On chasing dragons & waterfalls
For those you know me, I'm on the rational side kind of person. I like to be in control of the situation, I love to plan, and I adore when everything comes together the way I've meant it to be. But reason will take you only until a certain point. After that is all about feeling... Emotion, reason and belief play a very important and meaningful role in our lives. Fear not, I will leave it at that! It's funny how we choose things, and how sometimes things seem to choose you. My personal bond with Slovenia was totally unplanned, and yet so special. One of the few souvenirs I've brought from Ljubljana was a cookbook (surprising, I know!) with slovenian recipes. I bought the book mainly because I wanted to bake a cake called Gibanica (aka 'moving cake'). Although Gibanica is a traditional dessert in the Balkan region - many different variations can be found in Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria -,Prekmurje gibanica is the slovenian national dessert.
We're off to Slovenia again - can't wait to chase Ljubljana dragon and waterfalls like this! In the meanwhile, grab a cup of your favourite coffee. I leave you with a slice of Gibanica. :)
Adapted from Heike Milhench's Flavors of Slovenia
8-10 sheets phyllo dough
3/4 cup poppy seeds
1 cup (250 ml) milk
2-3 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in warm water or rum, drained
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped)
1 tsp cinnamon
Juice and zest of 1 small lemon (unwaxed, preferably organic)
680 grs ricotta or cottage cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream
1 cup walnuts, chopped
4 Tbsp butter, melted
Icing (confectioner's sugar) for sprinkling
Boil the poppy seeds in the milk until softened, about 20-25 minutes. Remove, drain, and set aside.
For the first filling, combine apples, raisins, sugar, vanilla (seeds or extract), cinnamon, lemon juice and zest in a medium bowl. Prepare the second filling separately mixing the cheese with the eggs and the cream, until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Grease a rectangular baking pan. Place a phyllo sheet in the bottom, and brush with melted butter. Make sure the rest of the phyllo sheets are covered to prevent them to dry out. Spread a layer of cheese mixture over the dough. Cover with another sheet of phyllo, brush with butter, and spread a layer of raisin and apple mixture. Sprinkle with walnuts and poppy seeds. Repeat until you run out of fillings. Be sure to cover everything with 2 phyllo sheets. Brush the top with butter. Bake for 65-75 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with icing sugar.