Table of ContentsIntro : The Romanian Food Culture01. Zakuski / Ajvar02.Chicken Tenders03. Meat Patties04.

Eggplants salad/dip05. Beef salad - Salade de Boeuf06. Little meatballs07. Jellied pork08. Baked bell peppers09. Polenta10. Nettles with polenta11. Stuffed cabbage rolls13.Stuffed Green Bell Peppers With Vegetarian Stuffing 13. Gulash14. Tripe Soup15. Bean Soup16. Ground beef with potatoes and eggs18. Romanian doughnuts20. Romanian Cozonac:
Intro : The Romanian Food Culture 

Romanian cuisine is one of the less known cuisines in the world partly due to the misconception that it is a very heavy one with lots of fats and not so appetizing recipes in general.

The seasons generally influence the food offered. During summer and autumn markets overflow with fresh vegetables and fruits coming from the local farms. 
Radishes, spring onions, potatoes, nettles, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers delight the shoppers in April and May. From the end of May to late September there is a large variety of fruit: cherries, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, plums, pears, melons and watermelons, peaches, blackberries, blueberries, apples, grapes, quinces and nuts. 
Beekeeping has always been one of the traditional occupations in Romania, and the products (honey, wax, honeycombs) are also sold on the market. 

The best-known dish is sarmale, called also with the diminutive sărmăluţe, (mincemeat wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves) with mămăligă (polenta). Stews (tocăniţe) made with different kinds of meat (usually chicken and pork) and with vegetables also figure on the restaurant menus, as well as different kinds of soups.
Ciorbă de burtă (tripe soup) served with garlic or hot chilli pepper and vinegar is one of the favourites among Romanians. Pork prepared in different ways is one of the most common ingredients, and all restaurants serve pork chops (cotlet)   with French fries and salad.

There are not very many dishes for vegetarians, as Romanians consider a meal without meat very poor indeed. Some dishes are ghiveci (mixed fried vegetables), ardei umpluţi (stuffed peppers, although these might have meat, too) and ouă umplute (filled eggs), besides different kinds of salads and local cheese. At home, the peasants meal almost always contains polenta (mămăligă) that is also known as the “bread of the peasant”. Some centuries ago, when Romania was strictly divided into two social groups, the boyars and the peasants, bread was only eaten by the boyars. Nowadays the situation is different and mămăligă is the traditional dish for everyone, although in towns it is not eaten daily as in the countryside. A traditional combination on farms is mămăligă and smoked pork fat called slănină with garlic, chased with a small glass of ţuică. A dish associated with the life of shepherds on the hills is mămăligă with sheep-milk cheese.

Romanian food is unique in sense that it has been  influenced by many of it's neighbors  because it was and still is a highly transited country.

The Romanian cuisine has many Balkan and Mediterranean influences but also it's unique style developed starting with the original inhabitants the Dacs continuing with Roman occupation and continuing with the waves of migratory people that have either attacked or crossed it .
The purpose of this book is simple : to try and  share with the world how beautiful this country is and what better way to do so then through the aid of the universal language of food.

01. Zakuski / Ajvar 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Zacusca)

A wonderful roasted vegetable spread/dip Zakuski, as called in Russian, or Zacusca, as the Romanians call it, is a way of mixing vegetables for the long and heavy winters that cross East Europe, when finding fresh legumes was once a problem.

 It really is a great and different spread. It has such a beautiful bright color. Great to have on hand when you want a quick snack or appetizer. I chose to use it with bagel crostini.

Zacusca is a vegetable paste that is generously spread on bread and eaten as an appetizer or as light dinner. If the bread is a toast, is even better.

Just for reference, you can easily double the recipe and freeze it. It freezes beautifully! 

Ingredients:

-4 large red bell peppers (you can also use the green or orange ones but the red ones have more flavour)
-1 small to medium eggplant
-1 large onion
-1 jalapeno pepper (you can add more if you want yours to be hot)
-1 tsp of crushed black pepper
-1 and 1/2 tsp of table salt
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-2 TBS-1/4 cup of white vinegar(you can use less, because for some people this quantity it’s a bit too strong)
-4 cloves of garlic -1/2 -1 TBS paprika (this will give it more color)

Preparation:
Wash the peppers and the eggplant. Dry them . Pierce the eggplant with a knife,.this helps so that the eggplant doesn't burst.

Peel the onion and cut it in half. Place the eggplant ,peppers and onion on a hot grill until they are blackened. It is easier to peel the eggplant and bell peppers when their skin is blackened. You will need to turn them over so that all the sides get blackened.
Take them off the grill and place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The steam that forms will help the skin come off the vegetables. Remove the skin from peppers and eggplant and cut them into pieces.
Do the same with the onion.
Mince the garlic and the jalapeno. Place them in a pot on the stove on medium heat. Add oil and vinegar and seasoning. Don’t forget to mix them.
Cook on very low for at least one hour, but i would go for 1 hour and a half to get more flavour. Cook and stir frequently with a wooden spoon so that it doesn't burn.
When it is done, place the mixture in a blender and blend till smooth.

If you want it more chunky don't use the pulse button. You can also use a food grinder.

You can reheat it in the pot for a few more minutes.

Place in jars.

You can sterilize the jars and pour a little oil on top before sealing them, this makes the zacusca last longer.

Serve with crostini, bread or meats.

02.Chicken Tenders 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Snitel de pui)

This is a really simple recipe for chicken tenders. You can use this recipe to make Chicken Parmigiana as well...just don't cut the chicken breast into strips.

This is a perfect recipe to make and freeze for a later day. You can easily play around with seasoning... add some Parmesan to the bread crumbs and even some dried coconut.

Of course, you can use the same method to make shrimp as well.  This is one of those recipes that my mom would make for us while growing up...it brings back wonderful memories.

