There are some Finnish foods that immediately evoke Christmas for me. Below are recipes for some of them.
Beetroot, Potato, Carrot Salad
(I know it sounds boring, but the flavours are really nice with ham. For us it replaces the traditional hot casseroles. It will be 39C here on Christmas Eve. Not conducive weather to eat a heavy meal! )
This is an easy to make cold vegetable salad. Best made the day before to allow the flavours to develop and the colours to meld. Rosolli not only tastes good, it is pretty to look at as well. It keeps well for up to 4 – 5 days.
4 boiled potatoes
4 boiled carrots
1 can diced beetroot
1 small onion
1 green apple
Salt, white pepper
1 – 2 filets of herring sliced into small bites size pieces.
Herrings can be an acquired taste.
Optional dressing –
150 ml cream
1.5 tsp white vinegar
1.5 tsp sugar OR
In our family we have it without the dressing. It also keeps better that way.
Optional decoration –
Boiled egg. Separate into white and yolk. Grate or finely chop.
Cook the potatoes and carrots in their skins until just tender. Allow to cool. Then peel them. Dice all vegetables into small, equal-sized cubes. Mix them together and season with a little salt and white pepper.
Whip the cream lightly, season with sugar and vinegar and add a few drops of beetroot liquid for colour. Serve the dressing (and herring) separately. Some people garnish the salad with hard-boiled eggs, separating the yolks and whites, chopping them finely, then creating a white and yellow striped pattern or star over the top of the salad.
These are made with puff pastry and filled with pureed prunes. Served warm, dusted with icing sugar, they are a family favourite. They look deceptively intricate, yet they are simple and quick to make.
Use a good quality frozen puff pastry.
Cut each pastry sheet into even sized squares – 9 or 12 / sheet. I prefer a smaller size personally.
Make a diagonal cut from each corner to about half way towards the centre.
Put a generous teaspoonful of the prune filling into the centre. Then fold every second section into the centre, forming a windmill shape.
Brush over with lightly beaten egg yolk. Place the pastries onto a floured baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven (220° C or 425° F) for 18-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.
Store in an airtight container. Heat for approx. 5 minutes just before serving.
Place 1 packet of pitted prunes into a saucepan. Add enough water to just cover. Bring to the boil and simmer till a soft jam consistency. Allow to cool before use. For something a little more special add a splash of brandy or port wine.
This can be made beforehand. It will keep well in the fridge. If you have any leftover it’s great with ice-cream, yoghurt or a breakfast cereal.
(It’s actually a creamed rice)
Perhaps you might like to try something new and different for your Christmas dessert this year. Try serving it with the fruit soup. Yeah, I know, this one sounds weird too.
1 tbsp butter
150 gm rice
800 ml milk
Salt for seasoning
1 blanched almond
(Whoever gets the almond is deemed to have good luck for the following year.)
Melt 1 tbsp of butter in the bottom of a saucepan with some water. Add 150gm rice. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Then add 800 ml milk. Bring to the boil, then simmer for approx. half an hour, stirring occasionally to stop the rice from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. Season to taste. Hide the blanched almond in the porridge.
Serve sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. OR hot fruit soup
Hot Fruit Soup
1 packet dried mixed fruit
1 cinnamon stick
3 tbsp cornflour
Splash orange juice
Sugar or honey
Place fruit, water, cinnamon stick and scraped vanilla bean into a saucepan with 1 litre of water. Boil 15 minutes or until the fruit is soft. Sweeten to taste. Mix cornflour into a paste with cold water and pour slowly into the hot soup, stirring continuously until it has thickened slightly. Add a splash of orange juice.
Being winter, we did not have fresh fruit available. Mum always made it with prunes, sultanas and dried apples.
Serve hot with rice porridge.
Also very nice served hot or cold on its own with vanilla ice-cream.
© Raili Tanska