Recipes & Cuisines of Baltika

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Recipes & Cuisines of Baltika

In northern Europe are 3 nations, all small, that are together called Baltika. These nations are Lithuania (Litva), Latvia (Latva) & Estonia (Eesti). They share a language base that is actually Finnish. They also share cuisines. Because of the their proximity to Russia as well as the fact that they were under Russian domination for many years there is also a definite Russian bent in some of their foods. Also because they were at various times part of the Norse or Scandic area they were under the rule of some Viking king or other for several centuries & they have a lot of Scandic influence in their recipes.

Baltic cuisines use a lot of fish, a lot of veal & a lot of pork as their primary meats sources. They are heavy users of cabbage, root vegetables & Euro-greens such as kale. Sour cream, buttermilk & butter figure into their recipes as well. Their meals are tasty, rib-sticking & meant for cold weather climes for the most part. These foods are rich, nutritious & a wonderful departure from the mundane. Here is a small collection of recipes that I hope will give you an introduction into some great cuisines & great tastes. Enjoy!

Lithuanian Pressed Cheese*
Categories: Lithuanian, Ethnic, Dairy, Cheese, Baltic
Yield: 1 Servings
2 lb Small curd cottage cheese
1 lb Dry curd cottage cheese
½ c  Sour cream
½ ts Salt
This is the same as homemade Russian or Ukrainian tvorog.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl & mix well.
Drain in a cotton muslin bag or in a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth for 1-2 days.
Place a bowl beneath to catch whey.
After draining, place cheese, bag or cheesecloth & all, between 2 boards & weight down with several large cans of fruit.
Allow to stand 8-12 hrs.
Remove cheese from bag or cheese cloth & place in a plastic container bag in refrigerator.

Dr. Irina Gorgevicius, Vilnius-Lithuania, circa 1995

Skilandis – Lithuanian Ham
Categories: Meat, Ethnic, Lithuanian, Maindish, Pork
Yield: 1 Ham
10 lb Fresh lean pork ham
2 lb Fresh bacon
6 oz Salt
1 tb Pepper
5 ea Cloves garlic minced
1 ts Saltpeter
2 oz 96% Vodka
1 ts Sugar
1 ea Pork stomach
Chop meats, add garlic & pepper.
Heat salt in skillet & add to meats.
Mix this well.
Add saltpeter, sugar & vodka.
Mix gently then stuff meat mixture tightly into prepared pigs stomach.
Make sure no air pockets remain.
When stuffing is complete, sew up opening.
Place between 2 boards & tie tightly to press well.
Keep in a cool, dry place for 8-10 days.
Next cold smoke, with alder wood for 3 weeks.
Towards end of smoking, add juniper branches to give a distinctive & special flavoring.

Marcus & Olga Deluvicius, Vilnius-Lithuania, circa 2004

Lasinuociai: Lithuanian Onion-Bacon Rolls
Categories: Appetizer, Snack, Lithuanian, Ethnic, Holiday
Yield: 15 Servings
12 oz Sliced bacon
1 c  Onion, chopped
½ c  Green pepper chopped
½ ts Dried dillweed
1/4 ts Pepper
16 oz Bread dough
Milk as required
Poppy & sesame seeds
Cook bacon until crisp.
Remove bacon but reserve 1 tb of drippings.
Drain bacon on paper towels then crumble when cool.
Cook onion, green pepper, dillweed & pepper in hot drippings until onion is soft but not browned.
Allow to cool.
Stir in bacon.
Divide dough into 30 portions.
Roll each portion into a ball.
Now you roll or pat each ball into a 3″ circle.
Pre-heat oven to 375 deg-F.
Place level 1 tb of filling in the center of each circle.
Bring up dough edges around filling then pinch to seal edges together.*
Arrange filled rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet.
Brush with milk.
Sprinkle with poppy & sesame seeds.
Bake uncovered for 15-20 mins. until rolls are golden.
Serve warm. Makes 30 rolls.
At this point you may freeze these rolls. Place them into a plastic container or plastic bag, seal & freeze for no more than 90 days.
Dr. Inna Selavicius, Vilnius-Lithuania, circa 1995

