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Posts Tagged ‘Finnish’

My mother-in-law had a copy of this book in hardcover. I was immediately drawn to the illustrations in black and white of each herb and spice you can imagine, all in alphabetical order for ease of reference. This book gives anywhere from one to a dozen recipes for a specific spice or herb.

I wouldn’t call this “American” or “French” per se, it’s just simple recipes to give you ideas on the versatility of those little plants and jars in your kitchen. I also like the descriptions, they give times-past associations of spices with prosperity, luck, love, and hate!

I tried the Cabbage with Capers last night and my husband said it was one of the best things I’ve made in a while!  (Why doesn’t he like the rest of it? Or is he too nice to tell me so? Well I have to admit that I’ve been heavy handed with the salt as of late…)

Adapted from Cabbage with Capers from Cooking With Herbs And Spices by Craig Claiborne

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup cooked ham, small dice
  • 1 Tbsp bacon fat
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp capers with brine
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

Start with the bacon fat, ham, and onion.  Add the garlic after the onion is soft and fragrant, cook for a minute.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine then quickly cover and reduce to medium-low for 10 minutes.  It’s ready when the cabbage is soft, stir to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan if needed.

This dish resembled a very mild sauerkraut only the caraway was replaced with capers.  Big Brother is not a fan of caraway seeds, so this is a good swap for him.

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In other news… I’m hosting a bake sale on Mother’s Day!  I’ve opened a cottage bakery in my house, Cardamom Finnish Cottage Bakery, and I thought this would be a good way to let neighbors know about me.  And for all of you Austin readers, this is a chance to actually taste some of the sweet things you’ve been drooling over while reading my blog.  Locals can pre-order via the bakery website to pick up on Sunday, or just come on by between 9 and 11 am and shop at the sale (2800 Adelen Ln, Round Rock).

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For a long time, I’ve missed my Grandma.  I’ve replayed the last moments we shared together over and over when her birthday approaches.  Shortly after I moved away to begin a new career, she celebrated her 90th birthday.  I returned to attend the family gathering in a tiny Bahá’í hall in Edmonton and was carrying my first child.  Those pregnancy hormones filled me with tears, uncontrollable tears.  They just overflowed while we watched a slide show of old photographs portraying Grandma’s life.  She had reached Great Grandma status even before that day, as some of my cousins had small children and mine was next.

I have fond memories of her two-story house in Mayfield.  Her old cats and Shih tzu who kept her company.  The old candies stowed away in a wood side board table with sliding doors on the front.  Her tea and ginger snap cookies and dark heavy bread.  That was not her first home though.  She lived on the calm quiet shores of Sylvan Lake in a cabin like structure.  Her husband, my Grandfather, was a carpenter and inventor.  I’m sure he built the last standing building I saw at the lake many years ago with grandma.  I could tell she missed him, his handiwork.  Grandma didn’t speak of him much, I cannot recall a conversation that included him.  He is a mystery to me.  We spent many cool summers at the lake with Grandma.

In the city, Grandma never drove a car.  She would have her children and grandchildren taxi her to fetch groceries or reach appointments, or to go to the Pacific Coast.  Of course buses and real taxis served her well while she was mobile enough to use them.  While I lived with her, in the second house which was a bungalow, I offered her rides to Safeway.  Or I would go pick up what she needed.  We went shopping together before I moved away, she insisted on buying me a pair of sandals.  “It’s gonna be pretty warm down there in Texas, you need something comfortable.”  I still have those white leather sandals, they remind me of her each time I wear them.

Besides the shoes, I have her bread recipe.  It’s been hiding.  Or rather, I’ve kept it tucked away in my recipe binder since her passing.  I still get upset every now and then but I know she only wished for my happiness and catch myself before darkness sets in.  My solemn mood requires a quiet reprieve from busy business, time to reflect and honour those who brought us here.

The recipe has several different types of flours and grains.  It calls for seeds and raisins but I left them out for this batch.  I added my twist with quinoa flakes to use up the bulk bin purchase from earlier in the week.  Who knows if the “cup” used was a proper measuring cup or a tea cup, or there could have been no cup at all.  This was her bread, after a while why would a recipe be necessary?  All I figured out was the large quantity of flour that was left out of what was transcribed, about 10 cups.  I will consult with my aunt on the accuracy of the recipe, maybe there’s another version.

Luckily, I had a full bag of bread flour so the unexpected 10 cups were easily accommodated.

