Eesti toidulaud Toronto lehes

Saatsin paljudele artikli „Toronto Star'is" (see on üks neljast suuremast lehest Torontos). Küll on kena vahel näha siinsetes lehtedes Eestit kuidagi teisest küljest valgustatuna. Siin on link artiklile, kes veel pole lugenud ja link retseptidele.

Minu meelest kõige toredam oli see, kui Toomas tuli karatest ja teatas, et sensei Mark (siin üles kasvanud jaapanlane) oli lausa loo meie jaoks välja lõiganud. Siis uurinud, kas mina juhtumisi rosoljet teen, sest see olevat tema jaoks väga isuäratavana tundunud, kuna talle meeldivad peedid, hapukurgid ja soolaheeringad! Tavaliselt kirtsutatakse just viimase lisandi peale nina ning tihtipeale teevad siinsed eesti kokad rosolje ilma kalata valmis (kui on teada, et toit läheb kanadalaste ette).

Nüüd on vaja jooksuga peete minna ostma, sest retseptide lugemine ajas minulegi isu peale!

Estonian cuisine via grandma


Basic pickled herring is available at most supermarkets. It's always refrigerated, either with the jars of Straub's pickles or in a special case by the seafood department. Gourmet stores (my dad recommends Bruno's Fine Foods on Yonge St.) usually have better brands such as Abba (Sweden) and Viking (Finland). On Roncesvalles Ave., you can buy the stuff straight from the barrel at some delis – not for the faint of heart.

Beet and Potato Salad (Rosolje)

Herring plays an important supporting role in rosolje, not unlike the anchovy in a caesar salad. It's barely detectable, but adds a certain "je ne sais quoi."

If you are a serious herring-phobe, this salad is still delicious without it.


1 shallot, minced

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp dijon mustard

2/3 cup each: mayonnaise, sour cream

Salt + freshly ground pepper to taste


2 beets (about 12 oz/350 g)

3 red or white waxy potatoes (about 1-1/4 lb/600 g), cut in 1/3-inch dice

Salt to taste

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 dill pickles, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 small carrot, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup finely chopped pickled herring

Freshly ground pepper to taste

For dressing, combine shallot and lemon juice in medium bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Whisk in rest of ingredients.

For salad, put beets in small roasting pan. Add enough water to form thin layer on bottom. Cover tightly with foil. Roast in preheated 375F oven 2 hours or until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/3-inch dice.

Place potatoes in medium saucepan. Cover with water; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Season with salt. Simmer 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.

In small saucepan, cover eggs with water. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover and remove from heat. Let eggs stand 15 minutes. Drain; cool. Peel and cut into 1/3-inch pieces.

In large bowl, combine beets, potatoes, eggs, pickles, carrot, apple and herring. Season with salt and pepper. Add dressing; mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Mix again and check for seasoning.

Makes 6 servings.

Cucumber Salad with Dill (Värskekurgisalat)

This light, refreshing salad is great with cold poached fish and smoked salmon. Drying the cucumbers with paper towels helps prevent the dressing from becoming too diluted. If you don't have time for the pretty presentation, all the ingredients can be simply tossed in a bowl.

1 large English cucumber

3 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp granulated sugar

Salt to taste

1 tbsp chopped dill

Using sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice cucumber into rounds. Arrange, overlapping, in concentric circles on large plate. Pat dry with paper towels.

In small bowl, stir together vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Pour dressing over cucumbers. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Sprinkle with dill.

Makes 4 servings.

Marinated Smelts (Marineeritud Tintid)

Marinating fried fish in vinegar was a way of preserving fish in the days before refrigeration. It is a popular dish in Spain (escabeche) and Italy ("in soar" in Veneto or "a scapece" in Sicily). Sea smelts are sold whole, with the heads and guts removed, and can usually be found at Chinese fishmongers. Smelts vary in size, but you should get about 12 per pound.


