Simple pleasures

Tag: juhannus

Midsummer and Crepes

by tableofcolors

During midsummer it seems as if our internal clock goes into a summer mode. Usually the kids are in bed at 8.30 pm and the wake up is at 7 am during the school year. But once school is out it takes about three days to go into summer schedule where bedtime is closer to 10 pm and wake-up around 9 am for the kids. During midsummers bedtime tends to go even a bit later. Mom, however prefers an earlier bedtime for the kids and after the weekend we try to aim for the 10 pm bedtime.  It is so easy to lose track of time when the day is so long and light. This midsummers we were at home enjoying our new little Hugo, who has been a super baby. We made crêpes on a couple of occasions, as they seem to go hand-in-hand with summer, spending time together and have won the “kid’s choice” award in our house. Making crêpes is somewhat of a whole family affair. In Finnish crêpes are called lettu, lätty or räiskäle, depending on the region or the dialect.

Our little fisherman had gone fishing with Dad one evening. He was quite proud coming home with two rainbow trout.
We had oven-baked fish one evening and for the next evening we made savory nettle crêpes and rainbow trout filling with the leftover fish. Smoked Salmon could be easily substituted in and would also make a wonderful filling.
lohi crepe

Rainbow Trout filled savory Crêpes


1.5 l/6.3 c milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c wheat bran
2.4 dl/1 c dried nettle
11.8 dl/5 c flour
4 eggs
1/2 dl/1/4 c oil

Mix the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fry on medium hot griddle with a little oil. This is a fairly large batter so you may prefer to halve it to better fit your needs. Serve warm with the Rainbow Trout filling.

Rainbow Trout filling

160 g/5.6 oz Rainbow Trout or Salmon
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
200g/7 oz sour cream
handful of fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
little mustard according to taste

A couple of evening after having our Rainbow Trout-filled crêpes, I was trying to think of a evening snack/supper after a long day of being outdoors and swimming. Since my husband had just gotten our summer kitchen fixed up we decided to give it a try and so Crêpes or lettuja won the popular vote. This time we made the sweeter version.

letun paisto

Sweet Crêpes

1.5 l/6.3 c milk
1 dl/ 1/2 c sugar
2 tsp salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c wheat bran
11.8 dl/5 c flour
4 eggs
1/2 dl/1/4 c oil

Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fry on a medium-hot griddle until golden brown. Serve warm. Feel free to halve the recipe if making for a smaller crowd. Serve with a topping of your choice, berries, whipped cream, jams or preserves, ice cream or a simple sprinkle of sugar.



St. John’s or Juhannus

by tableofcolors

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In Finland the celebration of St. John’s is also a celebration of midsummer. The cities become deserted as people flee to their summer cottages to spend time with family and friends. Food and drink is in abundance.

The ideal summer cottage is on a lake with a sauna. Birch trees line the yard creating some shade. It is easy to lose track of time since it is light day or night. There are no strict bedtimes for kids and they enjoy the lack of a schedule. This image is familiar from tourist magazines but I do think that people actually strive for this ideal to create a balance to the long dark winter.

In the US, paid vacations are fairly minimal in comparison to Finnish standards. The idea that an entire population is on vacation for a month after St. John’s was an adjustment for me. Employees receive “vacation money” in June to help cover the costs of vacation. Since moving here I have gotten used to planning my vacation for July and I really cannot object. Note: remember to take care of any current business before St. John’s. Most bureaus do not function properly during this month.

One mid-summer our family ventured into Helsinki to go visit the zoo. The zoo was populated by the tourists and us. It was an especially memorable trip for the whole family. The male lion gave us a display of his majestic greatness. The roar made us happy that there were strong metal bars between us.

This year I was lucky to spend St. John’s day with some of my siblings. The weekend included a trip to the beach, making food on the grill, enjoying saunas, and laughing until my cheeks hurt.

Recipe for Raspberry Brownie Trifles:

For the trifles you will need the following the ingredients: Brownies cut into small chunks (uses half a pan of the recipe below), 4 dl or 1 3/4 c whipping cream and 200 g or 7 oz. cream cheese combined, sugar to taste. Raspberries and brownie crumbs. Yield 15 servings.

Place about 4 to 5 brownie chunks on the bottom of the cup, spoon a large dollop of the whipped cream-cream cheese mixture as the next layer. Let trifles set in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Garnish with raspberries and a few brownie crumbs. Enjoy with coffee!

The brownie recipe is adapted from a Pirkka magazine recipe 5/2009:
100 g or 3.5 oz dark chocolate
50 g or 1,75 oz butter
2 eggs
1 dl sugar or slightly under 1/2 c sugar
1/2 dl or 1/4 c dark cocoa

1.5 dl or 3/4 c flour
1 tl or tsp of vanilla extract (vanilla sugar maybe also used)
dash of salt

In a saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate until a smooth mixture forms. Remove from heat. Whip eggs and sugar until it is a firm foam. In a separate bowl mix the flour, cocoa, and salt. Take turns folding small parts of the dry ingredients and melted butter/chocolate mixture into the egg batter. Pour into a lined spring pan 26cm (approx. 10 inches) and bake at a 175 C or 350 F for about 10 minutes. Don’t overbake. Place the extra brownies into the freezer for later use.

This brownie recipe is intended to be used as a base for cakes and not by itself. It makes a great base for chocolate or fresh berry mousse-style cakes.