Posts Tagged ‘apples’

A couple of months ago, my parents told me that they were thinking about going to visit my brother for Christmas… they live in Boulder, CO. I was so sad! I have spent every Christmas with my parents… only one time we were not together. And then I thought about the Christmas Eve dinner… my mom and I always make the traditional Romanian dinner together and I have never actually made any of the dishes on my own. I could not have Christmas Eve without the traditional dinner! I asked my mom to write the recipes for me so I could make them.

The dinner includes 7 dishes. It seemed a bit overwhelming to make all of them, especially since some are pretty time consuming. I decided to make my favorites… grâu, bob, and colțunași. I also debated about making the smoked fish dish, but decided on making a simple fish instead. And I did have a helper… sort of.

Grâu means wheat in Romanian. The dish is made with this wheat, which my mom found at a local Greek store. She experimented with a few over the years and the current one seems the best.


You have to soak it in boiling water over night, then you change the water, let it come to a boil, and then bake it in the oven for about an hour. Once baked, you add sugar, finely chopped walnuts, and poppy seeds. My mom also adds chopped walnuts, but I forgot to buy some so I did not add it. I actually liked it better without the chopped walnuts.


Bob is pretty much just fava beans. You sauté onions and garlic with some salt and pepper, then you add the drained fava beans, and sauté until all of the liquid is absorbed. My sister mentioned that she skinned the fava beans before cooking them, so I tried that. It was kind of a pain to do, but perhaps it did help with the digestion.


Colţunaşi, which means dumplings in Romanian, is definitely my favorite dish from this dinner. I look forward to it all year. They are super tasty but also the most labor intensive. I have been helping my mom make them for years. The most labor intensive part is rolling the dough and actually pinching them. It would take my mom and I hours to make. We had an assembly type line in her kitchen… my dad would roll the dough, my mom would cut the squares and fill them, and I would pinch them. We would make anywhere from 200 to almost 300 of them. Crazy, no!?! :) Then one year, one of us bought my mom the pasta attachment for her Kitchen Aid mixer. That was the best gift ever! It cut our colţunaşi making time in more than half.

The dough is very simple… flour, salt, a bit of oil, and water. The filling includes finely chopped granny smith apple that is mixed with poppy seeds. To finish them off, you add some sautéed onions on top and mix them. I made 84 colţunaşi this year. I think that it took me about an hour to make them, so it was not too bad.


The traditional dinner also includes two types of fish dishes. Both include lots of onions and a bunch of smoked and non-smoked fishes. I decided not to make them. Instead, I got some Mahi Mahi filets, but I was unsure exactly what to do with them. After a quick text with my brother, he told me to sauté some onion, add a few lemon slices to the pan, add the fish filets, pour a bit of white wine, put the lid on the pan, and cook them for a bit until done. And that is what I did. :) It was super tasty!


Our friend Yokko joined us for dinner. She brought a Cauli Cream Spinach dish, which was tasty and it went really well with the rest of the dinner.


I am proud to say that the dishes were a success! I must admit that I was kind of stressed out about making them. I was unsure if they would come out as good as my mom’s. I was also worried about ruining the dinner… that would have been a bummer, especially since my parents were not around either.


Merry Christmas… or La Multi Ani, as we say it in Romanian. It was also the first day of Chanukah, so Happy Chanukah!! :)




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A few weekends ago we were invited to a potluck dinner. I have been meaning to try the Apple Sharlotka recipe from Smitten Kitchen, so I decided to make it for the dinner. The recipe was a hit! Everyone loved it.

The recipe is super simple. The hardest part (and it’s not even that hard) is to chop the apples. The recipe requires 6 apples, so it takes a bit of time to chop them. Other than that, you simply beat the eggs with some sugar until it fluffs and then you add some vanilla and flour. That’s it!! It is the simplest dessert I have ever tried. And is delicious, which is a big plus.

