Tag Archives: recipe

What is for dinner this summer?

This week chez nous in Paris the menu has been cantaloupe starters, tomato mozzarella salads, grilled eggplants, stuffed courgettes, Asian prawns with broccoli, peppers and coriander, spanakopita with lots of onion, and sliced peach for dessert.


All these fruits and vegetables from the Bastille Market for just 10 Euros! Enjoyed with excellent (and cheap) rosé from our favorite wine shop (see: Christmas preparations: wine). Cannot complain!

What has been on your plate this summer?

Easy Tzatziki Fish

The main staple at the Finnish summer house is fish. Fish, and more fish. Pike, pike perch, white fish, trout, burbot, etc. There is probably as much of variety as there are ways of fishing!

At our summer house the nets are always in the lake. Depending on the weather we catch a lot or nothing. At the moment we have five nets in the water, all together 300 meters. This is quite a lot and requires visiting the nets twice a day. However, because of the unusually hot weather the catch has not been amazing, but nonetheless enough to feed us every day.oven-baked white fishYesterday I invented a new recipe, which is as simple as it gets, and really delicious at the same time. I used white fish (siika in Finnish) but you can use any other type of fish. Here you go:

-Place a pre-salted fish fillet on the baking tray (one fillet per person)
-If the fish is fresh, no oil is needed, but if you doubt, sprinkle a little bit on each fillet
-Sprinkle either “lemon pepper” (sitruunapippuri in Finland) or alternatively black pepper and lemon juice on each fillet
-Sprinkle a table spoon of Cretan tzatziki seasoning mix on each fillet (a very think layer!)
-Bake about 15-20 minutes in 225Cwhite fish, green salad, grilled fennelTo be enjoyed with green salad and grilled vegetables. I prepared grilled fennel, which was super good, but the only limit is your imagination!!

PS Pearlspotting is finally on Instagram! I have been posting several photos every day, so do follow me there too!

The Midsummer Weekend in Finland

Midsummer in Finland, miss you! Midsummer in FinlandThis is the weekend when Finland shuts down. As early as Thursday afternoon people started migrating to summer houses by the lake or the sea, and they will stay there until Sunday. Activities include sauna, swimming, outdoor games, fishing, water sports and barbecue. It is the weekend when the sun never seems to set. Midnight sun, Midsummer in FinlandThe Midsummer holiday (Juhannus in Finnish) is full of symbolism and magic. Some villages prepare a hug bonfire, kokko, which usually burns by the water. In addition, there are other traditions and rituals that include running around naked, looking deep into water, collecting flowers and placing them under the pillow and observing the direction of the bonfire smoke, to mention a few, and all these rituals are for the purpose of finding a decent husband and getting a hint of who he may be. Indeed, Midsummer is originally a pagan celebration. Midsummer, FinlandI have not been able to join Midsummer celebrations in Finland for a long time and it is a pity. It really is one of the happiest celebrations in Finland (even if every year someone gets too dunk and drowns…). Now that I am thinking about it, I realize I am more nostalgic about Juhannus than I am about Christmas! And to be very honest, uploading these photos (taken at the summer house) made me cry a bit. To me this is the most beautiful place in the world.

Happy Midsummer everyone!! Hyvää juhannusta!!

PS For those interested in understanding what life at the summer house looks like, see these previous posts:

Finland, Land of the Midnight Sun
Summer holidays in Finland
Sauna Time
A typical Finnish meal after sauna
Fishing at midnight
Our beautiful lake has turned into a monster!
What does Finnish barbeque look like?
Finnish fish tajine (part 2)
Very easy tartiflette
The Wind in the Willows (kaislikossa suhisee)
A must-try at the Finnish summer house!

Lastly, if you like these posts, why not to follow Pearlspotting on Facebook, too? Or by Twitter, @Miia_Niskanen.

New Potatoes with Pickled Herring

When first potatoes of the season arrive at Finnish grocery stores in June or July, people rush to find the most velvety potatoes that have skin so thin that no peeling is needed. Then when these Finns arrive at home they will most likely prepare a traditional dish of new potatoes with pickled herring, dill, spring onion and crème fraîche, and everyone at the table goes “awwww, aren’t the new potatoes just delicious”!

Yes, this is a sign of summer and happiness in Finland (at least in my childhood memories)!

