For a Finn 40 something plus degrees and sandstorm does not make Christmas Festive. It’s the food which brings the seasons of joy to heart in Dubais’s hot desert. It’s really difficult to get into the mood without minus 25 degrees and snow, real spruce tree and candles. But I did made some small revelation of traditional Finnish Christmas spread, watch the video tour to my kitchen with My Dubai My City.
*** Hyvää Joulua! Tervetuloa keittiööni. Literally Good Christmas welcome to my kitchen.
Watch the video via link here
The focal point of the festive table is huge (10 kg) quarter of ham, baked overnight in oven. There is families having a “ham watch” traditions while waiting the meat bake. Traditionally in many families there is must have Karelian meat stew made from beef on the table. Modern latest addition to feast is turkey, but it is not really Finnish food tradition.
Other must haves are Gravlax or cold smoked salmon and herrings with baked potatos, Rosolli-salad, carrot-, potato- and swede-casserole, rye bread, malt bread, homemade mustard, homemade beer to name the few basics.
We start or end the meal with spiced berry drink called Glögi or Glögg with gingerbread cookies and mixed nuts and raisin and Finnish Chocolate from Fazer.
Finns get their Christmas gifts from Joulupukki aka Santa already on Christmas Eve after the dinner, that’s when we have Christmas. It’s because Santa is from Korvatunturi Finland and needs to deliver your gifts next morning.
Let me introduce my first Filipino food love, Polvorón. I got to taste these powdery and buttery, tablet looking cookies, when my Pinoy sister May brought some from her homeland couple of years back.
Although we have huge Pinoy community in Dubai and loads of Filipino food available, I had somehow managed to pass the traditional pinoy sweets Polvoróns. Shame on me. I took first bite and there we go, it was mouthful of milky, buttery flavour complemented with taste of roasted flour and rice flakes, pinipig.
I needed to know how those could be re-created at home kitchen and got the recipe. Less than five ingredients recipes are my all time favorites. Basic Polvoróns have exactly five ingredients, easily available in any supermarket. I am sure you would enjoy making these Spanish origin no-bake shortbread cookies better known as polboron in Cebuano and pulburón in Tagalog.
Polvorón shortbread cookie recipe
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk powder (full fat is preferred)
1/2 cup sugar, fine granulated
1 cup butter, smelted
(pinch of salt, max 1/4 ts, if unsalted butter is used)
1/4 cup pinipig, roasted rice flakes
(1 ts vanilla, optional)
1. Roast all purpose flour on dry frying pan without any fat or oil with mild heat. About 20-30 minutes. Take care not to burn flours it happens easily. Stir all times until light golden brown and move to big baking bowl.
2. If you use pinipig, there’s no need to roast, just add pinipig, rice flakes, to baking bowl with roasted flour and give a swirl with blender. You would like to have rather fine ground mix. If you have normal flat rice flakes, roast them first about 15 minutes, same way as flours and add to bowl with roasted flour.
3. Add milk powder and sugar (and vanilla if you use it) to flour mixture. Mix very well, add smelted butter and pinch of salt in case you use unsalted butter. Mix until crumbly looking mixture.
4. Press tight the Polvorón shortbread mixture into small silicone molds. Ikeas ice cube trays are perfect, they are not too soft like baking silicone molds. If you have special Polvorón press to make single tablets, it might be useful. Ikeas ice cube plate worked well for me. Put filled trays in to the fridge to cool and to let Polvoróns harden for at least one hour. Move carefully from mold.
5. Wrap to cellophane or sandwich paper. Polvoróns keeps in fridge few weeks…well if you can keep your hands out of them. Enjoy!
If Polvorón mixture is too dry to form a tight pressed tablet, add some more smelted butter.
Ice Cream is food, right? I remember as kid at dinner table I would complain how full I am already and I’ve finished eating. But come to proposal of having dessert, I miraculously had a tiny mini bit of space in my belly. There’s always room for ice cream.
As part of my Project365.org daily food posts I am sharing one minute of one of the tours I walked with Frying Pan Adventures in old Dubai.
