30.12.09

Ice Cream for Troll Winter ‒ Jäätelö taikatalveksi

Forecasts promise -11°C for New Year's Eve and I'm making ice cream! Yeap, I know that sounds idiotic but I just bought a pile of Christmas presents for myself, including a cook book about tofu. It made me realize you can make ice cream from soft tofu so I had to try. Of course I knew puréed tofu gives soups and smoothies a fantastic silky structure but somehow I had previously assumed you'd need cream to make ice cream.

First I thought I'd use glögi spices but then those more ethereal flavours drove over. There's no point in repeating the same things you have in the gingerbread crumbles. Think this is a wonderful dessert option for all those heavy chocolate boxes everyone has lying on the table this time of the year. And actually, a pretty healthy one as well.

The name refers to a book of Tove Jansson where Moomintroll wakes up in the middle of his hibernation, feeling all cold and alone. I can so relate to that. I'm almost certain that I ought to hibernate during wintertime but the society forces be to stay up.

- 200 g lingonberries
- 3 tablespoons lingonberry jam
- 400 g soft tofu (If you're making hemp tofu for this just forget the pressing part.)
- 3 dl gingerbread crumbs (The lovers of the unbaked paste can try rolling small balls out of raw gingerbread.)
- heather flowers
- lavender flowers (Just a hint since their scent unfortunately associates with perfume and you wouldn't want to eat perfume. It's the same problem with spearmint and tooth paste.)

Leave the frozen berries on the table for a moment to soften them up enough so you can crush them. Whip everything but the gingerbread crumbs together and stick the bowl into freezer. (Don't press the tofu even if you normally would.) Stir occasionally to break down any forming ice crystals. When you start to have hard time with the stirring (after about five hours) throw in the gingerbread crumbs and freeze one more hour. Serve with a hot drink.

The freezing of tofu ice cream seemed to be taking longer than normally and then again, it seemed to freeze really thoroughly. (This may be just due to the berries.) So thoroughly that if you don't eat it right away you have to leave it on the table for about an hour before serving in order to scoop anything out of it. The partly frosted, partly melted structure on the other hand is just heavenly.

Nutritional values / 690 g:
energy 512 kcal
fat 16 g
protein 25 g
carbohydrates 66 g
fiber 16 g

28.12.09

Beetroot and Pea Loaf ‒ Punajuuri-hernemureke

We usually spend the Yule eve at my spouse's mum since his siblings gather there as well and then go to see my parents on the Yule day. We don't buy much gifts but think it's nice to bring something special for the dinner table. Knowing his family, my spouse convinced me we should make them a seitan roast, along these lines. After all, the only hardcore carnivore on the table was his big brother, the chair of the local hunting club, but even he hadn't eaten pig for a year. And to my surprise, instead of thinking seitan as a fake ham they seemed to like it, even though I myself thought there was too much spices and the experiment with rye flour had made the structure rather sandy.

My parents on the other hand have a history of being much harder to please. I'd like to think they've stopped mocking my vegetarianism cause they now realize I'm a responsible grown-up and have started enjoying my dishes since I've become a better cook but actually, think the change happened when I dragged home a 34-year old, hairy, oveweight and loud guy who refused to eat meat. The power of example is amazing. Still, for them, I thought the beetroot and pea loaf from the book Härkäpapua sarvista (Irina Somersalo & al., Multikustannus 2007) would be a safer option.

Last time I tried something like this was a fiasco (lacking of taste and crumbling apart) so this time I wanted to follow a recipe rather faithfully. The medley of different herbs is naturally very dominant, and since there are so many of them you can't really put your finger on any specific one. Somehow I thought they made the loaf taste more like summer than Yule but liked the result anyway. It doesn't make a centerpiece for a dinner table but it's a good sidekick on the fancier side.

Pea layer:
- 1 dl crushed peas (or 3 dl cooked peas)
- 3 dl water
- 2 potatoes
- 0.5 dl buckwheat flour
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 0.5 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon herb salt

Beetroot layer:
- 2 large beetroots
- 1 potato
- 0.5 dl buckwheat flour
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 0.5 teaspoon dried sage
- 3 teaspoon parsley
- 0.25 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon herb salt

Cook the peas with the two potatoes in scarce amount of water. Let them cool down. Then mash and mix with the other ingredients of the pea layer. Cook the beetroots with the potato (again, with minimum amount of water so you won't have to waste any taste into the sewer). Cool down as well. Mash them smooth with the rest of the beetroot layer ingredients (you can either smooth down the onion in a blender or such like the rest or just chop crunchy pieces out of it).

Butter a mold. Pour in the pea layer and spread it even. Pour the beetroot layer on the pea layer and spread even as well. Cook 40 minutes in a 200°C oven in a water bath (this can be achieved by placing the mold into a larger casserole where you pour some water).

Serve cold. Enjoy with some perky sauce or slice on crackers.

Nutritional values / 1055 g:
energy 771 kcal
fat 2 g
protein 33 g
carbohydrates 149 g
fiber 24 g

25.12.09

Barley and Raisin Casserole ‒ Ohra-rusinalaatikko

Happy Yule! The Sun has born again! You can clearly see how the day is now longer again... Well, at least if you use a lot of imagination.

One of the four classic casseroles of the Finnish Yule table is liver casserole. That's something bound to divide opinions even amongst meat eaters. Some get repulsed by the sheer idea of eating organs while I remember loving it as a child. One person I know even explained she's a vegetarian most of the time but has this perversion (that's the term she used herself) of eating a whole liver casserole once a year.

Making a vegan version without that dreaded body part isn't complicated at all but it's much harder to make up the name. Yeast is what gives a special flavour into this but using it in the name has the same problem as its predecessor: doesn't sound too appealing, no matter how quickly the stuff tends to vanish at our home. So instead I named this after the other distinctive ingredient, raisin though I think I could try some dried berries next year instead. Feel free to suggest a better title.

The original version of this was posted here.

- 2 dl barley grains
- 2 dl soy crumbles (TSP)
- 0.5 dl soy sauce
- 1 red onion
- 1 dl raisins
- 2 dl oat cream
- 2 tablespoons dark syrup
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 100 g yeast paté (for example Tartex or Marmite)
- 2 tablespoons margarine

Soak the raisins in water. Cook the barley. Chop the onion and sauté together with the soy crumbles and soy sauce. Mix all the ingredients in a buttered casserole. Top with margarine pieces. Bake 45 minutes in a 175°C oven. Enjoy with lingonberry cram.

Nutritional values / 800 g:
energy 1613 kcal
fat 73 g
protein 55 g
carbohydrates 180 g
fiber 37 g

23.12.09

Tuuvinki

There are four standars casseroles in the standing Finnish Yule table: carrot, rutabaga, liver and potato. The idea is to take just couple of spoonfuls of each so they'll form a colourful medley of tastes. They're designed to get better and better when rewarmed again and again during those magical days of night.

My definite favourite of these is the potato version tuuvinki that is sweetened naturally. Some people just use dark syrup or sweet potato instead of waiting but I call that cheating.

- 1 kg potatoes (floury variety)
- 4 dl oat milk
- 2 tablespoons wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons margarine

Cook and mash the potatoes. Add the wheat flour (as well as some water if the potatoes seem dry) and pour the mashed potatoes into a casserole. Leave to sweeten in a warm place for a night. If you don't have one set your oven to the lowest temperature possible and keep the mash there for a few hours.

Taste. If the potatoes haven't sweetened enough on their own (= the place you chose wasn't warm enough) you can pour in a tablespoon of dark syrup at this point. Stir in the other ingredients as well. Top with margarine pieces. Bake 3 hours in a 150°C oven.

Nutritional values / 1451 g (also see Fineli):
energy 1033 kcal
fat 25 g
protein 22 g
carbohydrates 174 g
fiber 20 g

22.12.09

Rosolli

Happy Winter Solstice!
Well, actually that was yesterday but I was celebrating it in Estonia. That's when the holiday starts for me, lasting all the way to Talvennapa (January 13th), supposedly the coldest day of the year. Meanwhile, the Sun is sleeping so we have to light candles instead and feast.

One of those dishes that really make my Joulu is rosolli. Think I could eat a whole bucket of it. Rosolli or sallatti is a simple beetroot salad known in all of northern side of Europe from Netherlands to Russia. The name rosolli comes from Russian rosol, meaning salty. Of course everybody uses a bit different amounts, some leave apple or onion out altogether and some even put salted herring in it. But here's a recipe to start with.

- 4 beetroots
- 3 potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 1 apple
- 1 onion
- 2 pickles

Cook and peel the root vegetables. Cut all the ingredients into cubes. Mix. Serve cold, possibly together with whipped oat cream coloured and spiced with the vinegary pickling juice of beetroots.

