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Posts Tagged ‘dumplings’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Dilly stew… how can you resist that?!? And dumplings… really?!?

While spending an evening at our friends Amy and Richard’s house, I was eying their cookbooks. They are vegan and I have always had an interest in it. Looking at my cooking you might say that I do steer towards it, since I am lactose intolerant so I stay away from dairy, do not eat much meat, and eat lots of fruits and veggies. But I am definitely not vegan and it is highly unlikely that I will go there. I have a love relationship with prosciutto and desserts, which usually include eggs.

Their collection of cookbooks included Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. While browsing the cookbook, I found a bunch of dishes that sounded really good, one of them being the dilly stew. I took a photo of the recipe and was excited to make it. Then a few days later I was opening a gift by the Christmas tree and lo and behold it was the Isa cookbook! Joel bought it for me. I was super excited! I browsed the cookbook again, admiring all the photos and recipes, and I decided to still make the stew as a first try.

The recipe is pretty simple. The hardest part, and it is not really that hard, is chopping all the veggies. The dish requires your basics, onion and garlic, and a bunch of veggies such as potatoes, carrots, and celery. I had some sweet potatoes, which Julia loves, so I decided to swap for a few of the regular potatoes. The dish also requires beans and a few fresh herbs such as dill, thyme, and rosemary (for the dumplings).

To start, you have to make a roux by adding some olive oil and flour. She mentions using a wooden spoon to mix it. I decided to use a whisk, since I have made a roux before and worked really well. The annoying part of making a roux is that it can clump. Using a whisk mitigates that risk. Once your roux is made you add the onions (I used shallots) and cook them a bit. Then you add the garlic and after a few minutes the broth (I used the Better Than Bouillon chicken, which I love) in a slow stream to prevent any additional clumps. You then add all the veggies and simmer them until soft.

IMG_5254The dumplings where the easiest in the world! You simply add some flour in a bowl and mix some salt, baking powder, and chopped rosemary. You then make a well in the center and add some milk (I used coconut milk) and olive oil and mix it until it comes together.

Once the veggies are soft, you simply drop spoonfuls of the dough into the pot, cover it, and simmer everything for about 15 minutes. That’s it! I really liked the dish, especially the dumplings. They definitely make the dish. The best part about it is that you can experiment with different veggies for the stew and different herbs for the dumplings.

IMG_5256I love new cookbooks! Especially ones that include tons of photos… I find them more inspiring. I really want to make every dish in this cookbook! Although the cookbook includes vegan recipes, you can easily substitute or add non-vegan items such as chicken broth, dairy, meats, etc. If anything, I feel like the recipes give you a good base for adding more veggies to your everyday meals. In addition, the recipes seem simple and do not require strange ingredients that you will only use once. In fact, I noticed that multiple recipes include the same ingredients, which is fantastic!

I planned my meals for this week and two of them are from the cookbook. Stay tuned! :)

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