Hai la masa!: Placinta
For last weekend’s Moldovan masa (kind of like a dinner party) I also made a couple different kinds of placinta. To understand what placinta is, go here. I knew I needed to make two main kinds: baked and fried. I learned a lot from previous experimentation, so I had a fairly good idea of what I needed to do.
The first step was to make two batches of my go-to bread dough, which I have memorized at this point. I had read that making bread dough with a food processor is the easiest thing ever, so I gave it a try. Turns out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe my bread dough has less flour that other food processor bread doughs, but the dough got all up in the food processor and I spend maybe ten minutes just trying to get all the dough out.
Question: How do you wash up inside the blade?
Answer: You don’t. Soak it in hot water for long enough and pray the goop dissolves.
After finally removing the majority of the dough from the food processor, I kneaded it for about 5 minutes and put it in an oil-coated bowl, covered with plastic wrap. This is what it looked like immediately after placing it in the bowl:
This is what it looked like about 2 hours later:
That thing that looks like a puncture wound would be my finger impression. I read that if you poke your dough and the hole doesn’t go away then it has risen enough. The dough was doubled in size and my finger impression was still there, so I decided I was good to go!
I made my second batch of dough the old-fashioned way, which is definitely more fun. I like watching the yeast proof and pretending it’s alive (which it is, kind of), and I like stirring the dough with a wooden spoon and feeling it come together. No more food processor bread doughs for me.
I had sauteed some apples with sugar and cinnamon until they were mushy but there were still some chunks. I rolled out half of one of the batches of dough and spread the apple mixture over the top, leaving a one to three inch margin on all sides. This isn’t really an exact science, so you could do more apples or less, or whatever you feel like, really. You could also use cooked pumpkin, which is commonly done in Moldova as well. It’s actually one of the few times you’ll find pumpkin in food because it’s usually animal fodder.
I rolled up the dough, starting with the edge at the right side of the picture above, moving to the left. I let it rise for about an hour, painted some egg wash on top, sprinkled it with sugar, and popped it in a 400F oven for about 25 minutes. This is what it looked like:
Yum. The nice thing about food photography is that it gives you an excuse to eat something before anyone else gets to. In this case, I knew our guests would be coming over after dark (AKA when it is impossible to take good pictures without a tripod), so I hadto cut into the apple placinta to get a good picture of it. There were a couple of slices of warm apple placinta just sitting there on the counter, and what was I supposed to do? Leave them? Oh, no.
After baking the apple placinta, I moved on to fried placintas. To make the fried placintas I rolled out a small handful of dough so it was very thin, but not so thin that it would tear. I put about 1/4 cup of filling in the middle of the dough, folded it over, sealed the edges, and put it in hot oil to fry until brown, at which point I flipped it over. I was surprised about how little oil I could use to get the desired “fried” effect– the smaller the pan the less oil you need to use, and I maybe used one teaspoon of oil per placinta.
My friend from Peace Corps, Samira, who was at the masa, was telling me about a kind of fried placinta her host mom would make with eggs and raw onion. I was skeptical because I didn’t think the eggs would really cook the onion while it was being fried, but Samira insisted that it was the best placinta ever. I cut up an onion into small pieces since small pieces cook faster than bigger ones, added in an egg and some salt and pepper. The egg-onion placintas were more difficult to transport to the frying pan in the raw stage because the egg was leaking out, but the final product was worth it. These placintas were awesome. They were SOOOOOOO good. The onion was sweet (and cooked) and Samira said they tasted just like her host mom’s, which to me is the highest measure of success. Wahoo!
We also made brinza placintas with the left over brinza from the coltunasi. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them.
The above photo is recycled from the last time I made fried brinza placintas because this time I really didn’t have any time to take pictures. It was pure luck that I even remembered to get the egg-onion placinta picture. Sometimes taking pictures goes to the wayside, particularly when you’re having so much fun eating, reminiscing and trying to remember how to speak Romanian