Rum-Soaked Golden Raisin and Walnut Knots

Viviana's Kitchen

Last month I spent a solid, good two consecutive weeks being Chef Viviana, plumping myself and my family up with sugary carb foods like what I’m about to share today, and enjoying the start of a new year in a relatively relaxed environment, on the precipice of starting Marie Kondo’s decluttering KonMari method in my life – which, by the way, is going somewhat slowly, and my room currently looks like a tornado blew through it.

PHEW. What a mouthful. ANYWAY – I’ve been following Thida Bevington on Instagram for a while, and her feed is a dessert lover’s dream, to be honest. In January I decide THAT’S IT. Her Nutella knots were so aesthetically pleasing, I thought to myself, I need to exercise my creativity one way or another, why not through something my mouth can enjoy?

I tried the knots with Nutella first, but I find that it sort of…evaporates? in the baking process. I did a couple more batches afterwards with my signature walnut-almond and rum-soaked white raisins, which I enjoyed much more.

Enjoy the recipes below:

Sweet Dough

250g milk
60g butter
500g white flour
120g sugar
15g fast action dry yeast
1 egg
10g salt

Walnut-Raisin mixture

3/4 to 1 cup golden raisins
1-2 cups walnuts, ground
1/2 cup almonds, ground
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup rum, cognac, or whiskey
water
A blender, but if you don’t have one you can smash them up in a bag with a kitchen hammer

Instructions

For the dough:
1. Warm the milk and butter to about body temperature, should feel lukewarm.
2. Place the flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl (I use a stand mixer) and mix together.
3. Add milk and butter, egg, and salt and mix with a dough hook for 2 minute on low.
4. Increase speed and mix for another 5-6 mins, until well incorporated.
5. Lightly knead dough on a floured surface and form a ball. Place in a clean bowl and let rise in warm environment for 2 hours, it should double in size.

For the walnut mixture:
1. In a small bowl, soak your raisins in your choice of liquor (I use rum), while the dough is rising. I usually start this process before anything else, and you can even do it overnight.
2. Grind your walnut and almonds to a fine texture until you have about 4 cups worth.
3. Heat your honey in a small pot until it just start to bubble then add honey and raisins (with the liquor) to your nuts.
4. Add water by the tablespoon as needed if mixture is too dry.

How to put it all together:
1. On a well floured surface, roll out your dough into a big rectangle, something around the size of two baking pans, but make sure it’s not so thin it rips.
2. Spread half your nut mixture evenly on the middle third of your dough canvas, then fold over one third of your dough, and spread the remaining mixture on top of that, then fold the last third on top of that.
3. Gently roll out your dough until it is flatter, then cut it long ways into 8 strips.
4. Knot them up to your liking and in the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 355F.
5. Lightly beat 1 egg and egg wash your rolls before popping them in the oven for roughly 30-40 mins, or until they’re golden brown.

Please visit Thida’s Instagram for tutorials and visual step-by-steps of everything I’ve just written!

You can also follow me on Instagram riiiiiight here.

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A Very Romanian Christmas

Viviana's Kitchen

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! Wishing you all a wonderful day full of love, laughter, mimosas, and delicious food.

Yesterday, I spent the vast majority of the day baking pastries for Christmas and I used my own website for a couple recipes. However, I noticed that I somehow never shared the recipe I use for Romanian cozonaci, which are sweet egg bread pastries filled with either poppyseed filling or a walnut and rum-soaked white raisin mixture.

They’re traditional in Romania for holidays like Christmas and Easter, but they’re not exclusive to the holidays.

Here is a link to the recipe I used, and for those of you too lazy to hop to another webpage, a break down below:

Romanian Cozonac

INGREDIENTS (for the dough)

1.5 cups lukewarm water
1.5 Tbsp granulated yeast
1.5 Tbsp salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1.5 cups (3 sticks) melted unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
7.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

DIRECTIONS (for the dough)

  • Mix yeast with a tablespoon of water, then mix with salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the 1.5 cups of water in a large bowl.
  • Mix in the flour but do not knead. I used a stand mixer here.
  • Once everything is incorporated, cover and let stand for 2 hours to grow.
  • After two hours, prep your work center with some flour (or oil) and knead the dough, then divide into 4.
  • Rollerpin it out into a large sheet and spread poppyseed filling or half of your walnut mixture, and then roll up and form into whichever shape you’re baking.
  • Bake dough in whatever form (loaf, brioche, cozonac) in the preheated oven at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes (until golden brown) with the rack in the middle position.

INGREDIENTS (for the walnut filling)

200 g walnuts, finely ground
100 g brown sugar
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp cacao
1/3 cup rum or brandy
1 cup white raisins to be plumped in the liquour

DIRECTIONS (for the walnut filling)

  • Plump raisins in rum for at least one hour – I do it over night to maximum flavor.
  • Beat egg whites to soft peaks
  • Add sugar, beat.
  • Add cocoa, beat.
  • Add walnuts and the rum-soaked raisins and mix.

Enjoy!


Romanian Style Crepes

Viviana's Kitchen

I am so excited to share this recipe with you all.

I was visiting my aunt a couple weeks ago and happened to stop by while she was preparing to make Romanian crepes – or as we call them, Clatite. So I asked her to explain her process as to how she makes them, and surprisingly, it’s pretty easy. The thing is, it’s not a set recipe, so I’m going to try to translate it into one as best as I can.

