Rhubarb Tart with White Chocolate ‒ Valkosuklaa-raparperipiirakka

I'm now going to post something that probably hundreds of other food bloggers are posting within a week. This is the rhubarb season, and the most classic thing to make from the excess of rhubarbs so many people seem to get from their garden is a tart or pie. Sometimes I wish this wonderfully sour plant would get to be used a bit more creatively, but then again, classics are usually classics for a reason. This year I tried to find some variation to the classic by combining the sourness of rhubarb to the rounded taste of white chocolate, which complements it just wonderfully especially when still a bit melted.

This base fits into many types of pies and tarts so if you want to variate it, try adding cocoa powder or replacing some of the flour with something crunchier like rye flour.

Basic shortcrust pastry:
- 150 g margarine
- 4 dl wheat flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 0.5 dl cold water
- 1 tsp baking powder

- 5 rhubarb stalks
- 200 g white chocolate (milk-free white chocolates seem to have huge differences so taste before deciding which one to use)
- 5 dl soy yogurt (or oat)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
- mint

Pick the sugar and the margarine together between your fingers. Add the flour, mixed with the baking powder. Keep picking until you have a bowl full of crumby mixture. Knead it together with the water to acquire a paste. Move in the fridge for a while.

While the dough is cooling down, prepare the filling. Chop the rhubarb and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Either chop the chocolate into flakes with a knife or use a blender. Mix with the yogurt and the sugar. Spice with dried mint.

Spread the dough into your mold. Cover with rhubarb pieces. Cover the rhubarb pieces with the yogurt mixture. The idea here is to leave the rhubarb deliciously sour but place it between two sweet layers.

Bake in a 200°C oven for 45 minutes or until the yogurt has coagulated and perhaps even got some colour. If you want the structure to hold together better, you'll need the patience of an elephant: let it cool down well, perhaps even spend the night in the fridge before serving.

Nutritional values / 1890 g:
energy 3771 kcal
fat 126 g
protein 64 g
carbohydrates 341 g
fiber 25 g


Beggar's Nettle Purses ‒ Kerjäläisen nokkosnyytit

My spouse loves making crepes although I need to watch his back since he can get quite picky on which ones looks absolutely perfect and which ones he tries to dump into bio waste bucket. It usually falls into my responsibility to decide how to top them. This time the fresh nettle leaves I had just been picking  were the oblivious choice.

I do fully admit using nettle inside crepes is really just another variation of making classic nettle pancakes. But it's a nice one, no way around it. And wrapping the crepe around the filling into a surprise package does give it a whole new touch. Somehow wrapping thing inside each other always feels more exciting than just placing them next to each other on the plate. The original beggar's purses are mini-size appetizers filled with caviar so for these more filling versions, I came up with the idea of using beluga lenses which are sometimes called "vegetarian's caviar".

The crepes:
- 1 litre oat milk
- 3 dl barley flour
- 3 dl wheat flour
- 1.5 dl melted margarine
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- oil or margarine for frying

The filling:
- 1 l fresh nettle leaves (or 150 g blanched and frozen)
- 2 dl beluga lenses
- 2 dl oat cream
- 2 tbsp tar liqueur (or 1 tbsp dark syrup and 1 tsp liquid smoke)
- salt

For decoration:
- Spring onion stalks

Whisk the flours into the cold milk little by little. Add the rest of the crepe batter. You can also sprinkle a little bit of turmeric Leave alone for an hour or so. Heat up the frying pan and make sure you're using enough oil to keep the crepes from sticking. Pour a ladleful of batter evenly on the pan. Tilt the pan to make sure it spreads evenly but thinly. When the edges start look golden and the center also holds together. Loosen with a spatula and turn around. When the other side is done as well, move aside and add more oil before continuing with the next crepe.

Rinse the lenses. Wash the nettles, cut out bad parts or stalks and chop the rest into smaller pieces. Put all the filling ingredients into the same pot and add enough water to almost cover them. Cook until the liquid has absorbed and the lenses are done. About 30‒40 minutes should do.

For the serving, place a spoonful of the filling on the crepe. Collect the edges into a perfect looking package.and tie carefully together with a string or a spring onion stalk.

