Friday, December 18, 2015

Chewy gingerbread cookies with pistachios, cranberries and white chocolate

A while ago I invited few of my friends to our place for some glög. Nothing special, but small get-together. Just before that, I found interesting recipe by accident and wanted to try that. Except, I wanted to add some extra, and I did. Original recipe was only for cookies, I added the decorations.

Pistachios are my favorites and cranberries goes nicely with them, and nothing beats the white chocolate. So perfect combination. But, I have to honest, and tell you that I wanted to use cherries, but I couldn't find those dried from the store. But some day I will try that combination...

Chewy Gingerbread cookies
about 30 cookies
160 g butter, softened to room temperature
240 ml granulated sugar
60 ml molasses
1 egg
480 ml all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
0,5 tsp ground cloves
0,5 tsp ground ginger
0,5 tsp salt
150 ml melted white chocolate
100 ml pistachios
100 ml dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 190°C.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg and molasses, and beat on medium-low speed until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat until combined.  Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes, until it is chilled.
Roll the dough into small balls, about 2 cm in diameter. Fill a small bowl with sugar, and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated.
Place on cookie sheet at least  2 cm apart, then pop the entire cookie sheet with the dough in the refrigerator for an extra 10-15 minutes before baking.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the cookies begin to slightly crack on top.  (They may crack more while cooling.)  Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. Then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

For the decorations:
Roughly chop the pistachios and cranberries into smaller pieces.
One at a time dip the tops of the cookies into the white chocolate and place on a wire rack.
Before the white chocolate sets, sprinkle the cookie with a mixture of cranberries and pistachios.

Original cookie recipe Gimme some oven

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Independence day dinner

6th of December is independece day of Finland. This day I prepare always something very finnish, either traditional way or with modern twist. This year I made Karelian stew (Karjalanpaisti), which is one of the most known finnish dishes. There are some variation e.g. with meat in it, but anyone can do it as they like. My version has pork and beef, carrot, onion, beer and a bit of water. For seasoning I use only bay leaves, allspice and salt. Most of the people doesn't use beer, but I love the flavor it gives to the stew.

Karelian stew (Karjalanpaisti)
For 4-6 persons
450 g pork stew meat (e.g. neck or shoulder)
450 g beef stew meat
2-3 onions
2-3 carrots
1 tbsp butter
10 whole grains of allspice
1-2 bay leaves
330 ml lager beer
water if needed
salt to taste

Peel the onions and carrots. Chop them roughly. Cut the meat into cubes (3x3 cm). Heat the skillet with butter. Temperature is right when butter mutes, when it doesn't sizzle anymore. Brown all meat and put the intoa cooking pot and add the coarsely chopped onions and carrots. Pour ber into a pot, season with bay leaves, salt and allspice. Add enough water to almost cover the meat.
Cook with a cover at 100-125 °C, for 3-4 hours. 
Serve with mashed or cooked potatoes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gingerbread house 2015

One of my tradition before Christmas is to built a gingerbread house. It is different every year and I always want to learn, and try, something new. This year new thing was windows for my house. Before, I have only made holes, but this time I made glasses as well. I found instructions from somewhere internet, and decided to try. It was so easy! For the house, I use always ready made gingerbread dough, because self-made dough seems to be more soft and doesn't work so well for this. 

I'm very happy about the result! Of course, anyone can see I'm not a professional, but at least I'm enthusiastic amateur :D

Gingerbread house
1 package ready made gingerbread dough
few transparent hard candy finely crushed
Royal icing:

1 white
125 ml powdered sugar

1 egg white
100 ml powdered sugar

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2 mm. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces and place them into a baking tray. Pour heaped amount of crushed candies to window openings. Bake 200-225 C for about 5-7 minutes. Leave to cool on baking sheet.
Create decorations using royal icing.
Pour the sugar into a sauce pan, boil to form a light caramel. Glue pieces together using this caramel.
Be very careful, sugar is dangerously hot!!
Create decorations with royal icing and meringue. 

Royal icing:
Beat on high for 7 minutes until very light, fluffy, and shiny
Beat on egg white high until very light and fluffy, add sugar. Beat 5 minutes.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Beef Lindström (Lindströminpihvit)

I have already earlier expressed my feeling towards beetroots, -how much I love them. Fortunately, early this week my husband asked from me, could we have beetroot patties on Friday. Well, I didn't have to think twice. First of all I'm always ready for beets and secondly, there is nothing I wouldn't do for my hubby.

When beets are mixed with minced meat, we call it Lindströminpihvit. Originally this dish is from Sweden, but it is popular here in Finland as well. The dish in swedish it is Biff à la Lindström, in english it is Beef Lindström, but for us it is Lindströminpihvi. As promised to my husband on Monday, I made them yesterday with braised onions. And all that coldness and wind outside was out of mind when I had my first mouthful. This truly is real comfort food!

