Tuesday 17 May 2016

Bread, glorious bread (or The Brilliant Simplicity of an Open Sandwich)

I love bread. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't, but I could. Poor bread has a bit of a bad rep nowadays among all kinds of fitness enthusiasts and gluten has basically been demonised. I'm not going to rant and rave about that because all sane people know that (good) bread is good for you and that gluten is not devil spawn. However, I will state, just for the record, that all diets that prohibit bread should be banned, people who throw away bread crust should be fined and I don't trust people who don't eat bread.There. Now we can move forward.

Finnish bread I baked in England.
In my childhood home (and in countless other Finnish homes, I'm sure), bread was what you had for breakfast, for a snack after school and sometimes for an evening snack too before going to bed. It was in the form of an open sandwich, voileipä. It was nearly always rye bread (and I mean proper rye bread, not the kind that's more than a half wheat but called rye because it has a smidgen of rye in it) or crisp bread (that was made of rye too). I loved going to friends' houses because they sometimes had wheat bread that was called ”ranskanleipä”, ”French loaf”, lovely soft white bread that my mum only bought when it was reduced. I was annoyed then that we couldn't have it more often but of course now I know that my mum knew it had a very poor nutritional value.

My grandmother cooking by the wood-fired stove.
Bread is what I start missing first when I'm outside Finland. Needless to say, the entire 3.5 years in England I kept searching shops for good rye bread, had whoever was visiting bring me a suitcase full of Finnish bread and came back from holidays with an airline baggage allowance worth of Finnish rye. While in England, I also made my first proper rye bread since my childhood.

My grandparents lived in a house with a wood-fired oven and a couple of times a year the women in the family would get together and bake rye bread (and sometimes Karelian pastries, which I will return to later in this blog). There were four generations present at best, my great grandmother being the eldest and the keeper of the baking secrets. Later my family lived in that same house and the tradition continued. Sadly, the house is not in the family anymore but the baking continues.

In Finland, as in many other countries, I'm sure, bread is the ultimate cucina povera, because you only need a bit of flour, water and salt and then some magical kitchen chemistry happens and suddenly the previously bland and pretty much indigestible ingredients have suddenly transmogrified into nutritious food. Finnish bread comes in many many forms and not just in rye but rye bread seems to be the essence of Finnishness. There are regional variations in the form, sweetness, acidity and seasoning. The flat discs with a hole in the middle are part of my childhood whereas my partner, who is from Eastern Finland, is used to round, plump loaves. Rye bread can also be dried, the original purpose of which was obviously to preserve it, but different kinds of dried breads and crisp breads are still popular. They are delicious, cheap and keep well. Nowadays you can even buy your 100% rye bread in handy portion-size pieces to avoid having to cut it. 100% rye bread goes very tough very quickly but the thing is it's at its best when it's so hard you can hardly get a bite off. This TV commercial really says it all. It's not subtitled but the dad says ”Well, are you hungry or not?” and the on-screen text after that means ”Hard as life”.

Even though I prefer 100% rye bread, I do like other kinds too. The important thing is it has flavour and something to chew. When travelling, I love to taste local breads and, when possible, bring some loaves back with me. I recently went to Denmark which is known for its smørrebrød and had some amazing open sandwiches which inspired me to make some with a bit more effort. At its simplest, my weekday breakfast open sandwich may only consist of bread, (real) butter and some ham and cheese but I like to add vegetables to that. It really depends on what's in the fridge. One evening a couple of days ago, my evening snack open sandwiches looked like this:

I decided to make three sandwiches and one just had to be with cured salmon. Cured salmon is definitely among the top three rye bread toppings. For me, salmon needs acidity and a soured dairy product of some sort so I served the salmon sandwich with a horseradish crème fraîche, bits of lemon and fresh dill. The main ingredient in the second sandwich was pork belly which I roasted in the oven with a BBQ glaze. In England, I came to love the amazing union of pork and apple so I served the pork sandwich with an apple sauce. I also felt it needed a bit more acidity so I pickled some beetroot and finished it off with thyme leaves. The third sandwich is very humble but that's why I love it: sliced new potatoes and boiled egg with spring onion. Just a bit of parsley and salt and voilà! So good! I used rye bread for the salmon and the potato sandwiches and oat loaf for the pork. If you want to give these a try, there's a complete list of ingredients at the end.

You can't get Finnish rye bread in most countries, but you could use German rye bread (the moist sliced dark bread with seeds). It's sweeter but the texture works well with these heavily laden open sandwiches. In any case you should use bread that's quite heavy and dense so that it won't go soggy easily. I'm not going to write down recipes per se as I recently made fun of open sandwich recipes (everyone can put stuff on a piece of bread, right?) but let me know if you want the precise recipe of the horseradish crème fraîche, the BBQ sauce, the apple sauce or the pickling liquid. If you want the secrets of the salmon curing you have to talk to my partner as he is the curing master in our house.


slice of rye bread (see above)
cured salmon
crème fraîche (with grated horseradish, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, black pepper and salt)
bits of fresh lemon
fresh dill
salt and black pepper


slice of oat loaf or similar (see above)
slices of pork belly (glazed with a BBQ sauce)
apple sauce
pickled beetroot, thinly sliced
thyme leaves


slice of rye bread (see above)
boiled new potato
hard-boiled egg
spring onion
salt and pepper

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Crazy about cinnamon

Every Finnish boy and girl, big or small, has the taste of kaneliässä biscuits in his or her culinary memory. Our grandmothers and mums have been making them for every wedding, funeral, christening, birthday and Christmas since times immemorial. Its status as a classic is easy to understand: what's better than butter, sugar and cinnamon? I think I've met one person in my life who said they didn't like cinnamon. I don't remember their name. I'm not saying there's a connection but...

