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A traditional Kūčios table

CHRISTMAS EVE BISCUITS
Kūčiukai/preskučiai/ųližikai

1 oz. yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup milk
½ tsp. salt
1½ cup all purpose flour
Cream yeast with sugar. Add warm milk and salt. Sift in flour. Stir thoroughly. Put in warm spot to rise a little. If necessary, add more flour to dough. Roll about ½ inch thick with rolling pin on floured board. Cut into finger-width strips, then into bits of ½ inch or less. Bake in 350 ° oven until edges are light brown, Serve with poppy seed milk.

POPPY SEED MILK
Aguonų pienas

½ lb. poppy seeds
2 cups boiling water
10 almonds
2 cups milk
Wash poppy seeds in cool water. Pound them fine with a wooden pestle. Cover with boiling water. Blanch, peel and chop almonds, stir into poppy seeds. Add sugar to taste, and when cool, pour in the milk. Pour over biscuits just be- fore serving. Please note: This is a very old recipe. Modern cooks have discovered ways to simplify the process by buying almonds that are already blanched and peeled, or Solo Poppy Seed Pastry Filling instead of pounding the seeds with a wooden pestle. Others use condensed milk diluted with water for the liquid. The idea is to create a sweet poppy seed-based milky liquid in which the biscuits are submerged. Still the best way to get true poppy seed milk is to pound or grind the seeds the old-fashioned way.

DRIED FRUIT COMPOTE
Džiovintų vaisių kompotas

6 cups water
1 (8-ounce) package mixed dried fruit
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup dried apples
½ cup golden raisins
4 cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
In large saucepan, combine water, sugar, mixed fruit, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until fruit is soft. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.

BEET SOUP WITH “LITTLE EARS”
Burokėlių sriuba su ausukėmis

1 qt. water
½ onion
1 carrot
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 sprig parsley
½ stalk celery
1 tsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
5-6 medium beets
Boil beets in water about for 1½ hours. Peel and grate. Add pinch of sugar, salt, and ½-1 tsp. lemon juice. Melt butter, stir in flour, add to beet mixture. Make broth of the first seven ingredients. Strain, keep hot. Pour broth over beets, heat, do not boil. Place “little ears” in hot soup before serving.
“Little ears”
½ cup water
2 egg yolks
Salt
Flour
¼ lb. dried mushrooms
½ Tbsp. butter
1 chopped onion
Soak mushrooms in cold water for several traditional Kūčios table hours. Rinse thoroughly. Boil in water until fairly soft. Chop, fry in butter with onion, adding salt to taste. Make a dough of the water, egg yolks, salt, adding enough flour to roll. Roll thin on floured board. Cut into 1½ inch squares. On each square put a spoonful of mush- room mixture. Moisten edges with egg white, fold over opposite sides to form triangle; press edges together tightly, Twist two ends of triangle up and over to form “ears”. Boil about 5 minutes in plain broth in tightly covered pan. Add to beet soup.

HERRING
Silkės
Soak salted herring in cold water or milk for 24 hours. Drain, skin, fillet and bone. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Arrange in serving dish, pour on 1-2 Tbsps. each of vinegar and salad oil. Garnish with thinly sliced onion or minced green on- ion. Chill. Serve with rye bread or hot boiled potatoes.
Please note:
Today you can buy herring that’s already skinned, boned and filleted at many stores that sell Lithuanian, Jewish or Eastern European foods. Herring is being imported from Lithuania, and it’s quite good. If you prefer a herring dish that’s a little more colorful, try the following one.

HERRING IN TOMATO SAUCE
Silkės pomidorų padaže
4 herrings
3 onions
Coking oil
½ bottle tomato ketchup
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. sugar
Soak herrings in cold water for two days. Remove bones, cut each herring into four pieces. Dip in flour and fry lightly in oil. (If preferred, herring need not be fried; in that event, flour is not needed.) Slice onions, fry in oil until tender; add ketchup, bay leaves and sugar. Boil 5 minutes. Pour hot over herrings. Set in cool place overnight.