2 onions, thinly sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

4 cups water

2-1/2 cups white wine vinegar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp salt

6 bay leaves

2/3 cup chopped dill


2 lb (900 g) sea smelts, heads removed, gutted (about 24)

Salt + freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil for frying

For marinade, combine onions, carrots, water, vinegar, sugar, salt and bay leaves in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in dill.

For fish, pat smelts dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge fish in flour, shaking to remove excess. Discard remaining flour.

Pour 1/4-inch oil into large skillet and heat on high. When oil is hot, fry fish in batches, 1 minute per side, until lightly golden. Drain on paper towel. Cool.

In large, rectangular, non-reactive dish, pour in some marinade. Pack in one layer of smelts. Cover with more marinade. Repeat with remaining smelts and marinade. Cover and refrigerate. Allow fish to marinate at least 24 hours.

To serve, remove smelts from marinade. Place on serving dish. Strain marinade, reserving onions and carrots, discarding liquid. Top smelts with some onions and carrots.

Makes 6 servings.

Jellied Veal (Sült)

This can be a hard sell to all but the most adventuresome of eaters. Perhaps its deliciousness would be better translated as "terrine of osso buco." If you happen to have an electric knife hiding somewhere, it is the best tool for slicing sült. Serve with dijon, prepared horseradish, rye bread and a simple green salad. Buy pig's feet from a Chinese butcher.

2 small pig's feet (each about 8 oz/225 g), rinsed

3-3/4 lb (1-3/4 kg) veal shank, cut 1-3/4 inches thick, rinsed

1 head garlic

3 bay leaves

12 black peppercorns

8 allspice berries

2 whole cloves

1 each: peeled onion, peeled carrot, celery stalk

1 leek (white and pale green parts), split lengthwise, rinsed

Salt to taste

Place pig's feet and veal shank in large pot. Add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to boil over high heat. Skim fat and scum. Reduce heat to medium.

Tie garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice and cloves in cheesecloth. Add to pot with onion, carrot, celery and leek. Season lightly with salt. Simmer 2-1/2 hours or until veal is fork tender. (If meats break surface during cooking, add more water.) Remove veal to baking tray to cool.

Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer into clean pot. Discard pig's feet, vegetables and spice bag. Bring broth to boil over high heat. Skim fat and scum. Cook until reduced to 3 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Generously season with salt. Strain. Cool on counter, about 1 hour. (If you refrigerate, it will start to gel.)

Line 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Remove meat from veal shanks, discarding bones, fat and sinew. Shred meat with fingers; add to loaf pan. Pour cooled broth over meat. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.

To unmould, gently tug plastic wrap to loosen sides. Tip pan onto cutting board and shake loose. Remove plastic wrap. Using sharp knife, cut into slices.

Makes 8 servings.

Apple Cake (Õunakook)

Cardamom is a popular spice in Scandinavian baking. Grinding it fresh produces a far more fragrant cake. To get 1/2 teaspoon, pick the seeds from 15 green cardamom pods and finely crush them using a mortar and pestle.

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into thin wedges

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Set aside.

In stand mixer fitted with paddle, cream butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed. Reduce speed to low and add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, until combined. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. On low speed, slowly add flour mix in three stages alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down bowl. Mix on low until smooth.

Pour batter into greased, floured 12-by-8-inch baking dish. Arrange apple slices, barely overlapping, in neat rows on batter. (You may not need them all.) Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake on middle rack in preheated 350F oven until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove and cool.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Marinated smelts, pickled herring and jellied veal are not foods the average kid craves. But at my grandmother's dinner table, they were savoured like hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries. And while she didn't influence my decision to become a chef, her traditional Estonian cooking will always hold a special place in my belly.

Grandma taught me a few culinary tricks over the years, and after she passed away, I inherited her ancient recipe books. Armed with a chef's palate and an Estonian-English dictionary, I've been busy decoding my grandmother's recipes and discovering the world of Estonian cuisine.