Seriously speaking, cinnamon is one of the Finns' favourite spices in pastry – not so much in savoury food. It makes an appearance in many classic Finnish pastries and puds. Perhaps due to its popularity, roughly once a year an article about the dangers of cinnamon pops up. This is usually around Christmas: some of the most traditional Finnish Christmas pastries contain cinnamon and it's in glögi, our variation of mulled wine. The culprit is of course coumarin, which can be harmful to the liver if eaten in large quantities. However, ”large quantities” would mean spoonfuls a day on a regular basis. I love cinnamon but come on, who would eat that much with such regularity? I bake with it, sometimes cook with it and occasionally sprinkle some in my coffee but so far my liver seems to be working fine. And, to be perfectly honest, if it ever keeled, I'm pretty sure cinnamon would not be the guilty pleasure to blame, if you get my drift. Besides, if you'd get worked up every time the authorities, health and/or fitness experts or the media warned you about the dangers of a particular food you'd never eat anything, or you'd eat but wouldn't enjoy it. Finland recently topped the Nanny State Index (by London-based Institute of Economic Affairs) as the least liberal country in the EU in terms of food, drink and smoking. Recommendations, regulations and taxes concerning these three product groups are the strictest within the EU. Well, at least we came in first for once.

This questionable title provides a nice segue to the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, according to which the most common cinnamon variant imported to Finland is Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia). Wikipedia tells me that the same is true for the UK and the US. That baffles me a little as when living in England I used to bring cinnamon back from Finland because the cinnamon sold in English shops didn't taste the same to me. Perhaps I chanced upon the less common and more expensive Ceylon cinnamon which is milder in flavour and, incidentally, has significantly less coumarin than any other variety.

In any case, cinnamon is the nation's favourite and the star of these lovely buttery biscuits. You can form them in any shape you wish but for some reason in Finland they are always in shape of the letter S, hence the name kaneliässät, literally ”Cinnamon S's”.



200 g butter
2 dl sugar
1 egg
4 dl wheat flour
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar


¾ dl sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Beat together the butter and sugar and then whisk in the egg. Combine the dry ingredients and mix in with the butter & sugar with a spatula or a wooden fork. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When ready to bake, mix the sugar and cinnamon for the coating on a plate. Then take about ¼ of the dough at a time and keep the rest waiting in the fridge. Roll the dough on the work surface to create a bar about the same thickness as your little finger. Cut the bar into 5-7-centimetre long pieces. Roll the pieces in the sugar & cinnamon mix to coat them and twist into an S shape and place on a baking tray. The biscuits will spread quite a bit in the oven so don't place them too close together. Bake in 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday 31 March 2016

The 60s hit is back!

It's my partner's birthday this week and I thought a cake was in order. I usually ask him what kind of cake he wants and have baked cheese cakes and carrot cakes in the past. This year, in the spirit of the project, I decided to conquer a food trauma I've been carrying around since the early nineties.

If you ever get invited to a graduation party, someone's 50th birthday or, alas, a funeral in Finland, you'll be introduced to sandwich cake (voileipäkakku), the layer cake's savoury cousin. Wikipedia claims it is of Swedish origin but provides no source so I'm naturally sceptical. Well, whether it came on a boat or was concocted here, it is something every Finn is sure to have, if not eaten, been offered at one time or another. It's basically layers of bread and various types of fillings and garnishes. The bread is usually slices of a tin-baked loaf, so that they are more or less rectangular, sliced either vertically or horizontally. When using vertical slices, you put three or four side by side for every layer to create a rectangular cuboid (look at me using big words!). When using horizontal slices, you just layer them and sort of recreate the sliced loaf. The filling is usually fish or cold meat mixed with something creamy like cream cheese, crème fraîche, mayonnaise or the like and spices, herbs and/or finely chopped vegetables. The bread is moistened with stock, milk or lemon juice. The cake is topped again with something creamy and garnish which often reflects the main ingredient of the filling (fish or seafood for fish filling, ham or other cold cuts for meat filling, etc.).

The sandwich cake is said to have had its first peak of success in the 1960s which probably explains why my mum's generation usually considers it a must-have at any gathering. It's now sort of a retro thing (am I the only one who feels the word ”retro” has a slightly negative nuance to it when used to describe food?) and can be seen in various shapes and made with less-conventional types of breads and fillings. I've even seen a sushi cake with rice replacing the bread. Excellent idea, especially if you want it to be gluten free. I am, however, making a more traditional kind of sandwich cake because that's where it all began. Also, it's useful to have as a sort of starting point if any of my three readers wants to have a go at it.

