Pea Sticks ‒ Hernepuikot

As I've been home alone lately my cooking has mostly been on the line of "let's throw something quick in the pot". Just to avoid eating pasta, veggies and textured soy protein for a solid month I thought I'd make something simple out of chili peas that had gone a bit too crunchy. The resulting paste is basically a mix of peas, spices, bread crumbs and oil.

- 1 portion of dried-out chili peas
- water (about 2 dl)
- bread crumbs (about 1 dl)

Soak the peas overnight in a small amount of water, just barely covering them. Next morning they should be swollen and have absorbed all the water. Make a paste out of them, leaving some of the peas intact. Shape into sticks and cover with bread crumbs. (I got 14 pieces.)

Put the sticks into a 200°C oven for twenty minutes. Serve with one sweet and one sour dip sauce or use as a sandwich filling.

Nutritional values / 1 stick:
energy 161 kcal
fat 7.2 g
protein 4.8 g
carbohydrates 19.1 g
fiber 2.6 g


Bilberry Cheese Cake ‒ Mustikkajuustokakkku

There probably isn't a single vegan food blog without a cheese cake recipe but here's one more version anyway. The beauty of cheese cake is that it's easy to variate, very hard to fail and doesn't mind to spend a couple of days in the refrigerator.

Most Finnish home bakers seem to use fresh cheese like Tofutti but I replaced that with a double portion of yogurt so mine is technically more like a yogurt cake. Fresh cheese makes the structure firmer but that's all the same if you're going to bake the cake. And even if you're not, this will stick together, it's just not as strudy. Another way of making it fattier is to use nut yogurt. In case you'd like to add a larger amount of some liquid flavouring you may want to replace the potato flour with agar. I've seen many versions where people have decorated the cake with a shiny jelly made of agar and juice but I just spilled a bag of berries straight from the freezer on it and they acted just as I had hoped: got stuck and melted their juices to form a beautiful marble pattern. The cake tin I used was ⌀ 25 cm.

- 1 l soy yogurt
- 2.5 dl vanilla sauce (for example Oatley)
- 1 dl icing sugar (or halva)
- 0.5 dl potato flour
- 1 small punch of lemon balm + some water

- 200 g frozen bilberries
- 50 g margarine
- 200 g crumbling biscuits (I used some salmiakki biscuits a friend of mine had left behind but oat biscuits or rye-based digestives fit here as well)

Drain extra water out of the yogurt. I for example placed it inside old stockings and hanged above the sink overnight.

Crush the biscuits and pick the margarine with them. Press evenly into the baking tin. Let the lemon balm simmer for a moment in a small amount of boiling water and then blend the result smooth. Mix the drained yogurt, the vanilla sauce, the sugar, the flour and the lemon balm juice. Spread the mixture evenly on the cake bottom. Bake 45 minutes in a 160°C oven.

Let the cake cool down and then spread the frozen bilberries on it. Serve cold after the berries have melted.

Nutritional values / 1815 g:
energy 4490 kcal
fat 125 g
protein 64 g
carbohydrates 288 g
fiber 23 g


Salmiakki Cupcakes ‒ Salmiakkimuffinsit

The past few days have been quite busy for me but at least I've been meeting a lot of great people: old schoolmates, fellow food bloggers and friends who celebrated Talvennapa with me. And as I explained here I prepared some snacks for the last occassion. The real success story of the night were vatruskas, another hand-sized pastry from Eastern Finland ‒ they were all gone before I understood to take a photo. I'll make them again another time but since I already got asked for the recipe of these muffins I'll better write it down while I still remember.

I took model primarily from Irina Somersalo's cookbook Yllin kyllin (Multikustannus 2008) and secondarily from Chocochili but if this recipe doesn't work don't blame them. I decorated them with a whole different frosting from a chocolate cake my mum likes to make, consisting of margarine, coffee and icing sugar. If you want it fluffier just leave the coffee out and whip it a bit. In that case you might also want to move the lemon peel from the muffins to the frosting. Lemon isn't necessary of course but I think it forms a nice opposite for salmiakki.

- 3 dl wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 0.5 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon apple wine vinegar
- 1 dl sugar (think next time I'll only use half the amount)
- 2 dl oat milk
- 0.5 dl sunflower oil
- 1 lemon peel
- 50-150 g of your favourite salmiakki sweets, crushed or chopped (I used 100 g of Turkinpippuri)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Grind the lemon peel. Add the rest into the paste as well. Stir carefully, just enough to get everything even. Spoon the paste into paper cups or muffin tins, leaving some extra space for them to rise in the oven. Bake about 15 minutes in 200°C. If you're going to decorate them with a frosting let them cool down first.

