A couple of years ago, looking up my grandparents Croatian villages on Google Maps (amazingly, yes, there were there!), I discovered that they were located so far north and west in that country as to be practically in Slovenia. Grandpa’s town was a literal stone’s throw across the river separating the two countries.
Which probably goes to explain my affinity for Kate’s former upstairs neighbors, the charming Bojan and Mateja Kavaš, Slovenian nationals who have been stationed in in D.C. at their embassy; we’re practically kissin’ cousins. And Mateja has shared her family’s own wonderful recipes, like potica, that are virtual twins of those handed down in my family (where it’s known as povitica).
But Mateja’s city sophistication always shows in her culinary daring and unusual variations. Like the Prekmurska Gibanica she brought to last year’s Thanksgiving dinner, a marvel of layers alternating strudel pastry with nuts, apples, poppy seeds and cheese.
This year, her contribution of a potica filled with mascarpone and tarragon graced the Thanksgiving table and it was a revelation. I’ve had lots of cheese potica/povitica made with a sweetened cream cheese filling, but employing mascarpone takes it to another level altogether, while fresh tarragon is a clean, light touch that never would have occurred. It lightens up the sometimes heavy bread, and takes it away from being strictly a dessert item.
Here’s the step by step, courtesy of Mateja. Photos by Bojan.