Tag Archives: food

Buffet for Burger, Salad and Candy Lovers

We had a lovely dinner with friends one night before Easter. It was a fine Wednesday evening and we were set to meet at restaurant KIILA in the center of Helsinki. You cannot get more central if you think of the shopping possibilities. The Forum Mall and Stockmann’s, the best department store ever, are there within 100 meters. There are also plenty of other restaurants and bars close by in case you wish to continue your evening after dinner. One of my favourite restaurants, Kosmos, an old-timer from the 30’s is next door.

Well, we were set to have a meal at six at KIILA to try their dinner buffet. I’d never been there and the company was partly new too. Friends, colleagues and new acquaintances. Exciting! And fun! The restaurant is fairly new, and it is perfect for lunch, dinner and after work drinks and coffee.  The facility has been in restaurant use earlier – it has been restaurant La Societe de Cochon owned by our foremost Michelin star chef Hans Välimäki, and Restaurant Kolme Seppää. It is not a fine-dining restaurant but a very fine one anyhow. This is also a place where the Finnish Master Chef competitors cooked on one occasion , and it looks as if directly from an interior design magazine (shiny tiles, design furniture).

We were set to enjoy the Wednesday evening buffet – salad and starter table, make-your-own-hamburger table and a table weighing down with ice-cream, cookies, marshmallows and every kind of candy you can think of. You really need to have self-control to eat there! One of my friends was contemplating whether or not to take her children there. I would not date to it but then again she has well-behaved children.

First, we set to try the starter and salad table. The idea was ‘make you own salad’ – lettuce, various kinds of greens and veggies, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, fresh pineapple and honey-dew melon, salmon, chicken, tuna, feta cheese, Cheddar type cheese, bean salad, a mix of Caesar salad…. tortillas, tacos and taco sauce and noodles. A plateful, another full plate…

After the salads it was time to try the make-your-own-hamburger stand. With bellies half full we set to discover what the cooks had to offer next. The roast beef was just out of the oven, bloody and delicious thin slices. There were chicken steaks and hamburgers to choose from, giant tomato slices, pickled cucumber and lettuce – all this to be wrapped in bread buns if you wanted. I’d started my low-carb diet the week before and I was extremely happy to enjoy the dinner with no bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. I made some allowances when it came to desert.

The conversation changed from work to holidays, between Finnish Lapland, Greece, Florida and Helsinki, weddings, spouses and children, entertainment and what not. We spent a good three or four hours enjoying the company, food and atmosphere. There were other parties there too, of all ages and every kind of setup you could think of. I think there was a teenage birthday party behind our table, come colleagues for after work dinner, romantic couples, girls’ night out tables and so on.

If you want to check out KIILA go to www.ravintolakiila.fi . This is only in Finnish, sorry! I checked the menu afterwards and it sound good and includes dishes for children. It looks as if it was hand written and has catchy headings – things with fins (fish), things with wings (poultry). There is even a great quotation by George Bernard Shaw “There is no sincerer love than love of food” (be it no credit is given to Mr Shaw). The restaurant is also on Facebook.SAM_1361SAM_1365



Filed under Dinner, Miscellaneous on travelling, cooking and life in general, Restaurants

Food Festival and Other Attractions in Copenhagen

We discovered last night that a food festival, Copenhagen Cooking Winter Edition , is on right now! Call this luck or what. We just decided to take a short break in the middle of the winter and enjoy one of our favourite Scandinavian cities. This time we did not do any research since we know this destination.

This is what we discovered food wise yesterday:
The food hall with great fish and butchers’ stands and loads of tiny bars serving different kinds of sandwiches, salads, soups, tapas and pizzas. The counter were something like 2- 3 meters with 6 bar stools.

A hot dog stand in a wagon by the round tower, built in the 17th century (1642) which is the world’s oldest functioning observatory. They were selling curry wurst – ökologiske polsemad= organic sausage prepared by a professor of sausage making (?).

In the evening it was time for Italian at La Rocca. A very original antipasti platter with eg polenta, toast and salmon. Despite the somewhat surprising content it was tasty. The mains were brilliant – linguini frutti di mare (shrimp, lobster, blue mussels, languistini and some other small shellfish) and ravioli with ricotta and orange filling in sage butter. Yummy!