Nutritional values / 1350 g:
energy 475 kcal
fat 1 g
protein 13 g
carbohydrates 96 g
fiber 25 g

16.12.09

Yule Bread ‒ Joululimppu

As I've mentioned earlier, here in western Finland soft bread or limppu used to be eaten only couple of times a year. One such important holiday was ‒ and still is ‒ Joulu or Yule. My idea of a proper joululimppu involves black skin, softness, sweetness and a lot of spices. Such taste needs some time to evolve.

My inspirations for this creation come mainly from mustaleipä ("black bread") of Åland islands and fairer looking but spicier joululimppu recipes. I also thought about throwing in some dried cranberries or nuts but totally forgot. Well, it's not like this would exactly need them. Ideally the bread should be baked couple of days before the actual eating but guess if I could keep my hands off for so long.

- 4 dl oat yogurt (or soy yogurt ‒ anything goes as long as it's sour)
- 3 dl rye malts
- 0.5 dl dark syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 dl rye flour

- 25 g yeast
- 3 dl wheat bran
- 5 dl dark wheat or spelt flour (This is how much I counted I'd need based on other recipes but it seemed to take quite a lot more. Next time I make this I promise to update the amount.)
- 3 tablespoons rowan jelly (just for the flavour, this can be dropped out if you don't have any)
- 1 teaspoon fennel
- 1 teaspoon anise
- powdered bitter orange peel
- some mixture of dark syrup and coffee for buttering

Mix together the yogurt, the malts, the syrup the salt and 2.25 dl rye flour. Sprinkle rest of the rye flour on the composition and cover with a towel. Leave in a warm place for a day (or two if it seems to bubble lazily).

Dissolve the yeast in a drop of lukewarm water. Add the yeast and the rest of the ingredients into the fizzy drink you made yesterday. Cover with a towel again and let it rise for 6 ‒ 8 hours.

Knead it into a semicircle or an oval. Let your loaf rise under a towel for ten minutes. Bake it 10 minutes in a 200°C oven. Butter with the syrup and coffee mixture. Bake 10 more minutes and rebutter. Wrap the loaf into folio, turn the oven to 150°C and leave the bread in there for three hours. Turn off the oven and take the bread out when the oven has gone cold.

Nutritional values / 1150 g:
energy 2705 kcal
fat 23 g
protein 77 g
carbohydrates 537 g
fiber 64 g

13.12.09

Red Onion Sauce ‒ Punasipulikastike

This quick sauce seems to be on everybody's Christmas dinner list in this animal rights forum. And no wonder. Oat, syrup and red onion form a pleasant, sweet trinity where the spices bring the final kick.

- 2 large red onions
- 4 dl oat cream
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 2 teaspoons dark syrup
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons milled black pepper
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 good punch of fresh parsley

Cut the red onions into semicircles. Sauté in oil. Pour on them everything but the parsley. Let the sauce simmer for 5 ‒ 10 minutes. Remember to stir occasionally. If your sauce looks too thick add water, and if too thin add potato flour.

Chop the parsley and sprinkle on the sauce. Enjoy together with casseroles and other Joulu dishes.

Nutritional values / 4 dl:
energy 862 kcal
fat 54 g
protein 14 g
carbohydrates 80 g
fiber 9 g

9.12.09

Plum Seitan ‒ Luumuseitan

Though I actually eat them rarely, plums are among the tastiest fruits I know, be it straight from a tree or dried ones. Chocochili's seitan dish reminded me of a simple meat dish my mum used to prepare although BBC's original pork version of it doesn't look like that at all. But at the same time, there was something so christmassy in this I thought I'd save it for December.

When I finally started cooking, I noticed I was out of vinegar so I replaced the stock part with red wine (and had to finish the rest of the bottle as well so it wouldn't turn into vinegar). Oh poor me. Also, I assumed the plums in the original are fresh ones so I doubled the amount for dried ones and dismissed the sugar. So finally, I ended up with a treat like this:

The seitan:
- 3 dl seitan flour (aka gluten flour)
- 1.5 dl pea flour (or chickpea)
- 0.5 dl soy sauce
- 0.5 dl rape oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- smoked pepper powder
- water (just enough to make it stick together, about 1 dl)

The rest:
- 1 onion (or 10 pickled spring onions)
- 10 dried plums
- 1 carrot (or celeriac)
- 4 dl red wine
- 1 dl tomato sauce
- 1 dried chili
- anise or star anise (I bet salmiakki would work as well)
- cardamom
- juniper berries

Mix the seitan ingredients. Slice into strips and drop into boiling water. Precook about half an hour (I like to season the water with some stock). Slice the onions and the carrots. Halve the plums. Combine everything in a casserole. Let the plum seitan simmer for 45 minutes in a 175ºC oven. Thicken the marinade by boiling it together in a sauce pot and return on the seitan (or if you're lazy like me, just sprinkle some potato flour on top and stir).

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Nutritional values / 1272 g:
energy 1890 kcal
fat 54 g
protein 143 g
carbohydrates 139 g
fiber 21 g

7.12.09

Karelian Pasties ‒ Karjalanpiirakat

Yesterday was Finland's Independence Day. In most countries, that's a lively carnival. In Finland it has evolved into a more dignified, even pious day, largely consisting of remembering World War II and honouring the veterans who ‒ as the only nation ‒ managed to fight back against Stalin's invasion. For my generation which doesn't even remember there ever existed a place called Soviet Union it's more about gathering together some friends, burning candles, eating well, talking about new laws that threaten our freedom of speech or right to privacy and of course, laughing at the dresses of the president's ball that YLE broadcasts every year.

While others played a game where you get a point every time you know a name of a ball guest and another one from knowing the reason they're invited I pinched up some Karelian pasties. From numerous hand-size Karelian pie types these are the ones that have an almost iconic status so I thought they'd make an appropriate snack for Independence Day. They have a thin rye crust and just about anything as a filling. Nowadays rice porridge is the filling number one and potato second but barley, talkkuna, buckwheat, carrot or rutabaga would make them a bit more "authentic" (what a terrible word). They can even have a sweet berry porridge inside. This time I used a simple turnip filling and a crust recipe straight from a flour bag.

The crust:
- 5.5 dl sifted rye flour (if you can only find normal kind you should replace some of it with wheat flour)
- 2 dl water
- 2 teaspoons salt

The rest:
- 1 kg turnip
- white pepper
- 100 g margarine
- 1 dl oat milk

Cook the turnips. Peel and mash them together with the pepper and half the margarine. While the filling cools down, mix the crust ingredients together with your hands. Roll the paste into a thin layer (use extra flour generously so it won't stick). Take circular pieces from the layer with the help of a floured water glass.

Now roll each circle into an oval. Lay a spoonful of turnip mash on it and fold the edges with your index finger and thumb, from both sides simultaneously, pinching "wrinkles" on the filling as you go along. Bake about fifteen minutes in a 275ºC oven.

Melt the rest of the margarine and add the milk into it. Butter the oven-fresh pastries from both sides and lay them into a bowl over each other. Cover with a towel and let them soften up for about an hour.

Serve hot or cold, perhaps together with tar syrup.

Nutritional values / 1785 g:
energy 2084 kcal
fat 82 g
protein 48 g
carbohydrates 284 g
fiber 78 g

5.12.09

The Weirdest Glögis

A punch of friends invited themselves at my place to throw one more pikkujoulu party. We listened to the greatest Christmas songs (like this or this) and tried the weirdest glögi ideas we could find. These are starting to get pretty far from any definition of glögi but what matters most, all turned out surprisingly delicious. Exceptionally, I'll write just one long post about them.

Carrot Glögi ‒ Porkkanaglögi

This one sounded like the most awful one so we started with it. But the drink came out quite yummy and didn't taste healthy at all.

- 1 l carrot juice
- half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon cloves
- 2 dl vodka (the bottle in the photo actually isn't vodka)

Wash and grind the lemon half (don't peel). Put the lemon and the cloves into a kettle together with the juice and let it simmer for a moment. Filter out the bits and pieces. Pour into mugs. Finalize with vodka.

Beer Glögi ‒ Olutglögi

I bought three bottles of Sinebrychoff's excellent porter for this and felt so bad in advance for having to ruin it. But no, this came out good as well though there was a bit too much ginger in relation to cinnamon.

- 1 l porter
- 2 dl water
- 1 piece of fresh ginger
- 5 cinnamon sticks

Peel the ginger piece. Let the ginger and the cinnamon sticks simmer in the water until you've caught their taste. Combine the liquid part with the beer and warm it up. Be careful not to boil the beer since it turns bitter quite easily. Beer glögi is best enjoyed while still hot.

Snowball Glögi ‒ Lumipalloglögi

The last one was the winner. There are quite many flavours in this drink but they all seemed to stand out. Sadly, the snowball itself melted all too fast.

