Count Dracula really existed. He was born in Transylvania in fifteenth century and ruled the province called Wallachia. His name was Vlad III, and his last name was Dracul, which means Dragon in Romanian.
He came by this name honestly, inheriting it from his father, Vlad II, who had joined a secret Order of the Dragon and assumed the name. In modern Romanian, dracul also means devil, and this translation went a long way towards inspiring all the vampire legends. Wait, but the Bram Stoker’s blood drinker is Count Dracula, whereas our man is Prince Dracul. Granted, he also wasn’t a very savory character, dispatching his enemies with extreme cruelty. His favorite execution method was impaling, for which he earned a nickname Tepes – the Impaler. Not a nice guy by any stretch of imagination, but a blood drinker? No. Anyway, what about the missing letter?
We find the letter, together with the answer, when we look at this beautiful young lady, Elizabeth Bathory, a serial killer who was called The Blood Countess, or Countess Dracula. It’s very simple: in Romanian, dracul is a male devil, and dracula is female. Since Elizabeth Arden and Estee Lauder had not started their businesses yet, Countess Elizabeth devised an innovative method to preserve her youth and beauty; she bathed in the blood of virgins (or so the stories claim). Perhaps she did, or maybe she didn’t, but the fact is that she was brought to trial and convicted of causing more than 600 deaths of young women, presumably virgins. The various atrocities she committed were indisputably proven by physical evidence. She lived more than a century after Vlad the Impaler’s death, but in the same region of Europe, so apparently the two monsters merged into one legend.
What do all these bloody old legends have to do with a delicious soup? The Countess Dracula’s father, King Stefan Bathory, ruled, among many large and small provinces, a feudal stronghold called Klecia, today a city of Klyotzk (Klezk) in Belorus. Even though similar easy, cheap, and filling dumplings exist in practically all cuisines throughout the world, Belorussians proudly claim the Klyotzkian origins of their version.
All you need is flour and water, and maybe a bit of oil, to soften the dough. However, all cook books recommend to use milk instead of water, and some suggest to include eggs as well. I am making a traditional peasant recipe, without eggs, and instead of dairy milk, I use soy milk. It does make a difference, so that even with whole wheat flour, my Klyotzki come out light and fluffy. If you prefer not to use soy, any milk substitute of your choice will do. Baking powder and a pinch of salt also help.
Mix all this together, add a little water if the dough is too thick, and refrigerate it for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, heat up your soup. Which soup? Whatever you have. Klyotzki will be a welcome addition to any soup, as long as it is hot. I usually drop them either into my Everything Soup (for recipe, click here) or my Summer Cabbage Soup (for recipe, click here), but trust me, any soup will only benefit from these tasty morsels! Bring it to boil and drop little pieces of dough into your boiling soup. You can use a teaspoon or just pinch little bits off. Simmer for about five minutes, and it’s ready.
Here is my Summer Cabbage Soup, full of nutritious and filling Klyotzki, so forget about all legendary monsters and go get a spoon!
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy milk, or any non-dairy milk of your choice
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon water, if needed
- Mix all ingredients until well blended for soft dough.
- Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Drop small portions into boiling soup, cook on medium for 5 minutes.
- Alternatively, cook in boiling water and serve with any sauce as side dish.