Papanași or Cottage cheese dumplings

This is a traditional Romanian recipe. Very simple to make but delicious. It is served with “dulceață” a very sweet preserve and sour cream. The most traditional is served with sour cherry preserve or blueberry preserve.


  • 500 g fresh cottage cheese or ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g semolina
  • 150 g flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cottage cheese with the sugar and the baking powder. After that add the eggs and the vanilla extract and at the very end the flour and semolina. You can mix it with a mixer for better homogeneity.  Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. (If the dough is moist, you might need a little bit more flour to the composition; the dough has to be easy to handle, not too sticky).

In a deep pan heat oil enough to cover the balls of dough.

Make small balls of dough, a size that would fit in your hands. Make a whole through the center of it with your finger and take it through flour. Enlarge carefully the whole and flatten the ball of dough a little. Roll small balls to put on the top.

Fry them in hot oil on both sides until they get color. (approx 5 minutes). You will see when the dumplings are fried they will rise to the top, turn these around to get equal colour on both sides.

To assemble the papanași: put the large ball on a plate, fill the hoe with preserve and a sour cream – be generous – then add the small ball on the top. Dust with some icing sugar. Serve immediately.

(I had to borrow the picture, by the time I wanted to take the pictures, all my papanași were gone)

Caramelized vanilla cream – Crema de zahăr ars


My favourite childhood memories, my grandma always made this dessert when we had guests. This is her recipe – I found it written on a piece of paper after she died and it’s a recipe I’ll be cherishing for many, many years to come.


  • 6 eggs
  • 300 g sugar
  • 1 liter milk
  • vanilla essence/sugar

Put the milk in a pot and let it simmer on very low heat. In the mean time, beat the eggs fluffy together with the vanilla essence/sugar. Add the eggs to the milk and let it simmer for about 5 minutes while stirring. In a pan, melt the sugar.

I normally make little servings, so I divide the melted sugar in 6 individual forms. If do not have small forms, use a pot, 25 cm in diameter. Turn around the forms/pot to cover the walls and the bottom with the melted sugar. You have to be fast or the sugar will harden and it won’t be easy to work with it. When this is done, pour the milk in the forms/pot.

Preheat the oven to 120 ℃. Put the forms/pot in a larger pot filled with water (bain marie) and bake for about 1 ½ hours until the surface is golden brown. Try with a toothpick to see if the cream is cooked all the way through.

Let it cool and then refrigerate for a few hours. This cream has to be served cool. If you made it in a pot you can try to put a deep plate on top of the pot and turn it over. Make sure that you have enough place for the caramelized liquid. Serve and enjoy!

French brioche

  • 400 g white flour
  • 50 ml milk
  • 1 sachet yeast
  • 4 large eggs, plus 3 yolks
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 g unsalted butter, softened

The day before you need the dough, heat the milk in a pan until boiling, then pour into a measuring jug and leave until warm. Top up with warm water to bring it back to  50 ml (some liquid will have evaporated), then stir in the yeast. Weigh the flour and take out 2 tbsp to add to the yeast mixture. Stir well, cover the jug with a saucer and leave for 30 minutes. This step helps get the yeast revved up to take on the butter-rich dough.

To make the dough: beat the eggs and yolks, sugar and salt together in a mixing bowl, then pour in the yeast. Add the remaining flour and stir until it forms a rough dough. Cover the bowl and leave for 30 minutes to rest.

Spread the dough on to the work surface without any flour, and have a scraper ready. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it into the dough with your hands. Then start working the butter into the dough by rubbing the dough off the work surface as you go. Once all of the butter has disappeared, and the dough feels elastic and very soft, scrape it back into the bowl, cover with a plate or cling film and chill overnight. At this point the dough can be kept for another two days before using.

To use, simply butter 1 loaf tin, divide the dough in two and shape one part into a cylinder, cut three small lines on top with a fine knife. The remaining dough makes into eight medium-sized balls and eight small balls (you can also just make two loaves). Place the medium-sized ball in a muffin tin if you do not have the baking forms and a small ball on the top. Cover with a cloth and leave for 2 hours until almost doubled in height. Heat the oven to 220 C, brush the top with beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180 C, bake for about 20 minutes more until dark golden brown all over, then remove from the oven and tin, and cool on a wire rack.

I eat a slice of brioche for breakfast with some jam, and the small ones I keep for the afternoon tea.

Velvet berry foam

  • 200 g strawberries or raspberries
  • 2 egg whites
  • 200 g sugar
  • ¼ ts vanilla extract

Beat egg whites until it’s a thick foam. To get the best effect, the eggs should be at room temperature. Add 4-5 drops of vinegar to get a stiff foam. Add sugar and vanilla and beat again until stiff. Mash the strawberries/raspberries with a fork. Add the berries to the foam and fold in the mixture, beat well with a wisp until you get a strong mixture. Put the mixture in the refrigerator for minimum 1 hour.

When garnishing, mash a few berries and put on the bottom of the serving glass (it looks better if you serve in beautiful glasses). Then fill with the velvety foam and decorate with berries.

The same recipe applies if you want to make it with raspberries, boysenberries or blueberries.