Nutritional values / 2337 g (without the frying oil):
energy 3671 kcal
fat 149 g
protein 114 g
carbohydrates 452 g
fiber 68 g


Some opening up about my complicated relationship to food ethics

I find it interesting that people often seem to jump to the conclusion that I'm a vegan since I keep a vegan food blog. Some have even said they can't follow my blog because it's vegan. For me, it's really hard to get inside this logic. What is it so terrible about oat cream that only a vegan could use it? I mean, I've never refused for a gluten-free bread or seen anything disgusting about it even if I mostly use Finnish grains (which all contain glutein). On the contrary, I'd like to learn some gluten-free baking myself just because I'm interested to see how it works and possibly to get more variation to my diet that way.

In reality, my relationship with food ethics is much more complicated and defies categories. I do respect vegans a lot since they, unlike most people it seems, actually follow their own ethical principles. Then again, I also respect hunters who are ready to kill their own food, at least the ones who stay in moderation and show proper respect to their prey. I also respect people who take good care of their pet chickens and eat their eggs. On the other hand, I don't have much of any respect towards the meat industry that only sees other living beings as production units and torturing them in any way acceptable as long as it's profitable. Or people who lie to their children this is how cows they abuse live. Also, I find the amazing amounts of animal products people in the western world have come to eat today as anything but sustainable or healthy and think it's utterly unreasonable to eat them every day let alone on every single meal.

After sixth grade when I had started to realise where sausages come from I stopped eating red meat. I kept eating fish though, which was probably a good thing for my health considering I had no idea about nutrition or protein sources and the grownups in that small hillbilly town had even less. For a long, long time, I accustomed to food being something that everyone around me – including my friends, family and first boyfriends – could freely mock me about and that didn't need to taste much of anything. Still, writing about my thoughts this openly feels uncomfortable. When I met my ex who's a lacto-ovo vegetarian we ate the same food of course and after a while I realized I hadn't eaten fish in a whole year so maybe it wasn't something I'd really need or even miss anyway. The years with him also taught me to actually cook instead of just warming convinience food and that food can really be something fun and pleasurable thing that has the power of bringing us together.

My blog is vegan because nearly all the food I cook is. Simple isn't it? It's not completely vegan though. On the last new year's eve we hosted a Japanese evening for friends and that included a tamagoyaki, and couple of times during the spring I've made pizza with cheeze on top. I don't think my blog would gain anything more if I posted those foods too. I find food blogs with a clear theme are usually better, so I try to tell you guys about the kind of cuisine I have something I can share. That means for example that since I consider myself more expert in Finnish food, I won't even try to tell you guys how to make sushi – the Internet is full of great instructions already, sometimes even written by Japanese themselves, but finding information about Finnish food culture in English is much harder. In the same way, I feel the world is full enough of animal recipes so I might as well recommend something I think people could eat more often, be they vegan or not.

Outside home I usually go with the title lacto-ovo vegetarian purely since I'm a lazy bastard and in the countryside even that can leave you hungry. Not always sure if that's such a good idea though. That seems to give some meat eaters the idea that vegetarian food absolutely must contain eggs and cow milk, which has practically made me hate butter and cream that seem to cover any other taste on my plate with that somehow rotten one. (Sometimes I even get this weird impulse of wanting to strangle the first person who got the idea of ruining a perfectly good cake with whipped cream.) Also, I'm not especially fond of the idea of consciously acquiring osteoporosis or raising my risk for cancer. I do love good quality cheese with wine and some sour milk products with quite a unique taste like piimä (a type of buttermilk), but of course I only eat them couple of times a year and could perfectly give up that bulk I don't even like. At the moment that's the direction I'm aiming at.

