October 26, 2005


Scare fare: A Halloween menu from Dracula's homeland (Marty Meitus, October 26, 2005, Rocky Mountain News)

For those who would like an authentic touch of Dracula's homeland at a Halloween party, consider preparing some of the dishes of Romania. Although Romania has never been known as a culinary hotbed, the cuisine is coming of age, much as Ireland's did, as chefs reinterpret the basics. [...]

According to the Romanian National Tourist Office (www.romaniatourism.com) in New York City, these ingredients include sour cream, eggs and tarragon, and favorite foods include tart soups, hearty stews, mititei (small skinless grilled sausages), lamb, beef and poultry dishes, carp and herring, tuica (a plum brandy), breads, polenta and clatite, a dessert crepe. The region also produces some well-respected wines.

Bram Stoker, whose famous Dracula started it all, is thought to have based his character on a real-life "dracula." Vlad III, a prince of Wallachia (a Romanian province), inherited the dracula appellation from his father, Vlad II. Vlad the elder was a former governor of Transylvania and the member of a secret organization called the Order of the Dragon. In Romanian, drac means "dragon," and Vlad II became known as Vlad Dracul. The name also can mean "devil," and many nobles associated dragons with the devil.

Vlad the Younger, or Vlad Dracula, a variation meaning "son of the Devil," also was known as Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler, because he had a nasty habit of impaling his enemies (and anyone else who crossed him) on stakes. [...]

Fleica (Grilled Steak With Garlic)

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled

Juice of 2 lemons

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 (2- to 3-pound) flank steak or 4 sirloin (New York) strip or rib-eye steaks or an equivalent amount of skirt steak

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

• If you have a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with the lemon juice and salt until a paste is formed.

• Otherwise, mince the garlic finely and stir it with the salt into the lemon juice.

• Use the back of a wooden spoon to smash the garlic as much as you can.

• Press the pepper into the steak and then spread the garlic mixture evenly on both sides. Let the steak marinate for an hour at room temperature.

• Meanwhile, start a charcoal or gas grill or preheat the broiler; the fire should be moderately hot and the rack about 4 inches from the heat source.

• When ready to cook, brush the melted butter onto the steak and then place on the grill.

• Continue to baste with any remaining butter while the steak is cooking, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

• Garnish with the parsley and serve.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2005 8:19 AM
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