A Love Letter to Latvia’s Rye Bread

Everyone requires a failsafe strata recipe in their toolbox, especially at joyful times of the year, or, without a doubt, any time when your house is checked out by crowds of individuals. This thrifty turn-of-the-century variation of bread pudding is among the most effective means to feed a big group of people conveniently, cheaply, and with minimal fuss for optimal result.

“Strata” naturally, describes “layers,” which is the architecture of a strata: dices of toasted or day-old (or, let’s be truthful, stagnant) bread are layered with something like mushrooms, pork, or sausage, and cheese, then the whole building and construction is flooded with a creamy custard mix of eggs, milk, and also in my instance: sour lotion.

Strata made a victorious resurgence in the 1980s when Julee Rosso as well as Sheila Lukins included it in among their bestselling “Silver Palate” recipe books, which is when my household made it the focal point of Christmas or Boxing Day– or both. It is the ideal “blotting paper” if a joyful breakfast is boozy or if you’ve exaggerated the celebrations the evening before: it puts you right back on the map. Strata’s excellent allure for me is that I can construct it in advance, then let it have a great long soak over night, needing just to pop it right into the stove the next early morning, and also voila! I’m the person hosting with the mostess!

Strata was solely amusement or holiday price up until 2017, when my husband as well as I lived for a number of months in Riga, the funding of Latvia. For somebody thinking about food, Vikings, and Medieval architecture, this was a desire become a reality. I did not wait to unbox, however headed straight to Riga’s renowned Central Market, which dates back to the Hanseatic League, yet today is famously housed in three cavernous World War II airline company hangers.

It was reassuringly sufficient like my favored Moscow markets to make me feel right at home with its golden-teethed butchers knocking entire sides of lamb onto unclean butcher blocks, rosy-cheeked women in starched aprons over their nylon parkas offering thick sour cream as well as abundant butter, as well as a whole room committed to salted and smoked fish. However there were brand-new deals with in shop also, such as the delightful quince syrup, a curious potion called “balsam,” and also the astonishingly big loaves of thick, sour rye bread, which are a trademark of Latvian food.

At first, my husband and also I struggled to get through also half of a loaf of Latvian rye before it started to set. As I began to understand Riga’s foodies better, I found out the lots of means these silently ingenious as well as creative people parlay their leftover bread prior to it goes stagnant: right into rusks, breadcrumbs, croutons, as well as many deliciously right into mouth-watering bread pudding treats. It was then that I started to play around with these suggestions in my own Riga kitchen, and that is just how this version of strata evolved.

While I’ve appreciated it with pork as well as sausage, I locate that flakes of oily smoked fish, briny capers, and sharp shallots and scallions offer the very best comparison to the unique taste of Riga’s thick, sour, as well as truly spectacular rye bread.

What complies with is maybe not so much as dish, as long as a love letter to Riga’s wonderful food culture, which makes every day a holiday.

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