For 3-4 persons
400 g minced meat (pork and beef)
200 g beets grated
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp capers
1 large onion finely chopped
salt & nlack pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C.
Heat pan over a medium heat, and add grated beets, vinegar, salt and sugar. Cook 5 minutes or until beets are slightly softened. Set aside. Do same for the onions.
Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Make 6-8 patties and bake them in an oven 20-25 minutes.

Braised onion
2 onions
1 tbsp canola oil
1-2 tsp dark syrup
50 ml water

Peel and slice the onions. Heat canola oil in skillet over a medium heat. Add onions and cook few minutes until bit softened. Add syrup and water. Cook 10 minutes over a low to medium heat. Onions can caramelized some amount. But be careful not to bur them.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Veggie Curry inspired by Jamie Oliver

We have decided to have at least one vegetarian day per week. For this week, saturday was already 4th veggie day for me. I dreamed all week about this saturday night dinner. For some reason, I started to hunger Indian food. I'm not good at all with ethnic cuisines, except maybe Korean, but it doesn't matter. I managed to find good recipe from Jamie Oliver, and created my own version of it.

I used sweet potato, cauliflower and chickpeas for this dish and it was very good. I'm happy that the portion was so big, that we can eat this also today.

Sweet potato and cauliflower curry
For 6 persons
1 heaped teaspoon crushed almonds
1 large sweet potato cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cauliflower
1 onion peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic-crushed
One 3cm piece of fresh ginger- grated or finely chopped
½ bunch fresh coriander including stalks
½-1 fresh chilli
1 handful of curry leaves (or a tsp curry powder if not available)
100 g curry paste (bought or make your own)
250 g chickpeas cooked
1 lemon
4 tablespoons low fat natural yogurt (optional)

Toast almonds in a dry frying pan over a low-medium heat until golden, then set aside.
Scrub sweet potatoes and cut into 1 cm chunks. To make the cauliflower, chop the leaves off and cut the stalk into small pieces. Cut florets into even pieces.
Add olive oil to a large saucepan over a medium heat and then add the sweet potato. Fry for 5 minutes or until golden. Add curry leaves or powder to pan and stir for one minute, then add all the chopped vegetables (except cauliflower stalks), curry paste and the chopped coriander stalks. Fry for another 10 minutes or until onions are softened.
Add chickpeas and 600ml of boiling water and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened (about 30 minutes). Add cauliflower stalks to the curry mix.

To serve curry: add lemon juice to curry, sprinkle with almonds and chopped coriander leaves and serve with yogurt over the rice.

This recipe is adapted from Save with Jamie and can be found at "Jamie Oliver’s Veggie Korma with Mock Cauliflower Pilau"

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beaujolais Nouveau meets Rustic onion tart

Yesterday it was that certain day of the year, -third Thursday of November. After work I went to buy bottle of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau, and after that it was time for cooking. Earlier we have eaten cold cuts and cheeses with BN, but this year I wanted something with onion. After long search I found very nice recipe of onion tart from the Food&Wine. And I made that! It was delicious, and went nice with the wine. I'm pretty sure, that this tart shall be done many times in my kitchen in a future as well.

For the tart, I made only ½ portion of the dough from original recipe, because I prefer thin crust and wanted onions to shine.

Rustic Onion Tart
For 4 persons
125 ml all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
45 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
35 ml ice cold water
50 g butter
1 kg sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic
6 thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk

In a bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle the water over the flour and stir gently just until incorporated; gently press to form a dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and thyme and cook over moderately high heat, until softened, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, until the onions are golden, 20 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme, season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Set a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven or position a rack on the lowest rung and preheat the oven to 190° C. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 30 cm round and transfer to the baking sheet. Spread the onions on the round, leaving a 3 cm border. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling and brush the edge with the egg wash.

Bake the tart on the stone or on the bottom shelf for about 40 minutes, until the dough is richly browned on the bottom.
Transfer the tart to the top shelf and bake for about 5 minutes longer, until the top of the crust is browned. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly. Cut the warm tart into wedges and serve.

Original recipe: Food & Wine

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sushi or Kimbap? Which I made?

Sushi is very familiar to most of the people nowadays, and korean food starts to be. I have eaten sushi many times in Korea, but as many, I have eaten kimbap. And they are both so delicious there. Unfortunately I have never had a change to eat sushi, or anything, in Japan, but hopefully that will change soon. I like them both, and today I couldn't choose which I wanted more, so I made seaweed rolls inspired by both of them.

But what is difference between sushi and kimbap? They are both basically rolls of rice wrapped in a sheet of nori seaweed.

