28 February 2015

An ode to Oltermanni

This post has been written full of praise of my favourite cheese, which is the Finnish Oltermanni. You might have seen me writing fondly about it before, but now I wanted to dedicate an entire post to this most wonderful of all cheeses. It's name translates to Alderman, a village elder.

Oltermanni is a mild and creamy cheese, perfect with toast, freshly baked rolls or proper rye bread. It's also quite rich, but lighter versions and even a spreadable version are available. One of my favourite ways of eating this cheese, is as breakfast with a salted and milky oat porridge. The cheese isn't mixed into the porridge in any way, but is taken in thin slices and eaten in turns with spoonfuls of warm and comforting porridge. You might think I'm crazy, but that is one of the best things I know in this world!

Oltermanni originates from Isokyrö in Western Finland, where I spent much of my childhood and youth. My grandparents had a farm there with cows that produced milk to make this cheese. So also in that way the product has always felt like very close to home. I grew up with Oltermanni, and a long time I didn't even taste or want to eat other cheeses. Luckily I have broadened my horizon in that respect, but Oltermanni has still remained a special one for me. Read in a previous post what is currently happening in the place where they used to make Oltermanni in Isokyrö.

The only downside of the matter is that this cheese is very difficult to obtain in the UK (please let me know, if you know of any sources!), basically I'll have to bring it with me whenever I visit Finland. So now you know with what my suitcase is mostly filled. Unfortunately the photos in this post are archive photos from few weeks ago, and I now have no Oltermanni left whatsoever. I also haven't booked a trip to Finland anytime soon, so I will have to do with the local British cheeses.

What is your absolute favourite cheese and do you also have a story connecting you to that cheese? I would love to hear your cheese stories, so don't be shy and comment below!

Your VegHog

27 February 2015

Craft Beer Rising 2015

Last Saturday I visited a beer festival called Craft Beer Rising in London for the second time (here is my last year's post of my visit there). I liked the event so much the last time around that I knew I would return again. This year it might not have been the perfect timing after an excessive beer tasting trip to Belgium, but at least these beers were now quite different. Again I had some pretty special beer tasting experiences from mostly the UK, but also the US. Here follow some notes on the beers and ciders that I tasted.

Bear Hug Brewing: I tasted this nice Hibernation White IPA (5,2 %) already last year and was hoping that the Bear Hug Brewing would show up at the festival again this year. They are very friendly people promoting some excellent beers. The Himalayan Red Rye Ale (5 %) was a new beer for me. It tasted of pine and grapefruit with rye bread toast and had a long bitter finish.

Purity Brewing Company: Longhorn IPA (5 %) is a fresh, well-balanced beer that has almost like sweet grassy aftertaste and heads of tropical fruit. They had really cute cow beer cans there, but unfortunately the cans weren't on sale at the festival. Surely I can get them online...

Orchard Pig: Hog Father (7,4 %), was the only cider I tasted now, but It's Hog Father! As you may already know, the Orchard Pig ciders are some of my main favourites at the moment. This one was a few months ago couple of times at my local pub on tap. It's a strong still cider with a slight cinnamon flavour and vanilla in the aftertaste.

Black Isle Brewing Co.: Hibernator (7 %) is an oatmeal stout, and I wouldn't have thought that it could be this good. Because I had never tasted an oatmeal stout before, I was being somehow sceptical. The beer has bitter chocolate notes with rum and raisin. There's a liquorice and coffee smell and a smooth rich malty finish. Smoked Porter (5,5 %) seemed like the most unlikely beer for me to like, but I absolutely loved it! It has tar and whisky smell, slightly woody taste, hint of raisins. It's smooth and smoky with an aftertaste like Islay whisky.

London Fields Brewery: A local London brewery with tasty beers with nice names like the Shoreditch Triangle IPA (6 %) that has some grassy hoppy notes, has been dry hopped, dry, aromatic and tastes like a home brew. Hackney Hopster (4,2 %) is a Pacific Pale Ale that has a somewhat German style malty character and is more continental.