Latvian 1-Day Cheese
Categories: Cheese, Dairy, Latvian, Ethnic
Yield: 1 Cheese
1 qt Skim milk
2 lb Cottage cheese
1 qt Buttermilk
2 ea Eggs lightly beaten
2 tb Margarine cut in pieces
1 tb Caraway seed
1 ts Salt to taste
Heat milk until bubbles form around edge over med-heat in a 5-qt. pan.
Stir in cottage cheese & buttermilk.
Cook for 15 mins. until curds separate & float on top of whey.
Pour slowly into cheesecloth l
Place well drained curds in a 2-qt. saucepan.
Add eggs, margarine, caraway seed & salt then mix well.
Stir over low-heat 5-8 mins. until mixture forms a smooth ball.
Pack mixture into lightly greased bowl or loaf pan.
Allow to cool then cover & refrigerate.
This will keep for 7 days in refrigerator.
Inara Dauginas, Riga-Latvia, circa 1997

Latvian Apple Loaf
Categories: Latvian, Ethnic, Fruit, Dessert
Yield: 1 Loaf
5 oz Butter
½ c  Sugar
3 ea Eggs separated
1 c  Flour
2 ts Baking powder
2 ts Vanilla
3 tb Milk or cream
6 ea Apples peeled & sliced thick
1 tb Sugar mixed with
1/4 ts Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 deg-F.
Grease a loaf pan.
Sift flour with baking powder.
Cream butter.
Slowly add sugar to butter & beat well after each addition.
Add egg yolks to butter mix, 1 at a time & beat well after each.
Add vanilla.
Add dry ingredients in 2 or 3 parts, alternating them with milk. 
Whip egg whites until stiff. 
Gently fold them into batter. 
Turn the batter into loaf pan. 
Press apple slices deeply into batter. 
Sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon mixture. 

Baking Loaf:
Bake about 30-50 mins. or until tester comes out dry.
ORIGIN: Inara Dauginas, Riga-Latvia, circa 1997

Latvian Sauerkraut
Categories: Vegetable, Latvian, Ethnic, Sidedish
Yield: 6 Servings
2 tb Bacon grease
3 ea Onions chopped
1 ea Can sauerkraut
1 ea Head cabbage
3 ea Apples
2 c  Tomato juice
½ ts Caraway seeds
Put cold grease or fat in pot on low heat.
Add onions & saute until translucent but not brown.
Meanwhile cut head of cabbage except for core into strips.
Strain canned sauerkraut & throw out juice.
Add peeled, cored & chopped apples.
When onions are cooked add remaining ingredients.
Add enough water to just cover.
Simmer slowly at least 2 hrs.

Valentina Blumbergas, Riga-Latvia, circa 1997

Kiiselis – Latvian Fruit Sauce
Categories: Fruit, Latvian, Ethnic, Sauce, Dessert
Yield: 1 Batch
5 ea Apples
2 ea Pear
1 c  Raisins
10 ea Prunes
1 c  Chopped rhubarb
2 ea Peaches
2 c  Water
3 tb Corn starch
6 tb Sugar
1 c  Red wine
Peel fresh fruits, take out seeds & cut into biggish pieces.
Add dried fruits, water & simmer for 60-90 mins. then remove from heat.
Mash cooked fruit,.
Add some of sugar & red wine.
Taste test & add more sugar if needed.
Add 2 Tb of corn starch for a soup-like consistency or more if you want a jelly.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Allow to boil for 2 mins. until desired thickness is reached.
Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Best when served at room temp or can be refrigerated.
Serve with milk, cream, or over vanilla ice cream.
ORIGIN: Vera Kaslinas, Riga-Latvia, circa 1997

Buberts – Latvian Manna
Categories: Latvian, Ethnic, Dessert, Grain
Yield: 1 Batch
3 c  Milk
½ c  Cream of Wheat
2 ea Eggs separated
4 tb Sugar
1 ts Vanilla extract

Heat your milk.
Slowly stir in Cream of Wheat.
Boil on low-heat for 5 mins.
Remove from heat.
Whip egg yolks with 3 Tb sugar & vanilla then add to Cream of Wheat.
Whip egg whites & remaining Tb of sugar until firm.
Fold into Cream of Wheat mixture & chill.
Inna Linsinas, Riga-Latvia, circa 1997

Latvian Barley Stew
Categories: Grains, Stews, Mushrooms, Ham, Latvian
Yield: 6 Servings
3/4 lb Kielbasa sliced ½” thick
½ lb Smoked ham hocks cubed 1″
1 c  Chopped onion chopped
1/4 c  Olive oil
1 c  Pearl barley washed & drained
2 tb Dried cepes mushrooms*
1 c  Tomato puree
2 tb Fresh dill chopped
2 tb Fresh parsley chopped
8 cups beef stock
Salt & pepper to taste
½ c  Sour cream  for garnish

Any dried mushroom will do.
Soak cepes mushrooms for 20 mins. in hot water.
Saute onions in olive oil until golden brown.
Add barley then saute until grains are well coated.
Strain off water from mushrooms & reserve.
Chop mushrooms.
Add all remaining ingredients including mushrooms but except cream in heavy pot & simmer until barley is tender.
Add liquid from mushrooms & additional beef stock.
Add additional stock as necessary to keep a sauce-like consistency.