- 1 l soy milk
- 2 dl water
- half vanilla pod
- green tea (I used a variety spiced with fruit pieces)
- spruce syrup
- 2 dl whipped oat cream
- cinnamon
(- brandy to taste)

Let the vanilla and the tea simmer in the water. Add the syrup and the milk and warm up the whole thing. Filter into mugs. Pour in some brandy if you wish. Let your guests crown the drink with a cream snowball and cinnamon.

3.12.09

Gingerbread ‒ Piparit

Warning: Keeping a food blog may cause you to try the weirdest things. Last year my spouse came home from a journey just in time for Yule so I surprised him by decorating gingerbread cookies with obscene symbols and hanging them all around our home. Knowing exactly how good I am with handicrafts I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have even crossed my mind to build a full gingerbread house if I couldn't tell about it here. The artwork in the photo is my third one and it was built together with three friends of mine. If you want to see more traditional examples gather ideas from here.

In different countries, gingerbread can mean all sorts of cakes or biscuits. In Scandinavia it means a dark, thin and crunchy biscuit with a generous amount of spices. They're eaten almost exclusively during Christmas time. Besides houses, they often have a shape of people, pigs, spruces, hearts, stars and bucks. The Finnish name piparkakku comes from Swedish pepparkaka, "pepper cake".

Here's the most basic gingerbread recipe I can think of (combining at least this and this recipe):

- 2 dl dark syrup
- 2 dl sugar
- 1 dl water
- 200 g quality margarine (for example Keiju 70 %)
- 1 l wheat flour (or spelt)
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon clove
- 1 tablespoon cardamom
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 0.5 tablespoon bitter orange peel

Melt together the sugar, the syrup, the water and the spices. Pour the hot mixture over the margarine. Keep stirring until the margarine has melted as well. Let the mixture cool down a bit and then whip it fluffier. Filter in the flour and the soda in small amounts. Leave the paste in the fridge for overnight. Try not to eat it all.

Next day you can roll the paste out into a thin layer (I recommend sprinkling some flour on the table first). Cut it into merry shapes and put them into a 200°C oven until they've gotten some nice brown colour (10-15 minutes).

If you wish, decorate the cookies with an icing made of water and confectioner's sugar. You can get a pink colour by adding a drop of beetroot juice in the icing or a blue one with bilberry juice.

When building a house you should first draw blueprints (if creating your own architectural design it helps to make a model out of cardboard). Cut the paste into flat shapes you can put together after baking. Don't forget to make a soil from the last lump to build your house on. The pieces will swell in the oven so it may be a good idea to cut the edges a little right after they come from the oven and are still soft. Let them cool down and then decorate. Glue the pieces together (and repair the broken ones) with sugar melted on a non-sticky frying pan. You need to be quick, careful and precise with this phase so a calm, grown-up assistant would certainly help. Finally, turn the collapsing side of the house towards a wall and sprinkle some more confectioner's sugar ("snow") over it to cover the ugliest seams.

Nutritional values / 1500 g:
energy 4990 kcal
fat 156 g
protein 87 g
carbohydrates 802 g
fiber 25 g

1.12.09

Food Blog of the Month \o/

Wow. Mämmi was chosen the food blog of the month by Suomalaisen ruokakulttuurin edistämisohjelma ("Program for Promoting Finnish Food Culture"). It's a three-year program started by Finnish government and aims to uplift the respect of good food. Judging by the list of the previous acknowledged blogs I'm in first-class company. Mämmi isn't even the first vegan blog that has been selected but it is the first one in English. Excuse me for repeating myself but wow!

Here are the reasons they mention:
"Mämmi on blogi, joka on selkeästi profiloitunut suomalaisen ruokaperinteen sanansaattajana. Se muistuttaa unohdetuista suomalaisista herkuista ja luo niistä omia, tuoreita versioitaan. Englanninkielisyytensä ansiosta Mämmi kertoo ruokakulttuuristamme myös ulkomaalaisille - tehden sen iloisesti ja nöyristelemättä. Blogin jokainen postaus vakuuttaa lukijansa rikkaasta ruokakulttuurista, jonka antimia voi soveltaa monenlaisen ruokailijan tarpeisiin sopiviksi."
Apparently I've managed to do something right for a change. It's been less than a year but I find food writing abnormally fun and addictive. It encourages me to try new things in the kitchen (which certainly improves at least my own nutrition) and gives the satisfaction of filling a certain empty spot in something I care about. Hope I'll stay this excited in the future as well!

29.11.09

Sauerkraut ‒ Hapankaali

Last Sunday I got to see a Unesco world heritage site called Sammallahdenmäki. It's a Bronze age burial site that was used for a thousand years. Nowadays it's a beautiful granite hill covered by colourful lichen species and a few dwarfy pines but in the beginning of the construction it must have looked completely different. The place used to lie on a seashore and the climate was subboreal, meaning the temperatures were much like those that Central Europe now enjoys. Pine hadn't arrived yet and nut trees were fairly common. Weirdly, we know more about the religious views and language of those people than such tangible things like what they ate. Judging from what was available it might have been much closer to what dietitians recommend than a typical nutrition of today, at least during the good years.

One food preparation method that was very likely used intensively was fermenting. And as a food enthusiast I of course want to learn how to do that myself. After all, fermented dishes are still something that everybody should eat on a daily basis and the commercially produced ones tend to be spoiled by pasteurizing. The classic to start with is naturally sauerkraut.

This doesn't really require a recipe but I'm going to tell you how I made it anyway. There are varying instructions out there and my chemistry knowledge is scarce so I can't really tell which ones are based on actual evidence and which are more like folklore. That's why I try to explain just the guidelines and leave the experimenting for you.

(That miserable greyness in the photo is by the way the view from my kitchen window at noon. That's the brightest it gets right before winter solstice.)

- 1 cabbage head
- 2 carrots (or other veggies)
- 1 tablespoon caraway (or other spices)
- 1 tablespoon salt

Grind or shred the cabbage and the carrots. Add the caraway and the salt. When the cabbage starts to sweat (because of the salt) start beating it with any mallet or jar available. The idea is to get so much juice out it covers the cabbage. If the cabbage has already seen it's best days it may be so dry that this never happens. In that case dissolve some salt into boiling water, cool down and pour over the cabbage.

Put the cabbage with its juices into a clean and airtight vessel (I just use glass jars with a weight on top). Press the cabbage below the juice level so it won't touch the air and rotten instead of lacto-fermenting anaerobically. Let your forthcoming sauerkraut sit in room temperature from 3 days to 6 weeks depending on how strong you want it to be. The reason for moving it into a colder storage place after couple of days in some recipes is to slow down the process. Notice the vessel will flood over unless there's a lot of empty space left. Sometimes mold appears on top but this isn't dangerous ‒ just peel it off.

When sauerkraut has stopped bubbling it should taste pleasantly tart. Don't eat if it has turned soft. The taste matures for about six months if stored well in cool temperature (like fridge). If you think it tastes too sore rinse with cold water before eating. Sauerkraut can be used as a salad, in green smoothies or even in hot dishes (though heating of course destroys the largest health benefits). It's a good habit to always add a spoonful on your dinner.

Nutritional values / 1730 g (counted from the ingredients, also see Fineli):
energy 534 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 19 g
carbohydrates 102 g
fiber 37 g

25.11.09

Cranberry Glögi with Chili ‒ Chilinen karpaloglögi

Remember when I said there are probably hundreds of glögi variants? Well, now I have this urge to try if not hundreds then at least a dozen of them. Cranberry version is still quite a standard one so I also experimented with the spices.

For once, I admit I may have exaggerated with chili ‒ maybe that challenge I talked about in the last post was still haunting in my mind. It covered most of the other flavours and started to hurt my stomach. (A note to self: remember you shouldn't use chili nearly as much for liquids as you would for the same amount of solid food.) Otherwise however, this seemed to work rather well. The structure came out surprisingly thick so if you prefer your glögi transparent use less berries.

- 200 g frozen cranberries
- 0.5 dl spruce syrup
- 1 dl water
- 1 dl dried cranberries
- dried chili
- aniseed
- cardamom

Cook the cranberries in the water so long they get mashed. Filter out most of the pieces (and use on your breakfast porridge in the next morning). Add the syrup and the spices. Let the glögi simmer for about ten minutes. Pour in the serving glasses and give the final touch with a few dry berries.

Nutritional values / 1 l:
energy 264 g
fat 1 g
protein 1 g
carbohydrates 64 g
fiber 1 g

22.11.09

Warmer Röstis ‒ Lämmitysröstit


This time of the year I tend to long for all kinds of things that warm my bones. Therefore this challenge for hot recipes circulating in Finnish food blogs seemed to come straight from heaven. I've never taken part of these before but as you may have noticed already, I use chili in everything but strawberry cake (well there's an idea), even though my own babies never seem to grow old enough to bare fruit. And so I thought I'd post a dish where chili is truly essential part and not just my personal soft spot.