The only rule for kimbap seems to be that it be some kind of rice wrapped in seaweed. The rice is usually steamed medium grain white rice, but it can also contain other types of rice.The rice is usually flavored with salt and sesame oil. The one rule for sushi rolls is that the rice itself is flavored with rice vinegar, salt and sugar. The term sushi itself refers to this vinegar-flavored rice. If the rice is not flavored with that vinegar mix, it's not considered to be sushi even if it's wrapped up in nori.

I made sushi rice but I wrapped very kimbapy ingredients in seaweed. So I really can't tell you which one I had...

Seaweed Rolls
for 2 persons
Sushi rice
2 sheets of gim (=nori)
1 small carrot pickled
1 thin omelette
5 cm piece cucumber cut in stripes
wasabi to taste

Place a sheet of gim on a bamboo mat with the shiny side down. Evenly spread half of the sushi rice over top of it, leaving about 2-3 cm uncovered on upper side of the gim.
Place wasabi, pickled carrot, omelette stripesand cucumber in the center of the rice.
Roll the mat (along with gim and rice) over the fillings.


Sushi Rice
250 g sushi rice
330 ml water
30 ml rice wine vineger
35 g sugar
5 g salt

Rinse the rice in a strainer or colander until the water runs clear, 3-4 times. Combine with water in a pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove heat and let it stay 25-30 minutes. Do not open the lid.
In a small saucepan, combine the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool, then stir into the cooked rice slowly. Do not crush the rice but stir it very gently. Keep stirring and the rice will dry as it cools.
If you are not use rice immediately, let it stay in room temperature, covered with wet cloth.

Pickled carrots
1 small carrot
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tbsp sugar
½ salt

Peel carrot and cut it "julienne".
Mix all other ingredients together. Stir until sgar and salt are totally dissolved. Add carrot sticks and let them marinade at least an hour.

Thin omelette
2 small eggs

Crack eggs in a bowl and add salt. Beat it with fork.
Drizzle a few drops of oil on a heated pan. Wipe off the excess with a paper towel so only a thin sheen of oil remains. Turn down the heat to low and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Spread it into a large circle so it fills the pan.When the bottom of the egg is cooked, flip it over. Remove from the heat and let it cook slowly in the hot pan for about 5 minutes, with the ultimate goal of keeping the egg as yellow as possible, and not brown.
Cut it into 1 cm wide strips.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Baltic herrings with leak and mushrooms

Baltic herring is scandinavian fish. Usually eaten pickled, at least in my family and friend families. There are few other typical ways to make these wonderful fishes. One is oven baked, mainly with cream or tomato sause, and the other is pan fried. Third is warmed smoked, which is awesome dish, especially with finnish rye bread.

Today I made oven baked baltic herrings a bit different way. No cream, no tomato but much gentle flavor from leak and mushrooms.

Oven baked Baltic herrings
For 4-6 persons
750 g baltic herrings
1 bundle of dill chopped
200 g leak
250 mushrooms
1 tbsp canola oil
1 lemon juice
Salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 C. 
Chop leak  and cut mushrooms in half or into quarters. Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Add leaks and mushrooms and cook until softened.  Season with salt and black pepper. Move leaks and mushrooms from skillet to ovenproof dish.
Put baltic herrings, skin side down on the cutting board. Sprinkle fillets salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the fillets with dill. Wrap the fillets into rolls and place them in an ovenproof dish on top of the leaks and mushrooms
Sprinkle lemon juice over the fillet rolls. Bake in the oven 30 minutes.

With this beer is the only choice for drink, if you want anything with alcohol. Non-alcoholic, and my preference, is cold Finnish mineral water.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Black Horror - Halloween dinner

I have a birthday very near Halloween, and that's why we have had couple of times Halloween themed birthday dinner party. This year I wanted to create black menu using black ingredients, and as less as possible food color. I think, I completed this quite well.

The other team for this party was "Black Horror", which is almost a joke for us nowadays. But from this I want give you more information.

Halloween 2015 
Black Lemon Drop Martini
Champagne Ayala Cuvée Perle d’Ayala Millésimé Brut 2006
Pfaff Pinot Blanc 2013
Ogier Côtes du Rhône La Promesse Rouge 2013
Cafe, licorice macarons

Black Lemon Drop Martini

Black themed dinner party required black aperitive, -of course! Black drinks in Finland is usually based on salty licorice booze (salmiakkikossu) or similar. But because my dessert had licorice already, I didn't want to use that for aperitive.

We all love lemon, and drinks with sour flavour. And this was the request I gave to my husband to create a cocktail. And this was the result! So I had anything else do with this drink, except the sugar-drimming. That was my effort to this fabulous cocktail.

Black Lemon Drop Martini
1 serving
4 cl black vodka (or vodka + black food color)
2 cl orange liqueur (Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, etc.)
2 cl freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar or to taste
Ice cubes
Sugar and licorice sauce for dipping

To create a sugar-rimmed glass, dip the drinking surface of the glass to licorice sauce. Dip the edge of the glass into the sugar.
Mix the vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and sugar in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice; shake well.
Pour strained liquor into sugar-rimmed martini cocktail glass.