But before I go to the recipe I'll go back to the trauma I mentioned. I was about 12 or 13, I think, when my maternal grandfather passed away. The memorial service was very traditional with an abundant cold buffet of layer cake, biscuits, ”pulla” (sweet wheat bun with cardamom - I'll come back to this later in the project), Karelian pastries with eggy butter (these will star in the project later too), salads, cured fish and, of course, the sandwich cake. I can't remember whether there was only one cake or two, both fish and meat, but they often come in pairs. Anyway, lots of food was left over so my grandmother packed a bunch of it for us to take home. My sister had been left behind because she was suffering from stomach flu and soon after the funeral I caught it. So I lay on the sofa in the living room when the rest of the family was enjoying all the food in the kitchen and all I can remember is that the smell of the sandwich cake (and it's not a smelly dish at all so it must be all in my head) made me nauseous. So whenever I saw a sandwich cake after that I'd remember the smell (which I probably imagined) combined with the memory of the nausea and was unable to have a bite. Only once when my brother made one with dark rye bread, smoked fish and eggs I tasted a bit and survived. I think a big part of the aversion was that mayonnaise used to be the filling of choice and I've never been a fan of shop-bought mayonnaise that just seems very greasy and unappetizing to me. Nowadays, mayonnaise is often substituted with fresher options or at least mixed with crème fraîche.

My partner, whose only food trauma is huge lumps of onion in grandma's summer vegetable soup (edit: fish soup - I remembered wrong!), is a fan of the sandwich cake so I decided it's time for me to get over my issues. He chose fish over meat and I decided to use cold-smoked rainbow trout and pair it with crème fraîche, dill and lemon – a classic combination I know he'll love. I prefer cold-smoked fish in this but you could use any fish that has a relatively strong flavour. Smoked mackerel would be excellent, I think. Instead of crème fraîche you could use cream cheese or a mix of one of the two and mayonnaise, if you prefer. The mustard is not a must but I think it brings a nice balance. Finns love mustard and the different varieties range from sweet to hot and everything in between. So any ”ordinary” mustard would do just as well, but I'd steer clear of the grainy kind in this case. Lemon pepper is quite common here but I remember it was not available in all supermarkets in England. If unable to find it you can substitute it with salt and pepper as there's already quite a bit of lemon in the recipe. Yes, I'm using a lot of lemon because the birthday boy is the kind who loves it so much he'll eat it like orange and then rub the peel and what's left of the pulp and juice in his hands so he can enjoy the smell for the rest of the day. If you're not quite as obsessed with it you could substitute the lemon & water moistening mix with vegetable stock, for example. I have not added salt as there's salt in the lemon pepper mix and in the fish but you should taste the filling and season if necessary.

The garnish can be whatever you fancy – your imagination is the limit. I chose cucumber rolls and little trout rosettes with finely chopped yellow bell pepper, chives and pea shoots.

Important note: you need to rest the filled cake in the fridge overnight (or 12 hours) so start preparing the day before. You can also freeze the cake: just fill it, wrap it carefully and then defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before decorating.



Loaf of bread or a bag of sliced toast (either five long, horizontal slices of loaf or 15 ”normal” slices)
¼ dl of lemon juice + ¾ dl of water for moistening the bread

400 g cold-smoked fish
200 g crème fraîche
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1.5 dl finely chopped dill
2 tsp lemon pepper

200 g cream cheese (flavoured or natural)
75-100 g cold-smoked fish
yellow bell pepper
pea shoots

First, make the filling. Chop the fish finely. You can use a food processor if you like but as I only have a blender that can barely manage a smoothie I like to use a knife – I enjoy knife work. Plus, with a food processor you run the risk of almost puréeing the fish and I prefer it to retain some texture. Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and set aside.

Cut the crust off the bread. This is hard for me as the crust is often the best part of bread but for this recipe the bread needs to be uniform without harder or chewier bits. Don't waste it, though. Make breadcrumbs!

Lay two sheets of baking parchment or greaseproof paper on the work surface so that they overlap by a few centimetres. You'll need a layer of paper of about 40 x 50 cm. Place three slices of bread side by side (or one horizontal slice). Mix the lemon juice and water and moisten the bread lightly with a pastry brush. Don't soak the bread!

Here's one I made earlier.
Spread ¼ of the filling on top of the layer of bread. Try to cover the entire surface without going over the edge and make it as smooth as you can to ensure a level cake. Then add another layer of bread, moisten and cover with ¼ of the filling. Continue until you have used all of the filling and all of the bread. At the end, you should have five layers of bread and four layers of filling.

Wrap the cake tightly in the baking parchment or greaseproof paper and either put in a plastic bag or wrap in cling film and let it sit in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight. At this point you can also pop the thing in the freezer to be used later. Just defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before decorating. Easy peasy.

When ready to decorate, unwrap the cake and place on a platter or board. Soften the cream cheese a bit in a bowl. At this point you can add chopped herbs or spices in the cheese. I'm using cream cheese with chives. Spread the cheese all over the cake, sides and top. You can smooth it with a spatula or a palette knife or leave it more uneven, if you prefer. Then release your inner artist – go symmetrical or haphazard, be decadent and generous or sparing and minimalist, whatever strikes your fancy. I used finely chopped yellow bell pepper and chives to create a striped top and decorated it with little rosettes made from slices of cold-smoked trout and rolls of cucumber (sliced with a cheese slicer – a vegetable peeler should work too) with lovely twirly pea shoots garnishing the sides. Enjoy on its own, as a part of a buffet, or with a side salad and a glass of dry white wine.

Top tip: I had a little filling left over and it was delicious with some rye crackers!

Happy birthday, luv. <3

Friday 25 March 2016

Food Project 2.0

In 2012, when I was living in England, I saw the film Julie & Julia and decided to start a similar cooking project to shake up my kitchen repertoire. However, instead of cooking through a cookery book one recipe per day like Amy Adams's character Julie Powell did, I made a slightly less ambitious pledge to cook something new at least once a week. I did have a day job after all. And to make sure I kept at it, I blogged everything (here, in Finnish). The project was what I hoped it would be: it made me think outside my usual veg box, so to speak, try new ingredients, methods and pairings. This was made slightly easier by the fact that I was living in a country that offered different produce and meat options from my native Finland.