Beavertown: I do adore the Beavertown beers in the quirky cans and often buy them at my local beer shop. Now I didn't find the people serving especially friendly, so it also seems to have been that off putting that I forgot to write down any notes on the beers. I drank Gamma Ray (5,4 %) American Pale Ale and Bloody 'Ell (7,2 %) Blood Orange IPA. However these might appear in my blog later for a review.

Euroboozer: I tried the Schremser Bio-Roggen (5,1 %), which is an organic Cloudy Rye Beer. This beer was unfortunately served a little bit too cold. Rye would have tasted better at a warmer temperature.

Founders Brewing Company: These Founders products are just exquisite and came with a very nice service. Backwoods Bastard (10,2 %) is a Barrel Aged Scottish Ale with a blast of caramel whisky, toffee, vanilla and raisins. It's also very smooth. I have tasted the All Day IPA (4,7 %) before. Its tasting notes are resin, pine, maybe papaya and it's very fresh and easy to drink.

Hopefully this could give you some guidance for choosing quality beers, or to inspire you to visit the festival next year in London or at its other locations. Here are also a couple of atmospheric London photos I took on my way home.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Your VegHog

26 February 2015

Green pepper and sprout stir fry

This week and February are both drawing to a close and I must say that I'm pleased about my weekend without plans. Well, there are plans to take it easy and cook nice food, but that's about it. What have you planned for the weekend?

So, now to today's recipe. I added some lentil and radish sprouts to today's stir fry, and they make a very tasty and nutritious addition. I have been sprouting a lot lately again. I normally have phases when I eat more sprouts and then forget all about them for a couple of months.


100 g buckwheat noodles
200 g smoked tofu
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 green bell pepper
1 chilli
1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 cm ginger (similar amount to garlic)
200 g mange tout peas
1 cup lentil sprouts + radish sprouts
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine


Chop the tofu into small cubes and fry them until firm in the groundnut oil.

Cook the noodles and set to side. They don't need to be fully soft, as they will cook a little in the stir fry later.

Chop the bell pepper into this strips and the chilli, shallot, ginger and garlic finely. The mange tout peas can also be cut into halves.

Fry the pepper strips in a hot pan with a little oil and set to side. I like to leave them with a bit of crunch.

Cook the chilli, shallot, ginger and garlic also in a little groundnut oil until soft and then add the tofu, peppers and mange tout peas followed by the noodles.

Pour the sesame oil, soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine into the pan and cook for a few minutes. Don't take my ingredient amounts for these liquids too seriously, just keep splashing and tasting while you stir.

Stir the sprouts in just before serving and serve instantly.

I'm also sharing this recipe with February's edition of the Eat Your Greens challenge by Shaheen from A2K - A Seasonal Veg Table

Your VegHog

24 February 2015

Fusilli with roasted tomatoes, mozzarella and basil-garlic sauce

Such a pasta dish, like the one I'm sharing with you today, is my go-to dish whenever I want to eat fairly quickly yet tasty or just want to have a lazy weekday meal. Tomato-mozzarella-basil-olive oil is such a winning combination that it's easy to keep it simple. The flavours work well together, the dish is tasty and quick to make – what's not to like?

This is what today's pasta dish consisted of:


300 g mini plum tomatoes
6 tbsp olive oil + some to be drizzled on the top of the ready dish
2 garlic cloves
A bunch of fresh basil leaves
250 g mozzarella
300 g fusilli pasta
Sea salt

I also had some shop bought garlic bread on the side.


Place the whole tomatoes into an oven dish and drizzle olive oil on the top. Roast them at 180-200C for about 10 minutes until they start bursting open.

In the meanwhile boil the pasta in salt water until al dente.

Purée the garlic with the basil leaves and olive oil and set to side. This will be drizzled on top of the dish just before serving.

Tear the mozzarella. Tearing doesn't just look nice on the dish, but it also contains the moisture in the mozzarella.

