tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: midnight sun

The Magic of Midsummers

by tableofcolors

We haven’t had any typical summer weather yet this year. We haven’t gone swimming yet once as the wind has been strong and temperature quite cool and nearly everyday we have had some showers. But the weather has been perfect for the fairies. I doubt they fly if it is too hot and the air still.

keskikesän taika keijujenmaaMidsummers is upon us and since it has rained a bit in the early evening the ground is moist. As the day comes to a close, the sky clears and a magical misty fog rolls in. It moves gently and from far away the top of it curls and then uncurls again. But it is impossible to capture on camera, because as you approach it, the details that can be seen from farther away vanish. Just like the fairies that fly on midsummers and rest occasionally on the flowers that all seem to bloom just in time for this day.

foggy landscape

As you might imagine, the children had been asking what our plans are for St. John’s or midsummers. We really didn’t have any plans and or even the energy to plan a trip somewhere as we had just got our Daddy back. Over the past 11 months, he would be gone during the weeks and sometimes a couple of weeks in a row. Maybe the kids weren’t tired, but the adults were. I thought perhaps we could think of something low-key just at home with our family. The idea originally came from a friend. I had thought many times that it would be fun to do with our family as well and so I presented the idea on Thursday. A hotel breakfast. It would give everyone something to do in spite of the rain and cool weather.

hotelli aamiainen suuret herkkusuut collageThe day before I made the florentine base. I was inspired by this BBC good food recipe but along the way it changed so much that the end product barely represented the original.

Gluten-free florentines with coconut, dried blueberry and apricot

 

120 g/4.2 oz demerara sugar
20 g/just under 1 oz brown sugar
100 g/3.5 oz clear honey
200 g/7 oz butter
150 g/5.3 oz rounghly chopped mixed nuts (some may be chopped finer and others may remain a little larger)
100 g/3.5 oz dessicated coconut
4 tbsp (35 g/1.2 oz) gluten-free flour
25 g/just under 1 oz dried blueberries
45 g/1.5 oz dried apricot finely chopped

Measure the sugars, honey and butter into a medium size sauce pan and melt until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl mix coconut, gluten-free flour and dried blueberries and apricots. The original recipe used sliced glacé cherries and almonds. Mix the dry mixture into the melted sugar and butter mixture stir until combined. Spread the florentine batter on a baking sheet that is lined with grease-proof parchment paper and has small sides.

Bake at 180 C/350 F for about 10 minutes or until a rich golden brown. If I was remake these I would reduce the bake time by a minute as mine got a bit dark, so keep an eye on your batch as every oven is different.

florentine baseAfter the base is baked and cooled, flip unto another pan and remove the paper. Melt about 200 g/7 oz dark chocolate and in a separate bowl melt about 100 g/3.5 oz white chocolate. Spread the dark chocolate over the cooled florentine base. Drop dollops of white chocolate on the dark base and proceed to make a marble pattern of your choice.

strawberry goat cheese florentine collageAllow the chocolate to set. Take a cookie cutter and cut out simple shapes. Cookie cutters with small corners such as stars do not work nearly as well.

Cream and Goat Cheese filling
2 dl/ 1 c heavy whipping cream
50 g/1.8 oz soft spreadable goat cheese (cream cheese style)
sugar to taste

Whip the cream until thick. Mix in the goat cheese and mix until combined. Do not overmix. Add sugar to taste. Spoon a spoonful of goat cheese mixture on each florentine and garnish with fresh strawberries.

juhannus päivän aamiainenrieskanäkkäri ja kananmuna aioli 2Spelt and Barley thin crisps with Egg aioli with mushroom and Kale (I used a local thin bread from a bakery just down the road, Leipomo J Martin)
200 g/7 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
10 free-range eggs
1/2 onion
60 g/2 oz celery, finely chopped (about two thin stalks)
rosemary
oregano
a few leaves of fresh basil and chives chopped
25 g/1 oz roughly chopped kale, fresh or frozen
salt and pepper to taste

100 g/3.5 oz- 150 g/5.3 oz aioli
mushroom egg bake kananmuna sieni paistosChop the vegetables and herbs and set aside for a minute. Whisk the eggs and combine with the vegetables and herbs. Add the salt and pepper.  Bake at 160 C/320 F for about 30-32 minutes. Allow to cool until lukewarm. Break up the baked eggs with a fork and mix in the aioli. Serve with crisp bread of your choices. Garnish with fresh herbs and leaves of baby kale.

