Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Waiter, there's something in my ... Easter basket!

The third round of Waiter, there is something in my... is hosted by my dear friend Johanna, and the theme is Easter basket. Johanna wants us to share

"with us and the wider food blogging community anything that yells "Easter!" at you, be it that honey-glazed ham or herb-crusted spring lamb that is traditionally made in your neck of the woods, a gorgeous chocolate torte that you've tucked into every year since you can remember, your granny's famous hot cross buns or a brioche loaf sprinkled with rock sugar..."

So, what will be in our Easter basket here in Tallinn, Estonia? Of course there will be the Estonian Easter pudding pashka, a pressed milk curd dessert with raisins, which I prefer to make with dried cranberries (or 'craisins') instead, as these make the pashka look like it's studded with red jewels:) Here's what I made a year ago in Edinburgh:

As I wrote last year, then Easter indeed means eggs in Estonia, but not necessarily of the chocolate kind. Indeed, it's barely over a week until Easter, and I haven't seen any prominently placed over-sized chocolate eggs in the supermarkets at all!! Still, there will definitely be lots of eggs on the table - mostly dyed lovely brown with the help of onion skins (see the photo above) - I much prefer those to the bright artificially coloured eggs. If you've got visitors during Easter, then you exchange coloured eggs with them - the prettier, the better, of course.

There's also a special game we play with those eggs - munakoksimine. First you make a wish - and keep it to yourself, of course. Then you hold an egg in your palm and tap the top of the egg against the top of the other person's eggs, trying to crack the opponent's egg. If you succeed, then you win the game and your secret wish comes true. It's essential, however, that your own egg stays intact and uncracked!!! There are lots of tricks how to enhance the changes of your egg not cracking (I've learned them from my dear dad), but I'm not sharing them here, as I've got plenty of secret wishes to make in the upcoming weeks :)

[PS Just read from Johanna's entry that this activity is called "egg dumping" or "egg jarping" in England (see Wikipedia). My Estonian-English dictionary was obviously outdated. Oh well... (30.3.2007)]

I may also have some soft-boiled quails' eggs, seated on a carpet of chopped dill and dopped with some lightly salted whitefish/bleak roe (on the left). The combination of runny egg yolk and popping fish roe in your mouth is quite outstanding, as we realised again when snacking on these on Monday night..

In addition to having eggs in every size and colour in my Easter basket, there are quite a few baked Easter goodies I can see myself making this year.

For the last two years, I've baked a Greek Easter bread, tsoureki, which is a heavenly scented plaited bread with the unusual gum mastic and crushed mechlebe. As I've still got some of those spices left, I'll be making it again:

I'm also hoping to make the high Russian Easter bread kulitch this year. My Nordic neighbour Antti made a tempting kulitch last year, and I need to catch up with him. (Antti, maybe we should have a kulitsa cook-off?? :)

I think that's all I'll be arranging into my Easter basket this year..

UPDATE 3.4.2007: Check out Johanna's round-up post.

Here are links to my previous Waiter there is something in my ... entries:

February 2007 (PIE, hosted by Jeanne) : a great Russian puff pastry and fish pie, Salmon Kulebyaka - which would also look great on the Easter table.

January 2007 (STEW, hosted by Andrew): my version (in collaboration with Anthony Bourdain:) of the French lassic
Boeuf Bourguignon - which is probably too hearty now that Spring is in the air, but I'll be definitely making it again, and again, when the days will start getting shorter and darker.


thepassionatecook said...

well, i can't say i'm surprised, but you've outdone yourself again... i love this plaited brioche, i've never even made an attempt at one - can you show me the technique? whenever i've tried, they seem to merge together again insto one big lump!
thanks for contributing!

Anne said...

Oooh! Pashka! I'm definitely considering making it this year. I haven't had it since I was a kid, but it might just be time to recreate it :)

Mia said...

Ooh, pashka! I'll be going to our family cottage for Easter and will have of my aunt's pashka, but I've been thinking about making one at home for the catsitter... and the kulitch as well. We usually have ours with a plain plaited pullapitko though.

Freya said...

The Pashka looks beautiful! And I love the little chicken too! Great post!

neil said...

That is so harsh not sharing your secret egg cracking tricks, I'm up against pros every year and badly need some help! I love the look of the pashka.

Andrew said...

grief - better get my post ready... falling behind... just as my school mistress always said!

Callipygia said...

I think i need to leave my easter traditions behind- yours are wonderful. I have always been so intrigued by the Pasha. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela said...

It all looks so amazing!!!

Pille said...

Johanna - making the plaited tsoureki wasn't hard at all, believe me. Looking forward to the round-up of all the Easter basket entries!

Anne - pashka is essential to any Estonian Easter table, so you could maybe make one for your dad?

Deinin - the interesting thing is, that we eat our pashka plain. And then eat some sweet bread later. I only read from Antti's Doughboy blog last year, that these two go together in Finland!?

Freya & Paul - I went to my parents house last weekend to pick up the little chicken and bring it to its new home:)

Neil - my lips are sealed. They're not as nasty as Johanna's dad's tricks (he used plastic eggs, apparently????)

Andrew - glad to see you've got your cross buns baked in time!

Callipygia - so what would you usually have for Easter?

Pamela - thank you!

Mia said...

Yes, the pashka is spread over the sweet bread. I guess we have to smush things together or, with the mämmi (and all the chocolate!), there would be too many sweet dishes...

One of these years, when I have LOTS of people to feed for Easter, I'll make mämmi. And maybe even eat more than a spoonful or two.

Anonymous said...

That Paska looks so pretty with the pistachios. I have given up putting nuts in mine because they get so soggy. Does that happen to you?

I already baked my first Kulich this year, from a new recipe and it turned out...wrong. It didn't smell right or taste right. My paska recipe is is perfect. There is nothing I can add to it (though I might have to try cranberries. You're right they have such a beautiful color). But I don't have a perfect kulich recipe. What do you use?

Pille said...

Deinin - I'll smear my pasha to my kulich this year:) And I've never had mämmi - must try soon!

Kitarra - nope, I cannot remember my pistachios getting soggy at all. As for kulich recipe - I'll let you know when I'll find my favourite one. I'm still looking for it, though:)