This morning took us to a long walk via Nyhavn to Amalienborg Castle. We were at the castle at 12 and saw the changing of the guards with a handful of tourists.

Had elevensies at a cafe called Mormors (granny’s) in Bredgade where the interior is as if it was some old granny’s living room from the fifties or sixties. Lunch at Cafe Royal and had smushis with ale ie open sandwiches with liver pâté, herring, smoked salmon and veal.
Had another round in the food halls and Illums delicatessen. We were already wondering what to buy home and also whether to buy flowers home too. We have been in and out in many stores of interior design but have also checked out clothes. The fashion week is approaching, Copenhagen is big in clothing industry and fashion.

Coffee, tea and scones at Mormors.



Lunch sandwiches



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What’s in the Fridge: Peas’n Spaghetti

The holidays are over and the shelves in the fridge are still filled with delicacies. We no longer feel like beet roots, swedes, herring or salmon, Christmas ham or pate that I stored in excess for the holidays. Felt like eating some normal food but did not want to go to the grocer’s. I also wanted to cook up something quick because I was starving after my Friday evening yoga class.


We always have some pasta around so I decided on peas (from the freezer) with spaghetti and some Parma ham. I think my inspiration rose from pisi e risi (peas and rice) and creme ninon as well as from the contents of the fridge.

This is what you need for four portions – or two large ones:

300 g spaghetti, water, salt and olive oil
200 g frozen peas, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 dl double cream (optional), black pepper
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, thin slices or shavings of Parma or other cured ham

1 Put the pasta water on and cook the pasta. Make the sauce while the pasta is cooking.

2 Put the frozen peas into boiling water so that the peas are covered. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the garlic, crushed. Pure the peas in a mixer or a kitchen aid and pour the pure back to the pan. Add the cream and 1 tbsp of parmesan, and let simmer for 3 minutes or so.
3 Pour the pasta water out using a colander and put the pasta back into the pan. Pour in the sauce and mix, let the pan stay on the hot stove but turn down the heat. Let it rest in the pan for a couple of minutes.
4 Add pepper to taste. Decorate with more Parmesan and ham shavings just before serving.

Voila! A wholesome pasta dish with taste of Christmas.

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Christmas Parcels from Kitchen

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Christmas is almost here! I’ve spent all morning wrapping presents. This is the view from my kitchen window this morning. It is snowing and minus 9 degrees Celsius. The sun rose about half an hour ago. We get very little daytime light in Helsinki this time of year. But… happily enough it is winter solstice today!

This year I’ve again made some food presents and they are bread with dates, horseradish and mustard marinated herring, cookies, fruit cake and rowan berry jelly.


The date bread is my favourite and the past years I’ve baked it with fresh dates. It is almost as good with dried ones. For one bread you need:
5 dl water, 1 dl syrup, 2 crushed rye grains, 1 dl malt extract for home-made ale, 1 dl sunflower seeds, 4 dl graham flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 dl chopped dates and 1 tsp salt.
Mix the liquid and the syrup in a bowl. Mix together all the dry ingredients and then mix them with the liquids. Grease a bread tin and line it with baking paper. Bake the bread in 175 Celsius for 1 ½. Let it cool on a rack for a moment and remove it from the tin. The bread is best the next and following days. Serve with butter or blue cheese. I keep it in the fridge and take it out to warm before serving.
This recipe is from a local co-op’s magazine some years ago.

Horseradish and Mustard Marinated Herring

I picked this recipe up in the same Christmas programme where I found the warm red cabbage salad. Herring is traditionally part of Finnish (and Swedish) Christmas and we make it in many ways. This is very good but nothing mild! Beware when tasting the sauce! You might go easy with the horseradish.

