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!