Meatballs in a creamy sauce with buckwheat

There is no limit to variations of the meatballs and its accompanying options. This is one of them and it happened to be one of my favourites. It just reminds me of my childhood food. Back then we were not exposed to spices or exotic flavours, food was very straight forward, but never tasteless or plain. I always was amazed how with only few ingredients on hand our Mums and Grandmas managed to come up with accomplished dishes. One of the keys is seasoning. No matter what you are seasoning with, just season and taste, season and taste, until you reach the desired flavour.

I chose to serve it with the buckwheat, just because I love it for its nutty flavour and health properties, but it goes well with pasta, rice or mashed potato.

MEATBALLS IN A CREAMY SAUCE WITH THE BUCKWHEAT

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

500g of your preferred mince (I like to use half & half beef & pork or just turkey)

1 white bread roll or 2 slices of bread

150ml milk

1 big onion, grated

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup of soured cream

1 teaspoon paprika (sweet, hot, smoked)

salt and pepper to taste

fresh dill or parsley to garnish

Method:

  1. Begin by soaking a bread roll in milk, but crumbling the bread in a small bowl and pouring over with milk. Press the bread with the fork, helping to soak up all the milk until it becomes mushy. Leave it to soak for a few minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  3. Then in a big bowl mix all ingredients for the meatballs, including the milky bread, and form the balls, any size you like.
  4. Place the meatballs into oven proof baking dish or a tray and bake for about 20-30 minutes, depends on a size of your meatballs, or until they are cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Take any heavy-bottom pan, add the butter and when it’s melted, add the flour. Keep stirring until the butter absorbs the flour, but do not allow it to burn. Then add the chicken stock, continue constantly stirring, to avoid lumps. When it thickens, add the soured cream and paprika, salt and pepper, mix well and cook for a few more minutes. Season, taste, adjust seasoning if required.
  6. When the meatballs are ready, simply add them to the pan with the sauce or serve it separately, pouring sauce over. Garnish with the fresh dill or parsley.

It also goes well with some pickles on a side, gherkins in particular.

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‘Vinegret’, which is not a salad dressing

Please do not confuse with the word ‘vinaigrette’! Vinegret is one of the Russian/Latvian vegetable salads and there are different versions why it’s called so. It can be just because the word was brought from French language (like many other words!) and ‘Russianfied’ or it can be used as a metaphoric description of miss-mash things.

This salad was particularly popular during Soviet times when it was hard to come across fresh fruits and veg, so people used more tinned produce being easier to find and stayed fresh longer. However, although you can easily get fresh vegetables now, don’t consider to swap with fresh peas, use the tined garden peas for an authentic taste.

As well as usual boiled potatoes, carrots, beets, garden peas and gherkins, some variations of vinegret contain sauerkraut. Personally, I like it this way but if you don’t or simply can’t get hold of sauerkraut, you can leave it out. Traditionally salad is served with rye bread and some sort of meat or fish, like cold cuts, sausages or herring.

You can double the ingredients for bigger crowd. Also, this salad is great to cook in advance, not only it can save you time, the taste will only improve if you leave it over night.

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VINEGRET

Ingredients:

1 pack of cooked beetroot (but NOT in vinegar)

3 potatoes

3 carrots

1 tin garden peas

1 cup drained sauerkraut

3-4 pickled gherkins

1/2 onion finely diced

2-3 tablespoons sunflower (or vegetable) oil

salt/peper to taste

handful of fresh cranberries (optional, but good addition, specially during Christmas season)

Method:

1. Wash, but do not peel the potatoes and carrots, place them in a pot of cold water, bring it to the boil, reduce the heat and continue cooking them for about 30 minutes or until the knife goes smoothly through the vegetables. Let it cool completely before peeling the skin off and dice them.

2. Meanwhile diced in roughly equal size cubes of the beets, mix them with a spoon of the oil before adding the rest of the ingredients (this way beetroot colour won’t get on other ingredients as much),then add diced gherkins, onion, place in a bowl along with drained peas. When potatoes and carrots are cool completely, peel the skin off, dice them same way, in cubes and add to the bowl, followed by sauerkraut.

3. Mix it all carefully with the rest of the oil, salt and pepper. At this stage you can always add more gherkins or sauerkraut, if you wish. Adjust seasoning and garnish with handful of fresh cranberries for an extra kick. 🙂