115. Latvia: Potato Pancakes with kotletes (meatballs)

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When I think of Latvia I think cold and woods full of pine trees. Which is not wrong, but not the only things identifying Latvia. First of all it one of the least densely populated countries in the European Union with only 2 million inhabitants. (compared to where I live in the Netherlands, 18 million people!!!) Nearly half of the entire population lives in the capital Riga. The capital is an interesting mixture of somber Sojvet and ancient medieval buildings. Apart from the large forests, there are also beautiful beaches,  During Soviet times they were zoned off as a high-security military base, strictly out of bounds to civilians. The region’s development was stunted and today the desolate coastal villages feel as though they’ve been locked away in a time capsule.

Schermafbeelding 2017-11-21 om 21.10.20

Things you didn’t know about Latvia:

  1. Over 50% of Latvia is covered by forest, and it’s one of the most environmentally friendly countries on the planet.
  2. Latvia has the highest rate of fashion models per capita in the world.
  3. A Latvian-Jewish tailor invented jeans (Levi Strauss backed him financially)
  4. The Latvian culture still retains many Baltic pagan traditions, such as the celebration of the summer solstice (sees picture above), when Latvians go to the countryside to get drunk, to dance, light huge bonfires and do something called seeking the fern flower (having sex in the forest)
  5. When Swedish Vikings were at the height of their power around 1187, ancient Latvian chiefdoms not only stopped them from conquering their country but sent a fleet of ships to the then Swedish capital Sigtuna and burned it to the ground.

This recipe was kind of a bummer to be really honest, i didn’t really like the potato pancakes, they were a bit boring for my taste. The kotletes on the other hand were perfect quick easy meal!

Latvia

Ingredients Potato pancakes

  • 7 medium potatoes (around 1 lbs or 600g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tbs flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sourcream
  • Lingonberry sauce or just jam
  1. Finely grate potatoes in a large bowl. Squeeze grated potatoes and drain any excess liquid.
  2. Mix in egg, flour, salt, and pepper. Combine well.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
  4. Drop four heaped tablespoon of potato mixture into the pan and flatten it to make four pancakes.
  5. Fry, turning once, until golden brown.
  6. Serve with sour cream, lingonberry sauce, green onions and/or butter.

Kotletes

  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 lb beef
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 – 3 slices of french bread
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 Tbsp marjoram
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, plus more for dredging
  • 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • oil
  1. Soak bread in milk, reserving half a slice. Grind beef and pork in a meat grinder or food processor until coarsely ground. Saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until edges begin to brown. Drain bread mixture.
  2. Combine onions, garlic, and bread with meat. Grind or process again until finely ground, running the remaining slice of bread last to catch any left-behind bits.
  3. Mix spices, bread crumbs, two big pinches of salt and eggs into meat mixture until thoroughly combined.
  4. Form into 1/2″ thick, patties. Dredge in breadcrumbs and set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 325F.
  6. In a large skillet set over medium-low heat, add 1 tbsp oil, swirling to coat. Brown kotletes nicely on both sides.
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