The foods of this tiny Baltic nation were shaped by what could be grown, caught and raised, and stored and preserved over long winters. It's hearty fare, reflecting the country's peasant roots. Straddling Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Estonia shows influences from both these worlds.

Meat is predominantly pork. Popular vegetables include cabbage, beets and the beloved potato. Common grains are barley and rye, the latter used to make sweet-and-sour rye bread, an Estonian staple dating back to the 12th century. Spices include dill, caraway, cloves and bay leaves. Fish is also an important part of the Estonian diet, especially pickled herring.

My grandmother, who grew up on the island of Hiiumaa, was so fond of pickled herring that she made us smuggle it into her nursing home against doctor's orders. One day, she was so excited to get her shipment that she hastily ripped open the container, spraying her bedside table with fishy brine and destroying a $250 phone for the hearing-impaired. For a taste of herring, this was acceptable collateral damage.

The most distinctive Estonian dishes were served as part of a celebration, whether it was our birthday Kringel, an almond-studded brioche shaped like a giant pretzel, or Valgevorst, barley sausages served with lingonberry jam on Christmas Eve.

On holidays such as Easter and Christmas, my grandmother would put out a room-temperature smorgasbord (called külmlaud). The spread would include potato salad, cucumber salad, pickled beets, cold cuts, marinated fish, smoked salmon, devilled eggs and dark rye bread.

My two favourite dishes on her külmlaud were Sült, cooked veal in aspic, and Rosolje, a violet-coloured potato salad with beets and herring. I once asked my grandmother how she made sült and her response went like this:

"You cook-it the veal with the pig's feet."

"What cut of veal do you use, Grandma?"

"The one with the bones."

It was moments like this that made me appreciate the kindred connection between grandmothers and chefs. They both cook using instinct, memory and taste, and, if something is actually written down, it's more of a shopping list than a proper recipe.

Luckily, I had once made brawn (British headcheese), which is similar to sült. I took "the one with the bones" to mean veal shank, braised it with pig's feet for natural gelatin, and vegetables and spices for flavour. My grandmother formed her Sült in a bowl, but I used a loaf pan to cut slices. "It's very good," my father said of my Sült. "It's not as Jell-O-y as Grandma's, but I think the average person would like it better."

For Rosolje, her recipe needed translating from Estonian. Since I don't speak the language, it would have been faster if my father had just done it. But Grandma would be happy to know I was learning some Estonian words other than "paha poiss" (bad boy).

Everything was straightforward until the dressing: "1.5 hapukoort ehk majonees," which translates to "1.5 sour cream or mayonnaise." One and a half cups of dressing seemed right, but did she use sour cream or mayo? Guessing it was both, I made the dressing with an equal ratio and jazzed it up with lemon juice and dijon mustard. My father's verdict on the Rosolje: "Mmm ... mmm ..."

Not every dish went as smoothly. Her apple cake, a childhood favourite, turned out dense. "It's like pound cake," I said diplomatically. "More like six-pound cake," my father joked. I reduced the amount of milk and increased the baking powder, achieving a result that was "closer to the truth."

Some recipes I have yet to nail down. Skumbria is a cold dish of fish marinated in a sweet-and-sour sauce whose main ingredient is ketchup. Named after a type of mackerel that was originally used to make the dish, it was always referred to as "red fish" in our family. There were no measurements in Grandma's recipe, and after a couple of less-than-perfect tries, I put it on the back burner. There is only so much Skumbria one man can eat.

Part culinary anthropology, part mad science, learning my grandmother's recipes is an ongoing project. Next on my list is Pirukad, little savoury turnovers that are very labour-intensive. I also can't wait to make her meatballs and cabbage rolls, two recipes she had clipped from a Swedish magazine.

Family recipes may not have the monetary value of a silver tea service or antique table, but they should be equally treasured. These culinary keepsakes don't need polishing or insuring, they just need to be cooked, shared and loved. Getting future generations of Vellends to love jellied veal is another story.

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