January 25, 2012

My trip to Transylvania: Part 2

Did I mention that we, Romanians, eat a lot during the holidays?  We eat so much that during the days following Christmas, all you hear on the news is how many people ended up in the hospital because they overate.  The problem is that it’s so hard to resist when the food selections are so amazing – anything from savory to sweet and everything in between.  My family’s Christmas table was no exception!  Everywhere you looked there was food.  There was such an abundance of choices on our Christmas table… it felt like food heaven.    

Here are some of the wonderful dishes that my mother and grandma Vicki prepared for Christmas: 

Salată de boeuf (Boeuf Salad) is a classic Romanian dish that is very common during the winter holidays.     

Salată de vinete (Eggplant Salad or Baba Ganoush) is traditionally made with roasted eggplants, onions and mayonnaise.

Salată de oua (Egg Salad) is made with hard-boiled eggs, ham, onions and mayonnaise. 

Pork roast with sausage, mashed potatoes, green peas and pickled red peppers stuffed with cabbage.

Ciorbă de porc (Pork Ciorbă) is a traditional tangy and tart soup, which is very popular in the Romanian cuisine.           


And, of course, let’s not forget about the Stuffed Cabbage, which is a must during the winter holidays, together with many wonderful desserts.  

Chestnut Torte

Cakes and cookies and anything else you could dream of.  

When I visited Adrian’s family, I indulged in more food therapy.  And one of the highlights was the Duck on Sauerkraut, which Adrian’s uncle Laci prepared.  This dish is a typical example of the foreign influences in the Romanian cuisine.  Combining the duck from the French cuisine with the sauerkraut from the German cuisine, we created this over the top mouthwatering deliciousness.  

Although, I love all these delightful and elaborately decorated dishes, my two favorite are: Salată de boeuf (Boeuf Salad) and Ciorbă de Porc (Pork Ciorbă).     

As I said before, Salată de boeuf (Boeuf Salad) is a classic Romanian dish that is very common during the winter holidays and also on special occasions.  Even though, it may sound French because of the word boeuf, which means beef in French, this salad has Russian origins and is inspired by the Olivier or Russian salad.  Whatever its origin, this is my favorite salad in the Romanian cuisine.  Not to mention that, more often than not, this salad is made with chicken breast instead of beef. 

Salata de Boeuf (Boeuf Salad)
By Simply Romanesco inspired by my Grandma Vicki

Serves: 8-10 servings


·         ½ pound boneless, skinless cooked chicken breast, cooled and diced
·         5-6 boiled carrots, cooled and diced
·         6-7 Russet potatoes, cooked in their skin, peeled, cooled and diced
·         4-5 Kosher Dill pickles, diced and squeezed of extra juices
·         1 (15-ounce) can of peas, rinsed and drained      
·         Salt and black pepper
·         Vegetable oil
·         1 cup or more mayonnaise


In a large bowl, combine the chicken, carrots, potatoes, pickles and peas.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of oil.  Mix well.  Add the mayonnaise 1-2 Tablespoons at a time and stir well until the salad is nice and creamy.  If you don’t like it too creamy, use less mayo.  I like my Boeuf Salad to be creamy.  Place the salad in a glass or ceramic bowl and spread a thin layer of mayo over the top.  Don’t forget to decorate the salad as you like it, extravagant or simple; you can use roasted red peppers, parsley, black olives, pickles, you name it.   

Out of all these wonderful selections, I also love Ciorbă de Pork (Pork Ciorbă).  This tasty soup can also be made with chicken breast.  I love this soup because the acidic flavor works as a palate cleanser after days of rich, heavy meals.  In addition, a bowl of ciorbă will fill up your tummy and is the perfect choice for cold winter nights. 

Ciorbă de Pui (Chicken Ciorbă)
By Simply Romanesco inspired by my Grandma Vicki

Serves: 8-10 servings


·         3 tablespoons vegetable oil
·         2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
·         4-5 carrots peeled and grated
·         1 big yellow onion, chopped
·         2 tomatoes boiled and peeled and then cut into cubes
·         1 yellow pepper, chopped
·         A small bunch of fresh dill, chopped
·         A small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
·         A small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
·         Salt
·         2 Tablespoons (or more) white vinegar
·         2 Tablespoons sour cream
·         1 egg yolk



In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the carrots and a pinch of salt.  Sauté the carrots for about 5 minutes.  Add the onion.  Cook the onion with the carrots for 2 minutes.  Add the yellow pepper.  Cook for 1 more minute.  Add the tomatoes.  Cook for another minute.  Add the chicken and cook for 8-10 minutes stirring frequently until the chicken is cooked through.  Add water to fill up the pan.  Season with salt.  Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the meat is cooked and tender.  Check the meat after 25 minutes. 

When the meat is cooked, taste the soup and add more salt if needed.  Add the vinegar and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes.  Turn the heat off.  In a small bowl, mix the sour cream with the egg yolk.  Off heat, add the sour cream and egg yolk mixture to the soup and stir well.  Sprinkle with cilantro, dill and parsley on top. 

Note:  Let the soup cool completely before you put it in the fridge. 

Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)     

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