Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Riisipuuro - Finnish rice pudding

This Christmas was a bit different than all the others. It was more simple and more quiet.
We wanted to celebrate with both Finnish food at Christmas Eve and Italian food on the 25th.

So on the 24th, the morning started with the traditional Finnish Christmas breakfast: riisipuuro, aka rice porridge (or rice pudding) cooked in milk, of which you will find the recipe below. It's usually served with some butter (like in the photo) or sprinkled with cinnamon. I prefer the butter version :P

During the day I baked more Christmas tarts, but used apple jam instead of the traditional plum jam.

The dinner was a big meal! For only two people, it was an impressive amount of food. So much that not all of it would fit in the picture (and on the table)...

So we had ham, 3 different kinds of salmon, karelian pies, mushroom salad, turnip and carrot casseroles (not in pic), boiled potatoes (not in pic), cream sauce (not in pic), lihahyytelö (meat in gelatin), then different types of chocolate for dessert.

After dinner we had warm glögi, which is mulled wine. And we opened our presents! :)

So here's the recipe for the riisipuuro.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
  • 2 dl water
  • 2 dl rice for porridge
  • 1 liter milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Bring water to boil in a pot and add the rice. Let it boil for few minutes until the rice has absorbed a little the water, then pour the milk.
Cook at low flame covered with lid stirring from time to time for about 40 minutes. Add salt up to taste.
Serve warm with a knob of butter or cinnamon powder.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Flower Shaped Joulutorttu

The traditional and most baked Joulutorttu (Finnish Christmas Tart) is the one I showed you in my previous post: star shaped!

However, there are variations to this type of pastry and one of them is the flower shape.

To make the tarts flower shaped the puff pastry must be cut in a different way, like shown in the image below. You make four L shaped cuts like this:

The four outer corners are then folded towards the center of the pastry, this time ABOVE the jam. And when you take your tarts from the oven they will look like beautiful flowers! :)

I will write the directions again, even though it's really simple to make these.

Ingredients (10 pastries):
  • 500 gr (5 sheets) frozen puff pastry
  • plum jam
  • 1 egg
  • icing sugar to decorate

Take the frozen puff pastry sheets from the freezer, place them on a sheet of oven parchment and let them be at room temperature for about 15 minutes (or follow the package's instructions).
Cut the pastry into squares about 10x10cm in size. With a sharp knife, make four L shaped cuts in the sheet. Place a teaspoon of jam in the middle of the tarts.
Fold the four outer corner towards the center and press down gently to hold them together.
Brush the top of the pastries with lightly beaten egg. Bake at 225º C (437º F) for about 12-15 minutes, until the pastries have gotten a nice color.
Let your flower shaped Joulutorttu cool down then sprinkle with icing sugar. Enjoy :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bento #4: Christmas Bento

Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way...

Even though nowadays highly commercialized, Christmas is still a very nice Holiday and I like it very much. I enjoy choosing good presents for my family and friends, usually things that I know they will appreciate and actually use, to wrap them up in colorful paper (I am terrible at this though!) and also, of course, receive presents as well.

We don't have Christmas decorations at home, except one candle that we light in the evening, so I had the idea to create a Christmas Bento!

To make a Christmas themed bento without the proper cutters and decorations (you know, gingerbread, tree, reindeer shaped) is quite challenging... But I made it anyway!

And it IS a Christmas bento, because:
1) In the bento there's a mini Finnish Christmas tart
2) Under the box there's pretty Christmasy wrapping paper
3) Santa was behind the camera, he's a bento freak!

So, the bento contains salad, bunny shaped hard boiled egg (I know, it is more an Easter thing...), tortilla wraps filled with ham, belle pepper & cucumber sticks, Winnie the Pooh sauce container with some chili sauce and a mini Finnish Christmas Tart (you can find the recipe here: link).

Happy bento making!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Coffee Chocolate Muffins

Today December 6th is Finland Independence Day, a very special day when a big fancy party is held at the President's Castle in Helsinki and the Finnish President shakes the hand of thousands of honorable guests.

Besides watching the big event on TV, Finns usually prepare special meals and food to celebrate. Well... we aren't cooking anything special today, so I thought that it would be a great opportunity to BAKE SOMETHING!

This past year I have been baking muffins very often, I love muffins, they are so easy and quick to make! This is the recipe for Coffee Chocolate Muffins :)
They are among the best muffins I've ever made. I chose coffee because Finns are really fond of it, almost as much as Italians, and I added cocoa powder to make them even more yummy!

These muffins are made with yogurt. In this case coffee flavoured yogurt of course! I often use yogurt in my muffins because I think that it makes them very moist and gives them a nice fluffy spongy texture.
And if you fear that they are full of fat, you'll be happy to know that I don't use any butter, but instead only a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil :)

The Coffee Chocolate Muffins are lovely enjoyed as they are, but I decorated them with melted white chocolate and white-blue sugar sprinkles to celebrate Finnish Independence Day.

HINT: If you like, you can add some liquor to the batter. I added brandy, and it taste delicious.

I'm using an instant baking yeast, very popular in Italy, that can be added directly to the dough. Feel free to substitute it with the yeast commonly used in your Country!

Ingredients (16 muffins):
  • 250 gr all-purpose flour
  • 200 gr sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • small pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanillin
  • ½ small bag of dried instant baking yeast
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 200 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (e.g. canola oil or rapeseed oil)
  • 200 gr coffee flavoured yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or other liquor (optional)

Preheat the oven at 180º C (356º F).  Either line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, or you can butter or spray them with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a bowl mix the dry ingredients: sifted flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, instant coffee, salt, yeast and baking soda.
In a second bowl whisk the egg, then add milk always stirring. Add then oil and yogurt (and liquor if you want). Mix well.
Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir with a rubber spatula just enough to combine everything.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, for about 2/3. Bake about 15 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for five minutes and then remove muffins from the pan.
When they've cooled down, you can decorate them with icing sugar or melted chocolate & sprinkles.
Enjoy! :)

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