Berry Quark / Marjarahka

berries in Hakaniemi market square

Down to the market to get some fresh berries.

raspberries, blueberries and cherries at Hakaniemi market square

raspberries, blueberries and cherries. Had to get a bag of each

There’s this stuff called ‘rahka’ in Finland (generally translated as ‘quark’). Which I haven’t really seen outside of Scandy, but I’ll include this recipe here anyway as it’s ridiculously easy and really good :) It’s some kind of dairy product, like thick yoghurt. I guess you could get near enough to this though by using greek yoghurt of whipped heavy cream, or mascarpone or something.

You can put basically anything you want with it, but as it’s the middle of a very warm summer here, and as I’ve been off work for two weeks (paternity leave), we’ve made it an almost daily routine to wander down to the local market square and collect some berries. So berries it is. Which also happen to be one of my favourite food things in Finland.

Here I chosen to use raspberries and strawberries. As a word of warning, the Finnish food safety authority (Elvira) advises that you shouldn’t eat raw raspberries from outside Finland, as they might contain some nasty parasite. Would probably pay to check the situation in your own country (I’ve never heard of such a parasite in New Zealand for example). And you could of course just leave them out or substitute them for something else.

  • 1l strawberries
  • ½l raspberries
  • 500g creamy rahka
  • icing sugar to taste (depending on how sweet or tart the berries are)
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Enjoy :)

Blueberry Pie

Summertime in Finland = lovely fresh berries. Having said that, you can make this equally well with frozen blueberries in the middle of winter.

The pastry here is more like a cheesecake base than a traditional pastry. But to be honest even with the help of gluten I could never really figure out pastry and post-diagnosis all my attempts at a traditional style pastry have ended in disappointment. But this is good. Just not really ‘pastry’ per se. Pastryish enough though.

glutenfree blueberry pie

why is it “blueberry” – things you wonder whilst learning a foreign language

‘pastry’
  • 125g melted butter
  • 1C almond meal
  • 1C buckwheat flour
  • 3/4C brown sugar
  • 1t psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4t salt
 filling
  • 1l blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3C potato flour (I imagine corn starch could be used as a substitute)
  • 1/3C icing sugar
  1. Mix all the ingredients for the pastry and press into a loose-bottomed pie tin.
  2. Mix the ingredients for the filling and tip it into the base.
  3. Put the pie into 180C oven for about 35-40mins or until such time as the blueberries have begun to get jammy and the pastry has taken a little colour.

Buckwheat Apple and Pecan Muffins

We had our first child just a week or so ago (awesome!) so in preparation for the steady stream of guests I’ve been baking a little. These muffins are quick, easy, moist and according to the first round visitors “don’t taste glutenfree at all”. In addition they’re not overly sweet (as some muffins can be) and probably reasonably healthy too (no added fat and sweetness only from the fruit and honey).

buckwheat apple pecan muffins

It’s unfamiliar to me to have a GF baked good that actually requires tearing apart. Normally they just crumble. I guess that’s all the proteins and fiber from the eggs and bananas.

If you didn’t happen to have apples I imagine that a can of chopped pineapple (drained) would probably also be nice in this. Or if you wanted a bit less healthy, maybe dried pineapple rehydrated in browned butter (which I’ve seen elsewhere)

  • 150g chopped pecans or walnuts
  • about 3 or 4 medium sized apples (I had Royal Gala)
  • 200ml buckwheat
  • 1t psyllium husk powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2t baking powder
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ honey
  • 2 mashed, ripe bananas
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Peel, core and dice the apples.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. Whisk together the wet ingredients.
  5. Mix together the wet and the dry mixes, the apple and the nuts to form a wet looking batter.
  6. Pour into a muffin pan and place in the oven for about 30mins or until a skewer comes out clean

Link to the original recipe

 

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

jerusalem artichoke soup

yum

Pretty much exactly this time last year, Maiju and myself were at a wedding where we were served this soup. And from that moment it’s been on my list of things to try.

At the wedding it was topped with black truffle, but as that’s a) very difficult to get hold of here and b) *quite* expensive I included a different idea: a fresh parsley oil and cream. If truffles are too pricey for you (like me) and herb oil doesn’t take your fancy then (glutenfree) croutons, or whatever else would be lovely, I’m sure.

Great wedding by the way. Food: awesome. Location: old university school of economics building in the heart of Helsinki’s old financial district/presidential area. Festivities: dancing, eating great food and sauna. Yes you have sauna at wedding in Finland sometimes. I still smile at the thought of one of the foreign women there laughing nervously as there were a load of naked men running around. That could’ve been me 10 years ago – times change.

