Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gravlax... innit???

It is so expensive to make buy gravlax so why not make your own. It is very simple. First of all you need a nice bit of salmon. On offer in the shops at the moment at reasonable prices are farmed salmon from Norway or deep sea salmon from Ahvenamaa. I went for the salmon from the archipeligo.

raw salmon from the archipelego

To start the process you need to salt the fish and I use natural rock salt. It is big and it is cruchy and it looks good. It is enough to put a couple of table spoons on the salmon to coat the flesh.

Salmon salted with rock salt

After that the flesh is sprinkled with ordinary sugar. Just plain old sugar. I used sugar from estonia which I bought at a bargain price from Lidl. I was tempted to use some brown sugar from Suomen sokeri but thought better of it.

sugar added

Then it is time for some spices and I went for a mixture of rose pepper and Jamacian allspice. The recipe from the web called for crushed white pepper, but I did not have any so I went with the Rose pepper instead. It looks better with a little bit of red added to it.

Rose pepper and Jamacian allspice

Traditionally for some green you should go for dill, but I did not have any, but I did have some rosemary growing on the balcony so I chopped up some leaves and sprinkled it over the fish. It made a good contrast with the rose pepper.

Rosemary added

Finally the fillet is tightly wraped in cling film and place in the fridge for a couple of days to mature. The package is placed in a dish and then another dish is placed on top of it to weigh it down. You should expect some juices to come out of the fish fillet.

Wraped in cling film

In 48 hours time the fillet will be removed from the cling film and all of the remaining salt and sugar and herbs will be scraped off and the fillet sliced at 45 degrees to give very thin slices. It should be eaten with garlic mustard but I have decided to do gravlax con meloni.

If the Italians can get away with parma ham on melon, then I am going to be the first to put strips of gravlax with melon. I may even smother it in liqorice sauce. Eat your heart out fat duck.

P.S. Did I forget to mention that it was also marinated in Hunaja-Terva Snapsi (Honey-tar Schnapps)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fava bean and chickpea soup

I visited a Kurdish shop in Espoon Keskus and bought some nibbles. It is hard to describe what they are exactly, since it looks like hollow bits of spaghetti coated in chilli pepper. Whatever they are they taste good, and to my mind are better than peanuts or popcorn. Perhaps it is a Kurdish version of Bombay mix.

Anyways I also discovered they had some condensed milk, something I have not been able to find in the supermarkets here in Finland. Maija found a recipe for some special christmas sweets which needed dark chocolate and condensed cream so we will be all set to roll in a few days time.

The other thing that I picked up was a tin of Fava beans with chickpeas, by Wadi Chtoura Foods. The only time I have heard fava beans mentioned in connection with eating was in the the movie "Silence of the lambs", when Hannibal the Cannibal says "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." So I just had to try the Fava beans and instead of liver I tossed in some spiced Gyros from Dulano.

I suppose the Fava beans should have been eaten in a salad with olive oil and lemon but when I opened the tin the beans and chickpeas were floating in a hot and spicey tomato and chilli sauce, and since it was one of those raw days outside, I added some more liquid to the sauce and made the whole thing into a warm and satisfying soup. I crisped up some bread under the grill and while it was still hot spread it with a generous layer of real butter. I had intended to leave half the soup for tomorrow but it tasted so good I ate the lot in one go. It was excellent and I plan to do it again as soon as I get more beans.

Though the wife says wait until tomorrow until you see how you react to the beans.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fish and bacon... yeah right

Combine fish and bacon... I don't think so. I mean to say it just does not go. It clashes. Pig and fish just does not look right on the menu. Chuck in a few green beans. Vegetables always bring forgivness. Oh but I forgot about the white wine, a pinot grigio from Northern Italy. That makes everything right. Doesn't it? White wine and fish that has got to be OK, and white wine and pork well that is a combination to die for... NOT!!!

But who could resist Siika dusted down with rye flour and simply spiced with pepper and salt and fried so the skin on the fish is crisp and succulent. I mean to say this is a skin that you do not scrape off and put on the side of the plate. This is a skin that you cut off with the flesh and suck all of the goodness out of it. You eat some green beans because you feel guilty. You drink a little wine to get rid of the guilt. You eat some bacon and feel that you have to do some sort of penence so you eat some more fish to say that you feel sorry for defiling yourself with the evil pork, and so it goes on... fish, beans, wine, pork, until you have finnished the meal.

We always rationalise our reasons for eating stuff that we shouldn't. Fish good, wine bad, Pork bad, beans good. It all evens out in the end... that is if you do not use TOO much salt and pepper, which is diabolical and the most sinful of condiments.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Muikku/Vendace, originally uploaded by HyperBob.

How is it that you can buy gutted muikku? All the heads have been cut off and the insides are missing. I can only imagine some machine that slices the heads off and some suction method to remove the guts. But all that is beside the point, the important thing is how to cook them and how to eat them.

