Karjalanpiirakka – Finnish rye pastries with swiss chard rice filling

20 Dec

Continuing on this Nordic theme for no apparent reason whatsoever, here we  present to you karjalanpiirakka. Or Karelian pies, if you don’t speak Finnish. I don’t profess to speak Finnish, but I have accrued a somewhat surprisingly large Finnish vocabulary in foodstuffs.

These little pastries are often part of a picnic spread or table of breads and snacks. We’re not going to lie here. It’s heavy on the old carbohydrates. But it still isn’t too stodgy – unless you want to follow the traditional recipe which uses a lot more butter in the pastry, in the rice and then dips the whole buggers in butter-water then tops it with a mixture of munavoi – which is a mixture of equal parts egg and butter. Butter.

We served this as a starter with beetroot carpaccio, and it’s likely that we’ll make a bunch for Christmas, chucking a few in the freezer to pull out for when guests come around and we’re too bloated from the previous day’s excess to actually cook anything else.

This rye pastry, though, is quite versatile. We’ve used it as a base for pies, it has a really lovely flavour and texture when rolled out very thin. We used it in a broccoli, cheddar and dill pie which worked really rather brilliantly.

Thin rye pastry (makes enough for about 14 pastries and a small pie)

  • 50g white flour
  • 200g rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g butter chopped
  • 125g fromage frais
  • 85ml water (add more accordingly)

Mix all dry ingredients together, then add the butter, fromage frais and water. Knead, leaving some chunks of butter in the dough, wrap with cling film and  let rest in the fridge for a little while (this can be left for up to 2 nights in the fridge and still be good, according to our experience).

Remove from fridge and roll out. There will be butter pieces still in this, but laminate the dough – so continuously fold over, then roll out, fold over and roll out until the flattened pastry is even in consistency.

Roll to about 2mm thickness, or as thin as you can get it.

Filling (enough to fill about 14 pastries – or half the above pastry mix as above)

  • 1C pudding rice
  • 1C milk
  • 1C water
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 4 leaves (not ends of stalks) Swiss chard
  • salt to taste

Cook as though making rice pudding. Once the rice is soft and the liquid as been absorbed, add the chopped Swiss chard and stir through.

Dill yoghurt
  • 60ml yoghurt
  • 1 TBSP chopped dill
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • salt to taste

Just mix. That’s it.

Assembly

Use a small saucer or cup (ours was about 8cm in diameter) to cut circles of pastry. In the centre of each circle dob about 2.5 TBSP of rice mix.

To fold the sides in, start at the edge of the circle furthest from you. Using both hands pinch the pastry around the rice mix, fitting tightly.

Cook in the oven at 200C for about 15 minutes, it should be obvious when it’s cooked.

Serve as a snack, as a starter with beetroot carpaccio or salad (one pie per person suffices in our experience) or – if you want to go really Nordic – some munavoi.

Estimated cost:

Musical accompaniment: Spiritualized, Songs from A&E

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