Traditional dishes for your Kūčios table

with Dana Siliūnas

Traditionally the Lithuanian Christmas Eve — or Kūčios — dinner table has 12 dishes, all of which are meatless. Fish, vegetables, and fruits predominate.

Burokėlių  sriuba su  ausikėmis

1  carrot,  sliced
1  rib o f celery,  sliced
1  onion,  cut into quarters
1  bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1  Tbsp.  salt
1  Tbsp.  sugar
4 oz.  dried mushrooms
12 cups water
3 beets
Place the carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, sugar, mushrooms and water in a large kettle. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Strain the broth, reserving  the  mushrooms  but  discard­ing  the  vegetables  and  bay leaf.  Chop the mushrooms  and set aside to use in the filling for the dumplings. Cook the beets separately until tender;  drain,  re­ serving the beet juice. Peel and grate beets coarsely or cut into julienne strips. Place grated beets  into soup  tureen. Add the strained  broth.  Add  the  reserved  beet juice to  taste.  Keep warm. Add dump­ lings.
Dumplings or “Little Ears”
Chopped mushrooms
1  onion,  sliced
2 tsps.  dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp.  salt
Dash o f pepper
1  egg,  beaten Dough
2  Tbsps.  oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1  egg
1  egg white
Salt to taste
Press  the  mushrooms,  onion,  bread
1/2  teaspoon  salt  and  pepper
through a food grinder twice. Add beaten egg and oil,  mixing well; set aside. Mix the  flour,  1  egg  and  salt  with  enough water to make a soft dough. Roll out to V8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into  1 1/2-inch squares.  Place a tea­ spoon  of the  mushroom filling on  the dough  squares.  Brush  edges  with  egg white. Fold diagonally to form a trian­gle, pressing edges together to seal. Twist two ends of the triangle up and over to form “ears.” Drop into boiling water in a kettle. Simmer for 5  minutes. Drain.

Avižinis kisielius

3 cups oat flower
6 cups warm water
1 slice black bread
Salt to taste
Dried fruit,  sliced  (optional)
Combine  the  oat  flour  with  warm water in a large container. Add the black bread.  Let  stand,  covered,  in  a  warm place for 12 to 20 hours or until soured. Mix well and strain into a large sauce­ pan. Add the salt and fruit. Simmer over low heat until the mixture thickens, stir­ ring  occasionally.  Pour  into  a  lightly greased mold. Chill until set. Serve with poppy seed milk or with sweetened milk.

Aguonų  pienas

1  (12-oz)  can poppy seed filling,  or soaked,  drained and ground poppy seeds,  sweetened to taste
1 cup warm water
1 qt.  warm milk
Combine the poppy seed filling, wa­ter and milk in a large pitcher,  stirring well. Let stand to cool. Serve in cups or pour  over oatmeal pudding  (above)  or slizikai (Christmas Eve biscuits).
Marinuotos  silkės su grietine
6 pickled herring,  drained
1 large onion,  minced
6 hard-boiled eggs,  chopped
1 apple,  chopped
1 tsp.  lemon juice
1  cup sour cream
1/4 tsp.  salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsps. freshly chopped dill or parsley
Cut  the  herring  into  small  cubes. Combine with the onion, eggs, apple and lemon  juice  in  a  bowl.  Mix  the  sour cream, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir into  the herring mixture.  Sprinkle with  dill  or  parsley.  Serve  with  dark bread.

Lydeka drebučiuose
1 1/2 lbs.  soup greens
1  (3- to 4-lb.)  whole pike,  cleaned
1  Tbsp.  lemon juice or vinegar
2 to 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 hard-cooked egg,  thinly sliced
1  carrot,  thinly sliced,  cooked Parsley
Salt, pepper and bay leaf to taste
Place the soup greens, salt, pepper, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Add enough wa­ter to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer for  5  to  10  minutes.  Add the fish to the broth mixture. Simmer over low heat for  15  to 20  minutes or until the  fish  flakes  easily.  Remove  the  fish carefully  and  place  in  a  deep  dish  or decorative  mold.  Strain  the  broth,  re­ serving enough  to  cover  the fish  com­pletely (2  to 4 cups).  Season the broth with lemon juice and salt. Add the gel­atin,  using 2  envelopes for each  1  cup of broth.  Stir  until  the  gelatin  is  dis­ solved.  Pour  the  broth  over  the  fish. Chill,  covered,  until  the  gelatin  is  set. Serve in the dish or turn out mold onto a  platter.  Decorate  with  slices  of egg, carrot and parsley.