Pullat, not pancakes…

ImageI know. I KNOW. It’s been nearly ten months since I last blogged. What can I say? Life sort of got in the way for a bit, with a new house, new job, holidays and all sorts of other bits and pieces. But here I am, back again, and I’m going to attempt to stick around!

It being Shrove Tuesday today, it’d be traditional to make pancakes. But a couple of friends of mine had a pancake party, so I’m a bit pancaked out (I didn’t believe that was possible, but there you go!) Then a post from Scandi Home popped up on my blog reader, and I decided to have a go at the laskiaispullat – Finnish Shrove Tuesday buns – mentioned in the post. My sister (who’s still living in Finland) was very impressed when I told her I was making them!

The recipe is really easy, using baking powder as a straightforward raising agent rather than fiddling about with yeast, and they’re packed with cardamom which is a really traditional Finnish flavour. I made mine in a silicone muffin tin and got six buns out of the batter. They puffed up like muffins, and they have a muffin-like texture too. I had mine with some caramel apple jam – although I think they’re usually served with jam or marzipan and whipped cream.

ImageThey were absolutely delicious – and yes, that is a Moomin mug with coffee in the background! You can’t get more Nordic than that.

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Veg Box Day: 08/01/13

The first veg box of 2013! I hadn’t had one delivered for ages, because of being away over Christmas, so it’s nice to have fresh veg in the house again. This week I got the usual potatoes, carrots and onions, plus a yellow pepper, some vine tomatoes, a cucumber (I was meant to have lettuce but they replaced it with the cucumber – Hendrick’s o’clock, anyone?) and just about the biggest swede I have ever seen in my life.

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I haven’t made anything with my veg yet, but I have a feeling I might have to evoke the spirit of Christmas once more and make one of the dishes that graced our Finnish Christmas table on Christmas Eve. It’s a spiced swede casserole topped with breadcrumbs, and it’s delicious. On Christmas Eve it’s served with the traditional baked ham and potatoes and various other bits and pieces, but I’m sure it’ll make a comforting veggie meal all by itself.

Finnish swede casserole

1 large swede
1 cup cream (or a mixture of cream and milk)
1/2 cup wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons dark syrup (we used a mixture of golden syrup and treacle)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Peel the swede and chop into large chunks. Boil in slightly salted water until soft.
2. Strain and mash or blend until smooth. Mix in the cream and breadcrumbs (reserving some for the top), dark syrup, beaten egg and spices to give a soft consistency.
3. Turn into a greased baking dish, press the surface with a fork to make a pattern and sprinkle the surface with a coating of breadcrumbs. Dot the top with butter and bake at 180C for about 60-90 minutes.

Finland Finland Finland!

I’m back from a fab five-day trip to Finland to visit my sister and her chap. It was great! I’d been to Helsinki twice before, but only ever in the winter, and they now live in Turku so there were all sorts of new things to explore.

My sister and I started off with lunch in Helsinki on Thursday before getting the train to Turku, which only takes a couple of hours, and then we all went out for dinner to a really lovely restaurant on a boat. All the food was local and seasonal and there were lots of traditional Finnish flavours – I had smoked salmon with beetroot mousse, white fish with tiger prawns and chive mash, and then the most amazing sea buckthorn pannacotta with spruce syrup and caramelised bananas. It was fab – I’m going to do a whole post on food later! We also had a few drinks in various bars around the town…and found the brilliant cow sculpture I’ve posted up there! Although we’re a bit past Midsummer now, the evenings were still really light – this is midnight:

On Friday Suze and I had a potter around Turku – there’s an amazing fruit and veg market in the summer, and an indoor market hall with yet more stalls selling just about everything you can think of. And we saw the building where they make the Declaration of Christmas Peace every Christmas Eve!

Then we went to a little country cottage on one of the islands of the archipelago near Turku, and the weather was amazing. We sat out in the sun watching the boats go past on the Baltic sea, we had a huge barbecue, and I went in the sauna!

And then on Saturday we went to another island and another country house, owned by my sister’s boyfriend’s parents. We went out on a boat trip around the islands, had another sauna, and ate a ton of gorgeous food. Lots of salmon and new potatoes and dill – fantastic!

It was a seriously brilliant little holiday and I loved exploring a bit more of Finland and seeing how gorgeously green it is in the summer!

Runebergintorttu…

February 5th is Runeberg’s Day in Finland, which celebrates the birthday of poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. He’s Finland’s national poet, and it just so happens that he used to live in a house on the site of the very building where my sister now lives! So we just had to indulge in some of the special cakes that are sold to commemorate his day. They’re little sponge cakes (this one had nuts in it, but I also had one with no nuts, and others are flavoured with cardamom or soaked in alcohol) with jam and icing on top, and they’re yummy!