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195 Countries

Finishing off Finland February 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 10:56 pm

The last two things I made were very tasty. Jansson’s Frestelse was a potato gratin with canned fish. The recipe I used said not to use canned anchovies but I didn’t have many options at the grocery store. I settled for smoked kippers. If I made this again, I might just use small pieces  of cod.

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This dish was delicious! My coworker and husband said it smelled awful (very fishy)  but I would eat it again (not at work).

 

The final Finnish dessert was Runeberg’s Torte.  I wasn’t about to go out and buy cake molds so I made these in a mini muffin pan. The recipe calls for gingersnaps which I also wasn’t about to go out and buy when I could make at home from scratch. So I made the gingersnaps, let them dry out a little bit and then used them for this recipe. The cake was orangey, gingerbready, almondy and rummy.

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Runeberg’s Torte is made in Finland in February to celebrate a famous Finnish poet, Johan Runeberg.  Don’t let them dry out and enjoy!

 

Cardamom Buns and more! January 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 2:58 am

In the book Culture Shock! Finland, I came across this personal story, “In the States, an elderly woman saw me sitting on a bench and said to me “Your shoes are so cute! I was taken aback and thought she was so rude. Why should this complete stranger have the right to make value judgements about my dress, and why should she think I’d care? After all, I liked my shoes (that’s why I was wearing them) and why should anyone else’s comments matter to me?” I think I would get along well in this culture.

 

According to the lady who wrote this book in 2001, Finns like to keep to themselves and think privacy is important. Apparently they don’t like small talk and don’t smile much or meet people’s eyes. Here’s a joke from the same book. “Juha meets Johanna at a dance. They leave together and he says, ‘Your place or mine?’ She replies, ‘Why are you talking so much?'”

 

Some other very Finnish things – a majority of them have cabins that they go to on holiday. Just about everyone has a sauna. A sauna is a wooden room that is heated up to a dry heat of about 160-170F. To encourage good circulation they beat themselves or others with small branches. When the heat gets to be too much, the best option is to go outside, cut a hole in the ice and jump in for a quick swim. Then you can go back in the sauna!

 

A short history of Finland is that people moved into the area when the glaciers receded from the last ice age around 8500 BCE. In the modern era, the country has been largely dominated by Sweden to west and Russia to the east. Finland was under the Swedish monarchy for about 600 years. In the 1800s they were conquered by the Russian empire. At that time Russian rule was still the tsars. During this time, there were a number of nationalistic movements by the Finns. When the Socialist Revolution happened in 1917 in Russia, the Finns decided that they had enough. They definitely didn’t want their country run by the Soviets. Luckily due to the unrest in the USSR, the Finns were able to fight and win their freedom. So essentially Finland is a very young country with a long history. What makes them very interesting is for so much of their history, the Finns were the lower class people in their own country. That must influence their national identity even to today. According the Culture Shock! book, they have a good relationship with the Swedes but still don’t really care for the Russians.

 

So on to the food! I made a couple different things this week. Last Sunday I made Laskiaispulla which are sweet cardamom buns (pulla) with strawberry jam and whipped cream. I’ve always had trouble with yeasted foods rising enough but I think this recipe could be easily adapted for the dough setting with the bread machine. Here’s the recipe I used, the English version is at the bottom.

 

I would highly recommend this recipe if you were to make any from this series. For the ground cardamom, I visited Penzey’s Spices for the first time. I could spend way too much money there… It looked like a Pier One for spices. At any rate, they are not super sweet buns but I will increase the cardamom in them next time because I really love the flavor.

 

Laskiaispulla

Laskiaispulla

 

So how does mushy rice in a rye crust sound as a snack? I was a little worried about making this next item because honestly I thought it would be super bland or gross. Karelian pasties are a snack that’s popular in Karelia. Part of Karelia is now southeastern Finland, the remainder is the land around Lake Ladoga down to St. Petersburg in Russia. This dish is made with a rye crust. Rye is one of the more common grains in Scandinavia and Russia. The crust is rolled very thin and then rice cooked in milk until it is like a rice pudding is dished onto the crust. The crust is pinched up and the pasties are baked until the crust is crunchy. Then the pasties are eaten with hardboiled egg mixed with butter. Finns really love their dairy. Surprisingly, these things are very tasty!

 

Karelian Pasties

Karelian Pasties

They are quite small, only about palm sized. In the bottom picture, the left is without egg and the right is with egg. Here’s the recipe. They are very easy to make!

