Mint sauce – Lithuanian style!

Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipe So I am in Lithuania waiting for Joni to come and join us here for my brothers wedding. My dad is very eager to impress Joni with his culinary skills and kept asking what Joni would really enjoy to have for dinner when he comes.
Me: I am not too sure, we like a lot of things.
My dad: But what he really really likes?
Me: Ok, ok. I think he would really enjoy a good steak (I would enjoy that too with lots of salad… hmm)
My dad: How about I make roast lamb?
Me: But steak is beef? (why did he even ask if he is planning to make what he likes?)
My dad: So Joni does not like lamb?
Me: He likes lamb too. We like it with mint sauce.
My dad: Ok if I make roast lamb will you make the mint sauce?
Me: Ok sure!
I go and start looking into making some mint sauce. We have plenty of mint in the garden (check), salt (check), apple cider vinegar (Lithuanians are against using vinegar so I decide to try and use lemon instead), sugar (since lemon is sharp in taste I decide to make it more mellow by using some honey that we have plenty of as my dad is a bee keeper).
When Joni arrives my dad start introducing what he is making for dinner.
My dad: here is mussels for starter and here are some beef steaks for dinner.
Me: ????
Me: I thought you are making roast lamb??
My dad: But you said Joni prefers steak??
Me: never mind! I am not going into it.
I make the mint sauce anyways because I am interested how it turns out with lemon and honey. Joni is surprised how close to taste it was. I think I prefer it to the original recipe, because I am Lithuanian after all. I prefer food without vinegar although I do think sometimes it is necessary. Are you interested too how it tastes? Recipe is below.
MINT SAUCE LITHUANIAN STYLE

  • 1 cup compressed mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • pinch salt
  • boiling water
  • 2-4 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place mints, honey, salt and some boiling water and whizz it with the hand processor.Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipe 2. Cool the mint puree and add lemon juice to your taste.Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipe This sauce is not only to use with lamb (although it goes with the lamb best). It can be used in mushy peas, mixed with yogurt to be used with rich stews. Maybe in salad too methinks?Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipeThanks for letting me share, hope this post does not sound too silly.
Rasa xoxo

Croissants with poppy seed filling

Croissants with poppy seed filling recipe  In Lithuania we are big on poppy seed, especially when it comes to Christmas. This is why I feel that these croissants filled with poppy seed goodness is very appropriate for this season. I have been wanting to make this hundred leaves cake to begin with (It’s so traditional in Lithuania like fruit cake in England), but I felt it was too time consuming. This is when this croissant idea came around! You see the dough of hundred leaves cake is kind of similar to croissant dough so I decided to incorporate it with the shop bought dough. Everything went swimmingly well and the rest is history.
CROISSANTS WITH POPPY SEED FILLING
makes 6

  • 100g poppy seed
  • 50g raisins
  • 1tbsp honey (optional)
  • uncooked croissant dough ( I used Jus-Rol brand as it seem the only one available in the shops)
  • 1 egg, whisked for egg wash

1. Place poppy seeds and raisins into the bowl and pour over boiling water over it. Let it sit for an hour or so till it is well soaked and doubled in size.
2. Using the blender whizz poppy seeds and raisins till it becomes like a paste. Add honey if needed for the sweetness, otherwise it is quite sweet from the raisins.Croissants with poppy seed filling recipe  3. Roll out the dough and cut into triangles. Spoon some poppy seed mixture into each triangle and wrap it using the corners. Place croissants parcels into lined baking tray and brush it with egg wash. Bake the croissants in preheated 180C oven for 10-15min.Croissants with poppy seed filling recipe Croissants with poppy seed filling recipe Croissants with poppy seed filling recipe Happy Christmas waiting!
Rasa xoxo

BBQ Lithuanian style (volume 2)

Chicken Shashlik recipeWe are off to Lithuania today so I thought to I will share another Lithuanian recipe for the barbecue (last year we shared a recipe for these pork shashlik that was a hit).
Few weeks ago we had some family over and of course we wanted to do bbq again since the weather has been great. Was not sure about pork so I thought of making them with safer meat option such as chicken (who does not like chicken?!). These are lovely and moist, can be served with rice and salad, same way as the pork ones.
CHICKEN SHASHLIK feeds about 4

  • 1kg chicken breasts, chopped into chunks
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, finelly chopped
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper

1.Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, mix it well and cover it with plate so it is well compressed. Refrigerate the meat overnight.Chicken Shashlik recipe2. The following day, put the meat onto the skewers and you are ready to bbq.  Chicken Shashlik recipe3. Serve it with plain rice, green salad and good quality ketchup or tomato salsa. Chicken Shashlik recipeEnjoy those lovely summer days while it last 😉
Rasa xoxo