Serve the pasta with the tomatoes, basil-garlic sauce, mozzarella, little sea salt and good quality olive oil. It's ready to be enjoyed!

I'm sharing this recipe with this month's Pasta Please challenge. Pasta Please is a monthly vegetarian cooking challenge by Tinned Tomatoes blog hosted this month by Knead Whine blog with the theme “dishes that can be on the table in twenty minutes”. I thought that my recipe fits the category, and quite often quick pasta dishes are what I choose to cook after a hectic weekday.

Your VegHog

23 February 2015

Puy lentil and black turtle bean pie

I wanted to post a winter recipe, as it's still February. I have posted similar recipes like this before, but not quite with these ingredients. I have chosen to use puy lentils and black turtle beans in a pie covered with buttery and smoky potato mash. The legume filling has been spiced up with organic dry cider for some extra comfort food feel and savoury taste. I served this pie with buttered kale on the side.

This recipe makes a huge amount of pie, which I divided into smaller ramekins also to be taken for next day's lunch and possibly one to be frozen. But you can also make one massive pie, if you have about four hungry eaters. Otherwise just halve the ingredient amounts. So, here's my recipe.

Puy lentil and black turtle bean pie


½ cup black turtle beans
½ cup puy lentils
1 kg potatoes
25 g butter
50 ml milk
1 tsp salt
50 g smoked cheddar
1 large carrot
2 large shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
100 ml dry cider
1 vegetable stock cube
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried sage
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp miso
1 tsp yeast extract
1 tsp soy sauce

For the side: 200 g curly kale, 2 tbsp butter, a sprinkle of sea salt and ground black pepper


Soak the beans overnight. Then the next day boil them until they are fully cooked. This takes about one hour.

Rinse the lentils and also cook them until done. They need about 20 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and boil them until soft, for about 30 minutes. Mash them and add a sprinkle of salt, butter and milk. Then mix the grated smoked cheddar into the mash.

Chop the shallots, garlic and carrot finely and cook them for 5-10 minutes in a pan in the vegetable oil.

Add the beans and lentils to the pan and pour cider over them. Let the cider evaporate mostly and then season with bay leaves, vegetable stock cube, sage and pepper. Also add the soy sauce, miso and yeast extract. These will make the pie filling nice and savoury.

Let it simmer for a while so that the flavours can blend and any excess liquid cook off. Taste the seasoning again and add anything that you think is lacking.

Remove the bay leaves and put the filling into a pie dish and cover with the potato mash. Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

In the meanwhile the kale can be prepared, but it only takes about five minutes. Rinse the kale and heat the butter in a pan. Cook the kale in the pan for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper. Serve on the side of the pie. Enjoy!

I'm sharing my recipe with the food blogging event My Legume Love Affair. This event has been going since 2008 when started by Susan from The Well Seasoned Cook and currently administered by Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen. This month Shaheen from the A2K - A Seasonal VegTable is hosting this event and I thought that I would now take part in this, as I'm getting more confident and versatile with my legume use in cooking.

Legumes didn't really belong to my diet when I was young, they just aren't so popular in traditional Finnish home cooking. As I became a vegetarian I naturally got more interested in beans and lentils as a necessary addition to my diet. Lately I have been using so many legumes in my cooking that it has become normal for me, and I keep huge amounts of dried lentils and beans of all sorts in my cupboard and I truly love them.

Your VegHog

22 February 2015

Sesame-roasted tofu with satay sauce and broccoli

Let's cook after all sorts of travel posts! It's nice to be home for a change and be able to cook in my own kitchen.

This recipe is from The Best of Rose Elliot – The Ultimate Vegetarian Collection (p. 114-115) Sesame-roasted tofu with satay sauce & broccoli. This book is full of creative vegetarian recipes photographed beautifully. The recipe can also be found here online. 

