Scones – hug on a plate




Finnish winter can be a bit depressing at times. Hardly any daylight, mainly rain from October to January, at least in the southern parts of the country. There may be days when you need an extra hug. Even days when you need something more than that. Recent times have not been so easy in the politics front, either: Brexit on the European agenda, social and health reform on the Finnish agenda, unrest and post-truth in the international debates – not exactly a surfeit of good news in sight… Longing for something warm and comforting is hardly surprising.

For days like that, I’ve got just the thing for you:


It is hardly a coincidence that scones first became popular in the UK in the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign in the 1840s, a time when people were also desperate for comfort and domesticity.

Even in Helsinki you can enjoy some pretty decent afternoon teas with scones and other goodies these days. Worth mentioning are for instance Salutorget, Hotel Kämp and Bergga in Kallio.

Personally I’ve been a fan of scones since school days and for decades searched for that perfect recipe, until found Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Lily’s scones. Use this recipe and let me tell you, your scones will be second to none! Simply sumptuous!




500 g flour

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoon of baking soda

4,5 teaspoons of cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate – tartaric acid, ‘viinikivi’ in Finnish)

125 g butter

300 ml milk

Mix the dry ingredients, then add soft butter and milk without overworking the dough.

Cut the dough into 10-15 scones (depending on your taste, whether you prefer your scones nice and plump or perhaps a bit more small and delicate…)

+ 1 egg for egg washing the scones before putting them into the oven.

Bake in 225°C for 15-20 minutes

PS:Some people may see this as a bit unorthodox, but I just love scones with butter and a nice slice of cheddar cheese! The absolutely best combination for me is still raspberry jam and double cream or – if available! – clotted cream.  If you’re brave and ambitious, you may also try to make your own clotted cream! As most things, you can find advice and inspiration from Youtube:


It’s a dog’s life (and all the better for it!)


There are today few topics more heatedly contested than food and what, how and when one should or should not eat. Perhaps a topic even more heatedly contested however is the diet of our pets. Being a “Mom” to two lovely West Highland White Terriers (or Westies, for short), who as a breed are sadly prone to suffer from allergies, I am faced with this bombardment of information on the topic. So far I’ve tried to keep a clear head and stay relatively simple and sensible, as the dogs have not been exhibiting allergy symptoms.


We are currently testing home cooking for the dogs. It’s kind of simple, really, as a vegetables and brown rice cook easy enough in a big pot once or twice a week and can be accompanied by some meat (minced turkey seems to be fine for our dogs), fish (which they absolutely love) or cottage cheese. They also get some fish oil and biotin supplements. Actually, their diet seemed so healthy to me I recently re-started taking fish oil and zinc myself, as it seemed to work for the dogs! 😉 I suppose it is fair to say that in our society we may take better care of our dogs health than our own.


Serious stuff of doggie diets aside, though: before Christmas I really wanted to make some homemade Christmas cookies for our four-legged friends. In particular as we coordinate a monthly walk with other Westies in Seurasaari and I was hoping to surprise our Westie friends with some special Christmas treats. After some not-so-successful testing of my own, I luckily got help from a Westie-owner friend who also works at the local pet supply store. She gave us the original recipe, which was tested and found to work beautifully at the Westie walk in December (with more than 20 westies being the focus group). Since then I have done some minor fine-tuning of the recipe, mostly in order to improve the characteristics: elasticity and bakeability of the dough. Now I think it is fair to say that the cookies actually look and smell good enough to eat! I am tempted to have a taste myself in fact…

So, here goes:


1 bag (300 g) of Natures Menu –dog food (we have used various types of this brand, most recently chicken and rabbit with vegetable)

2-4 dl potato or rice flour (or other glutein-free flour)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon natural yogurt

A handful of nuts and seeds can also be added for variation.

Mix the ingredients – the amount of flour will be appropriate when the composition of the dough resembles ginger bread dough. Use a mold of your choosing (we have two Westie-ones, not surprisingly and I recently purchased the cutest Valentine’s Day molds from the Stockmann’s Christmas sale).



Bake in the oven at 175 degrees until crispy.

Share with best canine friends!



(Photo of our cookie monsters from Seurasaari westie walk in January, courtesy of Mikael Vasiliev)

Second recipe comes from Victoria Stilwell herself. I love her and her “kindness of powerful” – approach to dogs and life. The cookies are wonderfully fragrant and very tasty.


These wonderful cookies are surely good enough to share with your doggie friends and they fill your kitchen with the most delicious smell of coconut. Needless to say, the dogs absolutely love them, too. The original Victoria Stilwell recipe is available here:

I have translated the American measurements into European ones as follows:

2.4 dl rice flour

1, 5 dl grated apple

160 ml natural yogurt

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or 1 teaspoon of ginger powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Mix the ingredients, roll out and cut into shape using your personal choice of cookie cutters. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.


