Lingonberry Rönttönens ‒ Puolukkarönttöset

Back to Finnish pie specialities. Before I've written about "regular" Karelian pies, with turnip and a more modern filling idea. I've also written about vatruskas of Ilomantsi, supikases and lihapiirakkas. But there are numerous more of them to go.

This has been a bad berry year. Normally there's an overlap of bilberry and lingonberry season, but this time bilberries vanished before I really picked them and lingonberries haven't really appeared either. I hear my friends in the western coast hoard buckets of them though, so perhaps I'm just going to the wrong woods. now that my spouse's mum sent us some of the lingonberries she had picked, I thought I'd finally try making rönttönens.

Rönttönens are considered a speciality of the Kainuu region. They resemble Karelian pies a lot but are rounder, larger and their crust nearly always contains wheat flour besides rye. Typically the filling is made of potato and lingonberries. In the traditional version they are sweetened naturally with low heat with the same method as tuuvinki or mämmi, which together with lingonberries produces a unique flavour for sweet and sour lovers. These days the sweetening is usually done with added sugar like in this quickie version. I got 15 pies from this portion.

The crust:
- 5 dl rye flour
- 2 dl wheat flour
- 3 dl water
- salt

The filling:
- 6 cooked potatoes
- 7 dl lingonberries
- 2 dl rye flour
- 0.5 dl sugar
- salt

For buttering:
- 100 g margarine
- 2 dl oat milk

Knead the crust ingredients together. Cover with a towel and leave to rest for 2–3 hours.

Mash the potatoes and the lingonberries. Mix all the filling ingredients. Roll the crust as thin as you can, flouring the surface so it won't stick to the table or rolling pin. Take circles of about 15 centimetres in diameter from it. Pile them with flour added between them to prevent from drying or sticking together.

Spread a thin layer of the filling on each circle. Lift about a centimetre of their edges and make wrinkles between your fingers so they'll hold up.

Bake in a 250°C oven for 15 minutes. Melt the margarine and mix with the milk. Grease each rönttönen when they come out of the oven. Cover with a towel when they're still hot to help them soften.

Enjoy with hot coffee or tea.

Nutritional values / 1 pie / 149 g:
energy 220 kcal
fat 6 g
protein 5 g
carbohydrates 36 g
fiber 7 g


Pumpkin and Yellowfoot Spelt ‒ Kurpitsa-suppilovahverospeltti

Pumpkin isn't exactly a plant I grew up eating. Then again, few veggies are. I usually buy one during the harvest season just because they look so adorable and they're only around once a year. Then I start to scratch my head, wondering how to use it and what kind of dishes would it fit into. They taste so mild I'm afraid I'm going to loose that aroma, but then again it doesn't seem to be at its best just eaten raw either. Somehow everything I try always ends up delicious though.

To combine autumnal flavours, this time I used my pumpkin with yellowfoot mushrooms in a risotto type of dish. For garnishment I also fried some soy flakes and since this has been sort of a hit among Finnish vegans with the title "vegan bacon", I bothered to actually measure the amounts for them as well.

- 1 pumpkin (about 500 g)
- 500 g yellowfoot
- 2 dl pearl spelt
- 4 dl water
- 1 small piece of celeriac
- 1 small punch of fresh parsley
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- 1 tbsp apple wine vinegar
- 1 dose of stock
- saffron

Smoky soy flakes:
- 4 dl soy flakes
- 0.5 dl soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark syrup
- 1 tbsp chipotle sauce or liquid smoke
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- oil for frying

Peel the pumpkin and the celeriac. Cube both. (Don't throw away the pumpkin seeds. They'll make a nice snack, especially when roasted.) Put them into a pot together with oil and turn around until they've softened up.

Add the spelt. Keep sauteing a couple of minutes more. Then add the water, the stock and the spices. While the spelt is cooking, put the mushrooms on a dry pan. Toss around until the extra liquid has boiled away. Finalize by adding some oil at the end of frying. When the spelt looks done, combine it with the mushrooms and the parsley.

For the soy flakes, measure all the liquid parts into a bowl. Mix. Add the flakes. Let them marinate while you heat up the oil in a pan. Fry until they've acquired some nice colour. Use in a pasta, salad or this spelt right here.

Nutritional values / 1820 g:
energy 1135 kcal
fat 58 g
protein 60 g
carbohydrates 80 g
fiber 33 g


Mushroom Hunter's Bread ‒ Sienestäjänleipä

At some point this morning I noticed I had accidentally published a completely empty draft with this headline. That was embarrassing. Apparently it had gained 30 views before I noticed anything. Sorry if you were one those people who clicked in vein. Here's the real post.

In the 70's cafés and bars served warm sandwiches instead of hamburgers. To modern reader those classic recipes may sound somewhat dull or not-so-nutritious but then again, that does apply to most hamburgers too. They can be rather filling evening snacks or lunches even today, especially if served with a side salad. Mushroom hunter's bread is my adaptation from a classic called metsästäjänleipä or hunter's bread, consisting of a meat steak or patty and mushroom sauce.

- 4 rye bread pieces
- 4 basic soy or pea patties
- 0.5 l mushrooms of your choice (I used sheep polypore)
- 2 dl oat cream
- 1 onion
- 1 small punch of fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- black pepper
- salt

Chop the mushrooms and sauté on a dry pan until the extra juice has vaporized and they've even caught some colour. Add the oil and the onion, chopped as well. When the onion has become translucent, add the cream and the spices. Let the sauce simmer until it seems thick enough. Finalize with parsley.

Toast the bread slices. Place a soy pattie on each of them. Pour the sauce generously over them all.

Nutritional values / 1 bread / 343 g:
energy 379 kcal
fat 16 g
protein 19 g
carbohydrates 41 g
fiber 10 g


Cloudberry Cups ‒ Lakkamaljat

My spouse prepared us a habanero pie for dinner so I took care of the dessert. This one gets full 10 points for the effort/luxury ratio. The only part that involves cooking is the caramel sauce, but even that only takes 15 minutes or so. Learning how to make it involves some trial and error (I've usually ended up with a chewable fudge instead of a sauce) but even so the result is rarely anything of which you wouldn't enjoy destroying all the evidence.

I've rarely used cloudberries in my recipes though they're among the most delicate tasting berries I know. It's pretty telling how many names it has even in literary Finnish: lakka, hilla, suomuurain, valokki and lintti are the most common ones you hear. The problem is they live in swamps and though Finland in general is the swampiest land on the planet there's barely any anywhere near where I live. So every time I've met a cloudberry I've picked it straight into my mouth. Picking them isn't quite as fast or easy as say, picking lingonberries either since one shrub only bares one berry and you need to move a lot around, bending and stretching. Which is why they also cost several times more than most berries and I bear to buy them only about once a year.

