29/04/2014

DILL MEAT STEW


On Saturday my little sister woke up in London. Not the kind of early in the morning morning, but more of a craving bacon kind of morning. She grabbed her phone and first peeked the headings on Facebook and the latest, highly important, Instagram updates. After getting the second eye open, she decided to see wassup in the far away home country and entered the site of Finland’s biggest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.

And there she was. Me. Cooking dill meat stew.


I was interviewed about my food hobby, which, according to the article, is a 2010 status symbol. I was also asked to cook something during the interview and decided to finally get something out of my to do list: Try out the notorious Finnish classic, dill meat stew, tilliliha.

The particular dish was regularly served for lunch in schools, for decades probably. During those years it must have gotten the nick name too, tillilima, lima meaning slime. But it wasn't served after ’87 anymore, that’s when I entered the system.

Despite the strong living urban legends about the horrendous stew, I bravely went to buy some veal and dill. Glad I did. It was so good. Like really good.

So lil’ sis in London: Sorry I shook your world, but better get your veal cooking!


DILL MEAT STEW

1 kg boneless veal (I used bottom round)
2 tbsp salt
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1/4 celeriac
2 onions
4 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
bunch of dill (stalks)
white pepper
water

Sauce:
5 dl veal broth
3 dl cream
1-2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
1 tbsp vinegar
1 small lemon (juice and grated peel)
bunch of dill (leaves)

  1. Place the meat in a large pot and pour cold water over, just until to cover the meat.
  2. Bring to boil and skim off the scum.
  3. Add salt, all the vegetables and spices.
  4. Cook on low heat for an hour.
  5. Add dill and cook for another 45 minutes.
  6. Remove the meat from the broth and cut it to small cubes.

Sauce:

  1. Bring the broth and cream to boil and let simmer until there's 2/3 left.
  2. Add vinegar, lemon juice and peel, dill and all the spices.
  3. Add the meat cubes to the sauce and serve with cooked potatoes.

(The recipe is based on the recipe of Hans Välimäki / Makujen salaisuudet)

26/04/2014

RESTAURANT VANHA SUOLA FEAT. FREDDIE MERCURY: "THE COMEBACK"


Three years ago I read about this weird-sounding little concept of Restaurant Day and instantly knew I wanted to take part in it: opening up a restaurant for one day. What, with whom and where still needed some answering though.

Ex-boyfriend from waaay back answered the with whom part. The where was at his & his fiancée's apartment in Helsinki. And what did we do at our home bistro? We served a six-course dinner for 18 people, whom, for the most parts, we'd never met before.

Back in 2011, on that very first Restaurant Day, it was our little restaurant Vanha Suola plus 44 other pop-ups around Finland. The most attendees to date was on Restaurant Day #9, a year ago, when 1701 restaurants in more than 200 cities worldwide opened for a day.

Oh, and the name of our restaurant, Vanha suola (Old salt) refers to a Finnish saying that translates word for word "Old salt makes you thirsty". No pun intended.


In three weeks it's time for our comeback, with nearly the same set up: beautiful Kruununhaka apartment (different than last time), one very large table (larger than last time) & new acquaintances (hopefully as cool as last time). But this year, there's Freddie Mercury. The menu is inspired by the places where the Queen lead once lived. Such as Zanzibar, India, London, Munich and Montreux.

Something else is new this year too: our team has grown with yet another ex. An ex-guest from Vanha Suola's debut.

Those two exes are also the ones who brought Freddie Mercury along.

And no, I really have no clue how they came up with the whole idea. Probably they don't know that either. I just know that the brainstorming happened when they attended the same wedding party. Probably pretty late in the evening. Probably a bit pienissä häissä, as we say here. No pun intended whatsoever.

If you're interested in filling some of the 24 seats we have available, email us by 9th May (ravintola.vanhasuola@gmail.com). And go join our event on Facebook for more info.

25/04/2014

RESTAURANT DAY

If you have any interest in food and Helsinki, you've heard of Ravintolapäivä - Restaurant Day.

It's the day when you walk around the city and find food all over the place. A guy peddling homemade lemonade from the back of his bicycle, a husband and wife selling soup from their kitchen window, BFFs having their brownie cafe in a park or two kitchen pros serving hand made pelmeni in the middle of a busy street.

And that day is four times a year. Next one, 17th of May. Be prepared.

Photo: Restaurant Day / Tuomas Sarparanta

Photo: Restaurant Day / Tuomas Sarparanta

Photo: Restaurant Day / Roy Bäckström

Photo: Restaurant Day / Heidi Uutela

Photo: Restaurant Day / Hanna Anttila

Photo: Restaurant Day / Heidi Uutela

Photo: Restaurant Day / Roy Bäckström

And of course it's not only for Helsinkians. All over Finland restaurants are popping up. And Europe, and the rest of the continents! Here you find the map of restaurants listed so far. On Restaurant Day website you also find tips how to put up your own place for a day and sign up right away!

