International Cooking in English-PCV Style
Hello everyone in “Romanialand.” I would like to introduce all of you to some of my wonderfully talented students and a few of the recipes that we have already made together in the bucataria here at gazda compound central in the rural village of Brusturoasa. Every month, on a Saturday, for the better of an afternoon, we create three to four delicious dishes using local ingredients a la the Slow Food movement. Early on in my visits to site, I was able to contribute to a good friend’s classes in her kitchen highlighting the cuisine of Romania. They were summer classes and the children really loved being little chefs. We made presentations to City Council together and I felt that it was only fitting that one of the secondary projects here that I could manage would be to have a culturally different kitchen experience. Now, a whole new set of children from all over the village enjoy cooking courses…PCV style. Together, we share each others’ company, learn about cooking terms and various kitchen tools and methods, have a go at English conversation, sing and dance a bit, sometimes go outside to play a game whilst things are baking, review safe food practices and how to choose good ingredients, discuss healthy eating habits, explore how to always make our table “guest friendly,” dine on wonderful foods that the children have made themselves, and as
such, they are able to develop skills which surely will bless them for a lifetime.
Variety is the spice of life and so it goes here in class. We measure little, don’t waste anything-as is the frugality borne in my European soul, and work diligently and a lot, in order to know how to c
reate appealingly different foods from little resources that are healthy and fresh. Sometimes they are not without a bit of sugar or fat, but in moderation as I teach my girls and boys, it is
a good thing. They are fantastic apprentices and I wish that you could taste the magic! Maybe you will enjoy some of these recipes in your own kitchens while here in the Peace Corps and beyond…and just maybe…you might start up your own classes within your communities.
Please visit this link to a “big picture” slideshow of our most recent class in January. The theme for the day was “British Teatime Fare”. So far, we have made French, Italian, Californian, Asian, Mexican, Southern, and New England dishes, along with accompanying themes such as “Home for Thanksgiving” and “Southern Goodness” There are never any leftovers and now, after having classes for six months, even the parents want to chime in. And so, we leave you this month with a wish for Pofta Buna at every meal, a couple of the teatime recipes from the team’s cookbook which we are now compiling, and our motto of: “Nothing says home like homemade!”
Two of our recipes from the class on “British Teatime Fare”:
6 egg whites at room temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
10 Tbsps. sugar
Separate 6 room temperature eggs and put the whites in a very clean glass or metal bowl. Keep the egg yolks for another recipe that you like such as a cake or an omelette later on. Or, make the lemon curd (recipe follows)…it goes nicely with any teatime biscuits or scones.
Now take a whisk and beat the egg whites until first foamy, then firm, then into stiff peaks. There will be little points when you take out the whisk that will not droop. They will stay pointed. You can add a tsp. of cream of tartar to make them work better. Now a little at a time add in about 10 Tbsps. of sugar keeping the eggs at stiff peaks.
Put into a pastry bag or just use a small spoon and place little drops, kisses or cones onto baking paper in a cookie pan. You can use a pastry bag or a little plastic bag filled with the egg whites and cut a small hole at the point to make your own pastry bag for more fancy swirls.
Bake on very low heat in the middle of the oven until light brown on top. Take out and let sit for a few hours or overnight to dry. Can be kept in an airtight container to use later for decorations or snacks. Try different shapes!
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
zest of 2 large lemons
200 grams of butter
1.)Take the 6 egg yolks that you saved from the meringue kisses and add in 1 cup of sugar to a metal or glass bowl mixing well with a whisk.
2.)Now get two large lemons and grate about 2 Tbsp. of zest. Add to the egg mixture.
Then juice the lemons to make about ½ cup lemon juice, without the seeds of course, and add that also to the mixture.
3.)Place the bowl over a hot pan of water on low heat and whisk constantly for about 10 minutes. As it gets hot, add in one butter pat at a time to make about 200 grams or ½ block of butter in total. You should only add in the next butter slice when the previous one has fully melted in order to get the curd to form properly.
4.)When you are finished whisk until smooth off of the heat and place in glasses for serving. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. A wonderfully bright custard, very popular for afternoon tea.
NB: As we use simply designed recipes without the amenities of what might be available in a more expansively stocked kitchen, all of the measurements are stated as such to be made using cups, spoons, tablespoons, that would be readily available in a conservative and minimalist kitchen. The children learn, as I have learned, to cook creatively and with thought to how things are put together to make something to be proud of.