Let the cookies cool, despite the constant begging from the greedy little Westies by the stove. Once the cookies have cooled down, ask the doggies to stop fussing and do a few clever tricks instead, to get to share some of these beautiful and healthy treats.


Not so bad, a dog’s life, I would say.


“Eat food. Not much. Mainly plants.” Or – eating your way through the election manifestos

The title of the blog comes from Michael Pollan and is pretty good, you have to admit. I’ve been inspired By Michal Pollan for a long time. Though some of his books on food industry seem a bit far way from our every day life, there are such a lot of parallels and they really make you think (see for instance: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food or Cooked: A natural history of transformation). My favorite book of Michael Pollan’s however is his “Food Rules”, beautifully illustrated By Maire Kalman. (for the whole story and more info, see:


One of my favorite rules: “Eat Animals that have themselves eaten well”. Easy to agree, isn’t it?

Another favorite is “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”. Though we might as well make it “grandmother”, don’t you think?

In my last blog I was musing on a recent visit to Paris whilst also reminiscing over a much earlier visit in 1988. As we have become increasingly consumed with food and all of the issues related to it, it is clear that food is, in itself, now a highly political issue. In 1988 only the most enlightened had heard about ‘the politics of food’ and animal rights were given very little attention, in France as elsewhere. Today the situation has changed completely. People now pay much more attention to (and money on) what they eat, believing that there is inherent value in what you eat. The most ethically upright have long been the vegetarians, though, unfortunately, I am incapable of such unselfishness. Sure we had read our Peter Singer’s (, already in the 1980s, but vegetarians were few and far between and finding proper vegetarian food outside the main urban centres  in Finland was nearly impossible. Living in Turku, we were lucky: Verso, one of the first vegetarian restaurants in Finland used to be our local when at university. Such a shame that despite the global megatrend of vegetarian ideology, the restaurant closed in 2003!


It was however many years before Elina Lappalainen’s excellent book on animal welfare and animals raised for food in Finland really generated mainstream attention: “Raised to be eaten” (Syötäväksi kasvatetut) won the Tieto-Finlandia prize in 2012 and was on many a Christmas shopping list that year. The common sense approach of Lappalainen’s book was what really made it such a success: whilst acknowledging that Finns are big meat eaters (we eat almost 80 kilos of meat on average a year, with the amount of meat having gone up by 25% in the last 20 years, despite increasing awareness of the negative health effects, impact on the environment etc.), we do not really know or are aware of what it is we eat. Lappalainen’s starting point of Finns having become ‘alienated’ from food was a healthy one: the image of cute little piglets, adorable little calves or chicks has little to do with the industrial products that end up on our plates, and in fact in many cases, it seems we’d rather just not know. This creates something of a paradox; we know and want to know more about the source of our food yet, when faced with the stark reality of this information, we are discomfited. Lappalainen did not sensationalise the topic; rather she demystified it and said: right, some of us still want to eat meat, which options are the least harmful or least ethical? (For Elina Lappalainen and her publications, see: She did not take extreme views or make us feel uncomfortable just to make headlines, rather she simply showed us what the implications and options of our choices as meat-eaters were and this was widely welcomed.


I for one have moved to decreasing the amount of meat on my plate, especially giving up pork all together and favouring organic lamb and cockerel. I’ve also tried to follow (yet more) of Michael Pollan’s food rules: eat meat that has itself eaten well and treat meat as food for a special occasion. Only baby steps, I know, but small steps are sometimes required before the big leap.



Also I’ve found that making the vegetarian side dishes the stars of a meal can also make a difference; recent cases of serving organic lamb with fennel and feta salad, as well as the traditional British lamb roast with “granny’s cucumbers” (with a couple of twists, i.e. replacing normal vinegar with rice and apple vinegar, as well as mustard seeds with coriander seeds plus dill with coriander).

Vegetarian ideology and a concern for animal welfare as major political issues still do not seem to have been mainstreamed. Yet responsible and sustainable food, animals as a form of food and related issues remain surprisingly absent in the election debate. Though in Finland the share of agriculture and food production in the economy has progressively declined, the turnover of all things food is still significant, 26,70 bill eur (Niemi & Ahlstedt eds. (2014): Suomen maaseutu ja maaseutuelinkeinot 2014, available at: As a source of direct employment, the food and agriculture sector has also been on the decline, though considerable attention has been given to green growth, the bio economy and related themes as possible growth areas in a decreasing national economy. The circular economy and a focus on reducing waste, including food waste, have also brought food and our relationship with it into sharper focus. And this is all well and good. Yet somehow surprisingly little political attention is given to these topics even today.

Making_things_happen I went through the election campaign manifestos and was a bit surprised how little attention was in fact paid to these issues. I suppose the parties have done their homework: the issues of sustainable agriculture, food production and animal welfare must not interest people that much, certainly not as much as many other topics. Perhaps at times of economic hardship, the ethics of food and animals seem to be among the first issues to be set aside.

Anyone remember the Gandhi quote about the greatness of a nation being best judged by the way it treats its animals …?


