Saturday, April 30, 2005
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
Monday, April 11, 2005
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.
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.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
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
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
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
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
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
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
Saturday, April 02, 2005
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.