Aug 7 2011

salată de sfeclă

Romanian cuisine is quite diverse due in part to it’s geographical position in Eastern Europe. It’s cuisine has evolved through influences from many invading nations including Turkey, Russia, Germany, and Hungary.

Some of Romania’s traditional dishes include; mamaliga (polenta), sarmale (cabbage rolls with rice and minced pork), eggplant salad (salată de vinete), salată de sfeclă (beet salad), and vişinată (a type of cherry liqueur, pronounced vi-she-na-tuh).

Although Romania is not a rich country, people take pride in the fact that they are able and willing to offer strangers the best they have and hospitality is often expressed through food.

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Jun 23 2010

sarmale în foi de varză acră

Romanian Stuffed Sour Cabbage

In Romania, sarmales are a special treat for Christmas dinner. They are typically served with mămăligă (polenta). We make them in large batches because they taste even better the next day. They can also be frozen.


2 or 3 large heads of cabbage
1 lemon, juiced
4 onions, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup of rice
2 lbs of ground pork
2 lbs of ground beef
1 Tablespoon of (sweet) paprika
4 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
32 oz. of sauerkraut (save the juice)
1lbs. of bacon, sliced
½ cup of water
1 Tablespoon of Vegeta*


Remove the core of the cabbage with a paring knife.

Add to a pot of boiling salted water the juice from 1 lemon. Immerse the heads of cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it becomes pliable. Set the leaves aside.

In a skillet add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onion, celery, garlic and raw rice for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl add the sautéed mixture, ground pork, ground beef, paprika, salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together.

To assemble the sarmales, remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife. Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in an oval shape near the rib edge of each leaf. As you are starting to roll up toward the outer edge, fold the right side edge of the leaf towards the center. Continue rolling until your reach the top. Now you need to tuck the left side of the cabbage leaf into itself. Continue with this rolling method until you finish the meat mixture.

Line the bottom of a large roasting pan with a thin layer of chopped cabbage and sauerkraut. Place 3 or 4 strips of bacon across sauerkraut. Cover with a layer of stuffed cabbage placed side by side. Followed by another layer of sauerkraut, strips of bacon, and stuffed cabbage. End with bacon strips and sauerkraut covering the top of sarmales. Add any extra whole cabbage leafs on top to help keep moisture in.

Mix Vegeta in ½ cup water and stir to dissolve. Add Vegeta mixture, sauerkraut juice and enough water to almost cover all the layers of sarmales.

Cover the baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours.

*Vegeta is a gourmet seasoning and soup mix imported from Croatia.

Total baking time: 3 hours
Makes: about 35-40 sarmales

May 3 2010

clătite a.k.a. crepe suzette

“Clătite” is a Romanian dessert similar to crepe suzettes.

This clătite recipe is another Romanian family treasure. I recall fond memories of my Grandmother preparing these tasty treats for me as a child. This week I recaptured that tradition with my own children. My children could not get enough – even after making 106 crepes! My son Sander, who is four years old, told me that there were people outside cheering for my crepes (this was really his sweet way of asking me to make more crepes for him).

The traditional way to serve clatites is to sprinkle regular table sugar on them while they are still warm. Roll them into logs and enjoy!


2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt


Place all ingredients into a blender and process until everything is incorporated.  Chill mixture for several hours in the refrigerator.

After the mixture has chilled in the refrigerator – heat crepe pan until hot.  Grease the pan lightly with a no-stick cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto the pan, and tilt pan to spread batter. Cook till golden brown and then flip to cook the other side.

Sprinkle with sugar and roll into logs.

Eat them while they are still hot!

Makes 6-8 crepes.

Use the above recipe to accompany the following crepe toppings and filling:

Blueberry-Cinnamon Coulis
Raspberry-Lime Coulis
Chocolate-Almond Mousse Crepe

Mar 31 2010

Romanian cornulete

I wonder why the only Romanian word I can recall from my childhood is ‘maninca.’

Maninca, translates to mean ‘eat.’

My grandfather was Romanian, and my memories of time spent in my grandparents home is filled with friends, family, and food.

Cornulete is a treasured family recipe from my family to yours.


2 cups and 2 Tablespoons of flour
8 oz. of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened

3 cups walnuts, minced
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons of cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)

In a standing mixer combined margarine, butter, and cream cheese.  Slowly add in the flour and mix until well blended.  Shape dough into a 12-inch log. Roll in wax paper and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Combine all of the filling ingredients together and in a bowl and set aside.

Remove the log from the refrigerator and slice the into 1/2-inch rounds.  Pat each round slice into sugar.  Store remaining rounds in the refrigerated until you are ready to work with them.  Roll out each round onto a sugared countertop, until very thin (add more sugar as needed to prevent sticking).  Cut into 6 triangles.  Place nut mixture on wide end of the triangle and roll.  Brush the tops with beaten eggs and roll in sugar.  Bake at 350° on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.