Not surprisingly, given its traditions and historical background, the Green party is the one with the most focus on animal welfare and the development of an ecological production standard.

The Swedish party SFP is most clear in its support for “sustainable and profitable” farming (and forestry), as well as domestic greenhouse production and maintaining the fisheries industry in Finland. Not surprising, given its electorate, though unfortunate for animal rights, is the continuing support of the Swedish party for the fur industry in Finland.

De-regulation is in general on everyone’s agenda, not surprisingly. For the Swedish party this includes ensuring that the regulative burden is minimised in cases where the preconditions for domestic production make it necessary. Strengthening the position of producers in the food production chain and supporting endeavours seeking to prioritise food produced locally while increasing the level of awareness among consumers of such options sound like welcome pledges for food sustainability.

The National coalition does not focus particularly on food related issues, except for their desire to keep domestic food production profitable. Yet they are not terribly detailed in outlining what this might mean.

The Centre party does not want to be burdened too much by its traditional close ties with the agricultural sector and the food industry and perhaps therefore includes few food-relevant topics in its manifesto. They do however set the goal of making Finland world-renowned as a problem-solver in food-, water and energy shortage related problems. That would indeed be a wonderful mission to accomplish, though the concrete means remain to be outlined in any detail in the actual manifesto.

The Finns have in turn produced a separate policy document on rural policy, perhaps in their attempt to lure Centre party voters rather than their previous targets of ex-social democratic voters. Their manifesto includes some very concrete issues that would be welcomed for sustainable food production supporters: food production closer to home, more endogenous products to be served in centralised institutional kitchens, more local choices for consumers, such as fish and reindeer in the shops and better preconditions for ecological production, including education and research.

Food may not be the number one topic in the coming election, but there remains some food for thought for those inclined, and not always in the circles where you most expect it.  The various (numerous) digital platforms, which help you to choose between  candidates (more or less serious, as they may be) have quite a few questions about food production and its sustainability, less however on animal rights. Notable exceptions – not surprisingly – include Animalia and the Finnish Animal Rights Association (SEY, Eläinsuojeluliitto). (Find your candidate –platform for animal rights: ) As always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say…


The least we can do is to remember the topic is there and make sure not to let the candidates forget it either: let’s stop just talking about it! Ask your candidate about what she or he is willing to do in order to maintain domestic production, promote ethical production and support animal rights.  To start with…


Pictures: my own, except  “The wonderful thing…” – Source: and “If it came from a plant” By Popsugar:

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité – or savouring a little bit of France


imageI travelled to Paris recently, on a mission to acquaint my niece with this wonderful hotchpotch of culture, history and culinary delights. It reminded me of my first visit to France, in 1988. The first time you see Paris is always unforgettable: there is so much to see, to do, to taste! The wide boulevards, the beautiful cathedrals, the Seine…! The colourful street markets, bakeries and cafes…! And the sound of French language or music – it leaves you simply mesmerised. It is almost too much in fact.

image  image


imageMy second visit was in 1989, for a two-month language course in Dijon. This became one of the most significant journeys in my life, both because it really opened my eyes to all things French (and convinced me of the necessity of learning that impenetrable language of theirs!) and it allowed me to make some real friends that I have been lucky to keep ever since… Cooking and wine in Bourgogne naturally left a permanent memory.

What was significant with the 1989 visit of course was that it was the year of the bicentenaire, the 200 year anniversary of the French revolution. This was also part of the reason that French politics made such an impression on me as a young politics student. The home of the revolutionary ideals of freedom Liberté, égalité, fraternité was quite an interesting place even in the 1980s and 1990s and for a Finn interesting also because of the similar emphasis on Presidential power; Finland retained a similar ‘strong presidential’ system up to 2000, thereafter a semi-presidential one, as the constitutional reform enacted at that time put in place a more parliamentary system, bringing Finland into line with the West European mainstream. (For an introduction to the philosophers that made their impression on the French revolution, see:, on semi-presidential systems in Europe, see:

As important as the political system, though is the culinary system. 🙂

image  image

I’m not even going to start on the topic of French cooking. Suffice to say, it is very easy to eat well in France. Sometimes it may be difficult to stick to a very light diet, but as has been argued elsewhere, French (women) themselves stay thin by eating well, by relying on quality rather than quantity. (See: A little qateau once in a while will not kill you, neither will enjoying some of the beautiful cheeses available. You can indulge sometimes, but not all the time. Eating is something to be enjoyed, and something that is deeply social. A survey from the mid-2000’s conducted by the French government’s Committee for Health Education (CFES) found that in France, 76 per cent eat meals they have prepared at home; the favourite place to eat both lunch and dinner is in the home, with 75 per cent eating at the family table. (See Mimi Spencer’s article on the topic in Guardian from 2004: Those figures are hard to beat!

