The best days of winter

by tableofcolors

The best days of winter have arrived. The day is noticeably longer and in the morning when I come downstairs into my kitchen it is not quite as dark as it was just a month ago. The children are able to leave for school in the soft morning light and after they arrive home there is still some light to be outside. And in my kitchen there is a bouquet of yellow tulips reminding me that spring is on it’s way.

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We have been skating quite often on the lake; just across the road and through the little patch of woods that line the shore. With the abundance of fresh air and exercise comes healthy appetites to match it. This month in my kitchen I have food that will hopefully satisfy the appetites. Not too long ago I made a discovery at the grocery store. I bought a package of crisp bread made by a local bakery, Leipomo J. Martin. I have a personal connection to the bakery as I worked there for a summer a few years back. After making the initial discovery of the crisp bread I have bought several packages. The flavor is wonderful as it is full of toasted seeds and whole grain bran. In fact, every year the Finnish food union hosts a contest for the most innovative and best tasting new product on the market. Five finalists are chosen from which the winner is selected. This crisp bread was one of the finalists for the Tähtituote award last year. In addition it was selected as the best crisp bread of the year by the Gloria Ruoka ja Viini magazine. Congratulations to the bakers!

skarppi näkkäriWe have been exploring the Suomen lasten leivontakirja cook book with my kids. They suggested the following Mimmi’s meat pie for supper and had intended to help, but something more interesting came up and so I found myself left alone in the kitchen. Jumping hurdles over the sofa pillows actually does sound like fun.

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I actually did not mind that I was left alone. The benefit of the kids disappearing from the kitchen at the critical moment was that I was free to adapt the recipe and add a generous amount of vegetables and seasonings. When baking or cooking with the kids, we usually follow the recipe quite closely so that it is easy for the kids to follow. Maybe it is a mother’s instinct but I do secretly try to add nutrients that the picky eaters might not so easily notice. Grated carrots is one that works in many recipes.

venison meat pie

Mimmi’s Meat Pie with Minced Venison

One of the benefits of having a hunter in the family is that we are able to enjoy truly organic meat. I used minced venison for the meat pie but you may subsitute with a ground meat of your choice. For a lighter version, make only half of the dough for the crust for a single crust pie. Place the filling in a lasagne pan lined with parchment paper and covering with the pastry. The recipe below is the traditional version.

Pie crust

250 g/8.8 oz butter, softened
1 dl/slightly under 1/2 c milk
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 dl/1/4 c oat bran
5 dl/generous 2 c wheat flour

Filling
300 g/10.5 oz minced venison or meat of your choice
1 onion, chopped fine
two cloves of garlic, minced
2 stalks of celery, chopped finely
2 carrots, grated
1 tsp roasted pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt
1-2 tsp NoMU smokey peri-peri, contains a mixture of chili, paprika, garlic, coriander, black pepper, mustard, parsely, cumin, oregano, ginger and natural smoke flavor
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
8 dl/3 and 1/3 c cooked rice of your choice, I used a mixture of rice, barley, whole grain wheat, rye and oat kernels (or 3 and 1/2 dl/1.5 c uncooked rice)
meat pie fillingThis meat pie would be the perfect thing to make if you happened to have some left over rice from the day before. Feel free to add to the recipe those ingredients that you might have on hand. The filling can be seasoned quitely strongly since it loses some of its strength when put in between the pie crust.

If you do not have cooked rice on hand, start by cooking the rice and boiling the eggs. While they are cooking on the stove, start the pie crust. Beat the softened butter until it is fluffy. Next add the egg and milk. I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients in with the butter mixture. Do not over mix. Place into the refrigerator while the filling is completed.

For the filling, chop the vegetables. Place the onions, garlic and celery and minced meat of choice on a large frying pan. Cook at medium heat until the meat is browned. Add the seasonings and other vegetables and continue cooking for a few minutes.

In my kitchen I have a collection of seasonings that work great with this recipe. The NoMU seasonings are among my favorites as they don’t contain any additives. Their flavor could be described as East meets West in the culinary world.

nomu seasoningCombine the cooked rice, chopped eggs, and meat and vegetable mixture. Remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator and roll out 2/3 of it on a floured surface. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add the filling and roll out the rest for the top crust. I cut mine into strips. Lay the top crust on the filling and seal the edges. Prick holes to let the steam out if the top crust is made from one piece. Brush with an egg wash. Bake in the oven for thirty minutes at 200 C/390 F.

hockey playersSoon the little hockey players will be arriving in the kitchen. And they will have a large appetite.

This post is a part of Celia’s In My Kitchen Series that she host every month. Visit her blog to see links to other  kitchens from around the world.