Finnish delicacy – leipäjuusto with cloudberries

Today I’d like to tell you a bit about two very typical Finnish products – leipäjuusto and cloudberries that can be married into a really fast and delicious dessert. Leipäjuusto is a kind of fresh cheese made of cow’s milk, or traditionally from cow’s beestings. Direct translation of the name means bread cheese and I guess the name comes from it’s looks – dark brown spots that appear after the cheese is baked. Or maybe from the simple, yet  unusual fact that it is put into stoves just like bread is. The texture is very firm, a bit rubbery, maybe somewhat reminiscent to halloumi in this sence, yet totally different. Because of it’s texture it is also sometimes called squeaky cheese as it makes really funny noises when you eat it warm. I love it’s texture and the sound it makes, it’s simply a part of the fun when eating this dessert, but I know many people, particularly foreigners might be a bit discouraged by it. The cheese is very mild in taste, milky with a hint of sweetness and it can be used in desserts but also appears often in salads.

Cloudberries are another very typical Finnish ingredient. I know, I know, I should put here a picture of a real fruit not just jam, but you see… I somehow never really went to pick them up 😉 It’s a tricky business (or so I keep telling myself 😉 ). The fruit might look a tiny bit like a yellow raspberry, but unfortunately it doesn’t grow like one. The raspberries grow on a tall bush, and they are lots, making it easy to pick them up. Cloudberries, are more like wild strawberry bushes and sadly one plant forms only one berry! What a job to fill in a basket with them! Even worse, they grow sparse, only in separated places (known to the avid cloudberry foragers, not lame couch potatoes like me 😉 ) and preferentially in wetlands among hordes of mosquitos. Phew… does it sound like a good excuse? 😉 Anyway, they are really delicious and both the leipäjuusto and cloudberries are a must try when you’re visiting Finland.

INGREDIENTS:

leipäjuusto

muscovado sugar

double cream

cloudberry jam

Cut the cheese into small pieces, sprinkle muscovado sugar on top of them. Pour double cream, not too much, it shouldn’t cover cheese. Put to oven under grill and heat up till the sugar is caramelised. Serve with cloudberry jam.

Herby citrus salmon

The good point of living in Finland is that it it always easy and pretty cheap to get your hands on salmon. It is one of the cheapest and most abundant fish here, not to mention how delicious it is. We have it quite often as a midweek dinner, simply baked with pesto and served with a seasonal salad.  Nowadays, one can buy here pestos of a really good quality, and it is extremely fast to prepare salmon this way. As much as both of us love red pesto, Mr. No Onion Please complains that the green basil pesto has too strong herby taste for him. Therefore, I tried to create a kind of herby paste that wouldn’t have such a strong taste, but would compliment salmon nicely. I decided to incorporate some citrus flavour as well. The outcome was pretty good and both of us liked it.  The salmon was served on a salad bed made of wild rucola, goat cheese and cherry tomatoes confit.

Ingredients

500g salmon filet

3 toast breads (skin cut off)

zest from 1 lemon

juice from half a lemon

half a glass of basil leaves

half a glass of thyme leaves

2-3 tbsp of olive oil

salt

1. Wash the salmon filet and put it into greased ovenproof dish.

2. Put the bread, lemon zest and juice, basil and thyme into a bowl and blend it well to a paste

3. Add olive oil and salt to your liking. My paste was pretty thick, I wanted it to create a nice layer of  it on the salmon. If you wish you may add a bit more of olive oil to make it more pesto like. Spread the paste on top of the filet.

4. Bake in 200C for 25 min of until ready. I put the aluminium foil after 15 min of baking to avoid browning of the paste.