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.

Les Trois Vallées

Happy New Year everyone!

I’m back from my first ever ski holiday.  Not only do I have a couple of broken ribs, I also spent an inordinate amount of time last week trembling in fear whilst learning to ski, riding on ski-lifts, travelling in gondolas, even sitting on the airport-transfer coach!  As someone who is scared of both heights and speed, they all terrified me.  Yes, I know: I am a woose.

But, would I do it again?  Hell, yeah!

The following pictures might explain why.  🙂 

  
P.S.  Lucy – The snow was too hard-packed for snow-angels.  😦  Promise to make one as soon as we get a decent fall here.  That might even be tomorrow!

Merry Christmas

 

 

D and I are off France to spend the next week snowboarding the Alps.  Well, he will be.  This being my first snowsports holiday, I’ll probably be spending the week on my backside.  Or in the bar.  😉

 Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.

See you next year. 

Wendy

xxx

 

Pre-Christmas Christmas Dinner

D and I are heading off to France next Sunday to spend a week ski-ing the Alps and eating pain au chocolat.  As we won’t be spending the holidays with our families I decided to hold a pre-Christmas Christmas dinner to satisfy all of our festive food cravings.

This is the third Christmas dinner that I have cooked and I had the meal planned with miltary precision (see below word-processed schedule for proof!).  It was still a hectic afternoon though.  Not much time for taking photos, as you can imagine, but I would like to share a few of those that were snapped. 

I followed Nigella’s Super Spiced Turkey recipe which involves soaking the bird overnight in a brine flavoured with orange, star anise, maple syrup, ginger and much more.  Last year it worked beautifully, this year I over-cooked the meat and it was disappointingly dry. 

The turkey disappointment was softened by how well everything else worked out.  The veg I blogged about last week went down a treat.  Just as well – the amount of chopping and peeling involved was phenomenal!

D took care of dessert.  Everyone loves his banoffee pie.  🙂

Hours to prepare, minutes to devour.

Not everyone was happy.  Rosie was seriously miffed when she realised there was no space set for her at the table.

The surprise hit of the day was the vegetarian chestnut stuffing as it was unanimously preferred to the meaty sage and onion type.  I should add, I don’t actually stuff anything with the stuffing.  Prefer to cook it seperately in little bitesized balls.   🙂

Vegetarian Chestnut Stuffing (Adapted from Tasmin Day Lewis’s Simply The Best)

Olive oil

1 large onion

4 sticks of celery

125g walnuts

2 cooking apples

400g tin of chestnut puree

500g wholewheat breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten (you may need one more if mixture is not sticking together)

Handful of thyme leaves

Seasoning

450g chestnuts (fresh or vacum packed)

  • Finely chop the onion, celery, walnuts and apple.  Fry gently in the olive oil until softened.
  • Tip into a bowl and and add all other ingredients except the chestnuts.  Combine well.
  • Add the chopped chestnuts and combine gently.
  • Roll the mixture into golf-ball sized balls and place on a baking tray. 
  • Bake at 180oC for 30 minutes.

Cranberry Royale

Remind me sometime to tell you about the hogmany (New Year’s Eve) that I spent in Paris.  It was an amazing night spent partly on a roof top balcony in Montemarte and partly on the steps of the Paris Opera House.  I’d tell you about it tonight but I’m busy preparing food for a family get-together this weekend.  What I can tell you is that we started the night drinking kir royal (a mix of Crème de Cassis and sparkling white wine) in a tiny family run restaurant and ever since I’ve had a real soft spot for the cocktail. 

Tragedy struck the other evening when I finished my bottle of Crème de Cassis whilst marking Higher papers (thanks for the tip, Christina – it really did make the marking less painful!).  With Christmas presents and a ski trip to pay for, I was in no financial position to go buy more.  It was time for some experimentation.  The following cranberry syrup was the result. 

Mix a dribble of this syrup with some normal or sparkling wine to create a rather Christmassy cocktail!  🙂

Cranberry Syrup

500g cranberries

300g caster sugar

150ml water

Zest of one lemon

  • Add all the ingredients to a pan and bring to the boil.
  • Mash the berries down so that all of their juice is released.
  • Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
  • Pour through a fine sieve.
  • Bottle and cool.
  • Mix 1 part syrup with 5 parts sparkling wine for a Cranberry Royale.  😉

Christmas Veg

There’s an advert on tele at the moment which toys with idea that everyone has a favourite part of Christmas dinner.  Some people love the turkey the most; other lust after the roast potatoes; lots – I know – go wild over the bacon-wrapped sausages.   Personally, I swoon over the indulgent nature of the vegetables. 

At Christmas honey is paired with long roots; cream with tubby roots; brown sugar with brassicas and butter with everything.  Vegetables have never been so impure!  But because it’s only one day in the year and because I’m fairly sure I don’t consume anywhere near the 7,000 calories which is supposedly the nation’s average, I’m not going to bother looking for lower fat/calorie alternatives this year or any other.  Bring on the sticky parsnips!  🙂

The following three dishes are the vegetables which will be adorning our table this year.  Yum yum.

 Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

(serves 6 as a side)

3 big parsnips, peeled, halved length ways and quartered

3 big carrots, peeled, halved length ways and quartered

1 heaped tablespoon butter

1 heaped tablespoon honey

Seasoning

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200oC.
  • Melt the butter and honey in a pan and season well.
  • Lay out the carrots and parsnips on a baking tray and drizzle with the butter/honey mixture.  Mix well with hands to ensure the veg are thoroughly coated.
  • Roast for 30 mins, turning occasionally.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts

Recipe at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/brusselssproutswithc_84756.shtml.  I use organic streaky bacon rather than panchetta and, being a masochist, fresh chestnuts rather than vacum-packed.

