Tag Archives: winter recipes

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.


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


Heart-warming miso and noodle soup

16 Mar

This is a great soup for those early March nights when you, by rights, had expected the weather to be getting warmer, but when it is totally incorrectly freezing. Compounded with that, it’s an exceptionally healthy soup which is perfect for when, on those freezing early March nights, you decide to run straight home after work and skip the gym because it’s too cold. In the gym. Umm.

Miso and noodle soup

  • 2.5 TBSP shiro (or light) miso paste (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 shallot sliced finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 8 shitake or dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 1 C cauliflower
  • 1/4 C wakame seaweed
  • 750ml (3 C) water
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 packet thick udon noodles

In a bowl, cover dried mushrooms with 250ml of hot water.

In a hot pot, heat a bit of vegetable oil and cook shallot and garlic until they have a bit of colour.

Add water, cauliflower (or other vegetable), miso paste and mushrooms with the water they were soaking in, keeping the water at a simmer.

Once mushrooms are softened and cooked enough to eat – say 15 – 20 minutes after they first started soaking – add the noodles.

Cook for another few minutes until noodles are cooked through.

Serve with spring onion and some Japanese chili flakes.

Estimated cost:£1.80

Musical accompaniment: Classical somesuch

Banana brown rice porridge

17 Feb

This is a breakfast inspired by Finland – and the fact that Woman had half a cup of leftover cooked brown rice. And the weather. Inspiration, in fact, was abundant.

The Finns are porridge fiends, but they don’t limit themselves to oats, oh no. Rye, barley, wheat – it’s all on in Finland, my friends, it’s on like Donkey Kong. Normally in Finland you’d have your porridge with a soppa (a cordial-like berry juice), or sprinkled with brown sugar or potentially even melted butter.

This healthier version uses bananas instead of sweetening and brown rice, which gives the porridge a lovely chewiness. Porridge.  There, just thought I’d say the word again. Even the sound of it is filling.

Banana brown rice porridge (per person)

  • 1/2 C cooked short grain brown rice
  • 1 C (or a bit more) soy milk (use cow if you wish)
  • 1 banana

Put brown rice and soy milk (I used unsweetened) into small bowl and bring milk to boil. Lower heat and cook for another 10 minutes or until milk is absorbed.

Add half the banana, chopped, to the porridge mix, an extra splash of soy milk and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes, or until that milk is absorbed and bananas have become hot and mushy.

Serve topped with the rest of the banana, and a further splash of milk.

You could use other fruits in this, but banana is so  just a lump of sugary loveliness and lacks the acidity of a lot of other fruit, so just try it with banana. Just once.

Estimated cost: 70p

Musical accompaniment: Chet Baker

Winter salad: Mustard roasted butternut squash & orzo

7 Feb

Orzo is such a fun pasta shape – almost like alphabet pasta shapes for adults. It doesn’t often  get a showing on Man Woman’s dinner table, but I think we might have turned a corner.

Mustard-roasted butternut squash & orzo salad

  • Two lady handfuls of chopped butternut squash
  • 1tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp agave nectar, maple syrup or honey
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 C orzo pasta
  • handful or two rocket

Heat oven to about 200C.

Mix chopped butternut squash, spices and agave and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Throw in the roma tomatoes into the baking tray and cook for another 10  minutes.

Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta.

Mix together with the rocket and serve hot or cold.

Estimated cost: £2.10

Musical accompaniment: Beirut, the Gulag Orchestra

Vegan cassoulet

30 Nov

This dish was inspired by a practical joke. A friend of ManWoman’s loves his hearty meaty cassoulet with the usual suspects: pork sausages, goose, duck, mutton. So, on a trip to Paris last year ManWoman said we could procure some cassoulet. Instead we bought a can of ratatouille and cassoulet, and swtiched the labels. Needless to say said friend, bottle of red decanting and rubbing his hands with meatlust, was served ratatouille.

ManWoman did feel a little guilty in such a blatant fraud, so this dish, a stand-out vegan cassoulet, is a ManWoman take on this traditional French slow cooked dish – showing that a cassoulet can be hearty and filling – not wanting for anything other than a red wine decanting on the counter.

Vegan cassoulet (serves 4 with bread)

  • 4 vegetarian (vegan) sausages chopped
  • 1/2 C giant white butter beans, soaked then cooked
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 150ml water
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 leek, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 stalks thyme
  • 1 tsp whole back peppercorns
  • 1 dried kashmiri (or other hot) chili whole (removed when bay leaves are taken out)

Heat oil or butter (that’s not vegan then but), then over low to medium heat cook leeks, carrots and garlic for about 4 minutes – just to soften. Add everything else.

Cook over medium heat, covered, for as long as possible. Slow cookers are ideal (if not mock up your own, as Man will be demonstrating in a photo to follow shortly).

Serve with crusty bread.

Estimated cost: £3

Pimped up porridge – the opposite of gruell

29 Nov

In life there are foods like white truffles and there are foods like porridge. The world has deemed it necessary to lust after one, and pour disdain on the other as worthy, old fashioned and bland. This dichotomy is one of the numerous things wrong with said world.

Porridge is, yes, exceptionally healthy way to start your productive day. It is also the ultimate in comfort food and objectively delicious. Objectively. Man Woman looks forward to the change of seasons when we can switch from homemade muesli to homemade pimped up porridge. And this is why:

Pimped up porridge (makes one serving):

  • 6 TBSP porridge grains (in this pic I’ve used rye porridge we scored in Finland, but normally oats do just dandy)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp golden linseeds
  • 1 tsp linseed
  • 1/2 TBSP sliced almonds
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 TBSP blueberries
  • Soy milk (or cow juice, if you insist)

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and leave, without the heat on, for a couple of minutes. Then bring hob up onto medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until porridge oats (or rye, whatever you fancy) are nice and soft.

Serve with fresh fruits, such as apple and blueberry – or my worktime favourite, banana – or dried fruits. I also drizzled a bit of maple syrup on this one just because I could.

Cost: Nigh on nothing

Musical accompaniment: Charlie Parker

Winter bruschetta

24 Nov

Another recipe so simple as to cause its authors to wonder if publishing it on their blog is not just a little bit patronising to any others who might pass this posts way, but we enjoyed it so wanted to record it for our future reference. Perfect way to use day old bread on a cold day.

(PS. This isn’t winter bruschetta because we did anything worthy like use seasonal ingredients. It’s just warm and cosy)

Winter bruschetta (serves 2 as a snack or starter)

  • 4 very ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • Day old bread

Heat oil in pan, adding garlic when hot. Add chopped tomatoes and a dash of balsamic and salt. Cook down until tomatoes soften.

Meanwhile, toast day old bread (we used the end of a baguette).

Scoop hot tomato mix over toasted bread and serve immediately. Can add fresh herbs or cheese at this point if desired.

Estimated cost: 60p

Musical accompaniment: Oh Ruin

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