 

The last item I made this week is a blueberry pie. I don’t think this recipe is necessarily authentically Finnish but it was delicious and literally took me 10 minutes to throw together. This recipe is completely out of season because berry pies would usually be made when the fruit is in season during the summer. However, the weather was horrible here in Indiana so a summer pie sounded very nice. Plus I had frozen berries in the fridge! Finland has a large variety of berries. Foraging is also protected under law so any Finn can go out berry picking or mushroom picking just about anywhere! Some of the many berry varieties grown in Finland include: cloudberries, bilberries, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and lingonberries. I would LOVE to taste a cloudberry but I don’t know where to get them in Indiana! Surprisingly, there are no Scandinavian groceries in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky or Ohio. But if I ever made it up to Minnesota where there is a large population of Swedes, I could probably find some there!

 

Blueberry pie

 

Looks like a mess but was very delicious! The crust is more cookie like – not a flaky crust.

 

Well that’s all for this week. I only have 2 recipes left and then I need to move on from Finland. I’ve been really enjoying the food! I hope you get a chance to try some of these recipes. They have all been delicious!

 

Back at blogging and Finland! January 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 12:59 am

This past year was incredibly busy for me! I didn’t have a lot of time to cook dinner so I had to take a break from blogging for a little bit. The New Year encouraged me to start back up on the food trail. For a little more variety I decided to randomize the countries as well as take more time with them. I’m going to spend a month with each country and read their literature, try multiple recipes and just try to understand more about them. This project will takes years! or until I get bored.

My favorite tool in this journey is Pinterest! You can follow my World Foods board where I will be putting up interesting looking recipes I find from around the internet.

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By a roll of the dice, I got Finland for January. As a country that extends quite deeply into the arctic circle, it seemed fitting to be cooking Finnish recipes in the winter. I have always been interested in Finland. From an early age, my mom would tell me stories about a Finnish exchange student her family hosted when she was in high school. He is a doctor now and speaks a dozen languages. Studying languages has always been a passion of mine and when I attended the University of Washington for linguistics I learned about the origins of the Finnish language. Finnish is not actually related to more than a couple other languages (like Estonian). Swedish and Norwegian are Germanic languages and not at all close to Finnish. It is also one of the harder languages to learn.

Since Finland is located in the arctic circle in the summer around the solstice there is no night. Yep, 24 hours of sunlight. Conversely around the winter solstice there are days of only darkness. Finland is a republic and the majority of Finns are Lutheran. The capitol and largest city is Helsinki. Finland shares land borders with Norway, Sweden, and Russia and is across a relatively small sea from Estonia. Norway, Sweden and Russia have a very dominant history in the region and much of Finland’s history has been greatly influenced by its neighbors. I’m currently reading some books on the history of the region and will report back!

Famous Finnish people and things include:

  • Linus Torvalds – creator of Linux
  • Jean Sibelius – composer of Finlandia
  • Eero Saarinen – architect
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen – another famous architect
  • Actual home of Santa Claus
  • Lapland
  • Angry Birds phone app
  • Nokia – cell phone company
  • Apocalyptica – 3 words – metal band + cello
  • Darude – DJ – everyone knows this song
  • salty licorice

Lots of cool things come from Finland except the last – salty licorice – which I’m thinking is similar to natto in Japan or vegemite in Australia. The locals love em, the rest of us hate em.

As I was looking for recipes I came across an interesting article about how the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that Finnish food was awful. I figured that was an auspicious start to this project. Many countries don’t have quite as much of a culinary history as France or Italy but good eats can be found in every part of the world.

Popular foods in Finland include rye bread, dill, loads of different kinds of fresh berries in the summer, all kinds of fish, meat pasties, cardamom breads, fresh dairy products and Finnish meatballs (similar/same as Swedish meatballs). Normally I’ll post once a week but I’m a bit behind. You get two dishes this time! While rye bread is probably the most famous Finnish food, I don’t really like it so I probably won’t make it.

A few dishes really stood out for me as 1. edible, 2. interesting looking. The first is a nod to the long border with Russia! Blini with smoked salmon (I did not make the pierogi in the picture).

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Blinis are a yeasted buckwheat pancake. The recipe I used was from the Joy of Cooking. They are traditionally served with smoked salmon – either plain or gravlax – with sour cream and dill. Normally this is served as an appetizer but I think it makes a delicious meal with pierogi! The dish was great but I miss Pacific Northwest smoked salmon. So much better than Indiana supermarket variety!

Week two was Lohikeitto which is a chowdery potato and salmon soup. This dish was delicious and will be moving into my recipe file.

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This dish made a good dinner and even better leftovers! Chunk your salmon small and don’t over cook it!  The oat crackers she posts in the blog link above look like a perfect match with the soup but we just ate the soup without biscuits.