Well you have to cook them in rye flour that has been spiced with salt and pepper. Nothing else, and they have to be fried in butter. Not olive oil, not margarine, not sunflower oil.

And when it comes to eating them you eat them whole. You eat the skin, the tails, the fins, the bones, everything and you do it with your fingers. No forks and knifes.

Muslims have the habit of eating food with their hands, and we may scorn this practice but it makes very good sense. When you pick a fried fish up with your fingers you make a judgement of how hot it is, and if it is safe to put it into your mouth. How many times have you speared a pototo with you fork and popped it straight into your mouth without checking how hot it was?

At the end of the meal you can lick your fingers for desert.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Home-made Dill, Pepper, Garlic pickled Gherkins

Pickled Gherkins with dill, pepper,and garlic

I bought about a kilo and a half of gherkins to suppliment the ones I got from my allotment and decided to pickle them. This is the process.

Dump the gherkins in a basins and wash them, then take a fork and prick them all over. Transfer the gherkins to a container and cover them with 1/4 kilo of salt and leave for 4 hours. During this time the gherkins will become soft and they will loose water from the holes you have pricked on the surface.

Once the 4 hours is up wash the gherkins 5 times in cold running water ready for putting in preservative jars.

Pickle mixture.
1/2 cup of vinegar
2 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of mustard seed
1 tablespoon of jamacian allspice
3 heads of dill plant
6 cloves of garlic finely sliced.

Place all of the spices in a pot and add the vinegar and water and bring gently to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

2 kilos of gherkins should fit nicely into 3 1/2 litre jars. Place the dill heads and mustard seed at the bottom of the jar, and then you can either pack the gherkins into the jar whole or you can slice them, then top up with the spiced pickling mixture and seal the jars.

When the gherkins go in the jar they are still rather green in colour but by the next day they will have drawn in the spiced pickling liquor and their colour will change to a more olive green, and believe it or not they are ready to eat the next day.

Great with cold ham or salmon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pistachio Lemon bread with Lemon butter

Judith Olney has a chapter in her book called Essence Breads and their butters, and Maij decided to try the Pistachio/Lemon bread. It is more of a cake than a real bread and it is quite heavenly to eat. After it had been made we cut a couple of slices and had it with coffee on the balcony.

The strange thing about this bread is that after it has been baked you prick the top of it with a wooden kebab stick and then pour a "glaze" over it, which is basically 1/3 a cup of sugar and the juice from a lemon. I thought it would make it sodden, but somehow the bread absorbed it all and became very moist and succulent with a tang to smack your lips to.

If that is not lemony enough for you then you also have lemon butter to go along with it, which is made with 8 tbl spoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. As you can see from the photo the butter just melted into the hot bread once it was taken from the tin, and the pistachios were dotted through the bread with green nutty goodness.

Verdict: Mahtava!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Smoked fish and sunday newspaper

No we did not find a new way of cooking newspaper. We just read the day old Sunday newspaper while we were eating. When you read and eat at the same time it is a slow process, and you tend to savour the food a little more. You examine it for texture, You suck it for flavour, you pick the best bits out of one thing and leave the best bits of something else. Eating becomes and adventure, and you can quite easily pinch something off somebodies plate if they are engrossed in the gardening section.

Maija bought some lovely smoked "muikku" and we had it plain and simple with potato salad, tomato, gherkins, together with some focaccia rosemary bread. It was nice. I inspected those muikku. They were topped but not tailed. Crisp fish tails to a Finn is as chicken feet to the Chinese.

I have planted a tomato plant on the balcony, appropriately enough it is called "Balcony Star". It is a gnarly looking plant. Tough with wrinkly leaves and I am expecting a tomato that would win prizes. We shall see.

How do you take photos of food? It is quite a complicated business to get it right. Do you do close-ups? Should there be the background clutter of life? Like the newspaper or a flower. Or should it be clean and stark? I wish I knew.

The Judith Olney book has some wonderful photos in it and if you are doing her rercipes it is not good to try and repeat the same shots that she has put in her book. There has to be something different. I am still looking for a style.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Meringue dream with kumquats (Brazo de Zetor)

This is good. The visitors had seconds. And the kumquats... how do you eat those damn things. They look like small oranges. cut them open and inside all you have is seeds, big seeds, seeds that are hard and you cannot eat. Seeds that you have to throw away, and all that you are left with is the orange coloured peel and hardly any fruity flesh at all. It looks for all the world like orange peel. You do the maths... oranges 1.50 euro a kilo... kumquats 11.50 euro a kilo, and you think to yourself am I paying through the nose for orange peel? You see with kumquats you eat the peel, there is nothing else to eat from it really and the taste if you believe the supermarket is bitter sweet.

Which reminds me of artichokes... you get this hellava big green flower plonked on your plate and you wonder what bits of it are you supposed to eat. It's like drinking lemon flavoured water, and complimenting the lady of the table, how refreshing it is only to discover later that it was a finger bowl for cleaning your fingers. Such is life. Airs and graces.

