If you’re holed up in self isolation, keep your spirits up with decent doses of home-cooking. We’ve asked our favourite chef Nikola Nikolic to share the recipes he cooks during the self-isolation. They’re all simple to do, and use the ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. We’ve tested them ourselves, and they are utterly delicious. So get creative, it’s time to raid the cupboard! If your cupboards are a little bare, it’s worth looking into the best meal delivery services, to help you get more comfortable cooking at home.
Nikola is the Executive Chef of one of the Belgrade’s most popular places, Endorfin Gastro Pub. Recently Endorfin was listed by The New York times as one of the 12 spots to visit while on a visit to Belgrade.
Discover the recopies after the jump:
Corn Flour Porridge
This meal is ideal for breakfast, or even for dinner. It’s something that a handful of children in Serbia grew up with, something that is completely heartwarming for many. In this form it is a bit modernized, brought to the level of modern European cuisine and is very easy to cook.
Put a piece of butter, a little oil and salt into the boiling water, reduce the heat, and add the corn flour gently with the stirring. It has to be more watery than the polenta they make in Italy for example. But it’s easy – if you want it denser, add more flour, if you feel like you’re overdoing the flour, just add water and continue to cook. All you have to do is pour in a plate or a pan and add what you like. To me, this dish is my favourite with a sunny side up egg, fried mushrooms and a spinach salad.
You can also pour in the baking pan, put some pork or duck fat over and bake in the oven. You can put egg, Parmesan cheese, white fresh cheese, chestnuts, yogurt, milk… Be creative!
This is one of the most wonderful soups, old French, made from cheap food, and but it’s now a bit elitist and very modern.
Caramelise the onion chopped on the ribs on the butter, add the thyme and pour a glass of cognac. Pour it with pre-made or purchased beef broth (you can also use beef bouillon cube), season it and let it boil. Pour the soup into heat-resistant dishes that can go in the oven. In the meantime, grill a piece of brioche bread or some other toast on the pan on both sides. Make sure that the shape of the toasted bread matches the width of the soup bowl. Gently lower the bread over the soup and put the grated Gruyere cheese over it (of course you can use some other full fat cheese), insert the dish into a 200 degree oven and bake until the cheese is completely melted and yellow. Take care, the pan can be extremely hot and it will be very difficult to eat immediately. Allow the soup to cool for a few minutes.
If you find it difficult to finish the soup this way, you can make bread croutons by putting cheese on it and baking it in the oven and simply serving it next to the soup. Bon Appetit!
Sweet Potato Moussaka
As we are in a situation of isolation, we are conditioned to show ingenuity and creativity in meal preparation. It is very important that nothing is thrown away and that whatever is possible and edible is used. Finally, we will have the opportunity to be responsible in using the food.
Yesterday I cooked stuff cabbage, but after making a little more minced meat stuffing, I had to figure out what to do with it. By chance, I had some sweet potato at home, so I decided to make sweet potato moussaka. It doesn’t matter that there is rice in the stuffing, it will only be more nutritious.
Slice the potatoes length ways into really thin slices. Lay a layer of sweet potato into the bottom of a baking dish and spread a mince over it. Continue layering until you reach the top of the dish. Bake in the oven until the sweet potato is lightly softened and then pour a mass made of eggs, Greek yogurt and milk. Or if you have time and patience you can make a Béchamel sauce.
Hay Baked Chicken
Here is a one dish for family dining, synonymous with lunch with your loved ones. Hot, roast chicken in hay. It gives the chicken a special herbal taste, as if it came straight from the meadow.
Mix in salt and sugar and rub well over the whole chicken. Also coat the chicken with some oil or goose or duck fat. Put an organic hay in the bottom of a cast iron pot and make a nest, arrange the root vegetables and potatoes, halve the onion cut in half, put the chicken and a bunch of herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) and pour the Riesling. Cover the pot, put in the oven at 160 degrees, and bake the chicken for 1.5 – 2 hours. You can always check if the chicken is baked by piercing it with a stick or a thin knife and if light liquid comes out then the chicken is done. Open the pot, coat the chicken with a little more oil and return to the oven at 180 degrees until the it has a beautiful golden brown colour. You have the vegetables, buy some good French bread and pour some nice Alsatian Riesling or Provencal rose wine. Enjoy!
The day before you enjoyed a wonderful roast chicken, but you didn’t eat everything and you don’t want to throw it away. It is a time to be responsible with the food. So, good old sandwich, for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Whenever you like.
All you have to do is to toast two slices of bread, toast the baked chicken and cut it and mix it with a little sour cream, mayonnaise, toasted black sesame, pickles. Coat the toasted bread with chicken salad and place three or four blended asparagus. You can add a poached egg over or avocado instead of asparagus. Be creative!
Here are two wonderful, easy and quick desserts that are mostly eaten warm and with vanilla ice cream. One is a chocolate classic and the other is a French classic.
Melt 200 g of chocolate and 200 g of butter. Mix 85 g of flour, 40 g of cocoa in one pan. In a meantime, whisk 3 eggs with 200 g of sugar to make a nice foam. Then tie everything together nicely and add a cup of coffee. Bake at 165 degrees 30 min. If you are not sure if it is nicely baked, stab the knife through the cake and if the knife is almost clean when you remove it then the cake is done. Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you don’t eat the cake, put it in the fridge and you can eat it for the next week. Just warm it up in the oven and enjoy.
Tarte Tatin is a little bit easier to make. Cover the bottom of the pan with the sugar (5 mm). Lay a layer of peeled and chopped apple. Cover all this with a puff pastry that you will stretch to 5mm thick. You can buy puff pastry in almost all stores. Bake the cake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serve hot cake with vanilla ice cream, or some nice frosting and sprinkle everything with powdered sugar.
All images by Cedomir Stankovic