Vappu

Today is May Day, Vappu in Finnish. Vappu comes from the Swedish term “Valborgsmässoafton” (Walpurgis Night) a traditional festival for Spring. The celebration actually begins on the evening of last day of April and continues to 1st of May.

Vappu can be compared to a big street Carnival in Finland, everyone is soooooo happy, go out to have picnics and party outside. People wear decorative clothes, children get huge colored helium balloons, you can throw serpentines and wear your “yliopilaslakki“, the cap you receive when you graduate in High School (lukio). The same cap is used for “crowning” statues in towns around the country. 

Also, as part of the tradition, people enjoy Sima, a sparkling drink that you can make yourself at home, usually accompanied by tippaleipä (a traditional Vappu fried cake), rosette (fried pastry) or munkki (donuts).

According to Finnish Wikipedia sima is considered to be mead but differs a lot from its counterparts by being much more sweeter and flavored with citrus fruits. Its alcohol content is very low too.

Honey might have been used to make Sima in the old times but nowadays the flavors are given the most by brown sugar and lemons. Believe me, it is a very refreshing beverage!

Sadly, I didn’t have time to make Sima last year… The beverage needs to be prepared in advance,  takes about one week for it to become ready. 

 

Sima

Sima – Traditional Finnish Mead 

Recipe adapted from here 

  • 4 l water
  • 500 g brown sugar (because I prefer a darker sima with deep flavor. If you want lighter, use 250g brown sugar and 250g caster sugar)
  • 1/2 dl honey
  • 2 organic lemons (juice and zest). Alternatively, remove the rinds and slice the lemons. 
  • 1/5 tsp fresh yeast (about the size of a pea)
  • sugar and raisins for the bottles

Utensils:

  • a big clean bucket (I used a 10L bucket) or a big pan with loosen lid
  • 4-5 bottles with caps (if you don’t have glass ones, use clean plastic soda bottles, well washed and dry)

Boil 2 litres of water and put the sugar into the bucket. Pour the boiling water over the sugar and stir to combine. Once the sugar is totally dissolved, add the rest of water, honey, lemon juice and zest (or the lemon slices)

Let cool to lukewarm, then stir in yeast (dilute it in a small amount of water and add to the mixture). Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours (and up to 48 hours), until surface begins to bubble slightly. 

On the second or third day you can bottle the sima. Strain the liquid into clean glass bottles or plastic ones. Add to each bottle a couple of raisins (3-5) and 1 tsp of caster sugar. Make sure the caps or lids are barely screwed on. Don´t close too tight!! Leave space for the gas to escape otherwise you will get too much pressure to your bottles.

Sima is ready when the raisins float on the surface (on day 5 or 6): takes about 3 days at room temperature or a week refrigerated (the temperature affects how quickly the beverage ferments).

Once ready, tighten the caps and put the bottles in the fridge. If you fear it is getting too much carbonated, release any gas from bottles that are too tight.

Keep in cool and serve chilled! 

Consume in one week

Obs:

You can easily double the recipe. Use 1/4 tsp fresh yeast for 1kg of sugar (half white half brown). 

The raisins are added in the “secondary fermentation” to control the amount of sugars and to act as an indicator of readiness for consumption — they will swell by absorbing carbon dioxide and rise to the top of the bottle when the drink is ready (from Wikipedia article on Sima)

 

Tippaleipä

Hauskaa Vappua! Happy 1st of May friends!!


This post was written by karaimame exclusively for Acquiring Taste. All writing, images and other materials in this blog remain the property of Acquiring Taste and cannot be used without permission.

Lihapulla - Finnish meatballs

The other day I was talking to friends in twitter about how weird is to make blog posts about savory foods and hot meals (compared to sweets and bakery ) once they just don´t look good at all when you take photos of them. They can be super tasty and delicious .. but they can look so ugly too :P

Well.. besides nice sweets and well fixed bento meals, we also eat “normal” food.. like everyone else. Who normally takes a picture of your last pasta bolognese? I mean.. without taking the risk of the meal cooling too much and kids start yelling they are hungry and can´t wait for mom to take the best “shot” ?

Aha. See my problem ^_^ !

Anyways..  I made Finnish meatballs. The complete meal (“koko setti” – the whole set,  like we would say here) and I decided to post about it (bear with me).

