Rutabaga Spaghetti with Peas and Pistachios ‒ Lanttuspagetti herneillä ja pistaaseilla

The spring has been early this year, after practically no winter. I saw catkins already in February, caltsfeet flowers in March and right now finding some leftover snow is a matter of some serious search. Yesterday there were, pushing out of the ground, something green which I am almost certain was ground elder. It's definitely the time to get rid of the last root vegetables, berries in the freezer and dried nettles to make room for the fresh stuff.

This pasta dish was something I came up with one night when I came home late and hungry, from the ingredients I happened to have. This time we tried it with a bit more special twist, using a "pasta" famous among so-called paleo eaters and low carbers. By hand, it required some work, but the idea seems so great I'm seriously considering to buy a new kitchen gadget just to make sure I'll prepare this more often from now on.

- 1 large rutabaga (the bigger you can find the easier this gets)
- 2 tbsp canola oil

- 200 g frozen peas
- 1 dl roasted and salted pistachios, peeled
- 1 orange
- black pepper

Peel the rutabaga. Then take your peeler, a cheese slicer or a dedicated kitchen gadget. Try to carve out as long stripes out of the rutabaga as you can. When the whole of the yellow root is spaghettisized, steam the stripes a few minutes to get them half done. (If you prefer your spaghetti a little al dente, you can skip this step.) Then fry them on a pan with oil just enough to get some delicious browning on the edges.

You can finish the spaghetti with any of your favourite pasta sauce, but for this version, simply peel and cut the orange and then add the pieces into the pot, together with peas and pistachios. Stir. The dinner is ready when the peas have fully melted.

Nutritional values / 1387 g:
energy 987 kcal
fat 59 g
protein 35 g
carbohydrates 76 g
fiber 32 g



Pulla (also nisu or vehnänen) is one of the most wide-spread baked sweets in Finland and the base for many, many others. It's one of the things I've been asked to post and no wonder, since if traveling in Finland you're likely to meet it on every second coffee table. It's so important culturally in fact, that Finns like to describe a family doing well by saying their home smells like freshly baked pulla. It's basically just a bread roll with added sugar, but it's one of those treats so simple I felt surprised to learn that like salmiakki or dish draining closet, it's almost unknown outside Scandinavia. Then again, there are quite many other bun types around the world.

The amounts here are straight from Insanity's recipe:

- wheat flour (about 1 kg or less)
- 5 dl soy milk
- 150 g margarine
- 2 dl sugar
- 50 g yeast
- 1 tbsp cardamom
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp salt

Warm up the milk to about 42°C (feels warm to your hand but doesn't make you scream if you stick your hand into it). Dissolve the yeast in it as well as the spices and the sugar. Keep sifting in the flour and kneading the dough until it starts to let go from from your hands and the bowl it's in.

Melt the margarine and add it into the bowl as well. Keep kneading for at least another ten minutes. Cover with a towel and come back after an hour when your dough is trying to crawl out of the bowl.

Divide in about ten pieces. Roll them round between your hands and put on an oven shelf. Let them rise for another half an hour. At this point you can also butter the pullas with well sugared coffee before oven and sprinkle some sugar on them. Bake 10-15 minutes in a 200°C oven. Enjoy with coffee, tea or berry juice.

You can also add raisins into the mix to make rusinapulla; stick your finger on top of the bun, put a clump of margarine in it and sprinkle with sugar before the oven to achieve voisilmäpulla; or sprinkle almond flakes on top instead of sugar for mantelipulla.

Nutritional values / 1 pulla / 183 g:
energy 534 kcal
fat 13,9 g
protein 15,3 g
carbohydrates 86,5 g
fiber 3,8 g


Salmiakki Sauce for Seitan and Beet ‒ Salmiakkikastike seitanille ja punajuurelle

When I dine at a restaurant I find it very pleasant if the menu clearly states what's in a given dish, for example "Chili rubbed seitan steak, raspberry vinegar marinated beets and salmiakki sauce". It gives me as a customer much better idea of what to order if the name isn't just some fancy French word I don't know how to pronounce. But when I see this elsewhere, peculiarly in recipes, for some reason I find it annoying and just trying to sound fancy, for example "engine oil rubbed Tavastian soap with small stones and slowly caramellized rubber". It's really a combination of the different ingredients or even separate dishes, and guess my logic goes that this means that any given part of that plate isn't really worth repeating or at least the recipe writer doesn't believe it is. Guess I'm only annoyed because this has becme some sort of a fad among Finnish celebrity chefs. Anyway, I try to avoid that happening in my recipes, although I realize I might just have an attitude problem. Sometimes the combination of tastes truly is the more important thing than any given part of it. Taste pairing might just be the single most important part of kitchen art.

