• Potato whistles with chanterelles (Baltic by Simon Bajada)

Known to the people of the Aukštaitija region in Lithuania as bulbona, these potato pillows are more commonly called Švilpikai, which literally translates as ‘whistles’ due to the noise they sometimes make while they cook away in the oven. 

Serves
6

Preparation

30min

Cooking

1hr

Skill level

Easy
By
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These are another of the Baltic’s ‘100 Ways with Potato’ and in some ways resemble gnocchi, as they are commonly tossed through a sauce when serving.

This dish is likely to have evolved out of resourcefulness, when mashed potato would have been left over from a previous meal. Any mushrooms will work here but the forest royalty that is the chanterelle lends the creamy sauce its particularly delicious nutty flavour. This recipe is vegetarian, though traditionally the creamy sauce is often made with bacon, onion and dill, which is also delicious!

Ingredients

  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) starchy potatoes (such as russet, desiree or king edward)
  • 100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) plain flour, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) sharp cheddar, finely grated
  • white pepper, to taste
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 80 g (2¾ oz) butter
  • ½ small leek, white part only, finely diced
  • 150 g (5½ oz) chanterelles or other mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and larger ones halved
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) pouring (single/light) cream
  • 1½ tbsp chopped chives, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

1. Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain well, and leave to cool and dry out, then peel and mash.

2. Gently mix the flour, cornflour, salt, egg, cheese, pepper and nutmeg together with the potato in a large bowl to form a dough (be careful not to overwork it as this will make it glutinous).

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

3. Lay the dough out onto a floured surface and, using your hands, roll it out into a long cylinder approximately 60 × 10 cm (24 × 4 in). Flatten off the top of the cylinder with your palms, then cut the cylinder in half lengthways. Cut each half on a 45° angle into 5 cm (2 in) wide diamonds, placing the diamonds on the prepared baking trays as you cut them and cleaning the knife blade between cuts to prevent it sticking to the dough. You should end up with 25–30 whistles.

4. Sprinkle the whistles with a little flour, dot with 50 g (1¾ oz) of the butter and bake for 30 minutes, until browning on the edges and slightly puffed in appearance.

5. Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan over a low heat, add the leek and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another minute, then add the whistles and gently mix together. Season well with salt and pepper, then pour over the cream and gently mix again. Remove from the heat, cover with foil and leave to sit for 2 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Serve topped with chopped chives.

 

Note:

The cheese in the sauce here isn’t traditional, but I find it adds extra flavour and helps bind everything together; this sauce can also be served separately with the whistles straight from the oven, if you like. Alternatively, the whistles can be covered in the sauce before being baked, but I prefer the method here as it gives them a better consistency.

 

Recipe and photography from Baltic by Simon Bajada (Hardie Grant, RRP $50)