Röstis are fried root vegetable patties most often made of potato. For some reason I've most found of the beet version, perhaps cause the colour won't reveal whether I've managed to grate some of my fingers in them as well. (You wouldn't believe if I told you how good I am in that. At the moment I've got a plaster in my right index finger and two smaller cuts in my left hand.)

A must spice with any beet dish is chili. The amount of course depends on your choose of species and how used you are to capsaicin. The ideal dosage should give that heavenly endorphin stimuli but not block all the taste which is what happens if there's more chili than your tongue buds can handle. In my household a good balance means about 4-5 small rawits or 1 habanero.

- 1 kg beetroot
- 3 dl soy crumbles (TSP)
- 3 dl rye flour
- 1 onion
- chili peppers
- 1 tablespoon dark syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- white pepper
- dragon's wort
- rape oil for frying (about 0.5 dl)

Peel and grate the beets. Chop and sauté the onion. Mix all the ingredients except the oil together. Pat the mush into thin discs.

Fry the röstis from both sides on a hot pan to get both a crispy surface and a soft inside. Beet turns dark when fried but don't mistake that as scorched. If you're hosting a dinner party or posting to your food blog, cut the röstis into heart shapes. Otherwise, enjoy as such.

Warmer Röstis are best accompanied by a sour sauce that softens the burning sensation a bit and emphasizes the sweetness. The next day they're terrific on a rye bread.

Nutritional values / 1659 g:
energy 1833 kcal
fat 66 g
protein 68 g
carbohydrates 238 g
fiber 71 g

20.11.09

Lingonberry Foam ‒ Vispipuuro

One of my mom's bravuras is vispipuuro, literally "whipped porridge". It's one of those traditional dishes which are sold in every basic supermarket but of course something that's been standing in a plastic jar for a month can never have that fluffy structure it's supposed to so recently I thought I'd try to make it myself for the first time. Turned out much simpler than I had thought. And oh my, it felt like I had little crispy clouds in my mouth.

I took the basic amounts from the recipe of Kamomillan konditoria since it used more lingonberries and less sugar than most. (Actually, I could do with even less sugar.) This basic recipe is easy to pimp to any occasion, for example with glögi spices.

- 5 dl lingonberries (currants are also sometimes used)
- 1 l vettä
- 1,5 dl semolina (white kind of course makes the structure even fluffier but I couldn't find anything to complain about the dark semolina I used)
- 1 dl sugar
- 0.5 teaspoon salt

Let the berries simmer in the water as long as they become mashed or take a shortcut by mashing them with a blender. Some people like to filter out the skins in which case I think it would be easier to use juice instead of whole berries. Add the semolina and let the porridge simmer for about ten minutes. Keep stirring from time to time. Add the sugar and the salt.

Now you have to keep patient. Let the porridge cool down. Here in the north, this time of the year, this is done rather quickly by forgetting the kettle outside for a moment. When it's chilled down (and hopefully not frozen) you can start whipping. The porridge should turn light pink in colour and the volume should approximately double itself.

Scoop the pink cloud into serving bowls. If you wish, add some sugar and oat cream on top.

Nutritional values / 1505 g:
energy 828 kcal
fat 4 g
protein 16 g
carbohydrates 181 g
fiber 15 g

18.11.09

Glögi

Glögi is a hot drink known all around Scandinavia. Today it's mostly associated to this dark time preceding Joulu. The spices used in it sound rather exotic since the present form originates from the homes of Swedish-speaking upper class that the rest of Finland of course started to copycat as soon as they could afford it. According to Finnish Wikipedia, glögi's predecessors were spiced spirits which were used to warm up mailmen traveling long distances during winter.

Glögi is often confused with mulled wines, especially German Glühwein, but my Germany experts assure me they taste quite different. Glögi is sometimes made of red wine instead of red juice but that's so much rarer that it's usually called wine glögi in those cases. (One reason for this may be the way how alcohol is still considered a big no-no in Finnish culture, something you have to drink in secret in order not to appear a drunkard and definitely not in the town square with your children.) The spices are pretty much the same as in gingerbread (I'll try to post the recipe next month). Glühwein on the other hand is always prepared from wine like the name says, and this may also mean fruit wine made of blueberries or cherries for example. It's typically spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and most notably, orange.

There are probably hundreds of glögi variants, the best known being white glögi. The spices are the same but it's made of apple juice or white wine.

- 7 dl water
- 1 dl black currant juice (unsweetened and unwatered)
- 0.5 dl dark sugar
- cinnamon
- cloves
- ginger
- 2 dl vodka (or brandy)
- 0.5 dl raisins
- 0.5 dl almond slices

Heat up the water together with the spices. Let them simmer for about ten minutes. Filter out the spices. Add the juice and the vodka. Portion in cups. Finalize by throwing in some raisins and almond slices or let your guests help themselves. Enjoy the hot cup between your frozen fingers.

Nutritional values / 1 l:
energy 962 kcal
fat 19 g
protein 10 g
carbohydrates 70 g
fiber 9 g

17.11.09

Pepper Boats ‒ Paprikaveneet

Some kind of stuffed veggies are probably prepared all over the world and Finland is no exception. Previously I've posted about such classics as stuffed turnips and cabbage rolls. Stuffed bell peppers or tomatoes are also a typical thing on a dinner table when the host wants offer something a bit fancier and colourful than normally, yet avoiding too exotic and odd tastes. I've heard some people in their 30's even suffer traumas from making these in the school cooking classes.

- 3 large bell peppers
- 2 dl fava beans
- 1 dl nuts
- 1 dl tomato sauce
- 6 dried tomato pieces
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 chili peppers
- basil
- margarine or such for topping

Cut the bell peppers in half and scoop out the seeds. Crush the nuts and the garlic, mince the dried tomato pieces and the chili peppers. Mix everything but the bell peppers and the margarine together. This becomes even better if you bother to precook the stuffing before stuffing. Spoon into the pepper halves. Top with margarine. Place in a 200°C oven for 30-45 minutes.

Of course it's also possible to use whole bell peppers by just cutting the hat off. The hat can even make a pretty decoration. I personally think they turn out better this way but that's just a matter of taste. Oh, and before someone asks, those cubes in the photo are nut pate.

Nutritional values / 1 boat:
energy 162 kcal
fat 11 g
protein 5 g
carbohydrates 11 g
fiber 5 g

15.11.09

Fist Rieska ‒ Nyrkkirieska

If you want to see two Finns fight ask them what kind of a bread is rieska. In different parts of the country the same word is used to describe very different types of leavened and unleavened breads. Generally younger people of the day already share a common view: rieska is the kind of flat, unleavened, usually round or rectangular bread sold in all Finnish grocery stores. It's most typically made of barley or potatoes with possibly wheat as a binding agent. Around Scandinavia there are probably hundreds of ways to use rieska.

For starters, here's one very basic rieska recipe:

- 5 dl ice cold water
- 0.5 tbsp salt
- 9-10 dl barley flour (preferably coarse kind though it's hard to find)

Dissolve the salt in the water. Add the flour little by little. Mix the dough with a wooden fork rather than your hand since it should stay cold. Knead quickly on floured table. Pat the dough into four thin (about 0.5 cm thick) discs (or make one big layer and use a bowl to cut circles from it). Sting holes on them with a fork. Place into a 300°C oven for about 5 minutes. If possible, use a plain grate instead of a tray so they'll get more evenly baked.

Rieskas are done when they've got some colour. If successful, they feel light, the cover is crispy and the inside is done but a bit sticky. Wrap them inside a towel to soften up (mine never do cause I keep forgetting them in the oven for too long).

Rieska can be eaten as it is in the same manner as Indian naan bread or French baguette. You can also use it for wrappings like Mexican tortillas, cover it with toppings like Italian pizzas or crumble it into cold oat milk or gravy like um... Well, I'm sure there's some example of this one too somewhere in the world. In any case, rieska is best when still fresh.

Nutritional values / 1 rieska:
energy 509 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 13 g
carbohydrates 105 g
fiber 12 g

13.11.09

Rye Lasagna ‒ Ruislasse

Globalization and localization married together make interesting children. Once again, I'm raping Italian names with Finnish ingredients. Forgive me dear boot country dwellers but your words have become common language and disconnected from their original meanings. Besides, if you ever tasted those dishes in Finnish restaurants you'd love this.

The idea of using finncrisps and peas for lasagna came from Jere Nieminen's cook book Herne rokkaa (Multikustannus) but otherwise I mostly followed the recipe I've found from a lasagna noodle box in the year X, even though this doesn't even use the stuff. Like I said, I'm not sure if it's right for lasagna to call this dish lasagna but I'm afraid I don't have enough imagination for a better name. "Layered Rye and Pea Casserole"? Doesn't really sound appetizing.