Ingredients:

-6 chicken breasts, cut into strips
-4 cups fresh bread crumbs
-1 cup flour
-3 eggs
-3 tsp lemon juice
-2 tsp onion powder
-salt to taste
-pepper to taste

Preparation:

Cut chicken breasts into strips. Use a food mallet on the strips.
Season with salt/pepper, onion powder and lemon juice. You can also season it with other herbs of your choice.
You will need to process some fresh sliced bread in a food processor. You will need about 4 cups fresh bread crumbs. It is at this point that you can add some Italian herbs to the bread crumbs(optional). 
Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish and set aside.
Beat eggs and place in a shallow dish. You can sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper if you like also set it aside.

Take a chicken strip and dredge in flour.

Dip the floured chicken into the beaten egg and cover completely.

Let it drain and place in the fresh bread crumbs.
Do the rest of the chicken strips in the same manner.

In a heavy pot, add enough oil(about 1 inch).

Heat oil to about 350 °F . Place chicken strips in hot oil and fry till they become golden.

Put 2 paper towels on a dish and let the chicken strips drain. Serve with your favorite sauce.

You can freeze these chicken tenders and then reheat in the oven.

03. Meat Patties 

 
(The Romanian name of the dish: Parjoale moldovenesti)

Ingredients:

-500 g ground meat
-3 onions
-1 egg
-2 slices white bread
-1 tablespoon of lard
-chopped parsley
-salt, pepper
-lard for frying
-bread crumbs

Preparation:

Grind the meat with a raw onion, soaked and squeezed bread and two finely chopped and lightly fried (in a tablespoon of lard or oil) onions.
Place the mixture in a bowl, add an egg, salt, pepper and chopped parsley and dill.

Mix everything verry well.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and with you hands wet shape into round or oval patties.

Then bread them and fry in hot lard or oil on both sides.
You can use any kind of meat: beef, pork, mutton, chicken breast or mixed beef and pork.

You may replace the chopped parsley and dill with chopped garlic.

The meatballs are very good both warm and cold, as they are very soft and fluffy.

Serve hot, with potatoes purée, vegetable sautes, lettuce or pickles.

04. Eggplants salad/dip 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Salata de vinete)

Ingredients:

-2 large eggplants
- 4-5 tbs of oil (favorite kind and flavor)
-1 small onion, chopped (or to taste)
-salt, pepper
-other spices as desired.

Top with:
tomatoes, sliced or chopped

Preparation:

Wash the eggplants and then pierce the with a fork(this will ensure that the eggplants will not burst while cooking)

Cook the eggplants over an open flame (on the stove-top, for instance), or broil or grill them. Grill for about 10 minutes and turn on the other side and grill for another 10 minutes until skin is charred and brittle.
Place eggplants in a covered container so as to steam and soften the skin. It becomes easier to peel that way. (Or let them cool down and then peel them carefully the peel should be crinkly and should come right off)

Cut in half and scoop out flesh... The eggplant at this point is soft and can be easily pureed. I use a wooden cleaver to chop and macerate the eggplant to a fine consistency. (almost like applesauce). You can also use a food processor to puree the eggplant ... just use the pulse button being careful to not over-process, though if you like a finer puree, you surely can do so.

Place mashed eggplant into a bowl and add 1 TBS of oil at a time and mix to incorporate until all the oil is used up. If you think the eggplants need a bit more oil, add a bit more, a little at a time. The oil really brings it all together. Add salt to taste and minced onion (to minimize the " bite" of raw onion, you can place the minced onion in a fine sieve and pour hot water over it, strain well and then add to eggplant.)

Serve with sliced bread, crostini, pita chips, etc... and some tomatoes( sliced or chopped)

If you want to keep some of the eggplant puree for later, do not add salt, oil and onion. Freeze in a container or a plastic bag and defrost at a later time.

05. Beef salad - Salade de Boeuf 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Salata de Boeuf)

 This is a typical Romanian dish that can be found in many Romanian homes. It may sound French, but the real history behind this salad is that it was of Russian origin, properly called Salad Olivier. It was invented in the 1860's by a well known chef, Lucien Olivier. He worked at Moscow's most celebrated restaurant, the Hermitage.

The French prepare something similar but with a different sauce and only with vegetables, while the Romanians add to it beef. The French call their mixture Macedonia.
The Germans mix as well meat, pickles and boiled vegetables and they call it Berliner. The Slavs call it A la Russe and they do not add meat at all. So, here is the original pure Romanian Salade de Boeuf.

 It can be quite time consuming, as you have to do a lot of dicing. Feel free to adjust amounts of vegetables/meat....you really can't go wrong with amounts. If you don't like your salad to be too tangy, decrease amount of pickles... if you like more potatoes, add more potatoes... taste and adjust seasoning as you go along. But once it comes together, it is well worth it. It is often decorated elaborately ...sort of like decorating a cake.

Ingredients:

-2 chicken breasts,cooked, diced- (or use other type of meat: chicken, turkey or white fish (no salmon) )
-2 large baking potatoes, cooked,diced
-1 cup carrots,boiled,diced
-1 1/2 cups diced pickles
-1 1/2 cups frozen peas
-4-5 ex large eggs, boiled,diced
-1 TBS mustard
-salt and pepper to taste
-1-2 cups mayonnaise( you can get away with cutting down the fat by using a some plain yoghurt or sour cream)

extra ingredients for boiling chicken:
-(if you want to make a stock, use the rib-in type of chicken breast...the ones with the rib bone attached. The bones impart a ton of flavor to the stock.You can then just remove the breast meat to use in the salad. If you don't want to make any stock, just use regular chicken breast. )

Preparation:
Important: If you would like to decorate your salad, remember to reserve some vegetables and eggs.
You get the best salad by boiling carrots, parsley root and parsnip with the meat, then take the boiled vegetables and the meat, cut them in cube shape.
Boil eggs till hard and set them aside.