Sometime on Sunday I will be making cardamom buns with strawberry filling (Laskiaispulla). The next two week’s dishes include Karelian pasties, blueberry pie, Janssons frestesle and Runeberg’s torte. Key to being satisfied cooking different cultures – also try their desserts!

Here’s some teasers!

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Sure looks like there are plenty of tasty things to try in Finland!

If you would like to read along with me as I learn more about Finland, try these books:

  • Culture shock! Finland: a survival guide to customs and etiquette
  • Finland, cultural lone wolf – Richard Lewis
  • The healer – Antti Tuomainen – fiction
  • The history of Finland – Jason Lavery
  • The Kalevala – compiled by Elias Lonnrot
  • Sibelius – Andrew Barnett
  • The year of the hare – Arto Paasilinna – fiction
  • A brief history of the Vikings – Jonathan Clements
  • A history of Scandinavia – T.K. Derry
  • A frozen hell: the Russo-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940 – William Trotter

See you later! Or as they say in Finland: nähdään pian!

 

Angola September 19, 2012

Filed under: Angola — Emily @ 10:48 pm

Angola was the first country that kind of scared me a little bit culinarily. The Wikipedia page for Angolan cuisine mentioned that some insects are popular to eat here along with cassava. Firstly, I don’t think I will ever want to eat insects. Secondly, I don’t think I could ever get John to eat them. And I have no idea how to cook cassava. All the pictures kind of show it to look like gummy mashed potatoes. Either that or some sort of gel candy. At any rate, I was not excited about the options.

 

Seafood is also very popular. Angola is in Southern Africa on the Atlantic coast. The majority of the cities are on the water. Fish stews and grilled prawns are eaten a lot. Another very popular dish in all the Portuguese speaking nations is feijoada which is a bean and beef/pork stew. I didn’t feel like stew this week so we will be eating that when we hit Brazil. Additionally peanuts are common in a lot of different dishes since they grow very well in many areas in Africa.

African Banana and Peanut Cake

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The ingredients and the method here make this actually just a variant of banana bread. I’m not sure how authentic this recipe is. I got it here. There are many recipes on the internet that are similar to this but I picked that one because it had English measurements instead of grams. The banana bread was actually very tasty. I enjoyed the salty peanuts with the typical tasting banana bread. It was a nice twist on a classic.

 

The second thing I made was Shrimp Fritters. This recipe was in Portuguese so I had to figure it out from the very odd Google Translate version. They were crispy and very delicious. I think John was actually very surprised they were edible. Shrimpy but not fishy. And not hard at all to make.

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Recipe adapted from Receitas de Comidas

 

Dough:

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. water

1 Tbs. butter

1 c. flour

 

Filling:

1/2 onion, chopped

1 Tbs. olive oil

12 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped

1 Tbs. flour

2 Tbs. milk

1 egg yolk

1 Tbs. chopped parsley

2 Tbs. tomato paste

salt and pepper

 

Frying:

Flour

Breadcrumbs

1 egg

Vegetable oil

 

Prepare the dough by heating the water, butter and salt until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add the flour. Mix until it pulls away from the pan and forms a stick dough. Let rest 10 min.

 

Prepare the filling by sauteing the onion in oil until translucent, about 10 min. Add the shrimp and cook until pink. If already cooked, heat for 2 min. Add the tomato paste and stir for 2 min until distributed. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir another min. Add the milk and let it thicken. Then remove from heat and add the egg yolk and parsley. Set aside.

 

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. I made 4″ diameter rounds but you could make smaller if your shrimp is well chopped. Cut circles in the dough with a glass or bowl. Fill the rounds with 1-2 Tbs. filling depending on the size. Fold into half moons and crimp the edges. Dip the fritters in flour then egg and then breadcrumbs and deep fry until golden brown.

 

Makes 8 large fritters. 4 servings – 2 per. 500ish calories a serving.

 

Next week if I’m not totally burnt out, I will be making a fish and rice dish and then a chicken and peanut dish.

 

Trinxat and xuixo de crema September 6, 2012

Filed under: Andorra — Emily @ 10:59 pm

Let’s start with dessert, ok? I made donuts! These are a Catalan version called Xuixo de Crema, recipe here. Basically they are yeast donuts with a lemony cream filling. And they were delicious. And I had to make only half because they are SO YUMMY! John has a weakness for donuts and yes, I exploited that. Plus making donuts was a fun afternoon activity that saved me from statistics homework.

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Only one problem. Not enough filling!!

