#19: Finland

Greetings from the Frozen North!

It snowed here in Denver this week. Yes, snow. September. I wish I could say that was a surprise, it’s not. It also wasn’t surprising that the following day it was sunny and 80 degrees. So, for a brief time, we were living in the frozen north, very much like our country this week, Finland. Currently, our cousin Jeb Brovsky is playing soccer on loan internationally to Strømsgodset of the Norwegian Tippeligaen (a stones throw from this week’s country adventure) before he rejoins his new MLS team in NYC!

THE DINNER: We were excited to visit the Northern European countries this week, as they seem to offer a really cool mix of Russian and European cuisine (see week #8 Iceland). We ambitiously found our stomachs larger than our heads this week and anticipated doing three recipes. Our side, our main course and a dessert were all pulled for the shopping and when it came down to it, the amount of time called for with these two first dishes outweighed our resolve to make dessert… also we were completely stuffed from all the food to even have room for dessert anyway, what were we thinking!?

The main course was picked as a traditional mushroom pie (kattilakosken silta) reserved for celebrations and birthdays specifically (since it was my dad’s birthday this week, it seemed fitting) plus it was vegetarian which made it an easy pick. In fact, almost 90% of the Fin’s diet is vegetarian. Lots of emphasis on fresh veggies and fruit even in their winter stews. Lihapullat (meat balls) were our side dish for this country and, yes, they are typical meat balls with a 50/50 mix of beef and pork.

The meal was amazing. Quite literally one of the best meals we’ve had on our adventures. The mushroom pie was full of silky, creamy goodness and the crispy crush made it all the better. We devoured all the meatballs and gravy which were crispy on the outside and full of onion, cheese and heaven on the inside. There was a lot of prep but luckily not a whole lot of strange ingredients. There was a slight problem (as with many of the northern countries of the region we are finding out) with locating the cheese curds referenced in the meatball recipe. That was remedied with a little help from the wonderful cheese lady at Kings however and we found a good match.

Lihapullat (meat balls)  Recipe: http://karaimame.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/finnish-meatballs-lihapullat/

Kattilakosken silta Recipe: http://www.homesteadgeek.com/2009/12/19/finnish-mushroom-pie-recipe/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking:  FOUR STARS out of five for this Dinner.
This was tricky. I’m not going to mince words on this one. It was time-consuming and required some kitchen know-how. Do you need to be a professional chef to pull it off?? absolutely not. But you need to be savvy and patient. Meatballs are hard from scratch whether they are italian or otherwise. Pies are difficult from scratch (especially with lattice tops) regardless of savory or sweet in nature. So this one was tough.  Really it was just assembly and all around cooking that was tricky. The meatball recipe was also in metric so that was also added difficulty that was easily accommodated with Google as usual. I mentioned above also, that we had planned on making dessert, and scrapped that idea quickly after encountering the amount of work the main course/side course ended up being.  That all aside (and you should throw it aside with abandon) this meal was incredible. It would have been worth ten stars of difficulty. THAT GOOD, FRIENDS. So don’t be intimidated by a little hard work for this one.

 Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner.
 This was my personal favorite meal since we started. Like I previously stated, it was hard to make, but we devoured it. The meatballs were perfect balance e of flavors and though the gravy was on the salty side, it complimented the meatballs nicely and actually was great with them. I’m certain the saltiness can be removed upon remake of this, but we sort of ended up digging it to be honest. I would like to say, the mushroom pie was out of this world. It was so good. It was like a traditional pot pie, but the filling was just this most delightfully sinful sour creamy thing that just made you say “mmmm”. My sweet tooth could bemoan the lack of dessert this week, but to be honest, i couldn’t have fit another bite in after gorging myself with the rest of the meal. Dessert would have been wasted on the Brovskys this week.

Next week we have decided to travel to a warmer locale, Chad is going to be cooking up some interesting African cuisine for us! We are looking forward to another adventure in Brovskyland!

Stay warm and Toasty!
– L & K

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