If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R Tolkien

25 August 2010

Where did the summer go?

My last post was about spring and now it's the end of August already, with some clear signs of the inevitable autumn. So where have I been all summer? Mostly working, and with the HOT HOT summer here in Helsinki I have been mostly eating salads and sandwiches, not really very interesting to blog about.

We did manage to have a week off, spending it in England, eating for the best part of the time. It was partly inspirational, partly nostalgic, mostly unhealthy, but definately cheaper than in Finland! What follows in this post is a photographic diary of what we ate... well, not nearly ALL that we sampled, but consider it as The Best Of.

Highlight of our culinary adventures was our lunch at Arbutus in Soho, London, where we had four courses with wine and also got the cookbook. Everything was delicious or at least interesting, and service was truly attentive and friendly. Up there in our top 5 dining experiences, for sure.

Arbutus from the outside

My starter of Squid and mackerel burger with razor clam. Went down beautifully with a caraf of Chablis!

Andy's starter of Braised pig's head with potato puree and ravioli of caramelised onions. He enjoyed it! Our waiter suggested a full bodied red from Douro, the port wine region in Portugal, which was full of fruit and tasty indeed.

Andy's main was offalish too; Pied et paquets - Lambs' tripe parcels and trotters, served by three waiters, it was quite spectacular and interesting.

My main course of Line caught Plaice, wild mushrooms and Swiss chard. Full of flavour!

On the left Livarot, on the right Sainte-Maure, with a glass of 1991 vintage Port and a sweet red from Barbera, Italy

Have to have chocolate! This was a Cold chocolate fondant, chocolate wafer and salted caramel ice cream... Heavenly!

Suberb smoothies from Joe & The Juice near Oxford Circus. Just what you need on a break from some serious shopping!

Lunch at a Thai restaurant in Beverley. This is squid in a garlicy sauce, which was nice but not perfect... Squid is tricky!

Just had to add this picture of a comedy carrot from my friend's garden! The rabbit got to eat it though, not me.

Bramble picking. YUM!

Steak and Ale Pie at Green Dragon pub in Beverley. So very British.

Prawn cocktail - a classic! At Green Dragon, Beverley

11 May 2010


Springy foods part two:

Asparagus, New potatoes, Zucchini, Poached egg and Home-made Mayo

First, the asparagus needs to be prepared. We cooked this already about a month ago so the asparagus wasn't as good as it is now in the shops. Hence they were a bit woody and needed trimming quite a lot. First I snapped the ends off and then peeled the skins of the asparagus.
Green asparagus doesn't need to be cooked too long, or it looses it's freshness. 3 minutes or so, depending on size.

New potatoes were boiled, and zucchini was lightly pan fried. Eggs were poached in hot water with vinegar for about three minutes to keep them runny in the middle.

This was my first time making mayonnaise from scratch and it turned out beautiful. I used about three egg yolks, started whisking them and then slowly added rapeseed oil to the eggs. Once the mix started to turn white from yellow I added some mustard (dijon is best but I used Finnish Turun sinappi ), white wine vinegar and seasoning.

Then all this was piled on the plate and I can tell you it was divine! We sipped some Anna de Codorniu cava that matched the flavours quite nicely I think.

We have some more asparagus in the fridge so maybe there will be an another asparagus posting coming up soon... Any good recipe ideas?

20 April 2010

Sunny spring, sunny food

So the long winter is finally over here in Helsinki, only some small piles of snow are left and today I saw my first flowers of the spring. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that summer is just behind the corner, with t-shirts, freckles, long long light nights, flip flops, festivals and of course the food. Fresh peas on the pod from the market, ice cream cones (too many of them in my case...), strawberries that taste like strawberries, barbeques, and anything fresh and light. Maybe a glass of something cold every now and then on the terrace. Bring it on already!

After a German lesson and swimming today I felt like having a treat of something fresh but filling. So, I whizzed up these wraps with garlic cream cheese, pan fried zucchini and pepper (with shallot, garlic and chili), avocado, lettuce and surimi (fake crab). And it was like spring on a plate!

09 March 2010

Fish, my favourite dish - should I eat or should I not?