Today I made this dish in Paris and it tasted as good as it would have back at home. The Bastille Market is great for almost anything and I easily found the type of potatoes I needed. As for the rest, I had anticipated the herring craving during my last IKEA visit and the rest of the ingredients never require any particular effort.

So, bring a little bit of Finland to your home by this recipe:Finnish dish new potatoes with pickled herring

  • Buy small potatoes that have almost no skin, or skin that comes off with simple brushing. Boil them with fresh dill and butter. Tip: wrap them in aluminium foil to keep them hot!
  • Serve pickled herrings in a bowl. We had herring in mustard sauce, but any specialized shop (even IKEA) has a variety of options (herring with dill, onion, pepper, etc.). Choose whichever flavor appeals to you most and serve this northern European delicacy in a bowl.
  • Cut spring onions (both the bulbs and the greens) and serve them raw in a bowl.
  • Cut fresh dill and serve in a small bowl.
  • Put crème fraîche in a bowl.
  • Have butter on a plate so that everyone can add it on his/her hot potatoes.

The only ingredient that needs to be cooked (and served hot) is potatoes. The rest should be served cold or room temperature, and in separate bowls. Eating this dish is a lot of fun (a bit like raclette dish in fact!) because everyone composes his/her own plate. Try yourself and let me know!

Helsinki by Food

So much has happened on the Helsinki food scene since the ’90s that some call it a revolution.

All current Michelin-star restaurants in Helsinki have been created since 2003 and none of the current Bib Gourmand restaurants existed before 2009. In addition to Russian, Tex-Mex and Mediterranean restaurants, which were some of the first international cuisines to arrive in Helsinki, choices keep growing. There is now a Kosher deli. A Peruvian restaurant opened earlier this year. Two young chefs mix Korean, Japanese and North-Chinese flavors. Hakaniemi neighborhood has turned into a bazaar of ethnic grocery shops. The Restaurant Day concept, born in Helsinki in 2011, has now spread to more than 30 countries. The first street food event was organized in March this year. And the list goes on. Indeed, Helsinki has never been as welcoming to foodies as it is today!

As someone who left Helsinki in the mid-’90s, I am intrigued by the latest food scene developments of my old hometown. During my last visit to Helsinki in May this year I took this passion even further and spent an entire day touring the Finnish capital with a professional food guide. Read further to see why this day was fantastic!

I met my lovely guide Veera in front of the Hietalahti Market Hall, which was our first stop. According to an urban legend, this 110-year-old covered market was used as a horse stable during the Russian rule.As visiting Finland is nothing without discovering local fish, our first stop was Fish Shop Marja Nätti. We had a chance to run into Petri, Marja’s son, who proudly explained to us that the sandwich we are eating is their newest recipe: cold-smoked salmon and asparagus on malt bread topped with caviar-infused Hollandaise sauce. Wow. It was as delicious as it sounds like and yes, it was eco-friendly caviar grown in the heart of Finland’s lake district.

Indeed, respecting the ecosystem, traditions and small fishermen were the words that kept appearing in Petri’s talk. He revealed that this summer Marja Nätti will co-run a fish and chips restaurant at the entrance (outside) of the Hietalahti Market Hall. One of the items on the menu will be a fish burger made of those Finnish fish (roach, pike, etc.) that have been ignored for a long time by chefs.fish skinJust as we were leaving, Petri grinned and asked “are you adventurous“? Curious as we are, Veera and I responded yes and Petri brought us another new product: fried salmon skin, a Finnish delicacy from the ’60s and the ’70s. I was a bit skeptical before tasting it, mainly because I am not a big fan of fried food, but it was lighter than I thought. And very tasty. My guests in Paris, are you ready for fish skin starters?

Our second and third stops were chosen by Veera because they are true representatives of the classic Helsinki: Lasipalatsi and Fazer. She explained to me that in spite of all sorts of exotic tendencies that hug Helsinki at the moment, these two places have maintained the market position thanks to their excellent, traditional products and loyal customers. At times when so much new comes to the market every week, people like to return to the roots from time to time, she added.