- about ten large finncrisps
- rape oil for buttering and frying

Red sauce:
- 200 g dried peas
- 500 g crushed tomatoes
- 2 onions
- 1 chili pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 dose of stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- basil

White sauce:
- 50 g margarine
- 1 l oat milk
- 1 dl wheat flour
- 100 g melting soy cheese
- 4 garlic cloves
- nutmeg

Soak the peas overnight if you can, then rinse and crush them. Chop the onions and fry together with the peas. Chop the bell pepper as well and mix all the the red sauce ingredients together.

Heat the oat milk carefully. Keep stirring all the time so it won't burn. Sift the flour in little by little. Also add the other ingredients in small pieces. When the sauce starts to thicken you can move it away from the stove.

Butter a casserole. Scoop some of the red sauce on the bottom as an even layer. Lay finncrisps over the sauce. It doesn't matter if they lap over one another ‒ they'll soften up. Scoop some of the white sauce on the finncrisps. Continue this way with the second round of layers and third as well if you still have enough stuff left. Bake 50 minutes in the lowest shelf of a 175°C oven.

Nutritional values / 2248 g:
energy 2548 kcal
fat 102 g
protein 81 g
carbohydrates 314 g
fiber 63 g

11.11.09

Tokero

Talkkuna (or kama in Estonian) means a finely milled mixture of roasted grains or pea flour. The combination varies a lot according to the province, as well as the right way to eat it. Today it's mostly used in desserts but a hundred years ago it was combined practically with anything to form a quick snack. In Tavastia talkkuna was normally mixed with sour milk products but in South Ostrobothnia it was coped together with berries and in Savo it was used with pork lard. My home town even has a street named Tokerotie since during the building in the great hunger years the workers got talkkuna porridge for salary.

Talkkuna's taste is hard to describe. As a kid I hated it, now I've come to love the bizarre combination of chocolaty and malty flavours. I've often envied the way today's Estonian kitchen seems to use talkkuna much more creatively than Finns do. Even though our test group recently decided that an Estonian chocolate bar spiced with kama tasted like old stockings, I did notice that kama and coffee used in that bar might actually make a great combination. So here's a coffee-spiked simple talkkuna snack or dessert.

- 1 dl talkkuna
- 1 dl coffee (or to be a purist, water or oat milk)
- black currants
- raspberries
(- sugar)

Mix the talkkuna and the coffee. Top with berries. Sprinkle sugar on top if you wish.

Nutritional values / 200 g (without sugar):
energy 192 kcal
fat 2 g
protein 5 g
carbohydrates 36 g
fiber 7 g

8.11.09

Roasted Pumpkin Salad ‒ Paahdettu kurpitsasalaatti

Many younger Finns celebrate Halloween as the carnivalistic feast of the dead in the end of the harvest season. I'm personally not quite sure whether it's a wonderful continuum for the traditional Kekri or an awful supernational thing with only a commercial value. In any case, the best thing about it is that it's easy to acquire cheap pumpkins right in the beginning of December.

This is something I first thought I'd try with turnip but my, either I was hungry as an Ethiopian during a Red Cross strike or this worked just perfectly with pumpkin. Guess I have to check out the turnip version as well.

- 300 g pumpkin
- 200 g smoked tofu (A home imitation of this is easy to make by marinating normal extra firm tofu in tar liqueur or smoked beer.)
- 1 dl smoked almonds or nuts
- 0.5 l sorrel (I used bloody sorrel or viinisuolaheinä)
- 1 large red onion
- 2 tablespoons lingonberry juice
- 1 teaspoon apple wine vinegar
- oil
- salt
- black pepper

Peel the pumpkin and cut it in cubes. Oil a casserole and put the cubes in it. Pour some more oil on the cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast them in a 200°C oven until they turn soft and their edges start to turn golden (about 45 minutes). Remember to turn them around every once in a while.

In the meanwhile, chop the onion and sauté half of it. Cut the tofu in cubes as well. Mix all the ingredients. Sprinkle with vinegar-juice mixture. Serve while the pumpkin cubes are still warm.

Nutritional values / 960 g:
energy 1086 kcal
fat 85 g
protein 56 g
carbohydrates 26 g
fiber 19 g

6.11.09

Gallop Sausage ‒ Laukkamakkara

I'll post this experiment for making up usage for leftover mash (from beer making) as well though it didn't really work out. The idea is nevertheless so interesting I think I'll want to keep on trying. And of course I hope that someone can help me.

There are several traditional Finnish sausage types that contain no meat. Unfortunately, I haven't found any recipes for them and I'm doubting if there are any. This type of dishes tend to be made up from things you happen to have in your closet and the expertise comes with trial and error.

Laukkamakkara's name may make a Finnish speaker think about garlic since it's nickname is "fingernail gallop" (laukka is one of the many names for onion). This is what initially made me want to use garlic as a spice, purely traditional or not. But actually this time laukka comes from Swedish lake which means salty water. This is because these type of sausages used to be preserved in salty broth.

Since I couldn't keep the sausages from crumbling apart and the taste needs some adjusting as well I'm not going to tell you any (apparently wrong) amounts. Perhaps I'll try with some potato flour or other gelatinous agent. And try to make a way to preserve them in liquid while still keeping them in one piece. In the photo they're coming from the oven, lying on a sauerkraut bed and covered with apple slices. There's also a basic seitan-based sausage between them.

- mash
- cooked potatoes
- barley grains
- garlic
- salt
- black pepper
- stock

Cook the barley grains with water and some stock. Mash the potatoes. Mix everything together and shape into phallic symbols. Wrap them tightly into folio and steam as long as needed (apparently more than 45 minutes).

3.11.09

Malty Seed Bread ‒ Maltainen siemenvuokaleipä

Continuing with the theme "how to use the leftover mash from beer brewing". An oblivious use is of course baking bread. This particular recipe is mostly based on this mämmi bread and this flax bread.

- 5 dl water
- 50 g yeast
- 5 dl barley mash
- about 12 dl dark wheat flour
- 1 dl flax or hemp seeds
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon dark syrup
- aniseed

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Mix in the mash, most of the seeds, the syrup and the aniseed. Add the flour little by little, keep stirring all the time. Last but not least, throw in the salt and mix it well.

Now you should have a runny dough. Pour it into an oiled baking tin. Cover with a towel and leave it in some warm place for an hour. Sprinkle the remaining seeds on the bread for decoration. Bake in a 200°C oven for about forty minutes.

Nutritional values / 1500 g:
energy 3630 kcal
fat 45 g
protein 134 g
carbohydrates 650 g
fiber 82 g

30.10.09

Mash Cake ‒ Mäskikakku

It's not that easy to decide what kind of food to make for Kekri. Nearly all of our Kekri traditions and dishes are nowadays known as Christmas traditions and dishes. But somehow malty flavours and food with a lot of grain seem the most appropriate to me.

I'm currently trying to brew some sahti for a 20 person's Kekri feast. (Yikes!) Of course there's always that leftover - a big pot of barley mash - so I've also been trying to make up some uses for it. This cake recipe uses the leftover mash after the wort has been drained from it. I think it'd be pretty safe to replace it with (unknown amount of) non-used malts or mämmi if you just check that the structure seems moist enough.

At first I thought I'd use the mämmi cake recipe The Finnish Mämmi Association gives but that had eggs in it and didn't seem that interesting otherwise either. So instead I kind of combined it with a Christmassy sounding sour milk cake recipe with some additions of my own.

- 3 dl barley mash
- 2 dl soy yogurt (apparently, soy milk thickened and soured with lemon juice should do as well)
- 1 dl potato flour
- 3.5 dl wheat flour
- 100 g margarine (for example Keiju 70%)
- 1.5 dl dark syrup
- 1.5 tsp soda
- 1 dl dried cranberries
- 1 dl dried apple pieces
- 1 dl brandy
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- margarine and breadcrumbs for the mold

Pour the brandy on the dried cranberries and apple pieces. Let them soak for a few hours. Mix the ingredients well together. Butter a cake mold and powder with breadcrumbs. Pour the paste in the mold and cook about an hour in a 175°C oven.

The cake is nicely spicy on its own but I decorated it with a mixture of cocoa butter, oat cream, icing sugar and a drop of lemon juice.

Nutritional values / 1100 g:
energy 3513 kcal
fat 74 g
protein 55 g
carbohydrates 495 g
fiber 32 g

28.10.09

Black Trumpet Rolls ‒ Mustatorvirullat

I'd probably love autumn if it didn't foreshadow winter. Just like Sundays would be so much comfier days if they weren't followed by Mondays. Two weeks ago, I went to collect two litres of frozen Cantharellus tubaeformis (suppilovahvero) with a friend, almost froze myself as well and decided the season is off for this year. Some of the mushrooms are now hanging from the kitchen ceiling but some of them I've used for a soup and a new experiment.

The idea of black trumpet roll was actually in strong-tasting mushrooms which these are not. But since I have to wait another year to get my hands on black trumpets I thought I could just as well check if the recipe idea works otherwise.