Hors d'oeuvres for Halloween Black menu

I searched some new ideas for my hors d'oeuvres and saw these amazing Foie Gras Lollipops. Immeadiately decision was made; these shall be in our Halloween table with champagne. In original recipe, the pops were red, but because of the balck theme, I used black food coloring.

The other appetizer wasn't that easy. Eventually I chose feta stuffed figs. Figs are usually quite dark, and I thought that I could roast them with Prosciutto very dark. Well, it didn't go as I planned, but taste was good.

Foie Gras Lollipops
For 8 person (16 pcs)
150 g semi-cooked foie gras
6 slices of dried (ginger)bread
200 g caster sugar
some water
black food colour

Dry in the oven the slices of dried bread. Once dried, cut into pieces and crushing in a blender to obtain a coarse breadcrumbs. Spread it on a plate. Reserve.
Cut the foie gras into large cubes. Shape the cubics into balls, rolling them between your palms. Stick a lollipop stick into each one. Refrigerate.
In a saucepan, pour the sugar and enough water to moisten all the sugar. Boil to form a light caramel. Add some food colour. Mix well to obtain a homogeneous sugar color. Dip the lollipops into a caramel. It is necessary that the bottom of the stick is also immersed in the caramel. Drain the excess caramel and gently lay it on the bread crumbs.
Cool so that the caramel hardens. It will achieve these lollipops shortly before serving, because the goal is to have a caramel crunchy to the bite.

Original recipe: Sucette de foie gras façon pomme d'amour

Prosciutto Wrapped Roasted Figs
4 persons
4 fig
4 tsp feta cheese
4 Prosciutto slice
Black sesame seed

Preheat the oven 225°C.
Quarter figs, cutting three-quarters of the way down. Stuff the figs with feta cheese. Roast in an oven 12 minutes, until softened and golden brown. Sprinkle some black sesame seed on top of figs.

For the drinks the perfect choise is champagne. This time it was excellent Champagne Ayala Cuvée Perle d’Ayala Millésimé Brut 2006.

Squid Ink Tortellini

I have eaten squid ink risotto few times in my life and I like the taste a lot. But I have never tried squid ink pasta before. And since the dinner included beluga lentils in main dish, which look bit like rice, I chose pasta with the squid ink. For the filling I wanted autumn season ingredients, and what could be better than beetroots. My this years autumn favourite vegetable.

For the sauce I made brown butter. Simple, elegant flavor and yet robust. The tortellini should be the start of the dish, and that's why the is no complex sauce to this.

Squid Ink pasta
Pasta dough
325 ml all-purpose flour or preferably Tipo ‘00’ flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp squid ink
1tsp salt
Cold water if needed
1 large beetroot
1 tbsp feta or ricotta cheese
salt & black pepper to taste

Start with the filling. Roast the beetroot in an oven 200 C 1 hour or until tender. Let it cool.
Grate finely and add cheese into the beets. Season. Set aside.

Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add salt and crack the eggs and squid ink into it. Beat the eggs and ink with a fork until smooth. Mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Add water if needed. Knead the dough until silky and firm.
Wrap the dough into the plastic wrap and let it rest in a fridge, at least half an hour.
Roll, using pasta maker, for thin sheets and cut circles using a large cookie cutter. Scoop filling onto the center of the pasta and pinch the edges to seal. Pinch finally the corners together.
Boil in a salted water until al dente, approx. 1,5-2 minutes.

Serve with brown butter and deep-fried beets

For the wine our friends bring Pfaff Pinot Blanc 2013, and that went nicely with the dish.

Beef cheeks and beluga lentils

I have always wanted to cook the beef cheeks, and now I managed to put this desire in action. Because the theme was black food, I decided to serve cheeks with Beluga lentils, which I braised in red wine.

On top of the dish I fried black mushrooms (mustatorvisieni) and I have to say, that this gives comfort to your taste buds and relaxation for your mind. So good and perfect for autumn time. But I could easily eat this in winter time as well.

Beef cheeks
For 8 persons
1,5 kg of beef cheek
100 ml flour
3 tbsp canola oil
2 large carrots, roughly diced
2 large onions, roughly diced
1,5 l red wine
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bouquet garni
Salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Season cheeks with salt and pepper. Roll the pieces in the flour. Heat the canola oil in a casserole dish until very hot and brown the meat quickly and evenly. Set aside. Add the diced carrots and onions, cook until golden brown. Add the meats back to the pot, pour the red wine and bring to boil. Add the garlic and bouquet garni and season.
Place the lid and cook in the oven for about 2 1⁄2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Add a little water if there is too much evaporation.

