Saturday, October 3, 2020

Two Indigenous Moldovan Grapes - Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră - Paired With Colțunași Harnici (Hard-Working Dumplings) #WorldWineTravel #Sponsored

 

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the October #WorldWinetravel Moldova event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

Lynn of Savor the Harvest is hosting a bonus event for our brand-new wine group, #WorldWineTravel. And we are taking a look at wines from Moldova; you can read her invitation here.

Where in the World is Moldova?
Can you find Moldova on a map or globe? My boys could. Thankfully. But we did cook some Moldovan food back in 2013 during our cooking around the world adventure.


Back then, I made a Moldavan Beetroot Salad which wasn't a hit, then, but I suspect R's palate has developed since then! Also, back then, we discovered Sarmale, Moldovan Cabbage Rolls. I'm including the link to that original post because my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf was pretty adorable and helpful.

In case you are unfamiliar, landlocked Moldova lies between Romania and Ukraine and consists of hilly grasslands flanked by the Prut and Dniester Rivers. Mostly pastoral lands, Moldova was part of Romania before World War II, and a majority of Moldovans still speak Romanian. Soviets annexed Moldova in 1940, and Russians and Ukrainians settled in the industrial region east of the Dniester (known as Transdniestria). After Moldova gained independence in 1991, Transdniestria seceded, making Tiraspol its capital.

The #WorldWineTravel Bloggers

So, today, the #WorldWineTravel crew is looking at wines from Moldova and sharing ideas for food pairings. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join the live Twitter chat on Sunday, October 4th at 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #WorldWineTravel and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so that we can see it. In the meantime, all of these posts will be live by early morning on Sunday.


I hope you’ll join in the Moldova Wine day and weekend celebration! You can also find more information at the links: Wine Day Wine of Moldova; Wine of Moldova; YouTube Wine of Moldova; Wine Of Moldova USA; The Wines of Bulgaria, Romainia and Moldova; and Exotic Wine Travel.
Two Indigenous Moldovan Grapes

I have tried these grapes once before, but I was excited to receive four bottles of wine from the event sponsor, Wine of Moldova*. And I really wanted to shine the spotlight on two of Moldova's indigenous grapes: Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră. These are also referred to as 'maidens.' Well, Feteasca means 'maiden' in Romanian, the state language of Moldova, and the name of three distinct, indigenous grape varietals: Feteasca Regala (royal maiden), Feteasca Neagra (black maiden), and Feteasca Alba (white maiden).

I received two of the maidens to sample along with another indigenous grape that I'll feature at another time. The 'white maiden', Castel Mimi Fetească Albă was one I have tried before. I hope you'll read more about Castel Mimi from the #WorldWineTravel founder. Jeff of Food Wine Click! posted A Moldova Phoenix Story - Castel Mimi after attending a press trip to Moldova that included Castel Mimi in 2019. What a treat. I'm jealous!


This 2018 Fetească Albă, true to its name, pours a beautiful white wine with flecks of green and gold. Fresh garden aromas lean towards citrus and herbs with notes of lemon zest and rosemary. But on the palate the wine is decidedly softer than its scent. I detected more summer stone fruit with a subtle acidity. 


My 'black maiden', Fetească Neagră, was actually a blend of 70% Saperavi, 20% Fetească Neagră, and 10% Merlot grapes from Radacini Winery. Made from hand-harvested grapes, all of the varietals were fermented separately and then blended to create this hearty red wine. This 2018 pours a rich reddish purple with a bouquet of red stone fruits and a tinge of black pepper.

I had initially planned to pour the two Moldovan white wines I received. But this wine made me switch directions and serve both Fetească bottles with a traditional Moldovan dish: dumplings.

Colțunași Harnici
Hard-Working Dumplings

In Moldova, I discovered that dumplings come in two types: colțunași harnici, which translated literally means 'hard-working dumplings', and colțunași lenoși or 'lazy dumplings.' The former consist of unleavened dough wrapped around a filling such as cheese, potatoes, or cabbage. And as far as the hard-working part, I had my Kitchen Elves do most of the work! They certainly did work hard for this dinner.