Would You try this kind of ice cream?
Dubai is Foodie Wonderland, if you ever have chance to visit Dubai or UAE, you must experience almost limitless options of any food of the world. I have taken three food tours with Dubai based Frying Pan adventures and they never fail. Check the link below to discover more about walking food tours in Dubai.
Little bit kuku anyone? Kuku sounds funny to my Finnish ears. Kuku means Persian omelet in Farsi language. I like seaweed caviar and omelets, instant love to Persian kuku recipe from my side. Doesn’t word Kuku sounds cute?
I discovered Ariana Bundy and her newly launched book of food memoires, Pomegranates and Roses last year at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. I fell in love to Persian cooking because of her book and her lovely personality. Dubai is packed with Persian cuisine offerings by Iranian restaurants in town, one tend to think Persian kitchen is all about kababs and rice. Nope, Ariana’s book makes you surprise you and your family with real Persian cooking.
I am not going to write a cookbook review here, I just want to share my love to Persian cooking. When I get any cookbook into my hands it has to have loads of pictures to get my attention and nice name does not harm either. Both criteria already fulfilled with Ariana’s book. I was flipping through Ariana’s Pomegranates and Roses Persian family recipes and bookmarked at once 5 recipes I can do anytime to enhance my own cooking and eating experience. My favorites are Booraniyeh Laboo – beetroot salad, Polo ba Taadig – rice with golden crust, Seer Torshi – pickled garlic, Kuku ashpal kutum – caviar omelet and Mast a Khiar – cold cucumber soup. Listen what are Arianas favorites. LINK to youtube video clip
Look at Ariana’s recipe Kuku Kutum Asphal, an omelet originally made from fish (kutum) roe. Isn’t that so easy and so kuku. I am not into fish roe, but can’t keep my hands off from seaweed caviar, so I tweaked the recipe slightly. Fish and seaweed roe is widely available in Dubai, my favorite brand is Abba Seafood, but I’ve seen some other brands on shelves in Dubai supermarkets.
Ariana’s recipe Omeletteh Ashpal:
3 spring onions or shallots or one small regular onion
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp. butter
2 heaped tbsp of fish or seaweed roe for your liking
6 small organic eggs
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. garlic chives, chives, spring onion or dill finely chopped
Saute the onion in a frying pan with oil and butter until translucent and very soft.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add turmeric and roe. Pour into the pan over the onion and cover the pan
and let omelette cook about 3 minutes on a very low heat. Flip over or just let it cook another
3 minutes flat with lid on. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and enjoy with fresh bread for any meal.
For full story you just have to buy the book, it’s not just recipes it’s about family stories and
food and how they were made authentic way.
*** I have to mention that The Frying Pan in the pictures is my grandma Kerttu’s engagement gift over 70 years ago and it’s still going strong in my kitchen, 3rd generation heirloom pan. More about frying pan and other recipes with it waits for publishing.
I miss you Kerttu-mummo.
Who does not need every now and then “skinny weeks and weekend feasts”? Gizzi Erskine totally saved my Taste of Dubai experience this year. I visited Taste of Dubai 2013 food festival on Saturday 16th. It was little bit disappointing to find out that some of the high end restaurants did same menu as last year. I then chose to try only new restaurants in ToD-festival. Except my loyal unconditional love for Ronda Locatelli, where I tasted “Burrata al cucchiaio zucca marinata e timo”, burrata cheese with marinated pumpkin and thyme. Simple and tasty, can be recreated at home.
Back to Gizzi, I sat in Kenwood cooking school and watched her teaching how to make sea bass cheviche. She was so energetic and I felt she is down to earth girl like myself. After the cooking session I had chance to meet her and get my new cooking pal, her cookbook, Skinny Weeks & Weekend Feasts signed.