Seitan part:
- 3 dl seitan flour
- 2 dl graham flour or rye flour
- 1 dl tar liqueur or 2 dl smoked beer
- 0.5 dl rape oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- salt
- water (about 1-2 dl, more than you'd normally use)

Mushroom part:
- 2 dl dried black trumpets
- 2 tablespoons soy-based cream spread (for example tofutti)
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
- 1 dl oat cream
- juniper berries
- black pepper
- 1 punch of fresh rosemary

Mix the seitan dough and roll it into a flat rectangle. Mix the cream spread, mayonnaise, cream, rosemary and spices together and then add the dried mushrooms as well.

Now you can spread the mushroom filling on the other long edge of the seitan, as if you were making a Swiss roll. Carefully roll the mushrooms inside the seitan and cut it in six pieces (though I do assume this also makes a nice centre piece for a dinner table if you leave it intact).

Arrange the rolls into a casserole and pour some vegetable broth on the bottom so they won't dry up in the oven. Cover with a folio. Cook about 40 minutes in a 200°C. Serve with some strong tasting sidekick that emphasizes the main dish, for example lingonberry cram or sea buckthorn and carrot sauce.

Nutritional values / 1 roll:
energy 330 kcal
fat 14 g
protein 23 g
carbohydrates 23 g
fiber 3 g

27.10.09

Sea Buckthorn and Carrot Sauce ‒ Tyrni-porkkanakastike

There are some ingredient combinations that are like made to fit together and bring out the best from each other, like turnip and tar, dark chocolate and red wine, strawberries and rhubarb or rye and bilberries. Well, the consort determined for carrots in the beginning of times is apparently sour berries. Sea buckthorn and rowan berries of course have a different taste, but with carrot they work the same way.

An ideal place to take advantage of such unions are often sauces. This one tastes rather sweet-and-sour and needs something with more substance than plain pasta to work, for example this.

- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 4 dl water
- 0.5 dl sea buckthorn (or rowan) berries
- 0.5 tablespoon apple wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 tablespoon potato flour (or other thickener)
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- salt
- aniseed

Mince the onion and sauté it in oil. Slice the carrot and add into the kettle. When the carrot slices have softened, add the rest of the ingredients. Sift the potato flour so it won't clump. The sauce is ready when it thickens up.

Nutritional values / 5 dl :
energy 225 kcal
fat 7 g
protein 2 g
carbohydrates 21 g
fiber 6 g

25.10.09

Pine Nut and Root Vegetable Mash ‒ Männynsiemen-juuressose

Potato mash is one of the standard sidekicks in Finnish cuisine. I often like to tune it with beet or spinach but seeing this I knew I have a sidekick to offer even when Tarja Halonen shows up for a dinner.

The original recipe didn't give any amounts so I tried to document what I used. The oat cream however, wasn't such a good idea since the mash turned a bit too runny. Oh well, the taste is what matters and I already have a long experience of claiming my beet mash is meant to be a puré soup. Next time I'll just replace the cream with some margarine and perhaps roast the pine kernels a bit before marinating them.

EDIT: Yeap, as you can see from the new photo, this turned out just perfect without the cream. Didn't even replace it with anything. Roasting the kernels was also a good idea.

- 2 large carrots
- 4 potatoes
- 1 small rutabaga
- 1 dose of stock
- 1 dl pine nuts
- gin (about 1 dl)
- spruce syrup
- salt
- white pepper
- 0.5 dl oat cream

Put the pine nuts in a mug and pour enough gin on them to cover them. Peel the root vegetables and cook them in water with the stock. Pour the water away and mash them. (If you're really clever you can save the water to make a sauce for example.) Spice with spruce syrup, salt and white pepper. Add the cream, the soaked nuts and as much of the gin as you wish. Let the mash marinate at least for an hour before serving.

Nutritional values / 1080 g:
energy 1197 kcal
fat 61 g
protein 21 g
carbohydrates 99 g
fiber 19 g

15.10.09

Beer Pots with Potato Crust ‒ Olutruukut muusikuorrutteella

To make the best of those awesome colours of the trees right now I tried to imitate them for the perfect autumnal Sunday dinner. I've never really learned how to use pumpkin so I was going to put some into this. However, I only managed to find huge halves that cost about 10 euros a piece. That's a bit more than I'm ready to pay even for domestic veggies. So instead, I bought 3 kilos of rutabaga with one euro. We'll see where I manage to cram them.

Oh, by the way, the colours of these couple of last photos aren't that awesome. That's because I thought I'd just use my camera's inbuilt flash and filter the ugliest direct light with a yellow dishcloth. Getting the white balance even close to natural after that took me longer than preparing this dish. Maybe next time I understand to fetch a real flash even if the Simpsons is about to start.

- 1 small rutabaga
- 1 large carrot
- 1 celeriac
- 10-15 brussels sprouts
- 0.5 l beer, for example Sinebrychoff Porter or Fuller's London Porter
- 2 dl seitan flour
- 0.5 dl rowan berries
- 1 chili
- 1 dl nutritional yeast
- 1 dose of stock
- white pepper
- 4 potatoes
- 1 dl oat cream
- dragon's wort

Squash the rowan berries and the chili. Make a paste of them and the seitan flour. Add some as well water if needed. Cut the seitan and the vegetables into strips and sauté them. Add the stock, the yeast and some white pepper.

Cook the potatoes. Mash them together with the cream and the dragon's wort. Never apply a blender or other sharp blades to potato unless you want to get glue.

Next you'll need four small oven pots. If you're going to use normal mugs, first check that they're meant to last in the oven. Unfortunately, cheapest ones rarely are. Portion the veggie and seitan mixture into the pots. Pour the beer on them. Scoop the mashed potatoes on top. Put the pots into a 175°C oven until the potato mash starts to turn golden from the edges (about half an hour).

Serve with pickles and lingonberries.

Nutritional values / 1 pot:
energy 357 kcal
fat 7 g
protein 24 g
carbohydrates 36 g
fiber 8 g

14.10.09

Kreative Bloggers

Okriina from Kahvila Vegaani gave me a Kreativ Blogger -award. (Kiitos!) I don't usually do chain memes but this was such a great honour I have to make an acception.


The rules are:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it in your blog.
3. Link the person who nominated you.
4. Make 7 confessions about yourself that others don't know yet.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Link those 7 to your blog.
7. Tell those 7 about the nomination.

My confessions:
1. I have already told I'm not really a vegan. Well, here's the actual confession: if there's a piece of cheese in my fridge I act like an alcoholic who knows there's a bottle of whiskey in the closet.
2. Last summer I didn't post a thing for couple of months because I was traveling around Siberia and Asia, all alone. During which I started calling Russian kitchen "vodka and potato chips -diet". Would love to go there again.
3. My spouse is the one of us who usually cooks. I just experiment.
4. When he's away (and that's about a month at time) I turn into a zombie. I eat convenience food, smell bad, barely go out and only talk to people in IRC unless they ask me for a visit themselves. But don't worry, I can always post recipes I tried three months ago.
5. I don't even want to understand most diets people have. I just don't see how come potato is unhealthier than any other root vegetable, why you shouldn't eat rye bread, why one should favour Tibetian goji berries over Finnish bilberries or why an ingredient suddenly becomes dangerous as soon as it gets an e-number. IMHO, the only sensible way to find how you should eat is listening to your own body (plus occasional rational reasons) and maybe reading some real researches instead of that pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo and anecdotal evidence you find from women's magazines (what kind of people buy that crap anyway?).
6. I once fantasized over publishing a world-famous cook book and then sending bitter regards to my old home economics teacher in some press conference.
7. My professional interests are about as far as you can get from anything traditional or making things with your hands but do have a lot to do with blogs. As a matter of fact, I feel guilty cause I don't have time to play enough computer games.

Next, the hardest part. How to choose just seven from the infinite selection of great blogs? I decided I'd stick with innovative food blogs, avoid those that have already been nominated and concentrate on the ones I feel aren't as well known as they deserve to be. (This mission also reminded me I should update that link section on the right.)

My awards go to (in no special order):
1. Ketutar of Noidan keittokirja for impressive enthusiasm for confectionery. I don't make sweeties that often myself but when I do I know exactly where to look for recipes. (In Finnish)
2. Lelly of Lelly's Vegan Kitchen for the funniest food blog I know. Cosy Scottish food that makes you want to try it yourself. (In English)
3. The team of Posessed (By Seitan) for showing us that vegans don't have to act like sheeps who smoke hemp and metal music lovers don't have to to live with rotten shark to prove they rock. (In English)
4. Rochelle R. of Weird Recipe Finds for a food blog completely different from the rest since it talks about bad food instead of good. Contains must-tries for any kitchen experimentalist. (In English)
5. Pinea of Kirjeitä keittiöstä (and its predecessors) for telling how two different cuisines, Finnish and Japanese, can be combined in a graceful way. (In Finnish)
6. Pille of Nami-nami for getting me acquainted with the familiar but unfamiliar cuisine of my dear kindred nation. Aitäh! (In English)
7. Timo of Humalablogi for setting up an inspiring example of the love for the world's most diverse and nuanced drink, beer. (In Finnish)

10.10.09

Salmiakki Pasta ‒ Salmiakkipasta

As you may have noticed I'm not especially good in sticking with recipes. For once I thought I'd try with this one simply because Okriina's cookings always sound so perfect just as they are. But of course I couldn't help myself. This is the story of how her liquorice pasta ended up as a salmiakki pasta in my hands.