Beluga lentils 
For 8 persons
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
2 onions
170 g (1 package) bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 g beluga lentils
2 bay leaves
300 ml red wine 
750 ml water
Salt & black pepper to taste

Peel the carrot and garlic cloves and chop finely with the onion and bacon.
Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the chopped vegetables and bacon. Cook them over a gentle heat until soft, which will take up to about 10 minutes. Tip the lentils into the pan and stir them around to get slicked with the oil, and then add the bay leaves. Pour in the red wine and the water, or enough water so that the lentils are just covered in liquid. Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until just tender. Season.


This dish goes nicely with the red wine, and today's choise was Ogier Côtes du Rhône La Promesse Rouge 2013

Licorice black velvet cake

Idea for this cake came from Red Velvet Cake picture at the internet. I started to find out how I could make this cake, as Black Velvet cake. Finally, I have to admit, this cake had nothing to do with the Black Velvet cake. But it was soooooo good, - and rich! Small piece of this was totally enough.

Black color in desserts always brings salty licorice to my mind. And I because of that, the flavor of this cake was so easy take pick. Two of the fillings, white ones, are white chocolate, and one has licorice. But the cake itself tastes licorice and chocolate.

Black Velvet Cake
8 persons
600 ml cake flour, not self-rising
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp licorice powder
350 ml sugar
350 ml canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tbsp black food coloring
250 ml buttermilk 
2 tsp white vinegar

 In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa and licorice powder; set aside.
Combine the sugar and oil on medium speed until well combined. Add in room temp eggs one at a time. Add food coloring, and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, and mix until fully combined.
Add vinegar to batter, and beat for a few seconds. Pour batter into two prepared 18-20 cm pans. Bake at 175 C for 30-35 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool to room temperature. Cut the cakes in half.
Build the cake using cake ring, mold or cake pan.

White chocolate
135 g cream cheese
130 ml cream
120 g white chocolate
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2,5 gelatin leaves
65 g cream cheese
70 ml cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp licorice powder
50 ml ready-made licorice sauce
1,5 gelatin leaves
200 ml cream
150 g Licorice fudge (Hopea toffee)
50 ml hard salty licorice candies (turkinpippuri) crushed

Put gelatin leaves to cold water, into a two bowls (2,5+1,5).
Whip all cream (130ml + 70 ml) in a bowl.

For the white chocolate filling:
Melt the white chocolate. Mix cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar and white chocolate together, beat until smooth.
Heat a very small amount of water and mix 2,5 gelatin leaves to it for them to melt. Let it cool for a while. Pour the gelatin liquid into a cream cheese mix and stir until well combined.
Take 2/3 from the whipped cream and mix it gently to the mixture.
Pour 1/2 of the filling to first layer of the cake, put one layer on top of it and por the rest of the white chocolate filling. Put the 3rd cake layer on top of the filling.

For the licorice flling:
Mix cream cheese, sugar, licorice powder and licorce sauce together, beat until smooth.
Heat a very small amount of water and mix 1,5 gelatin leaves to it for them to melt. Let it cool for a while. Pour the gelatin liquid into a cream cheese mix and stir until well combined.
Take rest of  the whipped cream (1/3) and mix it gently to the mixture.
Pour the filling to the cake layer and put last layer on top of it. Refrigerate over night.

For the glazing:
Pour the cream into a pan, add licorice fudge and candies. Heat gently and stir until all licorice is melted. Let it simmer until the mixture turns syrapy (it creates a drop on bottom of the glass filled with cold water). Let it cool for a moment before pouring the glaze on top of the cake.
(My glaze was litlle bit too hot, because it didn't set nicely on top of the cake, but ran over the sides)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Finnish style cabbage casserole

White cabbage casserole is one of the Finnish traditional comfort food and home cooking dishes. Usually the rice and egg-milk-mixture is used for this dish, but actually I prefer barley and beef stock. This way the cabbage tastes more and the texture is more moist. People eat this with mashed lingonberries which are seasoned with sugar. But, again, I prefer without sugar. I like the acidiness of the berries with a bit sweet casserole. It is nice contrast.

So here is my version of the Finnish style cabbage casserole, here you go!

Cabbage casserole
4-6 persons
750 g white cabbage
400 g minced meat (mixed pork and beef)
1 dl pearl barley
1 onion
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried marjoram
Salt & old spice
approx. 500 ml beef stock
2 tbsp (dark) syrap

Peel the onion and chop it, shred the cabbage. Set aside. Boil 400 ml water, add barley and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes, until fully cooked.
Heat the skillet and cook the minced meat until nicely brown. Remove the meat from the skillet, add onion and cabbage to pan and cook until some browned. Season with soy sauce, marjoram.
In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, onion, minced meat and barley. Place the mixture in the casserole dish, pour the beef stock in. Drain the syrap on top of the mixture.
Bake, in lower part of the oven, 175-200 C an hour or so. If the surface gets too dark, cover with tin foil. 
Serve with mashed lingonberries.

