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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

Weekend Cooking … ‘Balkan Delights’

Button for Weekend Cooking memeWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth F, over at ‘Beth Fish Reads’. It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. When leaving your link, don’t forget to leave a comment for Beth F, we all like to receive comments and share your thoughts.


I have recently finished reading what is by far my most recommended book of the year to date, ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’ by James Lyon (review to follow soon). Given its Balkan location and protagonists, there was the inevitable mention of local food, several in fact. Many of the dishes were discussed in previous posts, when James kindly visited Fiction Books and chatted to several commenters, some of whom came from the Balkan region. Whilst reading on though, I did come across a couple more local dishes, which I had to check out and it is these that I thought to share with you today.


A Picture of Esterhazy CakeThe Esterhazy Cake or Torte, was thought to have been named after the Hungarian Prince Magnate Paul III Anton Esterházy de Galantha, who was in the service of the Austrian Hungarian Habsburg Emperor in the 19th Century.

The Original Torte has five layers and is filled with a buttercream  filling. The “spider web” icing design is known as the Esterhazy pattern.

There are several different recipe variations, depending on which region within the Balkans you visit. Some recipes call for the buttercream filling to be sandwiched between layers of sponge cake, whilst others use layers of meringue for a more crunchy finish.

This is one of the nicest looking cakes I came across. The recipe was posted by Helene, over at ‘Masala Herb‘. There are several individual ingredients needed and it is not a particularly quick cake to make and bake, however Helene has clear step-by-step instructions, both written and pictorial and I am sure you will agree that the end result does look ‘scrummy’!


A picture of a plate of chocolate palacinkePalatschinke (pl. Palatschinken) is the Austrian name of a thin, crêpe-like variety of pancake common in Central and Eastern Europe and known variously as palačinka (Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Serbian, Slovene), palacsinta (Hungarian), and similar ethnic derivations.

Central European pancakes are thin pancakes similar to the French crêpe. The main difference between the French and Slavic version of the dish is that the mixture for palatschinken can be used straight away unlike that of crepes which is suggested to be left at rest for several hours. Palatschinken are made by creating a runny dough from eggs, wheat flour, milk and salt and frying it in a pan with butter or oil.

Unlike thicker types of pancakes, palatschinken are usually served with different types of fillings and eaten for lunch or dinner, either with a sweet filling as a dessert, or unsweetened with meat and or vegetables as a main course.

This chocolate palicinke has the addition of walnuts and just a dash of rum, for that little extra decadence and with the amount of calories already stacked on the plate, who is going to be counting the cost of a large dollop of thick cream!!

The mouth watering recipe for this feast of naughtiness, can be found over at Lidia’s Italy, together with comprehensive baking method and instructions. You can also check out Lidia’s books and DVD’s in her online shop.

I’ll leave you with one last thought for the week …

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

Harriet Van Horne (1920-1998) … American newspaper columnist and film/television critic. She was a writer for many years at the New York World-Telegram and its successors.

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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • Well those both look absolutely delicious, especially that first layered cake. I’m just sitting here with a cup of Twinings tea thinking a slice of that would go down very well with it. LOL.

    • Hi Cath,

      There seem to be several variations on the recipe for esterhazy cake or torte and I have to admit that some looked better than others!

      Helene has done a pretty good job to her offering though and the recipe is clearly laid out, with several preparation images to help as well.

      I am afraid that I am not much of a cook these days and at getting on for two hours preparation and cooking time, this won’t be top of my list … But if I were sat in a coffee shop somewhere in the Balkans, with a nice mug of black coffee and a slice of this delicious sounding cake, you wouldn’t hear me complaining.

      We visited the former Yugoslavia, long before the break up of the country and when tourism was in its infancy. On the whole the food, even in a four star hotel, was pretty awful. Everything came covered in a beetroot mayonnaise sauce, which seemed to take the place of our gravy! The one saving grace, was that we found a lovely little coffee shop down in the local town and they served fantastic looking cakes which looked very similar to the esterhazy cake, although as no-one spoke English, we never did get to find out what they were called, only that they tasted perfect!!

      I hope that you have had a relaxing day.

    • Hi Margaret,

      I am noticing a very distinct trend in the content of my posts and commenters … everything seems to revolve around chocolate!!! … it just goes to show how addictive it is!