It may not look like the most conventional combination but works surprisingly well. My spouse looked into the kettle with a horror in his eyes but eventually went for the second round. The taste is really round so it needs some full-bodied red wine to go with, just like the original recipe suggests.

- 250 g pasta
- 2 parsnips (or 250 g yellow beet)
- 1 cellery (which I used instead of fennel that I couldn't find)
- 3 large mushrooms (gods created boletes for the accompaniment of pasta but this time I had to go with champions)
- 0.75 dl walnuts
- 1.5 dl oat cream (I might consider leaving this one out)
- rape oil
- half a lemon peel
- 1/2 dl red wine (which I used instead of 1/4 teaspoon of balsamico)
- 100 g fresh salmiakki liquorice (the original recipe actually warned not to use liquorice types featuring salmiakki but think this came out quite nice)
- big punch of fresh parsley
- big punch of fresh thyme
- black pepper

Oil a casserole. Slice the veggies and put them in it with some oil on top. Bake them in a 300°C oven until they start to turn golden from the edges (about 15 minutes). Remember to turn them over every now and so they won't turn black instead. In the end add the walnuts as well in small pieces.

Cook the pasta in salty water. Pour the extra water out and add the veggies as well as the wine, the cream, the pepper and half of the liquorice so it melts nicely. Chop the parsley and the thyme. Slice the rest of the liquorice. Grind the lemon peel. Throw all into the pasta and stir. Shout: "Dinner is ready!"

Nutritional values / 1400 g (with protein rich dark pasta):
energy 2028 kcal
fat 73 g
protein 79 g
carbohydrates 251 g
fiber 40 g

9.10.09

Salmiakki Ice Cream ‒ Salmiakkijäde

Salmiakki basically means ammonium chloride. In Scandinavian countries (and weirdly, Netherlands) it is combined with sugar and liquorice to make tasty confectioneries. Different varieties are sold in every small food store. And because of the classical shape of the sweets, rhombus or diamond shape is known with the name salmiakki in Finland. Most Finns eat these salt-and-sweet goodnesses just as they eat fruit candies whereas foreigners either seem to fall straight in love with them or think they are the most disgusting thing they've ever tasted.

Salmiakki is also one of the most popular ice cream flavours so of course I had to see if I can make it myself. I first thought I'd use raw salmiakki but after asking from two pharmacies and a pharmacist friend of mine I gave up. One day I'll try to make salmiakki all the way myself from ammonia and muriatic acid but before I own a home chemist kit for children I thought it safer just to buy sweets. This time I used soy cream cause I wanted to make it especially creamy. And creamy it certainly was!

- 1 small box of salmiakki sweets (for example Haganol apteekin salmiakki)
- 1 small box of the strongest non-black salmiakki sweets you can find (for example Lakrisal)
- 4 dl soy cream
- 2 dl soy milk
- 2 tablespoons potato flour

Melt the white salmiakki sweets in the milk. Add the cream and heat it on a stove. Whip the potato flour in carefully so you won't get clumps. Let the mixture cool down and put it in the freezer. Whip down the ice crystals it forms every two hours. When the ice cream starts to solidify add the intact candies. The ice cream should be ready in about six hours.

You can also make a simple salmiakki or liquorice sauce for the ice cream by just dissolving candies into small amount of water.

Nutritional values / 662 g :
energy 958 kcal
fat 73 g
protein 16 g
carbohydrates 59 g
fiber 3 g

7.10.09

Salty Mushroom Salad ‒ Suolasienisalaatti

One of the classic ways to pickle mushrooms for the winter is blanching them with salt. And a classic way to use the blanched mushrooms is of course a creamy salad. This recipe starts from fresh mushrooms but is really meant for blanched ones.

- 500 g mushrooms (for example russulas or milk-caps)
- salt
- 1 onion
- 2 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
- 1 dl soy yogurt
- punch of fresh chives
- black pepper
- sugar (just a pinch to break the sour taste)

Chop the mushrooms and blanch them in salty water. Cut the onion and the chives into lengthy pieces. Put everything into the same bowl and mix up.

Nutritional values / 760 g:
energy 401 kcal
fat 19 g
protein 19 g
carbohydrates 24 g
fiber 9 g

6.10.09

Mushroom Balls ‒ Suppispallerot

My plan this autumn was to fill the fridge and cook a million different mushroom meals only using mushrooms I've picked myself. But of course I've once again managed to load myself with so many responsibilities that the couple of small mushroom preys I've caught have flown straight to the frying pan. So while the season is still on, here's at least one excellent recipe.

- 2 dl minced mushrooms (for some reason, Cantharellus tubaeformis or suppilovahvero seems ideal for this)
- 2 cooked potatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 dl crushed finncrisps (took me about 3 large ones)
- 2 tablespoons soy flour
- 1,5 dl soy yogurt
- 4 garlic cloves
- black pepper
- salt
- 2 tablespoons rape oil

Mash the potatoes with a fork, mince the onion and squeeze the garlic cloves. Mix everything into an even past and roll small balls out of it between your hands. Place straight away on a hot and oily frying pan.

Nutritional values / 1027 g:
energy 1046 kcal
fat 33 g
protein 37 g
carbohydrates 74 g
fiber 19 g

5.10.09

Apple Pie ‒ Omenapiirakka

Here's a weird fact about me: I only eat apples during autumn. This is when you get domestic apples. Every imported one I've ever tried has been just plain watery. Granny Smiths have a nice structure and some sourness but even they seem to lack in taste. And I really haven't found a satisfactory explanation for this. You'd imagine apple trees produce the same apples everywhere. Maybe this has something to do with that EU's ridiculous restriction concerning size and shape of fruits and vegetables (yeap, the infamous cucumber directive) that might prevent selling small (and tasty) apples. Or maybe stores just believe that size is the only thing that matters for the customers. Or maybe it's the climate. Please tell me if you have a clue.

Anyway, apples make a nice pie as well. You'll need rather bitter apples for this. This should come up as a nicely thin and crunchy pie with those juicy apples.

The bottom:
- 100 g margarin
- 3 graham flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 2-3 tablespoons of water

The top:
- 5 small apples
- 1/2 dl sugar
- cinnamon
- ginger
- cardamom
- (50 g blue-style soy cheese)

Mix the dough ingredients by hand and spread the result evenly on a buttered pie plate. Cut the apples in chunks and lay them on the pie. Mix the spices the sugar and sprinkle it on the pie. If you want to add some extra twist lay pieces of blue-style soy cheese on top of the rest. Bake in a 200°C oven for half an hour.

Nutritional values / 753 g (with the cheese):
energy 1784 kcal
fat 81 g
protein 35 g
carbohydrates 217 g
fiber 27 g

26.9.09

Autumn Pie ‒ Syyspiiras

When hearing a Finn talk about making a pitsa you might naturally assume it's the same thing as Italian pizza. Wrong. That's where the name comes from, yes, but usually the only thing they have in common is that both are oven-baked breads with a topping. The typical pitsa you get at a coffee table, young people's sauna party or even as a Sunday's family meal is more of a pie with a thick layer of a very cheesy topping. For my generation it's a comfort food.

Since I don't want to add to the confusion I'm just calling this a pie. Usually me and my spouse top these with everything we find from the fridge, ending up with a piece higher than my mouth. For guests however, it could be a bit more balanced and better planned.

The dough:
- 6 dl water
- 1.5 dl rape oil
- 6 dl dark wheat flour
- 6 dl ryemeals
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder

The topping:
- 200 g or 0.5 l fresh chanterelles
- 6 dried tomato pieces
- 1 large onion
- 2 dl soy flakes (textured soy protein)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 dl tomato sauce
- turmeric
- marjoram
(- 100 g melting soy cheese)
(- 3 dl soy yogurt)

Chop half of the mushrooms and the onion. Fry them with the soy flakes and spices. Mix the dough ingredients. Chop rest of the mushrooms and the dried tomato pieces as well. Put a parchment paper on a baking pan and spread the dough on it evenly. Spread the tomato sauce on the pie, then the fried mushrooms and the fresh mushrooms and dried tomato pieces.

If you want to use soy cheese, ground it into the soy yoghurt. Perfect the pie by spreading the mixture on it. Bake 15-20 minutes in a 250°C oven. Sprinkle some marjoram on the pie when still hot.

