Rye Gingerbread ‒ Ruispiparit

I made a small batch of gingerbread cookies this year as well. I used half of my last year's
gingerbread recipe but replaced the wheat flour with sifted rye flour. There wasn't much difference in outlooks or taste really. Perhaps the structure seemed a bit crunchier or maybe I just hoped so. I think regular, unsifted rye flour would make even a better option.

Remember kids, anything with rye in it is health food!


Return of the Weird Glögis ‒ Outojen glögien paluu

Exceptionally, this Yule I don't plan to travel around the country but stay home and be lazy. I started it early on 21. with a friend of mine (since he didn't remember Winter Solstice was 22. this year) by raising a pint of Hyvä Tuomas for the rising Sun on the ice of the lake Näsijärvi. We didn't actually see the star of the 5-hour day at all since it was so cloudy but seeing that neverending white horizon I felt sorry I didn't bring my camera. Well, my fingers were all frozen already so maybe it was for the better.

Since I'm defintely not going to do anything useful during these few days the Sun rests on the shoulders of the Great Oak (in Finnish mythology they're called Pesäpäivät, "nest days") I could finally do things I've wanted to do quite a long time: read some novels, install Ubuntu and update this blog for a change. These hot drinks are from the pikkujoulu party me and my friends had. As you may remember, we did the same last year. (If the word "glögi" is all Creek to you, read this post first.) Everyone got to bring one recipe (I did the sea buckthorn version). I've made some minor alterations to them, for example by removing extra sugar if it seemed way too sweet. But feel free to adjust them according to your own taste.

Apple Tea Glögi

- 1 l water
- 2 dl apple juice
- 6 teaspoons of your favourite tea
- 4 tablespoons fariinisokeri or muscovado
- 2 tablespoons glögi spices (cinnamon, clove and ginger)
(- mint liqueur)

Prepare the tea. Remove the tea leaves. Add the other ingredients and let the mixture simmer for another ten minutes. Pour in cups and let everyone add mint liqueur as much as they please.

Black Currant Glögi with Mandarine

- 1 l apple juice
- 2 dl black currant juice (without added water)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 0.5 dl sugar
- 1 dl raisins
- 200 g preserved mandarine slices
(- vodka)

Put the juices, the sugar and the spices into a pot and let them simmer for five minutes. Pour the liquid part into cups. Finish off with the raisins, the mandarines and the vodka.

Pirate Glögi

- 8 dl pineapple juice
- 4 dl orange juice
- 2 dl water
- 2 dl dark rum
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped

Cook the ginger in the water for about ten minutes. Add both the juices. Heat the whole thing up but don't boil. Portion the rum into four glasses and pour the mixture on it. Decorate with small Pirate Party flags.

Sea Buckthorn Glögi

- 1 l unfiltered apple juice
- 2 dl sea buckthorn juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anises
- 1 piece of ginger
(- sugar)

Let the apple juice simmer together with spices for about an hour. Mix with the sea buckthorn juice only a moment before serving. Add sugar if you wish. I don't recommend alcohol with this since we noticed a surprising effect: half the taste seemed to disappear somewhere after adding only a sip of vodka.


Red Cabbage Salad ‒ Punakaalisalaatti

Tonight we'll be having our own traditional pikkujoulu party with a group of friends, just like we did last year. The idea of trying weird glögis turned out so well last time we thought we'd repeat it with some fresh recipes. I've also baked a chocolate cake for the occasion but I haven't tasted yet in which way is it to die for.

While waiting for the dessert, here's an extremely simple sidekick salad. It takes practically no time to prepare so it's just what you need when noticing your Joulu table is still missing something fresh. Cabbage and lingonberry are quite a regular combination in Finnish kitchen but somehow the nuts give it that special festive feeling.

- 500 g red cabbage
- 3 dl walnuts
- 2 dl lingonberry cram (with only a hint of sugar)

Shred the cabbage. Combine everything. Say: "Hyvää ruokahalua!"

For hi-fi version, toast the nuts. Depending on what else you're having on the plate you could also add couple of tablespoons of (nut) oil and some fennel seeds.

Nutritional values / 815 g:
energy 1401 kcal
fat 119 g
protein 35 g
carbohydrates 47 g
fiber 41 g


Pea and Beetroot Sauce ‒ Herne-punajuurikastike

Continuing with simple and humble comfort foods. Peas and beetroot make a really nice combination. I was making pea soup anyway, so I put some of the cooked peas aside for a fast dinner couple of day later. If you happen to have some canned pea soup in the closet it would also work as the basis. I think the cook book Härkäpapua sarvista (Irina Somersalo & al., Multikustannus 2007) has a similar pasta sauce but I didn't even look at the recipe while cooking so don't blame them.

- 5 beetroots (mine were rather small)
- 2 dl dry peas
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (or a dollop of the sour broth used for preserving beetroots)
- 1 chili pepper
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 dose of stock
- fennel seeds
- basil
- salt
- water

Soak the peas overnight. Cook them in plenty of water. Peel and slice the beetroots. Fry them on a hot pan with oil, chili and garlic. When they have softened up but still feel firm, add them to the pea pot, as well as the rest of the ingredients. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes more.

Enjoy the sauce for example with pasta. If you add some dark syrup, it gets a rather christmassy clang to it.

Nutritional values / 772 g:
energy 744 kcal
fat 16 g
protein 35 g
carbohydrates 111 g
fiber 27 g


Chocolate Waffles with Talkkuna and Berry Sauce ‒ Suklaavohlut talkkuna-marjakastikkeella

This isn't really a recipe but just a quick post about my evening snack on the other day. Funny how you get this squirrel mode on when it gets all dark and cold (I think -21°C on Monday was the record so far). I'm currently addicted into all things hot and filling, even overly sweet things which I don't care so much during summer.

The waffles in the photo are made with my basic rye waffle recipe, except that this time I added a few spoonfuls of cocoa powder and extra sugar. The real star was the sauce however. It consists of berries, sugar, some runny yogurt and about 1 dl of talkkuna, all blended together. As always, the berries are what ever I happened to grab from the freezer: sea buckthorn berries, lingonberries, bilberries and strawberries.

These paired rather nicely with the Swedish policeman Kurt Wallander (who has by the way taught me such wonderful expressions as "Finnish suicide").


Cabbage Casserole ‒ Kaalilaatikko

There's something very soothing in these numerous rustic casseroles. They're just the kind of thing I need when days grow shorter and colder and I wouldn't want to leave my bed at all. Unfortunately, this particular casserole is also one of those dishes that many Finns have learned to hate at school. All classics like that are something that I feel everyone should really try to cook themselves just once before judging. After all, if this isn't a comfort food I don't know what is.

This time I was out of barley so I used the rice that has been standing in my food closet for years. Funnily, the casserole seemed dried and more crumbling than with barley. If I'll repeat the rice version I think I'll add some oat cream to the recipe or at least use porridge rice.

- 1 kg white cabbage
- 2 dl barley
- 2 dl soy crumble (TVP)
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 1 tablespoon dark syrup (at least)
- garlic salt
- white pepper
- marjoram
- 2 tablespoons margarine

Cook the barley. Chop and sauté the cabbage to soften it up. Chop the onion and fry together with moistured soy crumble and spices. In an oven proof casserole, mix everything together and spread evenly. Top with margarine pieces. Stick into a 200°C oven until the surface has acquired some colour (at least half an hour). Avoid overcooking since that may also result a dry casserole.

Cabbage casserol is best enjoyed with lingonberry jam.

Nutritional values / 1415 g:
energy 1391 kcal
fat 51 g
protein 54 g
carbohydrates 177 g
fiber 51 g


Apple Gravy ‒ Omenakastike

Hello! I've been busy with my thesis lately but haven't forgot you. I just haven't cooked much. Think the last new dish I made was a mushroom pie for this autumn's kekri feast (more about here or here). The baking took place during the previous night, after a long workday and even longer drive back home so I just quickly put together something I could find from the closet. The result wasn't all bad but needs some more development before there's anything I want to remember about it. (Now that I think of it, I shoul've just followed the working recipe I already have.)

