To be truthfully honest (pardon the redundancy), Moldova was a country I barely knew where it was located before I started this. Now, I’m almost ready to plan my next vacation there. (My bank account and accrued PTO allotment is the only things stopping me from going.) Seriously, I’m just waiting for Duolingo to finish developing its Romanian lessons (the website says they’re at 99%). I’ve studied French, Spanish, and Portuguese—Romanian can’t be that hard, can it? Between their music, their wine, their carved wooden boxes, and embroidered tunics, I need to be there. Actually, I just need to drink my way across Europe, recording and writing about their music. Quick—someone needs to make this happen.
|I didn't even take a photo of the inside. It's glorious. Really, it is.|
But now, that brings me to their food. The first thing I made was the bread, Placinte (also spelled Plachyndy). This amazing bread package starts out with making the dough: I poured in 250mL of buttermilk (you can also use kefir), ½ Tbsp of distilled vinegar, ½ Tbsp of sugar, and 1 tsp of salt into a bowl and mixed it altogether with a fork. Then I slowly sifted 2 ½ c of flour and ½ tsp of baking soda into the buttermilk mixture until it all started to come together as a dough. I rolled out my pastry mat and dusted it with flour, kneading it and working the dough until it stopped being sticky. In a separate bowl, I mixed together my chopped arugula (in lieu of sorrel since it’s kind of hard to find here, and I only used about a couple of ounces worth), four green onions chopped, and about a tbsp each of chopped dill and chopped parsley. Once I mixed all the greens, I poured in two eggs slightly beaten and mixed everything together. Then I took my dough and divided it out into four equal pieces, taking each piece and rolling it out to an 8” circle. I brushed the inside of the circle with some olive oil (in lieu of the suggested sunflower oil) and spread the greens mixture throughout the surface of the circle. After it was covered, I folded each side into the circle so that opposite sides touched in the center (pinching them tight, of course), then folding the top and bottom in the same fashion. I went around all the edges and made sure they were all pinched down, floured the outside again, and then flattened the package with my hand or rolling pin. In my big skillet, I heated up about 100mL of oil and dropped each bread package into the oil when it was hot. It took about 3-4 minutes for it to be done. I thought this was the best part of the meal. The combination of arugula and dill was superb. And the egg made it seem like there was cheese in it. Clearly the winner for today.
|Very much of a comfort food. And the humidity died down today, making me think it was fall!|
Next, I made Moldovan Potato Cheese Soup, or Moldavsky Sup Iz Syra I Kartophelya as I commonly call it all the time. I started this off by melting butter in a large pot and adding in chopped onions and chopped carrots, letting it simmer for 20 minutes until they were soft. Then I added in my potatoes, some paprika, a pinch of cayenne pepper, some chopped parsley, some salt and pepper, and some chicken stock and brought it all to a boil. Then I let it all simmer for about a half hour. After all the vegetables were soft, I strained them all out and put them in my blender to make a puree out of them. Once I added my puree back to the pot, I added in the cheese. (The recipe called for ewes cheese and suggested Basque Ektori, but seeing as how I had no idea where to find this without paying an arm and a leg for it, I went with their other suggestion, cheddar. And it didn’t say how I should have my cheese, so I grated an 8 oz block of aged cheddar.) I let it all simmer for another 15 minutes or so. After I dipped it out into bowls, I topped it with chopped chives. I really liked this. It was creamy and cheesy, although the aged Wisconsin cheddar gave it a slight musty flavor on the back end. Perhaps I should’ve used a mild cheddar instead, or maybe a nice gouda.
|Not too bad, but next time, I'll add more spices in the mix. You know, spice it up.|
Finally, the other dish I made was Sarmale, or stuffed cabbage leaves. I place some rice in a bowl and poured boiling water over it, letting it sit for 15 minutes. Then I drained it off and set it off to the side. After heating some oil in my skillet, I sautéed my chopped carrots, parsley, onions, and tomato paste together. I cooked this until my vegetables were soft. Then I poured this into my bowl with the rice. Heating up some more oil in the same skillet, I browned my finely diced pork, transferring to my rice bowl when it was done. Then I added a little bit of dill and black pepper to the rice bowl, stirring to make sure everything was mixed well. Then I carefully pulled apart my cabbage leaves. In a large pot, I brought about 2” of water to a boil and put my cabbage leaves in the pot for about 5-10 minutes until they were soft and flexible. Now comes the part that seems difficult. I took out each cabbage leaf, and I spooned in a bit of the rice and pork mixture into the center and folded the leaf around it. I used a toothpick to help keep them together. Traditionally, whenever I’ve tried to make anything wrapped in a leaf, it never stays together. I’m certain I’ve not been taught the secret voodoo trick to this. But I gave it the old college try, placing them back into the pot and topping them with the two leaves I held back. Then I poured more hot water into the pot, letting them simmer for another 30 minutes. Here are my thoughts on this dish: 1) my husband gave me some pointers for rolling them, and it worked, more or less, 2) I forgot to add in some dill, and it definitely needed salt, 3) the rice mixture yielded way more than I used, and that was with me cutting the recipe down. Otherwise, these were pretty good, but they were probably the weakest dish of the meal. But they weren't bad. I definitely feel better about making cabbage rolls, though.
|Why my photo got cut off is beyond me. But it was a very good meal. Can't wait for my leftover lunch tomorrow.|
For a country I didn’t know much about when I started, I now totally want to go visit. Definitely sure a wine tour is exactly what I need right now. And all the other things I mentioned. And some more of that bread, of course. (Did I mention wine?) Actually, if I ever were rich enough to take an entire year off, I say I want to do something like travel around non-stop, but in reality, the kids have to go to school. Oh, but wait until they go off to college…
Up next: Monaco