 

Ingredients 
makes approximately two dozen dumplings

 

Dumpling Wrapper
  • 2 cups flour plus more for rolling
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t salt
  • oil as needed
  • Also needed: rolling pin, bowl approximately 4" diameter, butter knife, water for sealing dumplings

Cheese Filling
  • 1/2 cup sliced leeks
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (I used one that was made of buffalo milk)
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes (this is a great way to use leftover potatoes)
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Braised Beef (you will have leftovers!)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2  pounds beef (you can use whatever you have on-hand), cubed
  • 1 cup onion, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup broth (I used beef broth)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed

For Serving
  • fresh herbs
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure

Braised Beef 
Heat the oil in a large pan or pot. Stir in the garlic, then add the beef meat into the pot. Sear on each side for 3 to 5 minutes - until a nice brown begins to appear.

Add the onions and let them cook until the onion is translucent and beginning to caramelize.

Pour in the broth and red wine. Stir in the tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the meat braise for 1 hour - longer is fine, too. Once the beef is tender. Use a fork to shred the meat slightly. Raise the heat to reduce the sauce to your desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Dumpling Wrapper
Place flour, salt, and water together in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface or cutting board and press a hollow into the center. Crack the egg into the hole and knead it until the egg is incorporated and the dough comes together. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil and knead the dough into an elastic dough. Add another splash of oil to a bowl and place the dough inside. Cover loosely with a towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes. While the dough rests, make the filling.

Cheese Filling
Place butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the leeks and cook until the leeks are softened and beginning to caramelize, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Place the ricotta cheese, parmesan, and mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add in the leek and stir until well-incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then fold in your eggs. Stir everything together until well-combined.


Assembly
After the dough has rested, divide it into quarters. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin rectangle. The dough should be 1/8" or thinner.

Use a bowl as your guide to cut the dough into circles.


Spoon 1 Tablespoon of the filling onto one side of the circle. Moisten the edge of the wrapper and fold the dough over the filling.

Roll edges together. Crimp the edge with a fork.

Repeat until you run out of wrappers or filling. You can also re-roll the scraps and get more circles.

Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until you are ready to cook.

To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place 5 to 6 dumpling in the water at a time. As soon as they all float to the top, let them cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.


I served these hard-working dumplings two ways. the first was with a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and chopped herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.


The second way I served them was on a bed of the braised beef with a few spoonfuls of the beef on top. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

That's it for our Moldova wine pairing event. I hope you're inspired to track down some wine from Moldova and make some traditional dumplings! They do take a little bit of work, but they are well worth the effort.



Wine of Moldova on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram

*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

9 comments:

  1. I am enamored with the dumplings. I am wishing I had some elves in my kitchen. Well written list as usual.

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  2. Those dumplings look so gorgeous and can't believe they are all handmade too! I loved learning about how the wines/grapes are called maidens and the distinction between lazy and hard working dumplings. Excellent info!

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  3. Local grapes and local foods - can't beat it. You have your elves well trained!

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  4. Your "in case you are unfamiliar" paragraph gives a great snap-shot. I was unfamiliar with Moldova and learned so much... kept having to pull myself from rabbit holes I went down, architecture was one. You are so lucky your boys like to cook and help. Brave re the dumplings!

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  5. I know the elves get the benefit of eating the goodies, but wow, they are dedicated!

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    1. I know! I am just waiting for them to start complaining that they don't actually get to benefit or appreciate the wine pairing part. Soon enough!

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  6. Man, I could use some kitchen elves. This recipe sounds wonderful. It leans a little perogi like, doesn't it?
    I have to admit again to wondering about my Feteasca Alba. You mention "a subtle acidity". The acid in my Feteasca Alba was anything but subtle. I'm wondering what could cause this variation? Is it the bottle, the travel or my palate?

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  7. Mmmmm these dumpling are making me so hungry (who doesn;t love dumplings?!) and your have extremely industrious elves.

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  8. I like the idea of those dumplings. The braised beef looks yummy!

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