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Traditional Kūčios Dishes

CHRISTMAS COMPOTE
Vaisių kompotas

4 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
½ cup fruit brandy or kirsch (optional)

In large saucepan, combine water, mixed fruit, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until fruit is soft. Remove from heat; stir in brandy and lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled. NOTE: You have a choice of fruits to use. Some cooks add dried pears, apricots, even figs. Often the packages of dried fruits contain a variety of fruit, but you can add extra ones.

CHRISTMAS EVE BISCUITS
Preskučiai, šližikai

¼ cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
¾ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted
3½ to 4 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add milk, egg and butter to yeast mixture. Combine flour, sugar and salt; stir well. Gradually stir flour mixture into yeast mixture. Add more flour if needed to make a stiff dough. Turn dough onto floured board, divide into balls and roll the balls into finger-width coils. Cut coils into ¼-inch pieces; place on a slightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350° F until golden brown. They are eaten from dessert bowls and poppy seed milk (see recipe below) is poured over them.

POPPY SEED MILK
Aguonpienis
½ lb. poppy seeds
2 cups boiling water
¼ tsp. almond extract
1 Tbsp. honey, or to taste

Pour boiling water over poppy seeds and let steep for about an hour. Transfer poppy seeds and liquid to a blender; add remaining ingredients. Blend at high speed until liquid is white and milky. Serve over Christmas Eve biscuits. NOTE: Perhaps not as traditional, but a faster and easier way to make poppy seed milk is to buy a 12.5 oz. can of Solo Poppy Seed Cake & Pastry Filling. Just dilute it in warm water, and VOILA! You have poppy seed milk. Amount of water depends on how thin or thick you want it.

CRANBERRY PUDDING
Kisielius

4 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup potato starch, dissolved in 1½ cups cold water
¼ cup lemon juice
5 cups water
Rinse cranberries, removing any stems or brown berries. Place in large pot and fill with water, covering cranberries by about 1 inch. Bring cranberries to a boil and simmer covered, until berries split and soften. Remove from heat. Strain berries and liquid into another large pot, forcing them through a sieve, or use a food mill. Slowly simmer until mixture begins to boil; gradually add sugar, lemon juice and potato starch mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer until pudding begins to thicken, Adjust sweetness to taste. Pour into large serving bowl; cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the pudding so that a “skin” does not form. Serve in dessert bowls. Can be eaten cold or at room temperature. NOTE: Some Lithuanians prefer a more liquid kisielius , which can be drunk from glasses. An excessive amount of starch will produce a stiff pink concoction which may send you back to the store for more cranberries.

HERRING IN TOMATO SAUCE
Silkės su pomidorais

2 (6-ounce) jars pickled herring
2 onions, sliced
2 Tbsps. oil
1 (7-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups tomato ketchup
1 tsp. sugar

Drain herring and pat dry with paper towel. Arrange herring pieces in a glass serving dish; set aside. In a medium skillet, heat oil and saute onions until ten- der. Add remaining ingredients and simmer slowly to warm the sauce. Pour over the herring and let sit for several hours or overnight.

BEET SALAD
Vinagretas

1 lb. Great Northern beans, cooked
3 or 4 boiled potatoes, diced
3 cans sliced beets
3-4 pickles, diced
1 onion, diced
3-4 hard-boiled eggs, diced
16 oz. sour cream
16 oz. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight for faster cooking. Cook in water but do not overcook. Dice beets. Mix all together. Refrigerate. NOTE: This recipe makes a huge bowl; you may want to cut the recipe in half for one regular-size serving bowl.