The stereotypical view of French cuisine suggests it is quite meat-heavy. Indeed, it was not too long ago when being ‘a vegetarian’ in France was not at all easy, but luckily this has changed tremendously (even since my first visit to France). (See for instance this excellent blog on being vegetarian in Paris, including an extensive list of restaurants: For the meat-eater of course France is still full of treats. Personal favorites include everything to do with duck. It is difficult not to eat well in Paris in any case. (The main courses and dessert below are from one of my favorite lunch places in Paris, Miroir at Rue des Martyrs)

Chicken  Le_merlan


You can’t always travel as often as you would like. For those moments it is good to have recipes that allow you to travel in your own kitchen. One such recipe is for the classic little tea cakes, madelaines, made world famous by Marcel Proust’s novel ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ (original À la recherche du temps perdu).

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5 eggs

200 g plain all purpose flour

220 g sugar

180 g unsalted butter

grated zest of 2 organic lemons or one coffee spoon chocolate powder

a pinch of salt

11 g baking powder (! – yes, after decades of failed baking I’ve finally believed that the secret in successful baking is in following the recipe in detail, and measuring absolutely correctly the ingredients)

1) Preheat the oven to 180 °

2) Brush a Madeleine tray with butter and coat with flour, then tap the tray to remove the excess flour

3) Melt the butter and let it cool

4) Mix the flour with baking powder

4) Mix the eggs one by one with the flour with the baking powder and flour mix and gradually add the sugar and beat the mixture until pale in colour

5) Add the butter and grated lemon zest (and other possible flavorings of your choice)

6) Spoon into the baking tray; place the tray in the fridge for 1 hour to cool

7) Bake for around 10 minutes, until very lightly golden. Remove the little cakes from the tray and cool on a plate

8) Enjoy with tea (the ‘official’ way) or coffee.


Madelaines in the Proustian sense are thought to evoke significant formative memories from the days of one’s youth. Perhaps that is part of their attraction. They are absolutely at their best eaten freshly baked, but should not be kept for longer than 4 days, according to a professional chef with whom I and my niece had the pleasure of baking in Paris recently. You can also substitute the lemon rind with other flavours: I made my first batch at home using a tiny bit of essence oils with lavender and verbena. They turned out lovely and fragrant, though not as puffy as the ones we made in Paris. They do say the madelaines are not for an inexperienced or impatient cook. 🙂 Or perhaps there was something in the air of Montparnasse that could not quite be replicated in Espoo…  Perfect little treat to share at Easter.


Read more on madelaines:

A touch of spring on International Women’s Day

We all deserve something sweet


Ricotta-limoncello torttu / Ricotta and limoncello tart

(adapted from Sikke Sumari’s original recipe  /  Sikke Sumarin reseptin mukaan)



Women’s Day is as good an excuse as any to treat oneself and one’s loved ones to something sweet and delicious. In the Finnish calendar, early March can be a difficult time:  still so far from the approaching spring, with absolutely no sign of green  yet to be seen in nature around us. What better than a little sunshine and colour to brighten one’s day. Lemons are the easiest way to bring sunshine into any cooking.

Happy Women’s Day to you all!

image_3Taikina: 300g jauhoja, 100g voita, 200g sokeria, 3 keltuaista

Täyte: 500g ricotta, 100g sokeria, 3 rkl limoncelloa, 1 sitruunan raastettu kuori,  2 rkl sitruunatahnaa (Lemon curd, ostettavissa valmiina tai kunnianhimoisemmalle leipurille valmistettavissa oheisen BBC Foodin ohjeen mukaan:

Lisäksi maun mukaan tuoreita marjoja, esim. vadelmia tai mustikoita.


Käytäthän luomukananmunia? Niissä on mielestäni sekä parempi maku että erityisesti kauniimpi väri. Katso nyt näitä ihanuuksia!





Tee taikina aineksista nopeasti nyppimällä. Taikina saa jäädä hieman ‘kokkareiseksi’. Sekoita täytteen ainekset keskenään. Vuoraa 20-25cm torttuvuoka leivinpaperilla ja painele puolet taikinasta vuoan pohjalle, lisää täyte ja murusta loput taikinasta täytteen päälle. Paista 170 asteessa noin 40-45 minuuttia.




Koristele hauamillasi marjoilla. Ja nauti!


Limoncello and Ricotta Tart

(adapted from Sikke Sumari’s original recipe )

For the dough: 300g flour 100g butter 200g sugar 3 egg yolks

Filling: 500g ricotta, 100g sugar, 3 tablespoons limoncello, a zest of one (organic) lemon, 2 tablespoons lemon curd (available from supermarkets or if feeling ambitious – you can prepare it yourself following the attached BBC Food instructions : )

Ti serve: Fresh berries, e.g. rasberries or blueberries


Make the dough by quickly mixing the ingredients for the dough. Don’t overwork the dough, it will be quite “lumpy”. Mix the ingredients for the filling. Line a 20-25cm tart tin with grease-proof paper, press half of the dough into the pan, add the filling and then crumble te remainder on top. Bake at 170 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.

