Midsummer and Midsummer, or summer solstice, is one of the biggest Latvian festivals. They are celebrated on 23 and 24 June and are two days and nights full of food, singing and dancing. Tradition calls for the house to be decorated with flowers, birch, oak and rowan trees, beer to be brewed, cheese to be tied and food to be served at the festive table. Although it is the shortest night of the year, it can be hard work for the hosts, as no one is allowed to sleep to ensure good health and cheerful spirits in the coming year. The night is spent singing, eating, drinking, lighting the fire (and jumping over it to ward off evil spirits and illness) and searching for the magical fern flowers (a symbol of fertility, if you catch my drift).
- 3l whole milk
- 1kg cottage cheese
- 2 lightly beaten eggs
- 100 g butter
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 50×50 cm cheese cloth
- Pour the milk into a large saucepan and add the cottage cheese. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.
- After 15-20 minutes, the milk and cheese will separate to form yellow-green whey.
- While the milk and curd are heating, melt the butter in a separate saucepan over low heat.
- Place a fine sieve over a large bowl and pour the mixture into the sieve. When well drained, add the cheese mixture to the pot with the melted butter.
- Turn the heat to low and stir the cheese mixture into the butter. Add the egg, cumin and salt and mix well. Heat the mixture for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. It will thicken and the curd will become more visible.
- Place the sieve in a strainer and pour the mixture into it. To ‘tie’ the cheese, pinch the corners of the cloth together and twist them until a bundle of cheese forms.
- Place the cheese parcel in a bowl, cover it with a plate to add weight and place the bowl in the fridge.