This is what you need for a jar of delicious herring and six servings: 1 package of lightly salted herring filets, 1 dl mayonnaise, 1 dl sour cream, 1 dl chopped chives, 4 tbsp freshly grated horseradish, 2 tbsp sweet mustard, 1,5 Dijon mustard (French), 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp vinegar, white pepper.
Mix all the ingredients together. Cut the herring into small pieces and add them to the sauce. Dish into a glass jar and keep refrigerated for at least a day. The herring will keep for a week or so. Serve with boiled potatoes and other Christmas fish or with rye bread.

Rowan Berry Jelly
1 kg of rowan berries, ½ l water, 600 g of jelly sugar (this is Dansukker’s recipe, http://www.dansukker.fi)
Rinse the berries and cook them for an hour or so. Strain the berries and pour the juice back to the pan. Add the sugar and cook until the jelly is ready. You can test the readiness by dropping a bit of the jelly on a plate and putting it into the fridge. Run a spoon through the jelly drop and it you there is a line in the jelly, it is ready.
I had some problems this year because I used frozen berries and they needed some more cooking and more sugar.

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20121221-091207.jpg You can find the cookie recipe in the other blog of today (butter cookies).

The heavy chores this morning asked for a heavy breakfast. Café au lait and a sandwich with fried egg and Parma ham. Yummy! I have a whole chunk of Parma ham in the fridge!


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Pepperones, Bruschetta and Spagetti Marinara

Another week has started and we’ve started it with a home-cooked Spanish meal. For starters I made tiny roasted belly peppers and tomato bruschetta. Have to say that I took the easy way to prepare the main course, spaghetti with sea food, because I got this sea food mix at the market. It has got mussels, different kinds of octopus and some onions, olives and strong chilli pepper in it. The meal turned out to be delicious and it tastes, oh, so much better here in the South and eaten on a terrace.

The recipes are for four.


8 slices of white bread, olive oil, one clove of garlic, two tomatoes, half of teaspoon coriander, black pepper

Heat the olive oil and frost the garlic in it. Fry the bread in the oil. Cut the tomato into tiny, pieces and mix in the chopped coriander. Cover the bread slices with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with olive oil. Add some black pepper on each slice.

Roasted belly peppers

400 g small green belly peppers, salt and a dash of olive oil

Rinse the small peppers. Heat a large frying pan and put the peppers on it. Roast for five minutes. Add some salt and roast for a couple of minutes under a lid. Add some olive oil and roast for a few more minutes. Keep the peppers warm until you serve them. They are, of course delicious even the following day and cold.

Spaghetti Marinara

100 g of spaghetti per person, prepared as instructed in the package

500 g seafood mix, 2 tbsp chopped coriander, one lemon, three cloves of garlic, olive oil and 1 dl white wine

Start with getting the pasta water cooking. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic. Add the seafood mix and fry for five minutes. Add the white wine half of the lemon as wedges and the coriander. Let simmer on low heat for five minutes. Add the cooked pasta and turn down the heat. Let the pasta mix into the sauce for five minutes. Add some salt and pepper before serving. Serve with the same wine as you used for the sauce (always, always use good wine!).

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Autumn Forest and Mushrooms Delicacies

On Thursday we spent the afternoon in the autumn forest picking mushrooms. There was a brisk wind and the temperature was nearly freezing. There was a bit of sun and some rain. Later in the afternoon there was a hale shower in town. It is only the end of October!

Parkas, woolen stocking caps, mittens, sweaters and boots were all needed. We checked the places my mother-in-law had showed me a couple of years ago when she knew it was her last time in the mushroom forest. Today she is eager to have us visit her and go mushroom picking. She always gets a share of the catch.


The food pages of Helsingin Sanomat had food from the forest in its food supplement on Thursday. I used the pages when cleaning the mushrooms after reading the articles and recipes.

These are some of my favourite recipes for forest mushrooms:

Bruschetta with sautéed mushrooms
white bread (baguette, can be day-old)
butter and olive oil
a handful of fennel chanterelles or other forest Mushrooms
salt and pepper

Cut 1 cm thin slices of the baguette and fry them in butter or sprinkle olive oil over the slices and heat them in the oven (10 min, 150 C).
Heat a frying pan and put the mushrooms in it. Cook stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated and add a spoonful of butter. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place the sautéed mushrooms on the bread slices. You can add some Parmesan shavings if you like.