4 egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
2 dl sugar
1 dl crushed almond
2 tbl cornflour.
1/2 dl almonds
Dusting of icing sugar
2 dl whipped cream
1 dl quark
1 dl strong marmalade
1 tsp vannila sugar
1 tin tangerines

Add the lemon juice to the eggs and beat, slowly add the sugar and continue to whisk,and near the end carefully add the crushed almonds and corn flour. Place the meringue mixture in a bag with a 1cm nozzle and pipe the mixture onto baking paper. Make 18 strips 35 cm long that are joined along the edges and sprinkle with almonds. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 175 C untill the meringeue just takes on some colour. Don't over cook so the meringue becomes hard. Carefully turn the sheet of soft meringue over onto baking paper and leave to cool.

For the filling whip the cream and mix in the quark, marmalade and vannilla sugar. Spread this mixture onto the soft meringue and with the aid of the baking paper carefully roll into the shape of a log, and place in the fridge to set. Just before serving dust the top with icing sugar.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Asparagus, romain pepper, onion, mushroom in a thin liquorice sauce and topped with ground black pepper and rock salt.

Asparagus is in the shops, and I just had to buy some, and fry it up in olive oil with mushrooms, onions, and peppers. No steaming for me. There is an interesting story connected with aspargus. Supposedly your pee smells different after eating asparagus. Some people thought this was due to the fact that something in the asparagus was not metabolised properly, and thus gave your pee a distictive smell. But in actual fact some people have just got more sensitive noses.

Lison et al. (1980) concluded that the urinary excretion of an odorous substance after eating asparagus is not an inborn error of metabolism as had been proposed by Allison and McWhirter (1956). Instead they suggested that the detection of the odor constitutes a specific smell hypersensitivity. Their observations on a large number of individuals indicated that those who could smell the odor in their own urine could also smell it in the urine of anyone who had eaten asparagus, whether or not that person was able to smell it himself.

Mitchell et al. (1987) stated that Nencki (1891) had shown that the odor of urine after ingestion of asparagus is due to the volatile sulfur-containing compound methanethiol, which imparts a smell similar to rotten or boiling cabbage.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bacon and beans

Green beans, pinto beans, blackeyed peas, haricot beans, broad beans, soya beans, fava beans, French beans, jumping beans, runner beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, , mung beans, the list goes on and on and where can you get that big plump and pregnant queen of beans, the butter bean. Nowhere.

In the past I have scorned beans thinking of them in the immortal words of Bart Simpson, "Beans beans the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot", but then came the magical day in a tapas bar in Madrid. We were in there to sample some sherry. Just extremely small glasses, but lots of them and with every glass of sherry we bought the owners felt abliged to bring us some more tapas. Sizzling prawns in a garlic sauce (dribble dribble), cold cut of tuna with french mustard (smacks lips), olives stuffed with pimento (savours the acidity), whole white-bait dressed in breadcrumbs (crunches them bones and all from head to tail).

Then came the beans, big and buttery, shaped like a small kidney, coated in olive oil, with their fine skin dusted down with aromatic herbs, and black pepper. It may have been the sherries that went beforehand but somehow the butter beans, which I had held in such low esteem were suddenly elevated to something most noble, and ever since then I have wanted that taste again.

But not having any sherry I got side tracked and I did some spiced beans with bacon. Here is the recipe.

Soak a cup of butter beans in water over night. Add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. This is the magic part since it helps the beans to absorb water and expand. You won't loose the skins when you boil them either. Drain the beans and add new water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer until tender. Low heat is esential since you don't want them to disintigrate and turn to mush. Drain the water off and add the following spices. Ground black pepper, Rock salt, fresh basil torn, fresh parsley torn, garlic pepper, and then drizzle on some olive oil and mix. Transfer the spiced beans to a dish and on top place some roughly cut strips of bacon. Place in and oven at 250 C and cook for 20 minutes. This is to give a crunchiness to the beans and the bacon is cooked to perfection. Juices from the bacon are absorbed by the beans, giving them a delicious moistness.

Now for the most important part of the operation when you have removed the dish from the oven and let it cool, you should eat the beans with your fingers. No forks or knives allowed. It is a great pleasure to pick up the beans in your fingers, and to sift around the dish for the best bits. While eating your fingers will become flavoured by the spiced juices in the dish, and you will be afforded the opportinity to lick your own fingers, or even suck them to get them clean. Don't wash them or use wipes. That would spoil everything.

Enjoy... I know I did

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The easiest, bestest foccacia ever

There is nothing better than a fresh warm bread served straight from the oven. Maija made the "Italian Picnic Bread" and it received a very good response on Flickr, but that bread is more of a meal than a snack. The best bread for snacks is foccacia since it has such a lovely structure and the presence of olive oil makes it so moist and succulent.

