Thursday, September 01, 2005
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.