Tar Triangles ‒ Tervakolmiot

Continuing with the theme "simple cooking", today I made crusted tofu with potatoes and basic brown sauce. Too bad I forgot the lingonberry jam from the photo.

- about 350 g firm tofu (smoked or marinated in tar liqueur)
- 2 dl oat or soy milk
- 3 tbsp potato flour
- bread crumbs
- nutritional yeast
- small seeds for decorative purpose, for example hemp seeds, oat grains or pine kernels
- dry spices, for example onion powder, paprika powder, curry, black pepper and chili powder
- 1.5 dl tar liqueur (my new favourite seasoning)
- rape oil

Pour a good pond of oil in a large frying pan and turn on the stove. Cut the tofu in 16 flat pieces. (For me, triangle shapes look the nicest.) Dissolve the flour in the milk. Mix all the other dry ingredients in a bowl. Dip the tofu pieces in the milk, roll them in the crust mixture and put them on the pan. When you've fried the triangles from both sides, pour the tar liqueur on them and let most of the liquid vaporize before serving.

And by the way, the remainings of the crusting materials can be used to make a sauce.

Nutritional values / 1 piece / about 30 g (This doesn't include the liqueur cause I can't find any information about it's contents besides the alcohol percent)
Energy 71.4 kcal
Fat 3.9 g
Protein 4.5 g
Carbohydrates 4.9 g
Fiber 0.5 g

Spinach Soup ‒ Pinaattisoppa

I was forced to eat spinach soup in school. I couln't. I felt throwing up as I tried to swallow just a spoonful. It felt like glue and tasted plain disgusting. Nowadays it's one of my favourite foods.

For some reason, I can't seem to find any normal spinach soup recipe in English. Didn't consider it to be an especially Finnish treat, but maybe I was wrong. As a kid I though I felt I was going to throw up when I was forced to eat it in school but today it's one of my favourite soups. This is as simple as it gets:

- 300 g frozen spinach (or 1,5 litres of fresh nettle leaves)
- 1 liter oat milk or soy milk
- 3 tbsp wheat flour (or potato flour)
- salt

Pour about 2 dl milk into a cup and dissolve the flour in it. Put the rest of the milk in a pot and let it come to a boil. Remember to stir or it will pour all over the stove. Mix in the flour milk and let it come to a boil again. Now throw in the spinach and some salt. Keep stirring. When the soup starts to look even, add some more salt. (Did I ever claim this was some health blog?) Spoon it into a bowl and add a fresh dose of salt. Taste if it's salty enough. If not, sprinkle salt.

It's possible to add some other spices as well, but only rather mild ones. Be careful, otherwise you'll just ruin the delicate taste.

Of course, like any spinach food this would be even better with young nettles. We'll get back to that in springtime.

Nutritional values / 1330 g
Energy 447 kcal
Fat 14 g
Protein 31 g
Carbohydrates 46 g
Fiber 28 g


Tavastian Rye Rusks ‒ Hämäläiset ruiskorput

During the last talvennapa (An old pagan feast around January 13th to celebrate the ending of joulu ‒ that is Christmas time ‒ and welcome the Sun or Päivätär back.) I tried a Tavastian rusk my friend had baked for the occasion. I bit but it wouldn't break. I gnawed but it didn't do much help either. Eventually it took me about an hour to finish the damn thing. And since I still got some tooth left I decided I have to make those myself. I mean we never have anything to offer for the guests cause we hoard everything ourselves, probably to survive over winter. These have coped well, almost like dwarf bread, Terry Pratchett's parody of lembas.

Got this recipe from another friend (Thanks Lemelina!) who was also the source for the baker of the ones I had crunched. Only tweaked it by changing the cow milk into soy milk (which I find richer than oat milk) and butter into margarine.

- 6 dl soy milk
- 50 g yeast
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 dl dark syrup
- 2 tbsp caraway
- 13 dl rye flour
- 200 g margarine (for example Keiju 70%)

Dissolve the yeast into lukewarm milk. Mix in everything else except the margarine. Start with a wooden fork and continue by hand. Now also add the margarine. Let the dough rise under a kerchief for couple of hours.

Knead the dough even and form oval buns out of it. Bake them in 225°C for 8‒10 minutes. Let them cool down a little. Halve them with a fork and place on the baking sheet with the split side upwards. Put the rusks back in the oven you already turned off and let them brown in the residual heat. If your oven doesn't keep warm, put it on a mild temperature like 50°C until the rusks are dry.

At first I thought I did something wrong cause my rusks seemed edible. But eventually they dried on their own. Now they're perfect and yummy!

Nutritional values / 1 rusk / about 50 g
energy 123 kcal
fat 5 g
protein 3 g
carbohydrates 17 g
fiber 4 g


Mustard Roast ‒ Sinappipaisti

For some reason the structure of seitan doesn't appeal to me in most cases. You really should both boil and fry it before savouring. In this roast however, the structure is nice and firm. Only used to make it for Christmas until I realised it's easy to prepare and great on sandwich anytime. The recipe is mostly formed by combining the ones presented in this forum. Now my only concern is how to cook something that wouldn't feel too everyday for next Christmas. (Well it's only 10 months away!) Probably by stuffing and decorating. Like this.

