Recipes from Albania
thing I think about when eating and drinking in Gjirokaster
is Turkish coffee. I’ve never really been much of a coffee
drinker. I learned to drink the brew while in Morocco when it
was one part coffee and three parts hot milk. It was kind of like
hot chocolate. If it’s black coffee, I still can’t
do it. But if you add wonderfully flavored cream flavorings like
vanilla, hazelnut or crème brule, a lot of steamed milk or top
it with whipped cream and caramel, I love a cup of coffee. None
of this is Turkish coffee.
coffee is strong. It’s thick. There is a sludge of
coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup. Fortunately, you aren’t
expected to drink the sludge. Still, I cannot honestly say I like
the stuff. Not one little bit! But, I can honestly say that
I’ve had a lot of it in Albania just to be polite. That’s
how my mother raised me.
Albanian host, made some coffee for me while I drew the sketch for my
mural in their living room. It was so strong. Vita, his
wife, takes great pride in how well Haxhi prepares their coffee.
Well, the effort was appreciated but the taste wasn’t. However,
much to my surprise, I managed to drink his coffee without gagging.
It wasn’t until after I finished it that I learned why.
Vita made a sound that was Albania’s answer to a French “oh,
la, la!” She cried that out when she learned Haxhi put four,
count ‘em, four spoons of sugar in my coffee. That much
sugar can make anything taste good.
Vita, on the other hand, is simply a wonderful chef. There is no bad food prepared in her kitchen. Most guests in their bed and breakfast are only served breakfast. I, however, am part of the family. I, quite fortunately, ate my meals in their home. When other guests asked me where to eat in town, I never had a clue.In the past, Vita gave me a few of her secret recipes, but I first had to swear never to share them. So, those secrets remain in my unskilled possession. Whenever I’ve tried to replicate her dishes, I’ve failed miserably. I never asked her for the recipe that inspired me on this trip. I gave the recipe my best shot after a little research. At first glance you might think, “What is so special about meatballs?” Well, I’ve always enjoyed them with spaghetti and tomato sauce. However, in Vita’s kitchen, they were prepared for a cheese soup. It was a little bit of Albanian heaven in my mouth.
Meatballs and Cheese Soup
|..........||1 small onion||1 1/2 cup cream|
|3 Tbs butter||3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar|
|3 Tbs flour||1/2 cup parsley|
|1 1/2 cup chicken stock||salt and pepper to taste|
the onion, without crying if possible, and sauté that little
rascal in butter for 5 to 7 minutes. Blend in the flour
and then add the chicken stock and cream. Cook all of this until
it is thick. And, speaking of thick, don’t think about things
that will clog your arteries. After a little taste of heaven,
this recipe could just possibly help send you there a little quicker.
Now, at this point, do I need to talk about cheese? Yep, stir
it in until it is all melted.
don’t think Vita used sharp Cheddar. I don’t know
what she used because I didn’t want to pry away any secrets.
It was yellow cheese, although Feta is so deliciously used around the
The final goodies to add are the shredded parsley, salt and pepper to taste and those meatballs.
|1 pound ground meat||salt and pepper to taste|
|1 medium onion, diced||2 eggs|
|1 garlic clove minced||2 slices stale bread|
|1 tsp dried oregano||1 cup flour|
|1 Tbs chopped fresh mint||oil for frying|
|1/4 cup chopped parsley||2 Tbs Feta chopped|
Grab a large
mixing bowl. Now, I suggest a beautiful ceramic bowl from Morocco
because that’s what I have in my kitchen. Anyway, in whatever
you have, mix the meat (which could be lamb if you are in Albania),
onion, garlic, spices and herbs all together. Think your hands are messy?
You’re just getting started. Add the eggs, one at a time,
and mix them into the meat.
has more mess for your hands. Fill another bowl with water.
Plop that stale bread in it and let it soak for a minute. Then,
squeeze all the water out of the bread, break it into little pieces
and mix it in with the meat.
the trick for a successful mixture. It should not be too sticky.
The mix should not stick to your fingers but it should be sticky enough
to form the meat balls. If it appears to be too wet, add some
more bread to the bowl and mix it up again.
isn’t time to wash your hands. Roll the meat into one inch
meat balls and then roll them around in some flour. When that is complete,
yes, you may wash your hands. Next, fry them up in a pan with
about ½ inch of olive oil. It should take three to four minutes,
turning the sides until they are evenly cooked.
Optional thinking: I saw a recipe that called for Feta cheese inside the meatballs. Mmmmmm! However, since you’re putting those meatballs in a cheese soup, I’m going to say that Feta might just a little over the top. Perhaps you’d like to include it if you’re making spaghetti with tomato sauce. Mmmmmm, again!
|Copyright 2014 by Phillip Martin. All rights reserved.|