breakfast brunch collagesuuret herkkusuut hotel breakfastjuhannus auringlasku sunset on midsummersHappy Midsummers and Happy Father’s day! ❤

Baked under the Midnight Sun

by tableofcolors

Midsummer is almost here in just a week. The nights are quite light and it is so easy to loose track of time since the kids are not in school. It seems perfectly logical to start washing windows at ten o’clock in the evening as the sun is not telling us to go to bed. Even the children who usually are in bed around eight thirty during the winter are having a hard time settling down. As I write, I can hear the older ones organizing their room after the little ones had visited and turned nearly everything upside down. You probably know how it goes. First there is silence as the little ones are in bliss playing with all of the marvelous treasures that girls of ten and thirteen might have in their room. Chapstick is a favorite! Then there is a loud exclamation and a complaint as they are found out. Next of course, the little ones come to Mama for consolation as their own treasures don’t seem half as interesting! Fortunately their disappointment does not last too long.

rhubarb stalksThe other evening we went rumaging in our rhubarb patch. It was the first time that it could actually be called a patch. Last year we planted the seedlings and it had grown nicely but I hardly dared to pick any last summer. The stalks are thin and we had several flowers that I picked off as is recommended and carried the bouquet inside. It was quite pretty in an untraditional way.

rhubarb flower

I ended up making two versions of this Upside-down Rhubarb cake. The first version had rye flour in it. I didn’t quite get the proportions perfect yet and so it turned out drier than what I was looking for. Version two turned out perfect. Since our babysitter is wheat-free I tried making it so that she could also have a piece. The second version is gluten-free and I used a mix of almond flour and gluten-free flour. If you do not need to make a gluten-free version you may substitute the gluten-free flour with regular flour. I think this recipe will go on my favorite gluten-free recipe list.

chopped rhubarbIt seems as if rhubarb and my blog anniversary go hand-in-hand. Two years ago I started my blog. One of my first posts was on a rhubarb tart that had a brown sugar meringue. A year ago, my Grampa Jim shared a family recipe for a rhubarb tart from my Great-Grandma Reeni. It is still one of my favorite recipes to date. The recipe below received its inspiration last Sunday. We were visiting friends and Maija served a very delicious rhubarb tart. As we had coffee she suggested that I make a version that uses maybe some wholegrain types of flour and perhaps chopped nuts for texture and flavor. This is my version.

rhubarb upside down cakeYou might be able to tell from the lighting in the photo that it is well past ten p.m. It is more than likely closer to eleven pm and the house was finally quiet. And so we enjoyed a piece of rhubarb upside down cake with ice cream and tea. The cake is a bit of a plain-jane, but incredibly delicious!

 

Upside down Rhubarb Cake–Gluten-free

23×23 cm/9″x9″ pan or a round tart pan
50 g butter
1 dl/ 1/2 c/ 85 g brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
50 g/2 oz roughly chopped walnuts
5 dl/2 c chopped rhubarb

Place the butter in the tart or cake pan and place in the heated oven for about five minutes or until melted. Remove and mix in the brown sugar, cardamom, rhubarb and walnuts. Set aside for a minute while making the cake batter.

Cake batter

125 g/4.4 oz softened butter
1 dl/ 1/2 c / 90 g sugar
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c / 50 g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 dl /1 c / 90 g almond flour
1 dl/ 1/2 c / 50 g gluten-free flour
pinch salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 dl/ slightly less than 1/2 c milk

Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. An eletric mixer will work just as well. Add in one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix the dry ingredients together. Alternating, fold in the dry ingredients and milk into the batter. Pour the batter over the rhubarb place into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 170 C/340 F. If using a fan oven, reduce the temperature to 160 C /320 F.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or maybe a little whipped cream.

Today is also Angie’s Fiesta Friday blogging get-together. Often I have not been able to participate as our schedules have not matched up but today it worked out. And so, I am bringing my rhubarb cake baked under the midnight sun. The people of the nordic countries do not sleep during the summer months. Come autumn, the early evenings are quite inviting. Check out her blog, The Novice Gardener, for a collection of recipes.

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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.
fishing
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

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
salt
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.

lettu

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.