Boil potatoes in their skins in salted water till fork tender. You can pierce the potatoes before cooking.

Dice chicken, potatoes, carrots, parsnip and eggs.
Dice the pickles and squeeze them a bit to remove some of their juice(this helps so that your salad doesn't become too watery).
Place the frozen peas under running warm water to defrost them.
Drain completely and add to the rest of the diced ingredients.
Add mustard and pepper and 1 cup mayo.

Mix till combined and taste for seasoning. Add more mayo to the mixture. You might need the full 2 cups. This depends on preference...use less if you don't want it too creamy or use more if you like it creamier.

Arrange on a serving platter. Smooth with a knife and then cover with the rest of the mayo mixture. Garnish with a few olives, hard boiled egg white, or egg slices, pickled red peppers, parsley, etc.  Try to shape flowers and other designs!

Hint:
This salad is normally served with some french bread and can be a meal in itself. You can also serve it as an appetizer....it is fun to make individual servings. Hope you enjoy this.

06. Little meatballs 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Mititei
sau
Mici)

 Most Romanians, if not all, appreciate really goodmititei. This is an old recepie from the 1920.

Ingredients:

-1 kg(2.25lbs) beef chuck
-3 tsps summer savory(or regular savory, if you can't find summer savory)
-1 tsp allspice
-1/2 tsp ground coriander
-1/2 tsp Turkish cumin (or caraway)
-1/4 tsp star anise, ground
-1 tsp+a pinch kosher salt
-2 tsps freshly ground pepper
-2 tsp baking soda ( I used 2 1/4 tsp)
-1 tsp lemon juice

Liquids:

-1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
-1 cup beef stock
-1 head of garlic, crushed
-1/2 cup warm water

Preparation:

Get your beef and spices all ready, along with the lemon juice and baking powder.

Grind the beef 3 times. Yes you should do it, 3 times but if you insist you can do it 2 times!

Very important! Do not cut any fat out! The fat plays a very important role by making the mititei tender and juicy.

Place the meat in a large bowl.

Combine spices including salt and set aside.
Combine gelatin and beef broth and set aside to dissolve. After it has dissolved, warm the gelatin broth to about 140 deg F...to activate the gelatin. Don't allow to boil, as boiling will deactivate the gelatin and it won't work properly. You just want the broth to get hot. Let it cook slightly...

Add the lemon juice to baking soda. Let it sizzle.

Add it to the ground beef. Mix the meat with your hands to incorporate the baking soda.
Add spices and 1/2 cup of previously warmed beef -gelatin broth.

Continue mixing and adding spices/broth for 10 minutes.
This step is very important. The meat mixture will begin to stick to your hand. You will eventually feel the meat sort of become like a "bread dough".

Cover the bowl well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Place the rest 1/2 cup gelatin broth in the fridge as well....it will solidify in the fridge.

After about 6-8 hours.

Take the meat out and let it come to room temp.
Warm( don't boil) the gelatin broth until it is liquefied (it should have become gelatinous from sitting in the fridge overnight).
Crush a whole head of garlic. Add warm water to the crushed garlic and let it sit for a half hour.

Strain garlic and reserve the garlic-water.

Mix the meat with your hands while adding the rest of the broth a little at a time.

Cover the meat well and refrigerate for another 2-3 hours.

Take meat out and bring to room temp. Shape the mititei into about 3 inch long by 1 1/2 inch thick.

Set the grill to high. Oil the grill so that the mititei will not stick or use a piese of fat.
Place mititei on the hot oiled grill....still on high heat.

Turn the mititei on all sides. Just be careful and don't burn them or overcook them or undercook them.
If it’s your first time, put one mititel on the grill and see if you cooked it right.

07. Jellied pork 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Piftie de porc)

Served as either main dish or an appetizer. This is one of Romania's trade mark recipes. It is usually made in the winter months specially for Christmas and the New Year's celebration.It is a delicious meal ,hardy with an unique taste and simple ingredients that goes very well with mamaliguta(polenta)

Ingredients:

-1 Small Smoked Pork Leg  -1 Whole Onion -1 Whole Carrot -1 Whole Parsley Root -1 Whole Parsnip -1 Garlic Head -1/2 Teaspoon Of Pepper -1 Bay Leaf

Preparation:

Clean the pork leg thoroughly under a stream of hot water.

Prepare a large put and fill it with 3 liters of water and set in it the pork leg to boil.
Cook for about 1 and 1/2 hours then add the onion,carrot,parsley root,parsnip the pepper and the bay leaf.

Cook for another 30-40 minutes or until the meat is coming of the bone nicely(make sure to remove any foam that forms on the surface).
Add the finely chopped garlic and boil for another 10-20 minutes.

After that remove the pot from the flame and strain the contents keeping the carrot and meat aside.
Pull the meat of the bone and place it inside small bowls together with carrot slices.
Cover with the strained liquid and set in a cold place,the freezer preferably till it has set.
Clean the fat that accumulates on the top then turn the bowl upside down on a plate.
Serve cold with hot mamaliguta (polenta).

08. Baked bell peppers 

(Romanian dish name: Ardei
copti)

Ingredients:

- 6 big and fat bell peppers
- oil (5 spoons)
- vinegar( 5 spoons)
- salt (1 teaspoon)
- mustard seeds (a few)
- laurel leaves (a few)
- pepper (few seeds, and a touch of powder)
- sugar (2 spoons)

Preparation:

Stir fry the bell peppers, peel them and let them cool down.
Place them in shape of a star, in a large plate and pour on top this salsa.
Mix the vinegar, laurel, mustard, salt, sugar, oil together and pour over bell peppers. Serve as appetizer or as side dish for steaks, fried meats in general.