Garlic rye bread and bean salad

Rye garlic bread and bean salad recipe It’s becoming to look like Christmas and I decided to share a recipe for a salad that is traditional to have for Christmas Eve. It is that simple and tasty that my brother used to voluntarily go on salad making duty because of that. Hope you like it as much as we do! Rye garlic bread and bean salad recipe GARLIC RYE BREAD AND BEAN SALAD
Makes one medium serving bowl (I made half portion here)

  • 1 medium rye bread loaf
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • generous amount of oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 onions, finelly chopped
  • 2tsp caraway seeds, soaked in water
  • 2 cans of butter beans or cannellini beans, rinsed under cold water
  • bunch of parsley, finelly chopped (optional)

1. Slice the bread and then chop the slices into 1cm cubes.Rye garlic bread and bean salad recipe2.Fry the bread together with garlic in generous amount of oil (very necessary, sorry for dieters). Season to taste and put it aside.Rye garlic bread and bean salad recipe3. Fry the onion together with caraway seeds until onions are nice and slightly transparent. Add the beans and take the pan off the heat.  Rye garlic bread and bean salad recipe4. Mix everything together.Rye garlic bread and bean salad recipe Rye garlic bread and bean salad recipeHope you don’t miss this humble salad at your Christmas table ;-).
Rasa xx

BBQ Lithuanian style

BBQ Lithuanian style I know I know, bbq season is almost over, but I could not help but share my favourite recipe of the year! I was so addicted to bbq this year that I probably made this at least five times I think. The recipe is adopted from my dad who made it while I was in Lithuania this year (and many times before when I was little). Its fairly easy to prep, just need to think of it the day before because it needs to marinate overnight. It’s pork unlike the other “shashlik” dishes in Middle East, but thats what makes it Lithuanian even though the name suggest otherwise. I love its freshness and the smell after marinating it overnight, it’s a must try!
ŠAŠLYKAI (SHASHLIK LITHUANIAN WAY) feeds at least 5

  • 1.5kg pork, chopped into chunks for skewers (I used pork shoulder steaks)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, finelly chopped
  • 2-3 chilli peppers, finelly chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste (be generous here)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, mix it well and cover it with plate so it is well compressed. Refrigerate the meat overnight. BBQ Lithuanian style2. The following day (can be even in the evening if you like), put the meat onto the skewers and you are ready to bbq.  BBQ Lithuanian style BBQ Lithuanian style 3. Serve it with plain rice, green salad and good quality ketchup (it really makes all the difference). BBQ Lithuanian styleI hope you will find the time while the weather is still warm and enjoy it as much as I did ;-).
Rasa xoxo

Varškėčiai with pesto (Lithuanian curd cheese dumplings with the twist)

Varškėčiai with pesto (Lithuanian curd cheese dumplings with the twist)From all the foods I liked in childhood I loved my mums cooked food the most. My mum was never a good cook, in fact only recently she started feeling passion for baking. But I really liked varškėčiai that she used to make (although I realised that they were slightly different to compare to other curd cheese dumplings that I have ever tasted). Traditionally varškėčiai are soft type dumplings that are often served with jam and sour cream. My mum used to add more flour into them making them more pasta like and served savoury with sour cream and butter. So it’s up to you what way you want to make them (less flour or more), but I decided to go with savoury and serve it with pesto (oh it was so yummy! I think I might be the first one to try them this way!).Varškėčiai with pesto (Lithuanian curd cheese dumplings with the twist)Varškėčiai are very simple to make, almost like gnocchi, except no need to prep anything ahead. Just mix three ingredients together into the dough and make the dumplings.
VARŠKĖČIAI serves 2

  • 250g plain quark (it came slightly different to what I am used to, but it works as fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 5-8 heaped tbsp plain flour

Varškėčiai with pesto (Lithuanian curd cheese dumplings with the twist)1. Mix the egg with the quark and gradually add flour into the mix until the dough can be handled (so it does not stick too much onto the fingers).
2. Make varškėčiai dumplings  in the same way as you would make gnocchi dumplings. Roll the ball of dough into the “sausage” and slice it into small bits. Lay the dumplings onto floured plates ready to be cooked.Varškėčiai with pesto (Lithuanian curd cheese dumplings with the twist)3. To cook varškėčiai drop them into the salted boiling water and cook them this way for 2 minutes until the dumplings float to the top (I usually fish them out from the top with the slotted spoon when they rise). Varškėčiai with pesto (Lithuanian curd cheese dumplings with the twist)Serve with sour cream and pesto of your choice.Varškėčiai with pesto (Lithuanian curd cheese dumplings with the twist)Enjoy!
Rasa xoxo