17/04/2014

LAMB WALLENBERG STEAK & POTATO MASH WITH GREEN PEAS AND FRESH MINT


What do prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, Italian painter Vittore Carpaccio, Grateful Dead singer Jerry Garcia and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have in common?

They all have their name immortalized on a specific dish or delicacy. How cool would that be?! You'd kind of like live forever. Don't they say that you exist as long as someone remembers you? Better start working on that signature dish right away.

Wallenbergare, or Wallenberg steaks, are part of the gang. Very rich, super smooth and moist ground meat patties, real deal Swedish husmanskost. Named after the prominent Wallenberg family. Very rich too by the way.

Here an Easter-ish version of the classic made with veal. A lamb Wallenberg steak served with mashed green peas and potatoes with fresh mint.


LAMB WALLENBERG STEAK

750g ground lamb
3 dl heavy cream
4 egg yolks (cold)
2 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg, black pepper and cardamom
(butter for frying)
  1. Put the ground meat in a large mixing bowl and add salt & spices.
  2. Beat in the egg yolks and the heavy cream and stir until mixture is completely smooth.
  3. Chill in fridge for at least 15 min.
  4. Shape into rather thick patties (use wet hands). 
  5. Heat the butter on a pan and fry the patties for about 3-5 minutes on both sides.

POTATO MASH WITH GREEN PEAS AND FRESH MINT

650g potatoes
5 dl frozen green peas
60g butter
1,5 dl milk
3 tbsp fresh mint
salt
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks.
  2. Cook in salted water until almost done.
  3. For the last couple of minutes, add also the frozen green peas.
  4. Drain and place back to the pan.
  5. Add butter and start mashing the vegetables.
  6. Little by little add the milk and beat until smooth. 
  7. Add salt to taste and stir in the finely chopped fresh mint.

06/04/2014

PEOPLE FROM HEL: DANIELE PELATI & MANUEL ALVAREZ


All the roads lead to Rome, as commonly known. So why is this Roman wearing an apron at a church in Helsinki? And how about the spanish guy next to him? Daniele Pelati (on the right) and Manuel Alvarez (that leaves him to the left) are planning their own catering business while cooking charity food and working at Helsinki’s restaurants.

One was drawn to Helsinki with a university scholarship, the other one by a woman. Anyhow, first it was Manuel who had the idea of doing something of his own, but needed somebody to do it with. He needed another cook, ended up with a sommelier. When it comes to Daniele, wine beats food. That’s his number one. Though he finds the traditional food and wine pairing a bit boring:
“The match made in heaven doesn’t have to be the most apparent one, it can be perfect in a weird way too.”
Like the classic dessert of his former working place, Ateljé Finne, liquorice crème brûlée and the Italian white dessert wine, Le Colombare Recioto di Soave.

Working at Finne is also how these two met each other several years ago and they both agree that during these years they’ve witnessed a huge development in Helsinki’s food culture.
“Little by little, people with new ideas are popping up and there’s loads of possibilities between a kebab and fine dining nowadays” says Manu.
Daniele, who’s been in Helsinki double the time, since 2001, says he’s been privileged to have been there for the beginning of the small, privately owned restaurant era. Places like Demo and Kuurna, with their chefs and owners who really have let their personality show: Brave trailblazers.


But I’d call these guys brave too. They’re doing a charity project they call Feed the others. Since last September they’ve been in charge of the weekly Tuesday lunch at Alppila church. Customers pay 2 € for the lunch and in addition to that the church pays a small amount to get the ingredient expenses covered.

Dani & Manu want to offer a handmade, good quality, tasty meal, plus a nice experience for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to eat at a restaurant. They also try to serve something the Tuesday regulars aren’t so used to. Beef Wellington the clientele however found too posh, but the salmon lasagne they served gave the two cooks their most valuable compliment: The neighbourhood woman started to cry, simply because she was so happy about the meal.

Tuesday lunch has grown the numbers lately and the parish’s vicar suggested Dani & Manu, they’d start doing a Saturday brunch too. Since the beginning of the year that has filled their schedules as well. But they’ve inspired others too: The sommelier of a recently Michelin awarded restaurant has been on many Saturdays at the brunch, showing the church volunteers and trainees the way how to cope with carrying plates and taking orders. And a rumour says that once the season starts, one Finnish wild herb chief might be featuring the brunch kitchen staff.

Now these southern europeans are starting their small catering business and perhaps someday they’ll have a restaurant of their own. Or a wine bar.


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