On the other hand, this apple gravy I made yesterday from the last remaining apples I had in the fridge turned out just the thing my millet and fried veggies needed.

- 3 zesty apples (or 2 large ones)
- 1 onion
- 2 tablespoons apple sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 tablespoons wheat flour (or other thickener)
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 4 dl vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon curry
- white pepper

Chop the onion and one of the apples. Sauté with oil. After they've acquires some nice colour, add the broth and the spices. Chop the remaining apples and add them as well. Shift in the flour, carefully. Let the gravy thicken up a bit. Serve hot.

Nutritional values / 843 g:
energy 408 kcal
fat 14 g
protein 5 g
carbohydrates 43 g
fiber 6 g


Beetroot Soup with Potato Dumplings ‒ Punajuuri-perunamykykeitto

All beetroot soups aren't borschtes, just like all cold tomato soups aren't gazpachos. According to Jaakko Rahola's excellent food glossary, borsch is a hot or cold Eastern European soup consisting of different vegetables. In Russia, these veggies always include beet and fermented broth used for pickling the beets, giving its distinctive taste which for most Finns is way too sour. One ingredient it never ever includes is vinegar, which by comparison is nearly always found from Finnish beetroot soups. So I wouldn't call this pink treat with the name of the famous Russian stuff but there is nevertheless a lot of resemblance with the neighbor. Shall we say it has a rather Eastern Finnish cling to it.

Then again, I topped my soup with dumplings which are more of a Western Finnish thing. Myky or more often klimppi is basically the same stuff as Russian pelmeni, German knödel, Italian gnocchi and numerous other dishes found around the world. But for some reason mykys aren't nearly as popular. In fact, many modern day Finns seem to find the whole idea of them repulsive. This shall definitely change if I can do anything about it!

- 5 beetroots (plus their leaves if you manage to acquire them intact)
- 300 g cabbage
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 apple
- 1 sausage
- 1 dose of stock
- 2 tablespoons rape oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 1 dried chili pepper
- salt
- 2 l water

For the mykys:
- 5 cooked potatoes
- 1 dl semolina
- soup broth for boiling

Peel the root vegetables and shred them. Cook them together with the water and the spices. In the meanwhile, shred the cabbage and cook it on a frying pan with oil until it has softened up. Add the cabbage into the soup pot. Chop the sausage, the apple and the onion and roast them a bit on the pan as well. Add into the pot with the rest. The soup is ready when the beetroot pieces have turned soft.

If you wish to have mykys as well, simply mash the potatoes and mix the semolina thoroughly with them. Shape small balls out of the mass, a dessert spoonful at a time. Take enough broth from the soup to fill a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Drop the balls into the boiling broth carefully one at a time. Let them simmer for about ten minutes. Serve with the soup.

Nutritional values / 3773 g:
energy 1420 kcal
fat 36 g
protein 62 g
carbohydrates 198 g
fiber 40 g


Rowan Fudge ‒ Pihlajatoffee

This time of the year you really notice how many rowan trees there are in the city center as they all bear loads of delicious-looking (and very bitter) red berries. Too bad there are almost as many cars so we can only use the berries for throwing them at friends or admire them with dignity. Luckily this pet of the Finnish thunder god grows in some more peaceful places as well. After all, it is the first tree you should plant on the yard of a new house.

The recipe is an adaptation from the lingonberry fudge in the cook book Härkäpapua Sarvista (Irina Somersalo & al., Multikustannus 2007). The amount of brandy I added is so small you can't really taste it but this is easy to fix if you wish. And with the same basic method you could prepare salmiakki fudge or even garlic fudge which was also suggested by the book.

- 2 dl oat cream
- 3 dl dark sugar
- 2 tablespoons margarine (or coconut oil)
- 1 dl rowan berries
- 1 tablespoon brandy

In a saucepan, heat up the cream, the sugar and the margarine, stirring often until the basic fudge mass is ready. It may take some experienting to figure out the right time between caramel sauceness and lollipop hardness. After about 40 minutes it should have turned into a dark brown pile of thick bubbles. If you drop a bit into a glass of cold water, it should form a firm bullet but not become rock solid yet.

See all your berries are clean. Crush them a bit and add into the mass in small batches. Add the brandy as well and let the mass come to a boil once more.

Spread as a thick layer into a casserole covered with parchment paper. Let it cool down and refrigerate for a few hours. Cut in pieces.

Nutritional values / 547 g:
energy 1381 kcal
fat 41 g
protein 2 g
carbohydrates 244 g
fiber 5 g


Oven Baked Apples ‒ Uuniomenat

Have apple trees always made this many fruits? Seems that everywhere I look there are delicious looking red dots to test my moral. Quite a large percentage of them are newcomers since during the exceptionally cold winter of 1709 most apple trees in Scandinavia and even in northern Germany froze to death. And yet, the only good apples I've ever tasted have all been domestic (no, not even necessarily stolen).

I snatched the recipe for these oven apples from here but changed it for whole apples. The problem in cooking them like that is they tend to fall apart easily if you won't keep an eye on them. Oh well, at least that doesn't affect the taste.

- 5 apples
- 2 rkl margarine
- 1.5 dl oatmeal
- 1 dl lingonberries (or red currants)
- 1 dl sugar
- cinnamon

Wash the apples and remove the core. Melt the margarine and mix together with the rest of the ingredients. Fill the apple holes and top with one more spoonful. Bake in a 200°C oven until the crust has acquired some colour (about 20 minutes).

Enjoy with vanilla sauce or ice cream.

Nutritional values / 1 apple / 137 g:
energy 181 kcal
fat 5 g
protein 2 g
carbohydrates 30 g
fiber 3 g



This should be no big surprise to anyone who's talked five minutes with me but I'm a rather careless person when it comes to smaller-than-life scale things. When camping for example, I grap along a bit of this and that and only figure out what I'm able to cook out of them when I'm at it.

Körpäkkä is a perfect dish for meals like that as the very idea is making use of things available, usually the remains of the previous meal (much like in pyttipannu). The name just couldn't sound any more traditional but actually it's only about twenty years old, invented by Jaakko Juvonen for his pike dish. Since then it has started to live a life of its own. Sometimes I've seen it explained as something to combine both pork and fish but then again there are quite many versions without either one. This time I wanted to cook something out of golden chanterelles since the forests of Eura were all yellow of them (false chantarelles actually, but I can't really see or taste the difference). Too bad they loose their colour on the pan! I forgot to bring oil or spices so I used the marinade I had made for my seitan cutlets instead.

Maybe it's the outdoors but the sweet combination of chanterelles and turnip spiced up with lemon pepper turned out the most delicious thing I have come up with for a while. My friends noticed it as well and kept stealing yummies right under my nose!

- 5 dl golden chanterelles
- 1 turnip
- 1 onion
- 2 dl soy strips (TSP)
- 100 g Brussels sprout
- 1 dl oat cream
- 1 tablespoon spruce syrup
- 0.5 dl oily seitan marinade (consisting of rape oil, lime juice, ketchup, peanut butter, salt and lemon pepper)

Chop the onion and the turnip and sauté in the marinade. Add the soy strips (no need to moisture beforehand) and the sprouts (halved if they seem large). Let them cook while you was the mushrooms. Add them on the pan as well. When things have aquired some colour, complement with cream and syrup.

For perfection, use large cabbage leaves as plates, enjoy together with unleavened pea bread and finish off with unfiltered coffee.

Nutritional values / 770 g:
energy 609 kcal
fat 31 g
protein 31 g
carbohydrates 50 g
fiber 21 g


Bilberry Möllö ‒ Mustikkamöllö

There's something extremely Finnish about these simple berry desserts. You can tell your kids to go picking berries and when they came back with a full bucket, reward them with a sweet "recovery snack" made out of the berries. The smashing part which these always involve is especially fun. Naturally, the preferred recipes used to differ quite a lot amongst different Finnish peoples but nowadays with the integrated culture we get to enjoy them all. This one is decisively Karelian. Modern versions often use rye bread pieces and cream but somehow, those seem to miss the whole point.

- 2 dl bilberries
- 0.75 dl rye flour
- 1 tablespoon (preferably dark) sugar

Grab a spoon. Mash it all together. Make it disappear.

