Saturday, February 14, 2009

No Valentine - Just Meatballs in Romania!

No takers for Valentines again this year at my house - I would have been more surprised if there had :). However, I hope that you all had a lovely Valentines Day with your other half.

Joan of Foodalogue is going on a culinary tour around the world during the first 3 months of this year, with a new destination each week. She has invited us to come along with her, by making a dish which is native to the countries that she visits along the way, as a way to promote BloggerAid. The destinations and dates have changed a little since Joan's original invitation - if you are planning to travel with her, you can check out the current itinerary here.

I have missed a number of destinations already, but I am joining Joan in Romania. Now, I have to be honest and say that I don't know anyone who is of Romanian heritage, and I know nothing about Romanian food. However, this just made the challenge a little more interesting for me, and I had to do some research. After hitting a few blind alleys (believe me, Google translator does not work that well on converting Romanian to English), I found the website of The Other Delia, a Romanian lady now living in the UK. Thankfully, Delia had some great recipes written in English for (sadly) monolingual people like me.

I chose to make parjoale (meatballs). Delia mentioned that Romanians also love mash, so I made mashed potatoes to accompany my meatballs and, just to give things a multicultural feel, my favourite Italian twice cooked beans in spicy tomato sauce.

You can find Delia's original recipe for the meatballs here. I adjusted the recipe a little, so that I did not have any leftover vegetables, and also, I am not a fan of frying things, so I chose to bake my meatballs in tomato sauce (well, tomato soup, actually :)).

My adapted version of parjoale is as follows:

500g lean ground beef (mince)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 grated carrot
1 small capsicum, finely chopped
1 beef stock cube
1 egg
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (I used herbs de provence)
salt and pepper to taste
1 x 415g can of condensed tomato soup
half a soup can of cold water

Put the carrot, onion and capsicum in a frypan with 3 tablespoons of cold water, cover the frypan,and allow the vegetables to sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes or until soft. Remove the vegetables from the heat and allow them to cool.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Put the beef, cooled vegetables, egg, flour, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and the crushed stock cube into a large bowl and mix well to combine. Divide the mixture into small pieces of roughly even size, and roll them in your palms to form balls. Place the balls into a medium sized lidded casserole dish, and pour the soup and the water over the top of them. Put the lid on the casserole dish, place the casserole dish in a roasting dish (to catch any boil-over) and place the meatballs in the pre-heated for approximately one hour or until the meatballs are cooked through.

For an authentic Romanian feel, serve the meatballs with creamy mashed potato.

Seguing into a different topic, I have been awarded the Sisterhood Award by Giz, who created Equal Opportunity Kitchen with her daughter, Psychgrad (who is getting married - congratulations!). Thanks Giz.

The rules of this award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Without further ado, my nominees are:

Ivy of

Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy

Miranda of A Duck in Her Pond

Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella

Mary of Shazam in the Kitchen

Adele of Tales of the Basil Queen

Jesse of We All Go Poopie

Arfi of Homemades

Gretchen of Canela & Comino

Happy Cook of My Kitchen Treasures.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, y'all.


Gretchen Noelle said...

Thanks so much for the award! I remember eating my share of Romanian food during a two week visit there. The most distinct memory was a whole fish on top of a bowl of a polenta like substance. I can truly say that it is not my favorite, but these meatballs do look tempting! Have a wonderful Valentines!!!

Cakelaw said...

My pleasure :). Hmm, not sure that I would fancy the fish dish either. It's fun to find out what other cultures like to eat though!

Joan Nova said...

Great post! So happy you were able to catch up to us. Welcome to the tour -- and thanks so much for participating.

Sara said...

Those meatballs sure look good!

Ivy said...

Thanks very much Cake for the Award. The Romanian meatballs sound delicious. Lovely picture as well Cake.

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentines Day, Cakelaw, my buddy :)
I love those stringbeans. This is a very old family dish at our house. Be well,
Maryann xox

Cakelaw said...

Hi Joan, I love this tour idea, and I am sad that I didn't manage to organise myself to join sooner. Oh well, I am on board now.

Thanks Sara - gotta love meatballs in tomoato sauce.

Thanks Ivy. Yesterday I felt creative, so I spent a little more time staging my photo than usual - but I didn't notice the tomato splashes on the plate in time!

Happy Valentines Maryann!! Hope you and the fella had a good day.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

What a great idea Cakelaw! I love the idea of a journey through food. My friends and I have world theme nights where we eat food and dress and listen to the food of a certain country.

Thanks so much for the award! Wow, I am so flattered and honoured! :D

Johanna said...

While I don't eat meatballs any more this recipe with meatballs cooked in tomato soup made me feel nostalgic for when my mum used to make meatloaf baked in tomato soup - it was always a treat! And with mashed potato you double the comfort factor :-)

Dee said...

The culinary tour is a great idea - while global culinary boundaries have mainly disappeared, there is so much more to be explored. I've never had Romanian food either, so the parjoale sounds very interesting.

Congrats on the award!
No fireworks for my Valentine's day either :)

n.o.e said...

I'm actually of partial Romanian descent! When we traveled there, we ate a lot of wonderful soup, especially a white bean soup. Also stuffed cabbage leaves and all sorts of crepes. And tomatoes at every meal. Your meatballs look delicious!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Lorraine, I particularly enjoyed reading about your recent Austrian evening. It's a great idea!

Hi Johanna, I agree - the comfort factor is strong with foods like this, and anything that reminds us of childhood can be comforting too.

Thanks Dee. Re Valentines, oh well, there's next year for both of us ;)

Hi Nancy, this is the perfect destination for you then! I saw a recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls somewhere, but thought it looked way too complex for me.

Bellini Valli said...

I missed Romania but maybe we will see you in Ethiopia next week. Joan's journey has been a lot of fun so far.

Cakelaw said...

Hi Val, hope to see you there ;)

The Blonde Duck said...

Awww! Thanks for the award! I love these meatballs too!

Tammy said...

Hi Gaye

thanks so much for the award!! It is truly appreciated!


The Caked Crusader said...

I've never had much success with meatballs - maybe I should try again. These look yummy

Maria said...

Congrats on your awards! nice job on the meatballs!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Duckie, glad you like them.

My pleasure Tammy - well deserved.

Thanks Crusader. These are very easy - just don't stir them when you add the soup so they don't disintegrate.

Thanks Maria.

Ricardo said...

I love meat balls in fact I even have 3 dishes of them on my blog, I love these they look so delicious and well balanced. cheers :)

Liliana said...

These meatballs sound delicious. You did a great job. I will have to add the recipe to my collection of Romanian recipes.

The the twice baked beans are a favourite at our house.

Congrats on the award!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Ricardo, I will have to check ourt your meatballs. Thanks for dropping by.

Thanks Liliana. The beans are great, aren't they!