Strawberry Sunday tartelettes with almond pastry

Summer Sunday is definitely the day for sweet tarts or tartelettes. This time I tried also a new pastry where half of the flour is ground almond. The end results was lighter (not less butter though...) and literally melted in the mouth. Definitely to be done again.

These little pastrycups are also a perfect standby treat. Just keep them in an airtight box for a week or so, and take out whenever you feel like indulging...  This time we filled them with rhubard curd (no surprise there I suppose), whipped cream strawberries, blueberries and some grated chocolate.

Almond pastry for tartelettes

150g cold butter
150g ground almonds
2,5dl icing sugar
0,5tsp salt
1tsp vanilla sugar
4dl flour
2 eggs
2tbsp almond liqueur

Rub the other ingredients than eggs together to form a sandy mixture. Add eggs and liqueur and form the pastry. Put into a plastic (bag) and into the fridge until the next day.

Use silicon pastrycases (or butter the metal ones). Cut slices from the dough (2 mm thick) and cover with them the cases. Push with fingers to form an even coating.

Bake in 200 (celsius) degrees oven for 10-12min. Let cool.

Fill with rhubarb curd, cream and berries. Grate chocolate on top. Enjoy.


Macarons - Fourth time is the charm

I tried and tried, three times - first I did not have the equipment needed, then I did not whisk the egg whites long enough, then I whisked them too much... I felt I'll never get the macarons look as they should but did not give up. After all, they tasted good so nothing was wasted (not in our house with 3 boys that love anything sweet - not to mention the mum)

Fourth time did the charm - I had bought new batteries for my kitchen scale and paid attention to timing. This time they were just perfect, on my home standards anyway. Great way to use the rhubarb curd as well.


175g icing sugar
125g ground almond
3 big egg whites
75g sugar

Whizz the icing sugar and almond together. Whisk the egg whites with the sugar until peaks stay up - not too hard though. If you want to colour the mixture, this is the time.

Mix the almond to the meringue mixture untill you get it falling ribbonlike from your spatula.

Put the mixture into a piping bag with a nozzle 1cm round. Pipe small rounds on the baking paper you've put on top of a baking tray. Once finished, knock the baking tray against the table a couple of times to remove all possilbe air bubbles.

Let the macarons wait about 20-30min before putting them to the oven. They need to form a skin on the top.
Put to oven 150 degrees for 15min, until they are set hard on the top. Let cool.

Fill with the rhubarb curd.

The not so successful

Rhubarb curd - the best ever

I love lemon curd and I thought nothing could surpass it. I was wrong.

Early summer is the time for rhubarbs in Finland. Tarts, cakes, sauces all take a rhubarby vibe at some point. When I needed something to put in a cake and macarons rhubarb was the natural choice.

I'm happy I did it. There is a special tangyness in this curd. Sweet and tonguecurdling sharp at the same time. I takes all my self control not to take a spoon and...

Rhubarb curd

3 rhubarb stems peeled and chopped
1,5dl sugar (or the preservation sugar)
3 egg yolks
50g butter

Mix the rhubarb cubes and the sugat in a pot and heat it. Leave to bubble calmly for 15min or until the rhubarb has practically dissolved.

Whisk the egg yolks lightly in a bowl.  Pour gradually in the rhubarb whisking all the time. Put the mixture back to the pot and continue heating stirring continually.

When the mixture thickens, whisk the cold butter into it in cubes. Put in a clean jar and leave to cool.

Try not to eat all at once.


Fishy cakes

Cakes are easy to transport and easy to eat with fingers, thus being the ideal food for picnics. This cake is not sweet but brings the salty and sardiney (is there a word like that?) taste to the feast on the sand or wherever you've laid your blankets.

Of course, these an also be eaten in the house. Try crumbling into a glass and covering with some herby mayonnaise. Not bad at all.

Sardine cake

2 tins of sardine (oil and lemon sauce)
100g grated gruyère
a couple of handfuls of green pitted olives chopped
3 eggs
2,5dl flour
2tl baking powder  +  1tl baking soda
1 dl milk
3rkl chopped chives
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 175 C.
Pour the oil from the sardines to a cup. Chop the olives and sardines, grate the cheese.

Mix the eggs, flour, baking powder and baking sod. Pour in the oil of the sardines and the milk.
Mix the cheese and seasoning.
Add the sardines, chive and olives and mix well.

Pour into a bread tin and bake in the oven for 45min. Let the cake cool before taking it out of the tin.


Not so good a blogger but a tasty salad

A year without posting in English - not so good...