Nutritional values / 188 g:
energy 260 kcal
fat 2 g
protein 6 g
carbohydrates 55 g
fiber 12 g


Wood Hedgehog Steaks ‒ Kääpäpihvit

Happy Equinox! The time of death is obliviously amongst us. Nights are getting so dark that all my dinner photos look awful plus I've been having a rather dizzying flu for the past few days. No, I'm not exactly an autumn person. Autumns might be nice in their own right but they suffer from the same problem as Sundays which might be idle and comfy if they weren't followed by Mondays. Oh well, a cup of hot chocolate, candles, some classical Russian music and a good book might do the trick.

Albatrellus ovinus (lampaankääpä) and wood hedgehog (rusko-orakas) grow large and fleshy sporocarps perfect for simple mushrooms steaks. You could just put them on the pan with some oil, but I also battered them to keep their inside soft and juicy.

- 4 well-sized mushrooms (about 400 g)
- 1 dl bread crumbs
- 1 dl soy yogurt
- dragon wort
- garlic powder
- white pepper
- salt
- 1 tablespoon rape oil

Wash the mushrooms and remove the bad parts. Trim them so that you end up with flat pieces. Mix the spices with the bread crumbs. Moisture the mushrooms with the soy yogurt and then roll in the bread crumbs. Fry on a medium-temperature pan with the oil until they look golden.

Nutritional values / 579 g:
energy 668 kcal
fat 20 g
protein 22 g
carbohydrates 62 g
fiber 11 g


Pumpkin Soup ‒ Kurpitsakeitto

Couple of weeks ago I accidentally got a huge, home-grown pumpkin. Some of it I stuck into a rye lasagna, some of it I used as an extra spice in my signature tar turnips but most of it was still left. People often make a soup out of it so I decided to try one as well. Now pumpkin is an odd vegetable to me and its taste seems rather faint so I spiced it with exotic spices which I rarely use otherwise, in the same manner as I've previously done to a carrot soup.

- 1 kg pumpkin (or carrots)
- 1 leek
- 1 l water
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 2 dl coconut milk (or oat cream)
- 200 g red lentils (or horse beans)
- 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon dark syrup
- 1 dose of stock
- 1 chili
- ginger
- salt

Peel and chop the pumpkin. Don't remove the seeds. Cut the leek into circles. Soften the veggies on a frying pan with the oil. Put them into a pot with the water, the lime and the spices. Cook for about ten minutes. Blend smooth. Add the lentils. The soup is ready when the lentils are done.

Nutritional values / l:
energy 1429 kcal
fat 54 g
protein 67 g
carbohydrates 173 g
fiber 48 g


Creamy Chanterelle Soup ‒ Kermainen vahverokeitto

I've posted a mushroom soup before but this version is from the more classic edge. A chanterelle soup like this is a very common starter, especially this time of the year when the season is on. I used both funnel chanterelles and golden chanterelles but the period when it's possible to find both of them is very short.

- 1 l fresh chanterelles (or 2-3 dl dried ones)
- 8 dl water
- 2 dl oat cream (or soy)
- 1 onion (or half a leek)
- 3 tablespoons wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 1 dose of stock
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dark syrup (or tar syrup)
- rosemary
- white pepper
- salt

Clean the chanterelles and remove the bad parts. If they're really big you can also cut them into smaller pieces. Chop the onion. Sauté the chantarelles and the onion with the oil in your soup pot.

Sprinkle the flour on the mushrooms and stir. Add the water and other ingredients. Cook until the soup thickens. Garnish with herbs or dried slices of smoked tofu. Serve with rye bread.

Nutritional values / 1 l:
energy 625 kcal
fat 34 g
protein 17 g
carbohydrates 59 g
fiber 10 g


Bolete Pasta ‒ Tattipasta

Looks like this is going to be a terrific mushroom year so I'll be probably posting a lot of mushroom recipes. Boletes (tatit in Finnish) are among my favourites: easy to identify and always tasty. They're pretty safe even for a beginner like me since there's only one common bolete you shouldn't pick (Tylopilus felleus) and even that one isn't poisonous, just bad tasting. The only problem is all kinds of maggots love them too. You have to pick them very young if wanting to keep the meal vegan. I had to throw away my first catch since I picked individuals too big and didn't remove all holey parts on the spot. The next day they were all swarming. This time I was wiser.

A creamy pasta dish is definitely something that makes justice to their delicate taste. I used punikkitatti (Leccinum) and kangastatti (Suillus variegatus) the flesh of which turns strikingly blue in contact with air.

- 2 dl fresh boletes or 1 dl dried ones (clean and sliced)
- 250 g dark pasta
- 1 onion
- 1 apple
- 2 dl soy yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use a market brand, X-tra)
- 1 tablespoon margarine (I use Keiju 70%)
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- 2 cloves of garlic
- black pepper
- salt

Cook the pasta in salty water. Mince the onion and fry it in margarine. When the edges start to acquire colour, add the mushrooms and the apple, also chopped. Sauté them lightly. When the apple starts to be mushy, combine with the pasta. Add everything else and stir couple of times.

Enjoy with white wine.

Nutritional values / 982 g:
energy 1701 kcal
fat 31 g
protein 59 g
carbohydrates 192 g
fiber 24 g


Lempo's Jam ‒ Lemmon hillo

I'm often told I'm a weird Finn for loving chili peppers. But though Finnish food culture is generally rather discreet with spices and my parents' generation rarely uses any other than salt and black pepper, younger folk tends to be more adventurous and a growing part shares the passionate chili relationship with the largest Finno-Ugric people, the Hungarians. There's even an organization for home growers and other enthusiasts and this event was just held here in Tampere with a broken world championship in Naga Morich eating (ah, Finns and extremes).

Well, I wouldn't take part in that but I do find chilis an excellent way to deepen the aroma of many dishes. This time I made some chili jam that is widely served in Finnish restaurants with the name paholaisenhillo, meaning "Devil's jam". I wasn't able to find any source about its origins and the English translation didn't give me any relevant search results either, so if anyone has any further information to offer I'd be happy to hear.

Based on several other recipes and especially their commentaries (typically "too sweet" or "not hot enough") I composed one to my own liking. Notice that I used the kind of sugar that contains pectin (hillosokeri) to make this a bit jellier. Since I added some lingonberries (in the footsteps of Flikka) as well and don't really believe in evil I gave my version a bit more Finnish name. Lempo or Lemminkäinen is the old god of fertility, sacred fire and passion who of course was later turned into the Adversary.

- 500 g red bell peppers
- 500 g crushed tomatoes
- 4-6 chili peppers of different types
- 1 red onion
- 2 dl lingonberries
- 1.5 dl sugar
- 1 dl red wine
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 small bunch of oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- black pepper

Chop the peppers and the onion. Press the garlic and crush the lingonberries a bit. Put everything but the sugar into a pot and cook for half an hour. Add the sugar, let the mixture come to a boil again and remove from the stove.

The jam is terrific in unhealthy dishes like pizzas, hamburgers and pastas but also works in many salads.

Nutritional values / 1720 g:
energy 1029 kcal
fat 2 g
protein 16 g
carbohydrates 215 g
fiber 25 g


Pickles ‒ Suolakurkut

Hey who took the summer away? Didn't August used to be the most summery month or is my memory playing tricks on me?

Though I already opened the mushroom season yesterday I thought that before mushroom recipes I ought to post you something I got started two weeks ago: pickles. Finns love them on rye bread, as a sidekick and especially with fast food. There are basically four common variations that can of course be seasoned creatively.

1. Suolakurkku is pickled in salty brine. This is what I prepared after I got to watch some example from a certain lady from Eastern Karelia and realized how simple it really is.
2. Etikkakurkku is preserved in sweet vinegar brine. A common mistake is using way too much vinegar. Think this is the most common variation in the rest of Scandinavia.
3. Maustekurkku or herkkukurkku may contain both salt and vinegar but instead of them the taste should be ruled by spices. These tend to be on the sweet side as well.
4. Hapankurkku aka Russian suolakurkku is also pickled in salty brine but the pickles are turned sour, for example with a sour bread piece or some yogurt as a starter. I've never seen these sold in your average supermarket.