- 500 g cloudberries
- 4 dl vanilla flavoured soy or oat yogurt
- 1.5 dl farin sugar
- 1 dl oat cream
(- 3 tsp instant coffee powder)

Measure the sugar, the cream and if you wish, the coffee powder into a pot. Cook it on a low temperature, stirring most of the time. When it starts to look more like a pile of frog spawn than just regular boiling liquid you can try dropping a small spoonful into a glass of cold water.

If the result sticks together instead of dissolving into the water you are done and should quickly take the pot away from the heat. In case you can even mold the drop between your fingers congratulate yourself for you have managed to prepare fudge by cooking the sauce too long by a minute or two. You can still probably pour it over the dessert but it does require chewing.

Pour half of the yogurt on the bottom of your serving glasses. Carefully add half of the cloudberries and then half of the sauce. Make a second layer of them all. Serve immediately.

Nutritional values / 1105 g:
energy 1787 kcal
fat 23 g
protein 27 g
carbohydrates 158 g
fiber 36 g


Yellowfoot Pyttipanna with Carrot Ketchup ‒ Suppispyttis porkkanaketsupilla

(First of all, sorry about the terrible photo. This is why you should always prepare dinner at noon.) Yellowfoot might just be my favourite mushroom. Partly because hunting them is so full of feelings. First you gaze into the ground, lift trunks and are certain you'll never going to find a single one. But after that one dead leave turned out to be a yellowfoot you have to sit down to pick them. At the end you have to stare at clouds to get out of the forest, because hey, you can't just leave them in the there alone in case you see more of them. They rarely have bad parts or maggots, the whole cute little mushroom is about the curly but sturdy foot which hides half into the ground. The taste and structure are so pleasant they'll fit into pretty much every dish you can think of.

In case you haven't noticed already, I rarely have the patience to follow recipes thoroughly. I use them more for drawing ideas and in case of baking, for proportions. Saara Törmä's recipe's often make important exceptions. They're homestyle and simple but have that certain twist that makes them special. This one is a variation of pyttipannu she's written for the Green party's newspaper. The name sounded fun and so followed it almost literally, only adding a can of beans into it. I even decided to try the recommended condiment too, although it sounded a little odd. A little googling revealed to me that indeed, the word ketchup doesn't imply tomatoes, it's just that we're so used to the tomato version. Somewhat surprisingly ketchup's origins seem to be in 17th century Chinese fish sauce and the tomato version was only developed in the 19th century USA. Anyway, the carrot version here fits pretty great with the rest of the meal, not to mention adds to the foliage colours.

- 1 l yellowfoot
- 1 kg cooked potatoes
- 2 onions
- 0.5 dl rape oil
- 0.5 dl soy sauce
- 2 tsp curry
- 1 tsp thyme
- black pepper
- salt

The ketchup:
- 500 g carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 dl broth
- 1 dl farin sugar
- 0.5 dl rape oil
- 0.5 dl balsam vinegar
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp salt
- 0.5 tsp cayenne

Start with the ketchup if you plan on preparing them both. Peel the carrots and cook them. Save a decilitre of the broth. Chop the onion, heat up the oil and sauté. Combine all the ingredients and purée smooth. Let the ketchup simmer on low heat for half an hour. Cool down.

Fry the mushrooms until the extra liquid has vaporized. Move aside for a moment. Cube the potatoes. No need to peel them unless you want to. Chop the onions too.

Fry the potatoes alone for couple of minutes. Add the onions and the mushrooms. Turn around. Add the spices. Keep frying until the onions are soft and the potatoes have acquired a pretty colour.

Enjoy with the carrot ketchup. The leftover ketchup stores for about a week in the fridge but you can also store it longer by freezing.

Nutritional value / 1835 g (the pyttipanna):
eneergy 1247 kcal
fat 48 g
protein 32 g
carbohydrates 163 g
fiber 29 g

Nutritional value / 850 g (the ketchup):
energy 730 kcal
fat 46 g
protein 5 g
carbohydrates 70 g
fiber 15 g


Milky Caps in Vinegar ‒ Etikkarouskut

Yesterday I went mushroom hunting and got my backpack so full you'll be getting a fair share of mushroom recipes too. I picked one bag of yellowfoot, one of sheep polypode and one of rufous milk cap.

Rufous milk caps are a very common milk cap variety. In countries where it's not habitual to parboil mushrooms they're considered inedible, sometimes even poisonous. Technically speaking they are indeed slightly mutagenic but you wouldn't eat them raw anyway because of the burning peppery taste.  For many Finnish mushroom hunters they're one of the favourite species, especially appropriate for preservation and to be used in basic mushroom salad. Even Finnish officials notorious for excessive cautiousness when it comes to food or medicine consider them perfectly safe. Then again, mycologist David Arora speculates there may be some differences of edibility between European and North American varieties. I wouldn't know anything about that but this basic method fits perfectly well for any milk caps, as well as most other mushrooms you'd like to preserve.

- 2 l milk caps
- 1.5 dl white vinegar
- 1.5 dl water
- 1 dl sugar
- 1 small piece of horseradish or ginger
- 1 tbsp cilantro seeds
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp salt

If your milk caps are large, cut them a bit smaller. In case they need parboiling, boil them in plenty of water for about ten minutes and rinse well.

Measure all the ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil and then pour into a clean and preferably sterilized glass jar. The liquid amount here should be enough for parboiled milk caps but in case your mushrooms need more to cover them, just add vinegar, water and sugar all in equal amounts. I used a jar too big so it'll be easy to add more mushrooms since this is a species I can be quite certain I'll be finding all autumn.

Preserve in cool temperature. The mushrooms should be ready to eat within a few days and store well until the next autumn. They're especially great in salads or as an accompaniment on the plate. The broth brings taste into soups and sauces too.

Nutritional values / 1447 g:
energy 892 kcal
fat 5 g
protein 19 g
carbohydrates 172 g
fiber 19 g


Soy Lihapiirakka ‒ Soijalihis

This is a bit of a deviation from the "seasonal" theme since lihapiirakkas are sold rather evenly around the year. The name literally means "meat pie" which gave me some trouble naming the soy version since I don't think anyone would understand if I just called them soy pies. You do see a lot of naming variance like "meatless pie" or "soy meat pie", but I decided to go with a shortening in Finnish and keep the English name intact since it's already detached from the original meaning. Anyway, they're deep-fried pastries made from a doughnut type of dough and filled with rice and minced meat. Or, in the vegan version, usually rice and TVP.