I left out the third addition of water because I had a very soupy mixture in my bowl to contend with.  I split the resulting slurry between two large bowls and started adding flour.  And adding more.  Suddenly it came together and I had something to knead.  Five minutes for each ball of dough from each large bowl.  They proofed beautifully, aromatic and sweet from the molasses.  Still looked like a blond version of Grandma’s bread, at least it smelled and felt like bread now.

The two bowls became four loaves.  None of my bread pans are the same size or material so this was an interesting way to find out which ones will work best for dark breads.  My rye breads are rounds on sheet pans, so I haven’t seen the loaf pans in action for this sort of bread.  I topped two loaves with a dusting of flour, the other with honey and poppy seeds.

Pidä huolta itsestäsi, Isoäiti.

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I’ve been reading The Great Holiday Baking Book  by a woman named Beatrice Ojakangas.  I absolutely love this cook book.  It sits inside my bedside table, waiting for me to continue drooling over recipes each night.

image from Amazon - click to view Amazon page

I know Mrs. Ojakangas lives in Minnesota somewhere with her husband.  She’s been on several television shows, including Martha Stewart Living where I first found out there was a Scandanavian chef out there.  Being half Finnish myself, I was instantly curious.  That curiosity from my late teens did not disappear.  In the last year since I began this blog I have aquired three of Beatrice’s cook books.  The Great Holiday Baking Book is the second one to be poured over with much enthusiasm.  Every chapter has a gem, a recipe that looks too good not to try, and last night I came across the caraway rye bread in the Father’s Day chapter.  She explains in the book that the bread-machine recipes were tested on different brands of machine, and they all turned out great.  My bread machine baked this delicious loaf with ease.

Starting the batch after dinner in my ADD time of night wasn’t the best idea.  I made a bold move to lay down in bed and listen for the timer on the machine to wake me up.  Why not leave the loaf in the machine?  Well, there’s a lot of heat built up that will continue to bake your bread, it may be a dry brick by morning.  I didn’t want to chance it.  I set the timer on the microwave to go off a few minutes later than the bread machine as a back up.  I’m sure Hubby was not impressed, he fell asleep while the bread was baking and I caught a squinting eye upon my return from dumping out the baked loaf onto the cooling rack.  Everyone was back to dreaming about puffy clouds and wooly sheep in no time.

Finnish Caraway Rye Bread

Adapted from The Great Holiday Baking Book by B. Ojakangas

The modifications I made to the original recipe are noted below.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter 2 Tbsp salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 cup dark rye flour, stone ground is what I used
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast  1 Tbsp dry active yeast

I found out through Nancy on her blog that I could must use salted butter in my breads to yield a better flavour, I keep the salt measurements the same from the recipe.  This has been the best trick in baking bread since I’ve started making my own bread.  So go ahead, you’ll be glad you did too!

If you own a bread machine, put the ingredients in the canister in the order shown above.  If your manufacturer insists on liquids being on top, reverse the whole list.  Otherwise, read your manual.  I did mix the two flours in a bowl first to get the rye bits distributed evenly.

That’s the hardest part.  All you have to do is set the machine to 1.5 LB and medium crust on its regular cycle.  Push START.  Now try to stay awake to let the little loaf out when it’s done!

Try this bread with some Salmon with Leeks as a sandwich the next day.  All you need to do is mash up the salmon, add some mayo, pinch of salt and pepper… smear it on toasted slices of the rye bread and voilà!  You are set for lunch.

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One of the cookie recipes I made for the Austin Bakes for Bastrop bake sale was Finnish Peppernuts, but despite the name they did not contain nuts.  The original recipe from Beatrice Ojakangas’ Great Holiday Baking Book (Random House 1994) calls for ground hazelnuts, for which the cookies are shaped after.  Many people might know them as Pfefernüsse the German name for this round, holiday spiced cookie.

peppernuts

peppernuts hot out of the oven

I modified the recipe to make half a batch first, just in case there might be other tweaks to make.

Adapted from Peppernuts by Beatrice Ojakangas

  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Turn on the oven to 375ºF.  Cream the butter, sugar and egg until smooth.  Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a separate bowl.  Mix the flour into the butter and sugar.  Form 1/2 inch balls and place 1/2 inch apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 8 minutes, just until the bottom is lightly browned.

Pfefernusse Cookies (photo: Martha Compton)

Pfefernusse Cookies (photo: Martha Compton)

These would be cute in gift bags tied with a decorative ribbon or natural twine.  I put eight into individual bags for the bake sale.

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