While I have been well aware about overfishing and problems related, I was still shocked when I watched The End of The Line - Imagine a World Without Fish documentary on tv tonight. In a nutshell, if we keep fishing and consuming fish in the present way, the seas will run out of wild fish by 2050. Now, that's soon to me.

As a foodie, fish has been my favourite food for the past five years. I love seafood of all kinds, tuna, salmon, swordfish, fish and chips, mussels and prawns. I choose not to eat meat because I don't approve of the mass producing industry. How have I been able to close my eyes from the fishing industry? It was a selfish deed to start eating fish again - it is healthy for me.

The film really stopped me, and made me rethink what I buy. I've known to avoid cod, since it's nearly disappeared from the seas already. But I didn't know about bluefin tuna being overfished so badly. What is in those tins of tuna I buy? I avoid the cheapest stuff - they taste bad, and it's pretty obvious they can't be sustainable.

Also what is happening is that the big food producers are fishing in the seas of the developing countries - hence taking away the resources from the local fishermen and endagering their livelihood. Just so we westerners can get our food cheap as hell.

You'd think it's safe to eat farmed fish. Whaa whaa, incorrect! What do farmed fish eat? Wild fish, small white fish. A staggering amount of the caught wild fish is actually eaten by fish, not people. Problem is, we will fish away all the wild fish so it will be impossible to farm more fish. One solution given in the film was to eat small fish - anchovies, mackerel and herring. Lucky for us in Finland, herring comes in various forms, and Andy is definately doing his bit with the anchovies - he loves that stuff.

I am determined to change my ways and really pay attention to what I buy. I hope more people will do as well, since according to the program, there is still hope and we can affect the future of the seas. I am feeling quite emotional at the moment about this but I am happy that I have opened my eyes. How much attention do you pay to the fish that you buy?

Visit the website here , watch the movie. Think about it, and do what you can. Discussion please!

03 March 2010

I spy with my little eye...

Thai Fishcakes

...some recipes with spices that just need blogging!

Have been occupied with studies, work, cold (weatherwise and healthwise) and just an all round lack of motivation. Tonight's meal will not be blogged, ever ; it was a very politically incorrect pizza made from a base of a Mexican tortilla. Have to say it was deliciously thin and crispy without a trace of sogginess, for once being able to not go overboard with the toppings, opting for a simple margherita. But I just could not face any Italian reading about a tortilla pizza. Although I do have an Italian friend who tells me it's ok to have french fries on pizza... Hmmm.

While eating the horrendously delicious cheesy pizza I enjoyed watching Julie and Julia, which all the other food bloggers have all most likely gone to see in the cinema ages ago. I loved the characters and the two stories intertwining, and really it was a nice movie to watch after a day of writing uni reports in a cold. A feel good movie. Also inspiring if you're writing a blog and have kind of forgotten to post anything for a while. Naturally I share many of the feelings of Julie about blogging but I have very different aspirations from those of hers regarding to blogging. The movie is based on a true story a few years back from now, and five years ago food blogging was still a new thing. Getting people to read your blog was probably a lot easier. I definately feel like a drop in the ocean and feel like no-one is reading this. Feel free to introduce yourself if you are!

To the recipes, then. I have a couple of dishes that Andy cooked a couple of weeks ago. It seems that recently I haven't really been cooking much, it has mostly been Andy. He cooks better, I write better, so I guess it kind of works. Although he cooks better than I write, I guess.
Both recipes have spices so if you have a cold like we do, these will open up your sinuses for sure.

Thai Fishcakes
Recipe from Olive magazine, February 2010. Original recipe used prawns but we had some bland frozen white fish lying around so used that. Swap for something else if you like!

Serves two

Ginger, 1 tsp, finely grated
Fresh Coriander, handfull, chopped
Shallot,1, finely sliced
Red chilli,1, seeded and diced
White fish, 400g
Lime, zested
Fish sauce, 1 tbsp

Put ginger, coriander, chilli and shallot in a food processor and blend until fine. Add rest of the ingredients and mix until chunky. Season with black pepper and form into six flat cakes. Place on baking paper, brush both sides with a little bit of vegetable oil. Grill in the oven at 200 degrees for 3 minutes on each side.

