All posts by Ashley R.

Gomboti / Găluște cu Prune {Plum Dumplings}

Găluște cu Prune {Plum Dumplings} | From Dill To Dracula

I’m back from an unexpected hiatus, where I spent almost all of September, and a bit of October, writing and revising one of my novels. It’s set in 1989 Romania, so I’m able to feature a lot of the dishes on From Dill To Dracula within the story, which is an exciting meld of my two hobbies.

And, well, I’m back! I’m ready to kick off the fall season with fall colors, warm drinks, and these delicious plum dumplings otherwise known as Gomboti (pronounced gom-boat-ee) or Găluște cu Prune (pronounced gah-lou-sh-tay coo proon-ay). To me, everything about these scream fall, and after Milwaukee teased us with a little Summer in October, we’re back in fall temperatures and I’m ready to embrace everything that comes with it.

To be honest, we didn’t have these dumplings very often. I remember my grandma making them a couple of times, but that was enough to hook me. It has to have been at least a decade and a half since I’ve been able to savor the flavor (thanks for the writing tip, Ariana Grande).

By the way, my husband calls these Plumplings, which I don’t have a Romanian translation for, but I’m okay if you call these that, too 🙃

↓ Recipe below ↓

—But first, some pretty pictures—

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Salata de Vinete {Eggplant Salad}

Salata de Vinete {Eggplant Salad} | From Dill To Dracula

About a week ago I teased on Twitter that I had purchased the biggest eggplant I’ve ever seen, specifically for this recipe:

Twitter Tweet | From Dill To Dracula

I’ll let you be the judge of its size based on the pictures below, but seriously, it’s one massive eggplant. And it only cost me a dollar. I love the farmer’s market! This recipe took me a little longer than expected to cook up because of some unforeseen circumstances, but my eggplant survived the delay, and I’m so excited to share with you a delicious Romanian delicacy!

Growing up, eggplant was one of my favorite vegetables. It still is. That probably seems like an odd ingredient for a child to enjoy, but Salata de Vinete (pronounced sah-lah-tah de vin-eat) will change the minds of even the biggest eggplant hater’s (you know who you are). If you need convincing, here are 27 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Eggplant.

This recipe similar to our Middle Eastern friend baba ganoush (another favorite of mine), but with a Romanian twist. This spread embodies all the smokey goodness of an eggplant that’s been charred beyond recognition, and forget the spongy eggplant texture you might be familiar with, and say hello to a creamy dollop of heaven.

The only problem I ever had with this recipe as a kid was having to wait for it to chill in the refrigerator for an hour after my mother finished preparing it. Even with the summer coming to a close (say it ain’t so!), there are still plenty of occasions to introduce this Romanian delicacy to your next cookout or party—serve it with crackers, pita, baguette or veggies! Yum!

↓ Recipe below ↓

—But first, some pretty pictures—

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Unde e rețeta?

That’s Romanian for Where’s the recipe?

No recipe this week, folks. I teased something special, made from the giant eggplant I picked up at the farmer’s market last week, and planned on having it ready to go by today, but my beloved city of Milwaukee was on fire and I couldn’t bring myself to write, let alone cook.

Please accept my sincerest apologies, and you can expect a new post next week, August 22nd.

Dragoste (love) to the local police and fire departments.

Especially my husband—

and his fire family.


Let’s Talk About Dracula {Prelude}

Let's Talk About Dracula | From Dill To Dracula

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This is a prelude for my soon-to-come Let’s Talk About Dracula series (those who know me knew this had to be coming soon. I’m kind of obsessed with vampires). Until then, and to get us all in the appropriate frame of mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite memes/gifs/puns having to do with the infamous Vlad the Impaler. I hope these haven’t been circulated too well on the world wide web because they’re really best enjoyed the first time around.

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Modern Romanian Artwork

Modern Romanian Artwork | From Dill To Dracula

I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate my love of Romania in my interior decorating; a simple, yet effective, way to scream loud-and-proud, I’m Romanian. This is me! I love traditional artwork (post on that soon), but for my hanging wall of paintings, I felt a more modern representation of Romania and its culture would fit best.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorites:

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Transylvanian Bean Soup

Transylvania Bean Soup | From Dill To Dracula

Contrary to what you might think, this soup, in particular, is a staple of summer and not the bitter cold of winter. Take a second to let that sink in. I still haven’t convinced my husband of it, but it’s true! We’ve been so engrained to think soup = cold, but in Romania, this Transylvanian Green Bean Soup is often made during the warm months. No, it’s not cold like gazpacho; it’s served warm, with a dollop of  sour cream (or my alternative: Greek yogurt). You’ll love how the cream/yogurt plays off of the beans, turning a broth-based soup into creamy goodness (with less calories!).

