Category Archives: Side dishes

Polenta (Mămăligă) with feta cheese and cream

This “polenta” is a special dish that is very traditional in Romania. It can be used as bread in different meals or accompanying stews, stuffed cabbage rolls or even eaten with milk (instead of cereal, 😉 ). However, the recipe presented here is a delicious mixture of polenta, cheese and sour cream that is quick and easy.

What you need:

–          1.5l/51 oz. water

–          400g/0.88 lbs corn flour

–          ½ tsp salt

–          500g/1.1 lbs feta cheese (grated)

–          200ml/6.8 oz  cream

Bring the water  to a boil and start adding corn flour gradually, just a pinch at a time, while stirring constantly.  At the same time, reduce heat to medium temperature. Keep stirring until it becomes harder and harder to stir and the result is a thick mixture.

Pour half of the polenta in a tray, sprinkle the grated cheese over it (it should melt since the polenta is very hot) and pour the rest of the polenta over the layer of cheese. Leave to cool down.

When it has cooled down, pour the sour cream, evening it out –  this is the top layer and the final touch of this dish.


Home-made bread

Nothing compares to the aroma that fills your house when you have bread baking in the oven.

Making it requires:

–          1kg/2.2 lbs flour

–          75g/0.16lbs yeast (not the dry kind) –  you can use the dry kind, but then the measurements are different

–          2 eggs

–          1 tsp salt

–          1 tsp sugar

–          40ml/1.35oz sunflower oil

–          200-300 ml/6.7-10.2 oz. lukewarm water or milk

–          Sesame seeds/cumin/poppy

–          20g/0.7lbs butter

Start off by putting the flour in a bowl, add one egg, salt and sugar.

In a cup, pour some warm milk or water and add the yeast, mixing it well until the yeast dissolves.

Pour the yeast in the bowl over the flour, egg, salt and sugar and mix well. Keep adding water in order to make it all form a “cohesive” dough. This can become difficult if done in the bowl until the “end-result” so it is sometimes easier to empty the contents of the bowl onto a cooking board and work with the dough there.

Use your hands to shape the dough into a firm non-sticky ball (just add flour if it keeps sticking) and keep modeling it for about 10 minutes.

When it’s done, leave it in the bowl, in a warm place for approx. 1-1,5hrs so that it grows to almost twice its size. A neat trick is covering the bowl with a piece of cellophane wrap (or even a piece of kitchen cloth will do). It makes it warmer for the dough and it will “grow” faster.

In the meantime, pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius/392 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare the trays. You can make the bread in either a rectangular or round type of tray, it just depends on how you prefer it.

Making braided bread is also an option and is not as complicated as thought. The picture below shows a braided bread with 3 strands; it’s based on the same concept as is braiding your hair. You take the dough and divide it into 3 equal parts. Out of each part, you make a roll of dough. You put the three rolls parallel to each other and then just knot them at one end and start braiding.

If you want it to look even more fancy, you can add a second layer of braids (like the top bread in the picture). It’s pretty easy: just roll another 2 strands and braid them together. When you’re done, put them over the previously 3 braided strands and gently press them together so they stick. You have to press them enough so that they do not separate while baking in the oven but don’t press them too hard, otherwise you flatten the dough too much.

up: 5 strands; down: 3 strand braided bread

At the end, beat the second egg and smear it over the braided dough – it will give it a nice shine while baking in the oven. It’s now ready to be put in the oven for approximately 1 hour. Check on it with the “toothpick test”, but an hour should more or less suffice.

Round braided bread with cumin seeds