I do hope you are using organic eggs. To me, they both taste better and look more beautiful. Just look at these beautiful things!


Decorate with your favorite berries and enjoy! (Perhaps with a small glass of limoncello on the side.)


Six nations on a plate

You may not be aware of this, but rugby is one of my favorite sports. Not for playing as such, though I’d like to think that I have what it takes to be a good scrum half (short, fast and with terrier-like persistence). This time of year European rugby fans have something special to follow: the Six Nations tournament takes Place across Europe, from Edinburgh to Rome.

The six nations in question are England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. As a side note, there is plenty of interesting trivia to share as well: this may be the only team game where the Ireland team includes both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

Played annually in its current form since 2000, the tournament was expanded southwards from the “5 nations”, which had been played since 1910, with the addition of Italy. The format of the Championship is quite simple: each team plays every other team once, with home field advantage alternating from one year to the next. So for instance this year Scotland will play Italy in Scotland while in 2016 the match will be in Italy. Scotland played France in Paris this year and France in turn will travel to Edinburgh next year etc. I will not go into details as to the rules, but the points system is simple: two points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. Unlike most other rugby union competitions the bonus point system is not used. (Source: wikipedia.)

While the six nations in question include some of my personal favorite nations across Europe and some great cooking nations, too, I must admit Wales has remained a mystery to me – I’ve actually never been there. It was therefore only logical I should start my investigative cooking with Wales, to make most of the weekend while it lasts…



I thought it safe to start with an easy one: leak and potato soup.

While fully aware that Wales has some spectacular fresh produce (great farming conditions), delicious fresh lamb, great cheese etc., stereotypically thinking of Wales and food, I thought of leeks. Thus leek and potato soup with (if available – preferably Welsh) cheese was the first “Welsh entry” into my cooking the 6 nations.


You may not need a recipe for the leek and potato soup at all, as it is rather delightfully simple to make, but if you do, good candidates are provided By Julia Child, Jamie Oliver or  James Martin.


Julia Child:

Jamie Oliver:

James Martin:

I made the soup with 2 leeks, 5 potatoes, 2 onions, 1 garlic clove, some oil and 5 dl stock. Once these had been cooked , I added 1,25 dl vegetable stock and 1,5 dl grated cheese. The whole soup was purred and lots of chopped parsley added on top. Easy to make and delicious. (On a critical note, if anything, the soup could have done with more leeks and less cheese.)



The soup is delicious served with a great Irish recipe: soda bread. Tastes great and super easy to make, even for a lazy baker such as me.

Perfect Welsh accompaniment to the soup would have been Glamorgan sausage – more cooking with leeks and a sausage that even vegetarians can enjoy. The Guardian had an excellent recipe for this:


Lots of fresh parsley always works…

As for my choice of Irish soda bread, it surely is a classic, and there are few things more rewarding than baking bread.

I used a recipe By James Martin:


170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour

170g/6oz plain flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

290ml/½ pint buttermilk

Preparation method

Preheat the oven to 200C

  1. Tip the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
  2.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)
  3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
  4. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  5. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

(Source: BBC Food,

Butter milk is easy to come by in Finland, as it is a kind of “PIIMÄ” (great Finnish word that!). It can also be made at home, simply by mixing milk with a tiny amount of vinegar or lemon juice.


For more information on the 6 nations tournament, see the official homepage: This year the final results will be revealed on the 21st March. Until then watch this space for more recipes and food musing from the 6 nations. 🙂

PS: Unfortunately due to some very bad planning on my part, only now realised that Scotland are playing Italy in Scotland the weekend I’ll be in Rome. Better luck next year…

Yes, it works with fish too!

imageAs has perhaps become apparent, I love cooking North-African inspired food. So far the brand new tagine dish was tested with chicken, lamb and vegetables. So it comes as no surprise that now it was time to move to my favorite – fish! image

This time we used cod, which (though from the North Atlantic), works beautifully for a tagine, as it is quite firm. I made the chermoula for the first time – quite hot and smoky, but delicious. A mix of flat leaf parsley, garlic, lots of Moroccan spices, safron, smoked paprika, oil, lemon juice, a splash of vinegar, some capers etc.         Continue reading

Sunny energy for those long winter days – or why do we love our smoothies so?

I used to think it was strange that people insisted on puréeing their food. Why? Is it some kind of attempt to regress back to the baby stage? The more you make and taste them however, the easier it is to understand their attraction, especially using fresh fruits and berries to make something tasty, colourful and refreshing on a winter Morning.


My absolute favourite smoothie is really easy to make and delicious and I’ve shared it with many friends since discovering it. As one of these friends recently asked for the recipe again, I thought I might as well share it through the blog. So here we go! The recipe was originally from a great little cafe “The Exhibitionists” on Museokatu, Helsinki. When I first tasted it, they told me that they were inspired by a recent trip to Morocco. Not surprising then it should become one of my favourites, given my love for North African cuisine. Here we go: avocado smoothie – enjoy!