This is the type of soup you can set and forget. I’ve made it early in the day, simmering until dinnertime. Of course, you can eat it right away, too, but the longer it’s cooking, the more the flavors marry together. I love when flavors marry!

↓ Recipe below ↓

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Mărțișor {Welcoming In Spring}

Martisor / Martisoare | From Dill To Dracula

One of the traditions I remember most growing up, although never having participated in, is the mărțișor (pronounced mart-e-shore), which translates to little March (martie meaning March in Romanian). Beginning on March 1st, and continuing through the month, the mărțișoare are handed out to women (and, in some regions, men, as well).  The mărțișoare is a thin, red and white cord, sometimes with a little charm affixed to it. Those without a charm are meant to be worn on the wrist, as a way to herald in Spring. Even though we’re well past March, I like to wear my mărțișoare as a piece of jewelry. It reminds me of Romania and is a great conversational opportunity  to share this unknown cultural treasure with others. 🙂 The charms each have a special meaning, for instance, a chimney sweep is said to bring good luck to those who you meet on your way.
Funny meaning for a chimney sweep, huh? But sweet, nonetheless.

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Clisa {Smoked Bacon}

Clisa, Romania's Bacon | From Dill To Dracula,

Happy 4th of July! Nothing seems more fitting than talking about a Romanian meat delicacy on a day where brats, hot dogs, and hamburgers are consumed in mass quantities! (I’m right there with you. I expect at least one of each later today.)

There are some things I don’t have the means (or, let’s face it, the skillz) to create. But, thankfully, I can look to my grandfather, who has been making these Romanian recipes for decades, to provide me with my quarterly fix of some of these items. One of those is the equivalent of bacon, but we call it clisa (pronounced klee-sa).

As is with many smoked Romanian meats, clisa is a pork product, made from the abdominal area or the back of a pig, and tends to be more gras (fat) than meat. It’s cured and smoked, and then ready to eat! Or, if you’re like me, you stock up on your pieces of clisa so you never run out. Since it’s cured, it can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer for quite a while.

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Placinta cu Mere {Romanian “Apple Pie” Cake}

Romanian Apple Pie |

Placinta cu mere (pronounced plah-chin-tah coo m-air) translates to pie with apple, but this dessert falls more in the cake family than one would expect from a traditional pie. I figured for my first real post and first recipe, it made sense to feature the Romanian equivalent of a food that screams America. Let’s face it, we love pie here in the good ol’ US of A, but we’re obviously not the only ones, and even though this is different, the Romanian’s have perfected the ability to get those same bright and warm flavors packaged neatly in a three-layered cake—cake, then apple, and more cake.

Now, to be honest, I’m not a big traditional cake fan. Usually, the cake itself is meh and I could do without frosting. That’s what makes this version of cake pie so appealing to me. It doesn’t need frosting, the apple is sweet enough, though I suppose you could always improvise with a glaze. And because there is a layer of apple smooshed between two layers of cake, it keeps the cake from being too dry or flavorless. Really, the pieces of this puzzle come together in perfect harmony, in a way that’ll keep you from missing your traditional apple pie. It reminds me of grandma’s house—she was always the one to make this for me—and who doesn’t like grandma’s house?

Just in time for Fourth of July celebrations, this cake pie is easy to transport, withstands the heat well, and can be cut into bite-sized squares, so you can have more than one with less guilt 😉

↓ Recipe below ↓

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Salut Lume

That’s Hello World in Romanian 🙂

And welcome to From Dill to Dracula

Let me explain a little bit about this blog, and (maybe eventually) aspiring cookbook.

Growing up, with my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents cooking traditional Romanian food for me and my sister, I discovered—in the least pleasant of ways—that dill is a staple herb in a Romanian kitchen. As a kid, I wasn’t a fan. But, as I’ve aged, my tastebuds have become accustomed to the familiar aromatic herb (or, weed, some might consider when it takes over a garden) in such a way that I’m happy to incorporate it into my recipes, Romanian or not.

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