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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Latvian Cuisine

Latvia is one of the three Baltic States. Its capital Riga is situated on the Daugava River. The city is divided into two parts - one part situated on the right bank and the other on the left bank of the Daugava.Most ingredients in Latvian recipes are found locally, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs and pork. Often mushrooms from the local forests are used. Berries can come from the forests or from gardens.

Herring Appetizer - Herring fillets are soaked in water overnight then drained and rinsed and cut into slices. Tomatoes, water and sugar are combined in a saucepan and cooked. Then dill, parsley, scallions, olives, vinegar and oil are added. This is poured over the herring and chilled. Can be served on lettuce leaves.

Latvian Bacon Buns (Piragi) – chopped onion and slab bacon (grained with smoked meat not just fat) are pan fried. Then a special dough with yeast is made. The dough when ready is rolled out and circular halves are pressed out. In each circle a spoonful of the onions and bacon is placed and then pressed together in the shape of a half moon. Then they are baked.

Latvian Sauerkraut is prepared by adding chopped onions, grated cabbage, peeled, cored and chopped apples (if using) and caraway seeds with some grease or fat are added in a big pot to sauerkraut. Then water is added just so the sauerkraut won’t stick to the pot. This is simmered on low heat for many hours or until the sauerkraut is golden and tender. During the process it must be checked for amount of water and stirred now and then.

Beans and Mushroom Soup – white beans are soaked overnight. Then the beans are put to boil. When they are almost tender, cubed potatoes are added. Chopped onions and mushrooms are fried. These are added to the soup when it is ready.

Latvian Beet Soup – beets are peeled and grated. Added to bouillon (may be freshly prepared or made with cubes) along with some handfuls of pearl-barley. When the beets and barley are just about tender, cubed potatoes are added and cooked until they are tender. The soup is served with chopped hard-boiled eggs and sour cream added to each bowl.

Latvian Sour Cream Soup (Skaba Putra) – a hot summer delight. Barley is cooked until tender. To lukewarm cooked barley add buttermilk, milk and leave it to ferment in a warm place for about 6-12 hours. Afterwards it is chilled for 6-12 hours and sour cream is added before serving.

Latvian Borscht – the soup is made with beef stock to which cabbage and potatoes are added. Beets, vinegar, bacon fat, sugar and tomatoes are cooked separately for 5 min. then set aside. Onions, carrots and parsnip are braised. Then all the ingredients plus spices are added to the cabbage and potatoes. Chopped garlic and chopped parsley are stirred in and the soup is cooked for about 4 hours. Served with sour cream and slices of dark rye bread.

Sauerkraut Soup – the soup may be made with boned beef or smoked pork (or a combination of) to which sauerkraut is added. This is covered by water. Salt, peppercorns, onions and bay leaves are added. Barley may be added as well. The soup is then cooked until the meat and everything is tender. Served with sour cream and dark, rye bread.

Beet and Herring Salad – cooked or marinated beets and grated and added to diced herring fillets, chopped onions. Hard boiled eggs and chopped pickles may be added. A dressing is made of sour cream, dills and mayonnaise. Serve chilled.

Latvian Potato Salad (Rasols) –onions, cooked beets (if using), smoked ham or sausage, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, cooked potatoes are finely chopped. They are mixed in a large bowl with a dressing of sour cream, mayonnaise, dry mustard, some vinegar and sugar, salt and pepper. Combined well and served chilled.

Salad "Olivier" – cooked potatoes and carrots are combined with hard-boiled eggs, boiled meat, and pickles. To these green peas are added. Mixed with mayonnaise, some sour cream and salt and pepper. Serve chilled.

Meatless meals:

Kartoflianki – Mashed potatoes and combined with starch, butter, eggs, salt and pepper. Kneaded and shaped into small balls. Baked for 20 minutes. Then sprinkled with chopped fried onions. Sour cream is poured over them and they are stewed for 7 minutes.
Potato and Mushroom Croquettes Рmashed potatoes are combined with saut̩ed onions, mushrooms, seasonings and flour. Formed into croquettes and fried.

Meat dishes:

Cutlets (Kotletes) – ground beef or pork or a combination is combined with grated potato, egg, sour cream, salt and pepper. Then formed into oblong patties and fried. Usually served with a gravy, boiled or fried potatoes and a salad.

Sauteed meat with onions (Sipolklopsis) – Slices of beef or pork fillet, are layered in a baking pan with raw onion rings. The top layer is onions. Some water is added to the bottom of the pan and baked. When the meat is almost ready sour cream is poured over and baked till tender. Served with boiled potatoes and a salad.

Latvians like to drink buttermilk and kefirs with their meals. Beer is also very popular. Some types of Latvian beers are Cesu, Aldaris, Piebalgas, Tervetes, Uzavas, Lacplesis and Bauskas. There is also the very popular herbal alcoholic drink which has been around since the 18th century Riga Black Balsam. It now also comes in bottles combined with cola and other mixtures. Vodka remains popular among hard drinks and there are many different types.

Herring appetizer

1. 4 salt Herring fillets
2. 3 tomatoes; chopped
3. ¾ cup water
4. 2 ts Sugar
5. 2 ts Chopped dill
6. 2 ts Chopped parsley
7. 2 Scallions;sliced
8. ½ cup Chopped ripe olives
9. 2 tb vinegar
10. 4 tb olive oil

Soak the Herring in water to cover overnight. Drain. Rinse again and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Combine the tomatoes, water, and Sugar in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for 15 min. Mix well. Add the dill, parsley, scallions, olives, vinegar, and oil. Cook for 5 minutes. Pour over the Herring. Chill. Serve very cold on lettuce leaves

Salad "Olivier"

1. 5 potatoes
2. 3 carrots
3. 4 eggs
4. 1 pound boiled meat
5. 1/2 pound green peas
6. 2-3 dill pickles (you can use fresh cucumbers)
7. salt to your taste
8. 1/2 pound Mayonnaise

Boil potatoes and carrots in skin (it helps to keep vitamins), then cool them down and peel them. Boil eggs and boil meat. Chop potatoes, carrots, eggs, meat dill pickles into 1/2 inches squares. Add green Peas and salt. Trust your own taste, everything must be in proportion. Stir Mayonnaise only for the part of salad you are going to eat. It will be kept better without it. Mix the salad and refrigerate for a while. If you want your salad a little tender, mix a part of Mayonnaise with an equal part of sour cream. By Rasma Raisters

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