But I can't say my personal ideal of the moment is going totally vegan either. I don't think I'm ever going to care about carefully examining product descriptions in case of animal based food additives, though I would ideally like to cook most of the things I eat myself anyway and discard candies or such alltogether. I'll probably continue using otherwise such a handy mycoprotein source as Quorn though the company making it uses egg as a binder instead of some better ingredient. Moreover, I've been thinking I could learn to include some meat I feel ethically sound about in my diet a few times a year, mostly out of principle. This summer I'm planning I'd try fishing first time since childhood and next time I visit Lapland I might take a bite of reindeer that are let free to roam and eat the things they're adapted to eat – no matter what some Englishmen think. Lately I've also been seriously pondering about the possibility of rasing insects for food like UN wishes.

Still, I don't see much reason to include these possible attempts in Mämmi, just like I don't include sushi. This blog will always stay vegan and that's a promise.


Cream of Fireweed Soup ‒ Maitohorsmasosekeitto

As you may remember, I'm not especially fond of bouillon cubes that don't seem to give any taste to the dishes you use them in besides a little saltiness and sometimes a remotely industrial aroma. Every now and then I like to make my own stock bases from stalks and remains and store them in the freezer. Miso, some curry pastes and most seaweeds can give a nice base to a soup, but they don't really fit terribly well into most European-style dishes. Besides the water where rutabaga and cabbage have been cooked for a looong time, lovage makes a nice quick option. Just put a sprig of it into the soup or sauce right in the beginning of the process.

- 1 l fireweed shoots
- 4 carrots (or potatoes)
- about 6 dl water
- 2 dl oat cream
- 1 lovage sprig
- 1 tbsp rape oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp apple wine vinegar 
- tarragon
- salt

Rinse the fireweeds. Lightly sauté them in oil. Add the spices, carrots in small chunks so they'll cook quicker and enough water to just about to cover the veggies. When the carrots feel soft, blend the soup smooth. If you don't like the additional mouthfeel you can also filter out the remaining bits and pieces. Add the cream just before eating.

This makes a nice starter or a lunch together with those lovely Scandinavian-style open sandwiches.

Nutritional values / 1480 g:
energy 603 kcal
fat 38 g
protein 124 g
carbohydrates 50 g
fiber 33 g


Bright New Potato Salad ‒ Kirkas perunasalaatti uusista perunoista

Ground elder has long been on my list of wild vegetables I'd like to take into my repertoire. It's one of those plants that other bloggers into this kind of things seem charmed about. As I've walked around, it's felt as if I see it everywhere, but haven't had the courage to pick. You see, it's a real danger to mix it up with some other vascular plant, which in turn can be quite poisonous. This is especially an issue if you want to pick young shoots which are all wrinkled. The plants should really be recognised on the previous summer and see there isn't other plants between them before returning to the place.

Yesterday I visited a friend who lives in this lovely little cottage by a small forest, but only a ten-minute bus journey away from the city center. She gave me some rhubarb and lovage from her garden but also showed me a dense growth of ground elders and gave me scissors so I could pick them myself and thus learn how they grow. This feels much more assuring than just looking at pictures of them.

Now I should only learn how to best use them. The first thing I tried was as the salad leaves in this seasonal salad. In Finland potato salad usually means potato cubes drowned in mayonnaise or such but I didn't really think that would make right to potatoes at their best.

- 600 g new potatoes
- 1 big punch of young ground elders
- 1  small punch of pea shoots
- 1 small punch of spring onion
- 1 pickle
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic or white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp mustard

Don't peel the potatoes but wash if they're muddy. Cook in salted water. If they're bigger than your mouth, cut them a little. Rinse the ground elders, the pea shoots and the onions. Cut them into convenient pieces and add with the potatoes. Chop the pickle as well.

Mix the salad. Add the sauce ingredients. Mix again. Eat right away or let it marinade for a few hours.


Quickie Ice Cream ‒ Pikajäätelö

Today it already felt like summer and people were lying on the grass as I walked through a park. I have a feeling this summer I'll be making a lot of ice creams again ‒ they're simple and much tastier than store-bought ones. Plus, you get to experiment with your personal favourite ingredients and different bases. My flat mate has an ice cream maker I still haven't tried but the bowl part needs to be put into freezer a day before making the treat so it's not suitable for instant urges. For that kind of situations I recommend a banana based quick version of ice cream or sorbet. So every time your bananas start to look overdone, peel and chop them and move into freezer to wait for the ice cream moment. Multiply the ingredient amounts of this recipe with the amount of eaters.

