sure you use enough oil so they cook through and don’t burn or become too dry. Turn so they cook on all sides.
IMG_9927b) Cook on the stove top barbecue style – I find that while this works, the oil is a bit splashy for me and I’m not fond of the ‘fry’ smell afterwards
IMG_9968c) Bake for around 18-20 minutes in a 200C oven, turning once.
IMG_9979

Which ever way you cook them, using a temperature probe to make sure the inner meat temperature reaches 75C ensures they are cooked.

IMG_9941I served these with a delicious home-made tomato sauce last night, using a frozen supply of my pre-cooked sauce, with the addition of butter beans for some texture.

IMG_9988For a change tonight, the little guy enjoyed these in some home-made tortillas (that recipe will come!) with a little sauce.

You’ll get to know what size to roll your cevapcici and how long to cook them for the more you make them – I always think they work best when served with a sauce (also good for covering up if they are slightly over cooked).

IMG_9986See you soon for that tortilla recipe.

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