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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