Prajitura cu mar, gris si biscuiti / Apple, semolina and biscuits cake

 (for English version scroll down the page)

praj.cu.mar-gris

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-Vazut la tine! Hahaha…
Tanti Ani isi ridea bunadispozitia mai ceva ca un copil extaziat in fata vreunei vitrine cu prajituri.
-Ce faci acolo?
Femeia isi zburli zulufii apoi mingiie una dintre mitele care luasera in primire, ca gazda cu drepturi depline, fiocul cu mirodenii.
-Frumos al meu, hai pupe neni…Prajitura cu mar si griz…ai mincat tu, nu? mai zise privindu-ma scurt.
-Nu.
-O sa placa …
Apoi, ca o siderala si diafana aparitie ce era, se intoarse spre Joska-baci zimbindu-i tandru si spunindu-i pe-un ton care nu admitea replica.
-Un kis kosár cu mar, hántolt si ras Josko. Ighen ?!
Barbatul zimbi ghidus apoi disparu din bucataria unde suverani erau haosul(la maniera cea mai veridica), tanti Ani si cele 5 mite de soi si neam bun, cu pedigree in (toata) buna regula. Ce-o fi hantolt? Habar n-aveam dar deschis-am ochii si mintea cit mai larg cu putinta.
Intre timp, femeia mai invirti cu lingura intr-o cratita in care aburea ceva in miroasne de te trazneau cu ale lor arome apoi lua o tava din soba ei Vesta (doamne ce amintiri!), tava pe care-o unse cu unt usor lichefiat. Si stratul fu destul de generos. Apoi, ca o ploaie mocaneasca de toamna cum doar in Apuseni mai poti intilni, tanti Ani cernu din pumnul ei mic un strat la fel de generos de gris amestecat cu biscuiti pisati. Scutura putin tava ca sa se aseze parca mai bine fainoasele apoi o lasa in plata asteptarii. 
La fix aparu barbatu-sau, intr-o mina cu un cosulet plin cu mere rase si-n cealalta cu cojile fructelor. Deci asta era hantolt !
Tanti Ani goli merele intr-un vailing apoi incepu a le stoarce. La final, imi intinse un pahar plin cu suc proaspat de mar apoi, ca zvirluga, de sub mita care-si torcea somnul in fioc, scoase doua plicuri si abia cind incepu a turna peste mere am inteles ca zaharul si scortisoara erau impricinatele. Cantitatea ? Nu ma intrebati pentru ca, reteta asta e printre multele pe care le-am invatat privindu-le facerea, plus ca unguroaica de Ani era mare zgircita la a da amanunte in privinta tocmelilor ei bucataresti. Cert este ca, dupa aprecierea mea, cam 1 l-ra buna de scortisoara pleca peste zaharul care trona falnic mot in virf de mar ras. Gustul propriu cred ca ar trebui sa fie masura in cazul asta.
La fel de diafan si sideral, dete(ca-ntr-o joaca) un virf de botosel in mirtanul care vroia sa sara pe masa apoi ii pupa ochii mirati si lua tava cu gris. Imprastie peste gris merele amestecate cu arome si nu le mai clinti din locul in care le puse. Si iar dete deoparte tava ca sa se apuce apoi sa bata 5 albuse(hehe, am numarat galbenusele puse deoparte pe-o farfurie!) cu un praf de sare. Cind incepura a se spumui, scoase din cuptorul sobei o alta tava in care ceva alb aproape aburea. Zahar !
-De ce l-ai incalzit?
-Nu oparesc mina la mine, csinos lányt …
N-am inteles cam ce-ar fi vrut sa zica insa inspiratia de moment mi-a dat un singur raspuns posibil dar si plauzibil: probabil ca albusele trebuiesc batute pe abur si-atunci a ales un truc la fel de viabil: incingerea zaharului in cuptor. Si la fel de mocaneasca ploaie pleca zaharul peste albusele care in continuare fura batute. Si tot ca o ploaie, insa transformata intr-o veritabila ninsoare, spuma se aseza gros peste merele din tava.
Femeia rise apoi zvirli tava in cuptorul pregatit numai de ea, dupa taine vechi in mesterirea focului din vatra. Apoi, porni radioul, muta scala de cautare cind pe-un post cind pe altul si-ntr-un final se opri la muzica. Veche si ungureasca. Si nostalgiile unei tinereti trecute rasunau acum in micuta bucatarie, ca un proaspat aer de toamna tirzie.
 