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 50g butter
  • salt and black pepper

optionally:

  • a bunch of fresh parsley
  • olive oil
  • a couple of table spoons of fresh cream

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter, though would scale up quite easily I’m sure

  1. Pop a soup pot on a medium high heat, melt the butter in it and saute the onions (roughly diced) in the butter with some salt, until softened.
  2. Meanwhile scrub and dice the artichokes and add to the pot, with some salt and black pepper  when the onions are ready. Even if they look a bit rough, apparently you’re not supposed to peel them btw – as that’s where the flavour is, near the skin.
  3. Saute the artichokes for a bit so they get a bit of colour. Add the garlic (roughly sliced).
  4. Once the garlic has had a moment to soften add the zest from the lemon and cover with the stock.
  5. Leave to simmer for enough time for the artichokes to fully soften – this took me about 45mins.
  6. Take off the heat to cool a little. So you can blend the soup until smooth and silky.
  7. Stir through the juice of half your lemon.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  9. To serve, roughly chop and then grind the parsley to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt (the salt helps to break the herb down). Combine with a little oil until loose but still vibrant green and intensely flavoured. Server in a nice bowl with a swirl each of creme and herb oil on top.
  10. Enjoy!

Almond Sponge and Prune Jam

Prune jam really doesn’t sound like it’d be very good. But it is actually. I had a jar of it kicking around that didn’t get used up at Christmas (it’s a Christmas tradition here) and so decided to used it up with my go-to cake/sponge recipe, which is probably the easiest and best GF cake I’ve made. And actually it was such a success that I’ll definitely make it again.

gluten free almond sponge with prune jame

coolng on the windowsill.

 

  • 3 eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • 250g almond meal
  • 120g oat flour
  • 1½t baking powder
  • 150g melted butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1T psyllium husk
  1. Beat the eggs and sugar together until the colour lightens.
  2. Sift in the almond meal, oat flour, salt and psyllium husk and mix.
  3. Add the melted butter and mix gently to combine.
  4. Pour the cake batter into a cake tin with releasable sides. Like many glutenfree cakes, it’s quite crumbly and the more help you can get to extract from the tin the better.
  5. Dollop drops of jam across the top of the cake and with a skewer or a knife swirl it into the cake.
  6. Place into a 200C oven and remove when a skewer comes out clean (probably about 30mins or so).

Ravintolapäivä/Restaurant Day Spring 2013

Again RP swung around and again we went wandering around Kallio sampling various delicacies.

No long prose about how cool restaurant day is this time around. You can read the two previous entries if you like. Just a few pics, to try to share the atmosphere in a more visual way. But in short, it was another really lovely day. Had a blast wandering around, tasting different kinds of food, seeing lots of people enjoying themselves and soaking up the atmosphere.

music in karhupuisto

music in Karhupuisto – the Bear Park

kalliokirkko. The church of Kallio

Kallionkirkko. I walk past this daily. It’s a lovely old church

ravintola pävä

Food: sounds yummy. Music (“dub”): sounds very bass-y

restaurantday. ravintolapäivä

Hemp burger in Alppipuisto. Vege: tick, gf: no tick

alppipuisto. Sounds Delicious

Folks sitting round enjoying some bassy dub in Alppipuisto

Saffron Rice Stuffed Capsicums

Not much to say about this than that they’re awesome. And the saffron makes a real difference so it’s pays to track it down.

stuffed capsicums

Cooling down.

  • 200ml basmati rice
  • 400ml water
  • a big handful of parsley
  • a dozen olives
  • a medium red onion
  • about 150g of semi roasted tomatoes (aka ‘sun-blush’)
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1t of smoked paprika
  • 1-2 good quality mozzarella balls
  • 4 capsicums
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

If you can’t get semi-dried tomatoes (sometimes seen as sun-blush, at least in English speaking countries) you can achieve the same result by roasting halved tomatoes (cherry are best) in a 150C oven for an hour or so with a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil.

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C
  2. Put the rice, water, paprika and saffron in a pot, cover with a lid and bring to a vigorous simmer until all the water has absorbed at which point the rice should be done and you can remove it from the heat.
  3. In the meantime, halve and scoop out the core and seeds from the peppers, making sure to leave the green stem attached (not only because it looks nicer but also because it helps the peppers keep their shape when they’re cooked and floppy).
  4. Place the pepper halves cut-side up in an oven-proof dish, splash them with a glug of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the peppers into the oven for about 15-20mins or until such time as they’re about 80% cooked through – just about to collapse and taken a bit of barbeque colour on the edges.
  6. Chop into fine-ish dice the onion and the olives. Chop the parsley and add everything into a bowl with half of the mozzarella (chopped or torn into smaller pieces) and cooked rice and stir to mix.
  7. When the peppers are ready pack the rice into the peppers and top each with a slice of mozzarella and return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes or until such time as the mozzarella is melted and golden.

These are fine straight from the oven, but I think they’re even better if left for an hour to come down to room temperature.