When flipping the book through, I picked Crispy Tuna Rice recipe and complitely hacked it. Sorry Gizzi, but I had to, my next door supermarket does not stock all the Japanese ingredient, so I went and made my Nordic version of her Crispy Tuna Rice without tuna. I tuned quantities and ingredients to what I had easily on hand. Crispy Salmon Rice recipe
100 gr of gravlax (cured salmon) (original recipe calls for sashimi fresh tuna loin)
2 tablespoon Abba Seaweed roe (original recipe calls for masago roe)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli puree (original recipe calls for Sriracha)
2 stalks of green onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbs normal mayonnaise with few drops of rice vinegar
(original recipe calls for Japanese Kewpie mayo)
for crispy rice
3/4 cup of sushi rice (makes ax. 14 small cakes)
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 tsp salt (or sea salt)
1 tsp sugar (original recipe calls for golden caster sugar)
2 tsp rice vinegar
4 tbs butter for frying
1 green pepper thinly sliced (original recipe calls for jalopeno pepper)
Hand-chop the cured wild salmon, we call it gravlax, as finely as you can.
In mixing bowl, mix all gravlax ingredients together. Cover and let stand in fridge 1 hour to allow flavours to mix.
Cook the rice according the instruction on bag. Cook the sugar, rice vinegar and salt
until sugar dissolves and stir into cooked rice. Rice will dry more when it cools.
Pack large tablespoon of cooked cooled rice into small block shapes. Flatten each with
oiled hands into tight packed blocks. Heat the butter in frying pan and fry each block on all sides until crisp and golden brown.
Place dollop of gravlax sashimi mix on top of the crispy rice blocks and decorate with slice of
slightly hot green pepper and seaweed caviar.
Does Dolphin Safe” Tuna ring any bells? I don’t want to spoil your tuna cravings, but at least you should read about sustainable “Dolphin Safe” Tuna. You can make a good choice.
I am not fresh tuna eater, but consume every now and then canned tuna. Sustainable fishing principals apply to both options, honestly I never thought about dolphins when opening tuna tins. I was glad to notice that my favorite label from Sweden, Abba Seafood, is listed on sustainable distributor list….phew! Check yours here: Dolphin safe tuna
Thank you Gizzi Erskine for the inspiration and fresh exciting skinny recipes. Welcome to Dubai again. We have many foodie events here and I bet you got loads of new fans from hot and fancy Dubai.
We only ate smoked caviar and crisp breads when I was at school. Seriously one of the best snacks we enjoyed was smoked cod roe paste Kallen Mätitahna (Finnish) aka Kalles Kaviar (Swedish) or Kalle’s Caviar (English). It’s famous product in Finland, but all the credit goes to our dear neighbor Sweden, where this equally loved and hated paste is from. I would say it is the traditional food and brand, since year 1939 already. There are tons of recipes how to make wonderful tapas or cocktail food easily with smoked roe paste, but Kalle’s Caviar is best when squeezed directly from tube over a snip of rye crisp bread. Warning Kalle’s Kaviar is addictive.
I so appreciate Alex and Peter for their dedication and interest to study how much is one tube, you must open the link and see how they did it, way to go Peter and Alex! Click here to see images
So, for a 190g tube of caviar, expect 16 servings, or enough to cover one 18 slice pack of crisp breads if you are not so lavish.
In Dubai Abba Seafood’s most squeezed tube is available at Carrefour’s and Hyper Panda. Why don’t you taste it?
This love story is not yet finished, as said Kalle’s caviar requires rye crisp bread, that inspired me to make first time in my life Finnish näkkileipä. I must say this crisp bread is now my daily bread, absolutely healthy and tasty.
Rye crispbread recipe
makes ax. 20 crispbreads
169 kcal per 100 g Ingredients
• 2 tsp of dry yeast (or 25 g fresh yeast)
• 1 cup of warm water
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• about 2 cups of rye flour
• about ½ cup of wheat flour
• about ½ cup of sunflower seeds
• 1 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds (optional)
Add dry yeast to warm water or crumble the fresh yeast in warm water.
Mix all dry ingredients and add water with yeast little by little.
Knead the dough few minutes. The dough will be sticky. Let the dough rise about an hour.
Roll out or press the dough into very thin. Use the flour if the dough is too sticky.
Poke holes with fork on flat bread and bake in 220 C degree oven for about 8-10 min.