Spiced Red Cabbage

4 tblspn brown sugar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Zest of one lemon

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tspn nutmeg

3 cloves

1kg red cabbage, heart removed, sliced thinly

2 red onions, sliced thinly

2 large cooking apples, cored and chopped finely

50g butter

200ml red wine

150ml water

  • Mix the sugar, spices, zest, garlic and seasoning. 
  • Layer the butter, veg and spiced sugar in a heavy based pot.
  • Pour over the wine and water.  Top with blobs of butter.
  • Place over a low heat and cook slowly for 3 hours, stirring very occasionally.
  • Season to taste.

Menu For Hope – Attention All Whisky Lovers!

Several weeks ago I received the following (abridged) email:  

___________________________________________________________

Menuforhope07_2I’m sure you have all heard of the wonderful Menu for Hope event that is the brainchild of Pim and takes place once a year around Christmas. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the campaign involves food bloggers (and others) from around the world each donating something to be raffled off on-line for charity. This can be as simple as a cookbook or as elaborate as a foodie tour of a world-class city. It can be something you will lovingly make yourself (e.g. jams or framed photographs) or it can be something you have persuaded somebody else to donate (e.g. dinner at a smart restaurant) – see last year’s campaign to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Once the raffle starts, members of the public can visit your site to read about your raffle items and then place a bid by going to Pim’s site. And at the end of the campaign, winners are chosen using a software application, after which the regional hosts will tell people the good news of what they have won.

Surely this raises a lot of money, I hear you say? Oh yes – just over $60,000 last year! And what happens to the money? Well, like last year, the money will be going to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and this year’s campaign is going to be particularly exciting. This is because the WFP has allowed us to earmark the funds to a specific program. We am thrilled to announce that we have chosen a school feeding program in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho – which is situated bang in the middle of South Africa!

Currently, the WFP’s school feeding programme provides a daily nutritious meal to nearly 150,000 school kids in Lesotho , many of them orphans. After five years of drought, it is estimated that disease and malnutrition in Lesotho claim the lives of one in 12 children before they reach the age of five. Chronic and persistent vulnerability prevails in Lesotho . The kingdom is confronting the triple threat of increasing chronic poverty, rising HIV/AIDS rates and weakened government capacity. This threat takes a heavy toll on the households of the rural poor in Lesotho , who are faced with a limited number of coping strategies to respond to the intensifying hazard. 56% of the population live on less then $2 per day.  Think  about that. That’s less than a pound.

During the campaign, we are going to have the kids photo-blogging from the school grounds to bring their stories closer to us and our donors. Also, the WFP have been pushing what they call the Local Procurement program: instead of buying surplus food in the US and shipping it to Africa to feed the kids they are now buying maize and other produce from the local farmers, thereby putting funds back into the local economy.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because I (together with Johanna) have been asked to host the UK region’s Menu for Hope campaign 2007.  I am hoping that as many of you as possible will be able to take part and provide something to raffle off.

__________________________________________________________________

The event starts tomorrow and my donation to this very worthwhile cause is the following bottle of 15 year old, single malt, Scottish whisky.

Located in the windswept central Highlands, the Dalwhinnie distillery has been producing spirits since the late 1800s.  This traditional Scottish whisky has been matured for 15 years and is renowned for its mellow smokiness and heather honeyed sweetness.

Lot Number – UK07

And here’s how to donate:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/2007/12/menu-for-hope-4.html

2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4 and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday Jaunary 9 for the results of the raffle.

Glögi Nights

 

Patience is not a virtue that I possess in great quantities.  Especially not when it comes to Christmas.  At the first sniff of December I’m writing cards, listening to Slade and draping fairy lights over every plant in the house.  Saturday, being December 1st, was no exception.  After finishing my gift shopping (impressed?) and having a festive lunch with a friend, I headed home to have my own private pikku joulu party. 

Meaning ‘little Christmas’ in Finnish, pikku joulu is a term used for any pre-Christmas Christmas party.  A standard pikku joulu party usually involves copious amounts of alcohol, silly games and dancing till the wee hours.  Though I’m by absolutely no means averse to the standard pikku joulu, Saturday night was a far more mellow affair.  For starters the guest list consisted of me and me alone.  Candles were lit, presents were wrapped, joulutorttu were baked and glögi was consumed.  It was great!

Glögi (or glög, in Swedish) is a kind of mulled wine.  Moreoften that not it is spiked with koskenkorva (a clear Finnish spirit) but I’m a wimp when it comes to hard liquor and prefer to leave it out.  This is how I make it:

Glögi

2 bottles of red wine

Peelings of one orange

6 whole cardamons, bruised

5 cloves

1 inch piece of ginger, halved

1 stick of cinnamon

1 cup of sugar

Raisins and sliced almonds to serve

  • Add wine to a large pan with the spices and leave to infuse overnight.
  • Add the sugar to the pan and heat gently until almost boiling.
  • Ladle into glasses or mugs and sprinkle in raisins and almonds.

PS The 2007 Food Blog Awards are taking place at Well Fed Network.  Nominations accepted until the 5th December.  I got my votes in just in time!  🙂