Congregants at Temple Beth Israel got a taste of the old country Thursday, Jan. 31. Temple member Connie Mederos-Jacobs, an attorney in Bradenton, led a cooking class on mamaliga, a porridge made from yellow maize flour, which has been a staple in Romanian diets since the 17th century.
According to the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, mamaliga is ideal for any meal because it can be served with either dairy or meat dishes. Romanians serve the polenta-like dish all day — with butter, kashkaval cheese, sour cream, honey or fruit preserves for breakfast; sliced on a sandwich with onions and pickles for lunch; and as a starchy base in meaty stews for dinner.
Temple Beth Israel will host another cooking class, “Puff Pastry Three Ways,” at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19. The class features an appetizer, entrée and dessert “triple play,” said Rabbi Jonathan Katz.
Want to try mamaliga? Here is a recipe Connie Mederos-Jacobs loved to prepare for her Romanian father-in-law, a Holocaust survivor who died in 2008.
• 3 cups yellow or white cornmeal
• 6 cups water
• 2 tablespoons salt
Place the cornmeal into a large bowl and stir in 2 cups of the water. Stir to evenly distribute water and eliminate all lumps.
Bring remaining 4 cups of water and salt to boil in a large pot. Gradually add in the cornmeal from the bowl, stirring constantly. Cook for a total of 30 minutes. Be careful not to let stick or burn.
Pour the mamaliga onto a flat surface, such as a countertop, cutting board or cookie sheet. Spread it out in a rectangular shape to solidify. Then cut with a string.
Serve with accompaniments, such as butter, cheese or jam.
Broth may be used instead of water. Mamaliga will keep in a refrigerator for one or two days. It can also be frozen.