Croatian Cheese – Award Winning
Many artisan and regional cheeses are produced around Croatia and it is always a treat to enjoy platters of the cured meats and cheeses. Turoš is a cheese made with paprikash that is then dried or smoked and served as an appetizer. Kajmak is found throughout the Balkans and is a soft mild ricotta -like cheese that may have herbs or spices added and is used as a spread and also in cooking and pastries.
The most famous Croatian cheese is Paški Sir, which is a sheep cheese from the Island Pag. The sheep there live a hard scrabble life foraging for greens off the largely barren island that is wracked by the Bura wind part of the year, which reduces vegetation to hearty shrubs and small plants. The sheep feed off sage, lavender, mint, and rosemary all dusted by sea salt that the winds bestow on the island. These flavors are detectable in the milk of the sheep and become more pronounced with the aging of the cheese in the limestone caves on the island. The cheese is delicious simply sliced and eaten or grated atop pastas and rice.
In fact, a specialized Croatian sheep cheese with pressed olives just won the title of Best Cheese in the World at the 2014 World Championship Cheese in Wisconsin. This same cheese, Sirana Gligora Paški was also voted the best sheep milk cheese in the world at the International Cheese Awards in England in 2013
There is also a wonderful semi hard goat milk cheese named Kozlar, made by Gligora from goats that live in Zadar hinterland near the Velebit, The Sirana Gligira Kozja Skuta, a softer goat cheese delightfully incorporated into dishes like this cheesecake recipe from the Gligora family.
Goat Cheese Cheesecake Recipe
Ingredients – For the base:
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup almonds
- ¾ cup crushed walnuts
- ½ cup of ground flax seed or poppy/sesame seeds
- 6 tbls melted butter
For the filling:
- 500 g Sirana Gligora Kozja skuta (goat milk ricotta)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 8 eggs, separated
- 3 tbs plain flour
- 2 tbs honey
- Preheat the oven to 165°C.
- To make the base, grind the pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts to a flour-like consistency
- then mix in the ground flax seed, sugar and melted butter. Press the mixture to the bottom of
- a spring form pan and bake for 15 to 20 mins.
- Reduce the oven to 150°C.
- For the filling, beat the egg whites until just firm and then beat in the vanilla, sugar and ¾ of
- the Kozja skuta until well combined. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.
- Slowly stir in the flour then fold in the remaining Kozja skuta, then pour the mixture into the
- cake base.
- Bake for about 30 mins in a water bath, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out
- clean. Let it cool and chill in the fridge for about 4 hours.
- Serve with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of walnuts.
Dobar Tek! (Good Appetite!)