Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cooking Estonian: buckwheat and mushrooms

To be really honest, this probably does not really pass for an Estonian national dish. It’s probably more typical of Russian kitchens. But buckwheat is quite a common ingredient in Estonia, as are mushrooms. And as it’s unlikely that any of you have come across something like this earlier (am I right?), and as it is introduced by an Estonian blogger, let's call it an Estonian dish:)

I had some mushrooms left over from the other day, and as I'm on a budget at the moment, I decided to use something that I already had in my cupboard for cooking and spotted a box of buckwheat flakes. A quick look into my Estonian language recipe site inspired me to combine these two in an oven pie. That’s what I had for supper last night and I enjoyed it. My Estonian friend Maarika popped by on her way home later and had 2 portions for dinner and approved heartily as well. It’s comfort food and not something you’d serve at a dinner party, neither does it lend itself for a romantic meal with your sweetheart (for the latter occasion, you may want to look for inspiration in this book). But as a lovely weeknight meal, it’s perfect.

It’s also suitable for vegetarians and those on gluten-free diet.

Buckwheat and mushroom oven pie

You need either buckwheat or buckwheat porridge flakes (on the right) for this. I used the latter – these are pre-cooked buckwheat flakes that only take about a minute or two on the hob when you make breakfast porridge. Buckwheat is a lovely versatile grain – it has a slightly unusual nutty flavour, and it’s full of all kind of nutrients. While buckwheat flour is probably widely available across the world so you could make Japanese soba noodles or Russian blinis, it’s unlikely you find buckwheat grain or flakes in your regular supermarket if you live outside Eastern or Central Europe. It took me a while to source some in Edinburgh, but most health food and ethnic shops would probably stock it.

That’s what you do:
Prepare a buckwheat (or buckwheat flake) porridge using a mushroom stock (I used a mushroom stock cube).
Fry a chopped onion or two and chopped mushrooms gently in oil.
Mix the buckwheat porridge, mushrooms and onions and put the lot into a greased oven dish (NB! Can be made in small ramekins for individual portions).
Cover with a layer of sour cream/crème fraiche/thick plain yogurt.
Sprinkle some grated cheese on top.
Put into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the dish is lightly golden brown on top.

Garnish with a dill sprig or two and serve.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing an Estonian (ok, Russian-Estonian) dish! This sounds like something I'd like as I like mushrooms and "cereal-y" things. I have never had buckwheat and I have no idea what my chances are of finding it here (sigh), but you just gave me an idea when you mentioned health food store...will check that out :-)

Anonymous said...

The trouble with chantarelle mushrooms is, of course, that they are either f*ing expensive, or glow at night thanks to the Chernobyl accident.
Does anyone have an afforable (mailorder) source for chantarelles farmed on clean soil?

Anonymous said...

Ooops - this recipie doesn't use chantarelles. Anyway. The question holds.

Spinning Girl said...


Spinning Girl said...

ei viitsi retsepte lugeda; vaatan hoopis pilte.

Pille said...

Joey - did you find buckwheat in your local health food shop?

W7 - well, the chantarelles I got in Estonia didn't glow in the dark:) but indeed, mushrooms should be picked from rather clean environment, as they immerse all bad stuff easily. Cheap mail-order? Don't know, unfortunately. But my Russian friends in Edinburgh go mushroom picking every autumn and they promised to take me along. Too late for chantarelles, I'm afraid, but there should be other mushrooms..

Spinning Girl - ega peagi lugema. Mu kallim käib ka ainult pilte vaatamas:) Ja aeg-ajalt söömas:)

Anonymous said...

I think it is a purely Estonian dish, Russians are very fond of buckwheat, but I've never seen anything like this in Russia. Will certainly try it! Looks delicious!

Pille said...

Thanks for clarifying this, Galina! I have always thought of buckwheat as Russian (maybe because of 'kasha'?), but if you've never heard of it, maybe it's indeed Estonian combination. Let me know what other Russians thought of its origins.
(And remember, we once had a similar discussion about 'pasha' - in Estonia it's known as originating from Russia, whereas you weren't familiar with this Easter dessert. But then again, Russia is huge, so there are variations between regions. Maybe our perception of Russian cuisine is based on the foods of Pskov/Saint Petersburgh region).
Anyway - maybe I can bring some along next time we meet for dinner:)