Tip! The dough was easy to roll directly on silicone or teflon baking sheet and lift it over baking tray and bake. Thus crisp bread is harder than store bought. Let it dry or after breads are cooled, keep them in moderate hot oven for few more minutes to be really crisp.
I calculated nutritional value of rye crisp bread at Mindo.fi It is really one of the kind website (only in Finnish) where user can download recipes of their own to see the final dose of the carbon footprint. Each recipe is also displayed in the nutritional value and the GDA recommendations for daily food ration. The service directs users to eat ethically and ecologically, and preparing food that is good for health and environment.
Are you carnivore? Yes, yes, yes, if I have to choose between a steak and a fish, the steak will be the winner for me. My naked plate will be filled with juicy meat.
Today we made our annual trip to abattoir or slaughterhouse for choosing a lamb for sacrifice. Lamb because we shared it with other if you sacrifice for yourself you can take goat, some sacrifice cow or camel. The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى ‘Īd al-’Aḍḥá) is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor.
I made short video clip for you to see what happens there at abattoirs. Normally one can sacrifice on any three days of Eid al Adha. We went today to Bur Dubai slaughterhouse in Al Shindagha (Arabic: الشندغة). It’s open all year around, but obviously it’s high season on these days.
At first we chose the lamb, there was more goats than lambs available, ballparked it’s condition (they are also pre-checked), haggled from 1200 AED to 1000 AED (last year 750 AED), paid the lamb, went to window to pay 15 AED for slaughter and 10 AED for cutting, lamb was marked and went for queue to meet it’s end…Al Adha and finally ended to yellow plastic bag.
* * *
Holidays become meaningless when their original purpose is forgotten. In such instances, the holiday becomes merely an occasion for festivity and indulgence, don’t you agree? By all means this is not religious post, but you need to know what is meaning of Eid Al Adha.
The story of `Eid Al-Adha is the story of testing Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) faith in Allah. Both the Qur’an and the Torah record the high drama narratives of the story. The Qur’an has recorded what Prophet Ibrahim said to his son;
O my son! Surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see. (As-Saffat 37:102)
Isma`il replied: O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones. (As-Saffat 37:102)
At the last split second, Allah interrupts the sacrificial process. He, the Exalted, intervenes saying,
We called unto him: O Abraham! “Thou hast already fulfilled the vision. (As-Saffat 37:104-105)
Moral of the story: Ibrahim passes the test and a ram was substituted for sacrifice in place of his son. Thus, the father and the son became role models for true Muslims; those who fullfil Allah’s will before their own. Ibrahim, after waiting for so long for an heir promised by Allah, is now required to sacrifice him. Isma`il, on the other hand, was asked to make the supreme sacrifice; his own life. “It is not their meat or their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Qur’an 22:37)
The symbolism is in the attitude – a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us.
* * *
Butchery can be heartbreaking for some animal lovers, but some might forget the truth from where the meat comes and how it ends…well if you are carnivore, the meat eater, you should not
To end the story with happy (=food) note, I am adding here a classic lamb recipe from Morocco with pretty pictures.
Lamb and Aubergine Tagine recipe
This is the authentic Moroccan recipe for Lamb & Aubergine (eggplant) Tagine as it is traditionally prepared at home. I got the recipe from Food Artisan Dima Sharif at Food Photography and Styling Workshop at Dubai on October. Dima suggests for the healthier version of this tagine, to grill the eggplants instead of frying. Brush sliced eggplants with oil and grill them until golden brown. Also trim visible fat from meat.
625 g aubergine (eggplant) , sliced into 1,5 cm thick rounds
500 g lamb shoulder or leg with bone, cut into 4-8 equally sized pieces
1 kg tomato, peeled seeded and roughly chopped
150 ml water (or little more for cooking the meat)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp coriander finely chopped
Salt to taste
2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
A pinch of saffron threads
¾ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
Slice aubergines and salt them all over. Leave to drain for 1-2 hours in sieve. This will reduce bitterness of aubergines.
