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?

 

Frozen Lingonberries and Caramel Sauce

Picking wild mushrooms and berries is a tradition held close to the heart in Finland. It’s held so dearly that there is a law to protect it: it’s Everyman’s Right to pick the fruits of the forest (even from private land).

Those berries and mushrooms are definitely one of the best things about eating in Finland. Chanterelles, cepp, supilovahveroita (this is where my translation skills hit their limit), korvasienejä, blueberries, lingonberries, cloud berries and many more. These are amongst the things I would miss the most were I to move home.

Thinking of that stuff now, brings to mind so many awesome, yummy things I should put up here, when I get the time: supilovahvero quiche, Salmon with chanterelle sauce, cloud-berries and ‘bread-cheese’.

This past autumn we went mushroom picking with friends out in Nuuksio National Park. I should say beforehand that you need to know what you doing when picking mushrooms. You need to know which ones to take and which ones to definitely not take. And as was more the problem on this occasion, you need to know where to look.

So after spending some moments raving, this is ironically not a recipe about mushrooms but rather about berries. Although we saw many people with baskets full of chanterelles and other treats with didn’t manage to find almost any mushrooms. We did find lots of lingonberries though.

IMG_3242

Mushrooms!

Mushrooms…

Not very vegetarian - we had corn too (but those pics did come really out).

Pretty awesome to sit around the fire once the sun sets and the warmth of the day fades to the cool autumn evening. Not very vego,  we had corn too (but those pics did come really out).

I’ve never seen lingonberries outside of Scandy. They’re small, bright red, plump beeds that are quite acidic. They’re generally not the thing that you would enjoy by themselves, as you would, say strawberries or raspberries. But that’s not to say, they’re not good. They’re great as an accompaniment to something else for example. They’re traditionally often made into jam – though they still retain a bit of they’re sharp bite even sweetened. And either as jam or raw eaten with savoury foods like meatballs, spinach pancakes or then with caramel sauce for desert as they are here.

well, berries at least.

…well, lingonberries and a few blueberries.

It’s a bit of a yin yang vibe: sweet with sour, warm and gooey with icey and crunchy. It’s just really good. And if you happened to have picked the berries and made the sauce yourself, then I’m sure that makes it taste better.

Notes

If you can’t get lingonberries then cranberries would be a close enough substitute, I reckon.

 

IMG_3645
Caramel Sauce

Courtesy of foodwishes:

  • 250ml white sugar
  • 5T butter, cut in slices
  • 125ml heavy whipping cream
  1. Put the sugar in a pot over a medium high heat and bring it to a darkish caramel. I guess you need a bit of experience to do this but basically dark enough to just before it would become to turn on you and become bitter and start to burn. This you really have to watch like a hawk, as a caramel can turn to acrid, burnt sugar in less time than a trip to answer the frontdoor. And of course when dealing with 120C and up, molten sugar it pays to be careful as you could burn yourself quite horribly.
  2. Take it off the heat and whisk in the butter.
  3. When that’s melted and incorporated, whisk in the cream.
  4. It will still look thin, but that’s just because it’s still filthy hot (be careful around caramels as molten sugar can seriously burn you badly). When it’s cooled to an edible temperature remove the lingonberries from the freezer, spoon over the caramel and serve immediately.

Panzanella: Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad

That vibrant red is appealing isn't it.

Looking out the window at a snowstorm today, I must admit to thinking a little wistfully of eating this salad a couple of weeks ago in mum and dad’s front yard.

I realise that this is well out of season, but as a couple of weeks ago I was home in New Zealand, happily eating this in my parents front yard I had to share it.

Panzanella is a classic Mediterranean salad, and so has all the classic Mediterranean flavours: basil, garlic, olives etc. But tomatoes are definitely the hero. It’s great with lovely fresh, vine ripened tomatoes. If however, you live in a country where it’s winter 9 months of the year then greenhouse tomatoes can be helped out a lot by ‘soft’ roasting them – not enough to dry them out like sundried but rather just to intensify their flavour a bit (quarter them, add salt+pepper and a glug of olive oil, optionally some herbs and roast at 150C for about an hour).