I got 15 cupcakes from this amount. One of them got thrown down from Pispalanharju, the world's highest esker ‒ of course with the paper removed.

Nutritional values / 1 muffin:
energy 123 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 2 g
carbohydrates 21 g
fiber 1 g


Pyttipanna ‒ Pyttipannu

I strongly feel that throwing food away is a sin, almost comparable to pissing on a sauna stove. Of course, sometimes zucchinis start to grow an angora fur and kitchen experiments turn totally inedible. But what kind of people purposely load their plate full if they're not going to finish it? Not only are they being disrespectful towards the cook and nature but essentially, towards food itself.

Well, in a household of two little piggies the problem is usually reversed. No matter how much sauce I make there's never anything left for my breakfast bread. No matter how big a bread I bake there's never enough to dry it for breadcrumbs or croutons. And no matter how big a soup pot, it will never end up into handy freezer portions. This time however, I managed to cook enough potatoes to make the next dinner out of them. Normally I would get this treat only by buying a microwave meal.

Pyttipannu (from Swedish pytt i panna, small things in a pan) is a classic way to use leftovers. Feel free to throw in anything around you. For example tofu, beetroot, sausage, tempeh, peas, rye bread and beanstalks fit here perfectly as well. This time I made it like this:

- 5 potatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 small rutabaga
- 3 dl fava beans
- 1 chili pepper
- smoked paprika (my current favourite spice)
- salt
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (I bought a bottle of this for a change)

Dice everything. Throw into a very hot pan. Fry until the little cubes have got deliciously brown. (If you have a large batch or a small pan fry your pyttipannu in small portions and flush the pan between them.) Sprinkle the spices when the food is on your plate. Enjoy with something pickled.

Nutritional values / 1109 g:
energy 666 kcal
fat 15 g
protein 24 g
carbohydrates 110 g
fiber 21 g


Hemp Pancakes ‒ Hamppuletut

In Finnish, January is called Oak Month (tammikuu). Most Finns won't be able to tell you why since the school system generally teaches very little about our cultural heritage. And still, it's quite an oblivious thing if you know anything about the mythology or traditional holidays. Even our national epic Kalevala tells one version of the story. On the day of Talvennapa ("the navel of winter"), the Great Oak that blocks the Sun is symbolically cut down. Yule time ends, weather starts to warm up again and the days grow visibly longer.

My calendar says this is the so-called official day. But for practical reasons, couple of my friends are coming over next Saturday for the occasion. And of course, I'm already nervous about the food part. We'll see about that.

In the meanwhile, I stumbled across a recipe for hemp pockets. The original directions are very vague so I followed them just as vaguely. They never explained how these are supposed to be pockets so I just made small pancakes. Even though I ended up using more wheat flour than the original called for and adding some water instead of a massive amount of oil they can't be folded into pockets without breaking them. I haven't decided yet whether I like these or not. The taste is nutty, very robust and down-to-earth. But I ate them with a dip sauce I can most certainly recommend for anyone.

The pancakes:
- 1 dl hemp flour
- 2 dl wheat flour
- 0.5 dl rape oil (or to be consistent, hemp oil)
- 1 dl water

Mix the ingredients. Mold into small balls and then into thin discs between your fingers. Fry on a dry pan from both sides.

The dip:
- 1 dl soft tofu (or if you're a fan of hemp seeds, 1 dl of them roasted and crushed)
- 100 g pickled bell pepper (or 1 roasted)
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 sun dried tomato pieces

Blend all the ingredients into a smooth sauce.

Nutritional values / 350 g and 227 g:
energy 1066 kcal and 238 g
fat 54 g and 10 g
protein 41 g and 24 g
carbohydrates 103 g and 13 g
fiber 12 g and 6 g


Garlic Potatoes ‒ Valkosipuliperunat

Sorry the dish in the photo is almost eaten already. I thought I'd photograph the remains during the next day's sunlight but we gobbled up the whole batch in a flush. This dish is always a definite success, at least if you love garlic. The idea is to get a crispy outer layer and soft but garlicky inside. This time I also mixed a few spoonfuls of soft hefu with the yogurt, but that's not really an essential part of the recipe.