Lasipalatsi is an architectural masterpiece, a perfect example of Finnish Functionalist architectural style from the ’30s. Originally built as a temporary office building, Lasipalatsi is today one of the main landmarks of Helsinki and home to a well-known retro restaurant and a busy cafe, as well as other businesses.LasipalatsiThe best cafes of Helsinki are located in the residential neighborhoods but Café Lasipalatsi in the heart of Helsinki is one of the rare exceptions” Veera told me. She continued to explain that helsinkiläiset (residents of Helsinki) are very fond of this institution, making Café Lasipalatsi a meeting point of different generations. As we were walking out, I snapped some quick photos that in my opinion portray well that particular atmosphere (very Kaurismäki some may say).Cafe LasipalatsiOur third stop, Fazer, needs no introduction to Finnish readers. To my foreign readers, let me start by saying that Fazer is a confectionery and food company, created in 1891. Whenever there is a ranking of the most-loved Finnish brands, Fazer and its products are on the top of the list. For example, if you ask a Finn living abroad what she misses about Finland, she/he will probably tell you “Fazerin Sininen” (Fazer’s most popular milk chocolate).Fazerin SininenWe stopped for a cup of coffee but Veera reminded me that I should try to come back to enjoy Fazer’s famous brunch. Apparently reservations are sometimes needed a month in advance but this seemed understandable to me. Who would not salivate over these sandwiches? FazerFrom the city center we moved to a charming neighborhood called Kruununhaka, and this is where I got a little bit lost. I know Helsinki very well, and could have guessed the previous stops, but suddenly I had no idea where I was walking. Suspense!Anton & AntonAnton & Anton, where we stopped, is a lovely grocery store created out of love. The founders, previously unknown to each other, met and decided to create a super market that specializes in personalized service and sells the kind of food they would want to eat themselves. Conveniently, they both had a son called Anton, and that resolved the problem about the shop name. Cute, isn’t it!Anton&AntonWhile we were tasting different types of cheese (with fantastic fig and rhubarb jam!), I learned more about the everyday business of Anton & Anton. Veera told me that the idea of Anton & Anton is not to sell exclusively organic food, but simply good food: seasonal products, handpicked artisan products, food that comes from respected origin, grown by passionate small farmers, etc. Some products come from Finland –many from the Åland Islands I noticed– but there are products from abroad, too. Before we left Anton & Anton I made a note to self: fill your picnic basket here next summer.

Our next and last destination required catching Helsinki’s funky orange metro. It was a nice ride by the sea and this time I knew where we were going: Teurastamo alias the Abattoir. Yes, this lovely ’30s building made of brick was indeed a place of blood until the early ’90s. The Abattoir HelsinkiVeera was taking me around the Abattoir complex but I had to stop her to confess something. “Veera, I do not understand what the Abattoir is about. It seems to be work in progress but where is it heading to?“, I asked her. Veera laughed and said it was well said. She continued that indeed the Abattoir is an urban concept still looking for its identity, but that basically its role is to provide premises for different activities (often ad hoc) including city gardening, food-related lectures and festivals, flea market, concerts, exhibitions, etc. One can also book a sauna (of course, after all we are in Finland!) or simply use the premises for a private barbecue party. The main guideline of the Abattoir is to keep it easily accessible and available to everyone.

In addition to aforementioned activities, there are a wholesale market and some restaurant-bars. We visited Jädelino, an ice-cream bar run by a Finno-Italian couple. JädelinoValerio, the Italian side of the love story, served us amazing pistachio and divine chocolate ice cream. He explained that he has no previous experience in ice cream making but that a kind man in his home town taught him all the tricks. Last November Valerio was ready and Jädelino opened its doors to serve ice cream and sorbet of Finnish and other flavors. When Valerio mentioned that some customers come from really far away just for his ice cream I was not surprised –I will return from Paris for his pistachio! And I will definitely return to the Abattoir. For me, it is one of the most interesting things happening on the Helsinki food scene at the moment.

My guide: 

Veera Teppola
Facebook: Helsinki Bites / Blog: http://food-fetish.com / Email: helsinkibites@gmail.com
Visits are tailor made and languages spoken include Finnish and English.
Highly recommended!

… places visited during the tour:

The Hietalahti Market Hall: http://www.hietalahdenkauppahalli.fi
Fish Shop Marja Nätti: http://www.kalaliikemarjanatti.fi
Lasipalatsi Restaurant: http://www.ravintolalasipalatsi.fi
Café Lasipalatsi: http://cafelasipalatsi.fi
Karl Fazer Café: http://www.fazer.fi/kahvilat-ja-leipomot/kahvilat–ravintolat/karl-fazer-cafe/karl-fazer-cafe/
Anton & Anton: http://www.antonanton.fi
Teurastamo (The Abattoir): http://www.teurastamo.com
Jädelino: http://www.jadelino.fi

Sweet and Chunky Chicken Salad

The latest lunch-break invention: sweet and chunky chicken salad! sweet chicken saladWhat you need for composing the salad:

  • chunks of roasted chicken
  • chunks of grilled artichokes
  • chunks of melon (I used Cantaloupe)
  • avocado slices
  • lettuce
  • almonds and walnuts

What you need for the dressing:

  • wheat germ oil (the best available natural source for vitamine E!!)
  • sesame oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • mustard
  • black pepper

Mix and enjoy! And do not forget to check out Pearlspotting on Facebook, too.