ORIGIN: Inara Dauginas, Riga-Latvia, circa 1997

Bulviu – Potato Roulade Filled W/ Meat
Categories: Vegetable, Meat, Estonian, Ethnic
Yield: 6 Servings
3 lb Potatoes peeled & 1/4’d
4 ea Eggs
½ c  Flour
5 ts Salt
6 tb Butter

1 lb Boiled beef
½ c  Onions minced
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ea Egg lightly beaten
2 tb Dry bread crumbs
3 tb Butter softened
Bring 4 qts water to a boil in a 6-8-qt pot & drop in potatoes.
Boil briskly, uncovered until soft.
Drain thoroughly in a large sieve then mash them in a bowl.
Beat in eggs, ½ cup flour & salt then beat vigorously until mixture is smooth & very dense.
If mixture seems too fluid then beat in additional flour 1 tb at a time.
Gather this dough into a ball.
Roll dough out with a floured rolling pin on a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper into a rectangle approx. 12″x16″x1/2″.
Pre-heat oven to 400 deg-F.
Combine meat, onions, pepper & salt in a mixing bowl.
Spread meat mixture evenly over entire surface of potato dough.
Start with wide side of dough, lift waxed paper.
Using waxed paper to support dough begin to roll dough into a large roulade.
Very carefully transfer roulade to a baking sheet lightly coated with 3 ts of butter.
Bake in center of oven for ½ hr. until roulade crust is golden.
Slice roulade crosswise into 2″ thick slices & serve at once.
Anna Musto, Tallinn-Estonia, circa 1998

Marinvota Silke – Fish in Tomato Marinade
Categories: Estonian, Seafood, Ethnic, Maindish
Yield: 6 Servings
3/4 c  Corn oil
2 c  Coarsely chopped onions
6 oz  Tomato paste
2 tb White vinegar
3 ts Sugar
1/4 ts Ground cloves
1 ea Bay leaf
5 ea Whole black peppercorns
1 ts Salt

1 ½ lb Whitefish fillets skin on scaled cut to 2″ pieces
1 tb Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
½ c  Flour
½ c  Vegetable oil
In a heavy 10″-12″ skillet, heat oil over high-heat until a light haze forms above it.
Drop in onions.
Reduce to med-heat then cook for 8-10 mins. stirring frequently, until onions are soft.
Stir in tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, cloves, bay leaf, peppercorns & salt then bring to a boil.
Cover pan, reduce to low-heat & simmer for 15 mins.
Remove from heat & cool to lukewarm.
Sprinkle fish with 1 tb salt & a few grindings of pepper.
Coat fish well with flour & shake off all excess.
Heat ½ cup oil over high heat in a heavy cast iron 10″-12″ skillet until a light haze forms above it.
Add 6-8 pieces of fish, reduce to med-heat & brown fish 3-5 mins. on each side.
Transfer browned fish to paper towels to drain then fry & drain remaining fish.
Pour 1/3 of marinade into a shallow 2-qt glass baking dish then lay ½ of the fish into it in 1 layer.
Moisten fish with 1/3 more of marinade & layer on remaining fish.
Pour on remaining marinade & allow fish to marinate uncovered & unrefrigerated for 4-6 hrs.
Refrigerate, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for at least 24 hours before serving.
Garnish  fish with chopped parsley, chopped dill & hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped.
ORIGIN: Anna Musto, Tallinn-Estonia, circa 1993