- 1 ripe, frozen banana
- 1 dl frozen lingonberries (or any other berries)
- 1 dl soy yogurt (or vegetable cream of your choise)
- cardamom

Blend the yogurt and the berries together. Then add banana chunks to the mass and smoothen. If the banana chunks or berries are too tough for your blender, let them melt but only ten minutes or so. If the taste seems too sour for your liking, add some powdered sugar or other sweetener. Decorate with a pinch of cardamom.

Nutritional values / 310 g:
energy 396 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 7 g
carbohydrates 34 g
fiber 5 g


Sailor Steak ‒ Merimiespihvi

I haven't managed to find out the origin of this dish. It used to be quite a common home food, but the name leads to assume it really does originate from ship menus. According to a legend, in the seas it was better known as "One Has Gone from the Lot" ("Yksi on joukosta poissa") as it was usually served right after some crew member had been reported missing. "No land ahoy this week either, but don't worry guys, we did have some meat after all."

Merimiespihvi consists of sliced beef, potato and onion, all simmered in beer (which in some modern versions is unforgivably replaced by regular broth). It doesn't resemble a steak for one bit, so I can only assume this is the closest thing to a steak your average sailors in the old days ever managed to see. Instead of beef I used seitan which we happened to have quite a lot left from this meal. The long preparation time somehow turns these simple ingredients into a rather original tasting dish that wouldn't be the same at all if you just combined them on the plate.

Oh, and by the way: I created a Facebook page for Mämmi  to help some of you to follow what I post and have yet another way for conversation. You're all welcome to join!

- 1 portion of seitan (worth of about 4 dl gluten flour)
- 1 bottle of beer (schwarzbier or smoked beer fit here)
- 8‒10 potatoes
- 4 onions
- oil for frying
- 1 tsp whole black peppers
- thyme or a bay leaf
- stock  in case you need to complement the beer
- salt

Cut and club the seitan into mouth-sized, flat pieces. Fry on a pan. Slice the onions and sauté them a bit as well. Slice the potatoes. Arrange seitan, onion and potatoes in an oven pot layer by layer. Put a potato layer on top. Add the spices. Pour enough beer to just about to cover the upmost layer (and continue with stock in case one beer bottle isn't enough).

Cover the pot. Heat up the oven to 180°C and let the stew simmer there for at least two hours. Add water or broth in case it starts to look terribly dry while cooking. The final Merimiespihvi isn't meant to swim in broth anymore though.

Serve with pickles and/or pickled beet.

Nutritional values / 2295 g:
energy 2316 kcal
fat 49 g
protein 194 g
carbohydrates 226 g
fiber 32 g


Tofu and Nettle Pie ‒ Tofu-nokkospiiras

Your average stinging nettle is very likely the most versatile and nutritious Finnish plant. It grows just about everywhere and is at its best while still young and tender, so if you're planning to fill your freezer with just one foraged plant, this is a great choice. Nettle and spinach are fully replaceable in recipes but nettle doesn't contain oxalate so the taste is milder. This also makes it a great source for iron and calcium. It likes to collect nitrate in itself though, so please don't pick it near nitrogen-rich places such as composts or barns. The stinginess kind of prevents you to use it in salads, but it goes away by blanching, drying or just blending smooth.

This recipe combines a simple quiche-type of crust with Jael's way of making a filling that I've found excellent before and which I should've used back when I made this.

The Filling:
- 2 litres fresh nettle (or 150 g blanched and frozen)
- 2 onions
- 2 tomatoes
- 300 g silken tofu (if you're using regular soft tofu, blend it with a little bit of oil)
- 2 dl oat milk
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- oil for frying
- marjoram
- salt
- black pepper

The crust:
- 3.5 dl spelt or wheat flour
- 160 g margarine
- 3 tbsp cold water
- salt

On the previous day, wash the fresh nettles and put them in a water bowl to soak overnight. This way they won't sting when you pick their stalks off and you get to use the water to treat you hair or houseplants. Optionally, you can just use gloves and scissors and bleach them right away by cooking in water for a short period.