Pico de Gallo/Fresh Tomato Salsa

We’ve begun having Mexican food fairly regularly at home. That’s basically because it works pretty well for us. Vegetarian and Celiac friendly, damn tasty and for extra points, reasonably healthy. And if you’re making homemade  Mexican, you might as well make your own salsa. Jarred salsa is good, perfectly fine even, it’s just not the same thing as fresh, homemade salsa (or “pico de gallo” if you want to be official). And while it’s not quite as easy as opening a jar, it’s not much more difficult and it’s fully worth the investment in time.

pico de gallo = fresh tomato salsa

Fresh tomato salsa is oddly enough, refreshing

Makes enough for 2 or 3 people as a side, though can easily be scaled up to feed more people. Adapted from Food Wishes version:

  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • a medium onion, finely minced
  • 1 (or more) chillies, finely minced
  • a generous handful of fresh coriander (aka cilantro). Stalks, finely minced. Leaves, roughly chopped.
  • the juice of one lime
  • ½t of dried mint (or oregano works well too)
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

As to the herbs, dried oregano would probably be more traditional, but I like dried mint in this (fresh would be fine too, but dried has a bit more heat and plus I can’t get fresh mint in Finland). The reason for bleeding the tomatoes is I guess, to keep your salsa from being too wet – else it’s difficult to keep it in your taco, nacho etc

  1. Set a fine sieve above a bowl.
  2. Dice the tomatoes into small dice and put the min the sieve.
  3. Add a couple of shakes of salt to the tomatoes, stir and leave for 30mins or more, so that the salt draws the moisture out of the tomatoes.
  4. When that’s happened. Remove the tomato juice (I always drink it, as it tastes wicked – if a little salty) and transfer the tomatoes to the (now dry) bowl.
  5. The rest is basically, just:
  6. Throw everything else in and mix.
  7. You can eat immediately, but it’s better if you’ve left it for an hour or two to develop flavours.
  8. At this point, taste a bit to check seasoning, acid and spice levels and adjust if needed.

It also keeps perfectly fine till the next day – though if I were serving it to guests I’d make it the same day, as it can be a bit wet and limp looking the next day, though it tastes perfectly fine.

 

 

Super Moist Grain Free Carrot Cake

The annoying thing about being Celiac and baking is that it seems to me that most 5 different exotic flours (that are a nightmare to track down in Helsinki). This isn’t like that at all. It’s only has 5 ingredients. No flour at all. And is super easy. It’s also totally awesome tasting and with all the eggs, oil and almond in it, super-moist.

gluten free carrot cake

totally awesome.

Courtesy of Stone Soup.

  • 250g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or peanut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g almond meal
  • 350g finely grated carrots

The icing is cream cheese, icing sugar and the zest of a lime. And that hint of lime suited this really well I think.

  1. Heat oven to 180C
  2. Mix together the sugar and oil.
  3. Crack in the eggs and mix throughly.
  4. Stir in almond.
  5. Grate the carrots in and mix.
  6. Pour the batter into a cake tin and shake it around a little to level it out.
  7. Bake for 45mins-1hour (recipe says one hour but the two times I made it it took only about 45mins), or until the top is golden and feels firm to the touch.
  8. Cool in the tin.
  9. Be very careful when removing it from the tin as it crumbles quite easily.

Double Chocolate and Almond Cookies

So I have been quite a fan of cookies in the past. In particular Cookie Time cookies (a famous-in-New-Zealand brand). So much so that at my 21st birthday my mates gave me a litre of milk and a cookie. Bastards.

While it’s admittedly been quite a while since tasting the real thing these are a pretty damn good proxy.

Due to an unfortunate timing issue between my diagnosis and my mum sending a care package from NZ, up until about a month ago I’ve had a package of Cookie Times sitting on the top shelf in the kitchen. Taunting me. I obviously couldn’t eat them but neither (until recently) could I bring myself to chuck them away.

We were travelling in Ireland last year and I found a lovely gluten-free baking book by Hannah Miles (link to amazon if you’re interested). The first recipe of which was for chocolate chip cookies. Which, this weekend, I decided to adapt to something like the old choc almond cookie time.

  •  125g butter
  • 125g white sugar
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 150g oat flour
  • 100g almond meal
  • 1 egg
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 100g blanched whole almonds
  1.  Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat the egg in.
  3. Mix in the almond meal and oat flour.
  4. Roughly chop the chocolate and add that with the almonds.
  5. Mix thoroughly and leave the cookie mix in the fridge over night. I was debating whether I would put this here step here or not. I’ve read that it makes a difference and my tentative, very non-scientifically rigorous experience says that, yes, I think it does make a difference. At least enough for me to include it, so I try it again.
  6. The next day, heat your oven to 180C.
  7. Form the cookies into large balls and place them on a baking tray.
  8. Pop them in the oven for about 20mins or until they are ready.
Addendum

So apparently Hippi, our spaniel, also quite liked them… And that will be the last time I leave anything on the table when leaving the house. It was quite the picture: returning home to a happy if slightly guilty looking dog surrounded by chocolate and cookie crumbs.

PS: no dogs were harmed in the writing of this post. In case you didn’t know chocolate is poisonous to dogs. So we were forced to get her to bring them all up (a teaspoon of salt does the trick). Poor thing.

Don't I look sympathetic - like I've never do anything wrong?

Don’t I look like I’ve never put a foot wrong?