Presently, I am cooking for a bunch of Alternative People of Finland. They have decided to make a movie about Kalevala – the Finnish National ephic poem – and wanting to make it hit the box offices big time too. They just went to do some shooting to an island, and among the food that I made for them was this little hippie treat:
Mint Chocolate Balls
(about 20 pieces)
300 g vegetable margarine
2,5 dl brown sugar
5 dl oat flakes
1 dl cocoa powder
1 dl fresh peppermint (chopped)
2 dl grated coconut
This is so simple to make: I chopped the mint finely, mixed all the ingredients, and then made balls of it, and rolled them a bit on plate that was filled with grated coconut.
We’ll see about the movie…
Filed under: Sweets | Tags: dessert, halva, indian, rose water, semolina, strawberry
First, in order to avoid confusion, there are two types of halva: Indian halva, which is kind of a pudding made of semolina, and Arabian halva, which is a sweet made of sesame seeds. Indian halva is one of my all time favourites, when I’m cooking in a hurry for big crowds. It can quite easily be made for like a hundred people in a 10 liter pan. Besides, hippies love it! The idea of halva was presented to me by an ex – Krishna devotee when I was working in an ecovillage in Central Finland.
This particular recipe I invented last summer for a hippie – festival catering. For the hippies I shaped balls of the halva, since it was easy to serve like that, and hippies generally love to eat anything that is in a form of a ball (why that is so I cannot tell). Though, it can also be made a so that the consistency is a bit runnier and then served with a spoon. Rosewater can be obtained in Asian stores and at the chemist’s, but I have sometimes used a brand of organic rosewater (Julia Lawless Aqua Oleum), which was definetely the best, since it smells most like real roses.
Rose is an edible flower, and a very decorative one too! Though it’s good to remember to take out the white part of the petals, since it is bitter. I usually collect the petals of Japanese rose or rosa rugosa which grows very all over the place in Finland, and blooms from June to August.
Halva with Rosewater and Strawberries
4 dl semolina
1,5 dl grated coconut
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder
3 dl brown sugar
2,5 dl oil (anything that doesn’t have a very distinguished taste, I used canola)
3 dl oat milk
2 tbsp rose water
250 g frozen strawberries
This halva is made in a cooking pan. I started by toasting the semolina on dry pan for about ten minutes, stirring it all the time, in order to avoid burning. When the semolina was very slightly yellow – brownish, I added the coconut, spices and sugar, stirred hastily and then quickly added the oil, milk and strawberries and the rose water. Then I turned down the heat and covered the pan with a lid, and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. I was using frozen strawberries, so I guess it would go faster, if you used fresh ones. I shaped the halva by pressing it to tiny bowl and then turning it over on a plate, kind of in the same way children make sandcakes. I decorated the halva with rose petals, grated coconut and freeze – dried strawberries. It could also be sprinkled with rose water, to enhance the taste and smell.
Filed under: Baking, spring seasonal food | Tags: filled pie, garden myrrh, rhubarb
Finally, the first rhubarb pie this summer! I spiced it with an old fashioned herb that I found growing in my yard. It is called garden myrrh or sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata). The taste is sweet, aniseed – like, and it is said that it could even be used as a sugar substitute. The leaves are really pretty too and can be used as decoration.
I made two versions of this pie: the first one I fed for a meeting of the environmental organisation Dodo, and the second, upgraded edition went to a party of another environmental organisation, called Luonto – Liitto. And I must admit that the second version was simply so good that even me, the most self – critical baker, couldn’t find a fault in it!
Rhubarb Pie with Garden Myrrh
3, 5 dl wheat flour
1 tsp ginger powder
1,5 tsp baking powder
1 dl sugar
150 g vegetable margarine
1 tbsp cold water
I mixed all the dry ingredients in bowl, and then kneaded in the margarine. To the last I added the cold water and set the dough to the fridge to wait for a while.
4 – 5 dl peeled, chopped rhubarb stalks
2 tbsp finely chopped garden myrrh
1, 5 dl sugar
2 tbsp potato starch
350 g soy yoghurt
I mixed all the other ingredients, except the potato starch and the chopped rhubarb. The potato starch I sifted in and then mixed carefully, in order to avoid lumps. Then I took the crust – dough from the fridge, and lined a pie – pan with it. Then I poured the chopped rhubarb and after that the yoghurt – mixture on the crust. I baked it in a preheated 200 °C oven for 45 minutes.
