Sunday, 24 June 2012

Conopida Saseasca

"Saxon-style cauliflower cheese"

The Tarnava Mare area of Transylvania is well known for its Saxon villages, some of which have gained fame through the work of Prince Charles, who frequently visits the area and helps promote agro tourism in the region. The Saxons came to Transylvania in the 12th and 13th centuries and built many of the houses and fortifications that can still be seen in the area. Nowadays few people of Saxon origin still live in the area; many left for the USA in the early 20th century, were deported by the Communists in the 1940s and 1950s, or left Romania for Germany in the 1990s. Examples of their rich culture still remain however, in artistry, architecture, and in the culinary tradition. This is a fairly typical cauliflower cheese recipe but good quality smoked pork is essential and is what gives it the real Transylvanian flavour.

Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4 portions, maybe 6 as a side dish

500g of cauliflower (about one small one)
A splash of oil
2 onions
3-4 cloves of garlic
150g of smoky pork (smoky bacon will work)
100g of grated ‘cascaval’ cheese (Chedder or Emmental as a replacement)
200ml of ‘smantana’ (sour cream)
2 eggs
Salt, pepper, and paprika for seasoning


1. Put a pan of water on the stove, add salt, start to bring to the boil. Preheat the oven to about 200C (low-medium).
2. Break the cauliflower into florettes and trim off the hard stems. Put into the boiling water, boil for 8-10 minutes, leave to drain.
3. Finely chop the onion and slice the garlic and sauté for 5 minutes in the oil on a medium-high heat until softened.
4. Chop up the bacon and add to the onion and garlic mixture and cook for another 5 minutes.
5. Add this to the now drained cauliflower and mix together.
6. In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, eggs, and grated cheese.
7. Add the cream mixture to the cauliflower mixture and put it all in an ovenproof dish and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. Can be finished under the grill if you want a crispy top. Season to taste and serve.

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