If you like food, especially Finnish cuisine, you have come to the right place. Here we share our (mostly) favorite Finnish recipes, beverages, and dining experiences. For those new to Finnish culture, you may find some of these item truly strange or "outoa ruokaa", but give them a chance & expand your taste buds.
Finns love their pastries and "kahvi'. Well, that may be an understatement, but once you've tried these "cinnamon roll-like" pastries, you'll understand why. My first experience with Korvapuusti was walking down the Esplanadi puisto (Esplanade Park) near the harbor in Helsinki. Our favorite kahvila ja ravintola (café and restaurant), called Kappeli, is located at the bottom of the park near the Havis Amanda fountain. Kappeli is our favorite place for many reasons, too many to get to in this short post, and we visit there every time we go to Finland. Inside Kappeli, there is a pastry cabinet where we saw the Korvapuusti first. Korvapuusti means "cuff on the ears" in Finnish. These korvapuusti must have been elephant ears because they were quite large. Well, I had to try one...let me rephrase, we had to try one. We did and enjoyed it so much I decided to include my family recipe here. And since Finland is the biggest coffee consumer country in the world, get the brewer going because you are going to have a cup or two while enjoying one of these beauties.
Nam! Kahvia ja korvapuustit!
One of my favorite, I mean f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e Finnish meals that I was brought up on is Kaalilaatikko. To be even more specific, Lihakaalilaatikko. This is a dish that takes some time to make, is even better the next day and yes, makes your house smell like cabbage. My grandmother would bake this in the oven and she swore that if you placed a slice of dark finnish bread (usually inverted) in the middle of the casserole while baking, the bread would absorb the odor. But honestly, I like to use the dark bread to eat when I’m enjoying a hot bowl of kaalilaatikko topped with a dab of butter (of course) and suola ja pippuri (salt and pepper).
Over the years, I started off making this in the oven and sometimes my cabbage would get a bit crispy, or burnt, as my other half would say, but now, I feel I’ve perfected it in my 6 quart slow roaster. A crock pot will work as well. I will share my recipe shortly and remember, if you don’t like an ingredient…..get it out, substitute with something you do like. After all, you’ll be the one eating it!
Translated into English “kaalilaatikko” means “cabbage box”. Adding the word “liha” in front, which is the word for meat, it now translates to “meat in a cabbage box”.....and that doesn’t sound so appetizing, but trust me….it is delicious! Now typically, my grandmother and mother would use ground beef in the lihakaalilaatikko recipe, which is amazing. But if you are looking at a lighter/healthier version, the ever so popular ground turkey will work as well. Since I’m surrounded by 3 hunters and our freezer is always filled with venison, so I use ground venison for my kaalilaatikko. And of course, if you’d like to make a vegetarian version, leave out the meat.
Particularly in the fall and winter months, I like to make this at least once a month. And for us in the New England region, that means I’ll make this about 6 times a year, at least…...so let’s get cooking and remember to be patient, this will take an easy 8 hours to bake!
- The Finnish Foodie
Kaalilaatikko, ready to serve!
Growing up with a Finnish Äiti and an American Dad was a gift in so many ways; one that I appreciate even more so as an adult. Not only did I grow up with solid American traditions, I also learned the customs of Finland from a very young age. It was not uncommon to hear Finnish spoken daily, especially when my grandparents lived with us. As I got older, my interest in cooking grew and I started to hang around the kitchen to learn more. With Isoäiti and Ukki home for the holidays, I wanted to learn how to make traditional Finnish dishes for them. My grandmother and my mom would always make a few of their favorite dishes during the holiday season. They were called “Rossoli,” “Porkkannalatikko”, and “Jansson’s Temptations.” Those side dishes would accompany our usual Christmas ham or oven baked turkey for Thanksgiving. The American in me loves mashed potatoes (no lumps, please), which was always a staple as our “American” side dish. I’ll admit, “Rossoli” was not my favorite as a child, but I do appreciate beets and variations to the recipe now. I hope you’ll try some of these dishes, and as always, improvise (as my Aunt Mary always told me)! If there is an ingredient that you don’t care for, try leaving it out or replacing it with something you like.
Happy Holidays and Hyvää Uutta Vuotta from the Finnish Foodie's kitchen!
- The Finnish Foodie
Christmas Table 2020 (Joulupöytä)