Let's start again. With better luck (I hope) and more stamina to go on.
First to go - salmon wasabi salad

Wasabi and fish is a natural combo and not only in sushi. A few years back I got this period of wasabi-sauce with tuna steaks. Now that tuna is partly on the forbidden list (at least in Finland it is a bit hard to find the MSC certified or other sustainable tuna), it is time to vary. So salmon it is - at least for now - not bad at all either.

Salmon salad with wasabi sauce

Salad base
green salad (lettuce)
mint leaves
basilic leaves
coriander (cilantro) leaves
whole peeled almonds
a couple of carrots
salt + pepper + rice wine vinegar

Salmon in 1cm slices

Sauce : 
lemon juice
sunflower oil

Wash and dry the salad and herbs. Slice the carrots thinly with a peeler. Roast the almonds slightly on a dry pan and chop a little smaller. Slice the cucumber.

Mix the salad together. (Leave part of the almonds for sprinkling on the top in the end). Season and add the rice wine vinegar. Mix again.

Slice the salmon and roast the slices on the pan in a little oil.

Mix the wasabi, lemon juice and salt. Add oil gradually, mixing all the time. Taste for the heat you want. The taste evolves and deepens over time, so it is good to make the sauce a few hours earlier.

Put the salad base on a big plate. Add the salmon slices on top and sprinkle some almonds. The wasabi sauce can either be poured on the salmon slices or served in a separate bowl for everyone to add as they wish.


Summer decadence...

I think I promised to tell you about the new product on the Finnish market that'll make the ice cream churner obsolete. It can probably already be found on other markets, but here it has been the well kept secret of professional chefs. I'm talking about the glucose sirop - the one made from wheat.

Some say it is just another useles and potentially harmful additive. I don't know about that (need to do some further research at some point) but I do know that I've never had home made ice cream as creamy as easily. So I'm betting on the fact that I will not be making ice cream so often that any fattening effects of the glucose sirop would have an impact on my children, at least not more than the usual desserts we have at home (or the cream in this recipe).

This must be the best chocolate ice cream ever - and I've sampled a few during the last... well, a few decennies.

Summer decadence in the form of chocolate ice cream 

4 dl of cream (the liquid one that can be used for whisking chantilly or making crème anglaise)
4 dl of full fat milk
8 egg yolks
2 dl of sugar
2 dl of glucose sirop (Dansukker)
a couple of handfuls of dark chocolate (here Valrhona Caraibe 66%)

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar till blond foam. Heat the cream, milk and glucose sirop to the boil.

Put the cholocate in a bowl and pour enough cream mixture to just cover. Leave to melt and stir even.

Pour the rest of the cream to the egg foam and whisk vigorously. Mix with the chocolate ganache and put the whole ice cream mixture to a bowl that you can freeze and leave to cool.

Once cool, place into the freezer and whisk a couple of times during the freezing process. I only had time for a couple of rounds right in the beginning, but that seemed to be enough. The ice cream consistency next day was just like in the best of dreams.

Serves best with coffee.


Summer is the time for simple cooking

Oh dear, I've been a naughty girl. I so planned to update this blog in English at least once a week, but... On the Finnish side I've bee mostly blogging on books and general blabbing, but food has been rare. Not that we haven't been eating. "Petits pois" i.e. peas straight from pod, strawberries, ice cream etc. Only ice cream would make a subject for cooking (I actually need to tell you about our new favourite flavour combination and the new product - at least here in Finland - that actually saved my ice cream life and made the ice cream machine obsolete)

Anyways, today I wanted to write about one of our BIG summer favourites. Not much cooking but packed with flavour.

Courgette slices with tsatsiki

Slice the courgette. Mix some flour with salt and pepper on a plate and cover the slices with the mixture.

Grate half a cucumber and mix a little bit salt with it. Leave to drain for 10 minutes and squeeze then all the excess liquid away. Mix with 1,5dl of Greek yoghurt. Add a teaspoon of honey, half a garlic clove (grated) and salt and pepper. Leave to wait.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and cook the courgette slices on medium heat. A few minutes on both sides. Just to make the beautifully brown on the outside and a little softened in the inside. 

Serve immediately outside on the terrace.


Taste of Helsinki

Easily the most beautiful portion of the day
For the second time many of the best restaurants in Helsiki present their style and food during the four day food festival Taste of Helsinki. We visited the festival area yesterday. We were lucky with the weather. Today its pouring rain but yesterday we only got a few drops.  

Organic egg and mushroom toffee by Luomo

The Food

When the city's top restaurants are present, the expectations are sky high. It was difficult to choose where to go first. It would not be possible to taste everything. Below is a selection of the most memorable dishes in their own categories.

