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Nov 1, 2006 03:48 AM

Ethnic Cooking - Finland

Is there anyone out there interested in the food of Finland? I'm not even sure if this is the right board, but "International" seemed to have nothing to do with home cooking. I'd be interested to talk to anyone with a Finnish cooking background or interest. Specifically, I am looking for tips on making viilia, mammia, and discussing some of the cultural aspects of Finnish dining. You'd think, my living in Minnesota and growing up a Finn, that I'd have more of a food community in this regard. Sadly, most of the recipes and discussion is about the baking of sweets, i.e. coffeebreads. Anyone love smoked reindeer and know of a source? Anyone know about long or short viili? Anyone in Mpls/St.Paul know of a great crayfish source?

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  1. My scandinavian link is sweden but heck, i can shoot off my mouth!

    I love smoked reindeer but the only place I can think of to buy it is in Stockholm and I'm not even sure they have it at that shop anymore.

    If you want to expand your repetoire beyond breads, there are a couple of good cookbooks that deal with scandinavian cooking [including finish] and have more in them but coffee breads. I think one is called Scandinavian Table or something---it has meals for holidays and lovely pictures. And there is a woman who specializes in scandivian cooking who I think is finish but I can't remember her name. Try looking on the jessica's bisquit website.

    I have come to believe that good coffee breads in scandinavia is just a really important part of the culture so don't denigrate your ability to bake. My kids attend swedish school and every week someone is assigned to bring the coffee bread. Most times it is dreck from some grocery store but on the occassion when it is homebaked, the place goes crazy. And you should see them at the Christmas pagent buying up more coffee bread than you could ever imagine a single family having in the house at one time.

    yum. Bake away! and send me some!

    1. There is a lot of crossover between Finnish and Swedish cooking - just go to IKEA and have the Pytt i panna (sp?) and there is a typical Finnish weeknight meal. And the breads and sweetrolls? Mmmm. My thought is, though, that those are the "exported" ideas about Scand. cooking, and I am looking a little deeper. The fact that you love smoked reindeer makes me leap with joy! Any savory dinner dishes/food history you'd like to share? I have many fond memories of my years in Helsinki, but sadly, no one left to go to for more in-depth food lore.

      As far as books go, if you haven't already read the Scandinavian installment of Time Life's Foods of the World series (1960s to 1970s), it would be something you might enjoy.

      Wow! your kids go to Swedish school; even here in MN (and me married to a Swede) I don't know anyone with that sort of opportunity. I'm guessing you're making some Lucia buns this December?

      I'd love to continue this swap of info - have missed all my old Finnish family members that have passed, along with the food lore. Contrary to the bad rap given the foods of Scandinavia by - who? Silvio Berlusconi? - the food is wonderful and fresh and healthy.

      If you like baking, I'll post my favorite of all in a couple of days - the Karelian pie. May be good for the week you have to bring the treat.


      5 Replies
      1. re: cayjohan

        Not only do my kids attend swedish school but they are fluent in Swedish. And my husband is a teacher at the school...and my daughter is going to be in the SVEA women's Lucia pagent...and we aren't Swedish!

        My husband was married to a swede and his/our daughter from his first marriage grew up in Sweden. So there is a lot of back and forth. Our kids speak Swedish so that they will be able to speak to their family [sister's eventual spouse and kids] in Sweden. It is perhaps odd but is working well for us.

        We are in SoCal. As best I can tell, this is where the swedes go to escape Sweden. There are bunches [all things being relative] of swedish schools out here:

        I would love whatever recipes you can post. At home, we do a big Swedish dinner for Christmas but we also have a big party and Lucia deal at the school with a potluck. Typically, we bring a ton of gravlox and my husband makes these oatmeal chocolate cookie things but I'm always game for something new.