- garden cucumbers (as many as you can cram into your largest glass jar)
- enough water to fill the jar
- 25 g salt for every water litre
- for seasoning black currant leaves, mustard seeds, whole black peppers, garlic cloves, dill flowers and/or horseradish

Wash the cucumbers and let them soak in water overnight. In the morning, arrange the cucumbers into your jar together with the spices ‒ whole or sliced. If you're using black currant leaves wrap them around the cucumbers. Boil up the water and dissolve the salt. Pour the hot water on the cucumbers. Make sure that all the cucumbers are fully covered underneath the water since contact with air makes them rotten. Close the lid and move into a cool place. The pickles should be ready in about two weeks.

If you replace about ten percent of the water with vodka the pickles should better hold on to their beautiful green colour. For less traditional versions ginger and cinnamon also make nice spices. After you've eaten the pickles, the brine itself is an excellent basis for many soups.


The Drink of Louhisaari ‒ Louhisaaren juoma

Louhisaari is a manor in Masku, built by the dreaded noble family of Fleming and best known as the birth home of C.G.E. Mannerheim. It's signature drink is Louhisaaren Juoma aka Marskin Shampanja ('Mannerheim's Champagne'). Unfortunately, I have seen all kinds of beverages made out of those oh-so-aromatic black currant leaves claiming the name and frankly, I have no clue which one is the original. Most of them are different types of simas (an American friend of mine told me to stop calling them mead so I better listen) but I decided to go for the citric acid variety this time since I've never tried one before.

I do have a powerful backup: the drink recipe page I found contains separate instructions for the Sima of Louhisaari and the Drink of Louhisaari, both of them containing black currant leaves. The site is held by Marttaliitto, an organization for advising in home economics. Interesting group, by the way. It was founded in 1899 for house wives and long known as a socks knitting circle of conservative grannies but lately they have managed to modernize quite a bit. Nowadays they accept men as members and even promote some environmental values, even if not perfectly openly.

But back to the business! This is the latter recipe, only cut in half.

- 2.5 l water
- 2 l black currant leaves
- 12.5 g citric acid
- 250 g sugar

Wash the leaves. Boil up the water and pour it over the leaves. Add the citric acid and stir well. Cover with a lid and leave in room temperature for 12 hours. Fish out the leaves. Sweeten with sugar.

The drink can be enjoyed as such, mixed with sparkling water or as a part of different cocktails. If you're not going to slurp it all right away you better freeze it or boil and seal carefully into air-tight, sterilized glass bottles.

Nutritional values / 2.5 l :
energy 1000 kcal
fat 0 g
protein 0 g
carbohydrates 250 g
fiber 0 g


Tomato Morsels ‒ Suupalatomaatit

These are very simple cocktail bites to emphasize the pour goodness known as cherry tomatoes. I was pondering what to use as the filling when I came across this blog post. I guess you could grill them while you're at it but why bother?

- 250 g cherry tomatoes
- 2 dl thick nut yogurt (I used macademias)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or herb of your choice)

Mince the thyme and mix with the nut paste. Hollow out the tomatoes. (Use the insides later in a soup or a sauce.) Refill with the nutty sourness.

Enjoy with black currant jam.

Nutritional values / 310 g:
energy 461 kcal
fat 44 g
protein 6 g
carbohydrates 17 g
fiber 9 g


Gratin for Four Brassicas ‒ Neljän kaalin gratiini

Once again I had some problem with translating the title. Technically, the Brassica genus covers a rather wide sounding range of plants from mustard to turnips. To my understanding you can't just use 'cabbage' as an umbrella term for the varieties of the species Brassica oleracea as with the Finnish equivalent kaali, so I thought it better to label the dish with the whole genus' name. Maybe mustard would work as a nice spice here.

If you ever have the misfortune of attending to a Finnish funeral you'll almost certainly find some form of this gratin in the menu. And yet, these are all veggies that seem to divide opinions among Finns. My theory is that haters have only eaten them poorly prepared and covered with cheese so no one would taste the bland stuff underneath. (Cheese is an almost certain sign that there's something severely wrong with any given gratin. And I'm not alone with this opinion.) Most recipes tell to precook the kraut but I prefer to save some of the crunchiness.

- 1 cauliflower
- 1 broccoli
- half a white cabbage head
- half a red cabbage head
- 1 portion of white sauce
- yarrow
- white pepper
- rape oil for buttering
(- bread crumbles on top)

Prepare the sauce. Chop the veggies and mix them with the spices. Butter an oven casserole and lay the brassicas into it. Pour the sauce evenly on them. Cook in a 225°C for 25 minutes. Turn them a bit in the middle of the cooking.

Brussels sprouts and German turnips would also fit here perfectly. With some fried soy flakes it turns into a main course.

Nutritional values / 2780 g:
energy 1165 kcal
fat 51 g
protein 69 g
carbohydrates 95 g
fiber 50 g


Clover Balls ‒ Apilapyörykät

I could swear I've seen a recipe for red clover balls somewhere but can't find it anymore. Now I just had to guess what would make a fitting base. Instead of just adding the flowers to my classic soy balls I decided to use raw nuts and prepare the balls like raw foodies do. With spices I thought it best to be careful and only use couple of my favourites. Oh well, I'm assuming the original recipe was published in the beginning of the last century so it wouldn't have helped me in deciding the spices anyway.

This small test batch of mine turned out nice (especially with a spicy dip sauce) but not good enough yet for me not feeling the urge to fry them on a pan. Feel free to add all kinds of stuff you need to get rid of. Carrots, leek, champignons or rye bread should fit to suggest a few, and of course your favourite spices.

- 2 dl red clover flowers
- 2 dl hazelnuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- smoked paprika
- salt

Soak the hazelnuts in water overnight if you have time. Wash the clovers. Make a paste out of all the ingredients. Add water if you need to. Check the taste.

Roll into balls and dry them up. In most kitchens this is easiest done by turning your oven to a low temperature (I use 50°C), possibly keeping the door just a little bit ajar and turning them around couple of times. The problem with this method is that it takes some time, about 2 hours depending on the moisture of the paste.

(This time I'm leaving out the nutritional values since I wasn't able to find any source for the flowers and it doesn't make sense to count the nuts only.)


Strawberry Cake ‒ Mansikkatäytekakku

I haven't blogged a total failure for a while so perhaps this was bound to happen. I've been watching how to make basic layered birthday cakes all my life but I've never tried one myself. It turned out much harder than I had thought. Needless to say, I'm no confectioner but perhaps I should just stick to salty dishes altogether.

I took the crust recipe from a forum post. It gave 75 minutes for the oven time but after 50 minutes I started to smell something burning. The cake had got scorched only a little but simple moistening didn't really return the softness I had hoped for. After the first bite I also had to check if I had read right the amount of sugar which it seemed to drown all the other tastes, including pineapple weed (pihasaunio) which I have just come to like on its own right and not just as a poor man's camomile.

As if this wasn't enough I couldn't just frost the cake with the standard oat cream you can by from food stores. I tried this topping recipe but apparently wasn't patient enough since it remained all runny and kept bringing down the strawberries on top. At the end I tried fixing the edges with a store-bought soy cream spray I don't really like but didn't have much better luck with it either.

If possible, the whole thing became even more crooked looking as I carried it across the town for a picnic meeting. Miraculously it was edible although not exactly the best cake I have ever tried. Here are the measurements I used. Be careful with them.

The cake:
- 190 g margarine
- 9 dl wheat flour (I mixed graham and white flour)
- 5.25 teaspoons baking powder
- 3.4 dl sugar
- 4.5 dl oat milk (or mineral water)
- 1 tablespoon flowers and leaves of pineapple weeds
- apple juice for moistening (approximately 1 dl)

The frosting:
- 2 dl soy milk
- 75 g margarine (or 50 g coconut butter)
- 2.5 tablespoons potato flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- piece of a vanilla pod
- salt (just a pinch)

The filling:
- 500 g strawberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon flowers and leaves of pineapple weeds

Mince the pineapple weed. Mix the dry ingredients together and shrub together with the margarine. Add the milk, carefully. Pour into a buttered cake mold and put into a 200°C oven for as long as needed (45 minutes?). Let the cake cool down a bit and flip over to a sugared parchment paper.