This is the case of this recipe too. Although the part needing a recipe is really just for the sauce, I couldn't help but putting a suggestion of what comes under the sauce in the headline. These three tastes are just fine on their own, but they work especially well together, so I thought to highlight the combo. The idea came from a salmiakki marinated beet starter dish, created by a salmiakki making company, but I thought to turn it into an entrée. For the seitan, I used chili in the dough and fried them well in oil. For the beets, I sliced them thin, drizzled with oil and raspberry vinegar, as well as spiced with salt and thyme before roasting them in the oven long just long enough to still have them crunchy. The portion is crowned by the sauce which has a lot subtler aroma than you might think.

- 150 g salmiakki candy (hard ones are best in this, I used Turkinpippuri) + 1 dl water
 - 4 dl strong vegetable bouillon
- 1 dl white wine
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 2 tbsp wheat flour
- black pepper
- salt

Prepare a salmiakki syrup by putting the candies in a small bowl and pouring water on them just enough to get them covered. Turn around with a spoon when you walk by. Dissolving only takes a few hours, so if you start in the previous evening, you can be sure they'll make it in time.

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan. Shift the flour on the melted stuff and stir. Pour in the stock before the roux start to turn brown (unlike in basic brown sauce). Let the sauce thicken on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the salmiakki syrup and the wine. Let the sauce reduce until the consistency is thick enough to stay on the seitan. Spice with salt and pepper according to your taste buds.

Nutritional values / 798 g:
energy 882 kcal
fat 22 g
protein 2 g
carbohydrates 144 g
fiber 1 g


Roasted Garlic Soup ‒ Paahdettu valkosipulikeitto

I recently noticed my whipped porridge in a Buzzfeed post about Finnish foods. It was an interesting listing altogether, featured many things you can find from this blog as well, like pea soup or cabbage casserole, and also reminded me of some dishes I'm yet to post, like korvapuusti or Karelian stew. But one item there didn't feel quite right. Garlic soup. Is that supposed to be some Finnish speciality? Yes, many Finns love garlic and there's even a garlic restaurant in Helsinki which serves garlic icecream, but I wouldn't call it any countryside stable. This soup I'd locate somewhere around Spain or perhaps even France.

Still, this is a perfect winter time soup to keep away flu, vampires and small-minded people. The modest outlooks don't really do justice to the wonderful complexity of the taste. Even if garlic isn't usually your cup of tea, you might still want to try this pleasantly smooth and sweet twist of it. Similarly to best of beers, the thing tastes like many things at once. You shouldn't start the cooking when your already hungry though, because it needs some time to develop all that symphony. Notice it's more of a starter than an entrée soup, though we enjoyed it paired with oven sandwiches consisting of rye bread, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked tofu, vegan sour cream and basil. The only important things in the soup are naturally the garlic roasting and onion caramelizing, but we based our version to a recipe which uses some beer as well, since hey, didn't someone just mention how good it tastes like?

- 7 whole garlics
- 4 onions
- 1 l vegetable broth
- 4 dl oat cream
- 2 dl strong tasting beer (or apple cider)
- 1 dl canola oil
- 2 tbsp farin sugar
- thyme
- black pepper
- salt

Cut the garlics in half breadth-wise. No need to remove the now halved cloves from their place, just put them in an oven casserole open side above and drizzle some oil on them. Roast in a 125°C oven for 1.5 hours. Now the cloves should be quite easy to peel.

Peel and chop the onions coarsely. Pour rest of the oil in a pan and heat up. Put the onions and garlics in the pan, turn down the heat to a mild temperature. This part takes a lot of patience as it may take up to 45 minutes. You shouldn't fry the onion but let it caramelize in time. Turn them occasionally and keep a low heat to prevent them from burning. They're ready when they look golden and taste sweet, just like the garlics when they came out of the oven.

Add the sugar and the beer with the onions. Let the mixture come in to a boil and then quickly add the broth. Put the lid on and let the soup simmer for half an hour or so. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for a few minutes more, smooth down with a hand blender and cure your flu.

Nutritional values / 2635 g:
energy 2136 kcal
fat 133 g
protein 44 g
carbohydrates 170 g
fiber 21 g


Black Trumpet Sausage ‒ Mustatorvisienimakkara

Mustamakkara, literally "black sausage" is very likely the most famous speciality of my home city Tampere. It's basically a groat sausage which gets its Gothic colour from blood and is usually served with lingonberry sauce. For years I've had this weird urge to make a vegan version out of it (Hey why not? Edinbourgh is full of pubs serving vegan haggis.) but had absolutely no idea what I could use in it.