This is also great in the sense that it’s really a filling, ‘meaty’ salad. It’s lovely.

The following feeds about 4-6 people as a meal itself, more if you have it only as a side. Scales easily to feed many more.

  • 500g of tomatoes
  • 500g (about 4-5 slices) of good, crusty, gluten-free bread
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3T capers
  • 3-4 shallots
  • a handful of good olives
  • a generous handful of fresh basil
  • red wine vinegar
  • lots of olive oil
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Put a pan on a medium heat with a generous amount (about 3T) of olive oil.
  2. Slice or rip the bread into large chunks, roughly mince the garlic cloves and when the oil is to temperature add the garlic and bread into the pan. It might sound like a lot of garlic but to be honest it benefits from a strong garlic flavour and cooking tastes out the acrid bite and leaves your with oily garlic croutons. Awe-some.
  3. Finely slice the shallots, tip them in a bowl and tip over the vinegar. I pretty much always use this trick when using raw onions in a salad. In a similar way as with the garlic, we’re taking the acrid burn out of the onions. This time by ‘cooking’ it with acid.
  4. Roughly slice the remaining ingredients and chuck them in.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. When the croutons are done, I usually tip them in too, so that they sit on top and leave for a couple of hours. In this way, the garlic oil from the croutons drips down and gets friendly with everything else, some croutons suck up the vinagrette and tomato juice and some croutons sit on top and stay crunchy.

Ravintolapäivä Autumn 2012

The weekend before last was Ravintolapäivä again. After debating with myself for some time, I decided to not hold another stall this Restaurant Day but rather to participant on the other side of the fence.

It was a lovely day and reminded me again of what a lovely tradition Restaurant Day is. Without wanting to sound too pompous or romantic, it’s really quite uplifting to see people so happy and welcoming. There is a real sense of community and I find that quite life affirming.

We met with friends in Karhupuisto at around lunchtime on a grey, chilly, drizzley day. Lucky then that there was in front of our noses the perfect antidote to such weather: a bowl of warm soup. In this case creamy pumpkin soup which I thoroughly enjoyed. Sorry people out there, I don’t remember the name of your stall but if you stumble upon this: your soup was excellent and definitely hit the spot.

From there we continued on to the local tobaconist, where coffee, tiramisu and shisha where on offer. Which was great from the point of view that it was just a quirky fun thing to do. Good to chat over the water pipe and a cup of coffee and memories of a previous trip to Turkey flooded back.

Michael overlooks Karhupuisto

From there we wandered down Porthaninkatu, sampling some Kim Chi on the way and looped back around to check out the vegan and glutenfree friendly, Michael Jackson Burger Palace. I had a pretty mean burger there: with lots of beetroot (ironically a very Kiwi thing to have in a burger). And a pretty mean berry smoothie on the side. I gotta, say of that place too that it was awesome to be welcomed so warmly into the MJ Burger Palace restauranteurs home and also admire their quite spectacular apartment. Thank you.

Nice pun :)

We went home to escape the weather for a bit, relax and ‘refuel’ my friends newborn and then walked south into the city. My friends had, what looked to be a pretty good Goulash at “Taste the World” and there we were also entertained by some very professional sounding Spanish guitar.

From there across to the ‘Hobbit Hole’ of Wonderfood Mustach Soup and Burgers (though I just had a chocolate oat truffle). Where we were again very genuinely welcomed into the place to sit down to share a bite and enjoy the ambiance.

 

Wonderland

Across the road to the pub to the rugby and back up through Kallio with a stop on Hämeentie for some Papaya salad. I love a good papaya salad. The mix of strong flavours: peanuts, fish sauce, lime, sugar and of course chilli. The only thing better than eating a great papaya salad, is eating a great papaya salad and watching your mate begin to bead with sweat and cough at the sudden realisation that he shouldn’t have ordered the ‘extra spicy’ salad.