28 April 2015

Balsamic glazed vegetables

The 1st of May, Vappu with its eve Walburgis Night, is a big celebration and street carnival in Finland, other Nordic countries and Germany. Especially students love to celebrate it, but also children have their balloons and streamers. It's customary to eat nice finger food and baked goods, have lovely drinks and do picnics in the parks (weather permitting). These customs that I listed here are mainly Finnish and may be different in the other countries. 

I wasn't directly inspired by Vappu to make these balsamic glazed vegetables, but I thought that they could make a nice addition to a picnic or when having friends over for snacks. I can't believe that it's almost May, how quickly is this year actually going!? Anyway, this is how I made my balsamic glazed vegetables.


2 bell peppers
1 garlic clove
200 g baby plum tomatoes
200 g green olives
Fresh basil leaves
Black pepper
Olive oil
Balsamic glaze
Pine nuts
Mozzarella pearls


Cut the peppers into thin strips and chop the garlic finely. Cook them for a couple of minutes in a pan in hot olive oil.

Cut the tomatoes in halves.

Put the vegetables into a bowl and season them with the herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Cover the bowl with cling film and let rest in the fridge for at least one hour. I prefer leaving these overnight.

Serve with salads, pasta, couscous, bread, whatever you can think of!

Hauskaa Vappua! And have nice time even if you are not specifically celebrating any of the early May festivities!

Your VegHog

26 April 2015

Potato pies in spelt crust

I'm back home in England again, but of course my Finland holiday is influencing my cooking more than usual. I brought some lovely Finnish products with me and will be using them in my cooking. Today's recipe is my take on traditional Finnish potato pies.

I have already posted a similar recipe for these pies under the title Finnish potato pies, where you can read the detailed instructions. Only this time I made slightly different pies in spelt crust and unpeeled potatoes, but the making principle is the same. The potato mash maintained such a strong potato flavour as the potatoes weren't peeled and the spelt crust was basically just one of my easy spelt pizza doughs (similar recipe is here). Another difference was that I made these pies a bit bigger and rounder than usual. 

I always think that these pies take a long time to make, but in fact they can be quick especially due to some of the alterations I made this time. Even left-over mash can be used to make these. I'm only saying this to people, who might sometimes have left-over mash. I personally never have that, I love it too much and always eat all of it.

Anyway give these pies a try, they are wonderful served warm with butter!

Your VegHog

25 April 2015

Pasta salad with chickpeas and apples

I'm going to fly back to England later today, so sadly my holiday at home is soon ending. It was good to be here for a few days anyway.

I made this slightly different pasta salad with chickpeas, apples and a three cheese cream sauce. The three cheese cream is a Finnish product that can be purchased in the shops, but it could also be made by combining cream with finely grated cheeses. This combination might sound weird, but I really liked it, especially the apple addition.

Here is the recipe.


250 g fusilli tricolore pasta

250 ml three cheese cream

2 apples

1 small onion

200 g chickpeas

Ground black pepper


Cook the pasta and cool it.

Peel the apples and cut them into small cubes.

Chop the onion finely.

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

Your VegHog


24 April 2015

Red fritters

I don't use beetroot enough in cooking even though it's a brilliant colouring agent. At least it coloured these fritters nice and red. I found these Fritters made of sweet potato, carrot and beetroot quite tasty and a nice colour addition to a plate. They are pretty basic grated vegetable fritters and my recipe is below.


1 sweet potato

1 beetroot

1 carrot

1 onion

2 eggs

6-8 tbsp wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Vegetable oil for frying


Grate the sweet potato, beetroot and carrot and chop the onion finely. Combine them in a bowl.

Add the eggs and flour and stir into an even mix.

Season the mix and heat vegetable oil in a frying pan.

Shape fritters on the pan and fry them on both sides for a few minutes until done.

Remove any excess oil with a kitchen roll.

Then the fritters are ready to be served.

Your VegHog


23 April 2015

In the forest

I guess everyone has a certain landscape or scenery that they associate as a strength giving, safe place. For me that special place is a Finnish forest. Well, a forest in another country will also do, but I prefer a Finnish one, probably because I grew up here and am most familiar with it. It's a place where I can find peace, think undisturbed and just relax. Finnish forests are predominantly tall needle forests (birches are also very common trees) often with large boulders or rocky outcrops. Moss, lichen, mushrooms and berries grow in the Unterholz. Now of course it's way too early for berries or mushrooms, but they can be picked in late summer and autumn - a popular family activity. I was lucky enough to grow up in the quiet countryside and my parents and grandparents always taught me many things about the forest, as we were frequently there.