Some experiments were disasters, of course, like empanadas that became one giant empanada & strudel hybrid, or prune marmalade that turned out so foul it ended up filling the bin rather than the traditional Finnish Christmas pastries (joulutorttu) it was intended for. Then again some instantly became firm favourites and are now some of my go-to recipes, like baked lemon cheesecake and roasted vegetable & harissa couscous. I also came to appreciate British food a lot more and am now eager to serve game pie, braised pig's cheeks and Guinness bread to anyone who visits. I mastered new skills like making my own pasta and boning a rabbit. But, this is going to sound so cheesy, what's more important, I learnt a lot about myself. There, I said it, cheesy or not. It's true, though.

As many of my friends know, I can be a tad impatient, and that's not a good thing in the kitchen. (I can just hear my partner saying: ”If by 'a tad' you mean 'so frickin'' you're right.”) I have now had to admit that having all your ingredients prepared and measured, the pots, pans and utensils ready and table tops tidied is going to make the whole experience of cooking so much easier, more stress-free and enjoyable. I have also learnt that the old adage ”Good things come to those who wait” holds true in the kitchen: how much better is a soffritto you've been patiently shifting in a pan over a gentle heat for 30 minutes than the acrid, slightly burnt mush you get if you rush it over high heat in 10 minutes or less. I just hope I can apply some of the newly-learnt patience in other areas of my life, too.

As the project was such a personal success, I thought I'd start Project 2.0 but I needed a guiding principle, something to narrow down the search for recipes. I thought about concentrating on things I struggle with like classic sauces (you know, béarnaise, beurre blanc, etc.), desserts or offal, but that that could end up with both me and my partner A. eating dry food, B. becoming really fat or C. having a serious iron-surplus (offal other than liver is difficult to come by in Finland). I also considered focusing on food of a particular geographical area, perhaps Southeast Asia or Africa but that would be a bit impractical as it would necessitate a trip to an ethnic food store nearly every time I cooked ”a project meal”.

Then it hit me: why not cook Finnish food? It always saddens me when I see or hear Finns dissing their own culinary heritage. Sure, it may not be as colourful as Italian kitchen, as abundant in fresh produce year round as... well, in any other country that's even a bit further south than Finland, or as exotic as Asian or African. Although, ”exotic” is relevant, which many of us forget sometimes. What's mundane to us can be exotic to someone from, say, India. I also suspect many Finns who consider Finnish food boring and tasteless think of bland school lunches* or the endless potatoes and gravy they had as kids. I believe – actually, I know – there's a lot more to it. Taste-wise, I think the key is to invest in good-quality ingredients, to buy seasonal produce (don't make a strawberry layer cake in January or mashed potatoes in June) and make sure you're preparing it right (don't expect a cheaper cut of meat to be ready in a flash). In terms of making it look appealing, well, as we live in a cold climate a lot of our traditional food is the kind that's meant to stick to your ribs: one-pot stews or just meat and potatoes in one form or another. Also, due to the short growing season, we tend to eat a lot of root vegetables because they keep well. But it can be presented in a nice way, I think. That's what I aim to prove, anyway.

Internationally, I don't think Finnish food has a bad rep, because it barely has a rep. Our PR department should be sacked, actually. I suspect (and I can't produce any studies or statistics right off the bat) that we have been curing salmon, baking cinnamon buns and making crispy bread as long as the Swedes have but our dear neighbour has been better at selling it to the outside world. There are exceptions, of course, and things do change, slowly. Our domestic restaurant scene has seen some great restaurants emerging in the last couple of years focusing on Finnish food, for example. One truly inspiring story is that of Satokausikalenteri (”Harvest calendar”). It started when this one guy got frustrated over the fact that supermarkets made it so difficult to shop seasonally. They focused on competing with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables but ignored their natural seasons. Customers ended up with tough and tasteless fruit and innutritious vegetables. He started collecting data on the natural growing and harvest seasons of fruit and vegetables, both domestic and international, for his and his family's use. The idea spread like wildfire among their friends and acquaintances and when they made the calendar public in 2013, it became an instant success. Now available in both hardcopy and smartphone app, it is used by thousands of Finns who have suddenly noticed that certain fruits are more delicious and easier to peel when you buy them at their peak. Even the biggest grocery store chains have taken notice and are now creating produce sections where the seasonal stuff can be more easily identified and purchased.

Thus I begin my ambitious journey through my own culinary heritage, aided by local shops, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, my own humble balcony herb garden (yet to be created, of course: there's still snow on the ground) and the recipes from my family and other countrymen and with an aim to prove that Finnish food can be both delicious and attractive.

I'll start with a firm favourite the recipe of which I copied from my mum's recipe book when I moved away from home back in the late 90's. The great thing about this delicious pie is that you can use the base with the seasonal fruit of your choice. I've topped it with bilberries and quark, a classic Finnish combination, but you could use apple slices and cinnamon in the autumn or rhubarb in the spring, for example. Nothing grows in Finland at the moment but bilberries are picked in late summer and autumn and they freeze beautifully. I didn't pick mine, I'm ashamed to admit, but bought a big box at the market in the autumn, bagged them and popped them in the freezer. An important note: bilberries are not the same as blueberries although you can substitute them with blueberries. The two are closely related but bilberry, which grows wild in shrubs in Finland, is more acidic and the flesh is gorgeous dark purple, black almost, and it stains everything it touches. Marvelous stuff. Anyways, here goes.


