Filed under: Cooking, Desserts | Tags: fruit salad, lemon, lemongrass, lime, risotto, salad dressing, tahini, tofu
My childhood school was a Walldorf – school, for thirteen years. So ask me any question about the Finnish school system, and I won’t be able to answer you. But I learned how to make pretty sheep out of carded wool and pipecleaner, how to work with copper, how to flutter backwards and left in the eurythmics class, when there is a Minor cadence in the music, and several little poems to say thanks for the food, in the beginning or at end of the day. And yes, since there are many superstitions regarding Walldorf – education, we did learn our maths, biology and physics according to the state curriculum, along the other approaches to life.
Maybe the most valuable lesson of a Walldorf – school is that most likely you end up spending most of your thirteen years there with the same classmates, and most likely the same teachers too. A Walldorf – school is a community, and in like any community the people don’t always get along with each other well at all, and don’t like each other either. But somehow, when you rub onto each other for thirteen years, finally the worst edges are gone and maybe you have learned something about the human nature as well. And still, after years I finished school when I meet some of my old classmates, I feel an instant familiarity with them, stronger than with any of my other friends.
This Good Friday I spent comfortably with one of my old classmates and her partner. We are such old friends, hold no surprises for each other. My friend always cooks by the recipe; I always cook by the feel. She keeps a beautiful, colourful, neat and clean house, and the story of her life is artistically arranged in photo books. My house is chaotic and mostly outright dirty, and I can’t even recall what I did a year ago, let alone have a photo book about it. We have always been different like that, and I guess we will always remain with our ways. But it is amazing to have a friend that stayed in your life since you were seven years old.
Being secular people, we made Easter food already on Good Friday. In our families there are no strong traditions of what savoury foods to make on Easter, so we somehow ended up cooking citrus – themed food, which does have a feeling of Easter to it, maybe because the yellow colour of lemons. Anyway we made an intensely lemony risotto, a salad with a tangy tahini dressing and citrus – infused fruit salad as dessert.
Lemon – Tofu Risotto
This risotto is from the cookbook Tofukeittokirja (a Finnish cookbook on tofu), slightly modified.
400 g firm tofu
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp apple vinegar
2 tbsp honey
a pinch of allspice
1 tsp salt
3 dl arborio rice
8 dl vegetable stock
1 lemon, juiced
grated zest of ½ lemon
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp oil
50 g vegetable margarine
salt to taste
a pinch of turmeric
almonds and fresh mint for decorating
Mix the ingredients for the marinade, cut the tofu into small squares and mix in, let it marinate for a while in the fridge, preferably overnight.
Chop the onion and heat up the oil and margarine in a cooking pot. Throw in the onion and turn it for a minute or so. Add the rice, and let it sauté until it’s translucent. Remember to keep stirring! Next add the lemon juice and zest. Add vegetable stock little by little, stirring so that the rice is submerged all the time. Let simmer, stirring and adding the stock, for 15 to 20 minutes.
Fry the tofu quickly on a pan, and add it to the risotto, along with a bit of turmeric for a nice yellow colour. Using a cup as mold plate the risotto and decorate with almonds and fresh mint.
Tahini Salad Dressing
1 dl lime juice
1/2 dl light tahini
1 garlic clove
a pinch of salt
Blend everything with a hand held blender. If you prefer a runnier consistency, add some water, but I think it dilutes the taste unnecessary. Our salad contained thinly sliced kohlrabi, green apple, mung bean sprouts, oven roasted cherry tomatoes and dried cranberries.
Lemongrass – marinated fruit salad
This is vaguely the recipe I used as an inspiration for the fruit salad and lemongrass syrup. The result was delicious, though when cooking the marinade it smelled strangely of Indian incense. Here are also good instructions on how to segment citrus fruit. Segmenting citrus is definitely worth the bother!
1/2 cantaloupe melon
1 pink grape fruit
1 dl mint shavings
2 dl citrus juice, from the segmenting + lime juice
1 vanilla pod
2 stalks of lemon grass
1 dl honey
Zest of 1 lime
Segment the citrus, and catch the extra juices in a bowl. Make the syrup: cut the lemon grass stalks to 3 cm long pieces, scrape the vanilla pod and grate the lime zest. Add all the ingredients to a cooking pot, bring to a boil and let simmer a few minutes.
Cut up all the fruit, and add the strained marinade and the finely chopped mint. Let marinate for an hour or so.
This is what you say in a Walldorf – school, to bless the meal:
Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth …. Dear Sun
By you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give…..
Bon Appetit for everyone!
The main ingredients for this soup are very easy to find and cheap in Finland in the wintertime. Yet it tastes quite exotic, little bit like satay sauce, and you can almost forget the dull cabbage… This recipe yields about 20 – 25 portions.
Peanut and Cabbage Soup
500 g onions
1 kg carrots
3,5 kg cabbage
8 garlic cloves
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 green chillies
3 tbsp oil
4 dl peanut butter (the brand that I was using has salt and sugar in it, but it’s not overtly sweet)
1 dl vegetable fond
1 canned coconut milk
3 tbsp tomato paste
salt to taste
I chopped all the ingredients finely, and fried the onions, ginger, garlic and chillies in a big cooking pot together with oil. Then I added the cabbage and the carrots, and fried them some minutes. Then I added enough water to cover the vegetables, the vegetable fond, the tomato paste and some salt and brought the mixture to boil. Then I let it simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the cabbage was completely soft and translucent. Then squeezed the limes, added the lime juice, the coconut milk and the peanut butter to the soup and let it simmer still for a bit.
The people whom I made this soup for, liked it very much, except for one who thought it tasted “strange, but interesting”. I am at the moment very fond of peanuts, and this soup fulfilled that craving very well.