Today we bring you a variety of recipes form the area of the Apuseni Mountains. Highlanders here are used to storing food supplies for the cold season, filling their pantries with a variety of foods they themselves like to make. Pork and mutton, but also cabbage, potato and diary-related products are staples in the area. Householders prepare the food using lots of lard, while bacon, smoked fatback, onion and homemade bread, accompanied by a shot of home-distilled brandy are local favorites.
As main courses go, pride of place is held by country-style sour soup made with smoked pork and potatoes or cabbage. Another staple dish is the pork and sausage stew, made by braising the onion in lard then adding homemade sausages and pork cubes. Another specific dish in the area is the cottage cheese pies, baked either in the oven or on stone slabs or stoves. A dish of rich consistency is the layered polenta, cooked by laying out polenta, sausages, pork cubes and crumbled cheese in layers in a casserole before baking.
In the Apuseni Mountains, in the village of Vadu Crisului, there is a special dish called Tascoi, which is basically a Lent variety of the traditional cabbage rolls with mincemeat. You need leaves of pickled cabbage, stemmed, two cups of rice, rinsed and drained, two or three onions, two carrots, oil, tomato paste, peppercorns and ground pepper, two bay leaves, and salt to taste. Slice the onion thinly, sweat in oil, then add the rice and the carrot, which you have shredded finely, as well as finely chopped mushrooms.
After you throw in the rice, add the tomato paste, ground pepper and salt to taste, stir well, and cook the rice. Wash well the cabbage leaves, then pack them carefully with the rice mixture, rolling them while tucking in the ends, like you would spring rolls. Lay them in an oven-proof vessel, pour on top boiling water with tomato paste, peppercorns, a sprig of dry thyme, and the bay leaves. Cover everything with shredded sauerkraut. Put it in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the sauerkraut on top starts to brown nicely.