Pie mix:
3 dl piimä (substitute with kefir or natural yogurt)
2 dl sugar
100 g melted butter (In Finland, we usually use salted butter)
4 dl wheat flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (may be substituted with vanilla extract)

2-3 dl bilberries or blueberries (frozen or fresh; if using frozen, don't defrost them first)
1 tablespoon of potato starch (corn starch should work too) You need this to absorb excess moisture from the berries, otherwise the crust will be soggy.

250 g quark
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 egg

+ 1 tablespoon butter & some breadcrumbs to line the dish

1. In a bowl, mix together the kefir (or yogurt, if using that) and sugar with a spoon or a plastic/silicone spatula.
2. Add the melted but slightly cooled butter and mix.
3. If you are using a liquid vanilla extract, add that now and mix.
4. Combine the flour and bicarb and mix in the kefir & sugar mix in batches. If you were using a powdered vanilla product like vanilla sugar, add that to the flour before mixing with the kefir & sugar. Set aside.
5. Add the potato starch into the berries and mix. Set aside.
6. Soften the quark in a bowl with a spoon and then add the sugar and the egg and mix until smooth. Set aside.
7. Grease the pie dish (at least 27 cm in diameter) and line with breadcrumbs to avoid sticking.
8. Pour the pie mix in the dish and spread it so it covers the bottom of the dish. No need to be very precise: it will even out in the oven.
9. Pour the blueberries on top in an even layer.
10. Spoon dollops of quark mix on the blueberries. No need to spread as it will melt and even out in the oven. It won't cover the entire surface but the mottled finish is what you want.
11. Bake in 175-200 degrees Celsius, mid-height, for about 20-30 minutes. The baking time depends on the oven so keep monitoring the pie. For bilberry pie, slower baking is better as it will ensure that despite the juicy berries the bottom will be cooked through and yet the surface won't burn. Keep baking until the bits of pie crust showing around the edges are golden brown. The quark will still be a bit jiggly when you take it out but it will set as it cools. Leave to cool completely. I prefer it fridge temperature, but room temperature is fine, too.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Vakavan ihmisen puolustuspuhe

Sanna Mämmi julkaisi muutama päivä sitten blogikirjoituksen otsikolla ”Herää jo suomalainen!” ja luin sen, kun muutama Facebook-kontaktini oli sen innosta puhkuen jakanut. Ja koska harva kirjoitus on viime aikoina herättänyt minussa yhtä vahvoja tunteita, päätin kirjoittaa oman näkemykseni. Julkaisen sen nyt tässä tavallisesti ruoka-aiheita käsittelevässä blogissani.

Ensinnäkin olen kirjoittajan kanssa samaa mieltä tuosta väheksymisestä, tosin se ei ole yksinomaan suomalainen piirre. Syyllistyn siihen itsekin, mutta olen yrittänyt päästä siitä eroon. Lyhyttä punaista tukkaani kehutaan usein, ja jos ennen koin tarvetta selitellä, että kyllä olisi jo parturin tarpeessa, nyt vastaan ”kiitos, tykkään itsekin” ja mainitsen kampaajani nimen, jotta kunnia menee sinne, minne se kuuluu.

Omasta mielestäni suomalaisten ikävin piirre on kateus. Toisen menestystä, lahjakkuutta ja onnea on usein vaikea sulattaa, ja kateus siitä oksennetaan sitten joko selän takana kyräillen tai verkossa.

Sitten joudutaankin vaarallisille vesille, kun jokainen mökötys, valitus ja totisuus pannaan nippuun ja ylle lyödään otsikko ”suomalainen pessimismi” ja vielä todetaan, että siitä voi opetella pois. Kirjoittaja peräänkuuluttaa iloisuutta, hassuttelua ja hullaantumista ja paheksuu naapuria, jota vesisade vituttaa. Hän myös paheksuu besserwisseröintiä, vaikka syyllistyy kirjoituksellaan itsekin siihen. Hänhän tietää, että tästä mökötyksestä voi opetella pois. No, tiedoksi vain: eivät kaikki voi.

Suomalaiset ovat ehkä keskimäärin introvertimpaa kansaa kuin vaikkapa espanjalaiset, ja kirjoittajan espanjalainen poikaystävä olikin hieman ylimieliseltä kuulostavalla kommentillaan oikeilla jäljillä: monen suomalaisen ”mökötyksen” takana voi olla mielenterveydellisiä seikkoja. Ja niistä ei vain opetella pois. Yksi loukkaavimmista ja vahingollisimmista asioista, joita masentuneelle ihmiselle voi sanoa on, että piristyisit nyt. Entä jos se ystävä, joka kirjoittajalle valitti puhelimessa, oli tosi huonossa jamassa, eikä elämässä oikeasti tuntunut sillä hetkellä olevan mitään hyvää? Eikö ystävyyttä ole se, että jaksetaan kuunnella ja olla olkapäänä, kun elämä tuntuu toisesta ahdistavalta?

Enkä nyt väitä, että kyseinen ystävä olisi välttämättä masentunut tai että kaikki suomalaiset mököt ovat masentuneita, vaikka masennuksen kirjoon mahtuukin monta harmaan sävyä. Kaikille se hulluttelu ei kuitenkaan ole luontainen tapa olla ja elää. Kirjoittaja osoittaa olevansa aika kapeakatseinen ja suvaitsematon, jos ei ymmärrä, että mielihyvää ja onnellisuutta voi tuntea ilman, että se näkyy ulospäin äänekkäänä riekkumisena.