09. Polenta 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Mamaliga)

"Mamaliguta"(better known by it's Italian name Polenta) is as old as time in the Romanian culinary history.It was the stable food of peasants accompanied by sour kraut,beans in various forms,soups and much more.It is normally made with a yellow maize flour,poured in boiling salted water to which a pinch of salt and a little oil is added .An easy to make "Mamaliguta" recipe is this :

Ingredients:

-400g Maize Flour -1/2 Teaspoon of Salt -1 and 1/2 Liters of Water -10ml of Sunflower Oil 
-butter/cheese(optional)

Preparation:

 Set the water with the salt to boil in a non-stick pan(Romanians use something resembling a Dutch Oven which we call Tuci/Tuciulet).

When the water starts boiling add the oil then sprinkle the maize flour into the water stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or "facalet"(a wooden rod of about 30cm) in order to not adhere to the cooking pot.

Important : Stop adding corn meal when the mixture is considerably thick, though still liquid. Use caution since the mixture at this stage bubbles up and splatters hot polenta around. 

Continue boiling till the "Mamaliguta" starts to peel of the walls of the cooking pot.

Transfer the "Mamaliguta" from the cooking pot to a wooden plank and serve hot.
Usually a wooden spoon dipped in cold water or a piece of string is used to cut/server the "Mamaliguta".
Tip: "Mamaliguta" is a bread substitute and as such shouldn't be eaten with bread itself.A nice breakfast is a bowl of milk with a pinch of salt in it and "Mamaliguta" spooned inside it.

10. Nettles with polenta 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Mamaliga cu urzici)

Ingredients:

-2 Bunches of very fresh and very young Stinging Nettle( when they are this young they don't actually sting) -1 Small Onion -2 Garlic Cloves -1 Tablespoon of Sunflower Oil -1 Teaspoon of Flour -Salt -Pepper -50 ml of Milk -300g of Cornflour ( For a "Mamaliguta" ) -1 liter of Water

Preparation:

First of all divide the stinging nettles and wash them thoroughly to remove any other plants and dust gathered on them.
In a pot put the water with a bit of salt and let it to boil.
When it is starting to boil dump the stinging nettles in and let them soften up for 2-3 minutes or until they change color.
After this remove them and place them on a chopping board and chop them up as fine as you like.
Take out a frying pan and place the oil inside it,then add the chopped onion and just sweat it a bit.
When the onion is transparent add the chopped stinging nettles and fry them for a bit.
When they begin to really soften up and go into a pasty mixture add the chopped garlic,pepper and the teaspoon of flour.

Let it cook for a few minutes then add the milk and cook for 4-5 more minutes.
Separately from the cornflower and some water make a "mamaliguta" (polenta) .

Tip: The water in which you blanched the stinging nettles will change color due to the content of iron in them.Also to make it completely vegetarian remove the milk and add a bit of soy milk or water.

11. Stuffed cabbage rolls 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Sarmale / Sarmalute in foi de varza)

There are innumerable variations of the Romanian sarmale and probably every Romanian household has their own recipe and method for making them.
Traditionally, sarmale are made with pickled cabbage, ground pork meat filling, and various herbs and spices. Now, most Romanian families have their own recipe and often make it the way they were brought up. The recipes vary from region to region... and the variations are endless. Sarmale are usually a winter dish, served around Christmas or other festive occasions.
This sarmale recipe is basically just a guide as it can easily be adapted according to personal preference.

Personally, I think the best sarmale are made with pickled(sour) cabbage. But since pickled cabbage isn't easy to find(or make), I like to use a quick brine to sort of "mimic" the pickled version. I also like to use some store-bought sauerkraut to provide that extra pickled flavor. For this post, I ended up using tomato paste....but sometimes, I will use tomato sauce or even fresh tomatoes. It always depends on what I have on hand. You can definitely make a vegetarian version by using mostly rice and sauteeing some onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, etc...and keeping the same method for stuffing, layering and cooking.
Sarmale can be served with polenta, sour cream, and sometimes hot peppers. While the sarmale taste great the day they are made, they taste even better the following day. In any case, I thought it would be nice if I would show how sarmale are made....the basics, of course:).

Ingredients:

- 2 pickled cabbages
- 1 kg minced pork meat (you can use lamb, veal, but traditionally is made out of pork)
- 1 coffee cup of rice (150 gr)
- 2 onions
- 1 chill pepper (optional)
- 3 carrots (optional)
- 1 glass wine
- tomatoes paste
- 3 bunches of greens: parsley, dill, thyme
- bay leaves, pepper, salt

Preparation:

Separate and wash the pickled cabbage leaves. Cut the hard veins.
Wash the rice.
Finely chop the onion and half of the greens.
Mix the minced meat, onion, carrots (if any), greens, rice (crude), salt, pepper.

Fill the cabbage leaves and roll them gently. Try to close the edges but not too tight, so the rice can inflate.
In a deep saucepan, pour a bit of oil or lard.
Place a layer of cabbage leaves unrolled, one of finely chopped cabbage and one of stuffed rolls. Add tomatoes paste on top of each roll layer. Last layer should be of chopped cabbage, covered with bay leaves, dill, thyme and tomatoes paste. Add wine, a bit of water if necessary. Place them on a small fire and let them cook until they dry up a bit (for few hours).
 Hint: For a better taste, you can place small pieces of smoked bacon in between the rolls layers.
To be served hot with polenta, cream and red wine.

12. Polenta with Fried Meat,Sausage and Cheese

(The Romanian name of the dish: Tochitura
moldoveneasca)

When you see the tochitura,you are a bit scared to try it but when you have the first bite the taste is so wonderful it’s simply amazing.

Ingredients:

-400g of Pork Meat ( Lean meat,with no fat what so ever is the best for this recipe) -50g of Smoked Bacon ( Just for the smoky flavor ) -200g of Sausages (These are your choice it depends largely on what you like although i recommend smoked sausages as well ) -150g of Salted Cheese
-4 Garlic Cloves -100ml of Red Wine ( Dry Red Wine works best with this recipe ) -Thyme -Oregano -Salt -Pepper  -300g of Maize Flour ( Cornflour i believe is another name for it ) -1 Tablespoon of Sunflower Oil -1 Egg

Preparation:

Cut the meat in about 1 inch cubes and the sausages in 2 inch long segments.