- 1 kg potatoes
- 2 whole garlics
- 1 onion
- 3 dl nut yogurt (you can replace this with soy yogurt of course but you'll miss something)
- 2 dl oat milk
- white pepper
- salt
- 1 tablespoon rape oil

Wash the potatoes well but don't peel. Cut them into thick slices, preferably with a knife. Oil a casserole. Lay the potato slices into rows so that they overlap each other. Chop and sauté the onion with some oil. Mince the garlic. Mix the onion, the garlic and the spices with the nut yogurt and spread it on the potatoes. Pour the milk evenly over the rest.

Bake at 200°C until the crust looks a little brown (about 45-60 minutes).

Nutritional values / 1584 g:
energy 1761 kcal
fat 95 g
protein 47 g
carbohydrates 176 g
fiber 44 g


Yogurt ‒ Jukurtti

Soy yogurt is sold in every food store I use. It's a nicely multifunctional thing in cooking but sometimes you want some extra flavour. Luckily, making different yogurt varieties yourself couldn't get any easier.

All you need is some nuts, oatmeal or seeds. First soak them overnight and in the case of nuts and seeds, drain and rinse. You can even sprout the seeds a little. Then you just have to purée the ingredients with some water. (The idea is basically to get unfiltered vegetable milk or cream so it's more complicated process when making soy yogurt. Like this.) Pour the cream into a non-metal container and let it go sour on the kitchen table for couple of days (taste every now and then to decide the best length for you) and refrigerate if you're not using it right away. Don't bother to cover the bowl or glass unless you have pets or an insect problem. Just check there's enough water for the yogurt to swallow. Some people like to add some of their own bacteria starters (usually the remains of the previous yogurt) before the fermenting to get more health benefits or speed up the process.

I thought I'd compare different sorts of yogurts a bit which is why there are as many as four of them in the photo. The ingredients from left to right are rye flakes, oatmeal and sprouted buckwheat, pine nuts and finally hazel nuts. The structure depends on the initial amount of water but generally nuts make creamier yogurts than flakes since they contain more fat. For the same reason, you can clearly see how water separates from the nut cream during the process. Think the oat version has the most pleasing sourness of these. On the other hand, the hazel version has the most recognizable original flavour left.

Besides sauces and other cooking, these yogurts can of course be eaten on their own or crowned with berries and talkkuna.


Onion Soup ‒ Sipulikeitto

Hot soups are exactly what I need when it's freezing outside. Onion soup is cheap, light and simple to make yet extremely savory.

This alone will hardly fill your stomach so I did what the French do: oven sandwiches. For some reason they also like to set the bread floating in the soup (well, actually they put the whole soup in the oven) but have to say I personally prefer them separated. On the next day you can use this soup as the basis for a bit more filling meal by adding potatoes, veggies and tofu.

The soup:
- 8 onions (it looks nice if you mix yellow and red ones)
- 1 l water
- 2 dl apple wine
- 1 large dose of stock
- 2 tablespoons rape oil for frying
- whole black peppers
- salt
- sugar
- thyme
- yarrow flowers

The bread:
- 6 toasted bread slices
- 2 dl soy yogurt
- 100 g melting soy cheese
- 0.5 dl nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons mustard powder
- 3 garlic cloves

Slice the onions and caramelize them by frying in a low heat for an extended period (half an hour should do). Add the wine at the end of the caramelization to deglaze the pan. Be careful not to burn the onions cause that makes the soup bitter. When the onions have turned sweet, add the rest of the soup ingredients. Let the soup simmer for half an hour under a lid.

Grind the soy cheese, mince the garlic and mix them with the yogurt, the yeast and the mustard. Spread the mixture on the bread slices and place in a 200°C oven until they look crunchy and golden (about ten minutes).

Nutritional values / 2190 g soup and 1 bread:
energy 633 kcal and 235 kcal
fat 27 g and 8 g
protein 12 g and 8 g
carbohydrates 46 g and 15 g
fiber 16 g and 2 g


Mustard Foam ‒ Sinappivaahto

I find the experimentalism of molecular gastronomy really fun and interesting. How could we ever come up with new recipes if we never played with food? That being said, this experiment clearly went onto my failure pile.

I saw this idea of mustard foam and thought it would make a nice dressing for my lunch salad featuring pear cubes and the remains of a seitan roast (the structure of which I like to make as dry and crumbly as I can). But the foam turned out way too faint and quickly vanishing for the mission so I had to substitute it with normal mustard instead. I can't really come up with any way to use this foam, save for the fact that fruit flies were happy to drown themselves in the liquid. Well, while I still have lecithin left I guess I'll have to make some other uses for it. Apparently it should make bread fluffier, and perhaps this type of foam would work better in hot drinks.