Lihapiirakkas are an extremely popular fast food in Finland. You can find them cheap from practically every food store's convenience food section. Non-chain-owned street kiosks sell them even in the smallest villages with one shop and no restaurants, along with french fries and hamburgers. In bigger cities you have a chance of finding them all self-made and vegan. Quite often they're cut in half and filled with things.

When I was a teenager, a friend of mine ate at least one of them every day after school, filling them with ketchup and liver sausage, along with a glass of cold cocoa as the drink option. To her and her parents' defence I have to say my diet at the time wasn't exactly from the healthiest end either.

The regular kiosk filling includes what I like to call "the grill spices", the holy trinity of ketchup, mustard and cucumber relish. In case of cheap cucumber relish raw onion is also often added for crunchiness. With a little extra fee the fillings may include different meat products, but nothing stops from using the same forms made from plant-based ingredients, like bean patties, chickpea omelettes or soy weeners. The kiosks often serve their own specialities and understanding the subtle differences takes a real connoisseur. For a little vocabulary, these have become regional dishes known nation-wide:

Atomi and vety (Lappeenranta): "Atom and hydrogen". Vety includes a boiled egg and ham, atomi either one of these.
Hotsi (Hämeenlinna): It's role model probably being hot dog, hotsi is filled with half cut lauantaimakkara or "Saturday sausage", a certain thick and floury sausage type. In Forssa two wieners are used instead.
Möttönen (Helsinki): An especially big and thick lihapiirakka which were originally sold at the main train railway station.
Riihimäkeläinen (Riihimäki): Includes a fried egg and a minced meat patty. In Rovaniemi the same version is called ropsilainen after the local football team.
Lörtsy (Savonlinna): The good people of Savonlinna are probably going to hang me from balls for implying these are the same thing, and I do need to write a separate post about them sometime later. I haven't been able to find a recipe for lörtsy or any "official" difference in their dough, but lörtsys are about twice as large and always flat. They're one of the oldest variants and have been around since the fifties. Originally they had an apple jam filling instead of meat but nowadays you can find them in all possible sweet and savory flavours.

The dough
- 14 dl wheat flour (many prefer a version where some of this is graham)
- 6 dl oat milk
- 50 g yeast
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- 1 tbsp dark syrup
- 1 tbsp salt

 The filling
- 2.5 dl soy crumble
- 1.5 dl barley grains
- 1 dl roasted onion
- 1 dose of stock
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- 1 tbsp apple wine vinegar
- smoked paprika
- white pepper
- salt

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Add the oil, the syrup and the salt. Knead in enough flour to achieve a consistency that doesn't stick to the bowl but still feels a bit runny. Cover with a towel and let rest for an hour.

Cook the barley. Soak the soy crumble in water where you've added the stock. Fry on the pan, adding the spices as you go. Combine the barley, the soy and the onion.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each of them round between your hands, flatten and roll into a disc of about 15 cm in diameter. Keep more flour at hand to help the dough from sticking. Scoop a spoonful or two of the filling in the middle of the disc. Fold one edge on the opposite one and press it to keep it closed. Secure the edges by pressing with a fork.

Deep fry from both sides until golden in neutral tasting oil that is fine with high temperatures, for example non-virgin rape oil.

Nutritional values / 1 lihapiirakka / 114 g (before deep frying):
energy 299 kcal
fat 7 g
protein 10 g
carbohydrates 48 g
fiber 4 g


Creamy Plum Sauce ‒ Kermainen luumukastike

About a year ago when I had a big bag of freshly picked plums I tried them in a bit of everything. Jams, liqueur, pies and other desserts, as such... One of the best ideas was a sauce I threw together on a spot. Can't remember what an earth I put into it but today I thought I'd try something similar. After licking the plate my spouse announced this just became one of his favourite dishes, which sounded like an indication of me needing to prepare it again. So perhaps this time I ought to write it down.

The important part of this sauce are those small and very, very sour plums. If you can only find sweet ones, try with some other fuits or bring in something else to add sourness and remove the syrup respectively.

- 9 plums
- 4 dl oat cream
- 1 red onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 chili pepper
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rape oil
- 1 tbsp dark syrup
- green pepper
- smoked paprika
- cinnamon

Chop the onion and sauté in oil. When it's turned transparent, add the cream. Remove the stones from the plums, cut smaller if needed and add them into the pot. Spice. Cook with mild heat until the plums have fallen apart and the consistency of the sauce seems nice. Remember to stir.

Serve as the perfecting element of a savory dinner.

Nutritional values / 942 g:
energy 845 kcal
fat 54 g
protein 12 g
carbohydrates 75 g
fiber 11 g


Stuffed Black Currant Leaves ‒ Viinimarjanlehtikääryleet

I'm a bit of a fan of making "Finnishized" versions of dishes normally attributed to whole different nations. You take the basic idea of the dish but swap the main ingredients into some local ones. Often the result is closer to the original idea than the hardcore versions that count on finding preserved but hard-to-acquire ingredients in the place of fresh ones.

Last summer I got a packet of grape leaves so we made a large pot of dolmades, a Greek dish where rice is wrapped inside the leaves. They were great though I still don't know what grape leaves really taste like since those were heavily preserved in tartaric acid.

This year I thought I'd localize the recipe. Black currant leaves are very aromatic and currants in general are called "wine berries" or viinimarja in Finnish so I thought they'd work great in this type of a dish. Seems I'm not exactly the first person who's used them this way so I took some model from this recipe which also uses rice as the stuffing. Whenever a recipe calls for rice I usually apply oat but it tastes a bit mild. So this time I thought I'd try processed spelt for a slightly nuttier flavour. Most recipes seem to call for a really long list of spices which to me sounds like they're not sure to what direction they want to take it, so I went with a fairly simple list instead.

- 40 large black currant leaves
- 2 dl pearl spelt
- 0.5 dl pine nuts
- 1 small punch of fresh mint
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- cinnamon
- clove
- salt

For the broth
- 1 dl rape oil
- 0.5 dl lemon juice
- 1 dose of stock
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- salt

Cook the spelt in salty water for about 20 minutes. Roast the nuts on a dry pan a bit so they'll get colour on their cheeks. Mince the garlic and the mint. Mix the stuffing ingredients together.

Cook the currant leaves in plenty of water for about five minutes to soften them up. Take two leaves at a time. Cut their stems off and place them on each other so they'll overlap in the middle. Scoop a teaspoonful of the stuffing in the middle. Fold the edges of the leaves on the stuffing and roll them into small cigars. Place each cigar carefully but tightly into a casserole.