So I dug around and found a wonderful website with a recipe for the easiest and bestest foccacia ever. I made it exactly according to the recipe with the exception I used emental cheese which is much stronger than the mozzerella cheese suggested in the recipe. I also baked it in a dish to give it some shape, but apart from that it is a wonderful recipe and it only takes an hour from start to finnish.

This type of bread is best eaten fresh and if possible in the open air. I ripped it into bits and had it with fresh vine tomatoes, pickled gerkins, and black olives. I sat out on the balcony amongst the pots with pelargonia cuttings, and enjoyed the afternoon sun. It was not Tuscany, but it was good enough for me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Avocado, strawberry and liquorice sauce

So I cut the avocado so there was nice little circles and into them I poured a liquorice sauce and dusted it down with icing sugar. Liquorice of the salty sort (salmiakki) is very popular in Finland. They put it in vodka and call it salmiakkikossu, and it tastes a bit like cough mixture.

The liquorice with the avocado and strawberries is nice and sweet. I made a plate for presentation, and it was so good that I made myself another plate but this time everything was just roughly cut up and smothered in the sauce.

It was then that I made an amazing discovery, food does not need to look good before you can eat it. The roughly chopped ingredients was just a luscious. Believe me this obscenely decadent avocado and strawberries with liquorice sauce is a treat for the taste buds and tongue.

Italian picnic bread

Some people say
That oysters make you
come on strong,
But I don't buy it,
I don't believe my diet
turns me on.
Won't take no pills,
That's the last thing
that I need to do,
I can't deny it,
My aphrodisiac is you.

Don't smoke no grass,
Or opium from old Hong Kong,
That hubble-bubble
Just makes me see you double
All night long.
Don't waste my time
With Spanish fly and roots to chew,
They cause me trouble,
Because my aphrodisiac is you.

Katie Melua (my aphrodisiac is you)

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Russian leg of lamb with rosemary

Yes it was heavy but I didn't eat it... the wife did, at a russian resturant called Shaslik in Helsinki. We had a small cabinet all to ourself, and in other parts of the resurant you could here a mixture of languages from all over the world. Shaslik seems to be a watering hole for companies like Nokia who want to show their customers something exotic.

The resturant itself looks like something from the turn of the century. The walls have flocked floral patterns in the style of imperial Russia. The waiters dress like cossacks. The Vodka is served chilled. The food is heavy but very good an tasty.

At the end of the meal a man with an accodrian and a woman entered the booth and sang us some sad russian songs. It is strange that a certain note and a word in an unknown language, causes a bubbling of emotions inside like a kettle on the boil, and from your eyes tears roll unhindered.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tagliatelle siskonmakkarakastikkeella

The lady selling cold cuts of ham, chicken and luncheon meat at the local supermarket suggested that I buy 'siskonmakkara', a special offer of course, and use them as an ingredient in a pasta sauce. Siskonmakkara (sister's sausage) in a PASTA SAUCE, what has the world come to? I only remembered them as these slimy sausage skins that you took between your fingers and squeezed the contents into a pot of boiling vegetable soup. Or going back even further, my mum's soup that had them cut in skins and all (caused a nice swelling effect at both ends). The ends where the sausages had been cut. Once they reached the boiling pot, that is.

But pasta sauce, give me a break. Well I gave her a break and bought the leek, the chanterelle cheese spread and the cream. Squeezed (at least I got to squeeze) the contents little blobs at a time into a hot frying pan, added the chopped leek, the cream and the chanterelle spread. Cooked the tagliatelle, arranged it all on a plate topped with some parsley and red pepper. Observed the nice swelling effect round my midriff. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all. Must move on with the times.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pea soup, pork, rye bread and cheese

"It's Tuesday let's do pea soup"
"It's not Tuesday"
"Yes it is. It is Tuesday"
"No but, I mean Tuesday is not pea soup day"
"Yes but, you said 'It's not Tuesday' which is wrong because it is Tuesday"
"No but, what I ment to say was Thursday is pea soup day"
"Then why not just say it then, instead of saying 'It's not Tuesday'"

Yes Thursday is indeed pea soup day. All over Scandinavia you have pea soup on a Thursday and pancakes and jam for afters. It is strange that certain days of the week are associated with certain foods. Fish for Friday was a catholic tradition in the village where I grew up.

So why have pea soup on Thursdays? Well here is a thought. When Sweden was converted to Catholicism, pea soup became the traditional meal for Thursday dinner--thick and hearty, especially "och flask" (with pork) to tide hardworking farmers over the Catholic fast on Fridays. Pea soup has continued to be eaten as a standard for Thursday dinners even to today, traditionally with brown mustard and crisp or hardcrusted bread, with a strong cheese.


