As I am frequently reminded I am behind with the travel blog – my apologies. We left Sweden in search for the Northern Lights, our search took us to Roveniemi, and as we soon found out (bombarded by tacky billboards) also the home of yours truly Mr Claus. We stayed in a cabin on the lake which was very scenic but I am afraid that was the only thing scenic about our short trip. Rovaniemi, because of it’s location was plagued by war and destruction and culinary wise the ‘highlight’ was a baked potato with mayo and specs of what I believed was reindeer meat – enough said. I am sure with generous dusting of snow Roveniemi transforms itself into a magical place.
With much excitement of the prospect of civilisation we headed for Helsinki in Finland. Helsinki is a ceramic hoarders dream, lots of cool ceramic shops selling all sorts of interior ornaments which I could happily find a place for in my home. Thankfully our space is limited in the car – so I had to seriously edit any possible purchases.
The food scene in Helsinki is growing. The unique food halls inside old town halls are a fantastic find and a good space to explore local cuisine. Fresh fish is the theme in Helsinki and the dreaded ‘roll-mop’ can be find everywhere, beautifully rolled herring in a majestic sauce. I have spent most of my youth trying to avoid this in our fridge as it was and still is one of my mom’s favourite snack, I am still avoiding them.
The herb of choice in Scandinavia is truly dill, a much underused herb or so I thought.The herb slowly and very subtly worked it’s way through most dishes in Scandinavia. It is because of this that, dill should come with a warning. When stored in the fridge, or in our case, a plug in car cooler box, it slowly infuses everything with it’s aniseed aromas. It was unfortunately at this stage that ‘the husband’ decided he can’t have anymore dill, possibly ever. He was literally plagued by the flavour as it worked its way into everything it came in contact with, mostly dairy. Porridge with dill, Cheese on toast with a hint of dill, even the chocolate biscuits had a hint of dill!
We visited a nearby fish market in the old market square where the stall holders sell there delicacies (and ‘roll mops) directly from their boats. We came home with a very fresh piece of salmon which I decided to cure ready in a couple of days for our departure breakfast. Very fresh salmon deserves a fresh cure of zingy citrus zest and that is just what I did.
When deciding what to accompany the gravlax, blini would be the obvious choice. Traditionally made with buckwheat flour, it made me think of another interesting flour pancake. The Italian Farinata is made using chickpea flour which is made into a batter and then a thin layer is cooked in a special pan at very high heat and then tossed with sea salt and fresh rosemary. It is well known that my food home is Italy and I love studying the traditional food areas of Italy. I then host a Supper Club to celebrate the regional cooking of those areas. Because of this I have had a go at making these pancakes while researching the area of Liguria home to the Farinata.
We had a delicious grown up breakfast as we bid farewell to Scandinavia.
Citrus Cure Salmon Gravlax
- 110g caster sugar
- 80g sea salt
- juice and rind of 1 lemon
- rind of 1 lime or grapefruit
- juice of 1/2 the lime or grapefruit
- 1/4 cup chopped dill
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 500g salmon – pin boned and skin left on
- Combine sugar, salt, rinds , juices and herbs
- Place 2 long pieces plastic wrap OVERLAPPING 5cm
- Place half the mixture in the centre of the overlapping wrap
- Place fish FLESH SIDE down on the sugar mixture
- Spread the remaining mixture over the fish
- Wrap the fish tightly and re-wrap with more clingfilm
- Place in the fridge for 2 days turning the fish occasionally
- After 2 days brush off the salt and pat dry with paper towels
- Fish will keep tightly wrapped in the fridge for 1 week
Ingredients for Farinata
- 90g of chickpea flour
- 3/4 tspn fine sea salt
- 1/2 tspn freshly cracked pepper
- 280ml lukewarm water
- 3 tbspn olive oil
Heat the oven to it’s hottest 230c if you can
- In a large bowl, sift the chickpea flour, salt and pepper together
- Whisk in the warm water and olive oil
- Let the batter stand for at least 30minutes
- Generously oil a frying pan with olive oil
- Place in the oven to heat up
- Swirl a generous amount of batter into your heated pan
- Pop in the oven for about 10-12minutes
- You are aiming for golden