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.
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