Olen itse opetellut pois siitä hulluttelusta ja riekkumisesta, koska se ei ollut minulle aitoa. Vaikutin ehkä aiemmin ulospäin huolettomammalta ja iloisemmalta kuin nyt, mutta tajusin leikkiväni ihmistä, joka ehkä toivoin olevani. Annettuani itselleni luvan olla oma itseni, perusvireeltäni ehkä hieman alakuloinen, melankolinen ja sarkastinen, moni ahdistus karisi pois. Pidän itsestäni enemmän, olen tyytyväisempi omissa nahoissani, anteeksiantavaisempi itselleni ja suvaitsevaisempi muita kohtaan. Ystävienikin mielestä olen aidompi, vaikka en enää rieku niin kuin ennen. Ja ystäväpiiriini kuuluu sekä niitä aina iloisia ekstrovertteja että pohdiskelevampia, totisempia introvertteja.

Minulla ei ole mitään alati positiivisesti ajattelevia vastaan, eivätkä he ärsytä minua (yleensä), mutta ehkä säälin heitä vähän. Varsinkin, jos he kirjoittajan tavoin pitävät vakavia ihmisiä tyhminä, sosiaalisesti lahjattomina ja moukkina. He jäävät paitsi siitä toisesta ihmisenä olemisen puolesta. Alakulossakin voi nimittäin olla kauneutta.

Melankolisuus ei ole kategorisesti pahasta, eikä se tarkoita sitä, ettei osaisi arvostaa elämän pieniä asioita. Maaliskuun ensimmäinen aurinkoinen aamu sykähdytti minua kovasti, mutta ei se saa minua tekemään voltteja. Se tuntui hyvältä rinnassa, ja muulla ei ole minulle merkitystä. Ja nuppineulojen lailla naamaa piiskaava räntäsade vituttaa. Se on minun aito tunteeni, eikä sillä ole mitään tekemistä pessimismin kanssa.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Nyrkki voita ja... kana uuniin

Suomen television ruokaohjelmatarjontaan pettyneenä palasin Englannin vastaavaan ja katselin muutaman jakson Jamie Oliverin 30 minuutin aterioita. Kirjasin reseptivihkoon monta ruokaohjetta ja useita niistä on jo kokeiltukin. 30 minuuttiin on tosin meidän tavallisten kuolevaisten turha tähdätä... Tänä viikonloppuna testattiin Jamien piri piri -kana. Sen jälkiruoaksi tein omena-calvadostorttua, johon sain reseptin vuosia sitten entiseltä työtoveriltani Pirjolta. Jälkikäteen on todettava, että voita kului aika reippaasti, mutta makukin oli sen mukainen!

Jamie käytti kanan reisipaloja, joita valitettavasti ei Suomessa ole juurikaan saatavilla. Luullista lihaa piti kuitenkin olla, joten käytin koipi-reisiä ja pidensin hieman uunikypsennysaikaa. Pannupaiston tarkoitus on paitsi lyhentää uuniaikaa myös luoda ihana, rapea nahka.

Alla oleva resepti on ohjelmaa katsoessa havaintojen perusteella ylös kirjoitettu, mutta on mainittava, että Jamien kastikesatsi oli tuplattava, jotta se peitti uunivuoan pohjan. Tässä siis valmiiksi tupla-annos. Savustettua paprikajauhetta on Suomesta vaikea löytää, joten tavallista, vahvaa paprikaa voi käyttää. Halutessaan voi lisätä vaikkapa jotakin savuaromista chipotlekastiketta joukkoon.

Lisäkkeeksi tein niin ikään Jamien ohjeella murskattua bataattia ja perunaa, jotka maustetaan fetamurulla, tuoreella korianterilla ja oliiviöljyllä.

Jamien piri piri -kanaa

nahallisia kananreisiä tai koipi-reisiä (koipi-reisiä 2-3, mutta kastikemäärä riittää 4-5:llekin)
tuoretta chiliä (lajikkeesta ja vahvuudesta riippuen 1-4 kpl)
2 punasipulia
sitruunan kuori ja mehu (näillä tulee melko vahva sitruunan maku, joten jos et ole suuri sittisfani, vähän vähempikin riittää)
4 valkosipulinkynttä
4 rkl punaviinietikkaa
6-8 rkl oliiviöljyä
2 tl (savu)paprikajauhetta
pari kourallista basilikanlehtiä
tuoretta timjamia (ja rosmariinia)
voita (tai öljyä) paistamiseen

Ota kana huoneenlämpöön vähintään 30 minuuttia ennen paistoa. Viillä nahkaan muutama viilto. Kuumenna pannulla voita (tai halutessasi öljyä) ja nosta kanat nahkapuoli alaspäin pannulle. Ripottele lihapuolelle suolaa ja mustapippuria. Voit käyttää useampaa pannua, jotta saat paistettua kanat kerralla tai vaihtoehtoisesti paistaa useammassa erässä. Paista n. 7 minuuttia.

