We thought it might be fun to stay in and each bring a course rather than going out for dinner and to make it a bit of a challenge, we decided to pick a cuisine that none of us knew anything about. We all threw a couple of suggestions in and Arushi won the day with Latvian!
From my research, I can see that Latvian cuisine is similar to Russian and even has some similarities to Scandinavian food with things like pickled vegetables and cured fish. The bulk of recipes I found though, were pastry based with lots of pork and root veg.
I decided to bring three very traditional dishes: Sklaudrausis (savoury vegetable tarts), Speķa Pīrāgi (bacon stuffed rolls) and Marinēti Gurķi (picked cucumbers). Although the plan was to bring a course each, we ended up putting everything together on the table and tucking in. Arushi's husband made us a beautiful rye bloomer and she added a gorgeous potato and dill salad, pickled beetroot and a walnut and stilton salad as well as Bex's apple tart and the very unusual bubets (a berry and milk mousse dessert). Delicious!
Here are the there recipes I created, none of these are my own but I wanted to share them with you because the whole experience was so much fun! A great idea for a dinner party.
Speķa PīrāgiThese are bacon and onion stuffed rolls. Traditionally, so I've read, they are eaten at parties and celebrations. You will find lots of recipes for these, but the one I used was from the website food.com and you can find it here. I just used bacon although the recipe does state bacon AND ham!
SklaundrausisHere is where Latvian cuisine gets a little different from ours. These vegetable tarts are both sweet and savoury and for me, I found them a little strange. With a rye pastry base, they are filled with a carrot and potato mix, seasoned with cinnamon and honey. I added caraway seeds and seasoned the potato with salt before putting the tarts together to counteract the sweetness.
This was my first time using rye flour, the pastry came together really easily so I'll definitely be giving it a try again with a more savoury filling! I found this recipe on a food blog called Latvian Eats. Have a peek!
I love anything picked so these were a delight and I ate a lot of them, having done two test batches before the dinner to get the sharpness right. Basically, this is peeled and chopped cucumbers and thinly sliced white onion with cider vinegar, oil, salt and dill. The nice thing about these is that they are ready to eat after just 30 minutes. Again, the recipe came from Latvian Eats, this time as a side dish to a meaty main so go and have a look.