Serve with a salad, rice or noodles if you like. We also had a way too hot chilli sauce, won't be posting that!

Pineapple with Star Anise and Cinnamon Caramel a la Andy

Brown granulated sugar, 100 g
Pineapple, fresh or tinned, in slices, 200g
Star anise, 2
Ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp
Unsalted butter, 20 g
Dark rum, to taste... depends how much you like alcohol. We had 5 cl or so.

Vanilla ice cream to serve

Make the caramel by putting sugar in a frying pan on high heat. Don't stir. When it gets to a light caramel colour, add the spices and the pineapple. Once the caramel is darker and coats the pineapple, add the butter. Once butter is melted, add the rum and cook for a minute or so until the alcohol of the rum has evaporated. Serve with your favourite vanilla ice cream!

15 February 2010

Finnish Food Icon : Laskiaispulla

Yesterday was Valentine's Day as everyone on this planet probably knows, but this year in Finland the winter festival of Laskiainen or Shrove Sunday fell on the same date. Both are celebrated, but I think Laskiainen is still more popular in Finland, and not least for the Finnish food icon I'm about to introduce. In a nutshell Laskiainen is an orthodox celebration before the lent season, and the idea is to eat lots of fat and sugar before the lent. In the UK it is known as the Pancake day, but the pancakes were far less visible in my opinion when I was living in the UK for three years. Laskiaispullat or Shrove buns are everywhere in Finland around this time of the year!

Laskiainen has been around since the 1800s, and was a joyful peasant holiday involving sledding down the snowy hills and making wishes for a good crops in the coming year. Sledding is still
very much involved in the celebration of Laskiainen, after all it is only healthy to burn off those bun calories somehow. I have to confess I haven't yet been sledding this year, but I hope I'll get a chance to make it to the hills! The snow doesn't seem to be going nowhere so I'm really not worried.

Laskiaispulla is basically a sweet bun, cut in half and filled with either jam or almond paste, but always with whipped cream. A heavenly creation combining all things bad for you, but oh still so good. Best enjoyed with a class of cold milk or alternatively with hot chocolate to bring the sweetness of the treat to a whole new level. Another traditional Shrove delicacy is pea and ham soup but I am saving that for Shrove Tuesday.

I got the recipe from Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki newspaper) Food section, and it worked well for me. I just swapped the regular jam to a sugar free puree of strawberries and wild raspb
erries that I had available in my freezer. I know, it still doesn't make them one bit healthy but every little helps, right?


Makes 16 buns
2,5 dl Milk
25 g Fresh Yeast
100 g Butter
1 Egg
1 tsp Cardamom
1 dl sugar

7 dl All-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

To top:
1 egg
Flaked almond or sugar drops

Jam (or berry puree!)

Almond paste
Whipped cream

Warm the milk to body temperature, combine with fresh yeast.
Add egg, sugar, cardamom and salt. Start adding flour with a whisk, and when the dough thickens, knead with hands. Add the butter, which should be softened to room temperature.
Knead the dough until it's even and springy and comes off the bowl easily.

Allow to rise in a warm place for around 40 mins. - I have learned from my mother to fill the kitchen sink with warm water and place the bowl with the dough in the sink to rise. Works!

Once risen, tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead the air off. Form a long "sausage" (lol) shapeand cut into 16 pieces. Make little buns and place on baking paper on an oven tray. Let rise for another 30 mins under a tea towel in a warm place.

Break the egg in a small bowl and brush over the buns. Top with flaked almond or sugar drops. Bake in 225 degrees for 10- 15 minutes. Once ready and cooled, cut in half and fill with jam/ almond
paste and whipped cream and put the top back on. Then have a bun party and go sledding or skiing!

10 February 2010

Soup and Bread

As any self respecting foodie would, we too do collect many cook books and food magazines to fill our bookselves. However, we have a bad habit of just looking through them and not actually using any of the recipes - this could be called food porn I guess...
But since one of the main resons we started this blog for was trying more new things, I have systematically started marking the recipes that I would like to give a go. We wouldn't really need any new magazines or cook books for a year, that's how little we've been using the ones that we already have!

