Category Archives: Appetizers

Mashed beans with onion and garlic

This is as easy as it can get!

You need:

–          500g/1.1 lbs beans (raw)

–          3 average sized carrots

–          1 parsnip

–          Salt, pepper

–          One mid-sized onion

–          3-4 cloves of garlic

–          1 tbsp olive oil

–          1 tbsp paprika

You wash the beans and then soak them in 2l of water for a couple of hours.  Afterwards, you boil them together with the carrots and parsnip until they are very soft( just like you would boil potatoes to make mashed potatoes).

When they’re done, mix them in a bowl with a mixer (you can also use a blender but make sure you don’t end up with soup rather than a paste).

Chop the garlic in fine pieces and add it to the beans and mix them well. The amount of garlic used usually depends on your own tastes and whether you like your flavours more garlicky or not.  Add salt and pepper to your tastes as well.

And last but not least, the final touch!  In a pan, put the olive oil together with the paprika, let it simmer and take all the flavor out of the spice. After 2-3 min, add the finely chopped onion (julien) and leave it until it becomes yellow-brown. When it’s done, put the fried onion on top of the mashed beans.

It’s usually eaten with home made crispy white bread, but you can easily serve it with whole meal bread, it’s delicious all the same!

“BOEUF” Salad

This recipe is said to derive from an old Russian recipe invented by a French chef working at the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow, in the 1800s.  The initial recipe was made with capers, veal tongue, truffles, smoked duck breast, lettuce, crabs, eggs, and a special mayonnaise sauce. Throughout history, most people have changed the recipe and have replaced expensive ingredients with more common ones that they could afford and also with ingredients that could be found all year long without difficulty.

As a result this next salad has become more and more popular and is now one of the dishes that is served in any Romanian home.

What you need:

–          1 kg/2.2 lbs potatoes

–          1kg/2.2 lbs carrots

–          1-2 parsley roots

–          2-3 parsnip roots

–          1 can of peas (optional)

–          50g/0.11 lbs olives (green or black, whichever you prefer)

–          2 eggs and 100 ml/3.38oz sunflower oil and a tsp of mustard (if you want to make home-made mayo); if not, then you need about 150ml/5oz mayo from the store

–          300g/0.66lbs pickled cucumbers

–          1 kg/2.2 lbs chicken or turkey breast (you can also use veal instead)

–          1 tbsp all spice

–          Salt, pepper

Peel and wash the carrots, potatoes, parsley and parsnip. Put them in a large pot together with the meat and 1 tbsp all spice and bring them to a boil. Be careful as to not over-boil the vegetables, you do not want to make them into a puree.

When they’ve boiled, separate them from the water they’ve boiled in and when and sufficiently cooled down, chop them up into cubes. By the way, the leftover water in which the meat and vegetables have boiled makes for an excellent chicken soup – you can just add some noodles or dumplings and the soup’s ready!

After you chopped the vegetables up and put them in a bowl, chop the rest up: the meat and the pickled cucumbers.  Add the mayo, salt, pepper and mix them all up.

You can decorate it with olives.

MAYO: If you want to make the mayo yourself, this is what you have to do: Separate the yolks from the whites, you only need the yolks. Put them in a bowl and add a bit of mustard (a tsp). Start stirring slowly with a wooden spoon and slowly adding a pinch of oil, just a bit at a time. You have to continually stir until you see the mixture thicken and become more and more of a paste similar to mayo’s density.

Be careful to not pour too much oil at a time, it will ruin the mayo. It’s a pretty lengthy process and you have to be patient.

To make the mayo even tastier, you can take a cup, fill it with a pinch of sugar and 1-2 tbsp plain vinegar (preferably not balsamic). Stir until the sugar has melted and pour it over the mayo. Be careful to not make the mayo too thin, though.

Aubergine/Eggplant Salad

This is the most exquisite salad that’s part of Romanian cuisine. Any self-respecting Romanian cherishes this dish so it seems only fair to dedicate post #1 to the queen of our Romanian hearts (or stomachs), the eggplant/aubergine salad!

Step 1: cooking the aubergines

"Grilling" them outside might be a good idea to prevent the smell from remaining in your kitchen

You can cook (or better yet fry) the aubergines in many ways. You can

use a pan and the grill-mode of an oven, you can use any kind of grate

placed on the stove, or you can even use an outside grill. You just need to place

the aubergines on the heated surface and wait until they become moist and                 wrinkled on the side which is in direct contact to the heat. Turn the aubergines         on each side until they have the same texture on all sides.

What happens is that due to the hard peel of the eggplant, the inside warms up           and gets cooked under pressure. At some point small cracks may appear and            water is sure to drip from inside.

Not to worry. Just continue cooking them until they’re all moist and soft on the        inside (check by slowly pressing on the peel). However, if you choose to                       cook them on a pan or a tray, make sure you’re not sentimentally attached to it.It   may easily get damaged.

They're look great, almost done

You may find different methods and suggestions regarding this step. Some prefer to cut the green part of the aubergine so it cooks better.
Experiments with this idea proved that there is some inconvenience to
this method. One is that excessive juices from inside the eggplant may
drip while cooking, if the green part is not cut at a right size.
Second is that while cooking you may find it difficult to grip the
aubergines when you want to turn them. Here is where the green part
comes in handy, giving you the possibility to manipulate the
vegetables while cooking.

Step 2: peeling the aubergines

Once you have your aubergines well cooked, you need to peel them.

This process may be somewhat uncomfortable due to the fact that the inside
of the aubergines is very hot and cools down very slowly. What you need to do is peel            them under the tap with cold water flowing on your finger so you don’t get burned.

You will find that the peel comes off rather easily and the process is shorter compared to      the cooking. However, don’t hurry. Make sure you get every little bit of the peel off.

If  there is peel in the salad, you will have some bitter bites when you eat it.

Step 3: the chopping

Use a cutting board and a good long knife. What you need to do is to chop the cooked, peeled aubergines very finely using swift movements of the knife. If the aubergine is properly cooked, you will discover that chopping them is not problem.

You will stop chopping once the aubergine has turned into a homogeneous creamy paste, which you place into a pot or bowl, and continue with chopping the second aubergine and so on.

Step 4: mixing ingredients.

You can either chop the onion finely or you can use a grater. If you use a grater be sure to use a sieve in order to drain most of the water from the onion. You don’t want your eggplant salad to be too moist. Second, use the recipe for home-made mayonnaise (you can find that in the next post) to make as much as you need for the salad, and mix all of the 3 ingredients, add salt, and finally mix it well.

Enjoy!