Cu un ochi curios privi in cuptor apoi dete deoparte focul de pe vatra sobei lasind prajitura sa se coaca ceva mai bine de 30-40 de minute, la un foc molcom pina cind, aurie culoare prinse spuma deasupra si incepu sa creasca usurel, precum blatul de tort. Cam dupa o ora de asteptare, minunea iesi din Vesta in arome triumfale de mar si scortisoara aburind a placere si bucurie in ochii  albastri ca cerul senin de vara dar inca tineri ai unguroaicei Ani si-n ploaia torentiala pe care mi-au declansat-o mie-n gura.
Sa va mai spun ceva despre gust ? N-ar avea nici un rost pentru ca o simplitate mai simpla ca asta nu o poti descrie decit cu buzele si imaginatia. Si credeti-ma ca prajitura asta am facut-o acum o zi, la o distanta de mai bine de treizeci de ani de cind am vazut-o prima data facuta si gustul i-a fost exact acelasi pe care-l aveam bine asezat intr-unul dintre fioacele dulapului cu amintiri. 
Ca veti vrea sa-i imbunatatiti gustul prin adaugiri ale altor arome ca nu, e problema voastra insa, pentru mine, e perfecta asa cum tanti Ani a croit-o intr-o zi de toamna tirzie, cu grija dusa la extrem pentru un prunc lasat in custodia ei pina cind parintii i se intorc de la serviciu. Si cum poti sa tii in loc o odrasla nabadaioasa decit punindu-l, alaturi de tine, sa faca un dulce care promitea sarea si marea ?
 
 
 praj.cu.mar-gris3
 
 
 
Un fel de traducere a retetei:
A)
cam 2 kg de mere nu prea zemoase, cojite, rase si stoarse 
cam 4-5 l-ri de zahar
aprox. 1 l-ra buna de scortisoara
Se amesteca toate.
 
B)
5 albuse se bat cu
10 l-ri de zahar incins in cuptor
 
C)
3-4 l-ri de gris amestecat cu
10-12 biscuiti simpli, vrac (macinati grosier)
 
Tava(cam 30/20 cm) se unge generos cu unt foarte usor lichefiat. Se presara apoi cu C. Se aseaza A in strat gros fara a le misca din locul in care au fost puse. Peste mere se toarna B.
Se da la cuptorul incalzit la 180 grade si se lasa aprox. 5 minute. Se reduce caldura la aprox. 150 grade lasind prajitura sa-si faca treaba pentru care a fost croita. Dupa aprox. 40-45 de minute, daca deasupra capata o frumoasa culoare aurie, atunci e gata. Se scoate din cuptor si se lasa in tava ca sa se raceasca usor dar nu va rezista probei de rezistenta a privitorilor si a timpului. Va asigur.
 
 
NOTA:
Ca un adaus la materialul asta, tot la unguroaica Ani am mai vazut un lucru pe care, dupa 30 de ani, l-am pus si eu in practica . 
Peste cojile si cotoarele de mar, am turnat apa cit sa le acopere, am mai pus 1-2 linguri de miere, 1 baton de scortisoara, citeva cuisoare si-un anason stelat si-am fiert totul pina cind cojile s-au inmuiat. 
Lasat totul sa se raceasca, strecurat si baut in loc de apa, sucul cu arome de compot. Divin, va spun! 
NU aditivi, nu coloranti, nu indulcitori sintetici si facut parca sa-ti potoleasca setea dupa prima cana. N-o sa va para rau daca veti incerca chiar daca ajustati gusul in functie de dorinta si putinta proprie.
Sa va mai zic ca am mincat chiar si cojile fierte de-au ramas doar semintele si coditele fructelor ?!
Sa va mai zic ca, tot atunci, la unguroaica Ani am mincat o dementiala zupa de chimen de-am rascolit apoi tot familionul cu dorintele si explicatiile nebune, tot asa cum, acum ceva mai bine de zece ani, la o alta unguroaica, Marika-neni(o stiti doar) am mincat cele mai bune sarmale cu pasat  pe care le-as fi putut minca vreodata ?! 
Cit despre bujenita  pe care Miklos-baci a facut-o in vreo doua saptamini de vara, o sa va povestesc alta data pentru ca are cu totul alte(dar exceptionale) amintiri si conotatii …
 
 
 praj.cu.mar-gris1
 
 
Apple, semolina and biscuits cake
 
– Ha, ha, ha! I saw you…you are hungry, aren’t you asked Mrs. Ani and a big laughter came out of her chest while the face was flooded by the same joy as the joy felt by a kid when stepping into a candy store.
– What are you baking there, Mrs. Ani? I asked this question with all the innocence and the honesty a 12 year old kid can ask when enters the kitchen of an excellent cook as Mrs. Ani (our Hungarian neighbor) was.
– Apple, semolina and biscuits pie said the old lady while petting one of the cats that was “helping” her with the cooking. Then while still smiling, she turned to her husband – Joska bacsi – and with a voice that did not accept any sort of opposition asked: “one full basket of apples, peeled and grated! Please!”
The man smiled and disappeared from the kitchen where Mrs. Ani and her five cats soon took over. The cats knew that “something was cooking” as they were circling around and between our legs with their tails raised in a sign of supreme pleasure.
In the meantime, the woman stirred into a steaming pot that was spreading some absolutely enticing scents. Then she pulled a cooking tray from the stove and greased it with soft butter. And the layer was pretty generous!
There was one of those typical fall afternoons when a drizzle specific to the Apuseni Mountains this time of the year had been relentlessly falling for few days. Inside the kitchen was so nice and warm from the wood burning stove and it was smelling so good from all those spices Mrs. Ani mixed up prior to starting the pie making activity!