      The confectionary companies set out to get more of us buying more of their products, whilst the government and health officials set out to tell us how obese and unhealthy we all are!

      I wonder if they would change their tune somewhat if we all stopped buying the sweet stuff and the companies went out of business, along with their worldwide suppliers of raw ingredients. What’s the betting that all of a sudden chocolate and sweets would be okay for us in small quantities and might even be found to have some beneficial effects on our health?

      I often wonder exactly who is fooling who!

      Your chocolate brownies would go down a treat right now, as I have just got in from a days volunteering and could do with a sugar hit!

      • Mmmmmmm…..chocolate…..
        I frequently visit Vienna, and always go to the famed Demel Court confectioners for their Sachertorte, which is better than the version served at the Hotel Sacher.

        • Hi James,

          I hate you!! …. I just checked out the Demel Court website and now you have me craving chocolate and we have nothing sweet in the house at all!!

          Some of their stuff looks amazing and the shop front is so classy. You would feel like a million dolars having coffee and cake there!

          Wait! … I notice that they deliver to anywhere in the EU as well!!

          Now you’re talking

          • Don’t hate me for loving chocolate!!! I am only Human. Demel is the old Hapsburg Imperial Court confectioner. It is located about 50 yards away from the Hofburg Palace in the heart of Vienna’s old town. In the back they have a floor to ceiling glass wall where you can watch all the cakes and deserts being made by hand. I believe that in some religions a visit to Demel requires a visit to the confessional afterwards. :-))

    • Hi Diane,

      Although you can’t beat a good old traditional English roast dinner with all the trimmings, we generally tend to eat foods from different cultures when we eat out, or quite often at home as well, although I don’t make nearly such a tasty job of most dishes!

      We live in quite a rural area in the South West of England, however we have both an excellent Indian and Chinese restaurant within a mile of the house. We are also less than 15 miles from the City of Bath, where we can always find great Italian and Thai food, so we are pretty much sorted.

      We also love to eat Al Fresco whenever possible, which is becoming more popular with the British population as a whole, although not necessarily in traditional English restaurants. Continental and Asian restaurants seem much more geared up for the experience.

      Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments.

    • Hi Nikki,

      You have no idea of just how many versions of both these fabulous desserts there are out there on the web. Finding just the right sites to link to was torture, as all the delicious looking images were almost too much to bear!!

      I hope that you are having a good weekend and thanks for stopping by.

    • Hi JoAnn,

      I love discovering good quotes and it is especially satisfying when a new author comes up with something profound and touching to say. I have a rolling random quotes bar on the side of the page, wich changes each time a page is refreshed or changed, although these quotes are exclusively book or literature related.

      My ‘foodie’ quote today, came from a book which crossed my path in the charity shop where I volunteer. It is a book which is going to come into its own in some of my ‘Weekend Cooking’ posts, as it contains not only several ‘foodie’ quotes, but some great recipes too.

      The book is called ‘Bake For Britain’, a gift sized pocket book, with a great Union Jack cover …


      Thanks for stopping by and finding a different aspect of the post to comment on.

    • Hi Caite,

      I could just eat a good sized slice of the cake right now. We have not long finished dinner and it would make an excellent dessert. Looking at the time though, it is 10.28pm, so perhaps it is a little late for chocolate and cream?

      Hope that your weekend is good so far and thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Hi Janel,

      I like crepes just as much as cake, believe me!

      Theses thinner crepes are similar to the traditional ‘pancake’, which we Brits enjoy once a year on ‘Shrove Tuesday’, usually served plain, sprinkled with castor sugar and a squeeze of lemon.


      This would be the way that hubbie would enjoy his crepes (pancakes), but the idea of dousing them in chocolate, or any other sauce, sounds good to me!

      Some place now serve the much thicker pancakes, which we seem to have imported, but I’m afraid that they are a little too ‘stodgy’ for my taste.

      Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comment.

    • Hi Peggy,

      I am always happy to share recipes that are mouthwatering and look this good, why should I be only one to drool and put on weight just looking at them … LOL!

      Thanks for stopping by, it is always good to hear from you.