Mushroom Omelette for two
This is a delicious lunch. Easy and quick to make and easily organic and local produce.

2 free range eggs, a handful of mushrooms, butter and herbs, salt and pepper

Heat a frying pan and fry the mushrooms. Let all the liquid evaporate. Add half a tablespoon of butter. Beat the eggs lightly and pour on the mushrooms. Don’t flip the omelette but fry it on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Chop some chives and parsley or some other herbs on the omelette.

You can find my mushroom pasta recipe in one of my first recipes (2 April 2012).

We found loads and loads of funnel chanterelle sand some chanterelles. I had read in some magazine the other day that it is best to pick the mushrooms with scissors. That way you do not need to clean them at home. I picked mine with scissors and my husband without. He was quicker and his catch double as big as mine. Guess who cleaned them?


My omelette with French-style country bread.

Warm Welsh cider worked wonderes for the mushroom cleaner.

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Deer Stew with Squash Risotto


I’d long wanted to cook up something autumny as it is harvest time but could not make up my mind what to try. I got really eager when I got the recently issue of ELLE mat och vin (nr 7 2012) in my hands. The issue is full of delicious game recipes. Conveniently enough the grocery stores have an abundance of game on special – duck, venison, moose and deer.

This risotto with butternut squash comes from the ELLE but I have changed it, as usual. I have more squash, more cheese, less chicken stock and have replaced white wine with lemon juice. The deer stew recipe I put together on my own and made it yesterday for the first time. Got inspired by the recipes I’d read.

Risotto with Butternut Squash
This is a recipe for four but with four very large portions. It could easily feed even six.

3 tbsp butter
3 dl risotto rice
3 shallot onions
2 tbsp lemon juice
400 g butternut squash
60 g grated Paremesan
salt and pepper
1l chicken stock

Chop the onions and cook the water. Mix the water and the chicken stock.
Sauté the onions in butter. Add the rice and cook for a minute or two.
Add few ladles of chicken stock and let the rice absorb it. Add some lemon juice and then chicken stock little by little.
Peel and dice the squash. Fry it on a pan until it is almost done. Mix the fried squash into the risotto towards the end of the rice cooking, and cook until they both are done. You might not need to use all of the chicken stock.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the Parmesan just before serving.

Deer stew

2 tbsp butter
250 g yellow foot mushrooms (funnel chanterelles)
250 g deer shavings (frozen), use fresh deer or moose if possible
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp finely chopped celeriac
1 dl red wine
4 juniper berries
salt and pepper

Fry the frozen deer in butter.
Place the cleaned fennel mushrooms on a warm pan. Let all the liquid evaporate and then mix the deer and mushrooms together. Add the chopped celeriac and the juniper berries. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and wine. Let the stew come to a boil.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with squash risotto and blackcurrant or lingon jelly.


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Salmon with Fettucini al Limone


I went to the grocery store yesterday with ingredients for a British fish pie on the shopping list. Yes, a British dish! I have this fabulous British cookbook Fabulous Fish and it has got this fish pie recipe. However, I changed my mind when I saw the gorgeous Norwegian salmon at the fish counter. I’ll share the fish pie recipe another time.

Well, I got this beautiful fish of 2.4 kilos. I took the bones and all with me for a fish soup but decided on something lighter for dinner. That was salmon with fettucini in lemon sauce.

This is an easy and quick-to-make weekday dinner. It takes about half an hour to make it. The recipe is for two.

250 g fresh fettuccini

rind and juice of half a lemon

handful of herbs (parsley, rosemary, dill, basil)

1 dl double cream

2 tsp strong fish stock

salt and pepper

200 g salmon fillet with skin

1 tbsp butter

salt and pepper

  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper and let it draw for 20 minutes.
  2. Cook a large pan of water for the pasta. Heat a large pan for the fish. Cook the pasta and fry the fish at the same time.
  3. Fry the fish in butter the skin down. Fry it until the skin is brown and crisp and the fillet is cooked half way through. Add some rosemary. Flip the fish and fry for another two minutes.
  4. Cook the pasta and pour it into a sieve. Heat the cream in the pasta pan, add the herbs, and fish stock and lemon juice. Let it come to a boil.
  5. Put the pasta back to the pan and mix well. Turn the heat down and let the pan on the stove for a minute. The pasta willa absorbe the sauce.
  6. Dish some pasta on a warmed plate, place the fish fillet on it and decorate with basil and parsley.