Mix the broth ingredients and pour over the casserole. (Add some water too if the amount of liquid doesn't seem enough.) Place in a 150°C oven for about an hour. You can eat them right away, but if you have the patience you can wait a day or two for them to juice up in the fridge. This is also the reason why it's a great idea to make a big portion of them while you're at it.

Nutritional values / 628 g:
energy 2371 kcal
fat 192 g
protein 43 g
carbohydrates 149 g
fiber 30 g


Kale and Fava Bean Dip ‒ Lehtikaali-härkäpapudippi

I've had this wonderful sounding spinach dip in my bookmarks, waiting for me to do it with fresh nettle. There are some new shoots growing now, but since I have a lot of kale and green fava beans waiting I thought I'd try something similar with them instead. I did add some dry nettle from last year though.

The amounts in the original recipe are in those archaic measures that are a pain to convert into SI-system (I know, you doing the conversions the other way around end up with just as cumbersome fractions). Since this type of dish doesn't really call for specific amounts like, say, cookies would, I just added things with a freehand style. This base I developed would call for more liquid, but I have absolutely no complaints about the taste. It goes best together with rye crisps, corn snacks, veggie sticks or other such stuff with a more flavour and toughness than your average potato chip does.

- 200 g kale
- 200 g soy cheese
- 3 dl cooked fava beans
- 2 dl cashew nuts
- 0.5 dl lemon juice
- 0.5 dl dried nettle
- 0.5 dl  nutritional yeast
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp rape oil
- 1 tbsp pesto
- salt and pepper

Soak the nuts overnight or boil for about 20 minutes (this "quick-soaking" must be among the best kitchen tips I've heard for a while) to soften them up. Blend all the ingredients together, but save some of the cheese to sprinkle on top.

Bake for 15 minutes in a temperature of 175°C. Serve as a hot dip sauce or use between sandwiches.

Nutritional values / 969 g:
energy 2105 kcal
fat 139 g
protein 94 g
carbohydrates 119 g
fiber 32 g


Aronia and Rye Foam ‒ Aronia-ruisvaahto

Oh crap,  seems I've caught myself a cold. Not exactly the thing I'd need at the end of pregnancy, which already itself makes me feel tired. I wouldn't want to use medication either unless it's necessary. Just hope this goes away before the actual labour takes place. And I'll try to eat a lot of berries to tank up with vitamin C and antioxidants. You know that annoying word "superfood"? It gets flashed around a lot when talking about aronia.

Flipping throgh a book about regional Finnish dishes I realized you can make vispipuuro or lingonberry foam with rye flour too. Another recipe I found used bilberries which always pair nicely with rye. I thought I'd try aronia instead. Just like rose, it's a very common decoration bush, but the big, yielding berries rarely get used. People don't seem to realize they're edible, though they make excellent juices, wines and jellies. Perhaps because the taste is so much on the sour side they're not really a nice thing to eat straight from the bush.

The consistency isn't quite as fluffy as in the semolina version, but still surprisingly so. If you want to add the effect, you can whip some vanilla foam into the result too. The ingredient proportions in different versions seem to vary quite a lot, so feel free to experiment with them as well.

- 3 dl water
- 3 dl aronia berries
- 1.5 dl rye flour
- 1 dl sugar

Bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and the berries. Let simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the flour as well. Remove from heat and start to beat with an electric mixer. Continue at least 15 minutes for a fluffy structure.

Nutritional values / 670 g:
energy 745 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 13 g
carbohydrates 166 g
fiber 25 g



Oops, I managed to miss posting yesterday. But it's halfway already and 14/15 is still something I can feel satisfied with. Perhaps from now on I should still prepare couple of "just in case" -recipes beforehand.

I did cook though. Actually getting to eat just went a bit late. Madeleine.teacup has been doing a really educational series about pre-colonial dishes of the Americas. One of them was called Inca chilcano de pirana, which basically means piranha soup. This kind of reminded me for a totally different Finnish dish also spelled pirana, a traditional South Karelian dish. (There's two of them to be precise. Another one is a lingonberry rye porridge, but I'll get back to that another time.) It's been hanging on my to-do list for years so now I finally got myself to try it.

There are quite many originally vegetarian dishes from Karelia. Of course meat used to be consumed a lot less during the time when it meant slaughtering your perhaps only cow, but this is also due to the orthodox fate where meat isn't even allowed during the fasting. For a modern Finn they may seem a bit anemic since usually the only spice the recipes mention is salt, but I think this aspect can be tweaked if done with respect. So for example here I used some stock base and bear's garlic for more taste.

Pirana is basically a stew consisting of rutabaga, potatoes and dried fava beans or (today more often) peas, which are all used in equal amounts. I thought I'd try this with fresh fava beans now that I have some, as well as those purple potatoes we've gardened, so the stew would get some pretty colours. Potato didn't become common before 19th century, so one modernized version I found even replaced them with sweet potatoes which feels as exotic to us now as potato must've been back then.

In older versions barley, sometimes also rye flour or even talkkuna is used for thickening but modern versions usually shy away from the porridge-like consistency. I kept the flour since I think it's one of the key elements of the dish but scaled the amount down significantly. Only one version I found added cream to the result but I took that too since it seemed like a reasonable way to bring a little some fat into the dish. In another modern version I saw this problem was solved by first sauteing the veggies in a little oil.

- 5 dl fava beans (or peas)
- 500 g rutabaga
- 500 g potato
- 2 dl oat cream
- 1 dl oat flour
- 1 portion of stock
- 1 tbsp dry bear's garlic
- salt
- water (about 1 l)

(I you're using dry beans or peas, first soak them overnight.) Peel and cube the rutabaga. Cover it with water and add some stock base and salt. Set the pot to simmer. When the rutabaga is starting to soften up a bit, also cube and add the potatoes, as well as the beans. Add water if needed.

When things are starting to seem edible enough, add the cream and thicken with flour. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes, while stirring since the stew can burn easily at this point.

Like this recipe instructs, the ready pirana is to be eaten as the main course just like porridge. Margarine "eye" and milk can be added on the plate. The recipe also reminds this can be eaten cold as well!

Nutritional values / 2765 g:
energy 1413 kcal
fat 23 g
protein 60 g
carbohydrates 242 g
fiber 48 g


Kale Chips ‒ Lehtikaalisipsit

My MoFo month is starting to become a series of "what new ingredient did I try today" posts, but it's not that bad. That can happen during autumn if you're curious to try out new stuff. Much worse thing is that I got along this hyped idea for a snack only now. I've often seen kale being praised and it's especially unavoidable if you follow any American cooking blogs. But it's not too commonly grown in Finland though it would manage long into autumn, even through a little frost. I haven't seen it sold anywhere until yesterday, right at the market square in my neighbourhood.