Meanwhile rub the lamb with ½ tsp of salt and place in a medium pan, leave for 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the meat, and place the pan over medium heat and stir about minute. Add saffron, ginger and ground coriander, stir to coat. Add 50 ml of water and stir scraping the bottom. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until meat is very tender (check the water level frequently, you may have to add 3-4 tbsp hot water throughout)
While meat is cooking, put ½ tbsp olive oil in a frying pan together with crushed garlic, cook stirring over medium heat until translucent, but not browned. Add chopped tomatos, stir to mix with olive oil and garlic. Simmer, stirring for 2 minutes. Add paprika, continue simmering and stirring occasionally until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in turmeric, cumin, ½ tsp olive oil, chopped parsley, chopped coriander and sugar, mix well. Leave to simmer until the mixture reaches a thick consistency.
Back to aubergines. Thoroughly rinse the salted aubergines, gently squeeze out the excess water and dry slices between kitchen towels. Heat some oil in shallow frying pan until hot but not smoking. Fry aubergines on both sides until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain over several folds of kitchen paper towels. Leave to cool to room temperature. Drizzle the fried aubergines with lemon juice, and mash slightly with fork to incorporate juice.
Place slightly mashed aubergines on to the meat top with tomato mixture, cover and simmer for 1o minutes for all flavors to marry. Shake the pan often, but do not stir.
I am lousy writer, therefore I rather cook and take photos than write posts. Most of the time I struggle to produce decent fluent text to my blog. For that reason this post is about photos which I took at Food Styling and Photography workshop with amazing photographer Meeta K. Wolff in Dubai just few days ago. The workshop was organized by blogger from My Custard Pie Sally Prosser. I am going to add links to the blog posts from other participants, for sure you will find good reads there.
If you love snapping photos like me, or are more advanced photographer and like to know about styling food, then this workshop is for you. Definitely you like to eat, right? Don’t miss this workshop next time.
I left out the part of Atlantis The Palm visit, it’s worth of own post. We ate in three restaurants and visited Nobu Garden. Sally and Meeta, they set the bar high for them self for the next workshop, because we had extra bonus surprise at Ronda Locatelli, Giorgio Locatelli join our table and brought Italian white truffles and lovely stories with him. Auw, auw, auw this girl was sold!
It was really fun packed two days hands on food photography and styling course, including loads of food tasting, cooking, styling practises, serious photographing, less serious photo snapping, social media and Lightroom tips. And hey wait, the bonus, its the goodie bags, they were great value, like those film festival goodie bags very generous. One more reason to look forward Meeta’s and Sally’s Food Photo workshop on 2013.
Photo collage 1: Brunch by Gourmet Culinary Director Russell Impiazzi from Galeries Lafayette Gourmet. Scandinavian Brunch was just wonderful, visit them at Dubai Mall, amazing selection of anything foodie can imagine. We made tasting tour there last April on Meeta’s and Sally’s first workshop.
Photo Collage 2: Assignment was to take location, ingredients, cooking and magazine cover photos. Food Artisan Dima Sharif taught us how to make perfect tagine. We had her pumpkin soup and tagine for lunch and after we finished our soup we did the classic food blogger act, stooop, no eating before we take photos. Tagine was our main food model in the photo shoot. All groups had different style and mood for assignment.
Photo Collage 3: Working with Meeta and learning from others, I worked with Tavola’s photographer Antone, not bad hah? The cover picture is Antone’s, our cover style was Jamie Oliver with feminine mood. By the way in food styling, I don’t like flowers on food photos as props, and this time I got lost and chose red rose as one feminine prop…..erm.
Photo Collage 4: Miele Gallery is really dream place to have cooking demos and food tasting, you get to try all their kitchen appliances and for coffee addict like me, open Miele coffee bar was just hit on head of the nail. Thank You Miele and Gynthia for hospitality. Look at those antique Miele “machines” from their museum. Aren’t we just happy that we have advanced ever since?
Photo Collage 5: Spanish dinner by Tapeo (Galeries Lafayette) and Chef Russell, Oh that paella, it’s the best paella I have eaten in Dubai.