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Summer in Helsinki with Rosemary, Sage and Thyme

We are living the last days of summer. This has been a very different one. No long days and weeks at the cottage, no vegetable or herb garden to water and no trip to Italy. And still, it has been a good one and very enjoyable.

We experienced Italy in April and learnt a lot. In fact loads of Italian and art history. We spent Easter near Sorrento and lived in a place kept by a sisterhood of San Vincenzo.

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In May our balcony turned into a garden, not an Italian one and not into an oasis, but a garden with flowers and herbs. Just noticed that we have parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme exactly what Simon and Garfunkel sang about. Other than that we also have peppermint, lemon thyme and huge basil. On May 1 we got two lovely pots of violets, yellow and velvety blue, and they are still in full bloom. I even took some of the plants out. The money plants just love it. Now I can’t wait to see where the good fortune is coming from and when;-).

Italy came to us with an exchange student. We had a lovely three summery weeks of cultural exchange. A darling girl with fresh ideas and breezes from Rome. Also of the food culture with e.g. Bucatini Amatriciana (tomatoes, smoked pig cheek and pecorino).

At the end of the summer I can say that we have experienced and seen quite much this summer this summer and especially enjoyed Helsinki, our hometown and World Culture Capital 2012.


Huvilakatu, one of the Southernmost streets of Helsinki.

The town has hosted and still hosts many cultural event. The night of arts on August 23 was a blast. The Helsinki Festival has a very wide range of events from clubs to opera premiers. Art goes Kapakka (restaurant) is also on. We experienced a most unusual dinner the other day when there were 95 choirs in Helsinki. There were five choirs performing in Restaurant Kosmos during our dinner. Quite nice actually, they sang mostly traditional Finnish songs.


Dinner at Restaurant Kosmos: Sausages of Sweetbread with Root Vegetable Fondant and Chateubriand with Madeira Sauce and Baked Potatoe.


Restaurant Lasipalatsi                                        Helsinki Music Centre

The Song Trees (aka the giant pike) by Reijo Hukkanen in front of the Music Centre and the Finnish Parliament (background).


KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art     Interactive art in the city.

A Taste of Ballet on the Rooftop and the Kamppi Chapel of Silence.

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You can follow news on Helsinki e.g. at http://www.helsinkitimes.fi

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Finnish Fish Soup, Creamy Salmon


We had a group of Italian teenagers over for dinner and I wanted to prepare something Finnish and a typical weekday meal. Salmon soup is what I decided on and made a large pan of it. It is delicious and especially good on a rainy and windy day.

This is what you need for a soup for ten.
For the fish stock
1 onion
Bones and head of one salmon
salt, white pepper, all spice, 4 bay leaves
1-1.5 litres of water

For the soup
1600 g salmon ( boned and cleaned)
10 large potatoes
4 carrots
salt, white pepper, black pepper
2 l milk
fish stock

Fish stock:
Put the fish head and the bone into a pot. Cover them with water. Add a peeled and sliced onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Let come to the boil and let simmer at low heat for at least a half an hour. Scrape away any froth appearing on the surface.
Pour the stock through a sieve and let it cool.

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Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut them into small cubes. Heat the fish stock and add the vegetables once it starts to simmer. Cook for 30 min. Add the milk and salmon. Let the soup cook and try the potatoes once the stock starts to boil. The potatoes and the salmon should be ready as the stock starts to boil. Add chopped dill and salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tbsp butter to finish off.

Serve with rye bread or crisp bread and butter. The soup gets even better after being stored in the fridge overnight. The tastes settle and soak into the ingredients.

My guests had good appetite and loved the different types of crisp bread.  They had visited a chocolate factory in the late afternoon and were perhaps not that hungry. This meant that we have soup for several days.

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