The thing I did in another way I usually do, is that I added some potato starch in the filling. In non – vegan pies egg is quite often used to make the filling set, but I think potato starch worked really well, since the pie stayed together nicely. Also, in the “second edition” pie, which is not in the picture, I used brown sugar in the crust and ordinary white sugar in the filling. That had a positive effect on the look of the pie!
This is an extremely simple drink I made on hot day. Again I found some use for the mints that try to overtake my yard..
1/4 of big watermelon
1 handful of spearmint leaves
1 tbsp freshly squeesed lemon juice
1 tsp muscovado sugar
I blended it with a handheld mixer and served it with ice cubes. This yielded about 7 dl, just enough for me and my guest.
I thought to combine the delicacies of early summer: green asparagus and rhubarb that is growing sonicely in my yard. So I made this salad with a rhubarb dressing, which was supposed to have a slightly Asian taste to it. I would have liked to have some fresh radish in the salad too, but sadly there were no available. Except for one that I found in the fridge and cut to flower for decoration…
Salad with Asparagus and a Rhubard Dressing
6 stalks of green asparagus
2 handfuls of different kinds of salad ( I had salanova and iceberg lettuce and some rucola)
some leaves of bloodwort for decoration
2 stalks of rhubarb
1 dl water
1 tsp white balsamico
1cm x 1cm piece fresh ginger
3/4 dl muscovado sugar
1 little red onion
1 tbsp sesame oil
I made the dressing by chopping the onion, the ginger and the rhubarb. Then I put in pan the rhubarb, ginger, sugar, onions and water, and let the mixture boil until the rhubarb was quite mushed. Then I added the oil and some salt. I guess I could have put the mixture through a sieve, in order to get a really refined consistency, but I ended up using it just as it was.
I peeled the asparagus and cut out a couple of cm of the fibrous part at the bottom of the stalk. Then I threw the stalks to 1 liter of boiling water, and boiled them for about 3 minutes, then drained out the water and rinsed them in cold water.
Then I toasted the pumpkin seeds lightly on a dry frying pan.
I assembled the salad, and served it together with some fried tofu. The rhubarb dressing was really nice!
Well, a sandwich cake made out of a breadloaf is a must have in Finnish graduation party. Somehow wierdly I really like these cakes, even if they aren’t exactly the hottest trend in high cuisine.. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, a sandwich cake is kind of giant sandwich, made out of a breadloaf, filled with different kind of spreads and mayos and moistened with milk. Wild decoration with roses made of rolled ham and flowers cut out of tomatoes are also quite common, with lots of piped cream cheese as icing.
My friend Linda wanted to have a sandwich cake for her graduation party, in exchange of fixing some handles for my new kitchen. I was in a hurry and made this cake very fast, without thinking too much. That’s why I don’t have any pictures that would make it clearer how it actually is made.. The cake got a good reception at this Finnish – Swedish party where I brought it, and disappeared in twenty minutes. No one complained for it not having any meat in it!
Sandwich Cake with Avocado and Beetroot
Two loafs of bread
2,5 dl oat milk for moistening
juice of one lemon
salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic
a pinch of black pepper
600 g cooked beetroots
1 dl cooked chickpeas
1 dl coconut milk
1/2 dl olive oil
salt to taste
2 tblsp rasberry vinegar
a small handful of fresh basil
750 g soy cream cheese, natural
Cooking water that was lef from the beets, enough to dye the cheese pink (about a desiliter).
I started with the bread. It’s good to have a breadloaf that’s fairly firm, and of that type that has been baked in a tin. I cut out all the crusts and sliced the bread diagonally in three layers, like with a cake. The I made the fillings, by blending the ingredients with a hand held mixer.
Then I assembled the cake. I moistened the layers readily with oat milk, since it’s important to moisten this type of cake enough. I put the avocado spread between the first and the second layer, and the beetroot spread between the second and the third. I had two loafs of bread, so I made the cake into a kind of cross shape, because this way it fitted in my cake container. You can see the picture. Then I put the cake in the fridge to wait for the following day. And I mean, you can not make a moistened cake the same day you are going to eat it, it won’t be any good. Always start the previous day! This stands for the sweet cakes as well.
The next day I had about an hour to decorate the cake: so in fast forward mode I mixed the soy cream cheese with the beet cooking water, so that I got a nice colour and so that the mixture had a good consistency for piping. Then I made a piping device out of a plastic bag, and hastily piped the cheese on the cake. I decorated the cake with stripes of cucumber cut with a cheese – slicer, some radishes cut to flowers and some spruce year growths and lemon.