Avocado smoothie

2 avocados

5 dl milk

Seeds from ½ vanilla pod

(1 teaspoon sugar or honey)

Mint leaves to garnish


Second favourite is a fruity smoothie that brings sunshine into the darkest winter morning:

“Brighten-up-your-day” -smoothie

½ a pineapple chopped into cubes and frozen

2 bananas, chopped into cubes and frozen

1-2 dl frozen cranberries

5 dl organic yoghurt (natural or vanilla)

1-2 tablespoons of chia & cranberry mix

1 pomegranate (2/3 into the mix, 1/3 to garnish)

+ mint leaves, pomegranate and lemon verbena leaves to garnish


There are obviously an infinite number of smoothie recipes online, as well as discussions on the pros and cons of the smoothie craze (does it help you to lose weight or on the contrary make you absorb too many calories much too easily, does it help to detox; is it a good way to ensure kids eat their greens etc. etc. In one of the blogs I went through someone even asked the rather pointless question “smoothies versus coffee?” Surely you can have both?!

Some examples can be found here:

On travel, writing, and food, or that magic Tagine

Travel is wonderful of course, who could disagree? Gradually, as you get older and more set in your ways, actually setting off becomes more difficult, as the discomfort of travel is inevitably more of an issue. All the more valuable then are those memories of travel and its flavours cherished in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Mia Kankimäki’s book, The things that make the heart beat faster, was one of the best-sellers of 2013 in terms of Finnish-language books; an interesting travel story and research report about the unlikely subject of Japanese diarist and poet Sei Shōnagon, who was born in 966AD (in Japan) and died ( 1025AD – Japan). I only managed to get around to reading this little gem of a book in early 2015, but it got me thinking of travel books more generally.

Travel books have a particular magic about them. My mother was an avid reader of travel books and left behind a library I’ve enjoyed ever since, including many Finnish women travel authors: Vivi-Ann Sjögren and Kyllikki Villa can be warmly recommended to anyone interested in the travel books genre. Both are published in Swedish, but unfortunately not in English, as far as I know. In addition to these authors, my mother gave me a special travel book many years ago called “Järvien, vuorien ja sankareiden maa” = “The land of lochs, mountains and heroes”, which is a travel book on Scotland, published in 1946 and written by Helmi Krohn, the wife of the most famous person born in Kokemäki (my home town) Eemil Nestor Setälä, and sister of Aino Kallas. Quite a gem!

The book describes amongst other things arriving in a rainy Edinburgh:

“It was raining as I arrived. It is likely to rain at any time in Scotland, it is a kind of necessary evil, which is best taken calmly. At least the Scots themselves do so. A Scottish gentleman once said that Scotland never has bad weather, in the worst case, only “beautiful, moist weather.” And in a way, he was right, at least if the rain does not happen to be too heavy and the fog not too thick. The weather simply provides the landscape with a special feeling, providing the mountainous landscapes in particular with a mysterious foggy veil. It is easy to understand how such an environment could stir one’s imagination.”

Rainy or wet weather is certainly ideal for a warm stew. This time alas, the inspiration comes not from Scotland, but from sunnier climes.

 Kaisa’s Morrocan lamb stew

The star of the meal is the lamb – depending on how huingry the crowd is, for 6-8 people count 2-3 lamb shanks and a couple of better cuts of your choice (approx. 1.5 kg of meat in total). No matter if there should be some leftover, as the stew only improves with time.

1. For seasoning and marinade:

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • A generous glug (~2 tablespoons) of olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • approx. 3 tablespoons of Harissa paste (you can get this from your local supermarket these days, though given the enthusiasm and ambition, do make it yourself, e.g. using this recipe:

2. Best of fruit&veg:

  • red bell pepper
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 (red) onion
  • 4 carrots

(Why not go for additional root vegetables, if you feel like it! Or – if you should so desire, you can make the stew entirely without meat – the flavours are beautiful also in vegetarian mode).

  •  Canned chickpeas (soak overnight)
  • garlic according to taste (I usually crush 3 cloves)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1-2 cans crushed tomato

To serve – and (once again) according to taste, to finish: some honey, 1-2 preserved lemons, Merguez sausages or other good fresh lamb sausages (fried separately first) served on top

3. Couscous (prepare as instructed on the packet), with added roasted almonds, some dried fruit (usually I use the apricot, fig, or dates)

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon of butter

+ To serve, mint and coriander, pomegranate seeds + plain yogurt on the side if you want to reduce the heat of the dish


  1. Marinate the lamb overnight using, for instance, Harissa paste, oil and red wine.
  2. Soak the chickpeas overnight and prepare the almonds and, when colouring them on the frying pan, don’t let them out of your sight as they burn very easily.
  3. Chop the vegetables.
  4. Let the lamb rest at room temperature while admiring its beauty. Cook quickly on the pan and then pop in the oven with all the other ingredients for about 3 hours (170-180 degrees).
  5. If unsure, pop the meat thermometer in and serve when the lamb is cooked to your liking. ENJOY!

