Conductor’s grandmother knows best when it comes to food
Andrei Feher stands at the conductor’s podium, his back to the audience, his music stand set low. His body moves from large lush sweeps to small staccato shudders. He swoops forward and pulls back. What the audience doesn’t see are the 28-year-old’s raised eyebrows, widened eyes, encouraging smile — these are only seen by the 52 players before him.
[continue reading this article and get the recipe for salam de biscuiţi]
Andrei Feher’s salam de biscuiţi
This biscuit salami is part of the family of chocolate salamis found in Europe and South America. It’s important to to keep some of the biscuits’ crunchy texture. There are two ways to do this: First, don’t let the syrup thicken too much — it should remain rather thin. And second, only use enough syrup to make the roll hold together — too much will make the biscuits soggy.
- 500 g Social Tea Biscuits
- 150 g walnut halves, lightly toasted and roughly chopped (about 375m)l
- zest of one orange
- 200 ml water or milk
- 100 g sugar (125ml)
- 18 g cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix) (45ml)
- 150 g butter (185ml)
- 5 ml vanilla extract
- Crush the biscuits to create a rubble of pea-sized and smaller pieces; this should yield about 1.25 to 1.5 litres. Mix the biscuit crumbs with the walnuts and orange zest and set aside.
- Without letting it come to a boil, gently heat the water or milk, sugar and cocoa for about five minutes. Stir in the butter and continue stirring until you have a thin syrup, about five minutes. Take the pan off the stove and stir in the vanilla. Let sit until it’s cool enough to handle, but not cold.
- Add three-quarters of the syrup to the biscuit mixture and mix well. Add more syrup as needed until it is firm enough to be formed into the shape of a rolling pin. Divide the mixture in two.
- Tear off a couple large pieces of plastic wrap and overlap the long edges by a couple of centimetres so you have one large sheet.
- Wet your hands with water and place one portion of the mixture on the plastic, so it forms a 30cm log, along the long side of the sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and firmly roll it back and forth and press in the ends. As you compact it, the length will shrink and the girth will plump.
- Twist the ends of the plastic to cover the ends and keep the filling from drying out.
- Repeat above steps with the second portion of the mixture.
- Cool in the fridge for at least two hours (or overnight, if you wish).
- When ready to serve, place the salami on a cutting board and carefully remove the plastic wrap. Slice with a bread knife or another serrated blade into 1cm discs.
A version of this recipe appeared in my profile of Andrei Feher for my World of Food column for Grand Magazine (January-February 2020).