Her style of making crepes is delicious and I personally view it as one of her specialties, so I was geeked to try it out on my own. Below, I have a recipe that should yield roughly 16 crepes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2-3 eggs
a good pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
milk
mineral water
rum extract/essence of rum
a small bowl with oil and a silicon brush
filling of choice (we like prune or rosehip jam)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine flour, eggs, salt, sugar, rum extract, and milk until blended together well. Add the milk slowly so you can build a batter.
  2. Once you’ve got a mixture that’s a little on the thicker side, slowly add mineral water to the mixture until the consistency becomes almost soupy. You don’t want it too thin, but you don’t want it so thick that you can’t swivel the mixture around in the pan to coat it.
  3. Add rum extract to taste. My aunt dumped like a good 2 or 3 TABLESPOONS in there, but probably a solid 1 to 1.5 teaspoons should be good.
  4. Heat up a large skillet on high heat. Before putting in your batter, brush the skillet using a silicon brush with some oil to ensure your crepe doesn’t stick.
  5. Pour a large ladle-full of batter in the center of your skillet and take the skillet off the stove while you swivel it to ensure the batter coats the whole bottom of the skillet.
  6. Using a long knife, (you can use a spatula, but a knife works better Рand if you have a particularly flexible knife, use that) flip your crepe after roughly 30 seconds or  until the batter is no longer wet and cook for another ~30 seconds or so.

Tips:

  • If you’re having trouble swiveling the batter, your batter may be too thick. Add more mineral water or milk.
  • If you’re having trouble with your crepes breaking after the first couple (flipping them with a knife does take some practice) your batter may be too runny and you should add a little more flour to thicken it up.
  • In our family, and even traditionally in Romania, we like to roll up our crepes with prune jam or rosehip jam, but you can eat them however you please.

Plum Dumplings & Other Kitchen Adventures

Viviana's Kitchen

First thing’s first: my feet hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been standing and walking all day long in non-supportive flip flops while cooking. My back’s also killing me a bit – signs of getting old??

Anyway, my parents have been down in Atlanta this weekend at a wedding, and this is the first time ever that my brother and I have been left alone for a prolonged period of time in the house. Since I don’t work Sundays, and I didn’t feel like spending my morning at the gym (though I should have!) AAAAND my creativity is currently shot in the art department, I threw myself into cooking. And drinking Blake’s Hard Cider, YOLO.

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I was not expecting a pleasant pinky-peach color.

It started out with deciding I was going to make Romanian plum dumplings (galueste cu prune). It’s a fairly easy recipe, and I found a recipe I liked. Since it begins by boiling potatoes, I did that – but I didn’t boil them well enough. Ensue frustration and annoyance at my impatience.

I was going to throw them away and feel guilty, but then I made a snap decision to save them and make a casserole/cheese melt thing. SUPER easy: I took the mildly boiled potatoes, chopped up 2 onions and 3 carrots, topped off with seasoned salt, paprika & garlic powder, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and then laid Muenster and Colby Jack cheese slices on top cause I didn’t have shredded cheddar and couldn’t go grab some (had other stuff cooking!). Baked this at 385 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. It turned out really good, but I think the potatoes could’ve used more salt.

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The finished project.

Meanwhile, I had to boil another batch of potatoes. This time it went great. I was able ice bath the skins off and then mash them with a handheld mixer (+ 1 egg, + 50g butter) and then add in the flour (375g) and kneed the dough along. Afterwards, I cut up 5 plums into 12 pieces each, which ended up being excessive and made my third dish of the night, spiced plums. plums

I rolled out the dough and cup it up into palm sized sections, stuffed a piece of plum in along with 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar + cinnamon + cloves + cardamom, and pinched each shut and rolled them around until they were circular. Then came the boiling bath – I had to do it in two batches cause they were so big and so many.

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While they were boiling, I fried some plain breadcrumbs and EVOO in a pan and moved it to a big bowl. After the dumplings were done boiling, I strained them and then stuck them in the breadcrumbs and rolled them around. VOILA!

I ate 5. #noregrets

I ate 5. #noregrets

Oh, and the spiced plums? Super easy. Spray oiled a small baking dish, dumped the rest of the plums in there and topped them off with the remaining sugar + spice (and everything nice) mixture, sprayed with oil, and then baked for about 25-30 minutes at 350 F. The sugar mixture became kind of like a spiced glaze. So good.

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Oh, and all of these pictures were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Note 5. I was too lazy to mess with my Nikon today – partly because my fingers were sticky with dough and other ingredients for 6 hours straight. But I will say that I’m REALLY enjoying this phone’s camera and I’m so glad I decided to go with it rather than my initial intention of the Galaxy s6. The camera really sold me in store, and it excels IRL too.

Don’t forget to check out my Instagram @lovelikeangels, Society6 @lovelikeangels and Etsy @lovelikeangels

Romanian Baklava

Viviana's Kitchen

I totally forgot about this shoot, but after Christmas and New Years were over, my mom still had a sweet tooth and she made homemade baklava, not once, but TWICE. And I gained like 10 damn pounds, I swear to God.

But it was so good.

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