Mashed lingonberries
200 ml lingonberries
2 tbsp sugar

Mash the berries and add sugar.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Seljanka - Russian style soup

Fall is the  perfect time for warm soups. It is not so cold yet, that you start dreaming about the robust stews, but enough, to long something warm and comforting. For me Russian flavours represent that feeling, -also in a winter. And few of my wintertime favourites are Russian cuisines. But now my taste buds wanted soup and fish.

So I decided to make some Seljanka. Seljanka is Russian soup made of fish, meat, mushrooms (e.g. ceps) or sausages. The soup is flavoured with tomato and something that adds sourness. The most popular sources for sourness are pickeled gherkin, capers, lemon, olives and sauerkraut. I chose fish, capers and gherkin for my soup.

Fish Seljanka
For 4 persons
400 g potatoes
1 large carrot
1 onion
1 small clove garlic
1/4 fennel
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp tomato puree
400 g salmon
800-1000 ml fish stock
1 tbsp capers
1/2 small pickled gherkin
Salt & black pepper

 Cut peeled potatoes and carrots to nice size cubes or to other shape. Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Cut the fennel thin slices. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Cook onion and fennel few minutes, add garlic and cook a minute or so. Add potatoes, carrots and tomato puree and cook some more. Add fish stock, bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are cooked.
Add salmon, capers and chopped pickeled gherkin. Season with salt and black pepper.
Let soup rest few minutes, until salmon is nice and tender, but not overcooked.
Sprinkle dill over the soup and serve with sour cream.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

When I was a kid, I didn't like stuffed peppers. Actually, I didn't like much cooked peppers at all. At some point during my adult years I started to eat these more often, and today, I even like them. But more or less only when stuffing is vegetarian and without grated cheese on top of pepper.

I prefer yellow peppers when cooking the them, because I think they are sweeter and have more flavor than red ones. Red peppers should be eaten raw. Well, my opinion only :D For the stuffing I used quinoa and ingredients what I found from our fridge. So if you don't have something, replace it with something else.

Sfuffed peppers
For 2 persons
2 (yellow) peppers
100 ml quinoa, uncooked
1 carrot
2 spring onion
1 garlic clove
1 leaf kale
100 g sweet corn
½ lemon juice
2 tsp Sonnentor Frankie's Barbecue Spice Mix  
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 C.
Cook quinoa in a pot until done. Set aside.
Shred carrot, chop spring onions, garlic and kale. Mix all together with quinoa. Add corns and season with chopped parsley, lemon juice and spice mix.
Cut peppers in half and fill peppers with the quinoa mixture. Place stuffed halves intoa a pan and bake at 200 C for 35 - 45 minutes. Until pepper has softened.
Serve with Yoghurt-garlic sauce and parsley

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My style Kimchi Jjigae (Korean kimchi stew)

Me and my colleague found quite a while ago small, very authentic, restaurant near our hotel at Seoul. The place was little frowzy, but we decided to enter anyway. And I'm glad we did!

All menus were on Korean, and at that time we didn't have that much experince of Korean food, and reading the korean hangul was not that smooth yet. Well, we asked from the waiter what we should take, and he recommended the Kimchi jjigae (김치찌개). We got big steaming and bubbling stew to our table over the flame. It was so hot but we couldn't keep our chopstick and spoons off it. I loved it immediately, and so would you. If you like spicy food...

Kimchi stew is warm, hearty, spicy, savory, delicious dish and one of the most-loved of all the stews in Korean cuisine, and it is one of my favourites as well. The dish is served with bowl of rice, like almost all korean dishes.

Kimchi Jjigae
For 2 persons
125 g pork belly
1 onion
1 garlic
1 tsp gochujang
2 tsp sesame oil
400 ml aged kimchi ( the older the better)
400 ml chicken stock
spring onion
200 g tofu

Peel and chop the onion and garlic, cut the pork belly for bites that is easy to eat. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Cook pork belly until it is nice color and even a bit crispy. Add the onion and garlic. Cook few minutes. Add gochujang and kimchi, cook approx. 10 minutes.
Pour the chicken stock in, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 30-45 minutes. 
Chop spring onion, dice 2/3 of the tofu and add then to a stew 5 minutes before serving. Slice the rest of the tofu. 
Place the stew into a bowls, place the sliced tofu on top of it and garnish with spring onion.

 For the drink, there is nothing better than Korean beer, or other lager. And of course you need to have some Soju...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lamb kebab

We got nice amount of different cuts of the lamb on Sunday and one package was ground lamb. First thing that came to my husbands mind was kebab, not the doner one, which is most popular kebab in Finland, but the skewer. Well, actions followed the words. Today we had great kebab-dinner.

I have noticed that kebab has many versions and many names; kebab, kabob, kefta, kofta... Anyhow, it is delicious everytime, -I think. Is it? What is your favourite style?

