Russian Food - Trout Broth with Pirozhki

Triple Steelhead Trout Broth with Gravlax and Pirozhki

I’ve said in the past that if you want to avoid crowds, the Monday after Thanksgiving is a good day to fish on the Salmon River. Well, here’s another quiet day to go fishing in the area: Mother’s Day. Real sentimental, those fishermen! Come the second Sunday of May, they leave their fishing rods in the […]

read
Latvian Cuisine - Pirags

Piragi, Latvia’s National Dish

The last entry in my series of national dishes was Kazakhstan’s beshbarmak. This time, we’re hopping to the Baltic to try Latvian piragi. Naming a single national dish for a whole country is a very artificial exercise. For Latvia, Wikipedia suggests latke, and sure, Latvians eat potato pancakes, probably tons of them, but… so does the rest […]

read
Estonian Sea-Buckthorn Sundae

Estonian Sea-Buckthorn Sundae

After the recent birch syrup pie, here’s a second serving of kefir ice cream with birch syrup — but in a totally different format, and with the very peculiar flavor of sea-buckthorn. Sea-buckthorn is an orange berry found throughout Europe and Asia, with an exceptionally high content of vitamin C and carotenes. While it’s sometimes used in […]

read

The Chef, the Computer, and the Baltic Apple Pie

I usually don’t speak about my day job on this blog, mostly because it has nothing whatsoever to do with adventures in Eastern Bloc cuisine. Or rather, it didn’t until recently… About two years ago, a small team of researchers at IBM (including yours truly) started working on computational creativity. By winning on Jeopardy, IBM […]

read

Latvian Hare Trio

At long last, my Latvian hare trio is complete! I started this project when I discovered those mysterious recipes for hare cheese. If you run an internet search for hare cheese in English, Russian, or Latvian, you probably won’t find much; for one thing, you won’t see a single picture. This in itself required further investigation. […]

read

Latvian Hare Trio, Part 3: Hare Cheese, Onion Jam, Cornichons

This curious dish — which has very little to do with actual cheese — was actually what first motivated me to start my Latvian Hare Trio. The final result may look like a traditional pâté, but the preparation is quite different. Lesley Chamberlain’s Food and Cooking of Russia and Pokhlebkin’s Cookbook of the Soviet Peoples both contain fairly similar instructions: […]

read

Latvian Hare Trio, Part 2: Leg Confit, Potato Pancakes, Sauerkraut

After last week’s hare loin, this post features the hare legs with another group of typical Latvian winter flavors: potato, sauerkraut, and animal fat. The recipe is pretty short, because most of the work has been done during the hare preparation. The only non-trivial element left is the potato pancakes. I’ve already talked about deruny here, but […]

read

Latvian Hare Trio, Part 1: Sautéed Loin, Blackcurrant Balsam, Barley

Black Balsam is a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur. Its recipe, created by a pharmacist living in Riga, is based on a composition of 24 different plants, flowers, buds, juices, roots, oils, and berries prepared in oak barrels. The drink itself is black and very bitter, but with a distinct sweetness to it. Admirers of chartreuse […]

read
Drunken Rhubarb

Drunken Rhubarb

This recipe is a 2-in-1 kind of deal. Not only does it produce a delicious flavored vodka, it also leaves you with pieces of rhubarb you can serve with tea or use to make a cake, such as a babka. Originally from China, rhubarb was transported along the Silk Road starting as early as the 14th […]

read