When the cake has fully cooled down cut it in layers (I only used two layers but if you want three or more you might want to find some other filling to the second layer. Some jam for example.) Moist with apple juice. Mash the filling ingredients together with a fork. Spread between the cake layers and let it rest in the fridge.

For the frosting, heat up most of the milk, the margarine, the sugar and the salt in a saucepan. Let the mixture come to a boil and remove from the stove. Mix the potato flour with the rest of the milk. Blend the two together. Refrigerate. When the frosting has cooled down completely (think this was the part where I lost my patience), continue by whipping it into a fluffy cream. It should be thick enough for spreading on the cake as such and possible to pipe if you cool it down again.

Let the cake juice up in cold before serving. Decorate with strawberries or pineapple weeds.

Nutritional values / 2445 g:
energy 5468 kcal
fat 209 g
protein 92 g
carbohydrates 793 g
fiber 37 g


Salmiakki Milk ‒ Salmiakkimaito

From all my weird heat drink mixtures usually involving either tea or coffee, this one goes perhaps best together with 600-page academic books. It's very simple but unless you're using liquid or powdered salmiakki you'll need some patience.

- 26 g salmiakki sweets (I used Lakrisal)
- 3 dl soy milk
- 1 dl cold coffee
- ice cubes

Crush the salmiakki a bit and with the milk. Leave it in the fridge until the next day. Mix with the coffee. Enjoy with a lemon slice.

For a quicker and alcoholic version use 1 dl of Salmiakkikossu instead of the sweets.

Nutritional values / 4 dl:
energy 192 kcal
fat 6 g
protein 12 g
carbohydrates 25 g
fiber 0 g


Sandwich Cake ‒ Voileipäkakku

Sandwich cakes are a very Scandinavian thing. They're just like normal cakes except salty and usually the dish in formal occasions that disappears the quickest. In Finland they typically contain many layers but especially Swedish-speakers seem to prefer them resembling one large sandwich with a single layer and a pile of toppings.

You can use any soft bread together with bread spreads you like, for example hummus, guacamole or thick mayonnaise. It's not even rare to see several flavour options in the same coffee table if there are a lot of guests (and coffee table culture is a serious business for Finns - something you shouldn't play around with). Here's one model to tweak.

- 1 loaf that fits into a loaf tin (white, dark or slices from both)
- 200 g cherry tomatoes
- 125 g radish
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley
- vegetable broth for moistening (or oat milk)

1. filling:
- 2 dl cooked horse beans
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- basil

2. filling (and frosting):
- 1 portion of cold cucumber soup, only with the yogurt drained first and the cider replaced with two tablespoons of white wine to make it thicker.

3. filling:
- 100 g soft tofu
- 1 dl hazelnuts
- 1 artichoke (or a young cabbage head)
- 2 tablespoons of mustard

Cut the bread lengthwise in four pieces (and remove the crust if it feels hard). Moisten the pieces by sprinkling vegetable broth on them.

Chop the bell pepper, the onion and the artichoke. Oil them and roast in a 200C oven for about half an hour. Remember to turn them around every now and then. Prepare the fillings by mashing together the ingredients. It's ok to leave clumps.

Slice the radishes and half the cherry tomatoes. Now you're ready to put the whole beauty together. Place the top bread slice into your loaf. Spread with the first filling and add some radish slices. Place the second and the bottom layer in the same manner. Flip the whole thing over onto your serving plate and remove the loaf. Cover with the middle filling. Decorate with cherry tomatoes and parsley.

Nutritional values / 3574 g:
energy 5516 kcal
fat 126 g
protein 219 g
carbohydrates 806 g
fiber 168 g


Fermented Rowan Tee ‒ Hiostettu pihlajatee

The easiest way to get herb teas is just drying up the leaves and flowers you plan to use. This summer I thought I'd learn a new method of finding some new tastes from familiar plants by fermenting. This is how green tea turns into black tea.

The leaves in the photo are from a rowan tree. I also mixed some bilberry and fireweed (which is by the way an excellent basis for any tee mixture) leaves with it. Other plants more than appropriate here include for example raspberry, black currant and birch.

When the leaves you plan to use are still fresh, crush them (between your hands or using a rolling pin for example) so they juice up evenly. Lay them fluffily in a large glass jar and cover. The process needs some oxygen so see the lid isn't too tight.

Place the jar in a hot place (40-50°C) for as long as the leaves have turned brown. You can for example cover the jar with a black t-shirt and leave it on a window sill on a hot summer day or put it in a polystyrene box with hot water bottles. Depending on the plant this may take only an hour (as in the case of rowan) or several days. Last, make sure the leaves have dried up as well so they won't mildew. (I spread them on a newspaper for a night.)

The aroma lasts longer if you store the leaves intact and crush them only a moment before usage.


Tomato Soup for a Heat Wave ‒ Hellepäivän tomaattikeitto

When mother nature decides to break some heat records you don't feel like eating but you know you ought to grub something in order not to feel even worse. In a situation like that cold liquids are super. This drinkable salad should take almost no effort to prepare. And no, it's neither gazpacho nor bloody Mary. Actually, gazpacho doesn't even have to be cold nor contain tomato.

- 700 g ripe tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 celery rib
- 0.5 roasted garlic (or 3 garlic cloves)
- 1 punch of fresh basil
- 0.5 red chili pepper
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
- 1 teaspoon dark syrup
- black pepper
- salt

Chop the tomatoes and smooth them down in a blender. Chop the other veggies as well and smooth down again. Add the spices and - you guessed it - smooth down. Check the taste. Move into a refrigerator for couple of hours so it has time to juice up and get chilled.

Nutritional values / 1108 g:
energy 336 kcal
fat 2 g
protein 13 g
carbohydrates 62 g
fiber 15 g


A Food Meme

Lately, I've seen many Finnish food bloggers I follow answering the same questionnaire, for example Kamomilla from Kamomillan konditoria. I've found it interesting to read what they have to say so thought I'd go for it as well.

How do you enjoy your coffee/tea?

First thing in the morning: two mugs of filter coffee with a drop of oat milk. If no vegetable milk or unprocessed cow milk is available I'd rather have it black please. I'm not a big fan of espresso-based coffees though I drink them sometimes (unlike those awful quick coffees) but love Japanese-style black ice coffee.

I also prepare a lot of different loose teas and herbal teas. Basic black tea is something I can't drink without a sweetener and I often throw in some spices as well. During summertime I always keep some self-made ice tea in the fridge.

What's your favourite breakfast?

Lately I've been eating porridge with some jam plus a carrot, but more often it's been toasted rye bread with changing toppings. And coffee is always what comes first, something I won't give up even when traveling.

Peanut butter?

Maybe once a year. Don't really know where to use it.

What kind of a dressing do you want with your salad?

Usually just oil and vinegar.

Coke or Pepsi?

Can't say I'd like either one but Pepsi Max passes.

You're feeling lazy, what will you make?

I'll wait for my spouse to come home and cook me something. Or if he's not around I just nibble things without cooking them.

You feel like cooking, what will you make?

Check my idea list (which I've ordered by month). Or just see what I have in the fridge and throw them on the frying pan.

Does some dish give you bad memories?

Those watery, tasteless mashes they serve in canteens. The one especially giving me creeps is the so-called ratatouille.

Does some dish remind you of someone?

Nearly all I've ever eaten. For example macaroni soup reminds me of my dad, cabbage rolls remind me of my mum, soy sausages remind me of spouse, sparkling wine jelly and vatruskas remind me of certain friends.

Is there a dish you would refuse to eat?

I try not to eat meat unless I'm about to die in starvation (Though when I have accidentally bought something that looked vegetarian but contained 'little surprises' in Eastern Europe I've forced myself to eat it anyway since I wouldn't want to throw it away.) but otherwise no, not really, provided it hasn't gone bad or anything.

