Eggplant dip -Munakoiso dippi

ImageYesterday I prepared some very tasty eggplant dip to go on top of the bread..or should I say on top of the ricecakes and buckwheat crispy breads that I am eating these days. For you I, however, recommend to eat this dip with freshly baked baguette or pita bread, It is slightly middle eastern style and that is why I like it. This dip would be perfect an ideal small nibble with friends before the actual dinner. It is super simple and quick to make too.

1 eggplant

1 onion

1 red capsicum

2 garlic cloves

50ml (1/2dl) olive oil

salt (I added half a teaspoon)

1. Cut the greenies to small cubes and cook them in the oven in 200 celsius degrees until nicely soft and brown.

2. Let them cool. Puree the vegetables and add olive oil and salt.

3. Store in the fridge to make the dip cold before serving.

Super tasty!!!

Mainokset

Kalamata Olive Focaccia

WP_000111We had a house warming BBQ last weekend to celebrate our new home. It was rather crazy as this point almost everyone has a kid or two so it was probably the same number of adults and kids, some newborns some toddlers. The funniest thing was that in the middle of the BBQ cooking it started suddenly rain rather heavily. As a result some of the meat burnt and some was uncooked -well bad luck! I made so many things for this BBQ  party and I will post the recipes here one after another. I baked home made focaccia, prepared some couscous salad, feta butternut squash salad and French strawberry tart. All of the recipes will be available soon. The first one I wanted to share with you was this home made focaccia. It was really tasty and in fact the first focaccia I have ever made. It turned out to be very tasty though.

4dl water (400ml)

50g fresh yeast or 1 pack of dry yeast (you need 1 1/2 pack of English dry yeast as it is only 7g per pack)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

7.5dl plain flour (750ml)

4 tbs olive oil

Topping:

handful of kalamata olived (pitted) chopped

4 tbs olive oil

rock salt

fresh thyme chopped

1. Heat up the water (37 celsius degrees if fresh yeast, 40 celsius degrees if dry yeast). Mix sugar and salt and a bit flour (approximately tablespoon).

2. Add half of the flour and olive oil. Mix well and add rest of the flour. The dough is supposed to be quite runny. Cover the bowl and let it rise for half an hour.

3. Oil the baking dish 20cm x 30cm. Pour the dough into the baking dish and rise half an hour. Drizzle olive oil on top.

4. After the dough has risen add the kalamata olives and rock salt.

5. Cook in the oven in 225 celsius degrees for 25-30min.

Avocado Cottage Cheese Salad

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My small baby girl and I travelled to Finland over the weekend for five days. The trip was fantastic, she slept well in the clean and fresh Nordic air and I believe she also loved cute cats and dog that are running around my parents’ house. Older one of the dogs worked as a perfect baby monitor as when the baby cried the older poodle lady ran as fast as she could to see if everything was ok!

Anyway, during the Finland trip my mum introduced this tasty and strange sounding salad to me. You mix mashed avocado, cottage cheese and black pepper together and it is ready to be served. Yummy! This recipe is very typical of my mum. It has been always very important for her to make healthy food. I remember that during my childhood we didn’t really eat lollies mainly home cooked desserts  and those were usually Finnish pulla, fruit salad or some fruit tarts..sometimes a home made chocolate cake, but that was for some real occasion. We never ate ready meals, everything was home made from scratch. Mum didn’t even use any pre-made sauces or flavourings. We didn’t eat hamburgers or pizzas -only when dad was in babysitting turn :)- and that is why I probably ended up being a 28-year old and never ever having tasted KFC or Burger King until last year!

Of course as a child I was often disappointed that other kids were eating lots of ice cream and lollies and we hardly ever had ice cream in the freezer or lollies in the cupboards. These days I am, however, so thankful that my mum passed these healthy eating habits to me. I think she taught me to appreciate good food, fresh ingredients and seasonal cooking. I hope I managed to pass these important things to my own daughter too.

So here is the avocado cottage cheese salad recipe. It is too simple to be so tasty and it works perfectly as a quick lunch (as I happen to have these days). It is also good for people who do running or jogging as cottage cheese has a high protein content. This will be my sporty lunch when I start running again 🙂

1 avocado (mashed), make sure it is nicely ripe

1dl cottage cheese (can put less if you prefer more avocado flavour)

sprinkle of blackpepper

If you prepare this in England I would suggest to add a tiny bit of salt as English cottage cheese is mainly sour but not salty. If you prepare this in Finland I recommend to use Arla’s cottage cheese it is amazing and so far creates the best combination of flavours together with avocado!!!!!

Traditional Scones -Skonssit

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When my Aussie husband and I moved to the UK I fell in love with scones. In the beginning I ate them every day. I walked to Harrods and bought myself multiple scones as I thought particularly the Harrods scones were the best!I had never tasted them before and when I finally has some fruit scones I thought they were some of the best treats with the cup of coffee. Last weekend my mum and sister were visiting London and I took them for a luxurious afternoon tea to Fortnum and Mason’s Jubilee Salong. We had both sweet and savoury scones and my mum and sister fell in love with scones too!! 🙂 The recipe below is tested and proven to be good! You can add raisins to make sweet scones or add some cheese and herbs to make savoury ones (good combinations are cheese and basil or cheese and sundried tomato!). The basic recipe should stay the same. Also note, when you make savoury scones add those three table spoons of sugar as they will make the dough fluffy. I hope you will enjoy your afternoon tea with these scones! I baked them today and they were absolutely yummy!