Look at my poor beat up stove. I love it! This is trinxat. It’s a potato and cabbage pancake, recipe here. There’s not a lot of truly Andorran dishes but this is the one everyone talks about. I found this on Global Table Adventure. It was delicious and tasty and went well with sausage.

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It looks much less impressive than it tasted. I heated a sausage and then we grilled it.

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Andorrans really like a good wine, crusty bread, local cheeses and sausage. Yum!

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John gives this meal two thumbs up.

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Cat says hi!

 

Coca September 4, 2012

Filed under: Andorra — Emily @ 11:36 pm

This week started my adventures with Andorra! This is the first out of the four countries I’ve done already that is a Christian nation and the second that is in Europe. Many people have never heard of Andorra before. It’s such a small country that you could blink and miss it.

That little tiny speck between Spain and France is Andorra! It is between Midi-Pyrenees division of France and Catalan in Spain. The cuisine here is a mix of both French and Spanish. The majority of the recipes I came across appeared to be more Spanish.

 

John has been such a good sport with my cooking ADD so I try to reward him whenever I can. The first recipe I picked for Andorra was coca aka flatbread with toppings. While I am not legally allowed to call flatbread without tomato sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella pizza in my house, its about as close as you get.

 

I made coca last night and tonight from this recipe from NPR. The one below is sweet pepper, bacon and caramelized onion coca which is a recipe at the bottom of the NPR page.

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The Manchego cheese was a bit outside of our budget but really was delicious! If you don’t want to spend $$ on cheese, pecorino romano is somewhat similar. The flatbread above was only a quarter of the dough. You could also make mini flatbreads half that size.

 

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Since I had so much dough, I decided to make it again tonight. But we were out of onions! So enter me putting whatever I can find in the refrigerator on the flatbread.

 

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Half was spinach and sweet pepper and the other half was avocado with bacon and Manchego over both sides. Note: avocado was pretty weird. I would not recommend it! However spinach is a very tasty combination.

 

There aren’t many recipes that are uniquely Andorran as you might imagine being in the middle of two such culinarily defined countries. Generally people say they eat a lot of sausage, crusty bread and local cheeses. We may have some of that stuff at our local gourmet shop but on a budget those kinds of things are a bit out of reach.

This week I plan to make a potato and cabbage pancake type dish called trinxat (the quintessential thing to make when you are learning about Andorra) served with a sausage. I am also going to make some sort of pastry horn with a cream filling. Sounds tasty, right?

 

 

Algerian Deliciousness August 31, 2012

Filed under: Algeria — Emily @ 11:10 pm

I confess I had some rage recently when my post that I spent an hour on got lost. Life has been keeping me busy but I have still been cooking. Algeria is such an interesting country. I remember taking high school French and watching some videos in class about the racial conflicts with the Algerian emigrants. Algeria in the 20th century actually was a French colony until they won their independence in the 1960s. Because of that, there is a huge French influence in the country and French is a major language there, along with Arabic and Berber.

 

Last month was Ramadan on the Islamic calendar so I made Harira. This is a tomato based soup with meat, vermicelli and chickpeas. It is hearty and used to break the fast. I got the recipe online from moroccanfood wiki. It was delicious but it made a TON of soup! So prepare to feed a crowd. Harira is called a Moroccan soup but since the countries are in such close proximity, culinary inspiration has a tendency to overflow. I served it with pita chips and the traditional handful of dates.

 

I wanted to make a sweet with each country and decided to make Makroud. I read a couple books about people’s childhoods in Algeria and many of them mentioned this fried treat. It is an almond and date soft center surrounded by crispy fried semolina dough dipped in honey. Crunchy on the outside, sweet and smooth on the inside. If I was a bigger fan of dates I think I would’ve liked them better. But they were still delicious and very easy to make. I would recommend them if you like dates. I got the recipe here.

 

The last dish I made was a chicken tagine with olives. I found a wonderful website all based on Algerian food. What I like best is the little cultural note she makes with each dish. She mentions at the end of the recipe that the tagine is traditionally served with french fries not couscous. I read it incorrectly and bought couscous so we just ate it with that. The tagine was more like a slow braised chicken soup with olives and onions in it. Since John and I had come down with colds, it was very welcome.

 

I’m afraid extra reading is out for now as I’m pretty busy with school but I would recommend heading over to goodreads. They have a list for everything and I’ve found a lot of good books that match with the different countries I’m visiting.

 

Here’s some other recipes that I didn’t get a chance to make that sounded interesting:

Markode aux Pommes de Terre – the blogger says this is similar to a Spanish tortilla – eggs and potatoes

Beghrir choco – North African chocolate pancake served with date syrup

 

Next week is Andorra!

 

 
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