Serbia

Serbia is a land locked country situated in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula.  Bordered by 8 countries; Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Nearly half of Serbia is mountainous, with the Dinaric Alps on the western border, the North Albanian Alps (Prokletija) and the Sar Mountains in the south, and the Balkan Mountains along the southeast border.
Serbia had previously been a dominant state within Yugoslavia.  Serbia’s brutal war in the southern province of Kosovo, started in 1998, causing Montenegro to distance itself from Slobodan Milosevic and his Yugoslav government. On February 4, 2003, the name “Yugoslavia” passed into history, replaced by the union of “Serbia and Montenegro.”  Serbia became a stand-alone sovereign republic in the summer of 2006 after Montenegro voted in a referendum for independence from the Union of Serbia and Montenegro.  The two republics had been united in one form or another for nearly 90 years.
Some interesting facts:
Serbia is the largest exporter of raspberries in the world, contributing 30% to the international market.
‘Vampire’ is a Serbian word and is known the world over.
Serbia is ahead of the Swiss in clock making. They started this almost 600 years before the Swiss took over the industry.
Nikola Tesla was Serbian and there has been a museum in his name in Belgrade since 1952.
I came across many different meat dishes when researching Serbia namely; Ćufte u paradajz sosu (meatballs in tomato Sauce) , Đuveč (stewed vegetables and pork or chicken similar to pilaf) , Paprikaš (pork or chicken and pepper stew), Ćevapi u lepinji sa kajmakom (kebabs in flatbread with kaymak) and Podvarak (roast meat with Sauerkraut).  I decided to cook Pljeskavica (a ground beef/pork patty).
Rating: 6/10 – I felt there was too much paprika which overpowered the flavour for me.  I would halve the quantity if I made them again.
Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes + 8 hours fridge time
Cook time: 10 – 15 minutes
450g ground beef chuck
225g ground pork
225g ground lamb
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sweet or hot paprika (I would use half this amount)
Mix together all ingredients until thoroughly combined and refrigerate for several hours for flavours to meld and mixture to firm.
Heat griddle pan.
Using slightly dampened hands, divide meat mixture into 6 portions.
Form into thin patties, 20 cm x 1cm, or about the size of a small dinner plate.
Pan fry pljeskavica about 5 minutes per side.

Serve in a pitta bread with salad.

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Pljeskavica mix
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Pljeskavica
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Griddling the Pljeskavica
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Pljeskavica

 

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Serbian river
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Belgrade, Serbia
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Uruguay

Uruguay is situated on the east coast of South America, sharing borders with Brazil and Argentina.
Often called the Switzerland of South America for it’s stable democracy and social benefits such as free education.
Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America for democracy, peace, lack of corruption and quality of living.  It boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world with 98.1% for adults.  The Economist named Uruguay “country of the year” in 2013.  It is regarded as one of the most liberal nations in the world and most socially developed.  In December 2013, Uruguay became the world’s first country to legalise the marijuana trade.
Uruguay is the only country that keeps track of 100 per cent of its cattle, of which, apparently there are 3 to every person!
The Uruguay national football team has won the FIFA World Cup on two occasions – at the inaugural tournament in 1930 and again in 1950.  It has also won gold for football at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics, which are the only gold medals they have ever won so far.
“Liberta o Murte” is Uruguay’s motto – “freedom or death”.
Thanks to it’s relatively temperate climate and stretches of beaches, it attracts many tourists each year.  Highlights include Montevideo, it’s culturally rich capital city, idyllic fishing villages such as Cabo Polonio, gaucho cowboys and tasty Parillas (steakhouses).
Beef is a major part of Uruguayan cuisine with Asado being very popular (a BBQ of different types of beef).  Also empanada (a meat filled turnover), Ñoquis (gnocchi which is traditionally eaten on the 29th of each month as years ago they only had flour & potatoes left at the end of the month!)

I opted to cook ‘Chivito’, Uruguay’s national sandwich!

Rating: 9/10.  It would’ve been a 10/10 if I had chosen a better bun like ciabatta.  It is important that you buy quality ingredients for this recipe.  Don’t scrimp on the steak, bacon or mozzarella!
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
2 burger buns or ciabatta (or your preferred type of bread roll)
2 beef fillet steaks
2 pieces of bacon
2 slices of deli ham
2 tomato slices
2 slices of mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1-2 tablespoons butter
Lettuce
Mayonnaise
Ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste

Place a large skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon slices until crispy. Set aside on paper towels to cool.
Drain the excess bacon fat out of the skillet.
Sprinkle each steak with coarse salt, and use a mallet to pound the steaks. Heat the skillet over medium high heat until hot, and place steaks on the skillet.
Cook for about 1 and a half minutes per side, or until desired doneness.
Set aside on paper towels to rest.
Wipe the skillet clean. Melt the butter over medium heat, and fry eggs sunnyside up until desired doneness.
Preheat the grill.
Assemble sandwiches: Spread the inside of buns with ketchup and mayonnaise.
Place lettuce slices over bottom half of buns.
Top with a slice of beef, 2 bacon slices, a slice of ham, a slice of tomato, and a slice of mozzarella.
Place sandwiches (uncovered) under the grill briefly (keeping a close eye on them) to melt the cheese.
Remove from the grill and add the fried egg over the cheese, then top with the other half of the bun.
Serve immediately.

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Ingredients
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Cooking the steak
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Seared steak
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Chivito
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Chivito
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Chivito
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Asador cooking Asado
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Uruguayan beach