My entire host family except my oldest host sister (the 21-year-old) and my host father are in Turkey at an amazing seaside resort for the week, which means the house is an oasis of quite and calm. (I know the resort is amazing because I got to watch the video tour of their hotel at least five times last week, per request of Anastasia (my nine-year old host sister).)
Besides the house being empty, their trip also means we are without my host mother’s amazing cooking and so, in an effort to be helpful, get back in the kitchen (I’ve missed cooking more than I would have imagined) and share some American cuisine with my host father and a few fellow volunteers, I offered to make dinner on Thursday night.
I began brainstorming the menu on Monday and began researching Tuesday – deciding if guacamole was not an option (it’s not) I would be satisfied with a burger. After a trip to the grocery store, where I was informed that not only did they not have ground beef or any carne de vita (cow’s meat) other than in sausage form, but that they would not be getting any that week (yes, I had that entire conversation in Romanian!), I had to re-think my dream of hamburgers.
I went home regrouped and compiled a list of ingredients that were accessible and affordable. I sent this list to my mom and my most culinary savvy friend and asked their advice. The next day after reading their responses and having slept on the menu, I decided to make a simple vegetable and cheese quiche with broccoli, spinach and onions, a cabbage salad with radishes, carrots, apples and sunflower seeds and a simple pasta salad with spinach, onions and tomatoes and for dessert, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Wednesday afternoon I headed over to the grocery store and purchased all the ingredients for a total cost of around 125 lei or $10. I decided to make everything but the pasta salad the afternoon before because Thursday was a HUB site day (meaning traveling to Chisinau for sessions from 8:30a to 5:30p). After cooking all afternoon Wednesday and a long day Thursday, I was excited for session to end and to get home. I finished preparing the dinner, set the table and enjoyed a lovely dinner with a few fellow PCVs and my host father.
The cookies were a HUGE hit with most host family and since they were almost gone before dinner the next night, I decided to buy some Moldovan cookies for our deserts!
The recipes or explanations for creation are below, but keep in mind that when I’m cooking here I do not have any measuring cups or spoons. I measure by the mug, half mug and spoonful – I add as I feel its needed and eyeball a lot of it – but that all taken into account I did use some recipes as guidelines and for the ones that I didn’t use a recipe I will simply describe ingredients.
The spinach, broccoli and onion quiche was surprisingly easy to make and at least relatively healthy.
For the crust I used the following recipe (but doubled):
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil (I used sunflower oil, because that’s whats cheap here)
1/4 cup ice water (I just used tap water)
1 Mix flour and salt with fork.
2 Beat oil and water with whisk or fork to thicken.
3 Pour into flour and mix with fork.
4 Press into 9″ pie crust.
5 Fill with quiche mixture and bake at 400F until done.
For the filling:
1 small bag frozen broccoli (chopped)
1 small bag frozen spinach (chopped)
1 medium onion diced
7 eggs (five egg whites and two eggs)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 block cascaval (maybe equivalent to provolone)
1 Saute the spinach, broccoli and onion with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper on low heat until the frozen ingredients are thawed 2 Add the vegetables into the pan on top of the uncooked dough. 3 Combine egg whites, eggs and milk into separate bowl and mix using fork until small bubbles begin to appear in mixture. 4 Pour egg mixture over vegetables, making sure it is distributed evenly. 5 Chop cheese and sprinkle on top of egg mixture.
The pasta salad:
1 bag frozen spinach
4 medium sized tomatoes (diced)
1/2 medium onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
Combine pasta with vegetables and toss well.
The cabbage salad:
1 large head of cabbage
3 large carrots (chopped)
2 large radishes (I accidentally bought beets)
Toss cabbage, carrots, beets with oil, pepper, salt and vinegar and allow to marinate overnight. Before serving add chopped apples and sunflower seeds, then toss again.
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with peaches (You may recognize this from my previous Moldovan baking):
1 cup flour
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cup oats
2 tsp. baking soda
1 bar dark chocolate
3 small peaches (chopped)
Pre-heat oven to 350 and allow to bake for about eight minutes. (I might have enjoyed some chopped walnuts or shaved almonds in the cookies for a little more texture.)