Let me start by saying what tonight was all about. My soon to be daughter-in-law, Delia, is Romanian. When Delia's parents are here for the wedding, I wanted to make a dinner from their country. Vlad, our friend from Romania, who lives here in Tennessee was just the person to teach me. He was as excited as I was. It's rare that I cook with anyone other than my children when they are home. Tonight was, as Vlad stated, "super fun." Vlad gave me a to do list prior to his arrival. There was a large amount of prep work including boiling and chopping. I just cranked up the radio and was happy chopping away. I started the night before by cooking the beef shanks. The next day I began with the parsnips, boiling them until sufficiently firm followed by chopping.. Well, maybe I didn't boil them quit enough and maybe chopped just a little to small. Ooops. Below is a small vision of the pre work that was done.
The potatoes needed to be boiled, cooled and chopped into about 1/2" pieces. I didn't have these cubed small enough, but it didn't take long to size them down.
The carrots where to be boiled and chopped like the parsnips. These also I didn't boil long enough and chopped to small.
The baby english peas I boiled in sugar water. These I got perfect.
Ahhh, this dish was f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c!!! What is in here? White Kidney beans and olive oil,
topped with some caramelized onions. Oh yeah, this stuff was yumo!!!
Note to self, do not slice into onion rings. We where not making fried onions rings! Needs to be chopped into large chunks prior to caramelizing.
This is Vlad, my Romanian cooking instructor for the evening. Scientist by day, cook by night.
Vlad was a first-rate instructor. I learned alot this evening. Americans do things the simple way. We tend to be lazy, always looking for short cuts. Do not buy pre-chopped pickles. Buy the whole dill pickles and chop them yourself, that way you have larger chunks and more flavor. Ok, that makes sense. You could really tell a difference. Also, when the instructions say Dijon Originale Mustard, that means Dijon Originale Mustard, not the Dijon with white wine. Hey, I didn't know there was much difference, but there is. The Originale is stronger, therefore better in this salad when mixed with mayo but not just any mayo. Like any truly southern woman, Vlad agrees only Hellman's will do.
Vlad, chopping the celery, that I forgot altogether. In my defense, in the instructions he called them twigs. I thought he was talking about the carrots.
Look at that. You know you want some. It was so good, I can't wait to make it for the family.
One of the reasons Vlad and I get along so well is that we are both very particular. I totally get that. Hey, there is nothing wrong with that. We get it right.
I look forward to many more evenings cooking with Vlad. Hmmm, something he's not good at, he says, is baking. Maybe I can teach him a thing or two about that in the kitchen next time.
No matter where in the world you are from, two things remain the same, friendship and food. You gotta have it.
Something else I learned this evening. My stovetop is very small. I need a larger one. "Stoooone," I yelled, we need to go to the appliance store, now!
Our candlelit Romanian dinner
Stone's job for the evening was acting as a sommelier which he did quite well. Oh yes, and going to the grocery. Remember the thing about the pickles, well he had to get a jar of whole pickles. Also I had purchased a tube of dill paste thinking this was great. I had never used dill paste before and I thought wow, so easy, no chopping. Remember that comment about lazy Americans. OMG, you should had seen Vlad's face when I pulled that from the refrigerator. I thought he was going to have congestive heart failure. You have to use fresh dill, and lots of it. I phoned Stone immediately while he was still at the store and said, "get fresh dill, and lots of it!"