Watch clip of Spanish Fiesta at Miele Gallery
Thank you Shy, Moya, Sandy, Catherine, Lionel and Antone
Moya’s Food and Tools
Shy’s Cooking With Shy
Sandy’s Ginger and Scotch
Lionel and Antone were the real photographers, We learned a lot from them as well. If they have photo gallery I will add link later, I have seen their work, they are good. Very good.
I am going to reveal my best kept secret, my moms recipe, but you have to come to visit my kitchen to get it. Check videolink below.
We Finns drink lots of coffee, traditionally friends are welcome to pop in anytime for coffee. The moment you step in a Finnish home coffee will be brewing and soon you have freshly baked goodies beside your cup.
My favorite berry pie recipe is really current. Red currants are right now ready to be picked in Finland. Most of the households who have red and black currant bushes in garden, steam juice concentrate out of them to keep it for winter. If you are not into juice there’s one recipe which is stable in any Finnish kitchen, berry pie. In Dubai all sort of berries are available whole year around. Red currants are bit tart, but this Finnish berry pie recipe never fails.
Welcome to my kitchen – Tervetuloa Keittiööni
This is my kitchen by My Dubai My City
Mama’s redcurrant berry pie
150 gr butter
100 gr sugar
180 g flour
1 ts baking powder
200 ml creme fraiche
3 tbs sugar (or more if you like sweet)
1 ts vanilla
1 1/2 – 2 cups red currants and blueberries (any berries for your liking, comes lovely with mango or canned peaches and pears as well)
Mix together soft butter and sugar until creamy
Add one egg and few spoon of flour
Add rest of the flour mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking powder
mix and lay on 20 cm (9 inch) creased pie pan
Mix the filling: creme fraiche, vanilla, sugar and egg. Pour over the pie batter.
Sprinkle last the berries over the pie covered with creme fraiche mixture.
Bake in 180-200 °C about 30-40 minutes. It will be little wobbly in the middle, but it settles after cooling.
Best served when still warm or room temperature. Freezes well for the next surprise visitors.
Hyvää ruokahalua! bon appétit!
You may like Kitchen Parade’s Finnish Fruit Tart and other Finnish recipes CLICK HERE
P.S In background of the video you hear one of my favorite Finnish singer, actor, comic Vesa-Matti Loiri’s Lapin Kesä. Lyrics from famous Finnish Poet Eino Leino (who has huge impact to Finnish language development). Lapin Kesä- Finnish poem Summer in Lapland at Youtube.
Do you drink your soup or eat your soup? Traditional Finnish soups are very hearty and full of goodies, so I never knew that one would drink the soup instead of eat it. I am a fan of soups. They are easy to make and whet the appetite before the main course or could be taken as a main meal, that’s the way I prefer to enjoy the soup with a good loaf of fresh bread and generous spread of butter on it.
I found an old Turkish cookbook from secondhand shop and discovered several simple recipes I’d love to try. The garlicky Tahini Soup from Black Sea got my immediate attention. It’s simple and suits for coming Ramadan… minus garlic though.
Recipe of Sesame Soup
1,2 liter of fresh fish stock (I used stock made from fish cubes)
60 g long-grain rice, soaked in salted water for half an hour
salt and ground black pepper
4 tbs of Tahini, sesame paste
1/2 lemon, grated zest
4 cloves of crushed garlic
finely chopped parsley to garnish the soup
Boil the fish stock and season with salt and black pepper, add drained rice. Cook 20 minutes.
In mixing bowl beat tahini with lemon zest and garlic add a little water to blend to smooth paste.
Add gradually some of the hot stock to the tahini paste, stirring all the time until it’s of pouring consistency. Then pour the tahini mixture into the soup, stir well and take off the heat, don’t let it boil or it will curdle.
Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with wedges of lemon, and always if Turkish way, with dollop of thick Turkish yoghurt.
Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!
I want to promote my favorite Dubai based artesan Ragmatazz. Placemats in these photos are from them.
Check their pages from here Ragmatazz Lovely designs!