It was a year ago that it all began; when I timidly tossed up some words, pushed a button, and launched them out onto a big, white, empty page. And that’s how Simply Romanesco was born! And, now here we are, turning one. How time flies by… It’s been an incredible ride so far, but it would have been awfully lonely without you all here. You, my dear readers, with your kind and encouraging words, comments, and hoorays make this journey sweet, fun, and worthwhile!
I’ve been debating whether to celebrate my 1st blog anniversary with a dazzling, outrageously over-the-top, and imposing chocolate cake, which I made last year for Adrian’s big milestone, or with a tad less glamorous but way more delicious potato plum dumplings. I opted for the latter. Besides, I believe that this special occasion asks for a dessert that is deeply anchored into my upbringing and always rounds out the summer. So, here I have for you the first recipe of the second year: Gomboţi cu Prune, or, for everyone to understand me, Potato Plum Dumplings.
In September, the stone fruit season is on its last gasp, but it’s making for a spectacular grand finale with the arrival of the fabulous Italian prune plums. This is when they furiously roll in with their hazy purple skin, small egg-like shape, and plump flesh. I, for one, had been waiting for them all summer long. Why? To finally make these Potato Plum Dumplings. So, I finally spotted these little gems at the Trax Farms Market, last week. They were rapidly ripening under my eyes so when I got home I carefully stashed them in the fridge until it was time to take them out, and let the celebrations commence!
Italian prune plums are the perfect candidate for these dumplings because they have the unique talent to easily disappear inside the dough, without having to halve or quarter them. And when you slide your fork through a cooked hot dumpling, the surprise awaits; the meaty, saucy, and now blood orange plum oozes out; and you’re instantly lost in a cloud of sweet aromatic vapor. And then you shower a spoonful of brown sugar over the open plum dumpling. When you take a bite, you feel the outside coat of cinnamon perfumed crumbles, and the melting grits of sugar gently crackling under your teeth; and then the soft, mild dough happily drapes your palate, only to have the tart, slippery plum poke it with excitement. Heaven in a bite…
Potato Plum Dumplings
By Simply Romanesco inspired by my Grandma Vicki
Serves: 20 dumplings
· 20 Italian prune plums
· 1.5 kg (3.5 pounds) potatoes
· 2 large eggs, at room temperature
· 3 teaspoons salt
· 400 grams (3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting when forming the dumplings
· 3 Tablespoons olive oil
· 1 cup bread crumbs
· ½ Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to a simmer, and cook over medium heat until tender for about 45 minutes. Drain the potatoes, transfer them to a bowl, and let sit until just cool enough to handle; then peel and mash them thoroughly using a potato ricer (or a fork, or a potato masher); there should be no lumps bigger than a dime. Let them cool completely.
After the potatoes have cooled completely, add the eggs and salt. Using clean hands, mix everything together. Gradually, add the flour, and mix until thoroughly combined.
Divide the dough into about 20 pieces the size of your fist. Take a piece of dough at a time, dust your hands and the dough with flour so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, and roll the dough with your hands from center to edge into a small circle. Take a prune plum and place it in the center of the dough and gently seal it in, rolling the dough between your palms to form a ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully, drop the dumplings in the water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once the dumplings start simmering, cook them for about 20 minutes. Occasionally, stir the water so that the dumplings don’t stick together.
In the meantime, heat up the oil in another large pan over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir until they get light brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off, add the cinnamon, and stir well.
When the dumplings are cooked, turn the heat off, and drain them in a colander one or two at a time, splashing them with cold water. Transfer them to the cinnamon bread crumbs mixture and roll them around until they get coated with bread crumbs.
When you’re about to eat a potato plum dumpling, cut it in half and sprinkle it with sugar or brown sugar, to sweeten it up. And enjoy!
Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)