Coffee on the Balcony

The first coffee of this spring enjoyed on the balcony. Need to turn this into a habit! Morning coffee on the balcony in Parisgluten-free chocolate biscuits

PS For months now, my husband has been buying gluten-free chocolate biscuits made of rice flour from Bio c’Bon –healthy alternative to croissants…


Note: Due to a problem on WordPress, you probably missed the last post Perfect Weather for Hamburgers.

Franco-Italian cheese platter

Eating cheese in France is a true geographic journey! Every region has its own specialties and in total there are more than 500 types of cheese in France. One will never know all 500 types. But this –at least to me– is part of the fun. We go and buy cheese and every time there is so much to discover! No two cheese plates are alike. And in order not to be too nationalistic, we try to add one or two cheese from abroad.

Our last cheese experimentation created this kind of a platter: Cheese platter

  • Bethmale: French cow-milk cheese from the region of Midi-Pyrénées near the Pyrenees mountains
  • Banon: goat cheese from the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in the southern part of France
  • Ossau-Iraty: sheep-milk cheese from the Basque country (French side)
  • Gorgonzola: Italian blue cheese from the northern part of the country, near Milan
  • Pecorino with Black Peppers: Tuscany, Italy

To complete the dinner, we also had dried beef (Noix de Bœuf Séchée) and a green salad with avocados.  Not the lightest and healthiest dinner, but once in a while just perfect!

Note: For the sake of comparative studies, this was our precious cheese platter: Cheese platter


PS Do you stick to the same old cheese all the time or do you prefer changing? If yes to the last question, then what is your latest discovery…?

Fish eggs for breakfast anyone?

I live in Paris where bakeries are full of richly buttered croissants, but to be brutally honest, I eat a croissant approximately once a year! Shocking, isn’t it.

Originally, I come from Finland, which is a country of savory breakfasts, but I don’t eat typical Finnish breakfast (porridge) either. So, what is it, what do I eat? Well, I often have rice cakes with salmon and avocados. Or avocados and cheese. Sometimes I add turkey. Or if I made Indian food the night before, I would eat leftover dal for breakfast. To be honest, my ultimate happiness was found in South India where I could eat idli and sambar for breakfast! Yummy.

I do admit, I have weird breakfast habits but I am afraid they are now getting even more strange (some of you may call them disgusting). For some time now, I have been preparing a salad that consists of fish eggs, grilled artichokes, avocados, truffle oil and fresh herbs (thyme, basil and rosemary). fish egg, avocado and artichoke saladThe fish eggs I have been buying are some of the cheapest available in Paris (and apparently the saltiest) and of course it would be better to buy salmon eggs but they are considerably more expensive. Anyhow, apart from these “cheap” eggs, everything in this salad is very good for your health. Most importantly, I love the combination, which fills the stomach, but not the same way wheat does (yes, I try to avoid gluten as often as I can).

Would you eat this salad for breakfast? Do you have a breakfast recipe you like making but think it is utterly crazy? Let me know (and make me feel less weird..)! 

Market surprise

Doing groceries at the food market is exciting: you never know what you come home with! The weekly market supply for food products depends on the season, on the weather, on transport issues, on regulations, on trends, on political issues, etc. –you name it! And that is why it is so interesting (if you like unpredictability).

For example today, my husband asked for the price of mussels. The seller was in a hurry to return home and responded: “They were caught yesterday. I have tried to sell them for 6€ and nobody wants them, so if you like, take them home for free”. My husband offered him money anyway but the seller smiled and said no worries.

So, today’s (late) lunch is going to be mussels with parsley, celery, onions, white wine (Muscadet) and crème fraiche. And guacamole, grilled bell peppers, slow-roasted cherry tomatoes for the rest of the week. La vie est belle!Bastille market on Sunday

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