Steep the Peasoup peas in water over night. Rinse peas well and strain the remaining water from them. Pour water into a saucepan. Add peas and smoked bones or knuckle of pork. Cook gently for 2-3 hours. Take a smoked knuckle from the saucepan, separate the meat and cut into little pieces. Chop onions and carrots and add them to the saucepan with meat, cream (not necessary but gives smooth taste), black pepper, and marjoram. Cook gently for half an hour. If you like, you can put a little bit of mustard into the soup. Traditionally pea soup is served with rye bread and cheese.

An American friend was a bit sceptical of pea soup and pancakes but he said he would give it a go. He took a spoonful of soup and directly afterwards took his knife and fork and cut himself a bit of pancake with some cream and jam on it. And so the meal progressed... spoonfull of soup... mouthful of pancake. It was such a wonderful and unusual sight I just let him get on with it. He enjoyed the combination and made a reputation for himself every Thursday as the peasoup/pancake man. People would smile when they saw him eating, and he was totally bemused at how friendly and smiling the Finns were towards him on Thursdays. I did not have the heart to tell him he should have eaten the peasoup first and the pancake afterwards.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Tomato and Kiwi

Went to the Korkeasaari Zoo today for a picnic and made a salad which was topped off with tomatoes and kiwi. Fresh.

Underneath was some shell pasta which had crispy chunks of fried bacon, mozerella cheese, and pickled gherkin. To give it a little bite I sprinkled in some "aromasalt" and for some extra tang mayonese.

We ate it while the brown bears played, and the seals basked on the warm rocks, and the seagulls swooped overhead and tried to steal chips from the waitress carrying a tray of food to the nearby tables.

Do seagulls think since that waitress is using two hands to carry the tray then it is safe to swoop down and gobble a few chips, since she can't catch me or beat me. Who know what birds think.

It was good to eat out in the open. The sea air was fresh. The sun was doing its best to be friendly, and the wind was slight as cold caress. Eating out perhaps harks back to a primitive past, and it certainly enhances the eating experiance. Must be something to do with ozone, or air, or sunshine, anyway it is the best and we should all do it more often.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Avocado, Nori and cold smoked salmon

Fusion food... what's your problem Japanese sushi and Mexican sauce? Avocado and salmon? Kiwi and lime rice? I'm kool with that. If it tastes good eat it.

So the topping was avocado and a spicey chillie sauce, and underneath that was smoked salmon and a strip of seaweed, and in the rice there was parsley corriander and lime.

What a melange. Three flavours competing at the same time. Dirty and diabolical, and every mouthful a surprise. Why content yourself with the safe and trustworthy? Eating should be an adventure, where you are attacked by the hotness of chilli, and you can suck on salmon and taste the smoke from the ancient bark of a juniper tree, and cool down with the lime in the rice.

Bleat bleat whine whine it is not right you say. It is not proper. It is a scandel. How can you even have the affrontory to write about such an abomination? Well I just did, and I just ate everything. Cleaned the plate, and sucked on my moustache for afters.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cool hot chicken

Chicken thighs are about the cheapest bit of meat you can get, and if you dress it up with the right spices then dare I say it, even the skin tastes good. The spice I used for this was galric salt, paprikka, crushed rose pepper, and a light dusting of curry.

Whack them into a hot oven at around 200 and stand back and watch them sizzle. When they are just turning brown take them out and turn them over and slap them back in the oven until the top side is crisp. Serve them up with thick cut chips and eat everything with your hands. No forks allowed. When you are finnished eating for dessert lick the stickiness and all the cooking flavours off your fingers.

Verdict: Dangerously satisfying. Do not repeat on a regular basis if you know what is good for you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Creamy lemon saffron sauce with rose pepper and parsley

She has some sauce... hmmm... having some sauce usually means that someone is asking for something that they should not have asked for. Or stepping forward and getting ideas above their station. Being brazen, and not knowing their place in the scheme of things.

Sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander... hmmm... seems to be saying that if something is good for a certain person then it is also good for another person. I suppose originally it spoke about the differences between men and women, but it could equally be about the the rich and the poor. Surely it is not obscene for the poor to enjoy the same pleasures as the rich. As the old song says

It's the Rich, wot gets the Pleasure.
And the Poor, wot gets the Blame.
It's the same the whole world over.
Ain't it all a Bloody shame ????

Sauce is good for everyone. When I think of sauces, I think of chopped mushroom and corriander in Heidelburg. I remember tomato, basil, and olive oil, with herring in Trieste, and a wonderful creamy truffle sauce in Porec Croatia, served with Tagatelle. Crushed mixed pepper venison in a black peppercorn sauce here in Helsinki. The most memorable meals always have good sauces to go along with them.

Maija did some pike/perch fillets from Estonia which were breaded with rye flour pepper and salt and we had the fillets with boiled potatoes and the creamy lemon sauce.