For 2-3 person
350 g ground lamb
1 egg
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove grated
100 ml fresh parsley chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
Black pepper and salt to taste

In a bowl, combine the ground lamb with the egg, onion, garlic, parsley and spices.  Gently knead the meat to blend. Using lightly moistened hands, form the meat into 6 skewers. 
Grill the skewers, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Or bake them in the oven 200 C, 20 minutes.

Tomato sauce
1 can (400 g) Mutti tomato polpa
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato puree
1-2 tsp chili flakes
0,5 tbsp smoked paprika
0,5 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp oli
2 tsp sugar
200 ml water
Black pepper and salt to taste

Peel and chop the onion and garlics. Heat the oil in a pot over a medium heat. Add onions, garlics and some salt, and cook until onion is soft, few minutes. Add chili, paprikas and tomato puree, continue cooking few minutes. Add tomato polpa and water. Reduce heat and simmer about 20-30 minutes. Season.

Yoghurt-garlic sauce
250 ml thick natural yoghurt
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let it rest at least 2 hours to over night.

Serve the kebab:
Warm the bread (pita, naan, flatbread, wheat tortilla...). Top with fresh salad, 2 kebab skewers and both sauces. Enjoy!!

For the drink I would go easily with beer, like stout or porter. But for this, red wine is always right choice, and even better if it is jammy and lush.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Why someone buys mayo from the store? Because it is easy? Because it is quick? Because it is full-proof? If you say "Yes", I still ask you "Why?" Preparing your own mayo is easy, quick and you know what you get.

My nearest store is cross the road, and I bet I can make my mayo faster than if I get that from the store. The recipe is fullproof and the result tastes much more better that ready-made stuff from the store. And includes only real ingredients.

You need to remember few things and I can give you my word that you will success. First of all, ingredients needs to be in room temperature. Secondly, add oil slowly and carefully. That is all you need to focus on.

1 egg yolk
½ tbsp vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
100 ml vegetable oil

Mix egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, salt and sugar together. Add the oil, very slowly at first, whisking continuously.
You get approximately 150 ml mayonnaise.

You can vary the mayo to your taste, but here are few classic examples on mayonnaise-based sauces.
: olive oil and garlic
: garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire, parmesan and black pepper
Ranch: buttermilk, onion, garlic, herbs (commonly chives, parsley and dill) and spices (commonly black pepper, paprika and ground mustard seeds)
capers, pickled cucumber, lemon juice and tarragon
: mustard, shallots, capers, chopped pickles, and/or fresh herbs (chives, tarragon, chervil, burnet)
Thousand Island: lemon juice, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, eggs, cream, chili sauce, tomato purée or ketchup


How do you feel about the mayonnaise? Do you make it yourself or do you buy it from the store?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Old-Fashioned Finnish dried pea soup

This soup is very traditional Finnish soup made of split peas. Except, finnish split peas are not split, only dried. Most of the lunch restaurant serve this soup on Thursdays, and this is considered army food as well. The only correct dessert for this soup is Finnish pancake with strawberry jam and whipped cream. This time I didn't prepare dessert at all, but that is what I would have made.

Very traditional way is to make this using left-overs and bone from Christmas ham. Unfortunately I didn't have the possibility use those, or meaty ham bone, but smoked ham works alsmost as good as those.

Split pea soup
For 4-6 person
500 g dried peas
3 l water
1-2 onion
1 (large) carrot
400 g smoked ham
1-2 tsp marjoram
allspice and salt to taste

Rinse peas with cold water. Put the peas into a pot or ducth oven, and pour the water. Let peas soak in a water 10-12 hours.
Use the soak water when cooking the soup. Bring to boil, and reduce heat very low.
Peel and chop onion and carrot, dice the ham. Add them into soup, as well as spices. Stir the soup well. Let simmer for 4-6 hours.
Serve with mustard and/or finely chopped raw onion.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bircher - breakfast made previous evening

I just managed to tell you that I'm not good with breakfasts. Well I'm not, but I still wanted to add one easy and yet delicious breakfast in here. This overnight muesli, I call it raw porridge, is perfect for the mornings you don't have time to prepare anything. This is healthy and keeps you satisfied all morning, and the tastes awesome. You really should try this!

Bircher Raw Porridge
For 1 person
5 g wheat bran
20 g rolled oats
125 g curd or fat-free natural yoghurt
75 g apple grated
100 ml apple juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Honey to taste (optional)

Combine all ingridients together in a bowl. If you don't want to use bran, just add 5 g more rolled oats. When adding apple juice, check that consistency is runny, since the oats will puff up during the night.
Let the muesli rest in a fridge over night.
Just before serving, you can add fresh slices of apple, crushed nuts and honey.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Korean style chicken

I travel a lot to Korea, because of my work. Once per month I pack my suitcase and head to Seoul. The first time I visited there, I fell in love to the city. And the food wasn't the minor reason... Later on, I have tried to learn how to cook Korean food, and most of the seasonings I have brought from Seoul to Finland with me. One of the main ingredients in Korean kitchen is Gochujang; savory, spicy and pungent fermented chili sauce.

