Lanttulaatikko

My final festive Scandinavian dish for this year is lanttulaatikko.  This Finnish recipe takes the humble turnip (what you folks might call swede or rutabaga) and turns it into a rich, creamy, bubbling baked dish of yumminess.

As with most Christmas vegetable dishes, lanttulaatikko could never claim to be in anyway healthy but I quite like the idea that vegetables go a bit wild at this time of the year and naughtily dress themselves up in honey and butter and cream.   

In fact, I’ve spoke to some turnips and it seems that for eleven months of the year they feel they are thought of as nutritious but dull – nothing to get excited about.  They understand this and respect their position in the vegetable world but come December, these grubby roots want to let themselves go and be transformed into wickedly silky, sexy side-dishes that have diners groaning for more.  

And if that comes at a calorific cost, well, both the turnips and I are absolutely fine with that.  This month, anyway.

Lanttulaatikko

(serves 4 as a side-dish)

1 large Scottish turnip (i.e. rutabaga or swede – the yellow fleshed one)

150ml cream (single, double or crème fraîche)

1 egg

1/2 tspn nutmeg

Seasoning

2 tblspns soft butter (plus a little extra)

1 tblspn honey

  • Peel the turnip and cut into 2cm wide chunks.  Just cover in salted water and boil until completely tender.  Drain.
  • Mash the turnip well and push through a potato ricer or a sieve. 
  • Combine the cream, butter, honey, nutmeg and egg.  Add to the turnip and mix well.  Season to taste.
  • Add turnip mixture to a small casserole dish, level off with a fork and dot with butter.
  • Bake in a 180oC pre-heated oven for 40 minutes until golden and crisp on top.

Piparkakut

There’s something rather restorative about gingery biscuits, don’t you think?  Their aromatic spices, warm sweetness and golden hues are the perfect antidote to dark days and biting winds. 

Pretty sure the Finns agree with me as one can find the following piparkakut (ginger cookies) almost everywhere in Finland at this time of the year.  They go terribly well with a warming glass of Glögi but aren’t too shabby with a simple cup of tea either.  🙂

This is my entry for Susan’s fabulous Eat Christmas Cookies event.

Piparkakut (Finnish Ginger Snaps) 

(make a lot)

125g golden syrup

2 tspn cinammon

2 tspn ground ginger

1 tspn ground cloves

Rind of 1 orange, finely chopped

150g salted butter

150g sugar

1 egg

1 tspn bicarbonate of soda

500g plain flour

  • Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and stir well to combine.
  • In a small pan, bring syrup and spices to a boil.  Add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and stir well.
  • Sift in the flour and bicarb and mix into a dough.
  • Leave somewhere cool for at least 12 hours (no longer than 48 hours).
  • Pre-heat the oven to 250oC.
  • Split the dough into quarters and roll out very thinly (approx. 2mm).  Cut with a cookie cutter and place on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 5 -6 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Keep away from cheeky pups.

Back with Bean Balls

I’m back.  Not that I’ve been anywhere.  In fact, I’ve posted more regulary in the last few weeks than I ever have.  It’s just that I wasn’t been in the mood for saying very much and thought that a couple of weeks of silence might help me regain my blogging mojo.

And it has.  I have my voice back, I have my enthusiasm back and I have a whole bunch of recipes to share with you over the next few weeks.  

Going to start with bean balls – partly because “bean balls” is fun to say and partly because I’m rather proud of how good these are.  Just as well, they’re going to be the joint main feature of next week’s Lucia party.

Lucia (St Lucy’s Day in English) is a Scandinavian feast day celebrated each year on December 13th.  The Swedish version of the festival traditionally involves a procession of children in white dresses carrying candles and singing carols.  It must be a very pretty sight but I have to admit I have never personally seen an authentic celebration of Lucia.

My own experience of Lucia comes from my student days when my Swedish friends and I would hold a party with candles and mulled wine and lots of Swedish food.  Lingonberry jam, gingerbread, saffron buns, pickled herring, Jansson’s temptation and, of course, meatballs.  It was great. 

This year we have decided to all meet up again on the 13th and hold another Lucia party.  Can’t wait!  

I’ve been put in charge of the meatballs.  A great responsibility, indeed.  Though I shall be practising and posting about the traditional beef meatballs later in the weekend, I have to say it’s the following vegetarian “meat” balls that I’m most excited about.

 Made with adzuki beans, these little nuggets have a wonderful texture (crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle) and are far tastier than I ever imagined they would be.  A true success.

Bean Balls (inspired by Veganomicon)

400g tin of adzuki beans (kidney would work well too)

2 tblspn fine oatmeal

2 tblspn BBQ sauce

1 tblspn soy sauce

Grate rind of 1/2 a lemon

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1/4 tspn dried thyme

1/4 tspn dried oregano

Pepper

2 tblspn plain flour, seasoned

Olive oil

  • Whizz the beans in a blender for a few seconds.  You don’t want them totally blended – keep some texture.
  • Add the beans to a bowl along with the pepper, oatmeal, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, Worchestershire sauce, lemon rind, garlic and herbs.  Phew.  Combine well with a fork.  Taste, adding extra pepper or Worchestershire sauce if required.
  • Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls and roll in the seasoned flour.
  • Fry in 2mm of olive oil over a medium-high heat until browned and crispy and cooked through.

Wistful

Cheating again.  This is another photo from the weekend.  In my defence, I rarely see daylight just now!  Leave for work in the dark; come home in the dark. 

Can’t really complain though.  My weekends lately have been wonderful.  🙂

Thank to Lucy for the title of this post.