Verdict: Mash those potatoes up to absorb ALL the sauce.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Green and white salad

Some things are just easy to eat. They are fresh and they are not filling. When you have finished eating them you don't feel as though you are about to burst your gut. There is no need to loosen your tie, undo your bra, pop the top button on your trousers, roll down your tights. You do not need to sigh with relief when you down the last mouthful, and then crawl off to bed to recover.

Some meals are like that they are unforgiving, and after eating them they seek revenge. I well remember the off-season mussels in Newcastle that had promised so much on the evening, but the next day attacked you and made you feel like a cerebal palsy victim performing delicate brain surgery with a chain saw.

Salads however are so forgiving. You can clean your plate and if there was more you could scoff off the same again. So I did a green and white salad and it disappear off the plate faster than butter off a hot knife.

Verdict: Ishmallah!!!

Monday, April 11, 2005

One huge sticky bun and her babies

There you go... you leave yeast, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, cinnamon, apple, and flour on the table, and innocnetly turn your back on them, and what do they do for being taken off those shelves in the supermarket... are they thankful? Not a bit of it. Take your eye off them for a moment and they are at it.

Getting themselves all whipped up, and beaten together. Who would have thought of mixing sugar and cinnamon and butter. It is just not done in polite circles. What would the neighbours think if they found out? I think there must be a law against it. I suspect it is outlawed in all of the southern states of America. Promiscuity that's what it is.

But that is not enough... all this wetness and stickiness and the profusion of spice in that heaving dough... that is not sufficient... that is not shocking enough... they have to turn the heat up until it's tropical... until it is swealtering hot. Anybody would think it was a holiday romance or something, and we all know the end result of passion in a hot oven.

One huge sticky bun and her babies, that's what. The shame of it all. I will have to eat them all before anybody finds out.

Pike perch in lemon sauce

Kuha is a Finnish fish called Pike-Perch and Maija decided to do it in a lemon wine sauce. My son accuses me of eating too much red fish and it is time to try some white fish so Maija got a couple of fillets and cut them in half rolled them up an stuck a toothpick through them so they would keep their shape.

We had the fish together with a kiwi/prune/chinese cabbage salad and some jasmin rice. The fish and the sauce are so light and fresh that you feel you could just go on and eat more and more of it. It was not a deathmetal dish. It was more the hesitant tinkle of wind chimes... light and airy. You could eat it with ease.

The recipe for the sauce is as follows.

3 tbl spoons of white flour
3 dl of fish stock
0.5 dl of cream
25 gm of butter
3 teaspoons of lemon juice
a sprinkle of white pepper
a pinch of salt
a smidgen of saffron.

The fish has rock salt and freshly ground black pepper rubbed into it, and is boiled in a fishstock with white wine. Cover with a lid and boil for 5-10 minutes. Serve with the jasmin rice and fresh green salad.

Verdict: mmmmuuuuaaaaghhhhhh!!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Salad snack

We watched Amadeus which was the Peter Schaffer play directed by Milos Forman and staring F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce (whatever happened to him?) and we had some salad was nibbles beforehand. I said to Maija lets do somthing like a tricolor, something red white and green. Tomatoes mozerella and avocado, then I got to thinking there is no red white and green flag, which was a bit disappointing, but during the film I was thinking kiwi and mozerella, green and white, isn't that the Pakistani flag.

But thought of flags went out the window when Salieri and Mozart are discussing a dessert they are eating. Marscapone sugar and rum so I dug around for a recipe that had these ingredients, and here it is.

1 17.5 ounce container marscapone cheese
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec or Cointreau
1 tablespoon dark rum
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
24 ladyfingers
1 1/2 cup brewed expresso
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

It is amazing what you come up with when you watch movies from the 80's

Friday, April 08, 2005

Avocado and tomato

Avocado and tomato
Originally uploaded by HyperBob.
Maija made some fresh bread with sundried tomatoes in it, so it would be a waste not to rustle up a nice topping which is quick easy and tasty.

I saw a brillant presentation on flickr which used thinly peeled cucumber and salmon which looked absolutely stunning for the visual effect. Green stripes of the cucumber and a red disk of the salmon.

I must admit I tried for a layered look with the avocado, but it did not quite work out, which makes you think is food made for eating or for looking at.

I did not look at it long enough. I ate two sandwiches quickly and then made another two and ate them just as fast.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Apricot chocolate cake

Chocolate helps you slim. Yeah right???
Chocolate is essential for your mental health. Yeah right???
Chocolate keeps you fit. Yeah right???
Chocolate increases your brain power. Yeah right???

You put Kiwi green salad before a five year old and a seven year old and they will ask you all sorts of questions like, what are those black bits in that green sauce. You tell them frogs spawn, now shut up and eat it. They ask if the gherkins are sweet or sour. They ask if the Kiwi is hard or soft. They want to know why the advocado tastes sour. You tell them cos it is sulphuric acid to burn your tongue off... no not really it is lemon juice to stop it from going brown... my sweet innocent child.