Put a little oil in a deep,thick walled pot and begin cooking the meat .

When it starts lightly browning add the bacon and sausages.Continue cooking till the meat gets a nice brown color and add the chopped garlic,thyme,pepper and oregano.

Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the cup of wine and continue cooking till the wine is completely evaporated and there is not much liquid in the pot.

In another pot make a polenta( "Mamaliguta") from the maize flour,salt and a little oil.
While everything is still hot it is time to assemble the dish.

On a plate put some polenta and make an indentation in the middle and in that indentation and on the edges put the meat and sausages.
Shred the cheese liberally on top,also as a finishing touch make a fried egg and place it on top.

13.Stuffed Green Bell Peppers With Vegetarian Stuffing
 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Ardei Umpluti de Post)

Ingredients:
-12 Green Bell Peppers ( Medium sized with a nice round shape,u will need 10 for stuffing and 2 for the composition itself) -2 Cups of Basmati Rice -2 Carrots -2 Red Onions -2 Tomatoes -1 Bunch of Dill -1 Bunch of Parsley -3-4 Mint Leaves -2 Tablespoons of Tomato Puree  -2 Table Spoon Of Sunflower Oil -Salt -Pepper -Water 

Preparation:

Thoroughly wash the peppers and using a knife cut off the tops making sure to save them for later on.
Clean the inside of the green peppers of all seeds and the white fleshy bit which is bitter.
Chop up the onion and carrot and mix them with the thinly slice peppers ( the 2 we saved for the composition) and begin cooking them in a frying pan with the oil,just sweat them off .
Once the onion is translucent add a little water, the 2 tomatoes chopped in small pieces and  the rice.
Cook this mixture until the water is mostly absored by the rice,at this point season with salt and pepper and also add the chopped dill.
Set the composition aside to cool down.
When it's cool enough to handle begin stuffing the peppers and use the tops to cover them up after you have stuffed them.
Prepare a pot and set the stuffed peppers in circular fashion inside,then cover them with water.
Set the pot over a medium flame and begin to cook.
When the rice is almost cooked add the tomato paste to the pot and let the sauce reduce a bit.
Serve hot with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Tip: You can add meat and the dish it’s not for vegetarians anymore.

13. Gulash 

(The Romanian/Hungarian name of the dish: Gulas)

Ingredients:

- 250 gr pork skin or pork ears
- 500 gr veal
- 250 gr lamb
- 500 gr pork
- 1.5 kg onions
- 1.5 kg potatoes
- 1 spoon lard
- 1 spoon chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons paprika (sweet or hot)

Preparation:

Chop the onions and fry it in lard. Cut the meat in one-bite cubes.
Cut the pork skin, ears in fine pieces. Add the meat, skin, ears, and paprika over the onion and fry for 10 minutes.
Pour 1.5-liter water and salt; boil on small fire. When the meat is almost cooked, peel and cut the potatoes in cubes.
Boil them separately for 30 minutes in hot salty water.
After 30 minutes, pour the water from the potatoes boiled, plus the potatoes themselves over the meat. It should have enough liquid.
The result should look neither like a soup nor like a stew. Add the chopped parsley, serve hot.
The Hungarian minority of Romania usually cooks this dish. However, there are also many people that cook and appreciate it as well.

14. Tripe Soup 

 
(The Romanian name of the dish: Ciorba De Burta)

One of the more unique recipes of Romania is tripe soup.It is made with cow tripe,garlic and various ingredients but has a stable base.
It is a more festive dish done maybe a few times per year but unmistakable in aspect and taste it is wonderful.
 Hope you will enjoy it as much as i do and put your prejudices aside and try it i am sure you will love it.

Ingredients:

-1,5kg of Tripe ( You can get it in a supermarket and it is precooked) -1 Carrot -1 Parsnip -1 Onion ( i  usually use brown onions ) -6-7 Cloves of Garlic (adjust this quantity according to taste) -450 ml of Heavy Sour Cream -Salt -Pepper -Thyme -1-2 Bay Leaves -1 Pickled Red Bell Pepper -1 Tablespoon of sunflower Oil -About 3l of Water -1 Teaspoon of Vinegar ( Balsamic Vinegar works nicely)

Preparation:

Thoroughly clean the tripe under a stream of cold water.
Prepare a large pressure pot and add the water, tripe,carrot,onion,pepper,bay leaf and a few strips of pickled red bell pepper and let it simmer on a low heat for about 1 hr- 1 and 1/2 hrs.
In the meanwhile chop up the garlic cloves,mix them with salt and a little bit of balsamic vinegar and using a mortar and pestle grind them up in a smooth paste.

Remove the tripe and vegetables from the pot and strain the liquid that remains and place it again in the pot to boil.

Cut the tripe into thin slices and the boiled pickled red bell pepper.
Take the heavy sour cream and mix it with the garlic paste in a bowl.

In that bowl place a few spoons of hot tripe soup to heat up the mixture and pour it all in the pot stirring continuously.

Let it boil for a few more minutes till the garlic is cooked and has spread its aroma.
Serve hot with added sour cream and vinegar,also garlic paste can be served aside for the people which like it with a more zing

Tip: Serve with hot peppers it is delicious,you can even place a few slices in the serving bowl. 

15. Bean Soup 

 

(The Romanian/Hungarian name of the dish: Ciorba de Fasole)

It is a nice vegetarian,very light but yet filling recipe made with beans and root vegetables.Very taste ,rich in earthy flavors and just what the doctor recommended in those cold winter days ,or served cold in a hot summer day,this dish has it all.

