Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The holidays have passed. Lots of new recipes were born and tried. I had a lot of fun during these holidays of 2010-2011. For my family the biggest holiday of the Year is Christmas, especially Christmas Eve (we are Catholic), followed by the New Years. I know New Years is not much celebrated in North America, but in my culture it has stayed one of the most celebrated events. It's going back to Soviet times, when Lithuania was occupied by Russians. We were prohibited to celebrate Christmas, so all we had left were New Years. My family always celebrated Christmas, despite the Soviet ruling, and my grandma always took me to church. I want to instill the same values into my son, I want him to appreciate our traditions and to have a rich background. We are going to church on regular basis and now, since my son is going to Catholic school, that is especially important.
On Christmas Eve, we have 12 vegetarian dishes. 12, because there were 12 apostles at the Last Supper. Some regions of Lithuania, base 12 dishes because there are 12 months in a year.
The main dish is herring and cold sweet soup made from poppy seed. I won't bore you on how to make the soup or the poppy seed cookies that are eaten with the soup. I would like to give you few nice and easy recipes that are made with vegetables and herring. Especially, since the herring is the highlight of the Christmas Eve table.
Don't be afraid of herring, it's very healthy and easy to do. In regular stores you can get marinated herring. I am not the fan of that. There is a lot of vinegar and salt. Not very healthy. I buy my herring from Russian stores. Herring can be easily obtained from Polish or Ukrainian stores as well. I dissect my hearing my self, because I buy it whole. That may sound challenging at first. If you are not familiar with herring (or dissecting the preserved fish), just buy fillets that are in oil. They are very good, too. They key being is that the herring fillets must be in oil. That means, they are not marinated and have as few unpronounceable ingredients as possible.
So there it goes.

Herring under carrots

You will need:
Few herring fillets
4-5 regular size ( like the bigger ones) carrots
2 big onions
1 portobello mushrooms (optional)
salt, pepper to taste
oil for frying

Take whole carrots and boil in water 'till soft. With skin!
Meanwhile, cut herring into very small pieces.
Cut the mushrooms into pieces as well, about half an inch by half an inch in size. Take the frying pan and cook them in a bit of oil, 'till all the juices are evaporated. About 15 minutes.
Put aside. Once your carrots are cooked, cool them, peel them and cut into pieces. I cut them lengthwise few times and then cut horizontally.
Cut the onion. Take the frying pan with oil, put onions and cook them until golden. You can add a touch of salt, so the juices of onions will evaporate faster. Once the onions are done, add cut carrots and sautee some more. Then add the portobello mushrooms you have cooked earlier into the pan with onions and carrots. If you are not using mushrooms, skip the step and proceed to the next one. Add ketchup, about 5 tablespoons or to you liking. Now you can taste it and add salt and ground pepper to you taste. I do not add salt, since there is enough salt in a ketchup and herring. Cool the mixture.
Now, take a nice plate, put a layer of cut herring and top it with a layer of cooled carrots mixture.

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