tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: holiday dessert

Eighteen days until Christmas

by tableofcolors

There are eighteen days until Christmas if you ask the Finnish kids and if you ask the American kids there are still nineteen days. Today in the kids’ entryway where the calendar is on the wall, there was a little spat between two of the girls. One claimed that there are eighteen days and the other nineteen days. Both were right, it just depends how one counts the days.

huuteinen peltoYesterday the field was tousled like a messy mop of blond hair. Today in the morning it was covered with a heavy layer of wet snow. It was cold enough that it made everything look white. This is what our children have been waiting for. When it is dark before four in the afternoon they often come and complain that there is nothing to do. Perhaps it was the lack of fresh air that instigated the spat in the entryway. It all changes with a little snow and head lamps. They can easily be outside for hours and come inside with rosy cheeks and in much better spirits. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the snow stays.

Finnish flag and independence day

Today is the 97th independence day of Finland. Peace arrived in the mid of winter. Last night at our literature club we discussed the well-known novel, The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon Sotilas) by Väinö Linna. I received a copy of the English translation of the book at the young age of eighteen from my honey. Now after living here in Finland for almost fifteen years I am glad to be reading it again. I have come to learn how society has been shaped by it’s history. The book tells the experience of war in a rather truthful unglorified manner. All of the stress, fear and feelings can be sensed. My almost six year old in the picture above has been asking me recently why we have wars. One day we were discussing the Ukranian situation with kids, when my eight year old asked me why Russia needs to be so greedy. Difficult questions to answer. I understand the need for the armed forces as their primary task is to protect and defend and in all truth, soldiers are probably the last ones to actually want a war. Always in wars someones gets hurt and families become split and it is a sure test of the human spirit. Below are two links to the Finnish song, “Veteran’s Evening Call”. The first is accompanied by a slideshow of photos from the Finnish wars. The second youtube link is of the same song, but is sung by a compilation of men’s choirs of which many of them are eldery and there are many war veterans standing in the front rows. Almost all of the rest standing behind the veterans are children of veterans. Jorma Hynninen is the solist and their powerful memories of the war is transmitted to younger generations. They are passing down history in the age-old tradition of singing. I think the performance is very powerful.

Traditionally on the Finnish independence day two candles are placed at the windows. The exact origin of the tradition is not known but according to wikipedia, the burning of two candles was used on the February 2nd to commemorate the Finnish poet Runeberg as an action against Russification. The two candles in the window was also used in 1915-1918 to designate safe-houses when Finnish jaeger soldiers secretly made their way from Finland in to Sweden and continued their way into Germany to receive training. It seems as if the two candles in the window are a symbol of independence.

 

In my previous post I promised a recipe for a gluten-free no-bake pumpkin cake in just a few days. It has been more than a few days now but I promise that I have not been sitting lazily on the sofa. In fact it has been quite exciting. I have been creating a new blog that I will be writing in Finnish called, Jenkki mutsi maalla. Jenkki in Finnish is a slang term for American and it probably derives from the word Yankee. Mutsi is slang for mom and maalla means countryside. In other words the name means, Yankee Mom in the Country. I will be working with Kluuvikadun Coffee Roastery and Leipomo J. Martin which is a bakery. I will definitely continue tableofcolors and the intention is that they will not be copies of each other. They may occasionally have the same recipes and perhaps sometimes even the same story but they will live lives of their own.

gluten free pumpkin cake

This cake was originally made for the reception of my friend, Kaisa Peni and the debut of her Christmas recording, Ihme. In my previous post is a sample of her singing. If you click on her name it will bring you to her website. For the English version click on the English tag on her website. It could make the perfect Christmas present for someone special that enjoys peaceful music.

 

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cake (no-bake)
150 g/5.3 oz gluten free gingerbread cookies (I used one package of Semper gluten-free cookies)

Crust

One half of the package of cookies is for the crust and the other half is mixed into the filling
25 g/just under an ounce of melted butter
1 tbsp sugar

Filling

2 dl/1 c whipping cream
2 dl/1 c quark (or other sour dairy product)
1 and 1/2 dl/ 2/3 c pumpkin purée
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c sugar
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves and ginger
3 gelatin leaves
1/2 package of gluten-free gingerbread cookies (set aside one or two for garnish)
1/2 dl/ 1/3 c boiling water

Line one 15 cm/6 inch springform with parchment paper. Melt the butter and crush the gluten-free gingerbread cookies and divide into two. Place one half of the crushed cookies into the lined springform. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed cookies in the spring form. Add sugar and mix. Pat firmly to form the crust. Set aside.

Place the gelatin leaves into a bowl with cool water. Allow to soak for about 10 minutes. Make the filling meanwhile.

For the filling whip the cream and then add the quark. Next fold in the pumpkin purée, sugars, the other half of crushed cookies, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Next boil the water. Remove the gelatin leaves from the cool water bath and gently squeeze excess water away. Place in a small cup. Pour the boiling water over the gelatin leaves and mix until melted. Pour in a stream into the cream and quark mixture mixing continuously until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the springform and cover with cling film and place into the refrigerator or freezer for a quicker set. Allow to set in the refrigerator for about four hours or in the freezer for an hour.

Ganache

1 dl/just under 1/2 c of whipping cream
160 g/5.6 oz quality dark chocolate

Bring the cream to boil in the microwave. Add the roughly chopped dark chocolate to the hot cream and stir until smooth. Remove the springform place cake on a rack. Pour the ganache over the cake. Garnish with a gluten-free cookie or two. Enjoy!