Ingredients:

-400-500g Of Dried Beans(You can add more depending on how much you make,but this is even better in larger quantities) -1 Carrot -1 Parsnip -1 Celery Root -1 Onion -1 Bell Pepper(any color will do ) -2-3 Bay leaves  -1 Cube of Soup base -1 Bunch of Dill -1-2 Sprigs of Thyme -Salt -Pepper -A few leaves of mint(i usually use 1or 2 no more) -Tomato Paste -Red Bell Pepper Paste

Preparation:

 A night before making this soup,thoroughly wash the dried beans then set them to soak in cold water over night.
The next day throw away the water the beans sat in rinse them again in cold water.

Prepare a large pot and put the beans in it and add a few liters of water,set it on the flame and boil for a few minutes.

After this step throw away the water the beans boiled in and cover them again with a few liters of hot water and continue cooking.

Add the salt,pepper,sprigs of thyme and the bay leaves and let it boil for 30 minutes.In the meanwhile chop up the carrot,parsnip,celery root,onion and the bell pepper and add them to the pot along with the cube of soup base.
Continue boiling for another 30 minutes then add the tomato paste and the red bell pepper paste to the pot .
Cook for another 20-30 minutes and it is done.
Chop the dill and the mint leaves and add them to the pot and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve in a ceramic or wooden bowl(decorate with dill or parsley) accompanied by a good bread.

 

Tips: This is a light version version of the soup,in the winter months Romanians usually add smoked meat to it to enrich its nutrient value for the harsh winters.Also before adding the chopped vegetables to the soup they can be stir fried to enhance the earthy flavor.If you have guests and want to impress them this soup can be served in bread bowls,simply buy whole wheat round bread cut the top off with a sharp knife and spoon the interior out leaving only 2 inches of bread inside.

16.
Ground beef with potatoes and eggs 

 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Musaca de cartofi)

A very common dish in Romanian kitchens,very simple and easy to do and also very budget aware.What it lakes in cost makes up in taste it is delicious served either hot or even cold with a little heavy sour cream and a tomato and lettuce salad,although in the winter months it is usually served with sour kraut salad or pickle salad.

Ingredients:

-800g Potatoes skin on preferably -500g Ground Beef( Ground pork or lamb or any mixture will be excellent) -100g Salted Cheese  -1 Carrot -1 Onion  -2 Garlic Cloves -2 Tomatoes ( Tomato puree will also be fine) -1 Handfull of Parsley -Salt -Pepper -Thyme -Basil -Dill -2 Eggs

Preparation:

Boil the potatoes skin on in salted water till they are half cooked,then take them out and let them cool.
Slice the potatoes in 1 cm thick slices and set the slices aside in a bowl.
In a bowl mix together the ground beef with salt ,pepper ,thyme,basil and part of the dill and parsley.
Chop the onion and set it to cook in a frying pan with a little oil and a pinch of salt.Add the carrot cut in thin slices and after a couple of minutes add the thinly sliced garlic also.
Let it cook for a few minutes then add the beef.
Cook till the meat starts browning,in this phase add the tomatoes and the rest of the herbs and keep on the flame till the meat is fully cooked.
Let the meat sit till it is at the room temperature then add the mixed eggs into the meat mixture and stir to make it homogenous.
In a casserole dish put a little oil and use a brush to spread it on the edges.Take the potatoes and put one lair on the bottom of the dish then one lair of meat alternating till you finish the ingredients.
On top of the "Musaca" shred the cheese and set in the oven at 320 F for 30-40 minutes.
Serve hot with a little heavy sour cream on top accompanied by a salad of your choice and a nice glass of wine.

17. Romanian Cabbage and Sausage
(The Romanian name of the dish: Varza cu Carnati)

This is one of those meals that you can prepare without too much fuss. The cabbage is normally cooked on the stove-top and finished off in the oven, but using the pressure cooker cuts down the time significantly and actually makes for a really tasty one-pot dish. The dish is traditionally served with polenta or mamaliga or maybe some crusty bread. When making this dish, you don't necessarily have use the same ingredients...it all depends on what I have in the fridge. Sometimes, you can go for a meatless version. If you don't have bell peppers, skip them. But if you don’t have a cabbage, an onion, tomato paste, and a few spices you can’t usually pull it off.

Note: You can easily make this dish in a regular pot...cooking the cabbage completely on the stove-top OR starting it on the stove-top and finishing it off in the oven. The time will be closer to 30 minutes or so....or until the cabbage is cooked according to preference.

Tip: Feel free to add some chopped or grated fresh tomatoes...and substituting the caraway with some fresh dill...as well as adding a bay leaf.

Ingredients:

-1 onion, thinly sliced
-4 TBS olive oil
-1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
-1 medium cabbage, shredded
-4-6 sausage links, sliced thickly
-3-4 TBS tomato paste
-1 cup water
-2 tsps paprika
-1 tsp smoked paprika-
-1-2 tsps caraway seed, or to taste
-2-3 TBS lemon juice, or to taste
-salt and pepper, to taste
-cayenne pepper or chile flakes, to taste, optional
- you can opt to omit if you don't have

Preparation:

Prep all ingredients: shred the cabbage, slice the onion, pepper, and sausage.
Heat the oil on medium heat and add onion. Cook until softened...about 2-3 minutes or so.
Add the bell pepper saute for an additional minute or so.
Add sliced sausage(if using a fresh sausage, you might want to brown it a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients), tomato paste, paprika stir to combine.
Add shredded cabbage, caraway, salt, and pepper( chile pepper/cayenne if using) and thoroughly combine.
Add the water and lemon juice and stir the cabbage once more.

Now Turn up heat to high.

Place lid on and bring to pressure.

Lower heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes depending how soft you like your cabbage. 
For the first time, cook for 8 minutes you can always cook the cabbage some more if need be rather than having the cabbage overcooked.

Release pressure naturally...not the cold water method.