Since the Sharlotka was for the potluck, I only had a small piece, so I decided to make it again. I happened to have some Bosc pears that I picked up from the market, so I decided to use them instead of apples. I only had 4 pears, so the fruit was bit scarce, but it still came out just as good. The pears definitely gave it a different taste… it was sweeter. I even cut the sugar by a ¼ of a cup. Next time, I will cut it even more if I use pears again.

One thing that I would like to mention is that the Sharlotka gets moister and moister every day. It is nice to try a piece once out of the oven (reminiscent of a just-out-of the oven piece of apple pie), but it is just as good the next day and so on.

If you like apples (or pears), definitely give the Sharlotka a try.

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Breakfast on weekends is one of my favorite meals. I usually have oatmeal for breakfast during the week, so on weekends I like to fancy it up. :) Joel and I have a ritual where every Saturday or Sunday we go out for breakfast. We usually end up at Jines, and I always order the same thing – waffles with pecans and real maple syrup. Real maple syrup is a must!!

I do make breakfast at home too, of course. I have made crepes (of course!!), French toast, eggs, and waffles. I despise cleaning the waffle maker, so I don’t make waffles very often. A long time ago (in 2001 to be exact), I found a delicious recipe for an Apple Puff Pancake in the Wegmans Menu Magazine. It was a keeper! I have made it numerous times since then. One day I used pears instead of apples and I loved it! I think that it works better with the pears, so I have used them ever since. I have also added some pecans, which makes it even more delicious.

Pear Puff Pancake

Last weekend, our friends Kristin and Anton invited us over for breakfast. Kristin mentioned that she was making pumpkin pancakes. YUM! For some reason, I don’t ever make pancakes. I have made them a couple of times, but they just did not excite me very much. Perhaps I did not have the best recipe. The pancakes that Kristin made were another story. They were just delicious!! They were fluffy and the pumpkin really made the dish. She also sautéed a few apples with some spices to use as a topping. The breakfast was delicious! I will definitely ask her for the recipe.

Kristin's Pumpkin Pancake with apple topping

A few weeks ago we were invited to a dinner party. I volunteered to bring a dessert. I was not sure what to make, so while searching for recipes, I came across a recipe called Mom’s Apple Cake on Smitten Kitchen. The cake was delicious! It was very moist and it had the consistency of a coffee cake. It would be a great cake to make for a brunch. The cake is supposed to be made in a tube pan and you are supposed to layer the apples with the cake batter. I don’t have a tube pan, so I made it in a bundt pan instead. It worked just as well. I also think that it can be made in a deeper square pan, if you don’t have a tube or bundt pan. Also, the recipe requires a cup of oil and 2 cups of sugar, which is unnecessary. I used a 1/2 of a cup of oil and 1 cup of sugar, and it was tasty. The cake is even better the next day.

Another favorite breakfast dish (for me at least) is eggs with feta with a side of fresh bread and a pickle. But not just any pickle. You have to get the pickles from the Russian store, Europa Deli, located near Panorama Plaza in Penfield. If you do go there, you have to ask for the pickles from the bucket. They will know what you are referring to. :) I know what you are thinking… pickle with eggs? Really?? (Joel agrees with you.) What can I say… I think that it really works. :) It reminds me of my childhood. My dad used to make eggs for us all the time and we always had home made pickles with them. The fresh bread is also a must!! The eggs are simple – you just scramble them and then add some feta, salt, and a dash of vinegar. The vinegar makes them a little fluffy and adds a subtle interesting flavor. I can’t really describe it but it is tasty.

One last thing that I would like to mention. Last week, February 5th to be exact, my nephew Jack was born!

Since he lives in Brooklyn, I have not officially met him yet. With the help of technology (Skype to be exact), I was able to watch him for about 1/2 an hour. :) He did not do much. He did make lots of amusing faces. :) I might be partial, but I think that he is very adorable. I am in love with him already! I cannot wait to meet him in person. I will for sure dedicate a post describing our encounter. :)

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