Make the crust by combining the ingredients by your hand. Butter you pie plate and spread the dough evenly. It's recommended that you cool down the dough in a refrigerator before using it and then precook the crust for ten minutes without the filling but I don't usually bother.

Chop and sauté the onion. When starting to acquire some colour, add the nettle and cook for a moment more. Blend the tofu, the milk, the  nutritional yeast, the cornstarch and the spices together, then mix with the onion and the nettle. Slice the tomatoes and place them on the crust. Then pour the rest of the filling on it and spread.

Cook for about 40 minutes in a 200°C oven. Enjoy warm or cold, as a main course or as  a salty snack.

Nutritional values / 1504 g:
energy 2352 kcal
fat 142 g
protein 61 g
carbohydrates 203 g
fiber 31 g


Garlic Sautéd Fireweed Shoots ‒ Valkosipulissa kuullotetut horsmanversot

We're finally getting to enjoy the first wild veggies. On Thursday we picked some fireweed and nettle from a nearby forest. Fireweed is at its best when the young shoots haven't grown leaves yet and get often compared to asparagus. (It seems like most of the veggies with an edible stalk get compared to asparagus but it's useful in that looking at asparagus recipes gives you good ideas about how to cook fireweed shoots too.) The smallest ones are great  for salads since they still have the sweetness the plant has been hiding in its roots all winter. A bit longer ones, less than 20 cm long, taste mild but delicious and fit in pretty much any cooked dish. The thing why you're not likely to see them sold in stores is that they tend to droop very quickly and lose their wonderful snappiness after you cut them and should be eaten on the same day.

Lightly roasting with oil and salt is usually what I find the best way to enjoy a veggie's aromas. And that felt like the best way to cook these delicacies since this was the first tasting of them this year. They're a nice warm sidekick to any meal but we (after the initial gnawing) had them with pasta and basic soy crumble sauce.

- 1 handful of fireweed shoots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp rape oil (or other vegetable oil that doesn't have a strong taste)
- salt

See the fireweeds look alright. Rinse or cut the stalks a little if it seems they need it. Mince the garlic. Heat up the oil on a pan and toss in the garlic. Lay the fireweeds on them. Turn around until they look done but haven't completely lost their green colour. Sprinkle with salt. Enjoy on the spot.

Nutritional values / 74 g:
energy 152 kcal
fat 14 g
protein 16 g
carbohydrates 5 g
fiber 3 g


Wiener Rolls ‒ Nakkipiilot

I was born in a completely different world than where I now live. It's not just in the 80's there was no WWW or mobile phones, no one cared whether the environment was being destroyed or not and people lived in constant fear of nuclear war that would destroy the whole planet. Also, Finland was much poorer, closed and conservative place back then. You couldn't import vegetables that were cultivated domestically, which basically means there was no watery Spanish tomatoes during winter. No one had heard of mangos either, and wild veggies were something you wouldn't feed even to your pet rabbit. Perhaps this already explains why there was no vegetarian restaurants either.

Though I wouldn't want to return to that time when I wore diapers, I still have this weird nostalgic affair with 80's recipes which sound just as awful as the clothes they wore back then. These once so popular party snacks are called Wiener Hideouts in Finnish. And yes, that sounds just as suggstive as it does in English. Someday I should really try to make the basic flaky pastry myself, but right now the store-bought just felt too cheap, easy to find and nearly always vegan.

- 250 g flaky pastry (or puff pastry)
- 1 package of gluten-based teeny-weeny sausages (they're called prinssinakit or prince wieners in Finnish)
- 0.5 dl ketchup
- oregano

Roll and cut the pastry into as many squares as you have wieners. Apply spices if you wish. Place the wiener in the middle and close the pastry around it. Place it on a baking sheet with the seam side down. Cook 10‒15 minutes in a 225°C oven.