Another favourite combination of mine is tempeh slices fried crunchy, lingonberries (or pineapple pieces) and blue-style soy cheese. Weirdly, I don't think I've ever seen fruits and berries used in salty dishes outside Finland. Here it's actually quite common.

Nutritional values / 1825 g :
energy 2818 kcal
fat 97 g
protein 90 g
carbohydrates 244 g
fiber 40 g

13.9.09

Sunroot Puré Soup ‒ Maa-artisokkasosekeitto

Purés and mashes are an easy form of enjoying the new root vegetable harvest. Carrots, beets or rutabagas are just cooked soft, mashed and spiced. For a change I used sunroots instead of potatoes for this lunch soup but don't think the difference between them is that huge.

The recipe is mostly from Kotimaiset kasvikset.

- 500 g sunroots
- 1 small parsnip
- half a leek (the white part)
- 7 dl water
- 1 dose of stock
- 1 dl oat cream / 100 g soft tofu
- 2 tablespoons rape oil
- nutmeg
- black pepper
- chervil
- 1 onion
- 3 dl soy flakes

Peel the sunroots and the parsnip. Chop them and the leek. Boil until soft. While waiting, fry the onion together with the soy flakes until crispy. Add the spices into the pot and puré the soup. Sprinkle the soy flake mixture on top of the soup after you've scooped it to your plate.

Nutritional values / 1 l:
energy 917 kcal
fat 49 g
protein 34 g
carbohydrates 79 g
fiber 37 g

5.9.09

Bilberry Milk ‒ Mustikkamaito

Hello again! It's been a while since I've last cooked anything. This is a truly amazing time for that. Forests are full of berries and mushrooms only waiting for someone to pick them. Domestic vegetables are at their best and cheapest. Also, the weather is slowly starting to get chillier so I can concentrate on gaining more body fat under my thickest sweater to hibernate through winter.

While the bilberry season is still on however, I thought I'd restart blogging with a very simple yet very tasty drink. This is something that kids love since they can do it themselves all the way from picking the berries into a jug.

- 1 glass of bilberries (strawberries are another classic)
- about 1/2 glass of soy milk
- sugar to taste

Squash the bilberries into their glass. Sprinkle some sugar on them and then fill the glass with milk. Stir just a little so that the milk turns blue.

Nutritional values / 3 dl glass:
energy 99 kcal
fat 2 g
protein 4 g
carbohydrates 15 g
fiber 5 g

11.6.09

Rhubarb and Mushroom Salad ‒ Raparperi-sienisalaatti

Hello! I'm leaving for a long trip tomorrow so I don't expect to be posting anything before the end of August. But don't worry, I will be back with new ideas!

Why do dandelions always grow by the roads where you shouldn't pick them from? Why do they only become visible after they grow a flower and thus turn bitter? These were the questions I pondered why hunting for the meal of the day.

Finally I managed to fill my bag with fresh and tender dandelion leaves. I decided to cook a re-edited version of an inventive rhubarb and shiitake salad that's apparently originally from Irina Somersalo's book Yllin kyllin (Multikustannus 2008).

- 0.5 l young dandelion leaves
- 300 g mushrooms (shiitake fits this one indeed but use what ever you find)
- 1 rhubarb stalk
- 1 red onion
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ginger
- 0.5 tsp salt
- oil for frying
- basil

Chop the veggies. Fry the mushrooms and the onion until they start to get some colour. Throw in the rhubarb and the spices. Continue frying so that the rhubarb turns into a mushy "sauce". Wash the dandelion leaves. Combine all. Eat while still warm.

Nutritional values / 670 g:
energy 354 kcal
fat 14 g
protein 12 g
carbohydrates 42 g
fiber 10 g

Nettle Pancakes ‒ Nokkoslätyt

Stinging nettle is often said to be the healthiest plant in Finland due to its richness in vitamins and minerals. There's for example seven times as much iron in it than in its cultivated comrade you can use the same way, spinach. My plan is to collect and precook many bags of it in the freezer for winter. Besides food you can use it for fiber, cosmetics (especially hair), herbal medicine, dyeing and as a fertilizer.

Remember, nettle leaves are at their best when young. Use plants that haven't flowered yet, after a sunny period when the nitrate concentration is at its lowest. Cooking or drying completely destroys the stinging toxic. And of course, you should never eat anything that grows close to a road or such. The taste flavours many kinds of soups, sauces, fillings, beverages and breads. And of course nettle pancakes, a comfort food that even every health food hater loves:

- 1 l young nettle leaves (or 150 g frozen spinach)
- 3 dl wheat or spelt flour
- 1 dl potato flour
- 1.5 dl oat milk or water
- 1.5 dl cider (made from real apples, not those disgusting fake ciders)
- salt
- rape oil for frying

Lingonberry cram is a must have with these. I also made a quick sidekick from fava beans, soy yoghurt, mustard and black pepper.

Nutritional values / 742 g:
energy 1322 kcal
fat 34 g
protein 36 g
carbohydrates 205 g
fiber 16 g

8.6.09

Sahti

If you don't know sahti, you don't know beers. This primordial Finnish top-fermented beer is among the oldest still brewed beer types in the world. If there hadn't been a prohibition law in Finland from 1919 to 1932 it would also be the longest brewed beer type for sale ‒ officially. That crown now belongs to another fine beer, Belgian lambic, which also happens to have the probably closest resemblance of sahti.

Sahti's taste is soft, sweet and thick, often described as banana-like. Instead of hops it's flavoured with juniper. It doesn't bubble much and stores only a month at most the fridge. The old poems describe mash bushel being lifted on the roof for the thunder (=ukkonen) god Ukko water it and then fermented with the drool of a horny boar. And as you probably understand from this description sahti has a special place in certain pagan feasts.

At the moment I'm making my very first round of sahti for the most important holiday of the year, midsummer, the nightless day. This feast originally known as Vakkajuhla (= bushel feast) used to be celebrated with a big punch of friends by a lake to ask Ukko send rain for the harvest to grow. Christian invaders turned pretty much all the Finnish feasts to have Christian meanings but the only thing they managed to change in this one was its name: it's nowadays known as Juhannus which refers to John the Baptist. It still involves gatherings by lakes, drinking and eating, bonfires and fertility rites. I'll update this post after I've seen how my sahti turns out but I thought I'd post this plan already in the hope of inspiring the rest of you to try as well.

To be a purist you should keep in mind that:
1. Sahti doesn't contain hops. Instead it's usually flavoured with juniper (though I've heard some other herbs like heather or wild rosemary have been used as well).
2. Sahti is always made of barley malts. Some people also use rye or caramel malts but only small amounts for flavouring.
3. Don't use added sugar. All the sugar should come from the malts and sahti isn't supposed to sparkle either. You won't need sugar even in the bottling stage since it can't be stored long anyways. Besides, well cooked wort should already produce 10-11 % beer which in most beer types is more than enough to make it taste like alcohol and thus ruin its own taste.
4. Never let the mash temperature rise over 70°C or you'll get porridge. The wort shouldn't be cooked at all, only quickly sterilized at most.
5. The most common yeast used today is common baking yeast, not normal ale yeast. This gives sahti a distinct flavour. (Of course in the old times people just saved some yeast from every round for the next one. I wouldn't want to annoy an angry boar.)
6. Approximately, 1 kg of malts makes about 2 l of sahti. Yes, it's thick.
7. Sahti is served unfiltered. Actually the leftover yeast helps it last better.
8. Three most important things to remember are cleanliness, cleanliness and cleanliness. Sterilize all the tools you use, including your hands.

Of course, rules only exists to be broken. But if you do make exceptions to please your own taste then please don't call your beer sahti. You may feel it doesn't change that much if you use hops but names used very broadly cease to really mean anything. Here's what I did:

- 3 l sahti malts
- 3 dl rye malts
- 20 g juniper berries
- 7 l water
- 50 g baking yeast

Sterilize all your equipments. Put 3 l of water in a big pot and let it come to a boil. Add the malts. Keep stirring until you've got a porridge. Heat up until the temperature has reached 70°C and make sure it doesn't rise further. Simmer for an hour. Crush the juniper berries and throw them in. Simmer another three hours. Taste to make sure it's sweet enough. It's also desirable to measure the gravity at this point so it'll be easier to trace what went wrong.

Filter and pour into an air tight fermentation vessel (with airlock). Boil the rest of the water and pour in. When the temperature has dropped to about 20°C add the yeast, dissolved in a mug of lukewarm water. Let your sahti-to-be ferment in room temperature as long as it wants to. This should take about 3-5 days. Check the gravity again and bottle your sahti and store in cold for a week. Apparently, the bigger the barrel the longer the taste lasts. Don't leave room for oxygen. If you see a foam your sahti hasn't finished yet and shouldn't be drunk (unless you want stains in your underpants).

Ask your friends over to drink your sahti fresh! Here's a suggested drinking song as well.
Osta neljä tuotetta ja maksat vain kolmesta - Luomutallin kampanjatuotteet näet täältä


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