- 4 dl wheat glutein (seitan) flour
- 1 dl graham flour
- 1 dl soy flour
- 1 dl nutritional yeast (oluthiiva)
- 1 dl soy sauce
- 0.5 dl mustard
- 0.5 dl smooth tomato sauce
- 0.5 dl rape oil
- 1 chili
- 3 cloves of garlic
- paprika powder
- black pepper
- marjoram
- water (approximately 3 ‒ 3.5 dl)
- breadcrumbs

Mix everything except the breadcrumbs together with your hands. Try to use as little water as possible while still getting a dough out of it. Mold it into a roast and place on a sheet of folio. Cover with breadcrumbs. (The mustard can also be used on the roast in order to make the crumbs stick better.) Wrap into the folio and roast 1,5 hours in the oven in 175°C. Best served cold with mustard.

The amount of spices may seem large but seitan itself tastes pretty lame. Of course you can replace the spices according to your own taste but I wouldn't just leave them out. Then again, I do like my food rather strong-flavoured.

Nutritional values / 953 g
energy 1748 kcal
fat 54 g
protein 201 g
carbohydrates 113 g
fiber 16 g


Veg Pan ‒ Kasvispaistos

It's often the spices that make the dish. My basic meals typically consist of anything I find from the fridge fried in a pan. Today it meant:

- 1 potato
- 1 cauliflower
- 1 beet
- 1 apple
- 1 onion
- 1 cup of textured soy protein strips (Wow, that sounds healthy! Can someone please tell me if there exists some handier name for this in English?)
- 1 dl sunflower seeds

With a little oil, garlic and chili this is already tasty in its own right.

This time however, I added some stuff in order to imitate Indian cuisine: curry, turmeric, ginger, lemon pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and at the very end 2 dl coconut milk. And of course we enjoyed the pan with lentils as sidekick.

But trying to spice it in a Finnish way I'd have to be more subtle. The idea is to emphasize the tastes of the ingredients, not to cover them. This I imagine is best done with herbs like chives, marjoram or caraway, pine leaves, juniper berries or lingonberries, perhaps even a drop of dark syrup. And this is of course best served with creamy barley grains.

Nutritional values / 1010 g (without the coconut milk or lenses)
energy 1002 kcal
fat 62 g
protein 48 g
carbohydrates 66 g
fiber 34 g


Shepard's Pie ‒ Paimenpiiras

For dinner, I tried to make a Shepard's Pie according to this recipe. (Still don't understand why every other vegan recipe name has to refer to carcasses in one way or another. This week I even saw vegetarian roe being sold.) It's not really a pie but almost like one of the many Finnish casseroles, except that the layers aren't mixed together.

Didn't stick to that recipe too obediently, and didn't get anything like the things in those pictures either. More than a pie, it reminded me of a casserole. First of all, I replaced most of the vegetables with one cup of textured soy protein crumbles (after all, the original versions contain leftover meat, not vegetables), frozen spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Instead of cornstarch (which I've never heard anyone using in Finland) I used some potato starch as thickener, apparently not enough though. Oh, and I was out of nutritional yeast (oluthiiva), but that shouldn't make much difference. I didn't have enough mashed potatoes to cover the whole thing. Also, the thing was in the oven (200°C) over half an hour before it even started to brown.

Nevertheless, it's the taste that counts and in this case it was excellent. Next time I'll just try it with more solid vegetables, more potato starch and more potatoes. I'll post the recipe after I've made it work myself.

Pea spread ‒ Hernelevite

Don't you just hate all those fat-free and taste-free light "butters" you're supposed to spread on breakfast bread in order to be able to leave your home without the help of a crane? Well, my favourite cook book Monipuolinen kasvisravinto (by Kaarina Virtanen, WSOY 2006) gives a big punch of recipes for different spreads, so I'm planning to experiment with them. The first try, Pea Spread, turned out quite excellent. Here's the version I used:

- 150 g dry peas
- 1 small onion
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove

Wash the peas and let them soak overnight. Next day, boil them with minced onion until they're soft. Add the other ingredients and mash. Spread over toasted rye bread and enjoy.

Next time I think I'll sprout the peas a little and use another garlic clove. The original recipe also uses a laurel leaf and 1 dl of fresh persil. At the moment my herb garden is next to dead, but you might want to add some of your own favourite herbs.

Nutritional values / 180 g
energy 688 kcal
fat 32 g
proteine 27 g
carbohydrate 73 g
fiber 16 g

The purpose

This modest starting shall evolve into a food blog. Yes, I know, there's an endless amount of them already. This one's among you to serve three main functions:

1. I'm mostly writing this to myself. It's nice to look what I've already achieved, get a good cataloged recipe book of my own, share my cooking with friends and occasionally even wonder the philosophical side of food. Unlike most food writers I'm planning to tell also about the kitchen failures and ponder why they went wrong.

2. My main interest here is Finnish cuisine, traditional as well as dishes with modern twists. This is also why I'm blogging in English. I want everyone to know how excellent food we have and how the tasteless crap with Mediterranean names you typically get from Finnish restaurants doesn't show the best of it. But since we're living the life of the modern noblemen here in wealthy western countries, I'll of course be enjoying some more exotic things as well.

3. All the foods here are vegan, so you can eat them with clean conscience and they are likely to fit all your guests as well. This may sound controversial with the previous point since ancient Finnish peoples (yes, that's a plural) lived mostly on fish, seals and occasional plants they found from the woods. However, after agriculture and steady life were introduced, the most common meals actually started to be based on root vegetables (turnip, potato, rutabaga, carrot, onion, beet) and grains (barley, rye, oat, spelt, millet). The excessive eating of meat and dairy products is by and large a modern invention. I'm not a strict vegan but a lacto-ovo vegetarian myself. This is an ethical choice, otherwise I consider myself an omnivore. If I don't like some food, I'll just keep eating it until I've learned to like it. There's not many things I despise more than squeamishness from grown-up people.

Those being said, let's move into the kitchen!
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