We really enjoy the UK food mag Olive, which fortunately is also sold in many shops in Helsinki. It has beautiful and inspiring photography, a variety of recipes from really easy to professional and a great travel section, to mention a few good reasons to keep buying it. A foodie's must-read I think! Both of the recipes today are from Olive's February issue 2009.

Celeriac and Pear Soup
A lesson learned with this recipe; always check how many it serves. This recipe is for 6, and as Andy does not much like to eat soup, I will most likely be slurping this for days unless I freeze some. Nevermind, it is delicious! I'd never used fruit in a soup and the pear and celeriac were a great combination. A little bit sweet, but the ginger balanced it nicely. A good winter day soup!

Olive oil, 1 tbsp
Shallots, 4, finely sliced
Garlic, 2 cloves, chopped
Ginger, to taste, finely chopped
Celeriac, 1, peeled and roughly chopped
Pears, 4, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
Veg stock, 1 litre
Parsley, chopped for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add shallots, garlic and ginger and cook over medium heat for about 5 min or until softened but not coloured.
Add cleriac, pears and stock, bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the celeriac has softened.
Whiz and blitz in your chosen method until smooth, sieve if you like it really smooooth. Season and serve with parsley and your homemade bread!


Quick Carrot and Walnut Bread

This was super easy as well as super tasty, reminding me of something I know as "tea bread" that all Finnish kids learn to make in domestic cooking classes at school.

Plain flour, 350 g
Wholemeal flour, 150 g
Salt, 1 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda, 2 tsp
Carrots, 150g, peeled and grated
Walnut pieces, a handful
Greek yoghurt, 300 ml
Milk, 125 ml

Heat oven to 230C/fan 210. Mix flours, salt and bicarb, stir in carrot, walnuts and yoghurt, then add enough milk to make a soft, sticky dough. Tip onto a floured surface and form a flat ball, but on a baking sheet, slash the top and bake for 30 mins until risen and cooked.

The Fifth Taste

I think we should talk about some current issues in food on the blog and not just recipes. Today I found something that made me laugh. I happened to bump into an interesting piece of news on Yahoo pages; at Waitrose in the UK they are apparantly going to be selling a product called The Fifth Taste, basically Umami flavour in a tube. Umami refers to the savoury taste in meat, cheese and mushrooms.
This paste is made from umami-rich ingredients such as tomato, parmesan and mushrooms.

Picture from Yahoo News

I personally think it sounds really weird but if I have a chance I think I would like to try it just for a laugh, and because I'm not 100% sure what the umami flavour really is. I doubt that it will hit the supermarkets in Finland for a while though. What do you think? Would you ever try it?

09 February 2010

Somewhere Over The Rainbow Trout

Today we had a lovely friend visiting us and we enjoyed a long long dinner of nibbles for a starter, Rainbow trout for a main and olive oil-chocolate fondants for dessert. We also played with my new Canon eos 450d camera and between courses we rocked some serious(ly scary) singstar. Who says Mondays are boring?

Nibbles consisted of olives, hoummus, macadamia nuts and crackers with G&T for aperitif.
I love hoummus and it's a piece of cake to make ; blitz together a tin of drained chickpeas, garlic (I had enough to make sure no vampires will ever approach Helsinki), juice of a lime or lemon, salt and olive oil. Too easy mate!
(You should also use tahini but we didn't have any. )

I also made a carrot and walnut loaf, which was also easy and very tasty indeed. Will post the recipe at some later point. Promise!

Rainbow trout was a bargain at the supermarket costing less than 5 euros for the whole bugger. Andy first washed the trout, then skilfully (ehem) filleted it and removed the bones. He placed the fish in an oven proof dish and rubbed home-made macadamia-pesto all over the two fillets. It was cooked in 200 degrees for around 15 minutes, until cooked. We served it with a rocket, tomato and onion salad.