5 1/3dl flour
3tsp baking powder
1/4tsp suolaa
pinch of dry yeast (1/2 tsp)
85g butter
3tbs sugar
1 3/4dl milk (full milk)
a few drops of lemon juice
a few drops vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla sugar
(add raisins if you want to make fruit scones)

1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and dry yeast.
2. Add the cubes of butter and pinch it to make the crumbly dough.
3. Add sugar.
4. Heat up the milk (not boiling) and add into the dough.
5. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract (vanilla sugar).
6. Mould a block and cut the scones. Bake in 220 celsius degrees for 10 minutes.

Karelian Pies and Homesickness -Karjalan piirakat ja koti-ikävä

I miss home. I miss Finnish food. Today during my lunch break I tried to think hard what would I feel like and everything in these local bakeries and lunch places seemed boring. Once again I started to think of food back home Karelian pies, Finnish meat pies, semolina porridge, rye bread with gherkins and cheese, Finncrisps (hapankorppu), potato salad, reindeer, lingonberry jam and new potatoes.Yummy!

To be completely open and honest, as much as there are many things to love in England, one thing I know I will never miss when I leave this country is its food. It surprises me over and over again how people here can eat fried fish, greasy chips and mayonnaise filled hamburgers day after day always smile on their face. I know Finland gets blamed for not having its own cuisine (which I think is ignorance), but this lack of dominant cuisine is worth praising when you are traveling, at least you won’t be overloaded by Finnish food where ever you go. In fact it is hard to find a restaurant serves Finnish food only. Things are totally the opposite here. When my Aussie husband and I did a romantic trip to English countryside last weekend, every place had basically the same menu: pea and ham soup, steak and ale pie, fish and chips, steak and chips, Angus hamburger…. In the middle of fried food and chips, fresh and healthy Finnish food seems suddenly very attractive. What makes things even funnier, it is not only the food that turns you off here, the names for dishes may freak you out. This happened to me when I noticed ”Spotted Dick” on the menu. Associations can be rather confusing.

All in all, I think it is time to make some home made Karelian Pies to satisfy my home sickness. My grandma is from Eastern Finland and therefore I have eaten these tasty pies for all my childhood. It is mixture of magic and tradition to bake Karelian pies. ”Not too much white flour” -that is what my grandma used to tell, ”It makes the dough easier to ’drive’, but hard and flavourless”. Well here you can find one Karelian pie recipe. It is tested and well perceived. There are millions of recipes and it is a milligram of flour that matters for some people, for others the real pies are made only with feeling and touch.

Filling:
50g butter
3dl rice (porridge rice, normal is ok too if you cannot find porridge rice)
2 1/2 dl water
1L full milk (Finnish red milk, English blue milk)
2tsp salt

Crust dough:
3dl water
1tsp salt
2dl white flour
3-4dl rye flour

1.) Make the porridge first. Cook the rice in water and when the water has been absorbed add milk. Cook for 1 hour and in the end spice it with butter.

2.)Mix water, salt and white flour together. Mix first white flour and water and add rye flour last.

3.) Make a skinny long loaf, cut small pats from the loaf and start ”driving” as it is called. ”Driving” means that you use rolling pin and roll the small pieces of dough into thing rounds.

4.) Fill the thin rounds with rice porridge and nip them with your fingertips to form the pies.

5.) Bake in 300 degrees approximately 10 minutes. After you take the pies form the over, remember to dip them in melted butter or melted butter-milk mixture, put them to a casserole and cover with the kitchen towel. This is how you can make sure the crust stays soft and nice.
Serve with egg butter!

Egg butter:
3 eggs
30g soft butter
salt

1. Cook the eggs hard.
2. Mash the eggs with the fork, mix the butter in add some salt and it is ready!

Pia’s Mediterranean Sandwiches

My boss took me to this amazing pub in Islington London called ”The Elk in the Woods”. It was a funny small cosy pub, didn’t look anything special, but when I saw the menu I was happily surprised -it looked fantastic! In fact, everything on the menu looked delicious. I ended up ordering the halloumi-hummus-carrot-beetrot-olive sandwich and to be honest it was probably one of the best sandiwiches I have ever eaten. A few days later I had to test and cook that kind of sandwich at home. It was excellent and my sweet Aussie man loved it too (we had it again for breakfast on the following day!). Here you can find the recipe, it asks a bit of work but is worth every minute spent in the kitchen!

Buns or baguette

1/2 onion

1 can of black olive slices

bunch of basil

2 carrots

1 cooked beetroot

1/2 packet of halloumi

1 packet hummus

salt and black pepper

good quality olive oil

1. Grate the carrot and beetroot and mix them together. Cook them in olive oil in the frying pan. (do not be careful with oil for it gives an amazing flavour, so use heaps), add salt and black pepper. After the mixture has been cooked, put it on a plate to wait.

2. Cut the onion, cook it slowly in the frying pan until golden, then add the olive slices, cook for a while (5min).  Add salt and pepper. Whilst cookin this, finely chop the basil. Take the onion-olive mixture away from the pan and mix it together with the chopped basil in the bowl and leave it wait for the sandwich building.

3. Cut the halloumi into small slices (3x3cm slices) and cook it in olive oil in the frying pan. After they have been cooked put them on a plate to wait.

4. Cut the baguette or buns  into halves (2 per person). Cook them in the olive oil in the frying pan.

5. Build sandwiches: First put hummus on the top of the cooked bread (on both of the halves). Then on the other half put the carrot-beetroot mixture, then halloumi slices on the top of that and then olive-onion-basil mixture on the top of that. On the other half put only hummus and a bit of the olive-onion-basil mixure.

6. Serve with wine or beer -these sandwiches are heavenly!