In many of my strong food memories, I am watching someone cook. Among my favorites are my maternal grandmother Antonia making tapioca biscuits on an earth oven in the State of Bahia in Brazil. I also loved watching my grandfather Amelio make rapadura growing up. I am a visual person and through the visual language is how I learn best. Cooking with my family, friends and in my community is the love fuel that runs in my veins.
A couple of weeks ago I had a date with my friend Sveta Sandul to make her family recipe for Vertuty, Moldovan cuisine. Vertuty is a like strudel, a layered bread. Sveta makes this bread, pastry, every week in her home. They extended the invitation to my whole family and as always, we had a wonderful time and beautiful and delicious dinner.
Sveta had her dough ready and told me to just add water to the flour until I get the consistency of the dough she was showing me. I kept my eyes on her, on her fast moving hands as she stretched each ball of dough. She opened first with the rolling pan then transferred to her hands and continued opening the dough that looked as thin as paper.
Sveta learned from her mother, who she said made big round ones. She learned to open the dough in a fabric to make it easy to roll.
“After rolling, spray or brush the dough with a little oil or butter before baking.” she said.
With the same dough, she made Plachindy, a fried version, open not as thin, filled with a mixture of Farmer’s cheese (Tvorog) and an egg and fried in vegetable oil.
When I was ready to make Vertuty this week, I texted her and asked for the recipe.
” I never bother to measure everything and write it down…but you know the dough consistency,” she said.
So I gave my best try and it was super fun to go deep in my memory of watching her and cooking with her. Please see in the video how she transfer the dough!
About 4 potatoes and 1 medium onion cut into a small dice, seasoned with salt and pepper
a mixture of half butter and half olive oil to drizzle on the dough before adding the topping and on top of the filling before rolling.
Mix 1 cup of flour with 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of warm water. Mix until all the liquid was absorbed and knead the dough until a nice soft ball. It will be a little sticky, soft and elastic. Place the dough on a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest 15 minutes.
Cover your working area with kitchen cloth/large kitchen towel, dust it with flour and rub some flour into your hands and rolling pan. Then using your hands, gently stretch and pull the dough. She said if the dough tears, don’t worry because you are going to roll over that area anyway.
Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of oil/butter mixture with a spoon over the dough (see video)
Spread the potato onion filling evenly on the dough. Then drizzle another 2 tablespoons of oil/butter (I think, who was counting? )
Lift the tablecloth and make motion forward so the dough roll and looks like strudel pastry.
Carry the Vertuty on the cloth to transfer it over to a baking sheet. Sveta made logs, sprayed with oil and baked convention oven 375 for 20 minutes. (Or bake 400 regular oven)
Enjoy out of the oven. We sure did.
Here my first try – delicious.
Thank you Sveta!