Macadamia Pesto

1 dl Olive Oil
Two small handfull of Basil
One small handfull of Rocket
One small handfull of Parsley
1-2 Garlic cloves
Dozen whole Macadamias
2 tbsp Grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper

Blitz all ingredients to a paste in a blender.
Our choice of wine was Yalumba Viognier 2008 from Eden Valley in South Australia. Viognier is a great alternative to Chardonnay, the usual option for fatty fish. There was only subtle flavour of oak, with floral aromas and exotic fruit both on the nose and palate. It was quite full bodied but had enough acidity to balance the fattiness of the fish. A beautifully balanced and richly flavoured wine.

Dessert was divine, olive oil chocolate fondants served with rhubarb compote and Vanilla ice cream, but we'll save the recipe for that for later.

27 January 2010

Egg Fried Rice

Uni, working out, doing laundry, must cook something easy... but what? Left over rice from Sunday dinner (will be posted later!) found in the fridge, always have eggs and tofu. Egg fried rice! I can't believe I've never made this before, it's so easy and so yummy. Googled it and think I used a recipe from the BBC food pages as a guideline and then just threw in what we got. In a way I'm a rubbish person to be writing a food blog, because I have trouble following recipes - most of the time I make something easy. Just chuck in stuff from the cupboards that -hopefully- goes well together.

Egg Fried Rice
Serves 2

Sunflower/ ripeseed oil
Left over rice
Frozen peas
2 garlic sticks - normal garlic is fine too
1/2 tin of beansprouts
100 g tofu
1 egg, mixed in a glass with some oil
Red chilli paste
Soy sauce

Heat the oil in a wok pan. Add rice, stir fry until hot. Add garlic, beansprouts, peas and tofu. Stir fry for a few minutes. Season with soy sauce, chilli and pepper. Push the rice to one side of the pan and add the egg. Let the egg set for 10 seconds, then use a chopstick to scramble it. Mix with rice. Enjoy!!

19 January 2010

An Out-of-body-cheese-experience

Roquefort and Port, originally uploaded by Sari&Andy.

This time we didn't have time to wander further than our local supermarket and it was a challenge to find a quality blue cheese there, but luckily we picked a gem ; cheese of the week is the Societe des Caves Roquefort from Southern France. It is one of the most famous of blue cheese, and has been said to be possibly the yummiest moldy substance in the world. I find it hard to say, as there are so many yummy moldy things around!

Our book of fine cheese tells us that the origins of Roquefort supposedly lie with a lovesick shepherd who abandoned his picnic basket of bread and curdled ewe's milk at the mouth of a cave in the Causses to follow his loved one. When the lad returned a few days later the milk had turned into a mighty moldy cheese indeed!

Roquefort is still made from sheep's milk and mature
d in the Cambalou caves below the village of Roquefort-sul-Souzon. "Roquefort" made anywhere else from anything else in any other method is an impostor! I am thinking making a pilgrimage to thoses caves must go on our to-do-list...

As any cheese, it is always best to take it out of the fridge well in advance and let the aromas develop and the texture soften. Roquefort is dense, buttery and white with green-blue veins of mould in it. The taste is wonderfully salty, sweet and tangy, and it just melts in your mouth.

We enjoyed some Taylor's Late Vintage Bottled Port and fig jam with it, and I almous left my body and went to heaven. It was that good!

A word about Port! It is a sweet fortified wine made from grapes grown in the upper Douro in Portugal. It can be purple, ruby or tawny, depending on how it's been aged. The Taylor's LBV that we had is a small bottle and was reasonably priced at Alko. It is not the traditional style LBV so it doesn't require decanting, and it keeps for weeks after opening.

The flavour is full of rich ripe fruit flavours like plums ans cherries, with something spicy from the oak maturation. It is very sweet and therefore balances the tangy saltiness of blue cheese. Also an excellent match to chocolate! Try it yourself!

18 January 2010

Zucchini with Mushroom and Spinach, served with Tabbouleh

Yesterday we wanted to try something with mushrooms and Andy had zucchini in mind, finding his inspiration on Cook almost anything blog. We are both quite busy again with work and studying and so the most time we have for cooking is on Sundays. This was a tasty light Sunday dinner but we are looking forward to cooking a proper English Sunday lunch with Yorkshire Puddings soon...

Zucchini with Mushroom and Spinach, served with Tabbouleh

Serves 4, or 2 hungry ones...

