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Posted on Wed. Aug. 27, 2014 - 01:16 am EDT

Bosnia native leads kitchen for seniors

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I still want to learn …

A. More English.

I can’t wait to …

A. Go to Bosnia to see my family over there.

Fort Wayne — Fort Wayne resident Hajra Muratovic, along with her husband, Ismet; their son, Muradif; and daughter, Irma Sejdovic, left Bosnia 14 years ago looking for a better life.

Muratovic, 46, has been working for Covington Commons Assisted Living, a part of Five Star Quality Care Inc., since 2001. During those years, she has worked as a server and cook.

More than seven years ago, she was promoted to the position of food service manager of the kitchen. She has 13 to 15 people working there.

Asked what makes the job enjoyable, Muratovic says, “I enjoy the older people.”

“They remind me of my parents,” she says with tears in her eyes. “My father passed away two years ago. And another thing, the people and the staff are friendly.”

Renee Kreienbrink, executive director at Covington Commons Assisted Living, agrees.

“This is our extended family. That’s what we call it,” she says. “The residents love the food and appreciate the hard work.”

Muratovic says she would do anything to make the residents happy – including cooking in the heat.

“We had more than 200 shish kabobs,” Muratovic says of an event at Covington Commons. “I’m glad they enjoyed it.”

Most of the recipes used at the assisted living facility are provided by professional chef Brad Miller of Los Angeles. According to Kreienbrink, they have hundreds of Miller’s recipes for use. Occasionally, other sources are considered, such as Marcia Adams cookbooks.

“Oh yes, we still use a lot of her recipes for cookies,” Kreienbrink says.

Muratovic says the kitchen has cookbooks, but most recipes come from the corporate office. “The apple tarragon vinaigrette recipe I have is from (Miller), and they love it. Only if I want to make something special do we use those books,” Muratovic says.

She says kabobs and steak are favorites of the residents.

“Yeah, they love your steaks and soups. The old homemade soups from scratch,” Kreienbrink says.

Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?

A. Yellow peppers. Bosnian people will laugh because they love yellow peppers. Green tastes different.

Q. Who would you consider as a cooking idol?

A. I used to watch a lot of Emeril (Lagasse). I love to cook in his dishes. The food doesn’t stick.

Q. What’s something that people would not find in your refrigerator?

A. Here, buttermilk. We never buy it. We would only use it for some cookies.

Q. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what’s one thing you would have to have?

Kreienbrink: Dinner rolls. You love dinner rolls. She loves hot bread.

Muratovic: Oh, and peppers.

Chicken Cobb Wedge Salad

3 heads iceberg lettuce, chilled

20 slices bacon

20 ounces blue cheese dressing

60 cherry tomatoes

5 avocados

10 ounces blue cheese crumbles

10 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

Dill, to taste

Fresh basil, to taste

10 slices red onion

Black pepper, to taste

Cut lettuce into 10 wedges. Place each wedge on a plate. Cook bacon until crispy. Cut in half on angle to make sharp shards. Place bacon in different layers of the lettuce wedge. Pour the blue cheese dressing over the bacon and lettuce wedge. Grill cherry tomatoes until heated through. Remove from heat and cool. Slice avocado lengthwise into thin strips. Arrange avocado slices and cherry tomatoes around the plate, dividing between the 10 plates. Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles, 1 ounce per serving. Sprinkle with diced chicken, 2 ounces per serving. Sprinkle with dill, basil and top each salad with 1 slice of onion. Dust with black pepper. Chill in refrigerator before serving. Makes 10 servings.

Apple Tarragon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider

3 tablespoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped shallots

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon canola oil

Combine all ingredients, except canola oil; blend on high in food processor. While blending, slowly drizzle in canola oil. Chill before serving. Makes 10 servings.

Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Chives

5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

1 pound unsalted butter, diced

50 cloves garlic, cooked in olive oil until soft

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup sliced chives

Cook potatoes in a pot of simmering salted water until tender. Drain in a colander and place in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and whip until smooth. Season with black pepper and salt, to taste. Makes 30 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801; fax 461-8648 or email

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