I got so excited seeing those huge dark green bushes sold with three euros I didn't even realize they were still attached to their roots. Not until the seller lady started wrapping the rather large growing pot into a bag, that is. At the moment I'm not quite sure whether I should eat or cherish my baby. But the first thing I wanted to do in any case was to try out this all-too-healthy sounding snack. As with raw porridge, the result was really worth all the hype.

- 100 g kale
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- salt (and other spices if you wish)

Tear the kale into mouth-size pieces. Sprinkle with oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and cook for about ten minutes in a 175°C oven. Notice these will probably disappear before you have the time to start the movie.

Nutritional values / 127 g:
energy 279 kcal
fat 28 g
protein 3 g
carbohydrates 4 g
fiber 2 g


Cloudy Brussels Sprouts ‒ Lakatut ruusukaalit

It's usually the protein on the plate that gets the most attention, while the sidekick is some quickly tossed salad or potatoes. Thought I'd turn this upside down for a change and learn to use my imagination on sidekicks as well. So I took some store-bought tofu steaks, smeared them with smoky chili sauce and fried on the pan. Then I turned my attention towards the sidekick, which today was all about those small but sweet cabbages that so many people seem to mistake as bitter and bland after they've met badly cooked individuals one or two times too many.

Brussels sprouts are often combined with smoky flavours and nuts but orange and sweet things also seem like common pairings. I thought I'd replace orange with something more appropriate for autumn, and so cloudberries happened to match the colour. These came out really quickly but seem fancier than you'd expect for a regular Thursday meal.

- 400 g Brussels sprouts
- 0.5 dl cloudberry jam
- 50 g margarine
- 2 tsp apple wine vinegar
- mint

Set the sprouts to steam for about ten minutes. In the meanwhile, whisk all the other ingredients together. If your sprouts are really big you can half them after they've softened up. Otherwise, just mix them with the sauce. Spoon on your plate. Try not to lick your plate like I did.

Nutritional values / 518 g:
energy 505 kcal
fat 37 g
protein 6 g
carbohydrates 34 g
fiber 17 g


Green Fava Bean Toast ‒ Härkäpapupaahtoleipä tuoreista härkäpavuista

Today I got to taste fresh fava or horse beans for the first time in my life. They're one of those plants traditionally grown in Finland, which have almost been forgotten from the way of imported goodies, along with other such nutritious and tasty plants like hemp, turnip and buckwheat.

I do understand why restaurants don't want to use these fresh. Processing just a small patch like this meant several hours of work - and by work I mean the actual active time I did something with my hands, not just waiting while it cooks. But you never see these sold fresh either. This rare chance was all thanks to us planting and harvesting the beans ourselves in our small allotment garden.

So why is it such a hard work? Well, first you have to peel the beans out of their pods, then boil in water for 3-5 minutes and then individually pop them out of their skins as well before continuing to the actual cooking part. Of course, one way would also be to just serve them with greasy sauce and let the eaters peel the skins off. They're not related to new world beans in any way, so they're not poisonous to eat raw, just a bit unpleasant unless really young and small (in which case it's OK to use the pods as well). It's enough to cook them lightly so the aromas don't get waisted and the structure doesn't go mushy.

I wanted to try a rare treat like this really simply, so I used this recipe from a Swedish book Smakernas återkomst: när maten följer årstiderna (Ordfront förlag 2011) by a reporter Mats-Eric Nilsson. The instructions were a bit vague so I'll just tell how I did them.

- 5 dl precooked fava beans
- 6 slices of white sour bread
- 2 shallots
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- basil (I mostly used dill since we happen to have lots of it fresh)
- salt

Mince the shallots and sauté them in olive oil. Add the beans. Fry a few minutes more. Sprinkle with salt, basil and more oil. Move aside. Toast the bread slices on the pan as well.

Scoop the beans on the bread slices and enjoy on the spot.

Nutritional values / 790 g:
energy 1319 kcal
fat 44 g
protein 56 g
carbohydrates 173 g
fiber 32 g


Warm Harvest Salad ‒ Lämmin sadonkorjuusalaatti

I'm really happy about the fact I've learned to cook many different types of salads. Couple of years ago, basically all my salads contained the same ingredients. And nothing wrong with them still. But variance is the salt in life. This time I took model from this salad, but since the result doesn't really resemble it at all, I thought I'd better change the name too. This one went just for a sidekick, but if you'd like to turn it into a your evening's main course, try frying some smoked tofu cubes or toss horse beans in the oven as well.

- 5 apples
- 5 potatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 dl gooseberries
- 1 dl pecans
- 1 punch of salad leaves
- 3 tbsp rape oil
- salt

For the sauce:
- 2 tbsp apple wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 1 tbsp spruce syrup
- 2 garlic cloves
- black pepper

Cut the potatoes and the onion in discs. Apply oil and salt. Stick them into a 225°C oven for 15 minutes so they'll soften up.

Cut the apples and the salad a bit smaller. Crush the nuts. Add the gooseberries into the same bowl as well. mix the salad sauce ready.

When the potatoes come out of the oven, toss them and the sauce over the rest. Jump right in.

Nutritional values / 1183 g:
energy 1371 kcal
fat 86 g
protein 17 g
carbohydrates 240 g
fiber 23 g


Polypody Crème Brûlée ‒ Kallioimarrepaahtovanukas

My spouse's sister and her kids came for a visit yesterday. Since it's always a great idea to try some completely new method of cooking when there are guests coming along, I decided to make a crème brûlée for dessert. Now, French style of cooking has always felt a bit bizarre to me, but perhaps it's just my mental image of how you always need to cook things several times, in most difficult ways and loose all nutrients and original aromas in the process. At least this one was rather easy at the end, though there was enough time for several points where I went certain the whole thing has failed miserably. Especially the flaming part was so fun I want to try it soon again.

Couple of days ago, we went to search for common polypody, a fern often referred with the name mesijuuri, nectar root. Its root is very sweet and tastes a lot like liquorice. I've wanted to try it out in cooking for a while, but now that it's autumn already it's starting to be the best time for root collecting. I find ferns in general quite hard to distinct, but this one looks so cartoonish and grows on bedrocks where you wouldn't imagine anything growing, it makes an exception. In those hills I knew I had seen it before, so we didn't have to come home empty handed. We found a fern-invaded rock where we were able to take couple of root pieces without killing the whole bush.

I've never had a crème brûlée before, so I'm not sure if this came out like it's supposed to, but all of us agreed it tasted wonderful. Especially the burnt sugar part. The root itself didn't taste nearly as much as I had hoped, but luckily I didn't filter out the pieces, so there were occasional occurrences at least. Although you could do this from regular vegetable milk, I recommend using the thickest and fattest cream you can find. (For my Finnish readers, I used the brand Sunnuntai.) That's kind of like the point of this dish. If you want a healthy dessert you can eat every day, go with juicy berries instead.

