” Soul Food”: “Zeppelins” Cepelinai -Didžkukuliai, Grated Potato Kugel Kugelis – Bulvių Plokštainis, Samogitian “Zeppelins” Žemaitiški Cepelinai, Potato Kugel With Bacon Bulvių Plokštainis su Spirgučiais

with Dana Siliūnas.

No Lithuanian can resist kugelis or cepelinai. You will find these two dishes in many Lithuanian restaurants and at Lithuanian parties and picnics around the world. Although we have printed their recipes in earlier issues, the ones on this page were recently received from Lithuania and we would like to share them with you.

Cepelinai – Didžkukuliai

2 lbs. raw potatoes, peeled and grated
4 cooked potatoes
Salt to taste

Put raw potato gratings in a double cheese cloth and squeeze dry. Save the potato liquid, let potato starch settle at the bottom, decant potato liquid and mix starch with dry potato gratings. Rice boiled potatoes and add to raw grated potatoes, salt and blend well. Take about 1/2 cup of potato mixture and flatten, making a round form. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of the round, fold over, seal seam, make an oblong shape. Put “Zeppelins” into boiling water and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring gently. “Zeppelins” are a rather recent Lithuanian tradition. They w ere begun in the middle of the twentieth century but their fame spread all throughout the country. “Zeppelins” are very filling and for this reason they are eaten during days of hard work, especially during harvest time. The variety of fillings used makes “zeppelins” adaptable to different times of the year. Here are two of the most popular:

Beef or pork filling

9 oz. ground meat, pork or beef, or a mixture o f both
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. marjoram

Pork is the traditional meat filling for “zeppelins,” rather fat, cut from the shoulder. A mixture of pork and fat is also used. Fry onion and add to ground meat. Season with salt, pepper and marjoram. Blend well. Meat filled “zeppelins” are served with fried bacon bits or with melted butter and sour cream.

Cottage cheese filling

9 oz. dry cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. sour cream
1 oz. bacon, finally chopped and fried
1 oz. butter
1/2 tsp. French tarragon or peppermint
Salt to taste
Blend cottage cheese with fried bacon. Add butter, sour cream, egg, salt and herbs. Mix well. Cottage cheese “zeppelins” are eaten with melted butter, sour cream or fried bacon bits.

Žemaitiški cepelinai

2 lbs. potatoes, cooked in their skins
4 Tbsps. flour
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup smoked ham, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Fat or oil for frying
Peel and rice cooked potatoes, add flour, eggs and salt. Blend well and knead to make a pliable dough. Make palm-size rounds from potato dough, place a tablespoon of chopped ham in the center, fold over and pinch edges. Deep fry in hot oil, until golden brown. This is a lunch dish, served with fried bacon and sour cream.

Kugelis – Bulviu Plokštainis

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 onions, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Butter or oil for frying onions

Grate potatoes, remove some of the potato juice, tilt the bowl and spoon off the collected juice. Bring milk to a boil and pour over the grated potatoes. This is done to disperse potato starch through the grated potatoes. Fry onion and mix into potatoes, add eggs and salt and mix well. Pour the mixture into a medium depth, greased baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 350°, until the top is well browned. Cut into squares and serve with bacon fried with onions, and sour cream.

Bulviu plokštainis su spirguciais

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled
9 oz. bacon, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 onions, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Grate potatoes and remove most of the juice (see previous recipe). Fry bacon and acid to potatoes. Mix well. The hot bacon fat helps disperse potato starch. Add onions, eggs and salt and pepper, mix well. Pour potato gratings into a greased, 4-finger deep, baking dish. Bake in preheated oven at 350°, for about 2 hours.