I've got myself accustomed to nearly all the things I didn't originally like. Eggplant still makes me a bit suspicious though. And once I said no thank you to my spouse's habanero dish that made my whole body hurt after just one spoonful. (He on the other hand ate it crying and kept telling how sorry he was.) Also, it may take a moment before I want to try habanero absinthe the second time.

What was your childhood favourite food?

Potatoes with brown sauce, 'hamburgers' (toast, mustard, ketchup and pickles) with milk. Oh, and mealy sausage, cold, with mustard.

Is there a food you hated as a child but now love?

Just ask how many! But I think spinach soup wins this category easily.

Your favourite fruit and vegetable?

These keep changing all the time. At the moment I'd say strawberries and tomatoes.

Your favourite junk food?

Sadly, cheese. The smellier, the better.

Your favourite snack?

Rye bread with different toppings, fruits in many forms, nuts.

Do you have any weird food habits?

Does it count that I think french fries are at their best frozen? Some may also find it odd that every time we eat dinner we simultaneously watch a Simpsons episode from a computer. At the moment we're in the middle of the 14th season.

You're on a diet. What shall you eat?

I don't believe in diets but many soups make filling yet low-calorie meals. Although every time my weight really has gone down I've been living mainly on sandwiches.

You finished your diet. What would you like to have?

A pint of some chocolaty porter, please.

How hot do you order your Indian/Thai food?


Something to drink?

With food, usually tab water.

Red or white?

In case this means wine and not for example taking sides in Finnish Civil War, red.

Your favourite dessert?

I don't usually eat desserts but ice cream with slightly frozen berries go down anytime.

The perfect nightcap?

A spicy and sweet cup of tea with a generous amount of brandy or whiskey.

What's your first baking or cooking memory?

Can't say what comes first but I was 'helping' all the time when my parents cooked. It probably has something to do with burning my fingers in a sauce or trying to silence the smoke detector.

Who has most affected your cooking?

My spouse. I didn't really cook anything but convenience food before he showed me that even zucchini can be made edible. Before that it was probably my home economics teacher who made me convinced I'm a no good person.

Do you have a photograph as an evidence from your early cooking?

Before I went to school my dad took photos of me nearly every day so I'm sure there is. But right now I can only remember photos where I play with toy cars.

Do you suffer from any sort of a cooking fear, does even a thought of cooking a certain dish make your hands sweat?

Not any specific dish but I'm dead nervous every time we need to feed guests.

What's your most used or valued kitchen utensil and/or your biggest disappointment when it comes to your kitchen utensils?

This is a hard one since I usually just cook with anything I have available. A campfire (or trangia) and a pocketknife at minimum. A freezer is quite nice to have. But my blender is crappy.

Name a funny or weird food combination that you really like.

Wonder what's funny or weird enough. Carcinogen and mustard?

Name three eatables or dishes you just can't live without.

Chili pepper, rye bread and tofu.

What's missing from your cooking?

A garden.


Flower Marmalade ‒ Kukkamarmeladi

Smart people get their inspiration to make dandelion jelly when dandelions are at their full blossom and it takes ten minutes to pick them. Well not me. After seeing this article I got a desperate urge to try it out myself. So instead of the few withering dandelions I saw I picked some mouse-ear hawkweeds (that at least look like dandelions) and red clovers. What ever edible flowers you happen to have in hand, see that instead of a terribly intense flavour (like yarrow) they taste juicy and sweet.

- 4 dl flowers
- 4 dl water
- 2 dl sugar
- 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
- 1.25 teaspoons pectin (or equivalent amount of other gelling agent)

First, the hard part. You don't want the green stuff into your marmalade so you have to pick out the yellow or red parts. This is most easily done by pulling them out with your fingers. (You can also use scissors but that way you'll only get the tips of the petals.) Put on your favourite record and sit down. This will take a while but can be quite meditative.

You should end up with about 2 dl petals. Boil them in the water with a lid on for about half an hour. After that you can either fish them out or leave in the jelly. Add the pectin, then the juice and last, sugar. Let it come to a boil and stir until it turns syrupy. In case a foam should emerge skim it out.

Pour into a glass jar and let it cool down a bit before refrigerating. Use like honey.

P.S. I have a really hard time trying to understand how the algorithm of that "Related" box works. A nice feature but most of the time rather, well, random.

Nutritional values / 570 g:
energy 680 kcal
fat 0 g
protein 0 g
carbohydrates 169 g
fiber 0 g


Cherry Sage Sausage ‒ Kirsikka-salviamakkara

As a kid I used to climb in the two cherry trees of my family's front yard all the time. They have those famous white flowers that only last a moment and later during the summer, sour berries with a wonderful aroma. Cherries don't occur naturally in Finland but in my heart there will always be a certain place for them with rowans and poplars (after one of which I cried bitterly when my parents decided they have to cut it down before the roots take over the house). Finns are often called the people of trees so maybe this explains my fascination for Japanese culture as well.

The cherries sold in stores here are never like those I've come to love. They're sweet instead of sour and taste watery instead of, well, cherries. And yet, once again I bought Creek cherries when I saw them sold on a pedestrian street. After a few disappointing bites I decided to dry them in the oven and use in the recipe I had seen in the lovely cookbook Vegan Brunch (by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Da Capo Press 2009). It sounded plain weird but then again, after initial disgust, I've come to love even a sausage brand that uses orange and melon as spices. These too came out pretty great, though next time I'd like to try them with sour cherries.

I followed Isa's instructions more than my usual sausage recipe and ended up doing it like this:

- 1 dl dried cherries
- 2 dl cooked white beans
- 4 dl gluten flour
- 0.5 dl nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons tar liqueur (that is, all I had left)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small punch of fresh sage
- ginger
- allspice
- black pepper
- vegetable broth (approximately 2 dl)

Mash the beans with a fork. Throw all the ingredients together, adding just enough broth to make a dough. Divide the dough into four parts. Mold into phallic symbols (don't worry too much about the shaping part since they'll snap into shape) and wrap inside a tin foil. Steam for 40 minutes.

Enjoy right away or even better, grilled over a campfire.

Nutritional values / 1 sausage / 188 g :
energy 371 kcal
fat 5 g
protein 50 g
carbohydrates 28 g
fiber 10 g


Summer Soup ‒ Kesäkeitto

Kesäkeitto, literally 'summer soup', is a dish that all Finns have strong childhood memories about. For me it reminds me of my mum and careless, sunny days. For others it brings in mind school canteen and sadistic teachers forcing them to eat the stuff with tears in their eyes. But if you've never even heard about this soup before, consider yourself lucky: you'll get to base your opinion purely on it's humble taste. Here's how I prepare it:

- 2 l water
- 500 g new potatoes
- 1/4 cauliflower
- 2 carrots
- 1 dl fresh peas
- 3 beanstalks
- 2 dl soy cream (oat cream is probably fine as well)
- salt
- whole black peppers

Wash the potatoes well and remove the bad parts but don't bother to peel. Let them simmer in salty water until soft. Chop the veggies and add everything into the pot. The soup is ready when the carrots are - in less than ten minutes.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

Nutritional values / 3080 g:
energy 831 kcal
fat 36 g
protein 20 g
carbohydrates 98 g
fiber 16 g


Cold Cucumber Soup ‒ Kylmä kurkkukeitto

A heat wave has been on for several days now and weather forecasts don't promise a relief anytime soon. Although I love summer and being able to sleep outside without massive range of equipments, the situation right now doesn't affect me in too many positive ways. No matter how often I shower I feel sweaty and smell bad. I feel lazy and unable to concentrate on reading or writing.

During a weather like this, cold soups are the perfect replacement for a proper meal. This is one of my favourites. (Sorry about the blurry photo. I took this in a hurry and didn't check how it turned out.)

- 1 cucumber
- 5 dl soy yogurt (or runny nut yogurt)
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 dl dry apple cider
- thyme
- chevril
- salt

Wash and grate the cucumber. Crush the garlic (with a press if you have one). Combine everything.

Enjoy as a soup or wrap inside a rieska. If you drain the yogurt first and replace the cider with couple of spoonfuls of white wine this also makes a nice dip sauce.