Today I made Gochuganj-sesame chicken, which is not actually "real" Korean dish, but the flavors goes to that direction. For the marinade I used almost same mix than I use for Bibimbap sauce, but I added some soy sauce to recipe.

Gochujang-sesame Chicken
For 2 person
500 g chicken breast
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp Gochujang
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp Gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
50 ml fresh ginger chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped

Mix all ingredients, except chicken, together.
If your chicken breasts are very thick, you can cut them in half horizontally. Put chicken to bowl and add the marinade. Let rest in fridge approx. 2 hours or even over night.
Preheat the oven to 225 C. Place the chickens into a pan and bake them 20 minutes or so, until meat is tender and marinade has caramelized nicely. Or if you have possibility to grill this, do so. This is better when grilled with flavor of smoke.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Super healthy, super delicious breakfast

Everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, it might be but I'm not good at it. For me, enough is black coffee. Sometimes I make exception, especially in the weekend. But then, I think it is more like brunch, not breakfast. Well, anyhow, I eat breakfast quite rarely.

I love pancakes, but they are not that good for me. How does the saying goes: "a moment on your lips, a lifetime on your hips". This is so true, at least for me. That's why I was more than happy when I found recipe of a healthy, low calorie pancakes.

This is already sort of a classic, but I still want to put the recipe in here. Altough, I changed it a bit, instead of using two eggs, I use 1 egg and one egg white. And most of the ingredients contains cinnamon, but I replace it with cardamon, which goes so well with blueberries. And I serve these with blueberries.

Banana Pancakes
For 1 person
1 ripe banana
1 egg
1  egg white
cardamon to taste

Place banana, egg and egg white in the blender, and blend it well, until smooth.
Heat the skillet and add bit of oil (for the non-stick pan you don't need to do that). Add the batter to the skillet and let space them out since they tend to spread. Be careful with the temperature, pancakes tend to turn too dark very easily.
When bubbles start to form, flip the over and cook on the other side

Serve pancakes with berries, e.g. blueberries, strawberries, rasberries and/or black currant. And if you like, pour some maple syrup on top of the pancake pile.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

French Onion Soup

When autumn comes, I start desire warm soups with large flavours. One of my favourite is traditional French onion soup. This is true comfort food for dark and chilly evenings, like today. Temperature is not below zero yet, but you can easily feel the fall. Big bowls of onion soup and glass of wine... I'm happy and so is my husband!


French Onion Soup
For 2 persons
400 g onions
2 cloves garlic
25 g butter
2 bay leaves
1 tsp brown sugar
1 dl white wine
5 dl beef stock
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt & black pepper
Handful of Gruyere cheese, grated
2 slice of country-style bread

I used regular onion and one shallots. Shallots give tenderness and sweetness to soup, when you combine that with regular onions. But you don’t have to use it, yellow onion is totally fine.

Peel and chop the onions and garlic. Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and salt. Cook for a while and then add brown sugar. After this cook until onions are soft and caramelized, approx. 15 min.
Add the wine and beef stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 45-60 minutes. Taste the soup, and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the grill in your oven to 225 °C. Use individual oven-proof bowls, ladle the soup into the bowls. Cover with the bread slice and sprinkle with the cheese. Put into the grill until the cheese bubbles and is golden brown.

For the wine, Pfaffenheim Pinot Gris will always enhance your enjoyment of the flavors in this soup.

Ninnin Köökki - What is it?

This is my restaurant, my all-time dream that will never come true in real life business. I have planned my small bistro so many times in my mind, that it has became already very dear to my.

Let me tell you something about it. Bistro, called “Ninnin köökki”, is slowfood kitchen for only few people. The atmosphere is intimate and relaxed. Even though, I sometimes fancy to prepare fine dining, this place is for enjoying food and wine, not the stiff etiquette.

Menu is never the same, and you can’t decide it. It is created based on my feelings, taste buds and most of all, seasonal ingredients. Sometimes menu contains 15 dishes, sometimes only 2. But I can promise, you always get value for your money. Or actually you don’t, because you won’t pay anything. The check never arrives to you table, -“Thank you” is enough for payment. And happy face!

"Ninnin köökki" means Ninni's kitchen in old Finnish dialect. I could have chosen easier name for my bistro, but I wanted to have something in my own language. And this name is comforting; it reminds me of my great-grandmother, who taught me to love and respect food and cooking. This small bistro, located in our house, is open always for our friends and loved-ones and welcomes them every time warmly.

But remember, you never know what you'll be served in this kitchen!