Stir to combine...adjust seasoning and add a drizzle or two of fresh olive oil. If you feel the cabbage is too "watery" or it has too much of a "bite” cook it down a bit more with the lid off.
Serve with warm polenta or crusty bread.

17.Pork sausages with beetroot and apple

(The Romanian name of the dish: Cârnati de porc cu sfecla rosie si mere)

Ingredients:

The beetroot salad is prepared with horseradish.

-1 bunch Beetroot, with the tops intac
-2 tbsp Olive oil
-1 tsp Salt
-1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 anchovy fillets, tinned, chopped
-1 tsp capers
-4 cornichons, chopped
-1 tbsp mustard
-1 handful Parsley, chopped
-1 handful tarragon or mint leaves
-100ml Olive oil
-1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
-1/2 tsp sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper
-8 pork sausages.
For the greens:
-1 tbsp Butter
-2 garlic cloves, shredded
-1 large dessert apple
-1/2 lemon, juice only.

Preparation:

First of all make the beetroot salad.
Preheat the oven to 392 F / gas 6.
Wash the beetroot and separate the greens from the roots. Set the greens aside.
Toss the beetroot in the oil and salt and wrap each one in kitchen foil.
Roast, for about 40-50 minutes, until tender. Leave to cool in the foil.
Peel the beetroot by rubbing off the skin with your thumb and finger.
Chop into rough dice. Combine the remaining ingredients with the diced beetroots. Season to taste and set aside. Grill the sausages until cooked through. Meanwhile, prepare the greens. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a gentle heat and cook the garlic, over a gentle heat, for just a minute or so.
Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices. Toss in lemon juice. Turn the heat up and add the apples to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add the beetroot tops, and fry briefly until wilted and tender.

 Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the sausages and chopped beetroot salad.

18. Romanian doughnuts 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Gogoase
Romanesti)

Ingredients:

4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
1 Tablespoon of lemon peel,grated
2 Tablespoons of orange peel, grated

Preparation:

In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, milk and butter.
Place the flour, yeast, and salt in a mixer bowl.
Add the egg/milk mixture.
Using a mixer and bread dough hook, knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hr, or until at least double in size.

Take dough out and plop it on an oiled countertop.

Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick (or thereabouts).
Cut round/square shapes using a biscuit cutter (or even a round/square glass).
I like to place them on a cookie sheet and let them rise again in a warm and cozy place(such as the oven).
Let rise for 30 minutes or so until almost doubled in size.
If your kitchen is not warm enough, the dough won't rise as much...so, place them in a warm oven(that you have preheated for a minute or so... remember to turn oven off).
It should feel nice and cozy, not hot.Bring oil to 375 deg. Fry a few doughnuts at a time for a minute on each side or until golden brown.
They should puff up nicely.
Make sure the heat is not too high, as they will get dark and not cook inside.
Drain on paper towls and toss with powdered sugar while warm. You can also skip the powdered sugar and fill them with your favorite jam.

19. Brownies, Romanian style
(The Romanian name of the dish: Negrese)

Ingredients

- 2 1/4 cups white sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup of butter or margarine
- 4 slightly beaten eggs
- 2 spoons milk (optional)

Preparation:

Pour sugar into a clean and dry jar. Press down firmly.
 Add cocoa powder and press down firmly.
Pour in chopped nuts, making sure nuts are evenly layered in the jar.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into jar and seal.
Attach the following directions to the jar: Empty mix into large bowl.
Use your hands to mix thoroughly. Add 3/4 cup of butter or margarine and 4 slightly beaten eggs. Mix until completely blended.
Spread batter into a lightly greased pan.
Bake at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes or until done.

Cool the pan.
Cut into 4 cm squares.

20. Romanian Cozonac: 

(The Romanian name of the dish: Cozonac)

 I grew up on this sweet bread that was often filled with nuts, rahat/lokum or raisins.  I think my favorite was the nut filled ones...the more filling the better! My mom would make them on special occasions, usually Christmas and Easter.
 It always smelled so comforting in the kitchen with the aroma of orange/lemon peel, rum , butter , etc. It was especially warm in the kitchen... the windows were foggy and we kids had to be careful when we opened the door so as not to get any drafts of cold air. Watching mom "beat" the dough was especially entertaining! 

Before you start: Cozonac, in general, isn't such an easy recipe. Many things can happen there might be the chance of having the cozonac "fall" or have a hole in the middle.

Here are a few tips to help you out, especially if you are making it for the first time:

-Make the filling a day before. This allows it to cool completely and you aren't rushed when making the dough, just bring the filling back to room temp.
-Try not to double the dough recipe and cook 4 loaves of cozonac on the same day...unless you have a professional oven that can take all four loaves at the same time and you have extra help( basically while the first couple of loaves bake, the subsequent loaves can over-rise)or stagger the baking through out the day.
-The dough sometimes takes a bit longer to rise than what I listed, time is written only as a reference, you want the dough to be doubled in size.
-Braid the dough...this helps quite a bit with minimizing "tunnels".
-Don't let the dough over-rise after being placed in the forms. This is quite important...it will continue to rise in the oven
-Try not to underbake...cover the cozonac(lightly) with tin foil so that it doesn't burn...leave it in the oven a bit more rather than less...if in doubt, lower the heat towards the end, if need be.
-Changes in temperature can cause the cozonac to fall.
-Bake the cozonac in the bottom third of oven(especially when you have an electric oven) ...as baking it close to the top heating element will make the top of the cozonac dough rise too fast and can cause the cozonac to fall later.
-Leave the cozonac to cool down in the pan...at least most of the cooling down. I most often use a butter knife to release the the sides of the cozonac as well.
-Lay the cozonac on its side for a few minutes when cooling the cozonac....and then switch it on its other side for a few more minutes.