Meatballs in Finland are very very common. They can be quite similar to the meatballs they make in Sweden (and I am almost sure you are thinking about the Ikea meal right now… gotcha!) but with less herbs and spices. It differs from the “Italian” meatballs too. Read the recipe and you will understand why :)

Ok, so the recipe basically calls for minced meat, breadcrumbs, egg, spices and kermaviili. “Kermaviili” what? Well, yes, that. This is the recipe I use often and it’s how I learned to make “lihapulla”. There might be variations (my mother-in-law does not use “kermaviili” in hers as far as I know).

And what the heck is that kermaviili then? Before moving here, I had never heard about it. True.  Kermaviili is a dairy product made by fermenting milk cream, similar to the normal “viili” (which is another delicacy from the nordic countries ) but can be used in cooking, baking and to make dips. “Viili” is more like a gooey yogurt and most likely to be eaten as breakfast or dessert.

… (hey, but..) …

Yes! I have suggestions if you can´t find the kermaviili! (*clap, clap* XD) Substitute it by equal amounts of cream, milk, plain yogurt+cream, crème fraiche or meat stock . I can´t guarantee it will be the same meatball as mine but I believe it is worth a try. ^_^

We eat meatballs with cooked or mashed potatoes (this time the potatoes were from girls´ grandparents´place, special!) , gravy, homemade lingonberry jam, salad and sometimes cucumber pickles (when I remember I have them in the storage…). The ultimate Finnish confort food!

By the way.. they are a terrific freezer stash.. I can use in soups, sauces and for my bentos.. my girls enjoy  them a lot, like most of the kids in Finland.

Finnish Meatballs – Lihapullat

Makes 4 – 6 portions

  • 500 g ground beef (or you can use half beef and half ground pork)
  • 1 dl (about half cup) dry breadcrumbs. It is called “korppujauho” here and it differs from normal breadcrumbs (and Japanese “panko”) once it absorbs a lot of liquid when soaked (and looks like semolina flour when dry). Substitute by normal breadcrumbs or soak 2-3 slices of old dry bread.
  • 200 g “kermaviili” (I used this). Update: if your substitution is too liquid, milk or stock, I suggest to half the amount
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2  chopped onions
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp allspice (“maustepippuri”, it´s what a Finnish meatball must have, according to hubs)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Heat the oven to 225 °C

In a large bowl soak the breadcrumbs in the kermaviili (or in the liquid of your choice), leave for about 10 minutes. The result must be moist, somehow hard, not “runny”. Adjust the amount, if using a substitution, according to the softness of the mixture.

Fry the onions in a skillet (use butter or oil) until soft, set aside to cool.

Add the egg, mince, onions and seasonings to the breadcrumb mix.

Knead the mixture thoroughly until well combined and firm. Shape into walnut sized balls with slightly oiled or moist hands (keep a bowl with water nearby) and place them on a greased shallow baking tray or over parchment paper. Do not crowd .

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden. You can turn them to cook evenly but I usually  don´t . They  get a crispy bottom ^_^ .

While the meatballs are baking, you can make the gravy.

Gravy – Ruskea kastikke (“brown sauce”)

  • 1 -2 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • about 1/2 l beef stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil the stock and keep it warm. Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the flour, mixing until the “paste” turns golden brown and starts to release a nutty aroma.

Start pouring the hot stock using a whisk to constantly mix it in (oh yes, beware of the steam! It can be scary at this point). Stir well, whisking until no lumps remain. If you feel uncomfortable to continue with the skillet, transfer the sauce to a deep pan and continue cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens.

Season a little with salt and pepper.

Serve with potatoes, meatballs and lingonberry jam.

Lihapulla - Finnish meatballs

My notes about the recipe:

If you don´t like the oven method, you can fry the meatballs in a large skillet. Make batches and keep the ready ones warm until you are ready to serve.

It is possible to make patties with the same mixture. Adjust the cooking time according to the size of your patty.

You can freeze the meatballs, raw or already baked. They are both good but I prefer freezing them ready. They keep well for about 3 months in the freezer. To use, I simply add the ready ones straight to soups, sauces and “warm” them up. For bentos, I defrost and gently reheat using a frying pan.

Some people would mix the ready meatballs to the sauce before serving but I prefer offering them separately. Others would add cream to the gravy.

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