Tällä välin voit valmistaa kastikkeen. Pilko tuoreita chilejä hieman pienemmiksi paloiksi (siemeniä ei tarvitse poistaa), kuori sipulit ja pilko nekin muutamaan osaan. Tee samoin valkosipulille. Pane chili-, sipuli- ja valkosipulipalat blenderiin ja lisää raastettu sitruunankuori sekä sitruunanmehu, basilikanlehdet, paprikajauhe, loraus Worchestershire-kastiketta, etikka, oliiviöljy sekä ripaus suolaa ja pippuria ja loraus vettä. Käytä blenderiä kunnes ainekset ovat hienontuneet – kastikkeen ei tarvitse olla aivan nestemäistä. Lisää tarvittaessa vettä, jotta saat koostumuksesta juoksevampaa.

Kun kanat ovat paistuneet nahkapuolelta n. 7 minuuttia, käännä ne ja paista lihapuolelta n. 5 minuuttia. Kaada kastike uunivuokaan, johon kanat juuri ja juuri mahtuvat. Nosta paistetut koivet kastikkeen päälle lihapuoli alaspäin. Pirskottele timjamin- ja rosmariininoksien päälle oliiviöljyä ja asettele ne kanojen päälle. Öljy ei ole pelkkää hifistelyä: se estää yrttejä palamasta uunissa. Nosta vuoka 200-asteiseen uuniin n. 10 minuutiksi. Jos kanat eivät vielä sen jälkeen ole täysin kypsiä, jatka kypsentämistä tarvittavan ajan.

Bataatti-perunalisäke (kahdelle)

2 perunaa
kourallinen tuoretta korianteria

Kuori bataatti ja perunat ja pilko ne n. 2 cm x 2 cm -kokoisiksi paloiksi. Pane ne kattilaan veteen, lisää ripaus suolaa ja keitä kypsiksi. Siivilöi vesi pois ja survo kuutiot haarukalla tai perunasurvimella murskaksi. Tästä ei siis ole tarkoitus tulla hienoa sosetta, summittainen survominen riittää. Levitä bataatti-perunamurska kuumalla vedellä lämmitetylle tarjoiluvadille, murenna päälle feta ja ripottele silputtu korianteri. Ripottele vielä (sormi)suolaa, rouhi mustapippuria ja pirskottele oliiviöljyä. Halutessasi voit viipaloida päälle hieman tuoretta chiliä koristeeksi, jos sitä on jäänyt yli kanasta.

Sitten vain koko komeus ääntä kohti! Sivussa kannattaa tarjota myös tuoretta leipää, jolla on mukava mopata ihana chilikastike lautaselta.


Jälkiruokaomenatortun ohjeen sain muinoin työkaveriltani, joka oli hurahtanut kaikkeen ranskalaiseen. Siinä on muutama työvaihe, mutta ne kannattavat! Esivalmistelut voi sitä paitsi tehdä hyvissä ajoin etukäteen. Käytin tällä kertaa ihania, kotimaisia Samo-omenoita, mutta jos suomalaista ei ole tarjolla, Granny Smith käy mainiosti. Olen muuten pari kertaa calvadoksen korvannut Jallulla ja hyvä tuli siitäkin. :)

Tarte aux pommes flambées au Calvados

1 dl calvadosta
6-8 hapahkoa omenaa
1 dl sokeria
75 g voita

100 g voita
2,5 dl vehnäjauhoja
3 rkl sokeria
0,5 tl suolaa
1-2 rkl vettä

Kuori ja lohko omenat, pane ne kulhoon ja kaada päälle calvados. Marinoi omenoita 1-3 tuntia, välillä kulhoa hölskytellen.

Nypi voi ja vehnäjauho yhteen, lisää sokeri, suola ja vesi ja työstä taikinaksi. Kääri taikina tuorekelmuun ja pane jääkaappiin noin tunniksi.

Kun olet valmis kokoamaan tortun ja panemaan sen uuniin, nostele omenalohkot piirakkavuokaan (älä pane vuokaan marinointinestettä). Ruskista sokeria ja voita kasarissa tai pannulla, kunnes ne muodostavat kinuskin ja kaada se omenoiden päälle. Kauli taikina ja nosta se vuokaan omenoiden ja kinuskin päälle siten, että se peittää omenat kokonaan. Pistele haarukalla ja paista uunin alimmalla ritilätasolla 200 asteessa n. 50 minuuttia.

Tarjoile calvadoksella maustetun, löysäksi vaahdotetun kerman kanssa. Sitten voikin siirtyä vatsan viereen makaamaan...

Monday 15 September 2014


Illan päätähdet.
Rapukausi on käynnissä, ja osakseni lankesi viime viikonloppuisten rapukemujen alkupalasta vastaaminen. Purppurainen, supisuomalainen punajuuri on parasta syysruokaa, ja mieleni teki yhdistää siihen totutumman vuohenjuuston sijasta sinihomejuusto. Kun sopivaa reseptiä ei löytynyt, kehittelin sellaisen itse. Testaamattoman ruoan toisille tarjoaminenhan on kardinaalimoka, johon syyllistyin siis nyt minäkin (enkä ensimmäistä kertaa). Testiraadin kommenttien ja omien havaintojeni perusteella reseptiin tulikin nyt pientä hienosäätöä.

En ole koskaan ollut mikään taikinataikuri* ja mielestäni erityisesti kaupan suolaisen piirakan taikinoissa on erinomainen hinta/laatu/vaiva-suhde. Päätin nyt kuitenkin tehdä kaiken niin sanotusti skrätsistä ja tein taikinan nyppimällä yhteen vehnä- ja ruisjauhoja sekä voita ja esipaistamalla sitä n. 20 minuuttia. Pohjasta tuli hieman paksun oloinen ja siksi kuivahko, joten ensi kerralla luottanen itse valmiiseen. Alla kuitenkin myös taikinan resepti.