Nutritional values / 628 g:
energy 342 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 9 g
carbohydrates 13 g
fiber 4 g


Grilled Vegetable Sandwich ‒ Grillikasvisleipä

This time of the year summer veggies are at their best and I keep going nuts in a food store. I just have to buy little bit of everything and then I have to hurry to put everything in use before they go bad. Since they tend to get even tastier when grilled, here's one solution.

- 10 cm piece of a zucchini
- 10 cm piece of an eggplant
- 1 tomato
- 0.5 bell pepper
- 0.5 red onion
- 0.5 dl marinated pea pods
- 4 rye bread slices
- 1 tablespoon rape oil
- 2 tablespoon ketchup (or your favourite chili sauce)
- basil
- black pepper

Dice or slice all the veggies but the pea pods. Put them in folio packages with the oil and the spices or spear with skewers and oil and spice. Grill until soft.

Mix the pea pods with the rest so they'll warm up but stay crunchy. Warm up the bread slices, spread with ketchup and portion the veggies between the slices. Notice they disappeared in a matter of minutes and you just got to have more.

Nutritional values / 1 sandwich:
energy 234 kcal
fat 8 g
protein 7 g
carbohydrates 33 g
fiber 9 g


Rhubarb Sandwiches ‒ Raparperileivät

It's too hot to cook or stay inside. But when I come home I need something easy to prepare. This combination is one of the results of me trying to find new ways to utilize rhubarb. It's a surprisingly new species. It didn't become wide-spread before 19th century in Finland and wasn't even considered edible at first. Most Finns still don't like the overwhelming sourness as such but it's perfectly possible to prepare it in ways that don't ruin the characteristic taste and this doesn't always mean sweet dishes.

- 1 small rhubarb stalk or a piece from a bigger one
- 2 rye bread slices
- 2 slices blue-style soy cheese
- 0.5 tablespoons margarine
- 1 teaspoon dark syrup

Cut the rhubarb in pieces. Toast the bread slices and butter them. Arrange the rhubarb on the slices, pour the syrup on them and top with soy cheese. Heat just enough to warm the toppings.

Nutritional values / 132,5 g:
energy 253 kcal
fat 12 g
protein 7 g
carbohydrates 27 g
fiber 6 g


Marinated Pea Pods ‒ Marinoidut herneenpalot

Keeping this blog has often made me wonder what really makes a given food Finnish. Sometimes I understand 'Finnish' meaning the ethnicity, sometimes the prevailing food culture in the state of Finland but perhaps most of the time it's really a matter of main ingredients produced near me. While I wouldn't want to make a big issue out of the question with artificial limitations I also try not to post any of my basic ice coffees and ice teas, no matter how much I love them, since there are so many better places for them.

Once again I did wonder whether this little marinade tastes too Asian for Mämmi but heck, all the market squares are teeming with whole pea pod sellers again and I already managed to constrain myself from eating them fresh on the spot. If you want to do something with them this is pretty much the simplest way. After all, only couple of centuries ago eating peas fresh was thought as a terrible waste and elitism that normal people couldn't afford so this is sort of circumventing the problem.

- 5 dl whole pea pods
- 0.5 dl soy sauce
- 0.25 dl rape oil
- 0.5 dl dry apple cider
- 1 teaspoon ginger

Rinse the pods with cold water. Remove the tips and cut them in half lengthwise (be careful not to shake off the peas). Whisk together the marinade and pour it over the peas. Let them juice up for at least half an hour in the refrigerator. Waiting overnight makes the taste stronger and turns the pods dark which looks cool together with the peas staying bright green.

Serve as a sidekick or use in salads or hot dishes.


Rectory's Makeshift ‒ Pappilan hätävara

Pappilan Hätävara (literally Rectory's Makeshift, sometimes Finnish Trifle) is the traditional dessert you can put together in three minutes when surprise guests arrive or the movie you're watching goes for a commercial break. In the most simple form you just crush some dry bun pieces or biscuits on bottom, juice them up with apple juice, place lingonberry jam or fresh strawberry pieces in the middle plus whipped oat cream on top and stir with a spoon.

This time I thought I'd prepare a bit more time consuming version. Chocolate compliments both rhubarb and spruce tips so I decided to combine all three of them. After all, the period when you can get both rhubarb and spruce tips fresh is so short it has a rather luxurious cling to it. I also had an idea about oat and hemp biscuits but was out of rolled oats so I just used some hemp seeds I had in the closet.

- 300 g rhubarb
- 2 dl spruce tips
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons dark sugar
- 100 g white chocolate (I prefer soy based to rice based varieties)
- 2 dl soy yogurt (or nut yogurt)
- 1 dl roasted hemp seeds (or oat bisquits)

In a sauce pan, dissolve the sugar into the water and heat up. Chop the rhubarb and add most of it as well as the spruce tips into the pot. Keep cooking until you have a soft compote. Remove from the stove and throw in the fresh rhubarb pieces.

While the compote cools down, melt the chocolate carefully in bain-marie (I've managed to completely liquefy it several times when using a microwave). It doesn't matter at all if there are some little chocolate pieces left. Combine withe the yogurt and let it cool down as well.

Arrange the hemp seeds, the compote and the sauce into your serving bowls in layers. (I got three from this amount). Refrigerate if not eating on the spot.

Nutritional values / 720 g:
energy 1579 kcal
fat 58 g
protein 37 g
carbohydrates 131 g
fiber 21 g


Oven Omelet with Bilberry Leaves ‒ Mustikanlehtiomeletti uunissa

It's summer time and cooking isn't exactly among my first priorities at the moment. Mostly I've been eating salads with the method "shred and mix everything you happen to find from the fridge" which rarely results in a disappointment. So compared to that this counts as a complicated dinner. The idea of using bilberry leaves (instead of berries) here came from a mention in Sillä sipuli and the basic omelet recipe I snigged from Kasvisruokaa. The amount seemed a bit small for two bottomless stomachs so we also had a sidekick - salad of course. Please notice that like so many other summer treats bilberry leaves contain oxalic acid which is why you shouldn't eat them on a regular basis.

- 3 dl water
- 2.5 dl (chick)pea flour
- salt
- black pepper
- 1 dl fresh bilberry leaves (or a herb of your liking during wintertime)
- oil for buttering

Whip the flour and the water into and even batter. Add the spices and the bilbeery leaves. Let the batter rest for about half an hour.

Pour the batter onto an oiled casserole and cook in a 250°C oven until the omelet has acquired some colour (about 15 minutes). Let it chill down and cut in triangles. Lightly roasted cherry tomatoes accompany them perfectly.

Nutritional values / 461 g:
energy 672 kcal
fat 23 g
protein 32 g
carbohydrates 83 g
fiber 15 g


Dandelion Soup ‒ Voikukkakeitto

In case that supikas recipe yesterday sounded appetizing, here's a suggestion for the remaining broth. But if you want the soup only, dice a small rutabaga to cook with the potatoes.

Dandelion is among one of my favourite wild veggies because it's so multifunctional and grows just about everywhere. The leaves and buds for this soup I picked when returning along my jogging path, trying to find my breath that had got lost somewhere on the way.

- 20 unopened dandelion flower buds
- 2 dl young dandelion leaves
- 2 l rutabaga broth
- 5 dl new potatoes (or noodles)
- 0.5 dl seaweed
- 0.5 dl dried onion (or caramelized)
- 1 chili pepper
- whole black peppers or juniper berries

Wash the potatoes and remove the bad parts but don't bother to peel. Cook them in the rutabaga broth until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and let the soup come to a boil. Eat right away.

In the present form the soup is more like a starter or an evening snack but if you want to turn it into a lunch you might want to add beans or such.

Nutritional values / 2 l:
energy 500 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 27 g
carbohydrates 96 g
fiber 11 g


Rutabaga Supikases ‒ Lanttusupikkaat

Hela is the Finnish equivalent of German Wapurgisnacht or Celtic Beltane, the celebration of spring and rebirth of Lemminkäinen, the boisterous god of fertility and sacred fire. (By the way, here's a nice English introduction to traditional Finnish holidays.) The name comes from Swedish word meaning holy but I believe the original title is either Toukovalkeat ('May Fires') or Suviyöt, roughly translating as 'Summer Nights' and is also very closely connected to Ukonpäivä, celebrated for the honour of the thunder god Ukko. Judging by such relics as Ritvalan Helkajuhla, an occasion where even today young maidens wear white dresses and walk singing around a hill along a path that looks disturbingly like ukonkirves, Hela used to mark hieros gamos, the holy marriage of heaven and earth, where masculine heaven fertilizes the feminine earth with rain.

