Tuesday, 23 September 2014

F for Finland

Dee:  “While looking for some suitable recipes to represent Finnish cuisine I found out that it had received a bad press from non-Finns who had sampled it.  England has a similar reputation, so I felt like this was something I wanted to make work.  I discovered a number of recipes which included reindeer meat but there was no way I’d have been able to get hold of any of that without putting a special order in, and its closest local alternative, venison, wasn’t readily available either, so I decided to go for the vegetarian option.  There must be vegetarians in Finland.  The dishes were simple to prepare and tasted great, so I’ll just disregard the nay-sayers.”

Finnish Flatbread
Dee:  “Although this bread has broadly the same ingredients as a soda bread, it is made differently and has a different taste and texture.  It is a dense bread, and the sugar really comes through in the flavour.  However, it is certainly a bread to have with savoury dishes, and proved ideal for soaking up the sauces and salad dressing.”

Korvasienimuhennos (Mushroom Stew)
Dee:  “I did a simplified version of the recipe above and had to use button mushrooms instead of morels.  Basically I fried up an onion until softened, then added a sliced garlic clove and continued to fry for about 30 seconds, then added the quartered mushrooms and cooked them until their juices evaporated.  I then let the mixture cool down a little before stirring in some sour cream and chopped dill, and finally seasoned it with salt and white pepper.”

Kaalilaatikko (Cabbage Box)
Dee:  “I left out the minced meat and used vegetable bouillon instead of beef stock in this recipe and it certainly didn’t suffer for it.  This was a simple dish but was remarkably tasty and filling.”

Rosolli (Beetroot Salad)
Dee:  “This is actually a Christmas dish but it sounded so good I didn’t want to miss out or wait until December to try it.  The dressing looked like it belonged on a cupcake but the mix of textures in the salad vegetables and the sourness of the dressing really worked well together.”

Omenapiirakka (Apple Tart)
Dee:  “The recipe that this is based on is actually for a rhubarb tart, but rhubarb is out of season at the moment.  It’s occasionally on sale in some of the supermarkets, but not this week, so I decided to go with apples instead.  No extra spices, just apples and sugar.  The recipe certainly didn’t suffer for it, and I loved the crumbliness of both the pastry base and the topping.  One of my favourite desserts so far.”

Soundtrack:  Tuomari Nurmio & Köyhien Ystävät – ‘Kohdusta hautaan’
Dee:  “I did a search for the best Finnish album of all time (up to the present day, of course), and this came out on top.  Before hearing it I read up a little on Finnish music and found out that there were several active music scenes including a number of styles of folk music, hip hop and heavy metal, so this album was always going to come as a surprise.  What it turned out to be was a collection of old time sounding Rock n Roll, Country and Western and Blues songs, all sung in Finnish.  The song writing and instrumentation were of a very high standard and the sound was polished and radio friendly.  There was an album made in England in 1990 by the Notting Hillbillies and it reminded me very much of that, though this album predates it by a good ten years.”

Next week:  G is for Georgia.

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