The most exotic : This goes clearly to the EARTHQUAKE” – Organic egg 64,7°C with mushroom toffee Luomo.  The egg was, well an egg. It was even a bit weird with all the cold softness. The mushroom toffee was so good I could have eaten just that. The mushroomy umami and the toffee sweetness just worked wonders together. This will require some experiments in the home kitchen as well. Luomo in general represents the more experimental style of cuisine in the Helsinki area.

The most beautiful : This is easily the PATÉ OF PIKE with beetroot and cucumber, seasoned with currant leaves by Juuri. (photo on the top of the article). Juuri is also the home of Sapas (i.e. the Suomi/Finland tapas) of which the delicate paté is a quality example.

To be tried at home : and probably real quickly. I just loved the taste of the beetroot aioli in ORGANIC BEEF CARPACCIO, beetroot aioli and juicy salad by Bistro Omat. The beetrood sweetness combined with the little garlic tang in the end was fantastic and should be attainable at home (?) Bistro Omat represent the Scandinavian cuisine from local ingredients. You can find quality farmer's products near the city.

The chosen dessert : There were many different kinds of desserts available but I went directly towards the macarons of Petris Chocolate Room. They were big enough to have more than one bite and also transportable. That is what I brought home. Our Toto (2 years) just loved his passion fruit macaron. "Mjam,mjam" was heard more than once. The chocolate room is situated in Fiskars. The old "industrial" village which is nowadays the home of many artists and full of interesting handicraft.

Macarons with Taittinger rosé... the cheaper one available

Taste of Helsinki was an interesting experience. I hope this short sampling of restaurants also helps all of you traveling to Helsinki area in the near future. These are all places to go to.


4 boys + 2 adults = one oven pancake

Well, perhaps not on one go, but I can tell you there was a big whole in it already after the boys.
 Strawberries with icing sugar and vanilla sugar + whipped cream. Not bad as an afternoon snack for the children on holiday.

This is a very traditional and a very common Finnish dessert / afternoon snack. Pancake made in the oven is the option chosen when you get lazy for staying by the stove for making crêpes. Perfect for the warm summer days.

I used the whograin flour as part of the mixture so this can be considered the healthier version... I also reduced the amount of butter a bit.

Our healthier oven pancake

1l milk (not the nonfat version please)
3 eggs
70g melted butter
1 dl sugar
1,5tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1,5 tsp vanillasugar
3 dl wheat flour
3 dl wholegrain wheat four

Mix all the ingredients together and leave for at least 30min.
Put into a deep oven tray (the size of the oven...) on baking paper and bake for 30-35min in 200 degrees.


Spanish Pork Chops ?

Not being a "connaisseur" of the Spanish cuisine, I'm not sure what is so Spanish in this recipe. That's how the original was called in the Delicious magazine. Perhaps it is the combination of porc and olives, and the smoked paprika ?

Be what it may, this was eaten in our house in record time... Of course, the boys were starving as well - having run outside for the whole day. They're already on summer holiday. Here in Finland the schools close in the beginning of June, and the children return to the classrooms in the middle of August. This year the summery weather started at the same time that the school ended. We've had 10 days of fantastic beachweather. So much it seems that the rest of Europe has been under water and shivering with cold. Is this the Nordic warming instead of the global one ?

I felt the original recipe was a bit grey. It's summer after all - there needs to be colour. So I added a few things - chorizo, onion, sweet peppers... I changed some other things as well, so below the recipe as we had it. 

Spanish Pork Chops 

4 big chops
olive oil
3 crushed garlic gloves
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ordinary paprika
fresh thyme sprigs
1 lemon zest and juice
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp red wine vinegar
half a kilo small (new) potatoes
2-3 chorizo sausages. sliced
big splash of white wine
1,5 dl vegetable stock
handful of green olives
parsley and mint
2 onions thinly sliced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
little sweet peppers sliced

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the chops into a bowl with the olive ilive, garlic, paprikas, thyme, lemon, fennel seeds and vinegar. Add salt and pepper and let marinate for 30min.

Put the sliced onion in a little bowl and add vinegar, salt and pepper. Let marinate until the dinner is ready. In half an hour the tang of the onion has mellowed into a refreshing sweetness.

Clean and slice the potatoes and mix with some olive oil, salt and pepper and the chorizos. Roast in the oven for 20min. Add the wine and stock and set the chops on the top. Put back in the oven for 15min. Add the olives, half of your sweet peppers and put the tin again in the oven for 5min.

Let the tin wait for a few minutes and sprinkle parsley, mint, onion and rest of the peppers on the top.