2 Zucchinis, cut in half with seeds removed

10 Cap mushrooms, wiped and chopped small
Balsamic vinegar
Good bunch of fresh spinach, washed and chopped thinly
Bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil

Feta cheese, to taste
Parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Gently boil the zucchini until tender. Place in an oven proof dish.
Prepare the topping. Cook the onion and garlic in a pan with olive oil, add mushrooms.
Sautee until cooked, season with balsamic vinegar then add spinach, let it slig
htly wilt and finally add parsley.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill the zucchini with the mushroom mix and top with feta and/or parmesan.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the zucchini is throughly hot and the cheese is melted and golden.

Inspiration for Tabbouleh was found on Gordon Ramsay's Healthy cooking book, but I ended up pretty much doing it to the recipe on the Gogreen bulgur wheat box. A really good side dish and if there's any left, you can easily add tuna or tofu or something else to make it a filling salad on the next day.


Serves 4

1 1/2 dl Bulgur wheat

3 dl water
1 onion, chopped
250 g vine tomatos, chopped, with or without seeds
Bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh Mint, chopped - we couldn't get any!! Buu huu.
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil to taste
Salt and pepper

Cook bulgur wheat according to package instructions.
Chop the other ingredients and place in a bowl.
Add the bulgur once it's cooked. Season.
Easy peasy!

12 January 2010

Three times a brunch!

A lie in, slowly waking as the sun rises (10 am or so at the moment over here), making a cup of tea and maybe doing some excersice and then taking some time to fix a good meal to keep you going for the rest of the day. What's not to love?

First there is
the smoothie. So easy to make, so healthy. I just randomly pick stuff from the freezer - thanks to mum there are wild blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants in there. Then I add some liquid like juice (sugarfree cranberry, orange or apple is good) or milk, and some quark (light but high in protein) or natural yoghurt. In this one I also added some three-grain mix for extra fibres as well as some banana for a lovely smooth texture. Then I just blitz it all together until it's a good composition.

The Shakshuka a.k.a Shakshouka, shaqshuqa, chakchouka; is something we fell in love a couple of years ago in Thailand when we were staying at an Israeli guesthouse in Bangkok.

Quote from wikipedia tells us that it "is a North African dish consisting of poached or fried eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices (often including cumin, turmeric, and chillies), and usually served with pita bread.
The dish is now a staple in Israeli, Yemeni, Tunisian, Algerian, Somali and Moroccon cuisine.It is similar to the breakfast dish Huevos rancheros."

We make different versions according to what we have in our cupboards, this one had garlic, red onion, butter beans (left over from the previous night's dinner), chopped tomato, seasoning and three organic eggs from Lentävä lehmä at Hakaniemi food market.

All the ingredients are sauteed on a frying pan (oven proof) and then the eggs are broken in the middle. The pan is then placed in the oven(around 180 degrees celsius) until the eggs are cooked to your liking. We personally like 'em runny! We had some lovely 7-grain bread with it, but it's also great with pitta or othre kind of flatbread for dipping.

Last but not least there is the good old
Full English breakfast, but with a healthy twist. This is from the other day and I had two organic poached eggs, two slices of wholegrain toast, avocado, cottage cheese, grilled tomato and a tofu sausage. Served with green tea to make you think it's even healthier! Yum yum yum.

10 January 2010

Cheese, glorious cheese!

We have a problem with cheese. We love it, we love it too much. There have been times when it has been eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cheeseboards are nothing unusual in this household. And it really doesn't matter what cheese it is, blue, washed rind, goat's , cheap and plasticy, smoked or stinky, we'll have it. Even Cheeseaholics anonymous has come to mind...

But no, we will never ever in this world give up cheese, and why should we? Instead of munching down vasts amounts of any cheese, we have made a wow that we will visit Lentävä Lehmä in Hakaniemi food market, or another good cheese retailer, and try a new cheese once a week or so. We were inspired by the book "Fine cheese" by Leonie Glass, a recent Christmas present. There are so many cheeses we've never tried!