Estonian Layered Cabbage
Categories: Vegetable, Sidedish, Ethnic, Estonian
Yield: 6 Servings
1 ½ lb Sauerkraut
2 ts Bacon fat
3/4 c  Rice
1 ½ c  Broth
1 ea Onion chopped
2 Tb bacon grease
1 ½ lb Ground pork*
1 Tb Hungarian  sweet paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ts dried marjoram
2 ea garlic clove minced
1/4 lb Canadian bacon diced
½ lb smoked sausage sliced 1/4″ thick
1 3/4 c  sour cream
1/4 c  heavy cream
Fresh bulk pork sausage may be used in place of the pork.
Wash sauerkraut & save 1 cup of liquid from can.
Cook onions in bacon grease until golden yellow.
Place ½ of onions in another pot.
Add sauerkraut & 1 cup water plus 1/3 c of reserved liquid.
Cook for 15 mins.
Heat fat in separate pot, add rice & cook for 1 min.
Add broth then cover & simmer until rice is almost done.
Fry remaining onions in fat, add ground pork or sausage.
Cook for 12-15 mins.
Remove from heat, add paprika & garlic.
Cook bacon for 2-4 mins.
Add smoked sausage slices, cook for 1-3  mins. & set aside.
Pour a little bacon-sausage from pan on bottom of a large baking dish.
Spread 1/3 of the sauerkraut evenly in the dish.
Pre-heat oven to 350 deg-F.
Top this with ½ of meat, ½ of sausage-bacon mix & with ½ of rice.
Cover with 2nd. layer 1/3 of sauerkraut & pour ½ of sour cream on top of this.
Repeat 1 more time, end with last sauerkraut layer.
Pour remaining sour cream all over top.
Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake in oven covered, for 30-40 mins.
Remove cover & bake 10-20 mins. to brown top.
If needed add a little stock during baking to prevent scorching.

Dr. Julia Saarno, Tartu-Estonia, circa 2004

Estonia Holiday Red Dip
Categories: Ethnic, Estonian, Dip, Holiday, Appetizer
Yield: 2 Cups
16 oz Jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 c  Sugar or Splenda
1/4 c  Vinegar
1/4 ts Ground cinnamon
1 ts Ground ginger
1 ts Ground mustard
1/8 ts Pepper
1 tb All-purpose flour
1 tb Cold water
Combine first 7 ingredients in a sauce pan.
Whisk over med-heat until smooth.
Combine flour & cold water until smooth.
Add to cranberry mixture.
Bring to a boil then cook & stir for 2 mins.
Transfer to a bowl.
Cover & chill o6-8 hrs.
Serve with pretzels, chips or sliced fruit.
Dr. Lara Serega, Tallinn-Estonia, circa 2002

Taidetud Vasikarind – Roast Stuffed Shoulder of Veal
Categories: Meat, Ethnic, Estonian, Beef, Maindish
Yield: 8 Servings
5 lb Boned shoulder of veal
½ lb Ground lean veal
½ lb Ground lean pork
½ lb Ground lean beef
½ c  White bread crumbs
½ c  Sour cream
1 c  Onion minced
2 c  Chicken stock
2 ea Eggs
4 ea Hard-boiled eggs peeled
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine ground meats in a large mixing bowl.
Add bread crumbs, onions, water, eggs, 1 tb salt & 1 ts pepper.
Mix with your hands & a large spoon until all ingredients are very well combined.
Vigorously knead this mixture for 3-5 mins.
Pre-heat oven to 350 deg-F.
Spread veal shoulder skin-side down flat on a table.
Use a small, sharp knife to make small cuts in thickest areas of meat to make it lie even flatter.
Cover veal &  pound meat with a meat mallet to a fairly uniform thickness.
Remove cover then sprinkle veal liberally with salt & pepper.
Spread ½ of stuffing on veal, leaving a 2″ border of veal around sides.
Lay hard-boiled eggs in a row down length of stuffing.
Spread remaining stuffing in a layer over eggs.
Bring 1 long side of veal over filling to middle & tuck-in your 2 ends.
Bring other side over filling to enclose it very well.
Tie rolled veal crosswise at 2″ intervals with kitchen string then tie it lengthwise as well.
Place tied veal roll seam-side down in a shallow roasting pan.
Pour in 1 ½ c chicken stock & roast for 2 hrs.
Baste veal every 3 mins. with the juices in pan.
Carefully transfer veal to a serving platter then cut & discard strings.
Bring juices in pan to a boil over high-heat.
If most of liquid has cooked away add remaining ½ cup chicken broth to pan.
Scrape into it any bits that may be sticking to bottom & sides of pan.
Remove from heat then stir ½ cup sour cream into sauce 1 tb at a time.
Taste for seasoning & pour into a gravy-boat.
Slice veal roll crosswise into 1″ rounds & arrange slightly overlapping down center of a large pre-heated platter.
Moisten them with a few tb sauce & serve remaining sauce separately.
Usually rolled shoulder of veal is served with crisp fried potato patties or mashed potatoes.

Anna Musto, Tallinn-Estonia, circa 1998

On-Line Sources:

Copyright © 2008 Donald R Houston, PhD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author’s consent.

About the Author ()

Viet Nam vet with the usual baggage but mine is now packed away. Public health specialist & medical anthropologist have worked all over the globe, most recent work since 1988 in the former Soviet Union (now the CIS/NIS) & based out of Flo

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