Six nights until Christmas Eve

by tableofcolors

There is not too many days left in the countdown. The mornings are dark and I find that an extra hour of sleep would feel nice but the children get up easily when they know that it is their turn to peek into the advent calendar. Of course the older children do not believe in Santa Claus and elves anymore and the middle kids waver in between. They would like to believe but yet at the same time they have picked up on the fact that magical creatures live in the world of storybooks. Our four almost five year-old who told me that “Elves are magical creatures” also told me once that, “they are just normal people dressed up as elves” when I said the elves might be watching. I had been quite exasperated with him that day. Take that, Mom!

advent calendarBut no hard feelings. He is also the kid that will come give me a hug or rub my shoulders if he thinks I am tired.

2013-12-17 11.17.46-2Little by little the holiday preparations are done. Some of them are done together like baking gingerbread and some are done by the elves late at night. The household is full of little mysteries and even the littlest ones wrap toys into blankets and bring me gifts. With bright shining eyes they wait for you to open their gifts of love and your exclamation of delight.

The date cake is perfect for the days of waiting. You may eat it on its own with a morning cup of coffee, or if surprise guests walk in the door, it can be easily dressed up with a dollop of equal parts of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of caramel. My mother would make date cake when I was still living at home and it is a favorite. This recipe is slightly altered from the one found in the book, Hyvää Ruokahalua, kotikokin parhaat leivontaohjeet, edited by Anna-Maija Tanttu. It is the kind of recipe that needs no special equipment: a bowl, a pot, a wooden spoon and a bundt pan.

date cake

Date Cake

250 g/8.8 oz chopped and pitted dates

3 dl/1.3 c water
200 g/7 oz soft butter
2 dl/1 c sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 dl/1.7 c flour

Place the chopped dates and water into a medium sized saucepan or pot and allow to boil for about 4-5 minutes so that it thickens just a bit. Take off from the heat and stir in the soft butter. Add the sugar and vanilla next. Then add in the eggs mixing them in well with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Pour the warm date mixture into the bowl and combine with the flour. Pour into a greased and floured (I like to use wheat germ or wheat bran for the flouring) bundt pan and bake in the oven at 175 C/350 F for about 40 minutes or so that a test skewer comes clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before flipping the cake over onto a plate. The flavor of the cake improves with time, if it lasts that long and freezes wonderfully.

mixing the batter

For the cream dollop, mix equal parts of whipped cream and Greek or Turkish yoghurt and sugar to taste. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

laila wuollet uljasphotograph by Noah Photography

Hoping your holiday season is a peaceful and festive one.

Christmas 2013

A holiday dessert

by tableofcolors

Gifts
Today was a bit busy! A few errands in the morning and gift wrapping and the last bunch of cards and packages made it to the post office. Our school girls had “evening school” which is a tradition at their school on the day they have their Christmas program. They also have a bake sale and a café to raise funds for field trips and school equipment. Parents are welcomed to bake and I had promised to do so. Our little snowflake princess just happens to be so quick! I had cookies cooling on racks when one of the girls came and informed that she had taken a stack of cookies and had taken one bite out of each! Back to baking! Fortunately I hadn’t used up all of the dough, so round two was quite quick!

After getting the cookies made and packaged and girls sent to school (we joined them later in the evening) I had a few minutes of down time since the rest of the bunch entertained themselves. I decided to make our holiday dessert which is so easy that it only takes a few minutes if you have all the ingredients on hand. The freezer does the rest of the work and they are ready to go when the holidays arrive. These would also be perfect for a holiday party. In Finnish they are called jäädyke and the closest word to it that I could find is sorbet. But sorbet does not quite describe them accurately. These individual jäädyke desserts which I made with gingerbread and lingonberries, (may substituted with another type of tart berry) work well after a heavy meal because they are intended to be fairly small in size.

Joulujäädyke or Christmas sorbet

Joulujäädyke or Christmas sorbet

Joulujäädyke or Christmas sorbet, serves 10

0,5 l/generous 2 cups heavy cream
350 g/12.3 oz Turkish or Greek yoghurt
5 gingerbread cookies, crushed (If your cookies are very thin, you may want to use 7 cookies)
150 g/5.3 oz lingonberries or other tart berries(preferably frozen)
0.8 dl/ 1/3 c sugar
paper cups

Lingonberries and gingerbread

Lingonberries and gingerbread

Crush the gingerbread and set aside. Place the berries and sugar into a bowl. Using a wand mixer or food processor pulse a few times so that they are partially crushed. Whip the cream. Fold in the yoghurt and divide mixture by placing half into another bowl. Fold the gingerbread crumbs into 1/2 of the cream-yoghurt mixture. Add sugar to achieve the preferred sweetness.
gingerbread cream
Into the other half, fold in the lingonberries.
lingonberry cream
Fill each paper cup with a large spoonful of gingerbread mixture and with an equal amount of the lingonberry mixture. My paper cups were about two-thirds full.

cups

Place filled cups into the freezer. Take out of the freezer about 20-30 minutes before serving. Run the cups upside down quickly under hot water and press the bottom of the cup to release the sorbet. Drizzle with caramel sauce. (caramel recipe here) Enjoy!

Happy Birthday to my Grampa! (see previous posts by my Grampa here and here)