A similar type of delicious Tagine-style hot pot can also be prepared with organic chicken or cockrel, too. A loval producer brings us beautiful Merguez sausages to the door.

Prepare the Tagine as above, with the only difference being replacing lamb with chicken, and with the red wine omitted. Well, I suppose a glass will go perfectly with the ready-made product in any case.  For chicken / cockerel thighs, please allow approx. 1.5 hours cooking time. Bon appetit!


Matkustamisesta, kirjoittamisesta ja ruuasta


”Minulla on kaikki nämä ääriviivat, enkä ole suhteessa keneenkään muuhun täällä vaan olen aivan erillisenä, minä olen vain minä. Ja minun pitäisi tulla minun kanssani toimeen.” (Kyllikki Villa)

Matkustaminen on ihanaa, tietenkin. Vähitellen kun iän myötä muuttuu mukavuudenhaluisemmaksi, on ehkä haluttomampi lähtemään matkaan, mutta sitä tarkemmin hellii matkojen muistoja ja makuja kotikeittiössä.

Mia Kankimäen ”Asioita, jotka saavat sydämen lyömään nopeammin” oli yksi 2013 suomalaisen kirjamaailman suursuosikkeja. Pääsin itse lukemaan tämän nautinnollisen monen tason matkakirjan vasta alkuvuodesta 2015, mutta se sai minut palaamaan matkakirjojen lajin pariin. (Toivottavasti se sai yleisemminkin naismatkakirjailijat takaisin lukevan yleisön huomion keskipisteeseen – ks. HS:n kolumni aiheesta syksyltä 2013: ”Naisten matkatarinat on unohdettu”,

Matkakirjoissa on jotakin erityisen taianomaista. Äitini oli innokas matkakirjojen lukija ja hänen jäämistöstään olen lukenut monia helmiä nimenomaan suomalaisten naisten kirjoittamista matkakirjoista. Vivi-Ann Sjögren tai edesmennyt Kyllikki Villa tulevat ensimmäisenä mieleen ja suosittelen näitä kenelle tahansa matkakirjoista kiinnostuneille! Näiden kirjoittajien lisäksi sain äidiltä erikoisen matkakirjan vuosia sitten: ”Järvien, vuorien ja sankarien maa”, joka on matkakirja Skotlannista, julkaistu jo 1946 ja kirjoittajana Helmi Krohn, ehkä tunnetuimman kokemäkeläisen Eemil Nestor Setälän vaimo ja Aino Kallaksen sisar.

Edinburghista kirjoittaessaan Helmi kirjoittaa:

”Satoi kuin saavista kaataen. Sitä voi tapahtua milloin hyvänsä Skotlannissa, se on välttämätön paha, johon on paras suhtautua rauhallisesti. Ainakin skotlantilaiset itse niin tekevät. Eräs skotlantilainen herra sanoi kerran, ettei Skotlannissa koskaan ole ruma ilma, pahimmassa tapauksessa vain ”kaunis, kostea ilma”. Jas tavallaan hän olikin oikeassa, ellei nyt sade satu olemaan liian rankka eikä sumu liian sakea. Ne antavat vain maisemalle erikoisen leimansa, kietovat varsinkin vuorimaiseman salaperäiseen, utuiseen verhoon, ja sitä katsellessa voi varsin hyvin käsittää, miten sellaisessa ympäristössä mielikuvitus alkaa liikehtiä ja salaperäiset voimat puhjeta ilmi.”

Kuvaus hymyilytti ja kuulosti tutulta. Sateisella säällä sopii erityisen hyvin nauttia lämmittävää pataruokaa. Tällä kertaa se ei tosin ole skotlantilaista, vaan eteläisemmän ilmanalan inspiroimaa:

Kaisan marokkolaishenkinen lammaspata

1. Aterian tähti eli lammas[1]:

  • Nälkäisyyden asteen mukaan valittu määrä lammasta – 6-8 hengelle esim. 2 potkaa ja 3 reilua paahtopaistipalaa (n. 1,5 kg). Ei haittaa vaikka tulisi liikaa, koska tämä vain paranee seuraavaan päivään.