- 3 dl water
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon soy lecithin
(vinegar, salt, paprika)

First blend the mixture into a smooth liquid. Let it stand for at least fifteen minutes to let the mustard build up some burning sensation. Add some flavourings if you wish. Whip to get foam. Spoon the foam on whatever you wish to use it with.


Turnip Discs ‒ Nauriskiekot

Every now and then I manage to find real swidden turnips (kaskinauris, the earliest turnip variety cultivated by Finno-Ugric peoples). Since it's a rare pleasure I want to savor them on their own, cooked in a simple and humble way.

- 500 g turnips
- about 0.5 dl spruce syrup (plus some water if it looks too thick)
- 2 dl bread crumbs (preferably rye)
- 0.5 dl nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons mustard powder
- herb salt
- powdered orange zest or ginger
- rape oil for frying (about 2 tablespoons)

Wash the turnips carefully and remove the bad parts. Cut thick slices out of them with a good knife. Mix the bread crumbs, the nutritional yeast and the spices. Pat the discs with spruce syrup (I find this easiest to do with fingers). Dip the discs in the bread crumb mixture and throw on a hot and oiled frying pan. Turn them over a few times to get them evenly cooked. The discs are ready to eat as soon as they've acquired that beautiful golden colour.

Nutritional values / 702 g:
energy 981 kcal
fat 39 g
protein 27 g
carbohydrates 129 g
fiber 14 g


Vodka Sauce ‒ Votkakastike

Happy this year! Quite many people in Finland have a habit of going totally teetotal for January. This questionnaire even suggests that during 2008 as many as a quarter of the whole population stuck to tipaton tammikuu, "dropless January". I've never heard of anything like that happening in any other country. The rest of us on the other hand are persistent alcohol people. That means alcoholics as much as outdoors people means homeless.

Those who aren't alcohol people often think that such delicate drink as vodka doesn't have any other taste besides alcohol. Sure, most vodkas are made by distilling it almost to pure alcohol and then diluted down to about 38 percent (the ideal volume according to Dmitri Mendeleev who worked several happy years for the Russian Tsar to find this out). But that 2 percent of impurity or possibly the water lead into significant results in character. If you're not used to spirits, try comparing them mixed with water. The differences should become quite oblivious.

Why am I jabbering about this? Because the key to success in the following recipe is to select a quality vodka with a smooth taste. Most of these are made in the traditional Vodka Belt of Northern and Eastern Europe. I prefer Russkiy Standart, Finlandia or Smirnoff, you may like something else. The point is it should be something you could enjoy on its own. And of course, your homemade moonshine can only be called vodka if it's made exclusively out of grain or potato, although EU has some twisted ideas about this definition.

As you may have noticed, I like to use alcohol beverages in cooking. I don't do it only to bring a whip of their own aged flavours into the food but also to release some of the alcohol soluble components (which tomato has quite a lot). Alcohol acts as a flavour enhancer. Sorry to crush your hopes but most of the alcohol content burns off when heated so it won't get you drunk, unless you pour the lion's share of it directly into the chef. I got the idea for this sauce from Veganomicon (Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, Perseus Books Group 2007) and decided to add raspberries that pair nicely with tomato. Besides pasta, it fits for example with seitan or simple fried veggies. This time I went for the easy way and added some beans to call it a full supper.

- 1 dl vodka
- 400 g canned, crushed tomatoes (If you absolutely insist to start with fresh ones you'll first have to roast them or simmer them for about an hour.)
- 100 g frozen rasberries
- 1 dl soaked almonds
- 2 dl cooked fava beans
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 1 dose of stock
- 3 cloves of garlic
- basil
- dragon's wort
- marjoram

Sauté the beans in the oil to get some colour on them. Add the raspberries, the tomatoes and the spices. Simmer until the sauce has a nice, thick structure. Add the vodka. Cook a few minutes more until the stinginess of ethanol has given way to caramel-like sweetness, with just a hint of that wonderful burning bite left. Make a smooth paste out of the almonds and add to the sauce. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast flakes on your pasta portion.

Nutritional values / 834 g:
energy 1076 kcal
fat 53 g
protein 32 g
carbohydrates 60 g
fiber 22 g
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