They are not overly impressed with Green Kiwi salad and pick at it and have to be coaxed to finish it off by saying it is an appitizer to help get your digestive juices running for the main meal. It don't mean a thing to them. They are eating green frogs spawn soaked in sulphuric acid and nothing you can say will convince them otherwise.

There are five people at the table and a plate with six apricot chocolate cakes is placed on the table. The kids do a calculation. Five into six does not compute. If there is one piece of apricot chocolate cake left over, who would be eating that then? They have not tasted it yet somehow chocolate icing with shredded chocolate on top and moist apricot filing does not ellicit any questions whatsoever.

Is this fair trade chocolate? Does the icing sugar come from a plantation where the workers have been exploited? Has the flour been imported at a pittance and sold at a premium in the supermarket. Did you buy any of the ingredients from Lidl who subjugate their workers? Have those serving plates been bought from Ikea who are known to exploit child labour? Well if any of those facts are true, then I am not eating your damned apricot chocolate cake and you can just stuff it in that hole where the sun never shines.

No that never happens. The scheme that is running through the kids heads is that if I eat my bit of cake fast enough then I might get more. I asked Olli what was so good about apricot chocolate cake and he replied.


If only life were as simple as looking at food, and you could make instant decisions without ever tasting life's bitterness or sweetness.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Green salad with avocado and Kiwi sauce

Decided to make a completely green salad with a green sauce. So what went into it?

Oak leaf lettuce
Avocado (covered in lemon juice to stop going brown)
Kiwi fruit sliced
Gherkins sliced
Choped Pistachio nuts with just a hint of green.

For the sauce it was
2 kiwi fruit blitzed
2 tbl spoons olive oil
2 tbl spoons Lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Roughly ground sea salt
2 tea spoons runny honey

Verdict: Fresh

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Beans ala Brenda

On Flickr I saw a crispy bean salad by Brendadada and photographed by Shooz and it looked so good I thought I would have to give it a go.

Beans are protein, and pound for pound they are equal to a good cut of meat, but cost only a few pennies. I hunted all around for broadbeans in Espoonlahti but could not find any. I finally went into an Iranian shop where I usually get my pickled garlic and the owner convinced me to buy some Iranian white beans instead. Beans like peas are dried so they do not spoil in storage, so he advised me to soak them in water overnight to rehydrate them.

Brenda has since told me that a pinch of "bicarbonate of soda" helps in the softening process. In the morning the water was drained off. Soaking keeps the beans from splitting open during cooking or from having the outside shell fall apart while the middle is still hard.

Once cooked I sprinkled some olive oil on them and spiced them up with parsley, freshly ground pepper, sea salt, and garlic pepper bread crumbs. I spread them on a baking tray in the oven and cooked until crispy. The smell from the oven will tell you when they are done. It is heavenly... that is if you like garlic.

I laid the beans on a bed of oak leaf lettuce, and to go along with it I diced plum tomatoes and red onion and stirred in some sweet chilli pineapple sauce. For a third flavour on the plate I also had some potato, gherkin salad. On the side was some bread made by Maija which had sundried tomatoes folded into it.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Ice Cream

So you want some nice ice cream? How and where do you get it?

This is my method. Find a good place that sells ice cream. Go into it and ask for the best icream they have. Buy it no matter the cost and eat it. It works for me everytime. Simple.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ham, Mushroom, Basel and Sundried Tomato in a cream sauce

Pasta is quick an easy. My son says spaghetti should not be over cooked and it should be al dente. Al dente is a fancy term for pasta that's fully cooked, but not overly soft. The phrase is Italian for "to the tooth," which comes from testing the pasta's consistency with your teeth.

But the way that he does it is to take one strand of spaghetti from the pot and throw it agaist the wall at the back of the cooker. If it stays stuck to the wall for a few seconds before it falls down then it is al dente. If it does not stick then it is not fully cooked. It might be a messy way to test... but it works perfectly.

And for the cream sauce. Fry some onion in butter with rock salt and course black pepper, and add cubes of oak smoked ham. Cut in half Sitake mushrooms and for colour add sundried tomatoes and torn basil leaves. Mushrooms shrink considerably if you cook them for a long period of time so put them in at the end together with the cream. When everything is piping hot pour over your pasta. Superb.

Ham on Rye with beefsteak tomatoes and pickled gherkin (evening snack)

There is no beating Finnish Rye bread. There are so many varieties but my favourite is "Jälkiuuni" sour rye bread. First off the bread is sour and salty. This is due to fact that the starter for the sourdough has lactobacillus, which produces lactic acid to give the bread that acid bite.

This bread is called and "after-oven" bread. Once all the other bread has been baked at the bakery and the oven is cooling down this is when the Jälkiuuni Rye bread is put into the oven. It is circular and has a hole in the centre. In the olden days once the bread was baked a pole was shoved through the hole and the rye bread hung from the rafters. Because of its sourness it was a bread that could be kept for a long time.

