Yeah! I’m finally post-surgery, and I’m feeling like a human again, minus a fibroid tumor and a uterus. I’m not 100% yet, but I’m getting there. I’m close to 60% after a little more than two weeks. But, thinking ahead like I usually do, I decided to keep this easy today. Plus, today is Father’s Day, and I sent my husband to go hang out at the car show with a friend of his, so he’s not here to help me. However, the kids have been fairly helpful since I’ve been home.
|This + coffee = best thing ever.|
I started out making the bread, which I’m sooooooo excited about. Instead of the black rye bread that I’ve seen mentioned as a staple of Estonian cuisine, I went with Estonian Kringle bread, or Cinnamon Braid Bread. I started off with mixing my yeast with the sugar and then stirring in the lukewarm milk, egg yolk, and melted butter. In a separate bowl, I mixed my flour and salt and poured the milk mixture in. I mixed this until it became an elastic-y dough, shaped it into a ball, and covering it in a little oil before letting it rest for an hour. Just before the hour was up, I mixed together the filling: butter, sugar, and cinnamon. After it finished resting, I got out my pastry mat and rolling pin and rolled out my dough so that it was a quasi-rectangle about 18”x12”. Spreading the filling on top of the dough, I made sure I left about a half-inch to an inch border around the edges. This is where it gets a little tricky. I rolled up my rectangle from the short side, and once it was rolled up, I took a sharp knife and cut the roll down the middle, leaving the top two inches intact. Attempting to keep the open layers facing up, I twisted the two strands around each other and then formed this braid into a wreath by pinching the two ends together. I put the wreath on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brushed the plain dough spaces with the leftover cinnamon filling. I actually found this part easier to “fingerpaint” it on rather than using a spoon. This baked at 350ºF for about 18-20 minutes until it was golden brown and smelled up my whole kitchen. This was so delicious that I really struggled to save some for my husband today. Really, really struggled.
|Yummy, yummy pork and sauerkraut.|
The main dish today was a one-pot meal: Estonian pork. I felt that it was probably on my level after doing the bread. The directions were the easiest in the world: mix everything in a pot and simmer for 2-3 hours. This recipe called for sauerkraut, pork loin, an apple, medium onion, pearled barley, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and broth (I went with chicken broth, but I also added about 4-5 cups of water to cover the pork). The only pearled barley I found was instant barley, so I added it in the pot during the last 10 minutes because I didn’t want it to get completely mushy. Really, you can’t get any better than this. My mom used to make a dish similar to this, minus the apple, barley, and brown sugar. However, we used to eat this with a piece of white bread spread with grape jelly. I grew up thinking this was normal, but apparently not everyone knows about this. Perhaps it’s an old German thing, perhaps a Hoosier German thing, perhaps just something my great-grandmother came up with. I don’t know; I should look into this. But it’s good nonetheless. Unfortunately, I only have mango jam and not grape. But I do have actual grapes, so there you go. The sweet and the sour combination is really awesome.
|Yes, I did serve this with grapes just for the sweet-sour combination.|
I loved this meal. But I have always loved this meal before I have even made it. Although I have made dishes similar to this, they weren’t quite the same as this. The variations here are ones that I will definitely keep. Albeit, I still may make my own variations. That's the great thing about recipes: you can add and delete ingredients how you like it and come up with new flavor combinations. I would probably add potatoes to the pork and sauerkraut. Or that I would like to make the bread again but with Nutella as the filling, or even fruit-filled (cherry jam or lemon curd perhaps?). This is the fun part of cooking. This is the fun part of this blog. And I’m glad I have the opportunity to keep doing this.
Up next: Ethiopia