I recently had the privilege to be invited to demonstrate my Romanian heritage in a show-cooking at Cook & Travel fest in Barcelona! It’s been an amazing experience and a very well attended event!
People had a pre-booked ticket with a limited capacity of 15 seats but the room was packed with almost 40. I was happy to see a few Romanian compatriots coming to my show cooking, and some of them culinary bloggers, among the international crowd.
My demonstration included making cabbage rolls (sarmale), a bean dip with caramelised onion (fasole batuta) and the Easter typical dessert called Pasca.
All recipes can be found below.
The newest culinary festival in Barcelona proved to attract many curious foodies, but also important chefs with many Michelin stars and food connoisseurs.
Here are my recipes:
Sour cabbage rolls – “Sarmale”
12pax / cooking time: aprox. 3.5h/ difficulty: medium
500 g of minced pork
500 g of minced beef
2 medium white onions
3 handfuls white rice
5 tablespoons tomato puree
2 bunch of dill
2kg kg of pickled sour cabbage leaves (this recipe is also good for wine leaves so you can use those instead)
1L tomato juice
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt or to taste
2 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme (dried or fresh)
300 g smoked bacon
2 tbsp oil (sunflower preferably)
Clean the onions and chop finely. Cook the onions in a little oil on medium heat until become translucid. Add the rice which was previously passed through cold water to remove excess starch. Add 1 tbsp of tomato puree. Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add a second tablespoon of the puree and leave it for another two minutes.
In a large bowl add the meat, along with the onion, rice and tomato puree mixture; add ground pepper, chopped dill, dried thymel and salt to taste. Stir well the whole mixture. Start rolling the sarmale in cabbage leaves as you see in this video:
Start adding your sarmale in a large cast iron heavy pot, preferably. Layer this pot first with some chopped sour cabbage, then add the sarmale in a concentric circle. Add some cubed smoked bacon in between the layers of sarmale. Continue these steps until you finished with all your rolls. Place a last layer of chopped cabbage over the rolls and add your liter of tomato juice on top, some bay leaves and you’re ready for the fire! Cook 2-3 hours on small-medium heat or until cabbage leaves are soft and mixture is cooked all the way through. Serve with polenta maize and sour cream. Yum!!
“Fasole batuta” White bean dip with caramelized onions
10pax / cooking time: aprox. 1h (+ 4h or overnight soaking for the beans) / difficulty: easy
1kg white beans
6 cloves of garlic
6 spoons olive oil / vegetable oil
4 spoons concentrated tomato paste
4 medium red onions
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt and little black pepper crushed
To serve – rustic bread
Soak the white beans 4h in advance in cold water or overnight. Cook them in a salted cold water for about 45 min or until soft and cooked all the way through. Can change the water half way through the cooking to allow the beans to remove their starches. After it’s cooked let it set to cool.
In a kitchen-robot or mixer, blend the cooked white beans together with all the other ingredients besides the red onions, tomato puree, 2 spoons of oil and sugar.
Blend until a white bean dip results. Should have a creamy texture and a garlicky flavor.
Slice the red onions in fine long strips. Cook in leftover oil the onions, until soft and browned, add sugar and caramelize; add your tomato concentrated puree and stir. Remove from heat.
Serve on rustic bread topped with the caramelised onions. Yummy!
“Pasca” Romanian Easter Bread
8-10pax / cooking time: aprox. 1h (+ 2h stand-by for the dough to rise) / difficulty: medium
For the Dough:
4 -5 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar 1 cup milk (warm)
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 eggs (at room temp)
2 tbsp butter (softened)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
For the Filling:
170g ricotta cheese or farmer’s cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ c raisins
1 shot glass of rum
For the Dough: In a large bowl, mix together 1 +½ cup of flour, warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Cover the mixture and place it in a warm place for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.
Separate one of the eggs, placing the whites in a separate bowl and setting it aside. (We will use this later to brush the bread before it goes into the oven.)
Once the flour and yeast mixture it’s nice and bubbly, mix in the 2 eggs and one egg yolk. Add 2 + ½ c of flour, the soft butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as is necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands. (Alternately, you can mix the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer, such as a kitchen aid, fitted with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes, until it it’s smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl.)
Place the dough into a clean, greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft free place until it has roughly tripled in bulk, 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half.
Press one half of the dough into the bottom of a well-buttered pan.
Divide the other half of the dough into three even pieces and roll them into thin ropes. Press one end of each of the ropes together and braid the ropes gently. Arrange the braid into a ring, connecting the two ends. Stretch the braided ring gently and place it into the spring-form pan along the outside edge of the pan.
Cover the spring-form pan with your damp tea towel and let the dough rise again in a warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk, roughly 30-40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
For the Filling: While the dough is rising, make the cheese filling by beating all of the filling ingredients (except the raisins) together with an electric hand mixer, until smooth and pour-able. Gently stir in the raisins.
In the small bowl with 1 reserved egg white, add 1 tsp water. Mix the egg whites and water together and brush the dough with the egg whites once it has risen.
Then, pour the cheese filling into the middle of the braided circle. (Only pour enough in to fill the cavity, do not let it run over.)
Bake the bread at 190C for 15min. Reduce the heat to 180C and bake for an additional 40 minutes, until the bread is nice and golden and the center is set, but still jiggles slightly.
Turn off the oven and let the bread cool in the oven for 1 hour with the door shut.
After cooling 1 hour, remove the bread from the oven and serve or let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
*For those in Barcelona, who participated at the show-cooking and are interested in purchasing the ingredients for these recipes you can refer to the following shops:
- Troika Tienda Russa – Carrer de la Unió, 3, 08001 Barcelona (metro L3, ->Liceu)
- MiniMix tienda Europa de Este – Carrer de la Marquesa, 7, 08003 Barcelona (metro L4, ->Barceloneta)
Thanks to those who attended my class at Cook and Travel Fest!
You can book me here for showcookings or private culinary workshops!