I’m an only child, which on occasion means being spoiled rotten. So, when at age eleven I demanded a puppy, my parents happily obliged. Granted, the three of us lived in an eight hundred square foot one bedroom apartment on the sixth floor of a ten story building with no air conditioning during the scorching summer months. Did it matter? Not at all… The four of us simply learned how to gloriously bake in the one bedroom hell of a sauna. But being treated like a princess was not the case when visiting my grandparents in the northern part of Romania.
Maramureș, a region in the northern part of Romania, is a place where time seems to stand still and hundreds of years of culture and traditions are firmly engrained in the rugged mentality, hardened way of life and extremely hardworking people. It is here where the nearby volcanic mountains are proudly covered in a dense layer of snow well into spring; where locals master the elaborate process of making the famous ţuică drink every year (my ninety five year old great-grandmother is still deeply invested in this process); not to mention how chickens and other domestic animals roam freely around the yard all day long and are considered proud members of the family. Maramureș is also the place where I learned how to forage for plump beautiful mushrooms in the untamed forests, how to gingerly maneuver a two handle saw and help my grandfather cut wood at the very young age of four, and most importantly where I learned how to whip up this rustic and mouthwatering Feta Cheese and Dill Stuffed Flatbread.
These flatbreads are without a doubt a staple in my grandma Aurica’s kitchen – simple, basic dough stuffed with a cheesy goodness. It can’t get better or easier than that! They are unpretentious and versatile; delicious for breakfast, satisfying as a snack, great for lunch, and light for a quick dinner. Needless to say, they are a terrific alternative for the beloved bread. The yeasty dough winds up tender and sweetly chewy while nestling a perfectly salty and savory interior. These Feta Cheese and Dill Stuffed Flatbreads are deeply flavorful without being fussy and I guarantee you won’t stop with just one. Enjoy!
Feta Cheese and Dill Stuffed Flatbread
By Simply Romanesco inspired my Grandma Vicki and Grandma Aurica
Makes: 15 stuffed flatbreads
· 500 grams (3 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
· ½ teaspoon baking soda
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 packet (7 grams) fast rise dry yeast
· 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
· 1 large egg, at room temperature
· 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
· 125 (1/2 cup) whole milk
· 50 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil, plus more for frying
Ingredients for the filling:
· 350 grams (12 oz) feta cheese
· A good bunch of fresh dill, chopped (the green parts of green onions, chopped, also work really well)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, yeast and sugar. Mix well. Add the egg, water and milk and, using clean hands, gently combine all the ingredients. Add the oil and mix well until the dough gathers into a ball. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes pliable and easy to work with. Leave the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and allow the dough to rest and rise for an hour and a half until it almost doubles in size.
In the meantime, combine the feta cheese and dill in a medium bowl and set aside.
Divide the dough into 15 balls. Lightly flour the work surface and the rolling pin and roll out the balls of dough one at a time. Add a heaping Tablespoon of the feta cheese and dill filling and fold the edges of the dough to seal the filling inside. Set aside and allow the filled concoction to rest for 10 minutes. Proceed the same way with the rest of the dough.
Lightly flour the rolling pin and roll out each of the filled doughs careful not to break the surface and the filling to spill out.
In a large skillet, heat about ½ cup of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add one or two flatbreads at a time and cook them over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden-brown. Place the cooked flatbreads on a platter and cover to keep warm.
Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)