Sunday, December 2, 2018

Blogmas Day 2: Favorite Christmas Foods

Food has always been an important part of my life. I’ve always loved the seemingly complicated recipes my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother knew how to make, and when I was old enough to understand basic cooking rules I started making my own things. Small things at first, and then I grew more confident in my abilities in the kitchen and started trying out recipes no one in my family knew how to make.

The Christmas dinner is a huge event in my family. We’re not a big family, but we sure know how to make a Christmas dinner feel like a royal event. From the entrée, to soup, to main course and ending with dessert, it’s probably the most food I eat in a day, until New Year’s Eve that is. Because my family celebrates both events with huge enthusiasm, and we have two big dinners before the year ends. What can I say, we love food.

Since I moved in another country, we don’t make all of the dishes, but some of them are a must at the dinner table before the gift unwrapping starts. Out of all of the dishes, some are my absolute favorite.

1. Cabbage rolls

No dinner is complete without cabbage rolls. Although you work your ass off to make them, the end result is absolutely delicious. The most common for us are the ones made with sauerkraut, but you can also make them out of grape leaves. I love both of them, and depending on your preference you can eat them as is, or with some sour cream and boiled cornmeal (polenta in Italian, or mămăligă in Romanian). If you’re in the mood for something even tastier, you can pair them with some garlic cloves, and it just makes the entire thing super tasty.

Recipe here

2. Beef Salad

Beef salad is actually one of the few dishes we make a few times during the years. It’s pretty simple to make actually, it just takes a lot of time to cut all the veggies, the meat and the few extra ingredients. Personally I prefer to use chicken breast instead of beef, only because I love the taste of chicken so much more. This recipe can be improved in many, many, many ways and I don’t think I’ve ever seen two families use the same recipe.

My mom does it without peas, and she adds an apple or two, depending on the quantity of the salad, and it tastes divine. Another thing that is a huge tradition with this recipe is decoration. Most people decorate the salad, by covering it in a pretty thick layer of mayonnaise and some veggies on top, as you'll see in the recipe I've provided below. My mom, and by extent me, don't dress it up like this, just because the mayo boosts up the calories count sky high. BUT it does taste divine when garnished, so it's up to you.

Recipe here

3. Lamb Dish - with a twist

Lamb is usually something that is used heavily around Easter in my country, but I’ve tweaked this recipe and now I make it about 3 or 4 times a year. Instead of lamb, which I hate with a passion, I use chicken liver and gizzards and it has a very similar flavor. It takes about 2 or 3 hours to make, but the taste is super delicious. Another change from the typical recipe is that I don't put boiled eggs in the middle, as you'll see in the recipe I've found for this dish. I'm just way too lazy to do it that way to be very honest.

Recipe here

4. Eggplant Salad

The only way I like eggplants is actually in this particular recipe. I’ve tried various dishes with eggplants, but I’ll just stick to my salad, thank you very much. It’s pretty easy to make, you just need to have enough patience to roast the eggplants and try to quickly remove the skin while they’re still basically burning hot. Then let them drain, add them in the food processor, chop some onions, add oil, salt and pepper and you’re good to go.

Recipe here

5. Sweet Bread (Cozonac)

My grandma bakes a ton of good desserts, but Christmas is the season for her sweet bread. It takes an insane amount of time to make it, and her recipe is over 40 years old. I absolutely love it and I’m always insanely excited to make it, even though I know I’ll never make it quite like she does.

I'm not going to share my recipe, only because it's something I want to keep in the family, but the one I've found on the internet is pretty similar to what I have.

Recipe here

6. Meatball Sour Soup

This is another dish we only make at Christmas in Casa of Ruby. Mainly because it uses basically the same base of ingredients for the meatballs as it does for the stuffed cabbage rolls, with a few extra ingredients thrown in. This is one of the tastier sour soups ever in my opinion, and I am drooling just thinking about it. It tastes delicious, it goes perfectly with a little bit of sour cream and some chili peppers.

Recipe here


Extra Recipe

7. Papanasi

I wasn't going to include this particular recipe, because technically it has nothing to do with Christmas. It's just a traditional dessert that is served anytime you want it in Romania, but it is my favorite dessert and it's something I will always get when I visit home, because I have never been able to make it. Have I said I'm not good at making sweets/baking? I'm saying it now!

Recipe here

This by no means shows a complete Romanian Christmas dinner table. There's deviled eggs, potato salad, veggie salad, pickled vegetables, and many, many more. These are just some of my favorite dishes and the ones that usually make my house smell like Christmas. 

What about you? What are some of your favorite Christmas or holiday dishes?
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