Monday, July 18, 2022

Šmoren, Revisited

Šmoren at home

The second meal I made for my 2012 year of ethnic cooking was a breakfast dish and a new discovery: Šmoren. It sounded like a cross between a big pancake and an omelet that gets chopped and stirred into bits.

That first attempt turned out to be an eggy treat I quite liked, partly because the batter could also be used to make crêpes, otherwise known as palačinke in Slovenia. (Also known in my childhood as jelly rolls.) I went on to try a less eggy recipe. I also came up with a buckwheat version. They were all good. 

In honor of the 10th anniversary of my year-long cooking adventure, I decided to try one more šmoren recipe from a classic cookbook I acquired more recently: Pots and Pans, the SUA's first update to their venerable Woman's Glory. 

That recipe seemed to have less milk than the other versions I had seen. It was the closest yet to a conventional American pancake in taste and texture, which might have been less appealing--except for one thing. It closely resembled the šmoren I had finally tasted on our last trip to Slovenia. 

We had wandered one day into a food festival in the Ljubljana farmers' market and discovered classic Slovenian dishes being prepared on a large scale. I was fascinated when I saw a young man preparing šmoren in the largest frying pan I had ever seen! When we bought a serving to share, my first thought was that it seemed just like a big chopped up American pancake.  

So maybe this is the authentic Slovenian way. If you would like to try it, just follow the recipe below.  

                                                                         šmoren in Ljubljana

Šmoren  (from Pots and Pans)

4 large eggs, well beaten
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons hot fat (lard preferred) 

Beat eggs, gradually add the flour mixed with dry ingredients. Add milk and beat until smooth.  Heat fat or oil in ten inch skillet. Pour in entire mixture, cover, let fry until edges start to roll. Break into large pieces and turn. Keep turning into all edges are brown. 

The original recipe suggests serving with a salad or topping with pork cracklings or sour cream. I would be inclined to stick with fruit and sweet toppings like honey and jam. I would  also skip the lard and use a smaller quantity of oil or butter for frying. 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Ten Years Later: Revisiting My Year of Ethnic Cooking

In late March, I had a hankering for stuffed cabbage, the dish that launched My Year of Ethnic Cooking. I began to feel nostalgic. Why not revisit those weekly dinners, recipe by recipe? Then it hit me: There couldn't be a better time, since this is the tenth anniversary of the project I launched in January 2012.

So I dove in with a vengeance. I was enthusiastic--and behind schedule. But I had to find my special notebooks with the handwritten recipes and notes.  Eventually I did--thank goodness! 


I have now completed fifteen weeks of those 2012 dinners, mostly following the same order as my original project. From stuffed cabbage in late March to oven-baked sauerkraut last night, it has been fascinating to retrace my steps, and to recall what it was like to take a deep dive into Slovenian cooking--and into my family history, which was the original purpose, of course.

I have been revisiting these recipes but not necessarily trying to replicate them exactly as written. When I do, sometimes I am reminded how tasty the dish really is. Sometimes I tweak the recipe or try a new version. Or I discover I made a mistake and correct it. 

After a 2+ month break (sorry about that!) I am finally starting to write about what I have been learning.

When there are few if any changes to report, I am adding a short note at the bottom of the original blog 2012 blog post. When a new post is merited, I will be doing that. 

Here are the old favorites I have explored so far:

stuffed cabbage
chicken ajmoht and žganci
caraway cheese wedges
Vipaska corba 
stuffed peppers
mushroom soup
beli kruh and cevapcici
chicken paprikash (planned for tonight)
pasta fižol with bleki
oven-baked sauerkraut  

There is a photo for the first one, stuffed cabbage, above. I tried a new recipe that had a major flaw--too much rice! I won't be sharing that complete recipe. But I did make a few other interesting changes that are worth trying (savoy cabbage, freezing rather than boiling, tomato juice) and am adding an update. 

If you are interested in following along on this new/old food journey, keep your eye out for comments at the bottom of the 2012 posts that start like this: 

2022 10th Anniversary Update 

Dober Tek!