- 6 dl heavy oat cream
- 1 dl soy milk
- 1 common polypody root (or a liquorice stick)
- 3 tbsp vanilla sugar
- 1 portion of gelling agent (I used a carrageenan and carob mixture but good old agar should probably give you the least trouble)
- some regular sugar for the torching

Wash the root well and grind it as small as you possibly can. Mix your gelling agent in the milk as instructed. (Mine only said it should be used to replace gelatin, which was a bit of a thanks for nothing instruction for someone who's never even seen gelatin being used. But apparently you need to apply it a lot more than most gelling agents and it should be dissolved into cold liquid before heating.)

Add the root pieces and the sugar into the boiling milk. Remove from heat after the sugar has thoroughly dissolved. Add the cream and mix well. Pour into a small enough oven casserole or better even, ramekins for each eater. (At this point the stuff looked much firmer than after coming out from the oven. The baking part is worth it though, since it changes the structure quite a lot from a regular pudding or kissel.)

Place into a bigger casserole filled with water and cover with a tin foil. Bake for about 45 minutes in 160°C oven. Let it cool down and move into fridge for a few hours.

When the brûlée looks firm again and sticks in its holder even if you turn it upside down, sprinkle a layer of sugar on top of it. Caramelize it with a blow torch while the kid afraid of the thing isn't around watching. Serve while the bottom is still cold and the top is still hot. Discuss about who gets to crack open the tough layer.

Nutritional values / 790 g:
energy 1875 kcal
fat 122 g
protein 7 g
carbohydrates 182 g
fiber 3 g


Mushroom Loaf with Black Currant Jelly ‒ Sienimureke mustaherukkahyytelöllä

The bolete season seems to be closing its end already. Two weeks ago the forest was so full of porcini it was hard to walk without stumbling on them. Now the only one I found was almost eaten by worms. Instead, fly agaric has become the king of the forest. They're pretty but don't make such a good meal. Since there wasn't any clear one species to pick I did what I usually avoid: mixed them in the same dish. There are for example velvet boletes, slimy spike-caps and purple russulas hidden in here.

I couldn't find a loaf recipe only using mushrooms instead of mixing them with lenses, meat, rice or nuts, so I made one up. (If you feel like adding any of the aforementioned, go ahead though.) It worked out wonderfully. The jelly idea came from Sillä sipuli's post about wild food and thought black currant juice would fit here especially well because its colour is the same as the caps of my russulas. I exaggerated a bit with the agar and used twice the amount I recommend here since the result was even too sturdy, but the taste fits here well.

- 1 l  mixed mushrooms
- 2 dl oat cream
- 1 onion
- 1 starchy potato
- 1 dl breadcrumbs
- oil for frying
- tarragon
- green peppers
- salt

For the Jelly:
- 1 dl blackcurrant juice (I used unsweetened but it's your call. Aronia would also fit here well.)
- 4 dl water
- 2 tsp agar

Clean and chop the mushrooms. Mince the onion and sauté until you start to see through it. Add the mushrooms and let them acquire some colour. Mix all the ingredients and pour into a buttered casserole. Set in a 200°C oven for 30-45 minutes.

In the meanwhile, you can also prepare the jelly. Mix the juice and the water. Let it come to a boil. Add the agar. Pour into a flat casserole, preferably of same size as the one containing the loaf.

When both have cooled down, carefully detach the jelly and place it on the loaf. You can cut serving-size pieces to help out the eaters. Serve cold.

Nutritional values / 1389 g:
energy 812 kcal
fat 37 g
protein 21 g
carbohydrates 91 g
fiber 18 g


Rose Raspberry Sorbet with Bilberry Basil Sauce ‒ Ruusu-vadelmajää mustikka-basilikakastikkeella

Besides the Mofo, I though I'd also take part in the food challenge Finnish food bloggers circle around every month since these are both wonderful ways of connecting us food bloggers into a community. This month's theme is the ball shape. Mushroom balls would be my oblivious choice at the moment, but instead I decided to go with something more experimental.

I just gathered a bag of rose hips and since cleaning them out is quite a hard work, I wanted to use them in  something that would really bring out their flavour. Kissel is a classic for a reason, but you can do it with dried rose hips too. Paula of Veikeä Verso just made rose ice cream from the flower petals, and that sounds beautifully aromatic as well, but this time I thought I'd try sorbet for the first time in my life. After all, sorbet is just as great for rolling cute little ice cream balls. And that raspberry still sounded like a nice pair for rose.

I find it a shame how most rose hips just rotten in bushes though they grow everywhere. Still, I felt a bit nervous, picking the hips in the middle of bright daylight. As if I was a kid stealing apples. An old lady came to me and I was sure she was going to scold me off for stealing something from their housing cooperative, but instead she just asked me what I was going to do with them and told how delicious they are.

This doesn't really need a sauce, but once I had my mixing wand in my hand, I thought I'd try the idea of combining bilberries and basil which I nicked from here. They fit together just perfectly, though next time I might omit the sugar.

- 200 g cleaned rose hips
- 200 g raspberries
- 2 dl water
- 1 dl dark sugar (I find this more aromatic)
- 1 tsp agar (not really necessary, just wanted to play it safe)

For the sauce:
- 2 dl bilberries
- 2 tbsp bilberry juice
- 2 tbsp basil leaves
- 1 tbsp sugar (unless the juice is sweetened already)

Bring the water to a boil. Add the agar and once it's dissolved, also the sugar. Mix in the rose hips and raspberries. Blend smooth. In case you want the sorbet really smooth, press the mass through a filter. This is a nice option if you're using rose hips without cleaning their seeds out beforehand, but not necessary otherwise.

Place the bowl in the freezer. Blend smooth again after couple of hours. Repeat every hour until the sorbet feels sturdy enough.

For the sauce, just blend everything together. Adjust the consistency by adding bilberry juice if needed.

Nutritional values / 850 g:
energy 698 kcal
fat 3 g
protein 10 g
carbohydrates 148 g
fiber 24 g


Dill Seitan ‒ Tilliseitan

I've written about school meals and most hated memories about them before. But one of the classics of those dishes is still tilliliha (dill meat). The name itself has become kind of a symbol of how badly cooked institutional kitchen food can be. It was banished from schools before my time however, so I've never actually tasted it before.