Due to to baking process of a long slow and low temperature the bread is a very tough and it gives good exercise to the teeth just to eat it. I love it with oak smoked ham, beef steak tomatoes, and pickled gherkin, and even though it is quite salty I am not averse to grinding some sea salt on the tomatoes for that extra ping.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Djam cake with cream and hot chocolate

Wedding anniversary 33 years and we go out for some coffee and cake, and a movie afterwards. Djam is Swedish but what the hell it is good stuff especially with some cream on the side and a drizzle of hot chocolate sauce covering the plate in a manner that would have made the action painter Jackson Pollack proud.

And the movie afterwards we went to BioCity where they don't do Hollywood. There was a good choice and it was a toss up between a french movie called the choir boys and a mongolian movie about a camel that cried.

I wanted the French movie since I did not want to have to say to anyone who asked me what did you do on your anniversary that I had been watching a mongolian movie abut a camel that wept. We went for the choirboy movie but before it began they showed a trailer for the camel that wept and I almost wished I had gone to see it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Thai green curry with basil on parsley rice

How do you cook perfect rice, well I do it according to the method my daughter taught me. It is very simple and works every time. The rice is not undercooked, and it does not get burnt to the bottom of the pot. This is her secret.

Take 2 dl of rice (a dl per person is the rule )and add a vegetable stock cube. Don't bother with salt. Boil up 4 dl of water seperately, I do this in an electric kettle, and when it is boiling vigourously, pour it on top of the rice. Keep the water boiling, and in about 8 minutes the level of the water will have gone down so the rice begins to show.

At this point turn the heat off completely and put the lid on the pot and let it rest for a further 6 minutes. Sprinkle in some dried parsley and if you want add a dash of olive oil to make the rice glisten, or if you want a knob of butter will do the trick as well. Mix butter and parsley into the rice and serve imeadiately.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cinnamon buns ( Korvapuusti )

Bread is good but Korvapuusti is better. Bread is sensible and sturdy. Korvapuusti has a tan having been basted with whiped egg. Bread is solid and very serious, it does not make jokes. Korvapuusti is flecked with cinnamon and glows with saffron, it giggles behind its hand, or laughs outright straight in your face. Bread wears steeltoe capped industrial boots, and it stand on the table with its hands on its hips, defiantely. Korvapuusti has satin ballet pumps and frilly pink ribbons, and it will dance until it is out of breath.

Korvapuusti what a strange name (Korva=Ear, puusti=a slap) ( Korvapuusti= A slap on the ear.) Yes the shape of it looks like the ears of a boxer who has gone a few too many rounds with Mike Tyson, or the ears of a Welsh second row forward, that are swollen due to years of rubbing and chaffing on the haunches of the prop-forward.

The secret is in the spices. Into the dough you put cardimum and saffron, and when the dough is rolled out you spead on butter, and sprinkle with sugar, and dust with cinnamon.

1 package yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
4 cups flour ( Sunnuntai )
6 table spons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Spices Cinnamon, cardimum, saffron.
For glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water.

When can you eat it? I cannot resist eating it straight from the oven while it is still hot. I know it must be really bad for you, and we have even told the kids wait until it cools, only to sneak a nibble at a fresh korvapuusti while nobody is looking. Korvapuusti is one item of food that can easily turn you into a thief and a hypocrite.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bread of life

Why should you make bread? Well basically for the smell. If you come into a house where bread has been baked, it has got a wonderful welcoming aroma. When you take rolls from the oven and they are steaming fresh, you can hardly wait to slap some butter on them and see it melt into the warm pores of the bread. Bread and butter alone is a treat, but if you want to go overboard then the perfect combination is to add emental cheese with tomatoes, or if you want your delight to have a sharper taste then go for metvursti and pickled gherkins

Recipe: Maija's secret recipe

Water, yeast, salt, honey, oats, wholemeal four, white flour, olive oil and butter. You think she is going to give you exact amounts... no way... the dough is made by feel. You know when it is right and that only comes through experiance, and how do you get experiance? Well one of the best methods is to have five kids who all love the bread that you make, and will eat it as fast as you can make it.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Eat raw stuff

Alot of people eat raw food and never think anything of it. An apple an orange a bannana. So what!!! I suppose some people make a big thing out of eating raw stuff. They would say it is healthier, and that you are getting vitamins and other trace elements that might be destroyed through cooking.

I don't even take those things into consideration. I eat raw because it is easy, and it cuts out having to expend enery cooking things. The above salad has got lots of raw stuff in it. Raw smoked salmon (norwegian) celery sticks (israel) sliced tomatoes (spannish) Mozzerella cheese (italian) pickled ghrekin (polish) oak-leaf lettuce (finnish) garlic cloves (iranian).

The good thing about this kind of raw salad is the contrast in flavours. A drizzle of olive oil, and a shake of balsamic vinegar, and some freshly ground pepper makes it perfect.