Punajuuret voi kypsentää itse uunissa paahtamalla tai keittämällä tai vaihtoehtoisesti voi käyttää kaupan vihanneshyllystä löytyviä, esikeitettyjä punajuuria. Uunikypsennys säilyttää paremmin punajuuren ravintoaineet ja mielestäni tiivistää maut mukavan paahteisiksi. Etikkapunajuuria en käyttäisi, sillä vaikka etikkaiset maut minullekin maistuvat, tähän piiraaseen sellainen hapokkuus ei sovi. Hapokkuutta haetaan sen sijaan purjosta ja crème fraîchesta.

Sinihomejuuston valinnassa voi kukin mennä omaan kaupunkiinsa, mutta suosittelisin suolaisempia vaihtoehtoja makeahkojen sijaan, sillä makea punajuuri kaipaa kaverikseen suolaisuutta. Suomalaisten tuttu kaveri Aura on tähän oikein passeli ja sitä saa kätevästi valmiina murunakin.

Tein ensimmäisen version 23-senttiseen irtopohjavuokaan, johon taikina-annos oli vähän liiankin suuri, mutta toisaalta korkeat reunat olivat hyvät, sillä täytekerros oli melkoisen muhkea.


5,5 dl jauhoja (esim. 4 dl vehnäjauhoja ja 1,5 dl ruisjauhoja)
140 g kylmää voita kuutioiksi leikattuna
1 tl suolaa
3-5 rkl kylmää vettä

4-5 punajuurta
1-2 purjo (koosta riippuen korjattuun versioon laittaisin kaksi, sillä purjo kutistuu haudutettaessa aika paljon)
150-200 g sinihomejuustoa (ekassa versiossa oli 150 grammaa, mutta osa testiyleisöstä – minä itse mukaan lukien – oli sitä mieltä, että enemmänkin saisi olla)
200 g crème fraîchea
loraus kermaa, ruokakermaa tai maitoa crème fraîchen notkistamiseen
2 munaa

Siivilöi suureen kulhoon jauhot ja lisää suola. Nypi jauhoihin kylmä voi, kunnes rakenne muistuttaa korppujauhoja. Lisää mahdollisimman kylmää vettä vähän kerrallaan, kunnes taikina pysyy juuri ja juuri kasassa. Kääri taikina tiiviisti tuorekelmuun ja pane jääkaappiin noin puoleksi tunniksi.

Ota taikina kaapista ja kauli se jauhotetulla alustalla ohuehkoksi levyksi. Nosta se voideltuun piirakkataikinaan tai irtopohjavuokaan ja painele vuoan reunoille. Leikkaa leivinpaperista vuoan pohjan kokoinen pala, pane se piiraspohjan päälle ja sen päälle paistoherneitä tai jokin uuninkestävä astia painoksi. Esipaista pohjaa 200 asteessa n. 15-20 minuuttia. Ota sitten paino ja paperi pois ja paista vielä viitisen minuuttia.

Pese punajuuret tarvittaessa ja pane 175-asteisen uuniin uunipelille. Punajuurien koosta riippuen kypsyminen kestää 1-2 tuntia. Omani olivat hieman tennispalloa pienempiä ja niiden kypsyminen kesti n. 1,5 tuntia. Nosta kypsät punajuuret kulhoon ja peitä tuorekelmulla. Anna jäähtyä noin kymmenen minuutin ajan. Kuori punajuuret** ja viipaloi ne ohuiksi kiekoiksi. Laita syrjään.

Ihanat purjot.
Huuhtele purjo ja viipaloi se kiekoiksi. Kuumenna oliiviöljyä paistinpannulla keskilämmöllä ja kuullota purjoja, kunnes ne ovat pehmenneet ja muuttuneet osin läpikuultaviksi. Huom: älä anna niiden ruskistua! Ole kärsivällinen: lopputulos on ihanan makeaa purjoa, joka sulaa suussa.

Nyt voit kasata piiraan! Lado pohjalle kerros punajuuriviipaleita hieman limittäin. Päällystä punajuuret sitten ihanalla purjolla. Ripottele purjon päälle puolet sinihomejuustosta. Voit käyttää joko valmista juustomurua tai murentaa itse palasta. Lado juuston päälle toinen kerros punajuuriviipaleita ja sitten loput homejuustomuruista. Rouhi pinnalle hieman mustapippuria. Tai siis paljon.

Suoraan uunista.
Sekoita crème fraîcheen munat ja tarvittaessa loraus kerma/ruokakermaa/maitoa/soijakorviketta, ripauta hieman suolaa (muista, että homejuusto on hyvin suolaista) ja (paljon) mustapippuria. Kaada crème fraîche -seos täytteen päälle tasaisesti. Paista piirasta 175-200 asteessa 30-40 minuuttia, eli kunnes pinta saa hieman väriä.

Tarjoa vaikka rucolavuoren kera!

Rucolavuoren alle voi kätevästi piilottaa myös ruman pinnan,
mikä ei tietenkään tässä tapauksessa ollut tarpeen.

* Lukuun ottamatta karjalanpiirakkataikinaa ja paria luottosämpylätaikinaani.

** Top tip: Punajuuret ovat punaisia ja haluavat myös värjätä sinut. Jos sormenpäiden värjääntyminen ei haittaa, anna palaa, jos haluat välttyä siltä, käytä suojakäsineitä.