Nutritional values / 460 g:
energy 1363 kcal
fat 85 g
protein 73 g
carbohydrates 74 g
fiber 4 g


Doughnuts ‒ Munkit

Yesterday I also caught this sudden urge to make the classic May Day sugar dougnuts. My flatmate luckily has a perfect narrow but tall pot which is actually meant for asparagus, so that half a bottle of rape oil I had was enough for the operation. Really it all turned out surprisingly easy. And now that I remember it, I felt just the same way couple of years ago when making another deep-fried May Day treat, tippaleipäs. Perhaps I've been scared as a child about how the oil splashes and how dangerous this is, which of course may have been for a reason back then. But now that I'm a responsible adult (yeah, right) I think I really could try this cooking method for some salty dish as well.

The proportions come straight from Kamomillan konditoria, my absolute favourite blog on the rare occasion when I feel like pastry baking.

- about 8 dl wheat flour
- 2.5 dl soy milk
- 0.5 dl sugar (plus some for decoration)
- 50 g margarine
- 25 g yeast
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 0.5 tsp salt
- oil for deep frying (see it's suitable for high cooking temperatures)

Warm up the milk in a temperature where you can still stick your hand in it. Dissolve the yeast. Add sugar, salt and cardamom. Dissolve the margarine. Add half of the flours and start kneading. Keep adding flour until the dough starts to detach from the bowl but still feels runny. Knead until it doesn't want to stick to your hands either. Cover with a towel and let it rise for about an hour.

Take a chunk out of the dough, roll them into bars between your hands and connect the ends. Repeat until you've finished the whole dough. Let the circles rise for about 30 minutes more under a towel.

Make sure you're aware of the necessary safety precautions and know what to do even in case the hot oil catches fire. Tehn heat up the oil. Drop a small piece of the dough to estimate when it's hot enough. Using a fork or a spoon, lay the dougnuts into the pot one by one ‒do not drop. Wait a few eyeblinks and turn the doughnut around. Wait a bit more, then fish it out and place on a plate filled with sugar. Start the frying process of the next doughnut, roll the previous one in sugar and place on the serving plate, then turn the one frying around.

Keep going like this until all the doughnuts are ready. Let the oil cool down before getting rid of it in the way you local waste authorities advise you to. The doughnuts are at their best when still warm.

Nutritional values / 863 g: (Estimating how much deep frying adds is really all about estimating how well you do it so these amounts only count the actual dough.)
energy 2393 kcal
fat 52 g
protein 79 g
carbohydrates 399 g
fiber 20 g


Juniper Sima ‒ Katajasima

Unlike in most of the Europe, in Finland May Day is a huge carnival. Students may start a moist celebration even a week early. Streets are full of paper streamers and balloons. The eve is usually reserved for heavy drinking and the actual day off has traditionally had more political approach. Especially leftists are famous for their parades and speeches, though they're not what they used to be when the Soviet Union was still alive and kicking. It doesn't really resemble the more traditional spring celebration hela at all and could be more accurately described as a newcomer tradition.

Me and couple of my friends have usually hold a picnic on the May Day eve, inside since it's usually raining and as far as possible from all that merry-go-round. This year our health care professionals had to work on the eve, so we moved the partying for today. Since there isn't much growing outside yet I thought this year I'd try spicing my traditional sima with juniper berries.

- 4 litres water
- 500 g farin sugar (Muscovado would probably work just as well, but you might condsider replacing some of it with regular sugar.)
-  1 dl juniper berries
- about 50 g piece of ginger
- a fingertip sized piece of fresh yeast

Crush the juniper berries a little so they're more ready to release their aroma. Peel and chop the ginger. Put both of them into a bucket that is able to hold the whole portion. Boil 2 litres water and pour over the spices. Add the sugar and the rest of the water straight from the tap. Mix it all. When the water has cooled down to lukewarm, you may let the yeast loose. Cover the bucket.

Wait a day or even two. Stir the liquid a few times. Through a filter, pour the sima into bottles. Add a teaspoonful of sugar into each of them if you want your sima to sprinkle. The drink is ready in three days and at its best after a week. Remember to monitor the pressure isn't driving it out of the bottles before you want it out.

Here's an apropriate song to accompany the tasting.

Nutritional values / 4 l:
energy 1950 kcal
fat 0 g
protein 1 g
carbohydrates 485 g
fiber 0 g
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