Originally written as part of the World Cup 2014 cooking project.
I write this section with a heavy heart today as my beloved England has been pushed to the periphery of World Cup elimination by the brilliant Suarez. But alas, today I want to talk about Croatia. I have great memories of the red and white checks gracing some of the World Cups over the years. Croatia previously competed in the World Cup as part of Yugoslavia, but 1998 was the first World Cup it qualified in its own right. I remember Davor Šuker, one of the greats of Croatian football and its current all-time top scorer, gracing the World Cup in France in 1998. Not only did he win the Golden Boot (highest scorer) for the tournament, he also helped Croatia to third place, an incredible feat.
Croatia started this World Cup with a tough game against Brazil, one I think it was hard done by through a dubious penalty at best. However, against Cameroon it has revitalised its World Cup campaign with a 4-0 tonking. Mexico is the final game, and unless Cameroon stun Brazil this game will determine second place in the group and a coveted place in round 2. I reckon it is a 50:50 chance of either side winning so should make for a nervy but pulsating game.
Ćevapčići with Ajvar - CroatiaPrint
- For the Ajvar:
- ■ 2 medium red bell peppers (capsicum) | Cored, seeded and halved.
- ■ 1 medium aubergine (eggplant) | Halved.
- ■ 1 clove garlic | Crushed.
- ■ ½ lemon - juice of |
- ■ 60ml olive oil |
- ■ seasoning sea salt | To your taste.
- For the Kebab:
- ■ 550g veal and pork mince | A 50:50 mix.
- ■ 1 large clove garlic | Finely diced.
- ■ 1 tbsp. sweet Paprika |
- ■ pinch hot cayenne pepper |
- ■ 2 pinches sea salt |
- ■ ½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda |
- ■ 70ml hot water |
- ■ 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil | Or other non-flavoured oil.
- ■ ½ white onion | Peeled and finely diced.
- Sour cream to serve
For the kebab: add all the kebab ingredients apart from the oil, sour cream and white onion to a bowl and mix well with your hands. Cover and put in a fridge for at least 2 hours.
For the ajvar: Preheat an oven to 220°C (430°F). On a baking sheet lined with baking parchment place the aubergine halves skin-side down and the red pepper halves flesh side-down. Bake for 45 minutes, remove from the oven and put them in to a bowl covering it with cling-film. Leave for 15 minutes. Peel the red peppers and aubergine and put into a food processor with the crushed garlic. Process until smooth and then whilst the processor is still in action drizzle in the lemon juice and then the oil. Process until smooth and thickened. Add seasoning, process and taste, adjusting seasoning further if required. Pour the ajvar in to a container and mix in most of the chopped parsley, reserving some for garnish.
To cook the kebab: Form sausage shaped kebabs with the kebab mix – I made 8 kebabs with this quantity. Put half a wooden skewer through the middle of each sausage and cook in a preheated griddle or frying pan in 2 tablespoons of oil. Do a quarter turn on each kebab every 2 and a half minutes. They take about 10 minutes on a medium heat to cook right through and brown.
Serve with flat bread, sour cream, dollops of ajvar and the diced white onion.