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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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



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


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


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).


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
Osta neljä tuotetta ja maksat vain kolmesta - Luomutallin kampanjatuotteet näet täältä

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