2. Maustamiseen:

3. Juurekset ja muut kasvisosaston ihanuudet:

  •  1 punainen paprika
  • 1 munakoiso
  • 2 (puna)sipulia
  • 4 porkkanaa

(Miksei myös muita juureksia, jos siltä tuntuu)

  • Purkki kikherneitä (liota yön yli!)
  • Maun mukaan valkosipulia (olen käyttänyt yleensä 3 kynttä)
  • 1 sitruuna lohkottuna
  • 1 liemikuutio
  • 2 purkkia tomaattimurskaa

4. Vaihtoehtoisina lisäyksinä myös

  • 1 rkp hunajaa
  • Muutamia säilöttyjä sitruunoita (esim. Hakaniemen hallin Maustekeitaasta saa hyviä)
  • Merguez-makkaroita tms. muita hyviä lammastuoremakkaroita maun mukaan
  • Granaattiomenaa
  • Ruokajogurttia
  1. Couscous:
  • Ohjeen mukaan couscousia (2 dl/2 hlöä)
  • Pussi nopeasti pannulla paahdettuja mantelinlastuja
  • Maun mukaan pari kourallista paloteltuja kuivattuja hedelmiä (yleensä käytän aprikoosia, myös viikuna tai taateli ok)
  • Puolikkaan sitruunan mehu (tai miksei kokonaisenkin – olen sitruunafriikki – sitä sopii lisätä sopivissa väleissä melkein mihin tahansa ruokaan ja parantaa lopputulosta)
  • 1 rkl voita

+ Koristeeksi minttua ja korianteria




  1. Marinoi lammas edellisenä iltana esim. valmiilla Harissa-tahnalla, öljyllä ja/tai punaviinillä. Esteettisen tasapainon vuoksi joukkoon voi silputa kourallisen haluamiaan yrttejä (if you ask me – minttu toimii aina!) Hirvittävän suttaavaa puuhaa tämä, joten varaa paljon talouspaperia ja yritä saada joku muu rekrytoitua siivousvaiheeseen. Mätkäytä muovipussiin jääkaapppiin yön yli. Laita myös kikherneet likoon kylmään runsaaseen veteen yön yli. Samaan syssyyyn voit kuullottaa kuumalla pannulla mantelilastut – ole äärimmäisen tarkka, koska palavat helposti. Mieluiten tuijota niitä keskittyneesti ja harjoita zen-meditaatiota. Älä kiinnitä huomiota puolisoon, lapsiin tai lemmikkiin – poltat ne lastut kumminkin, lisää kaapissa ei ole, Siwakin on jo kiinni ja sitten harmittaa!

Samaan aikaan kun keskityt tuohon (ja jos olet onnekas!), saat houkuteltua siipan, lapsen tai muun sopivan hyväntahtoisen uhrin lohkomaan vihannekset ja sipulit. Nämä kun on valmiina pusseissa seuraavaan aamuun, elämä helpottuu huomattavasti.

  1. Seuraavana aamuna ota lammas jääkaapista, napsauta uuni päälle 180 asteeseen ja ihastele hetki Laten herkullista ulkonäköä ja tuoksua. Anna lampaan jäädä huoneenlämpöön lepäämään siksi aikaa kun uuni kuumenee. Murskaat mausteet haluamallasi tavalla / aseella ja kuullota ne pannulla reilussa lorauksessa öljyä.
  2. Pilko liha sopiviksi (aika reiluiksi) paloiksi ja pyöräytä liha pannulla (n. 4 min/puoli) kauniin pinnan saamiseksi.
  3. Laita lammas mausteiden ja lisukkeiden kanssa uunipannuun / pataan, lorauta päälle maun mukaan öljyä, sitruunamehua ja punkkua, tomaattimurskaa ja lihalientä siten, että liha peittyy sopivasti.
  4. Kypsennä koko hässäkkää 170-180 asteessa n. 3 tuntia, sen jälkeen laske lämpötila n. 150:een ja anna Laten lekotella vielä kaikessa rauhassa niin kauan että vieraat saapuvat tai nälkä käy ylitsepääsemättömäksi.
  5. Lampaan ollessa melkein kypsä, valmista couscous pakkauksen ohjeen mukaan ja lisää lopuksi kohdassa 5 mainitut lisukkeet.
  6. Koristele / tuunaa lopulliseen kuntoon haluamallasi tavalla (kohdan 4 tai oman pääsi mukaan)
  7. Kutsu väki kokoon, kaada lisää viiniä (jos sitä tässä vaiheessa vielä on jäljellä) & ENJOY!


Vastaavantyyppisen herkullisen Tagine-padan saa myös kanasta. Oheisen kuvan versio on Wiskilän herkullisten kukonpoikien inspiroimaa ja senkin kruunaavat Craig Beckleyn ranskalaistyyppiset lammas-Merguez –makkarat.


Valmistuksessa voi seurata yllä olevaa ohjetta, vain sillä erolla, että lampaan korvaavat pannulla ruskistetut kukonpojan koipireisipalat ja punaviinin voi jättää pois. Kypsymisaika kukonpoikien reisipaloille on n. 1,5 tuntia. Bon appetit!

[1] Viimeksi tein olosuhteiden vuoksi Stockan uusiseelantilaisesta lampaasta, mikä on ihan hyvää sekin. Suoramyyntinä tiloilta saa tietysti parasta ja parhaan mielen jättävää lammasta, esim. Kalliomäen tilalta läheltä Kotkaa, Satakunnan Köyliöstä Lallin lampaasta ja Metsolan tilalta läheltä Vihtiä olen tilannut. Näitä löytyy mm. seuraavasta linkistä: