Lithuanian Cold Borscht

At first I was going to make regular borscht using cabbage, beets, carrots and lentils, but then Nomad found these Lithuanian beet soup recipes which sounded more interesting. Soup was nice, and it would be a great starter for a dinner on a hot summer day.

The soup is usually made of buttermilk, but we used oat milk. Boiled eggs are also often used to the soup or the bowl of soup is topped with some boiled egg, but we just omitted them. If you’d like to get some protein to the soup, crumbled tofu would probably work fine. I think Šaltibarščiai is not usually served with sour cream, but I think a dollop of plain soy yogurt was nice, so I added some to my soup bowl.



10 small beets
water for boiling
2/3 big cucumber
1 small red onion
5 dl beet boiling water
5 dl oat or soy milk
2 tsp dried dill or parsley OR 2 tbsp fresh
1,5 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
plain soy yogurt for serving (optional)

Boil the beets, save 5 dl boiling water and let cool. Peel and grate cooled beets. Chop cucumber and onion. Mix grated beets, cucumber, onion and reserved boiling water. Add enough plant based milk to get desired consistency. Season with dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate about an hour before serving.


Polish Cucumber Salad

You can find quite many different cucumber salads around the world. Raita in India, tzatziki in Greece, vinegar cucumbers in Finland… And mizeria in Poland. Mizeria is usually made with cucumbers and sour cream, bur our vegan version is made with soy yogurt. By the way, this is awesome and really refreshing!



1,5-2 dl soy yogurt
1 green house cucumber or couple of pickling cucumbers
2 tsp white vine vinegar or apple vinegar
1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh

Strain the yogurt with a cheese cloth until it gets thicker. Wash (and peel) the cucumber and thinly slice. Put the cucumbers in colander, sprinkle with generous amount of salt and mix well. Let sit for half an hour. Rinse the cucumber and squeeze out excess water. Put the cucumbers in a bowl, add enough drained soy yogurt to barely cover them (the cucumbers shouldn’t be swimming in yogurt). Season with vinegar, pepper and dill. Add salt if needed. Serve as a side salad.


Cauliflower and Tofu Salad

We have a long and cold winter here in the North Europe, so salads don’t have a big role in our cuisine. Traditional salads are usually made of potatoes, root vegetables, or pickled vegetables. We’ve already posted about rosolli, mushroom salad, vinegar cucumbers and beet salad and wanted to make something contemporary.

I found a several similar salad recipes around the Internet, supposedly it’s Norwegian and called Søndagssalat in Norway.  We’re not so familiar with Norwegian cuisine, so we just have to trust the people who’ve put the recipes in the internet. The recipes called for cod, but we used tofu and chickpeas instead. Since they’re both quite bland, I quickly fried and seasoned them. The salad looked pretty and tasted good, even if we didn’t eat it on Sunday. If you don’t want to have extra mayo with your cucumbers and tomatoes, you can reduce it to 1-1,5 dl.


Sunday Salad

1 cauliflower
250 g tofu (1 package)
OR 125 g tofu and 2 dl chick peas
1-2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried dill
0,5 tsp garlic powder
2,5 dl vegan mayonnaise
0,5 dl oat or soy cream
lettuce leaves
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber

Break the cauliflower into florets and boil. Dice the tofu. Heat the oil in a pan and fry tofu few minutes, no need to brown it. If you use chickpeas, add them a minute or two later than tofu. Combine rice vinegar, water, salt, dill and garlic powder. Turn of the heat and pour the vinegar combination to the pan. Mix well and allow to cool.

Cut the tomatoes into wedges and slice the cucumber. Mix cooled tofu and cauliflower together. Combine mayo and cream in a separate bowl. Add half of the mayo to the cauliflower mix, or enough to coat everything. Cover a serving plate with lettuce leaves and put the cauliflower mix on it, surround with tomatoes and cucumbers. Serve with remaining mayo.

Vinegary Cucumbers

A friend of ours is a baker and she had made delicious rye bread and pesto bread to our wedding. We had a lot of leftovers, and we put the rye bread to the freezer and dried the pesto bread in the oven to make rusks. Tonight we had the rusks with cucumber salad. The salad contains a lots of vinegar, so you may want to use half distilled vinegar and half water if you’re not used to eat so vinegary things.

Cucumber salad

1 medium cucumber
1, 5 dl distilled vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp each fresh dill and parsley OR 1 tsp dried

Peel and slice the cucumber. Put the slices to a bowl and sprinkle salt between layers. Let sit about an hour. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour on the cucumbers.

Picnic in the Park

I’m visiting my sister in Helsinki this weekend. Saturday morning we woke up early, and went shopping as soon as the shops were open. I needed two pairs of shoes, and hadn’t find anything I like from my hometown. I found what I needed: red sneakers and black high heels. And I also bought some cruelty free cosmetics.

The weather was warm and sunny, and we decided to have a picnic. We made sushi (inari sushi and maki rolls with cucumber, avocado and carrot) and hummus and bought baguette, grapes and kalamata olives. Then we spent the rest of the day in nearby park eating, playing card games and just talking. What a great day.

Vinegar Cucumbers

Yesterday I mentioned that we had Vinegar cucumbers with carrot crepes. Many people use pickling cucumbers to make them, but I’ve learnt to use greenhouse cucumber, because that’s what my mum used.

Vinegar Cucumbers

½ greenhouse cucumber
2 dl water
pinch of sugar, salt and pepper
distilled vinegar to taste
dill (optional)

Slice the cucumber. Pour the water into a bowl and add salt, sugar and pepper (and dill). Add 1-2 tbsp vinegar, dip a cucumber slice in it and taste if it’s vinegary enough for you. Add more vinegar until it’s good. I usually don’t measure, but I like about 4-5 tbsp. Add the cucumbers to the bowl and refrigerate until your dinner is ready, or at least 10 minutes.

Yugoslavian Movie Night

We watch quite a lot of movies. Especially non-Hollywood and non-English movies. Pretentious art-hipsterism or not, it’s a wonderful excuse for combining food culture and media culture.

Our movie of choice this time was Srđan Dragojević’s excellent and controversial “Lepa sela lepo gore” (“Pretty village, pretty flame”) which was accompanied by some Yugoslavian (Slovenian) delicacies. Hold your horses! We’re very aware the movie is essentially Serbian and the food cultures do vary in the melting-pot of former Yugoslavia, but we found Slovenian vegetarian recipes and decided that it’s close enough.

We had two kinds of salads, mini quiches, beer and Blair’s habanero chips.

Slovenian Cucumber Salad

5 medium/large potatoes + water for boiling
1 kg cucumbers (3 long)
3,5 dl soy yogurt
3-4 big garlic cloves

Peel the potatoes, cut them half and slice. Boil them, drain and allow to cool. Coarsely grate the cucumbers, mix with salt and drain in a colander for a while. Mince the garlic and mix everything in a bowl. Let sit in the fridge for couple of hours before serving.

The original recipe didn’t say how much garlic would be good. I used 2 big cloves, but I think the salad could have been more garlicy, so I wrote 3-4 cloves.

Lentil Salad

1,5 dl green lentils + water for boiling
1 small red bell pepper
1 shallot
3 tbsp red vine vinegar
3 tbsp oil

Boil the lentils about 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Chop the shallot and dice the bell pepper. Mix together and season with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge couple of hours before serving.

The recipe for the zucchini quiches is in its own blog entry.

Nutty Salad

This salad is an easy side dish. Best in the summer when the cucumbers are at their best. I can’t remember how I invented this, but I’m sure it had something to do with the huge amounts of cucumbers we got from our garden. The recipe makes rather small batch (enough for 2 or maybe 3), so multiple it if needed.

Cucumber and Peanut Salad

1 dl peanuts or salted peanuts
5 dl cucumber cubes
1 thinly sliced small onion (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried mint
pinch of salt and pepper

If you use raw peanuts, start with toasting them. Heat a frying pan and toast the peanuts in it, stirring often, until they have brown spots in them. Let cool. You can peel the peanuts by rubbing them between your hands, but you can use them with the peels too. Partially crush the peanuts in a big mortar or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Put cucumber, onion and peanuts in a bowl. Mix oil, lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper together and combine with cucumber mixture. Salad is better if you let it sit about half an hour before serving.

Harvesting And Pickling

Yesterday I posted some photos from our garden. Here’s something that has grown there: a big zucchini, a small yellow summer squash, kohlrabi and snow peas. Kohlrabis are still a bit small, but we took them to make more room for others to grow. Some zucchini, kohlrabis and handful of snow peas were stir fried with some cauliflower, carrots, onions and beans.

We also found a lot of cucumbers. Since we were away for a week, some of them had grown too big.  Here they are on our kitchen table, sorted by variety and size. I don’t know English names for the cucumbers, but in front is Favör II WW, left pile is the good cucumbers and right taste-before-using. Behind them is Reinin Rypäle, sorted by size the same way. In the back are the oversized ones that can’t be eaten.

I used one inedible cucumber to make serving bowl for cucumber relish. Some of the good cucumbers were eaten fresh in salads, but most of them were pickled.

The recipe makes one 5l bucket of sliced pickles. I often slice my cucumbers before pickling, because then you can fit more of them in one jar. If you prefer pickling whole cucumbers, poke some holes on them first to make sure the liquid goes inside the cucumbers too and they won’t become soft and icky. You may also need to make more liquid, because there will be more empty space in your jar.

Pickled Cucumbers

cucumbers (4,5l when sliced)
10 thin horseradish slices
big bunch of dill (few long stalks with the flowers)
6 garlic cloves or some chili slices (optional)
black currant or oak leaves, if available

2 l water
4 dl sugar
6 dl distilled vinegar
2 tblsp salt
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp black pepper corns

Before slicing the cucumbers, soak them in cold water at least half an hour, few hours is good. Brush them to remove the little spikes. Slice.

Use a plastic bucket with a lid or few big glass jars. Put a thick layer of cucumbers into a bucket/jar and put a layer of leaves (if you have), some horseradish, dill and garlic/chili (if using). Continue making layers until all the cucumbers are used. Put currant leaves and dill on top.

Mix water, sugar, salt, mustard seeds and peppercorns in a pot and boil 5-10 minutes. Add vinegar, bring to boil again and pour on the cucumbers. The liquid should cover all the cucumbers, but if it doesn’t you have to make a little more. Close the lids, let cool and keep in cold place at least three weeks before serving.

Canning Season 2010 Has Started

If you have too many cucumbers, preserve some of them. Or if you find cheap cucumbers, buy some to make relish. Relishes and pickles are easy to make and they taste good during the long winter months when the cucumbers in the shops are expensive and bad quality. I used slicing cucumbers, but I think pickling cucumbers would be just as good too. You can also make zucchini relish with this recipe, just use 1 kg zucchini instead of cucumbers.

Cucumber Relish

1 kg cucumbers
1 bell pepper
2 onions
2 medium hot chili pods, deseeded (or to taste)
4 tbsp chopped dill
2 dl distilled vinegar
2 dl sugar
4 dl water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp green peppercorns

Grate the cucumbers coarsely (or dice small), chop the onions, dice bell pepper and mince chilies. Combine in a bowl with dill. Mix vinegar, sugar, water, salt and peppercorns in a pot. Put on stove, turn the heat on and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Bring to boil, lower the heat and slowly boil about 5 minutes. Put the cucumber mixture into clean glass jars and pour the hot liquid on them. Make sure there are some peppercorns in each jar. Close lids, let cool and store in cellar or fridge. Let sit at least few days, preferably couple of weeks, before serving.