The idea is to try one or two cheeses, find out about them and in best case also find a matching wine.
So this week we already had a bottle of Sauvignon blanc, which we decided to find the cheeses to match. Obvious choice was to visit Lentävä lehmä (Flying cow) cheese shop in Hakaniemi food market. The lady behind the counter was very helpful once we described we we're looking for a goats cheese or brie for our wine. So here's what we got:

Crottin de Chavignol, Loire Valley, France
(On top in the picture)

As we were told by the nice cheese lady, this is the classic match for a Sauvignon blanc. It comes as a small cylinder without any wrapping, therefore we did not eat the rind of it. It is quite soft on the inside and has a strong aroma, similar to the "cat's piss" fragrance found in Sauvignon blanc. It is rich with 45% fat and has a strong nutty taste. The acidity in the wine cuts the fat well and balances the flavours.

Eco-Bio, Vall de Cati, Castellon, Spain
(At the bottom in the picture)

A much milder treat than the French one, this is a hard, white cheese in a thin grey-green mold casing. Deliciously salty and slightly acidic taste that went well with the wine. Reminded us a little bit of Tomme de chevre, but this is a lot saltier. It is made from organic goat's milk, which must be a good thing. A lovely little cheese indeed.

We enjoyed the cheeses with some dried figs and dates as well as some organic carrot crackers, also from Lentävä Lehmä. Already looking forward to our next cheese adventure!

Whole Roasted Bream with Lemon, Herbs and Fennel

On Saturday morning we took some shopping bags, hopped on the bus and headed to Hakaniemi Food Market .
It was very busy, as you would expect, since there aren't that many food markets in Helsinki, and so it is probably the best place to go to for all your top ingredients. The downstairs is dedicated to food and there you can for example find the fishmongers, butchers, delicatessens, cheese shops, bakeries, fruit and veg stalls and a fantastic soup kitchen. This place makes you wish you never had to shop at a super
market again. Upstairs you can find clothing, crafts and such. I especially like the Epäonnistunut tyttö (Failed girl) stall with quirky accesories.

So we had our minds set on preparing a whole fish for dinner but we we're open minded on the choice of the fish. Töölön Kala oy seemed to have the best choice on whole fish so we had a little chat with the jolly guys behind the counter and ended up catching a bream, scaled and gutted for us. The whole fish cost less than 5 euros so you can call it a bargain!

We also got a fantastic bread loaf from the bakery, some beans and fennel from the organic stall Satumarja, olives and artichoke from Maustekeidas and some cheese from the Lentävä Lehmä, but more about that later.

Olives, artichoke and bread for a starter

Whole Roasted Bream with Lemon, Herbs and Fennel, served with Butter Beans

We chose to use Bream for the dish because we hadn't used it before and also because it was very cheap at 7 euros per kilo. The taste of the fish was good but we did not realize that the fish is quite boney, with some y-shaped bones that are difficult to take off. Therefore we recommend some other fish for this recipe, such as rainbow trout or sea bass, if available.
Serves 2

Whole Bream or other suitable fish, ask your fishmonger to de-scale and gut the fish for you
Thyme, few sprigs
Cinnamon Basil, few sprigs
Zest and juice of one lemon
One clove of Garlic, finely chopped

Pinch of red chili paste
Fennel fronds
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, 5 tbsp

To stuff the fish
Half a fennel, sliced
Half a lemon, sliced

On the side
Butter beans, 400 g can

Zest and juice of half a lemon
One clove of garlic
Half a fresh red chili
Olive oil, 2 tbsp

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Wipe the fish, make five cuts on each side in the flesh. Place in an ovenproof dish.
Chop the herbs and mix all the other ingredients to make a paste. Rub the paste on the fish and stuff it with the lemon and fennel. Place in the middle of the hot oven and cook for around 20 minutes.

Drain and rinse the butter beans. Warm the oil in
a pan on medium heat. Cook chili and garlic from one to two minutes, without colouring the garlic. Add the beans, cook until hot. Add lemon juice and zest. Season to taste.
We also had some salad with romaine lettuce, fennel and sprout with our fish.

Wine Match
White-fleshed fish is quite mild , and when you serve it like this in herbs and a lot of lemon juice, an aromatic dry wine will complement it well. Sauvignon blanc is perfect with herbacious green aromas and acidity, that will match the flavours of the dish. Yet, it won't overpower the subtle taste of the fish.

