The alarm went off at six am. Half asleep, I thought to myself it was a weekday and I had to prepare for work – working from home that is! After my mind cleared, I lay in bed for a little while thinking of the day ahead and what I had to do. It was not a weekday, it was Saturday. The Holy Saturday before Orthodox Easter. My family follows the Orthodox church traditions.
It was going to be a busy day; a day spent in the kitchen. I made myself a mug of tea and deliberated on which meal to start with. The plan was to prepare Romanian traditional food which you find in almost all Romanian festive occasions. This was a special occasion and I had planned on delighting my family; they do not eat these foods very often. On the plan was sarmale (cabbage/vine rolls) made with mincemeat, rice and seasoning. Also, on the plan was salata de beof (Olivier salad) and dyed eggs which are an Easter tradition. I established the order in which I was going to prepare the foods. I would start off with the Sarmale, then get ready the ingredients for the salata de beof, dye the eggs and at the end prepare the salata de beof.
Cabbabe and Vine Rolls (Sarmale)
Making sarmale is time-consuming as it involves carefully selecting the vine or cabbage leaves. Damaged leaves are likely to tear during the rolling and if the rolls are not properly secured, they will become undone during simmering. Rolling the sarmales took me approximately 4 hours; I rolled around 200 sarmales.
Sarmale (Cabbage/Vine leaves rolls)
Salata de beof (Olivier Salad)
Salata de beof (Olivier salad) has various versions of it, with different ingredient combinations. The base ingredients are root vegetables, pickles and meat all chopped finely and mixed with a generous amount of mayonnaise. For my version of Olivier salad, the ingredients are turkey breast meat, potatoes, celeriac, parsnip, carrots, garden peas, pickled cucumbers and pickled bell peppers. Salt and mayonnaise are used for seasoning. The meat, peas, and root vegetables are pre-boiled. All the ingredients apart from the peas are then chopped finely into approximately 5 mm cubes. The salad is high in calories, is labour intensive, but very delicious and filling. I prepared approximately 3.3 Kg of salad enough to feed 15 people. If looking for an example recipe for quantities of ingredients, check out this recipe. Are you a batch cooker? You can add this recipe to your batch cooking recipes.
Dyed Easter Eggs
While the boiled ingredients for salata de beof were cooling down, I dyed the hard-boiled eggs using commercial food safe colour and leaves for stencilling. Traditionally the eggs were coloured red, but for fun and variety but you can dye the eggs in different colours. After completing the dying exercise, I commenced chopping up the salad ingredients. I finished the salad, including garnishing at around 10 pm! I was exuberant despite the exhaustion having spent many hours on my feet. My family would enjoy Easter despite the unique situation. All made with love!