Welcome to the fourth episode of the Last 7 Days of Cooking series! This time there is no specific theme; the dishes, ranging from first courses to desserts, are mostly Italian with some Asian diversions.
When temperature drops and daylight gets shorter in winter, what would you like to have for dinner? The first thing that comes to my mind is a warm homemade soup, absolutely. Here are three of my favorite soups I hope they will help you to beat cold weather!
In late October, a friend of mine invited me to Karjaa in Southern Finland. It takes about an hour by train to reach there from the Leppävaara railway station. After I arrived, my friend – the one who brought me Surprise Herbs and Baby Greens last summer – picked me up and together we visited a small Finnish farm that is one of the places worth visiting west of Helsinki.
Rejböle Gård is run by Mikaela Berghäll and is not “just” a farm. It offers several interesting activities such as picking berries or mushrooms, private cooking classes, and even accommodation for two families. So if you have a chance to visit Southern Finland, do not miss it!
Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish made with rice and hot stock with several different ingredients (such as mushrooms, seafood, and so on). It is particularly popular in northern Italy because that area is suitable for cultivation of rice. The best risotto should be creamy, rich, and with a just right consistency (enough cooked, but not mushy). Normally people cook risotto with special short-grain rice which contains a lot of starch and can absorb enough liquid. Those varieties include: arborio, vialone nano, carnaroli, and so on.
Porcini are one of my favorite ingredients especially for risotto because they have a unique woody flavor and aroma – though I love all mushrooms. It is easier to find dried porcini rather than fresh ones. If so, you can use not only the mushroom but also the soaking water as stock for your cooking. There is nothing to throw away. Cool, isn’t it?
Making risotto is not difficult, but it needs time. Anyway, you need to know the basic steps and some best practices. If you’ve never cooked risotto before, that’s fine. However, I suggest to read my tips and the additional links below as they will help you to better understand. Once you know how to cook risotto, you will be able to make it not only with porcini but also with other ingredients with minor modifications. Let’s see how!
In Finland midsummer is celebrated every year on the first Saturday after June 19th – June 23rd this year – and marks the beginning of summer vacations for Finns. During this holiday time, which can last a full month or even more, also many restaurants are closed. So if you plan to visit Helsinki during this time of the year, remember that you will have less choice for eating out. One of them is the KuuKuu restaurant in Töölö.
I’ve been to KuuKuu several times before, and I’ve never been disappointed so far. KuuKuu offers traditional Finnish dishes such as salmon soup and also several dishes with seasonal vegetables and local products. My favorite dishes are grilled veal liver and the fish of the day, but this time I wanted to try something new!
A couple of month ago I talked about the artistic milk carton designed by Klaus Haapaniemi. Well, apparently the milk package design changed right after I posted it. Oh my! I threw away all cartons after taking the pictures, so there was no way to see Putte the Cat anymore. Well, there was actually a way… and now Putte is in my hands 😀
One of the main root crops in Finland is potato. Most grocery shops sell them at a low price during all seasons. Potatoes are not only cheap, but also have very good nutritional values. So I’m happy because I’m a big eater of potato.
I grew up in Ganwon-do province in South Korea. This province has a natural environment surrounded by spectacular landscapes, and potato is a very typical crop, as in Finland. It should not surprise how many different recipes exist for potatoes. Among them, the Korean potato pancake is one of my favorites. When I was a little girl, I used to spend the whole summer and winter vacations at my grandmother’s house in GangNeung, so she usually took care of my afternoon snack! When the weather got chilly, she asked me if I wanted to have Korean potato pancakes or Gamja jeon (감자전). My answer was always yes! According to her, this food is especially good when the weather is cold, because the pancake is warm and chewy! As you know, nothing can beat grandmother’s food! 😉
Her potato pancake is super easy. She used only potatoes and oil. Can you believe that a pancake does not need flour and eggs? But, it’s true! I would like to share my grandmother’s potato pancake! Actually the recipe below is my own, so you will need some more ingredients (even though not so many). By the way, I also need to mention the Korean potato grater! I have some pictures of it! I hope you will enjoy them.
Wait for a moment! If you are looking for recipes for the pictures below, I’m sorry but they are not there (at least yet). This new project – Last 7 days of cooking – will only show you pictures of food I cooked in the last week. I know it might be unfair to share only the results without the recipes but, frankly speaking, I do not have them ready! But I’m working on it 🙂
Let me make it clear why I started this. I tend to buy certain ingredients every time I go grocery shopping – for instance, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, celery, eggs and so on – so I instinctively cook similar dishes very often. I thought that posting my meals here could help me cook the same ingredients in different ways and make a better meal plan. That’s because people are looking at my meals 😉 Does it make sense? Anyway, I hope that this new project will foster ideas for healthy and varied food. Let’s see what happened in the last 7 days!
Last Wednesday I got a surprise bag from one of my friends 😉 It was totally unexpected! Let me show you what I got from her garden!
I have to tell you something: I was a plant killer! Honestly I still do not know what I did wrong to my all poor plants in the past. I watered them regularly and even marked on my calendar when I was supposed to. In addition, I considered whether they got enough sunlight or not. So? What was wrong with me? Maybe you can tell me more about this. Anyway, you might have noticed that I said I was a plant killer. Not anymore! At least for now 😉 As you can see from the picture, now I have a healthy basil family and even a tiny apple tree! Follow their story on my diary below!
Finally May 19 has arrived! I was waiting for it since a few weeks ago, when I discovered restaurant day. Basically, on restaurant day everyone can open their own restaurant or café anywhere. It could be a park, a backyard, an apartment or office, or even a window! Whoever participates can decide the menu and how to set up the restaurant. It’s not only an event about eating, but also about food culture. Restaurant day started in Helsinki one year ago, and took place four times since then. The last one was on Saturday, May 19, 2012. This time I only participated as a “customer”, but who knows, maybe one day I will have my own pop-up restaurant! 😉
Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino is one of the simplest, fastest and classic Italian dishes. I fall in love with Italian food with this dish: I was amazed how the right amount of ingredients can bring out a very distinct flavor. It has already been my favorite Italian dish since long ago. However, when I was in Italy, I noticed that it did not require a lot of olive oil and garlic as I had seen in many recipes. As you know, too much is as bad as too little! You will need only a few ingredients – spaghetti, garlic (aglio), oil (olio), chili (peperoncino) and Italian parsley – in the right amount.