I followed the recipe pretty accurately, so I didn't repeat it here. Only my tofu took longer to roast than described in the book. It was worth the wait however, as it got really firm with a sticky coating. This dish turned out to be very tasty and the combination of the components is just divine. The broccoli tasted so good with the satay sauce that has a strong peanutty taste, and the texture and sesame taste of the tofu were wonderful.

Have a great week everyone!

Your VegHog

21 February 2015

Things to do in Bruges

In this post I have collected some of my favourite places in Bruges for shopping, eating out or just visiting. Of course the canal sides and the architecture have to be the main attractions of this town. However, as I already posted some of such pictures in my first Bruges post, here are just random places that left me with a good feeling and I would be more than happy to return.

Olivier's Chocolate Shop & Bar, Sint-Amandsstraat 14 – It was quite difficult to decide where to get chocolates, as they are offered absolutely everywhere, but I wanted to get something special. Therefore I'm really happy that I stumbled upon this little shop close to the Markt, which only opened on Valentine's Day this year, but is already buzzing. The guy who was serving us, was really proud of the shop and said that his dad makes the chocolates and that they have been ever so busy since the opening. I hope that this shop becomes a real success story, as they make truly exquisite chocolates.

Ellis Gourmet Burger, Simon Stevinplein 14 – I seemed to be very unlucky with the veggie restaurants I had been planning to go to in beforehand. Unfortunately, they were closed when I could have gone there, but I didn't need to stay hungry in this place, as frietjes and kaaskroketten were good fillers at anytime. But then I also found the Ellis Gourmet Burger. Well, of course they also serve meat burgers, but they had quite a good veggie burger selection too. There was a portobello and goat's cheese burger and a soy classic burger on the regular menu. I went for the monthly special, the nutty red veggie, which is a savoury bell pepper, soy and pecan nut burger served with spinach, rocket, red onions, a lovely bun and lemon mayo. It was quite possibly the best veggie burger I've ever had! The place is quite busy, but it's worth the wait, if there is no table available straight away. 

Wednesday food market, Markt – I was happy enough to catch a day when the food market was on the Markt. You know how much I enjoy strolling through food markets, and this one was no exception. There were local cheeses, vegetables, bread and much more for sale, and I could have bought loads. Unfortunately my suitcase was filling fast, so I had to leave the veggies there.

Groeningemuseum, Dijver 12 – No matter where I go, I always have to visit a local art museum (and their shop!). The Groeningemuseum happens to be a lovely art museum with a good collection of Flemish art and well worth a visit. There I got to see yet another Magritte. In the shop I bought many art postcards and a hedgehog brooch, and learned that hedgehog is egel in Flemish.

Friet Museum, Vlamingstraat 33 – If you want to know everything about the history of the humble spud and its way into deep fried frietjes, this is the place to go. If you have children, this is a good place to visit, as they can get all hands on with the items there. 

Dille & Kamille, Simon Stevinplein 17-18 – Located pretty much next to Ellis Gourmet Burger is a kitchen and household shop Dille & Kamille. They have such beautiful household items for sale. I stayed strong however and only purchased a few quirky hedgehog pencils and stuff.  

Bottle shops – I'm not mentioning a particular bottle shop here, as there are many good options for buying beer in Bruges. We carried a few bottles back with us, and can now enjoy them at home. I couldn't resist the wooden Gouden Carolus box, which contained two large beer bottles and two glasses. The medieval imagery did it for me once again.

Getting there - I also wanted to add a section for getting to Bruges, as I find that the Eurostar offers such a wonderful service that no other travel options should be considered, at least when coming from England. The journey from St. Pancras station to Brussels is almost too quick to enjoy all the views and the scurrying through the tunnel. There is an excellent board restaurant, where you can have a warm mushroom risotto or a pizza margherita and drink wine. I do enjoy this form of transport a lot, and I'm already planning to book it again. The ticket contains a further travel to any station in Belgium, and the journey from Brussels Zuid to Bruges takes about one hour.

Have you been to Bruges or would you like to go? What are your favourite places?