Monday, November 6, 2017


Well, my birthday came and went. And so did our 13th wedding anniversary. And so did Halloween. Last weekend, we finally took a trip to Cincinnati to visit the famous international grocery store Jungle Jim’s. It was amazing! We ended up with several cheeses, a bunch of candy, ice cream, and some other random stuff I totally needed. I want to go back again, but everyone was right: you’re not getting out of there spending less than $100. 

I had this for breakfast. It goes well with coffee. Especially the middle part of the bread.
But today is for cooking Romanian food. I started out with Cozonac bread. I put 1/3 c + 1 Tbsp of flour in a bowl. Then I brought 300 mL of milk to a boil but only poured 1/3 c + 1 Tbsp of the milk into the flour, stirred and let it cool down. I proofed my yeast with a little warm water and ½ tsp of sugar. Once the flour-milk mixture cooled down, I poured the yeast mixture into it and mixed it all together, covering with a towel and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. While I was waiting on that, I melted 7 Tbsp of butter and then let it cool a little. In a separate bowl, I mixed together 4 egg yolks and ½ tsp of salt, then adding in 1 Tbsp vanilla sugar, zest from ½ a lemon, ½ sugar, ½ Tbsp of rum (I used Bacardi Limón), 1 ½ Tbsp of vegetable oil, and half of the melted butter. I mixed this pretty well, and then poured it into the flour-milk-yeast mixture. At this point I added in the rest of the lukewarm milk from earlier and stirred. I sifted in the remaining 3 2/3 c of flour into the mixture, stirring and kneading it until it comes together and starts to pull itself from the sides of the bowl. I added in the rest of the melted butter and kept stirring and kneading the dough. I covered it and let it rest for another 15-20 minutes. While I was waiting on that, I made my filling. Of the four eggs I had, I reserved 2 of the egg whites and whisked them until they started to become stiff. Then I added in a ½ c of sugar and 1 Tbsp of rum and whisked it all again. I was supposed to whisk it until it became stiff again, but that never really happened, so I folded in my ground walnuts (about ½ c) anyway, hoping it would thicken up (it did a little). I rolled my dough out until it was about a ¼” thick or thinner and until it was about 14” x 23” large. I spread the filling out on top of the dough and used a knife to cut the dough in half (from the long side, creating two squares). Beginning on the side that was cut, I rolled the bread up and creased the edges, placing it in a buttered bread pan. I did the same for the other loaf and let both sit for another 10 minutes while the oven heated up to 375ºF. I put both in the oven and baked it for 45 minutes. When they were done, I took them out and let them cool. The tops of mine got a little darker than I like, but the flavor was great. The inside was so soft. I think I’m going to take my second loaf and make a bread pudding out of it -- maybe a vanilla and cranberry one.

I loved this! I'm going to attempt this again with some slight variations.
For the main meal, I made Cordon bleu snitel, a Romanian version of schnitzel. Not to be confused with the character Schnitzel from the cartoon Chowder. This called for cutting a boneless pork tenderloin into 8 equal parts and pounding it between two pieces of plastic wrap. After I did that for each one, I seasoned it with a little bit of salt and pepper. Then I placed a piece of prosciutto and thinly sliced piece of Swiss cheese on each one. Then I rolled it up, rolled it in flour, then an egg-water mixture, then some breadcrumbs, and fried it in a hot skillet with a little vegetable oil. I turned it to brown on both sides. But even though the breadcrumbs were browned, the pork wasn’t quite cooked all the way through. Maybe my slices were a little too thick. So, I put them on a baking sheet and put them in my oven at 375 for about 20 minutes. Then they were perfect. I really liked this, and it seemed to go over well with the rest of my picky family. I could probably save time and buy those thinly cut pork cutlets next time.

These were actually a bit too small. Next time, I'm going to try baby bellas.
To go with this, I made Ciuperci la cuptor, or baked mushrooms. This is a variation of stuffed mushrooms. I used smaller white mushrooms, washed them and removed the stems. I greased a baking sheet with olive oil and laid the mushrooms out on it. Then I brushed the mushrooms in a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. I prepared the filling: I mixed together some breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil, a little water and placed it in each mushroom. I topped this with some Parmesan cheese and a little bit of fresh dill. I baked this at 400ºF for about 20 minutes. I put a little too much salt in the breading mix, but otherwise, I thought they were a great accompaniment to the snitel. I do realize I didn’t serve any other vegetables with this meal, which I try to do. But that’s ok. I’ll get my veggies in later.

Looks like crap, but it's not. It's actually really good. Would also go well with coffee.
And to finish everything off, I made a dessert this time: Cherry filled Cocoa Truffles. I crushed some animal crackers until it was almost a powder with a few rough pieces in it. In a separate bowl, I beat together the sugar, cocoa, and butter together. I left out the ground walnuts, but wondered later if I should’ve added them in. I warmed up some milk and poured it on the crushed animal crackers, then added in my cocoa mix and stirred everything together. Taking a spoon, I spooned out a little bit of the candy and tried to form a ball. This is when I knew things weren’t going to be easy. Then I put a maraschino cherry on it, wrapping the rest of the cocoa mix around it. It was so loose that it was almost like a thick oatmeal but with finer particles. Definitely not rolling these. I expected them to turn out more like Brazilian brigadeiros. So, I’m wondering if there were some steps missing from my recipe. I ended up plopping it on some wax paper and dousing it in powdered sugar. They looked like a small dog pooped on a plate then covered it in snow. But as they sat there, they set up more, and they tasted pretty tasty!

This was mighty tasty, if I may say so myself. And I just did.
I couldn’t help but wondering while I was whisking the egg whites together who thought this up first. I’m pretty sure it was probably some form of early punishment. “Oh, Roberto, you’ve made such a mess of things: what am I going to do with you? Sit here and whisk these egg whites nonstop until I think of something.” [10 minutes later] “Mom… Am I done yet?” “No, just keep stirring! I'm still thinking.” [3 years later] “Roberto, ok, you can get up now. What is that?” “I kept stirring like you asked. Am I really done this time?” “Yes. But give me that. I’ve got some ideas I want to try with this. But don’t go far – if this turns out well, I’m going to need you again.” And there you have it. True story.

Up next: Russia 

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