As I've mentioned before, there are several traditional Finnish sausage types with no meat in them. I was especially delighted to find a recipe for a mushroom sausage that is otherwise vegetarian but uses real intestines as mold. I wouldn't know how to get those even if I wanted to, but this gave me an idea of using black trumpets when mushrooms are called for. They should naturally make a black sausage, so this might be an idea in line with the name. My version is a bit different though, containing gluten flour for added firmness and fillingness.

I've never actually tasted the blood version so I did some questioning among my friends who had. Apparently some versions do taste like blood while others don't. That sounded like a relief. While you could easily add an effervescent tablet to bring the iron taste into this, it doesn't sound like something I'd really like my sausage to taste like. Especially when black trumpets have such a discreet taste on their own.

- 300 g salt-pickled black trumpets
- 5 dl water
- 4 dl gluten flour
- 2 dl oat cream
- 1.5 dl whole barley grains
- 100 g fresh soy cheese
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- white pepper

Cook the barley in salted water. Mince the garlic. Rinse and drain the mushrooms couple of times, then cut them into smaller pieces. Mix all the ingredients except the gluten flour. Start kneading the flour into the rest by your hand, a small amount at a time, to get it evenly mixed with the rest of the sausage. If there seems to be too much of the dry stuff, add a dollop of water, but carefully, since you don't them to become too soggy.

Take a fistful of the mass and roll into a bar. Wrap into folio and roll some more. Repeat for the rest of the mass. I got myself six large sausages from this amount. Bake in a 175°C oven for an hour. Enjoy as a snack or on the dinner, preferably with lingonberry or cranberry sauce.

Nutritional values / 1 sausage / 242 g:
energy 308,5 kcal
fat 11,5 g
protein 29,3 g
carbohydrates 22,5 g
fiber 4,5 g


Green Lasagna ‒ Vihreä lasagne

This is already the third lasagna recipe in this so-called Finnish-style food blog. None of my lasagnas have been exactly traditional though, and my personal twist is using more Finnish ingredients in the place of those typical to Italian kitchen. So before, I've replaced your average white wheat noodles with something as imaginary as finncrisps and zucchini. In the version at hand I used what I had at hand and ended up doing a green sauce instead of the tomato-based red one. Next time I thought to try making the white sauce too a bit differently, from nuts. That was even better but ended up too dry, especially on the surface, so this final recipe I'm posting now is the third incarnation in the development process. Feel free to substitute the dark green veggies according to availability and season.

- 12 spinach lasagna noodles (or regular full corn noodles)
- 3 dl lupin seeds or lentils
- 200 g cashew nuts
- 150 g frozen spinach
-1.5 dl dry and crunched nettle
- 1 broccoli or 150 g kale
- 1 onion
- 100 g pesto (or a bunch of fresh basil if you're growing a window garden, plus some extra oil and salt)
- 100 g melting soy cheese
-  3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- nutmeg
- black pepper
- white pepper
- salt

If possible, put the cashews in water during the previous night so they'll soften up. Soaked nuts are easier to blend with your average kitchen equipment. Use the water as well, so the consistency is on the runny side. Spice with garlic, white pepper, nutmeg and salt.

Chop the onion and sauté it lightly in oil. Add the broccoli and then the frozen spinach too. When the spinach has melted, add the lupins and half a litre of water. Crumble in the nettle, spoon in the pesto and sprinkle with black pepper. When the lupins are done, check the consistency of the sauce. You probably need to add water, but don't make it so runny it doesn't stick on the noodles.

Cover the bottom of an oven casserole with the lupin sauce. Layer with noodles. Cover the noodles with the cashew sauce. Repeat the process three to four times. See that the white layer is the top one. Sprinkle with soy cheese. Bake in the lowest shelve of a a 175°C oven for about 45 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for a moment before cutting so the layers hold together nicer.

Nutritional values / 1556 g:
energy 3263 kcal
fat 201 g
protein 151 g
carbohydrates 219 g
fiber 47 g


Rutabaga Casserole ‒ Räätikkäloora

Somehow I've managed to forget posting one of the four classic casseroles of the Finnish Christmas table. The others are of course carrot casserole, potato casserole and liver or in my case, raisin casserole. As a replacement of some sort I have remembered rutabaga cubes in syrup though. Nothing wrong with that, but here's the true classic, too. While potato and carrot only became common relatively recently, rutabaga is something you might call original part of the standing table, after all.

- 1 kg rutabaga
- 2 dl oat cream
- 1 tbsp dark syrup
- cinnamon
- clove
- allspice
- breadcrumbs and margarine to top with

Peel and cube the rutabagas. Steam them soft. Mash smooth and mix together with the cream and the spices. Spread in a casserole and finalize by sprinkling breadcrumbs and margarine pieces. Bake for an hour in a 175°C oven.

Nutritional values / 1283 g:
energy 849 kcal
fat 45 g
protein 16 g
carbohydrates 96 g
fiber 21 g
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