Chilled beetroot soup (šaltibarščiai)

chilled beetroot soup (šaltibarščiai)First of all, happy Saint Patrick’s day! Sadly we haven’t got even a touch of irish so I thought I will make something pink instead of green :D.
Chilled beetroot soup is a proper Lithuanian summer soup, because it tastes soooo refreshing. However I have been missing it and I thought to myself why to wait if I can make it now. It’s not like I need to wait till beetroot is in season. Therefore I recovered my old recipe that I adapted for cooking in UK (you know, with the ingredients available here) so I could make this soup straight away. I hope you like it too ;-). chilled beetroot soup (šaltibarščiai)CHILLED BEETROOT SOUP serves 4

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 packs of vacuum packed cooked beetroot (600g in total), or you can cook it yourself if you wish (however, don’t forget to peal it)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 bunch spring onions
  • 1 pack dill (30g)
  • 500g yogurt (Yeo Valley is my favourite) or 900ml buttermilk (then don’t use milk or cold water)
  • 300-400ml milk or cold water
  • juice of 1/2 -1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder (optional)
  • salt to taste

1. Boil potatoes (with the skin on) and eggs in separate pots.
2. Grate the beetroot into the large bowl or pot.
3. Finely chop cucumber, spring onion and dill and add into the pot with beetroot.chilled beetroot soup (šaltibarščiai)4. Add yogurt into the beetroot mixture, stir gently to combine. The soup is very thick at this stage so thin it down with cold water or milk. Traditionally we use buttermilk, but the choice of it in UK is so small and besides I always seem to have yogurt in stock.
5. I like adding lemon juice into my soup just because we often use pickled beetroot (not pickled in vinegar) to make this soup and I feel that soup made with regular beetroot is missing some acidity. So add lemon juice carefully to your personal taste. If too sour then add some salt to balance it out.
6. Serve the soup with quartered  eggs on top and pealed potatoes on the side.chilled beetroot soup (šaltibarščiai)Enjoy!
Rasa xoxo

Panemunė forest

I just came back from Lithuania and i could not wait until I can share about our forest. Me and my mum went for a walk everyday here because it is just outside my parent’s house. I know it may look dull as it is still an early spring but it is magical in winter or summer. Sadly, one thing I could not transfer into the pics is the smell of pines and oaks :-).Panemunė ForestAlthough there was a storm 4.5 years ago that destroyed 1/3 of forest, the consequences of it are still apparent today. Panemunė ForestEven if mini forest is growing to replace the lost one (It’s a looooong process)Panemunė Forest Panemunė ForestAnd there is a river! (the biggest river in Lithuania called Nemunas)Panemunė Forest Panemunė Forest Panemunė Forest Panemunė ForestI hope you liked our mini forest tour 😉
Rasa xoxo

Buckwheat, roasted veggies and avocado hummus bowls

Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowlsSomebody once asked me what food is like in Lithuania…. and after a quick think I said that traditional Lithuanian food is generally very fatty and rich in taste, and doesn’t look ascetically pleasing (I don’t think I sold Lithuanian food well here!). However I have shared many Lithuanian recipes on the blog here that are slightly edited and presented in a more appealing way. For instance we do eat a lot of buckwheat in Lithuania (almost like rice here), but it is usually served with fried onion and pancetta type bacon cubes which if you can imagine would look a bit brown and dull (and very unhealthy). However I used to love eating cooked buckwheat with sliced avocado and some tomatoes in the very beginning when I moved to England. I love the taste of buckwheat so I am happy that I started cooking with it again!   Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowlsBUCKWHEAT, ROASTED VEGGIES AND AVOCADO HUMMUS BOWLS makes about 3-4 bowls
(for veggies)

  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tsp cajun spices (or any other spices such as curry or Moroccan spices)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

(for buckwheat)

  • 200g buckwheat
  • 1l water
  • 1tsp salt

(for more hummus than you need for 4 portions)

  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
  • 1  ripe avocado, stone removed and flesh scooped out with the spoon
  • 2 cloves garlic, pealed
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground paprika
  • salt to taste

(extras)

  • 100g feta cheese, crumpled
  • handful dill, finely chopped (very Lithuanian)

1. First prepare the veggies. Slice courgette, tomato and red pepper and place them into the baking dish. Season the veggies and drizzle oil over them, toss well to coat. Roast in C200 preheated oven for 30 min or so.Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls2. Meanwhile cook the buckwheat (in Lithuania I am used to seeing dark brown buckwheat, but here they are much lighter in colour, although it taste the same). Add the water, salt and buckwheat into medium size pot and cook it as you would cook rice. I usually start with cold water, bring it all to boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 min or so. Cooked buckwheat usually soaks up all the water and becomes really soft.Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls3. Next make the hummus. Just pull all the ingredients to the food processor and whizz… ta da! Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls4. To combine the bowls just add a little bit of everything: roasted veggies, buckwheat and avocado hummus. Sprinkle the bowls with some feta cheese and dillpomegranate Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowlsSkanaus! (“Bon appetit” in Lithuanian)
Rasa xoxo