We are starting the year with a tip about what may be the best brunch place in Toronto. Karelia Kitchen (1194 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1N2, Canada) is dedicated to all things Scandinavian for brunch, snacktime and dinner. Karelia’s brunch is a mix of continental, Canadian and Scandinavian flavors with dishes like Pitti Y Panna ($14) Swedish-style potato hash with dill, bacon and eggs; Herring Two Ways ($14); and a grilled cheese made with Canadian Oka cheese ($12). For something more savory, there is also a huge variety of smorrebrod – open faced sandwiches in varieties like salmon, shrimp and beet ($10-12). In true Scandinavian fashion, coffee is a major feature of the cafe, and there is also a wide assortment Scandinavian pastries for a true Swedish-style fika coffee break. It can get pretty crowded for brunch, so reservations are recommended. But even if you don’t have a reservation, you can order at the counter to go.Even with all of this selection, our favorite thing about Karelia Kitchen is that they have Pulla Bread! Pulla bread is a traditional Finnish cardamom bread, which is particularly hard to find pretty much anywhere in North America, and this quest is what initially led us to Karelia. Pulla is a relative of the Swedish cardamom bun, kardemummabullar, and may be found in braided loaves like brioche, or in smaller rolls (as seen below). Served with clotted cream and lingonberry jam, a pulla roll is a prefect not-too-sweet accompaniment for fika or breakfast (or a snack). If you have the chance head over to Karelia to sample the excellent pulla bread and more!
It’s been a crazy week – but the promise of Spring is in the air. The weather is finally turning around, which is making us think about fresh fruit, and more importantly, fresh fruit pies! We are always on the lookout for new pie variations (check out our Pinterest Pie board for ideas), and our eye was caught by striking photos of Finnish Mustikkapiirakka (Blueberry Pie). The pie has a custardy filling, full of blueberries and a sweet shortbread crust (sometimes it is even baked like a cake). You can check out various versions at Kimchi and Meatballs, A Wee Bit of Cooking, and Have Another Bite (seen below). Be sure to have this recipe in your pocket when the summer blueberries come around!
Though May 1st, “May Day” goes by pretty much unnoticed in the US, it is a major holiday in Europe, akin to Labor Day. Throughout Northern Europe, along with being a national holiday, it is celebrated as the arrival of Spring, complete with festivals, maypoles and an abundance of tasty foods. In Finland, May Day (called “Vappu” in Finnish) is celebrated with Tippaleivät, which are similar to mini funnel cakes. These simple treats are a perfect light and fluffy (fried!) treat for Spring. Unleash your inner Scandinavian and try making some.
May day celebration in with Finnish tippaleivät and sima (sparkling Finnish mead) by kahvikisu
We’ve been having all sorts of bread cravings here in Salvador, where there is good bread, but we are missing some carb-y favorites like pita and bagels. So in the interim, we’ve taken to finding exotic bread recipes form all over the internet to make when we get home. This recipe from Honest Cooking for Finnish flatbread – Rieska – caught our eye for its simplicity. We’ve seen a few different takes on this bread, whether from the inclusion of potato in the Honest Cooking recipe, to the use of rye flour, to a barley dough-only recipe. In any cake Rieska looks like it is the perfect base for a myriad of toppings.
Semla (or as it goes by many other names: fastlagsbulle, laskiaispulla, or fastelavnsbolle) is a Scandinavian pastry strongly associated with Lent in Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden. Semlor (plural) used to be eaten on Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, however, it is now eaten throughout Lent, especially on Tuesdays. Semla seems pretty easy to make – and consists of a cardamom flavored sweet roll filled with whipped cream and almond paste. During this time of year, all of the bakeries in Scandinavia stock semla, and it is the perfect snack to enjoy with your afternoon coffee break, or fika. For those outside of Northern Europe, Camilla’s Cravings has a recipe for Semla.
Semla by Erik Boralv
Filed under Coffee, Holidays
Recently, there has been a post from the blog Dude Foods making the rounds of the blogosphere about a 100% cheese grilled cheese sandwich: the “bread” in this case is actually Finnish Bread cheese, and the filling is American cheese. So what exactly is “Finnish Bread Cheese?” It’s Finnish name is juustoleipä, or leipäjuusto (leipä=bread, juusto=cheese), and it is similar to the better-known (in the US) Halloumi, and Brazilian queijo coelho. The variety of leipäjuusto Dude Foods used was from Carr Valley cheese in Wisconsin. In order to get the most of this cheese – it should be heated or broiled, giving it distinctive brown grill marks. Though there will probably be a run on this type of cheese for people hoping to recreate the epic “cheese grilled cheese”, there are many other recipes involving leipäjuusto. It pairs particularly well with fruit and jams and you can even dip it into coffee!
We got a lovely sample of tea from M’s family when they were passing through Savannah, Georgia. It’s called Emperor’s Bride, and its fragrant, fruity aroma was perfect for us sweet tooths [teeth?]. Little did we know that this tea is actually a popular Finnish variety known as Keisarin Morsian (Literally, ‘Emperor’s Bride’ in Finnish). Though it is popular there, it is almost unknown elsewhere. In fact, we had trouble finding any information on it at all. What we do know is that Keisarin Morsian is a black tea blend with tea leaves from Ceylon and Assam, and it is flavored with pineapple chunks and orange peel. We tried Keisarin Morsian both iced and hot, and it’s perfect with just a spoonful of sugar (guess we are not tea purists). You can buy some from The Savannah Tea Room online, or at their store (7 East Broughton Street, Savannah, GA).