And the same way the drizzle was falling on the ground, the semolina mixed with crushed biscuits fell through her fingers into the cooking tray previously greased with a lot of butter. She shook the tray so the layer of semolina and biscuits would sit better onto the bottom and set it on the side. Ioska bacsi showed up right in time with a big bowl full of grated apples and in a basket with the apples’ peels. Now this was for me a bit strange…why would you keep the peels?

Mrs, Ani started squeezing the grated apples and after collecting the juice, she gave me a glass full of this wonderful liquid.
Then grabbed a couple of sugar and cinnamon sachets and started pouring over the freshly squished grated apples. What were the quantities? Don’t ask me, because this dish is one of those I learnt how to make just by looking at its making, not by following a written recipe. Also, Mrs. Ani knew very well how to keep its cards as close as possible to her chest! Not too much information was leaking out and whatever I saw with my eyes, is what I am posting here.
Certainly is that after a good judgment, one spoonful of cinnamon sprinkled on top of the powder sugar that was already laying on top of the apples would do the trick. You can use your own judgment and if you want to play around with your own ratio: sugar powder / cinnamon – just go ahead! It will not hurt for sure!
Then she took the semolina cooking tray and sprinkled the grated apples (earlier mixed up with the sugar and the cinnamon) on the top of the semolina and the crushed biscuits.
Once this activity was completed, the cooking tray was placed on the side and 5 whites from 5 eggs were beaten up with a pinch of salt. When they started raising, she pulled another tray out of the oven that had something white sprinkled all over: sugar!
– Why did you warm it up?
– I’m not going to burn my hand!
I did not understand what she said. Probably the egg whites had to be warmed up above a steaming water and this why she chose to better warm up the sugar…

And the same way as the rain outside was falling over the high hills of the Zarand Region, the sugar from the tray kept into the stove, fell onto the white eggs and the beating process started all over.
Finally, the tray was shoved into the stove and I guess she barely waited for the time she had flip the radio stations to an old Hungarian station music that was one of her all time favorites.
And the nostalgias of a passed youth were now resounding in the little kitchen to the rhythms of the old, forgotten Hungarian “Chardash”  music.

With a curious eye, she removed the ashes (that were blocking her access to the tray) and let the tray cook for about 30/40 min at a medium temperature fire until the layer on the top started to slowly raise like the cake dough. Then after another 20 minutes, she deemed the goodie inside the cooking tray as being ready while her blue translucent eyes were showing signs of uncontrollable joy. I cannot describe the aromas generated by the cinnamon and the smells released in the kitchen by the apple pie! How about the taste? You can only describe it by closing your eyes and take bites out of that wonder which just came out of that old wood burning stove. And trust me: this pie I made today (30 years from the time I first saw it being made), tasted exactly the same as it did back then as the memory of those times were well stored into one of the many little shelves of my brain.

If you want to improve it by adding more spices to it, it is purely your call. But for me, the way I am giving it to you, represents the simplicity taken to the perfection. Simplicity tailored by Mrs. Ani while babysitting a kid in one of those rainy, cold fall days when nothing really can be done outside of the house. And how can you keep a kid quiet other way but making her help baking a pie that promised to be a “to die for” indulgence for anyone with a sweet tooth.

A detailed recipe:
A)
about 2 kg of apples(not too juicy) peeled, grated and squeezed
4-5 T. sugar
approx. one good T. of cinnamon powder
Mix all.
 
B)
5 white eggs beaten with
10 T. of girded sugar on a tray in oven
 
C)
3-4 T. semolina mixed with
10-12 bulk biscuits(coarse crushed)
 
Pan (about 30/20 cm) is generously greased with butter, easily liquefied. Then sprinkle all over with C. Put A in a thick layer without moving them from where they were released. Pour over apples the mixture.
Put the pan in heated oven at 180 degrees and leave it for approx. 5 minutes. Reduce heat to approx. 150 degrees leaving the cake to do the job for which it was tailored. After approx. 40-45 minutes if top gets a nice golden color it’s ready. 
Remove the cake from oven and leave it in pan to cool slightly but, it will not pass the resistance test of time and viewers. I assure you !
praj.cu.mar-gris2
 

 Note:

As a bonus to this posting (also from Hungarian Ani) I learned a thing that after 30 years I applied it into practice: on top of the apple peels and cores, I pored water as much as it would cover them, then I put 2 spoons of honey, 1 stick of cinnamon, few cloves and a stared anise and I boiled everything until the peels became soft.
I left everything to cool, I slipped it through a medium strainer and I drunk that juice as I would’ve drunk water. Divine, I can only tell you that!
No additives, no colorants, no sweeteners, made to chill your thirst after first glass. You won’t regret it if you try, even if you adjust the taste based on the your own will.
What can I tell you? The fact that I ate even the peels? Should I tell you that at the same time time I ate at Hungarian Ani a „to die for” cumin soup, same as ten years later I ate at another Hungarian woman (Marika-neni) the best Crushed maize cabbage rolls I could ever eat?
As of  „bujenita” Miklos-baci made, I will tell you the story some other time as it has totally different (exceptional) memories and connotations !
 
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