Sometimes simple vegetables can be so beautiful. This was just lightly cooked broccoli, bean sprouts, edamame and cucumber with a little brown rice vinegar, oil and sea salt:
Brussel sprouts have the potential to be exquisite. These were incredibly simple. Hot oil, sprouts chopped in half, add to oil chopped half down. After a bit, put a lid on. Add a bit of water if needed to get the pan juices. Sprinkle with flakes of fine sea salt.
Cooked this way they get a sort of sweetness. Broth could be added instead of water. If you have no objection, I recommend trying this with duck fat, but butter and vegetable oils– including coconut oil– work as well. You can have it going while you cook something else. If only brussel sprouts were not so expensive!
Spring is officially here. The late spring as the weather struggles towards summer can be rough, the body feeling depleted of nutrients, vitamins, sunshine. A couple weeks ago I got delicious organic fennel from my food co-op. It was Italian. Here are some things that I did with it:
Duck breast is really easy– pan friend, excess oil scooped out and used to cook the carrots and fennel. Then I put it all in the oven to get it extra crispy. The juices of the duck added to the vegetables when served.
It has also been asparagus season in Europe:
However, the most spectacular was an easily roasted chicken, using my slapdash interpretation of Marcella Hazan’s famous and foolproof roast chicken with lemons. (Here recipe is all over the interwebs, but that link is to a no-frills posting of it on the New York Times). My lemons were too large, so I had to cut them and only used one. The fennel was cooked beneath the chicken; this must be one of the best ways to cook fennel.
Finnish spring vegetables are finally starting to be available here, including beautiful radishes from the Lindroth farm near Turku.
I only buy those radishes when I can get them really fresh. The leaves are great to eat as well; I wash them in several waters and put them into a curry, or sauté them. It was wonderful to see the beautiful colours again!
This salad had a very very easy dressing, with sesame seeds toasted in macadamia nut butter, salt and a nice unsweetened rice vinegar. Yums.
Served with pan-friend salmon stakes. Kale, tomatoes, beautiful Korean mint, amaranth (quinoa might have been better), lime, salt, macadamia nut oil. This is Lacinato or Tuscan Kale, a bit harder to find in Helsinki. I found this at Citymarket Ruohonlahti. In the summer, one can find this kale, called mustakaali (literally, Black Cabbage) from Anton and Anton shops. Interestingly, in England this sort of kale is also sometimes known as Black Cabbage. In the United States, I have heard people call it Dino Kale. It is softer that standard kale and lends itself easily to raw salads when massaged with a bit of oil and salt. The salmon I served with it was seasoned primarily with sumac and paprika. It was very fast to make!
The korean mint came from Stockmann’s. It was from Mimis . Mimis salads and greens are expensive, but they are so fresh and spectacular. You can also find them at S-Market Bulevardi, and I think the prices are maybe a tiny bit better there, but the selection is also more limited.
Recently I chanced upon some kutun rahka or the Finnish version of quark made with goat milk, on sale. It was from a lovely Finnish creamery, dairy and cheesmaker Saloniemi (Saloniemen Juustola).
The prices for their products are high, but so is the quality. If my budget allowed, I would likely be a regular consumer. This was DELICIOUS. If you are a fan of chevre, it had a similar light goat-y taste, and it is full of protein. It mixed well with pesto, eaten on those amazing, sweet Finnish carrots.
It would also have been fantastic with fresh fruit or fruit preserves. For example, fig jam or fresh strawberries. Anything that would work with chevre would also work here. Yum.
Their products are available at most larger super markets (K-supermarkets, S-markets) and many specialist grocers like Ruohonjuuri and Anton & Anton. I also want to consider using rahka instead of quark in English; I think it sounds more inviting. “Quark” reminds me too much of quorn, the fake engineered meat pioneered in the U.K.
A huge basement-level City Market, some prices great, others horrible. They were also out of many staples.
Here is what was interesting:
- Very cheap cleaned muikku (a wee little lake fish)
- Frozen Finnish reindeer
- Coconut/rice/nut milk
- Good prices on frozen Finnish berries, and a better berry selection than at most places.
- Frozen organic spinach
- Cheap frozen Asian catfish
- Lots of quinoa
- Good prices on organic oils including organic cold pressed coconut oil and olive oil
- MACADAMIA NUT OIL!
Examples of what not to buy there currently because they are overpriced:
- Milk (Organic milk 50 p more expensive than, e.g., my local Alepa and not a great selection)
- Eggs — Stockmann is a better option
- The fresh fish looks good, but Stockmann often beats their prices there as well.
They did not have:
- Alpro almond milk– even the sweetened kind
- Whole or steel-cut oats
- Whole Finnish buckwheat (why is no one carrying this?!)
Endive in left over turkey broth.
These are what I have been using in our morning porridge lately. It is the closest I have found to steal-cut oats in Helsinki.
My father has favored steel-cut oats for many years, but they have become increasingly lauded by celebrities and doctors alike. I am sure you’ve heard about this, but if you need convincing:
+ By Dr. Robert Lustig, a prominent anti-sugar campaigner and Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Interviewed here by the fabulous Leonard Lopate of the radio station WNYC in New York:
+ By Bobby Brown, no less, the beauty magnate, from her book On Beauty: “ I love slow-cooked Irish Oatmeal (you can make it the night before and reheat it the following morning). I load up on calcium with plain Greek yogurt flavored with cinnamon and slivers of roasted almonds.”
And many others. The trend does not seem to have infiltrated Helsinki yet. I don’t quite believe that the health benefits can be so dramatic as to make consumption of rolled oats out of the question. Personally, my strong preference is due to the better texture. The flavor seems richer, the oats are more toothsome and chewy. And–really–not that much trouble.
In Helsinki, I have so far found one relatively affordable source. The oats pictured above, local and organic to boot, are available at the Bulevardi S-Market, which as a surprising number of treasures.