Goddess of Cake


Fredrika’s Tart
February 5, 2010, 12:00
Filed under: Desserts, raw food | Tags: , , , ,

The 5th of February is the honorary day of the national poet of Finland,  Johan Ludvig Runeberg. He lived in the 19th century and was a popular author of his day.  These days we celebrate his memory with a little pastry called Runeberg’s Tart.

Runeberg, like other men of his status, had a wife, Fredrika. For over a hundred years Fredrika was only credited for being the wife of Runeberg, and as  the inventor of the famous tart. In reality,  Fredrika did not even invent this pastry,  it was a specialty of a local bakery.  Instead,  she was an herself an aspiring writer, and a deeply ambitious person. But she was always left in the shade of her famous spouse. In those days before washing machines and vacuum cleaners, her days were mostly filled with household chores that she found absolutely dreary, besides of having to deal with a womanizing husband and financial difficulties.

Fredrika, isn’t it strange how still in 2010, a young lady, liberated and educated, like me, would make the choice of trying to be famous with her skills in the kitchen? Why would she do that? Since, between you and me, a pretty young lady with good cooking skills is to most people nothing more than that, however ambitious or clever she may be otherwise.  A hundred years after you, Fredrika, I must admit that certain attitudes do sit tight in the society.  And all you young ladies who are reading this blog and haven’t started your own, do consider another subject than cooking or handicrafts! Because, to formulate this clearly: after you are dead, do you want to be remembered for a friggin’ cake,  named after your husband, or because, for example, winning the Nobel Prize in physics? I think this is something we all should think about, seriously.

But anyway, this tart is for you Fredrika, I promise to read your texts one day too.

Fredrika’s Tart

I decided to make a raw version of Runeberg’s Tart. A Runeberg’s tart is a pastry with almond meal, bread or gingerbread crumbles, flavoured with cardamom and moistened with rum or punsch, a typical Swedish alcoholic drink.  The tart is topped with some raspberry jam and sugar icing. You can find a nice vegan recipe here. This is how they look made by my friend Rosa, who traditionally arranges each year a party where only  Runeberg’s Tarts are served.

My raw version contained almonds, lucuma, coconut, cardamom, dates, honey and some rum aroma, which is indeed artificial and not raw at all. But you could leave it out, substitute it with real rum or use bitter almond extract. The pink  “icing” was a bit of a challenging part, and I ended up doing it with coconut oil and honey, but later realised that probably also some cashew nut cream would have looked nice.

5 pieces

2 dl blanched almonds

1/2 dl shredded coconut

3 tsp lucuma powder

5 dates

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp coconut oil

3 drops rum aroma

a pinch of cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

The ” icing”:

2 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp honey

some raspberry purée/ other red juice for colour

The “jam”

1/2  dl frozen, thawed raspberries

honey for sweetening

I blended together all the ingredients for the tart with a food processor. Then I formed a round bar with the help of some baking parchment and stuck it to the freezer for about ten minutes. Then I cut the bar into five pieces, about 4 cm tall, and decorated them with raspberry puree and and piped on the icing.  The raspberry puree was made with a hand held blender and the icing by simply mixing the ingredients with a spoon.

The tarts tasted surprisingly much like actual Runeberg’s tarts, but the consistency was a bit too heavy and oily  for my taste.  So I think I need to experiment a bit more with this raw dessert thing…



Soup Kitchen
January 15, 2010, 20:46
Filed under: Cooking, soup | Tags: , , , , ,

For a while, I  worked at the Office. The Office is a place where many creative, clever and friendly people make the gears of capitalist society turn smoothly. At the Office, people eat carefully, but enjoying their food as much as anybody. Often they ask: Is it organic? Is it low fat? Is it low carb? They are concerned about their weight and the health aspects of their diet.

I always made a nice big pot of soup every Friday for the people at the Office. The soups were generally well liked, though several men promptly refused to even touch them, since well – the soups were vegetarian. To no avail was the praise the other people lavished on my soups, and also I must admit it: after tasting the food restaurants in Helsinki have to offer I’m quite proud of my soup – making skills.  But the guys had their principles: no vegetarian food shall ever cross their lips. I have my principles too:  I did not give in, and neither did they. Though I told one of them that if he brings me a living chicken, and slaughters it in front of my eyes,  at counter of  the Office kitchen, I shall indeed cook it for him. But he never did, and I continued to make a vegetarian soup every Friday.

I do happen to know many males that are indeed vegetarian, even vegan, so the fierce resistance my soups met with the guys at the Office left me puzzled: what is going on, I asked my girlfriends. We did some really hard thinking, but who could understand, what goes on in a mans’ handsome head? The mystery remains unsolved to this day.

Here are four soups that I made for them. All of these soups are prepared in the same way:

First peel and chop all the veggies, then heat some oil in a cooking pot, then add the chopped onion, and garlic and ginger, if there’s any on the recipe. Then add the rest of the vegetables, turn a couple of times and add water or vegetable stock, enough to cover everything. Cook until done, purée using a hand-held blender, add salt, and other mentioned spices, as well as cream/wine . Soups should always be left to stand  for some minutes before serving, to make the flavours “open”.

Pink Soup – with Beetroot and Orange

This is a nice winter season soup, originally by Saara Törmä. The orange zest lifts the flavour of beetroot to a totally new dimension.

1 onion

5 beetroot

4 carrots

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 l vegetable stock

2 tbsp lemon juice

grated zest of one organic orange

black pepper

salt

soy yogurt for serving

White Soup – with Almond and Cauliflower

This is a late summer – autumn seasonal soup. Almond meal can also be used in curries etc. to thicken and bring a creamy flavour.

300 g cauliflower (one head)

150 g almond meal

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

2 tsp sherry vinegar

1/2 dl oat cream etc.

salt to taste

water

Orange Soup – with Sweet Potato,  Lime and Chili

Well, this is a no – season soup in Finland, but very nice and warming in the winter. I quite enjoy the very subtle heat cooking the chillies whole brings to the soup, but you might as well chop them if you like a bit more intense spiciness.

1 red onion

oil for frying

2 carrots

2 sweet potatoes

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 can coconut milk

4 red chillies

juice of two limes

water

fresh coriander for serving

Green Soup – with Green Peas and Mint

Fresh mint and fresh peas – this is certainly a summer seasonal soup, but can easily be made with frozen peas and dried mint as well. Remember to use spearmint, not peppermint! Also, if you don’t like the taste of mint, it can be substituted with estragon.

4 potatoes

150 g green peas

2 cloves garlic

1 onion

a handful of mint

1/2 dl white wine

vegetable stock

salt

1 dl oat cream

home made croutons for serving

Oh.. and there is also a Red Soup – with Bell Pepper and Smoke Flavour. The recipe is here.




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