  • Oh yum. Those crepes remind me of the pancakes I’ve gotten in Holland — both sweet and savory. And that cake? The photo alone won me over.

    • Hi Beth,

      Good old Wikipedia to the rescue again….

      Apparently crepes in Dutch are called pannenkoek or flensje, whilst pancakes, which are much thicker, are called pannenkoeken, are generally savoury and eaten at dinner time.

      The esterhazy cake looks very decadent, doesn’t it and with some of the scrummy variations on ingredients which can be incorporated, is also very calorie busting!!

      Thanks for hosting and taking the time to stop by all your commenters sites, it is much appreciated.

    • Hi Tracy,

      According to the Wikipedia page … In Polish, the equivalent is called a naleśnik,

      Check out the article and see if this rings any bells …


      I must admit that I do love my desserts, although when we met friends earlier today for Sunday lunch, I did restrain myself and had a couple of scoops of ice cream … Maple/walnut and honeycomb. It did come with a generous dollop of cream, caramel sauce and a delicious finger wafer!! Perhaps not so restrained after all, but definitely very yummy!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I look forward to your contributions.

    • Hi Sheree,

      Thanks for choosing to visit Fiction Books today. I love meeting new people, so your visits will always be welcome and your comments always appreciated.

      We only ever have crepes if they are available on a menu when we are eating out, however as they are time consuming to make and have to be served almost immediately they are ready, I tend to find that not many places can be bothered to serve them.

      I have acquired a book which as well as containing some great traditionally British recipes, is also interspersed with several ‘foodie’ quotes, so I shall be sliding one into my Weekend Cooking posts every so often.

      Hope that you had a good weekend.

  • Those all look yummy….and I have to say my mother in law makes the best palatschinkes ever. some of our favorite memories are of her vacationing with us down by the shore one summer. Every morning hubby, myself and the kids would wake up to freshly made palatschinkes 🙂 If I had to describe them, I’d say they are very similar to French crepes.
    Great foodie post Yvonne!

    • Hi Naida,

      Can you send over your address please and the next time we are out in the States, its all over to your mother-in-laws for palaschinkes!!! JUST JOKING!

      I know that the US version of a pancake, is quite thick, very much like a ‘Scotch Pancake’, which are the same thickness but a little smaller round and which are readily available pre-packed in most supermarkets here in the UK.

      French crepes are very similar to our English pancakes, so palacinke would be a great hit over here, especially liberally drizzled with chocolate!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking an interest in the post.

  • Yvonne, why leadest thou me into temptation? Now I shall have to walk down the street in search of something chocolatey. When my wife asks why I can’t fit into my trousers anymore, I’ll have you to blame. 🙂

    A couple of other Balkan deserts that are widespread are baklava and tufahija. Baklava came to the Balkans from Turkey, and has different variations, especially in the Middle East. The Balkan/Turkish variety tends to be far moister than the Middle-Eastern varieties, and I myself had made several batches, in which I prefer to use honey instead of syrup.

    Tufahija is a desert that is found largely in Bosnia. It is a cored, peeled apple, cooked in sugar water. The apple is then stuffed with walnuts and a large dollop of whipped cream is placed on top. This is also of Turkish origin.

    However, at this stage, I think I will stand up from the computer and walk into downtown Sarajevo and visit the Hotel Europe’s Vienna Cafe, where I shall partake of something with lots and lots of chocolate.



    P.S. I’m glad you liked the book.

    • Hi James,

      I have had Baklava before, although as you can imagine, the UK version probably isn’t anywhere near the standard of the ‘Real McCoy’ recipe and presentation which you are used to!

      Again, we have our own version of Tufahija, which in this case is probably actually quite a good substitute for the real thing. Baked Apples generally aren’t peeled, but are cored, stuffed with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and you can add raisins if you like, topped with a knob of butter, then baked in the oven and served hot with cream or ice cream.

      This is the best recipe I could find and is written by a very respected UK chef


      Now you have made me really hungry, I am off to prepare dinner.

      I promise not to keep you waiting too long for the review, there are two other reviews to be published before your own, but I loved the book. My first foray into the world of vampires and probably my last, as it is not one of my preferred genres and nothing else will come close to ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’.

      I hope that you enjoyed your chocolate fix!

Written by Yvonne