Even after abiding by these tips...things can happen... even to experienced bakers. So, don't expect perfection. But hopefully, you will enjoy it. Regardless if there's a hole in the middle or you have tunnels. The cozonac will still taste delicious.

Nut Filling: for 2 loaves

~You may play around with the flavorings to your liking. Amounts are approximate.~

-10 oz (or about 2 1/2 cups) ground walnuts(or a mixture of nuts you have on hand)
-1 cup whole milk( you could probably get away with 2%)
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup rum/ vanilla( I use .5 oz extract) *
-1 tsp orange extract
-2 tsp orange peel
-1/2 tsp ground espresso(optional...just intensifies the chocolate flavor)
-1/4 cup cocoa (optional)

* I used extract and cut down on the amount...I will use .5 oz rum extract for the bread dough and .5 oz rum extract for the filling...that is a total of one bottle(1 oz) of rum extract. I sometimes add a splash or two of vanilla as well:).

In a saucepan, melt the sugar in milk;
Add walnuts and keep stirring every so often... until thickened (10-15 minutes).
Add cocoa and flavorings. Cook some more to the point that the filling is paste-like.

Set aside to cool....it should thicken even further as it sits.

You should have 2 equal parts.

Sweet Bread Dough Recipe: for 2 loaves

-4-5 cups bread flour( more like 5 cups)
-1 cup milk
-3 eggs
-2 1/2 tsps instant yeast(you could use rapid rise)
-3/4 cup(170 grams/6oz) of butter*
-3/4 cup sugar
-pinch of salt
-lemon/orange peel( I use about 1 TBS orange and 1-2 tsp lemon peel)
-rum/vanilla extract( I use .5 oz rum and a splash of vanilla extract)

* I like to use salted butter, and skip the pinch of salt

Additional:

-1 beaten egg (for brushing the top of the loaves)

Prepare your loaf pans by buttering and placing a piece of buttered parchment paper at the bottom to ensure that the loaf will not stick in the final baking stage.
In a saucepan, heat milk, butter and sugar.
Let cool till just warm.
Add beaten eggs and blend to incorporate. Add flavorings lemon/orange peel, rum/vanilla.

 In mixer bowl, add 2 cups flour and instant yeast. Mix to incorporate the yeast into the flour. Add the wet ingredients andknead for 3 minutes on medium speed.

Add rest of flour and knead for an additional 7 minutes using a dough hook. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise till almostdoubled... in a warm environment. I usually let mine rise in a warm oven. this can usually take from 1 1/2- 2 hours or so....keep in mind to let it rise to almost double in size. ( Please .hold  the mixer )

Oil your counter space and plop the dough onto it.

Cut the dough in half to yield two equal parts.

Roll one part into a large rectangle( 11x14 approximate) and spread nut filling to within 1/2 inch of the edge.

Roll dough in pinwheel fashion.

Place rolled loaf in prepared pan and repeat with the remaining loaf. Brush the top of the loaves with a beaten egg.

 Let rise in a warm oven till the dough reaches the top of the pan...approx 40 minutes or so...this definitely depends on how warm or cold your house is. You don't want it to over rise as it will deflate in the final baking stage from all the heavy filling.

Bake in a preheated 375 deg. oven for 10-12 minutes , then place a sheet of aluminum foil lightly covering the tops.
They will over brown and burn if you don't do this.
Bake for an additional 30-35 minutes or until nicely golden brown all over.
Let cozonac cool down a bit in the pan and then remove from pans... you can lay the cozonac on its side to cool completely.... and switch from side to side.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar(optional)

Intro : The Romanian Food Culture Romanian cuisine is one of the less known cuisines in the world partly due to the misconception that it is a very heavy one with lots of fats and not so appetizing recipes in general. The seasons generally influence the food offered. During summer and autumn markets overflow with fresh vegetables and fruits coming from the local farms. Radishes, spring onions, potatoes, nettles, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers delight the shoppers in April and May. From the end of May to late September there is a large variety of fruit: cherries, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, plums, pears, melons and watermelons, peaches, blackberries, blueberries, apples, grapes, quinces and nuts. Beekeeping has always been one of the traditional occupations in Romania, and the products (honey, wax, honeycombs) are also sold on the market. The best-known dish is sarmale, called also with the diminutive sărmăluţe, (mincemeat wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves) with mămăligă (polenta). Stews (tocăniţe) made with different kinds of meat (usually chicken and pork) and with vegetables also figure on the restaurant menus, as well as different kinds of soups. Ciorbă de burtă (tripe soup) served with garlic or hot chilli pepper and vinegar is one of the favourites among Romanians. Pork prepared in different ways is one of the most common ingredients, and all restaurants serve pork chops (cotlet) with French fries and salad. There are not very many dishes for vegetarians, as Romanians consider a meal without meat very poor indeed. Some dishes are ghiveci (mixed fried vegetables), ardei umpluţi (stuffed peppers, although these might have meat, too) and ouă umplute (filled eggs), besides different kinds of salads and local cheese. At home, the peasants meal almost always contains polenta (mămăligă) that is also known as the “bread of the peasant”. Some centuries ago, when Romania was strictly divided into two social groups, the boyars and the peasants, bread was only eaten by the boyars. Nowadays the situation is different and mămăligă is the traditional dish for everyone, although in towns it is not eaten daily as in the countryside. A traditional combination on farms is mămăligă and smoked pork fat called slănină with garlic, chased with a small glass of ţuică. A dish associated with the life of shepherds on the hills is mămăligă with sheep-milk cheese. Romanian food is unique in sense that it has been influenced by many of it's neighbors because it was and still is a highly transited country. The Romanian cuisine has many Balkan and Mediterranean influences but also it's unique style developed starting with the original inhabitants the Dacs continuing with Roman occupation and continuing with the waves of migratory people that have either attacked or crossed it . The purpose of this book is simple : to try and share with the world how beautiful this country is and what better way to do so then through the aid of the universal language of food.

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