        1. re: cayjohan

          Ugh - so veeerrrry late, but here's the Karelian pie recipe:

          Oven at 450 degrees

          Make a porridge:

          Cook one cup rice (regular medium or long grain), Add two cups of milk and cook until it's porridge-like.
          Add 2 T. butter and salt to taste. Cool mixture, but keep an eye on the thickness; you may have to add more milk.

          Make the pastry:

          Combine one and one-half cups each all-purpose flour and rye flour. Mix one cup water, 2 T. melted butter and 2 t. salt in another bowl.
          Add liquid to dry and mix. Knead on a floured surface(use rye flour) until smooth and elastic.

          Divide kneaded dough into 16 pieces - use plastic wrap to keep unused dough from drying out.

          Roll each 1/16 piece into a rough circle. Spread cooled rice porridge mixture down the center of the circle in a strip. Fold up the sides and ends of the circle, using a pleating technique- the finished product should like a bit like a moccasin.
          Brush finished pastries with a mixture of 4 oz. butter and 4 oz milk, heated and blended together. Bake on a buttered sheet pan for 15 to 20 minutes (depending upon your oven), brushing with the butter/milk mixture once during baking.

          Egg butter should top these: mix a pound of soft butter with 6 to 8 mashed hard-cooked eggs. Blend well and salt to taste.

          1. re: cayjohan

            These are delicious! I ate many last summer in Helsinki. Egg butter is soooooo good ... can't believe more people don't know about it. It's a perfect complement to those pies.

            A typical meal our Finnish friends prepare usually goes like this:
            Appetizer of homemade brown (rye) bread with gravlax
            Baked salmon with boiled potatoes on the side, or salmon soup
            Dessert of prune compote, topped with whipped cream

            Very simple and excellent cuisine.

            1. re: gus

              Yum. Yum. And yum!

              My sister, my daughter and I are making dozens of Karelian pies this weekend. I'm thinking of doing a
              salmon soup to go with the festivities/labors. We always called the salmon/potato soup
              kalamojakka growing up, but it's more appropriately kalakeitto.
              Is this what you make/eat? A few allspice and some dill add the flavor? Milk-based? A wonderful dish. My Dad placed an "order" for it just the other day - I cook, parcel out, freeze, deliver...he enjoys. Good stuff. Glad someone else gets it.

              I have a sister-in-law who considered the egg-butter( for KPs) a salad. It is *that* good, but a cup of it? Yikes! Next time I should speak up more, just to prevent serious over-buttering.

            2. re: cayjohan

              My mother makes them with all rye flour. When baked, they get quite hard. After baking, she dips them into milk/melted butter to soften them.

          2. Wow - I was just researching this exact topic yesterday, to see what I could find. I had taken a fancy to making Graavi lohi (freshly salted salmon) and decided to see what else was out there from Finland. If you find anything interesting, post away - I'd love to discover some good Finnish recipes!

            1. viili and mammi are probably the most pain in the butt finnish things to cook (for viili you new fresh whole milk and the starting culture stuff-at least the way my aunt made it) and mammi requires special rye flour and mammimaltaita (no idea what that is in english, some kind of malt)
              For crayfish-you should aim to get them live from somewhere and if you cook them right they taste just like they should. if you can only find frozen ones-try to get them as mildly flavored as possible and if you cook them in the finnish broth they can still be ok.
              Let me know if there are any receipes in particular youre looking for, i have quite a few and my moms number (I'm finnish from finland and so is she)

              1. Saw this show on PBS recently on New Scandinavian Cooking, I think its more swedish than finnish, but maybe the info on the website will be of some help?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ora

                  There is a cookbook author called Beatrice Ojakangas who has published on Finnish and Scandinavian cooking and baking - her books are widely available and good.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Yes. Ojankangas is the classic. I also have a seasonal cookbook put out by the Finnish Dept. of Tourism, but they are back in Maine.
                    I lived in Helsinki for 5 years. I'm in the middle orf exams, will reply later.
                    Rissi and Lija Pirrakka are true Finnish foods from Karalia.
                    Naaaka miin!