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Barbara Rolek

Old World Serbian Techniques Win Thanksgiving Food Competition

By November 15, 2010

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Serbian Hand-Stretched Strudel Dough
Serbian Hand-Stretched Strudel Dough
2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
I've always been fascinated by the different spins families put on their Thansgiving dinner. My Italian college roommate always had spaghetti as one of the side dishes. For others, a corn dish is mandatory. In my family, the stuffing wasn't the same without water chestnuts and mushrooms. Go figure!

In the recent Food Network's Thanksgiving Family Face-Off, Vlada Vladic from Temecula, Calif., used her Serbian cooking skills to win the challenge. Her team did battle against three other families and bested them in a six-hour showdown that required cooking a whole turkey, another protein of choice, four side dishes, and a dessert, all presented on a beautiful tablescape.

Vladic prepared a turkey slathered with honey, butter, fresh oregano, salt, pepper and a little bacon in a covered roaster, which produced a less than golden brown bird, but serving it on a bed of sauerkraut sauteed with onion and bacon was sheer genius.

Her version of veal schnitzel stuffed with prosciutto, goat cheese, baby Brie and parsley, and then breaded and fried, apparently was a taste sensation.

Vladic's sides included fresh cranberry salad, a fire-roasted paprika (red pepper) salad and runny mashed potatoes that were transformed at the eleventh hour into a potato bake with the help of bread crumbs.

But the piece de resistance was hand-pulled filo dough made simply with flour, salt and water, and filled with apples, cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar to make apple strudel. Vladic did a great service for the dying art of hand-stretched strudel dough. It was delightful to watch a small wad of pastry turn into paper-thin dough that covered an entire table. Watch the Serbian Sisters Circle of Merrillville, Ind., do the same thing here.

It just goes to show, every family has a different tradition for the American holiday of Thanksgiving, and they all have a place in the country's melting-pot culinary repertoire.

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November 16, 2010 at 10:08 am
(1) nancy says:

I loved her recipes….

I would love to have the recipe for the sauerkraut she put under the turkey… anyone know the amounts used…

she made it seem just bacon, onions, and sauerkraut… but quantities I have no idea..

thanks for anyone who can help!!

November 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm
(2) American Russia Observations says:

Hi Barbara,

I saw your comment on Russian Chef and so am writing you. The cooking competition won by Vlada Vladic is intriguing in that the contestants have to respond creatively to problems that may arise.

American Russia Observations just posted an Expat Cooking post, including a Recommended List of 12 Russian Cooking Blogs. I hope you find the list valuable. Please let me know what you thing.

I’m off to check the forum, Facebook page, and Twitter.

All the best,

Rob MacDonald

November 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm
(3) easteuropeanfood says:

Fabulous! I encourage anyone who has a blog on Eastern European food to fill out this quick form to be listed on my blog. Thanks in advance! http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/u/sty/easterneuropeanfoods/eean-blogs/

November 16, 2010 at 7:50 pm
(4) nancy says:

thanks.. just looking for the recipe.. hoping that foodtv posts the recipes…

November 18, 2010 at 5:00 pm
(5) Lydia says:

I went to our local Serbian Croation Fest in Lake Mary, FL. I had lamb and they had this creamy roasted red pepper sauce in a glass jar as a condiment. It tasted fabulous. I am trying to buy it. Does anyone know where I can purchase this product??

November 18, 2010 at 6:03 pm
(6) easteuropeanfood says:

Lydia, I believe you are talking about ajvar, which is roasted eggplant-pepper spread. Podravka.com carries it or, if you want to make it, here’s a recipe: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/vegetables/r/ajvar.htm

December 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm
(7) Vlada Vladic says:

Dear Barbara,

My friend found this article and forwarded it to me!

Thank you for your support and above all thank you
for bringing much deserved attention and recognition to
East European food.

One of your readers, Nancy, is trying to get the recipe for
sauerkraut. She can find this recipe at:

I am on the mission to preserve old ways and art of
cooking, while teaching young families and children
how to cook and eat healthier. During this year we
finished filming our first three episodes on program
called ‘ Cooking and Kids’, and are very grateful that
our program is currently plying throughout Southern

Thank you again Barbara!
With best wishes,
Vlada Vladic

February 15, 2011 at 12:32 am
(8) milica vladic says:

That’s my aunt no lie

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