Best examples of Sauvignon blanc come from Malborough in New Zealand and Sancerre in France. Those can be a bit pricey though so we chose another Loire valley Sau
vignon from Touraine, from Alko for under ten euros. It proved to be a delicious match with our fish!

08 January 2010

Spicy Shepardess Pie

Friday night, and time for some serious comfort food!
This is a veggie version of the British dish Shepherd's pie, which normally has minced lamb in it. I saw a recipe of the meaty version on Maku magazine's Kevät 2/09 issue and was inspired to make it, maybe for the first time actually. I made up this slighty spicy version, perfect for the -21 degrees weather we're having over here at the moment. For the vegetarians this is an excellent filling and protein rich meal.

Spicy Shepardess Pie

4-5 Portions

For the mash:
Around 6 potatos

4 dl Vegetarian Soy Mince
Veg stock
1 Onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Carrot, grated
~100 g Frozen Sweetcorn or Peas
Teaspoon of minced red chilli paste (Rajah)
Teaspoon of Paprika powder
Worcestershire Sauce to taste- LOTS in mine!
Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Boil the potatos in salted water until cooked.
Mash and add cream, season to taste.
Prepare the soy mince according to the package instructions.
Heat some olive oil on a frying pan, cook the onion for a minute, then add garlic.
Add soy mince and some water if needed to prevent the mix from sticking to the pan.
Add carrot and sweetcorn/ peas.
Season with chilli paste, paprika powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
Pour the soy mince mix on the bottom of a baking dish. Spread the mash on top.
Add lavish amount of parmesan cheese.
Place in the middle of the oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I have decided to find a drink match to all of my recipes and since this dish is really a pub classic I recommend you wash it down with some dry apple cider or a thirst- quenching lager. Since we don't really have the proper equilavant of a British pub here in Helsinki, this home version will do just fine!

Edit. I forgot the chilli paste earlier! Very important ingredient to make it spicy.

Gingery Broccoli and Spinach Soup with Pan-fried Tofu & Toasted Sunflower Seeds

First post of the blog! Finally!

We have been planning this blog for months, if not years, and here it is now.
You can expect to find a lot of vegetarian recipes as well as some fish dishes, as one of us doesn't eat meat at all.
I might also be a typical woman and have started another healthy life with the beginning of the year, so healthy, yet tasty food will most definately be displayed.

Our experience regarding cooking is that Andy is a professional chef of many years and Sari has been more in the serving food and eating lots of it-side of things.
We both like cooking at home and hopefully through this project we
both can try more new things and be inspired about home cooking a little more.
Sometimes when you work with food you can get bored with it. Believe it or not!

I (Sari) love taking photographs and am really looking forward to getting creative with the camera as well as my cooking. I have to admit the first photo didn't turn out great, but wait until we get some natural light in the apartment!

Ok, let's cut the crap and I'll get into my first recipe.

Gingery Broccoli and Spinach Soup
with Pan-fried Tofu & Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Serves 4

Half an onion
2 garlic cloves
5 dl vegetable stock
200 g fresh or frozen broccoli (I used frozen this time)
Good bunch of fresh spinach
teaspoon of ginger paste
cream (optional)

Tofu - I used Alpro soya herb flavored

Sunflower seeds

-Heat some olive oil in a sauce pan
-Sweat the onion in on medium heat until see-through
-Add garlic, cook for another minute or so, don't let it burn
-Add the stock, bring to boil
-Add broccoli, boil until tender
-Add Spinach and ginger, let spinach wilt and take off from heat
-Allow cool

-Heat a frying pan for the sunflower seeds
-Place the seeds in the pan and toast until light brown
-Add salt if desired

- Use the same pan for the tofu
- Wipe it clean, heat up some olive oil
- Squeeze excess liquid from the tofu and dice into desired size cubes
- Season with salt and pepper
- Pan-fry until golden brown

-Blitz the soup with a stick blender or in a mixer until smooth
-Bring to boil in a sauce pan, add cream if desired
-Serve the soup with the tofu and sunflower seeds sprinkled over