All posts filed under: Latvia

Monday Meal Review: Latvia

THE SCENE: Birth day. Ava’s nephew. Keith’s grandson. Kaiden Ray. He is here and he is beautiful. The night he was born Ava held this oh-so-new life on her tiny lap, so amazed. Spellbound. Once a few minutes went by, she honed in on her most serious concern for this tiny being. She wanted to know if Kaiden would have toys to play with. “Kaiden have toys?” she asked Alexis, his mother. “He doesn’t need toys right now,” she smiled, still radiant the way a new mother is. “One toy.”  Ava insisted, her brow furrowing in increased concern. The entire room chuckled. One toy, okay?  she repeated, not seeing what was so funny. A few days later the new family went home with their little boy and we were back to our old routines. It was dinner time. We’d already had the Latvian birthday cake in honor of Kaiden. We’d already had the apple pancakes in honor of apple season. Today was simply a day for pork chops and cranberry sauce. Simple, nothing fancy. But sweet …

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Latvia’s Apple Pancakes

This recipe is so familiar. Each bite feels like a  nibble straight out of my childhood. The funny thing is I’ve never, ever had this recipe. But, with cinnamon, cardamom, apples and pancakes-so-thin-they’re-basically-crêpes all rolled together with heaps of honey and yogurt, I can practically see my mom buzzing around the kitchen table. I smell the butter melting, crackling, sizzling, and I go right back to those days when I was too short to see into the mixing bowl. Thanks to this new-to-me recipe, I can taste my childhood all lumped together in this happy breakfast treat from Latvia. I’m totally into it. I suppose it’ll seem familiar to you, as well. After all, we’ve seen thin pancakes all along this journey, from Argentina to Ireland, and from Hungary to Eritrea. Today’s pancake is typical of the the Baltic and – even though they call it a pancake – the soft batter is almost thin enough to call a crêpe. Latvians love adding spiced apples to their pancakes. To be totally traditional, be sure to serve them with …

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Baltic Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries. Right now. It’s their time to shine. Latvians know what’s up when it comes to the cranberry. They eat it whipped in clouds of pudding, layered with breads, and beyond. Today, however, is about a mountain of sugar. A squiggle of orange zest. A few minutes on the stove and you’re done. It’s really that simple. Here’s what I did: 4 cups cranberries 1 cup water 1 cup sugar, extra to taste 2 tsp strips of orange zest. Quickly look through your cranberries as you put them in the pot – weed out any squishy, yucky ones. Add all the other ingredients to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Refrigerate until cold. Don’t be scared of the popping. It’s just the cranberries saying hello. You can add cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, or whatever suits you to fancy it up. And then, to eat it, dress up in a pretty bowl and spoon the sweet tart goodness all over a thick pork chop, Latvian-style. Eat …

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Latvian Birthday Cake | Klingeris

  Birthdays are fun but birth days are even more so. Family and friends hugging, smiling, crying – everyone in wide eyed at the wonder of a new child’s most innocent gaze. Since Keith’s grandson was born last week, I thought it appropriate to make a birthday cake in his honor. I sought out such a thing in Latvia,only to find something very unexpected. Latvians have a tradition of baking pretzel-shaped sweet bread – not exactly cake – and topping it with candles. The Klingeris, as its called, can be used to celebrate birthdays and name days – which, as it sounds, is the day dedicated to celebrating your particular name. From what I’ve read, Latvians celebrate name days with gifts and parties, and often these celebrations are even larger than their standard birthday celebrations. So let’s get to celebrating, Latvian-style. Welcome to the world, little Kaiden Ray. Recipe inspired by Latvia (Cultures of the World, Second), in which this treat is called by the more Scandinavian name Kringel) Makes 1 large pretzel Ingredients: 2 tsp yeast 1/2 …

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Menu: Latvia

The leaves are falling, orange, red and gold, making the trees look like scratchy skeletons. The days are short; night falls before dinner is over. We all have head colds. Something drastic has to be done in times like these; I had to improve the situation. So, I did what any normal person would do. I served up an entire menu of sweets for our Latvian Global Table. Sweets always make everything better. Yes, a happy collection of apples, cranberries, and sweet bread is just the ticket. What sounds good to you? Latvian Apple pancakes  [Recipe] Apples are at their best right now. Start of the morning with a bite of these thin apple pancakes, seasoned with cinnamon and cardamom. The final touch? A scoop of yogurt inside and a drizzled of honey on the outside. Baltic Cranberry Sauce [Recipe] Latvians love a nice piece of pork with cranberry sauce. Let’s be honest, the sweet-tart flavor of cranberries can make shoe leather taste good. Latvian Birthday Cake (Klingeris) [Recipe] Technically, this is not so much a cake as a …

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Beehive transport in Latvia. Photo by Tiago Fioreze.

About the food of Latvia

Maybe it’s this time of year – when the days are wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and living so far away from my Bostonian roots feels so excruciatingly wrong – but five minutes into cracking the book on Latvia and I felt like I was in New England. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But, with Latvian’s weighing in with favorite foods like apples, cranberries, meat, potatoes, and gingerbread – it’s hard not to draw the comparison. Apples make their way into sauces, pancakes [Recipe], ciders, breads, pastries and more. Cranberries are whipped up into layered bread puddings, traditional cranberry sauces [Recipe], and jellies. Meats are stewed and potatoes are served alongside, often boiled. And gingerbread? It makes its way into cookies [recipe], houses [epic], and more. The deeper I dug however, the more I realized the resemblance to my hometown ended there. Latvia is loaded up with other dishes I haven’t seen anywhere near Boston. Just for starters, there’s aspic (gelatinous savory jellies filled with chunks of meat and vegetables), sauerkraut, fishy potatoes (tossed with herring and smoked …

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