Since we don't know when exactly our ancestors celebrated Hela (with all likelyhood, there never was a fixed date) we've decided to set it for the weekend closest to the second full moon after Spring Equinox. This year it meant halfway of May. We lighted a bonfire, had a lot of sauna and sang a ton of old poems. I took my friends a double portion of these little pies.

The basic recipe is from here but I also added some fresh coriander into the filling. Even though I tried to make rather chubby pastries with much thinner crust than normally I had to stick so much of the filling into freezer for later purposes I think it would be safe to half the filling amount. This also means that the nutritional values at the end are rather overblown.

The filling:
- 1 kg rutabaga
- 50 g margarine (I used Keiju 70%)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 0.5 dl dark syrup
- white pepper
- 2 tablespoons wheat flour

The crust:
- 1.5 dl water
- 2 dl rye flour
- 1.5 dl wheat flour
- salt

For buttering:
- 1 dl broth from cooking the rutabagas
- 25 g margarine

Cook the rutabagas in salty water. (Don't throw away the tasty broth but use it in a soup for example.) Mash them like potatoes and add the other ingredients.

Mix the crust ingredients together. Divide the paste in 16 parts. Make little balls out of them between your hands. Roll the balls into thin circles. Place a spoonful or two of the filling onto each of them, then fold them into semicircles. Close them by pressing with your (moistured) thumbs.

Put your supikases into a 275°C oven for about 15 minutes. Brush with rutabaga broth and margarine mixture. Cover with a towel.

Nutritional values / 1 supikas / 107 g:
energy 138 kcal
fat 7 g
protein 2 g
carbohydrates 16 g
fiber 3 g


Nettle Pesto ‒ Nokkoslevite

They say young nettles won't sting. "They" couldn't be more wrong. It's starting to be the best time to pick those delicious and nutritious shoots and leaves but don't do it like I do. Wear gloves. Can't believe I forget it each and every year.

Another thing you might want to learn from my mistakes is to check what you're foraging exactly. Once again I fished out some grass, a few brown leaves and two dead larvae (that probably weren't dead to begin with) from my nettle pot. Nettles can be eaten raw as well but you do understand why I prefer to leach them.

- 2 dl young stinging nettle leaves
- 1 dl pine nuts (or sunflower seeds)
- 0.5 dl rape oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves
- fresh coriander (or herb of your choice)
- black pepper

See that all your nettle leaves look healthy and free from insects. Leach them for ten minutes or so. Puré with all the other ingredients. Use as a pasta sauce or spread on your bread.

Nutritional values / 205 g:
energy 852 kcal
fat 87 g
protein 18 g
carbohydrates 13 g
fiber 8 g


Rye Waffles ‒ Ruisvohlut

It's hard to stay still. There are loads of stuff I should be doing but all I'd like to is wondering in the forest and traveling around like a tramp. It's bright and warm again, little green leaves have come out from all those brown piles, birds are trying to sing each other into swamp like Väinämöinen and Joukahainen. Nowadays I just can't wait getting to pick the first wild salad or harvest the little herbs on my window sill. The crispy waffles I made today were already accompanied by freshly picked dandelion, wood sorrel, lady's mantle and woodland strawberry leaves.

Root vegetables are nowadays an essential part of Finnish cuisine. That's why it's hard to believe that only a few hundred years ago Finns thought gardening as something that only Swedish-speaking upper class would do. Carrots and beets didn't become popular until 20th century. Previously common folk either ate very simply (and barren of nutrition) or gathered anything edible they found from the nature. Furthermore, after the second world war no one wanted to eat the same stuff they had learned to be just a substitute, used because of the shortage. You still can't find such wildly used ingredients like chicory or pine flour from stores today.

However, there are some week signs that foraging and growing things yourself are gaining more popularity again. Perhaps they will become trendy and then common in all classes? I sure hope so. One of the things I hope to see is my generation learning to appreciate their land and nature. After all, they have so much better chances for it than their parents did. I myself hope to play a squirrel this year and learn more about preservation for winter.

- 3 dl oat milk (or apple juice)
- 3 dl sparkling water (or tab water)
- 2 dl rye flour
- 1.5 dl dark wheat flour
- 2 dl rye flakes (or rolled oats)
- 3 tablespoons rape oil
- 1 tablespoon potato flour
- 1 tablepoon dark syrup (or maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon apple wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- salt

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the liquid ones as well. Let the batter rest for at least half an hour. Bake a scoopful at a time according to the instructions of your waffle iron. I got six thick waffles out of this amount.

Rye waffles can be accompanied by many kinds of toppings both sweet and savory. This time I had them as the main dish with salad, well-spiced soy strips and garlicky yogurt sauce but for dessert I'd go with strawberry jam and oat cream, together with a cup of coffee. Some of the toppings you can use as a filling before closing the iron. And of course, they make a perfect picnic food when cold.

If you don't have a waffle iron just use more liquid and make pancakes or ropsu instead. When making ropsu you can also disregard the oil if you wish. With waffles you need to grease the iron between every waffle if there's no oil in the batter itself.

Nutritional values / 1 waffle (165 g):
energy 266 kcal
fat 8 g
protein 6 g
carbohydrates 41 g
fiber 6 g


Tempeh Bites with Herbs ‒ Yrttiset tempehpalat

Highly glutamic tastes tend to divide opinions. Even people who do love them have usually needed to get themselves accustomed to them. I didn't. As a kid I used to eat a mixture of MSG and salt straight from a spice jar. The first time I took a bite of this thing called tempeh ‒ which I had heard so many people find disgusting ‒ I instantly fell in love. This moldy chunk of soy beans is rather expensive in Finland and only found in special stores so we eat it rarely, usually just sliced and fried without any extra spices. This time I thought I'd see some extra trouble to see if it can be made even better. At least these finger-size taste consortiums should crown any fine dinner.

- 300 g tempeh
- chili powder
- onion powder
- smoked paprika
- salt
- 1 tablespoon rape oil

- 100 g fresh cheese type of soy spread (or cashew cream or hefu)
- 1 punch of fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon apple wine (or birch bud schnapps)
- birch buds (or rosemary)
- dragon's wort

Chop the parsley. Mix it and the other herbs with the spread and the wine. Refrigerate for couple of hours, allowing the mixture to juice up.

Cut the tempeh into thin slices. Fry from both sides with the oil and the spices. Spread a thick layer of the filling on them and pile up so they resemble small sandwiches. Enjoy with some milder sidekicks, for example barley and veggies.

Nutritional values / 504 g:
energy 1045 kcal
fat 75 g
protein 65 g
carbohydrates 45 g
fiber 1 g


White Sauce ‒ Valkokastike

When writing about the brown sauce I promised to tell you later about the other mother sauce my mum makes, the white sauce. Just like the brown one, this is really simple but can be used as a base for many other sauces. While I tend to associate the brown sauce with winter, the white one is much more summery. It crowns many of those seasonal delights of springtime: new potatoes, asparagus, fireweed and dandelion leaves or artichoke but can also be used for seitan steaks or in lasagna. French cuisine calls it béchamel.

- 3 tablespoons wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons margarine (of good quality!)
- 5 dl soy milk (I find this works better than oat milk but that's naturally only a matter of taste)
- white pepper
- herb salt

Melt the margarine in a sauce pot. Sift in the flour, stirring all the time so it won't get clumpy. Add the milk as a thin strip, stirring all the time. Spice up. The sauce is ready after it has thickened up.

For asparagus and dandelion I like to add some mayonnaise and a teaspoon of vinegar. Dill, garlic and blue-type soy cheese also fit here just perfectly.

Nutritional values / 5 dl:
energy 469 kcal
fat 32 g
protein 24 g
carbohydrates 25 g
fiber 1 g
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