But as I already told you, we have a nice bed of dill growing, so the first dish we came up with that would contain a lot of the stuff was dill seitan. This is not a new idea. Tofuhead and Nomad from Elitefood have also posted a version of the same dish. I have no idea what the cookers of the 50's did wrong, but this one turned out absolutely delicious. The combination of sour and sweet, perfected with fresh dill and cream worked so well we both licked our plates. I'm almost certain this version is much closer to the dish once popular during the beginning of the century than the one so loathed by many.

- 1 portion of seitan
- 2 carrots
- 1 small piece of celeriac
- 1 white part of a leek
- 1 punch of fresh dill (or 2-3 tbsp dried dill)
- 5 dl broth (the one you cooked the seitan in serves well)
- 2 dl oat cream
- 50 g margarine
- 3 tbsp wheat flour
- 2 tbsp white vinegar (some modern versions use lemon juice)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 10 allspice fruits
- 1 bay leave
- salt (if the broth doesn't already contain some)

Melt the margarine. Shift in the flour. Keep turning them around for ten minutes or so, being careful not to turn them brown. Add the broth, as well as the peppers, the bay leave and half the cream. Chop the veggies into the pot as well.

When the sauce has thickened, combine it other ingredients. Chop the seitan into mouth-fitting chunks. Wash and mince the dill. Finalize by adding vinegar and sugar according to your taste buds. The amounts I've given here are here to give you some direction, but really you should taste how much the sauce needs.

Enjoy with potatoes or barley.

Nutritional values / 1861 g:
energy 2147 kcal
fat 92 g
protein 187 g
carbohydrates 133 g
fiber 24 g


Plum Liqueur ‒ Luumulikööri

I feel I'm cheating a bit with this post. See, I made this liqueur a year ago already. But it would also feel stupid to post about a recipe if I haven't got to actually taste the result, and almost as stupid to post something you can only prepare during the harvest season just before Yule. So this is as early as possible, really.

Finland has one the highest alcohol taxation in the world, which is of course typical for all well fare states. Also, all consumption is heavily regulated, sometimes to the point of absurdness, and all drinks containing more than 4,7% alcohol can only be sold from bars or a state-owned monopoly store Alko. This has lead to a situation where everyone who possibly can buy their drinks in very large quantities from Estonia or Russia. Since Alko's assortment is rather limited, the traditional beer culture has somewhat withered and drinking is often done with all that you possibly can principle.

So, this drink really isn't ideal for that type of alcohol culture. It takes a few months to brew and the result is more appropriate for a dessert than getting drunk. But the experience of finally being able to open and taste what's inside that long-pampered jar is very rewarding. Plus, playing a home chemist with alcohol gives me this small but satisfying feeling of being on the rebel side. You can prepare this with berries or berry mixtures too, but don't pick holes into them with a needle one by one like a friend of mine did. Those were the most alcohol tasting bilberries I've ever chewed.

- 1 kg plums
- 500 g sugar
- 1 l vodka

See that your plums are washed and healthy looking. Half them and remove the stones. Fill a glass jar with them. Add the sugar and the vodka.

Leave the drink on a sunny window shelf. It makes a beautiful decoration. Turn around every now and then. Don't taste before winter solstice. If you can wait half a year, even better. Use the well marinated plums in a dessert.

Nutritional values / 1 l:
energy 4690 g
fat 3 g
protein 8 g
carbohydrates 577 g
fiber 16 g


Zucchini Lasagna ‒ Kesäkurpitsalasagne

I've been planning to do lasagna to get rid of the spinach lasagna noodles that have been sitting in the closet for almost a year now. But then I decided that instead, I'd make the zucchini version that all low-carbers hype about, now that the zucchini season is still on.

Zucchini doesn't need softening like pasta or rye crisps in rye lasagna, one of my favourite dishes to date. So you can discard the white sauce and just sprinkle some soy cheese instead. Also, the tomato sauce should be a bit sturdier than the one you'd normally make.

Even with these precautions the end result reminded more of a stew than a layered dish. There was absolutely no way of holding it together on a plate long enough to take a pretty photo. This one here I've taken on the next morning. You can clearly see how it's the sauce that holds the piece together, not the actual "pasta". But the main thing, the actual taste was just yummy.

- 1 portion of marinated horse beans
- 1 portion of basic brown sauce
- 1 zucchini
- 400 g tomato sauce
- 200 g melting soy cheese
- 0.5 dl sun-dried cherry tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves- basil
- marjoram or oregano

Set the horse beans to marinate on the day before if possible. Prepare the brown sauce. When it starts to thicken, add the tomato sauce in it. Spice with herbs and garlic. Cook a little to reduce the liquid, then add the horse beans and cherry tomatoes along.

Slice the zucchini length-wise. Try to cut as thin strips as you can. Scoop a generous amount of the sauce in the bottom of your oven casserole. Layer with zucchini slices. Sprinkle some cheese on them. Continue by making another sauce layer and so on, until you've used everything. Aim to finish with the cheese layer. A few pieces of margarine or some breadcrumbs aren't a bad idea either.

Set in a 200°C oven for 45 minutes.

Nutritional values / 1818 g:
energy 2380 kcal
fat 126 g
protein 97 g
carbohydrates 206 g
fiber 73 g


Stuffed Parasol Mushrooms ‒ Täytetyt ukonsienet

I've noticed that when seeing a new mushroom, if I instantly recognize what it is, I'm usually right. If I need to ponder, it's better to leave it in the forest. My first two parasol mushrooms clearly fell into the first category.

I haven't been that excited for a while. Parasol mushrooms look majestic. Their Finnish name ukonsieni, Ukko's mushroom, places them in the direct protection of the Finnish thunder god himself. They're huge in size, and the biggest ones can have a cap up to 30 cm in diameter. Their patterns are among the most beautiful ones with a weirdly snake-like features.

I rushed to sit by them. With trembling hands I dug my mushroom guide from my bag to check they match the description before proceeding to actually pick them. At home I drew some spontaneous awes when showing the twins off. And my spouse double checked I'm not mistaking them for royal fly agarics (ruskokärpässieni).

Parasols are thought as one of the finest tasting mushrooms there are. They have this nutty, slightly sweet aroma that often gets to be described as resembling almond. Many people use the caps as steaks in the same way as with sheep polypore. I copied my favourite mushroom recipe writer, Kirsti Eskelinen in her book Sienestäjän suosikit (Gummerus 2012) by turning the caps into cups. The stuffing here is my own adaptation though, so don't blame her in case something goes wrong. Either way, the woodier stalks go well in a soup base or can be dried, ground and used as a spice.

- 2 parasol mushroom caps (or other large enough mushroom caps)
- 2 slices of a big zucchini (or 2 big beet leaves)
- 1 small turnip
- 1 small onion
- 1 dl oat cream
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- 2 tbsp bread crumbs
- lemon pepper
- salt

Mince the onion. Peel and chop the turnip. Sauté both on a pan. Spice with lemon pepper and salt.

Roll the zucchini slices or beat leaves around the mushroom caps so they'll form a bowl. If you have trouble keeping them together, secure with a toothpick.

Scoop the onion and turnip inside the caps. Pour cream on them generously. Stick with a spoon a little to make sure the cream is evenly distributed. Finnish with breadcrumbs.

Set in a 200°C oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve as an appetizer or evening snack.

Nutritional values / mushroom / 320 g :
energy 277 kcal
fat 20 g
protein 5 g
carbohydrates 19 g
fiber 5 g


Boletes, Beet and Buckwheat ‒ Punainen tattitattari

One sure sign of autumn is that dishes start to lean to the east. During summer I find the idea of eating raw curious but but now I my meals already need to be warm and hearty. Of course mushrooms are quite a Karelian thing already by themselves. In Osthrobothnia mushrooms weren't considered edible human food even during famine. The Finnish name of a bolete is tatti, which has the same etymology as Estonian word tatt, meaning slime. However, when 12% of Finland's whole population was evacuated from Karelia, the cultures kind of had to melt together.

At the moment I'm completely nuts about mushrooms. My nearest forest seems to be full of young and firm boletes, especially porcini which the Italians consider the top species. They have a nicely fleshy flavour and just love to get on a frying pan with onions. Most of them I've put in the freezer after quickly showing them a dry frying pan, but obliviously I need to savour the best ones fresh from the bush. First I thought about making ohratto from them, but after deciding to add beet in the dish I realized buckwheat would fit here even better than the more mild-tasting barley.

Buckwheat is a nutritious and traditional domestic grain, but many people seem to avoid it. It does have a very distinctive flavour they perhaps aren't used to. Also, it's easier to cook it wrong than most grains and end up with slimy porridge. To avoid this, it's usually a good idea to roast it before the actual cooking if it's not pre-roasted already, just like with millet. You should also avoid using too much liquid or cooking it longer than needed.

- 400 g boletes
- 4 dl water
- 1.5 dl buckwheat
- 4 beetroots
- 2 onions
- 3 tbsp rape oil
- 2 tbsp black currant juice
- 2 tps dark syrup (leave out if the juice is sweetened)
- fresh parsley
- caraway
- white pepper
- salt

Peel and julienne the beetroots. Marinate the strips in the currant juice, syrup and two tablespoons of oil.

Roast the buckwheat on a dry pan. Move into a pot, add twice the amount of water (3 dl in this case) and salt. Turn the stove on and put a lid on. Remove from heat after 15 minutes. Let it gather itself for another 15 minutes before proceeding.

In the meanwhile, mince the onion and sauté it lightly in oil before adding the boletes, chopped roughly as well. Spice with pepper. When things start to look golden on the pan, combine all the ingredients, including rest of the water. Put the lid on again and let the pot simmer until the beets have softened up.

Nutritional values / 1620 g:
energy 1054 kcal
fat 46 g
protein 29 g
carbohydrates 130 g
fiber 30 g


Waxwing Nectar ‒ Tilhinektari


VeganMoFo 2013

This month is going to be busy in Mämmi. I signed myself to VeganMoFo, which is kind of like NaNoWriMo for foodies. Since we can't write a novel in a month, we instead blog about food every day during the month. I made the decision in a bit whim after I saw Mihl of the wonderful blog Seitan is My Motor planning to participate with the theme of classic German desserts. To the theme question I just wrote "Finnish seasonal dishes", though perhaps I should've thought about that more thoroughly considering that's pretty much the theme of my whole blog, but hopefully it does give some idea for those who haven't visited here before. At least that way I shouldn't be running short of ideas. And if this one goes well I promise to consider following a low-carb diet next year. Or perhaps blog about puréed baby food.

So, you can expect a lot of mushroom and berry recipes, along with root veggies and other new harvest treats. I guess this could be characterized as a budget theme too, unless I decide to drown them in alcohol, since most of my main ingredients are going to be completely free for me. I already made a list of 30 dishes I might post on the upcoming weeks, but some of them involve finding the right ingredient besides the regular not failing epically part, and then again I'll probaly find and thus cook something completely unexpected too. Oh, and I do have a reservation: there's a good chance our child is going to be born during this month. If that happens, you probably understand why you won't here about me for a while. :)

Apples, apples everywhere

As an opener, I'll tell about something that's so simple it really doesn't even need a recipe: juicing. This is the time when many Finns find their apple trees bearing so much fruit they don't know what to do with it all. So a friend of ours invited us to pick as much apples as we can carry from his backyard and told us to come again after couple of weeks. Now, I never buy apples during wintertime. Those imported apple varieties you can find from every store are huge in size, perfectly shaped and don't seem to taste like anything at all. But there are few better things in the world than fresh domestic apples. So we rushed there.

Only after having a sauna and getting back home did we start to wonder what we'd do with all those apples. Pies are great but even with them there's a limit of how much you can eat them. I've had this hope of making cider myself, but right now with the baby coming and all I wouldn't get to drink it myself. So making juice would be good practise and we surely wouldn't have a problem in drinking it all during the winter, if not even before that.

There are juicing stations in the city where they squeeze fresh juice out of the apples with reasonable price. But it would feel a bit stupid to go to those with only one plastic bag. Most Finns make berry juices with a steam-based home juicer called mehumaija, but those things cost and require a lot of space all year long. So I did a bit of googling and realised the oblivious: you can do juice just by boiling the apples on a normal cooking pot and then filtering the result. That worked out quite nicely. I also added some rowan berries I picked from the nearby forest with the apples since they are often mentioned as a well-balanced combination. Plus, rowan gives the drink a fresh orange colour.

How to

Just wash your apples and chop them into chunks. Remove the bad parts but don't bother to peel or remove the seeds since that way you're only going to waste precious apple flesh. Fill your biggest cooking pot and add enough water to just about to cover the apples. Cook for about twenty minutes, mashing the apples after they've got soft enough. Filter the bits and pieces with a cheesecloth, or with a regular sifter like I did to achieve a cloudier result with more fruit flesh. Press the mash until there's only a little bit of it left and discard the rest. Before bottling, make sure your bottles are well cleaned and preferably sterilized.

If you leave the juice untreated you have to freeze it or drink it right away. If you have too many bottles for that like I did, you need to add either sugar or preservative. I don't like my juices too sweet and sugar would also limit the ways I can use it in cooking, so I added some benzoic acid and sodium benzoate mix meant for this purpose. If you'd rather go with the sugar option, use 300–400 grams per litre.
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