At the moment there are warnings in this area of bears and elks on the move, so I wasn't too keen on going into a deep remote forest risking bumping into a bear cub with an angry parent. So me and my mum chose a forest walk in a nearby smaller forest, where there is also a wooden observation tower for seeing the surrounding scenery. It's a lovely walk and it was good to be back there, as I hadn't been for a while.

Here are some of the photos I took on our sunny stroll. Maybe you'll get an idea what it looks like around here (there is something else as well apart from the forest, but not depicted here). By the way, there was still little snow in places!


22 April 2015

Kaalilaatikko - Finnish cabbage casserole

I have been enjoying my time back home in Finland just relaxing and visiting family. I asked my mum, if she would teach me how to make this dish called Kaalilaatikko. So we had serene cooking moments making it and at the same time observing a red squirrel on the yard. Kaalilaatikko is a traditional Finnish dish made of cabbage, mince meat and rice. We of course made a vegetarian version with soya mince. I was never too fond of cabbage dishes as a child, but my taste has developed and become much more versatile, and I was curious to have this casserole again after a long break. I really liked it and will surely sometimes make it in the future.

Here's the recipe.


1 kg white cabbage

1 onion

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 dl soya mince

Salt, pepper and thyme to taste

1,5 dl rice

4-6 tbsp dark syrup

2 dl cream


Chop the cabbage and put the pieces into boiling water. Boil them for a few minutes until they become translucent and then leave in the pot while you make the other preparations. Save the cabbage cooking water for later when draining the cabbage.

Chop the onion finely and fry in oil. Add the soya mince (my mince was dried and needed to be boiled first) to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Boil the rice until it's done or little al dente. Instead of rice also pearled spelt or barley can be used.

Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the cream and syrup and and put the mix into an oven dish. You can pour a little syrup on the top as well.

Bake at 175C for about one hour. Add some of the cabbage boiling water onto the surface during the baking so that it doesn't dry out.


Your VegHog


20 April 2015

Rye crisps with fresh vegetables and cottage cheese

Guess what, I'm on holiday again. Last week was very hectic, busy, full of work etc., but now I can have a little break. I'm visiting my family in Finland, so it's a suitable time to post about rye crisp canapés. I made them with different vegetables and cottage cheese. These were very nice spring snacks, yet somewhat filling thanks to cottage cheese and rye.

These are the ingredients I used:

Rye crisps
Baby plum tomatoes
Fresh basil
Cottage cheese
Salt + ground black pepper

I'm buying the rice crisps in Finland whenever I'm on holiday, but you can maybe get similar products where ever you live.

To make the canapés I just chopped baby plum tomatoes, cucumber, radishes and fresh basil into small cubes and filled some rye crisps with them and cottage cheese. 

Have a nice week!

Your VegHog

18 April 2015

Potato pizza

I was partly influenced by my trip to Copenhagen and partly by the Vegetable Palette food blogging challenge to make this potato pizza. I have been planning this sort of a pizza for ages, but never made one. I made this in the style of a fried pizza (first stage is on a frying pan, then oven), like I have made a few before. In the meanwhile I think that it's the best way to get a crispy crusted pizza with a regular oven. The pizza turned out to be lovely, so from now on I will be making such potato pizzas more often. I used my typical spelt crust as the base and rosemary as seasoning. 

Naturally I want to share this post with the Vegetable Palette for April, where the theme for this month is “White vegetables”. The challenge is hosted by Shaheen from the A2K - A Seasonal Veg Table

Here is my Potato pizza recipe:


Spelt crust:

2 tbsp dry yeast
200 g wheat flour
200 g spelt flour
2 tsp salt
350 ml lukewarm water
3 tbsp olive oil


1 small onion
1 garlic clove
3-5 potatoes depending on the size
Mozzarella pearls
Sea salt
Black pepper
Fresh rosemary
Olive oil


Make the pizza dough first: Mix the dry ingredients, then add water and olive oil and knead. Let the dough rise in a bowl under a tea towel for about one hour. Later roll out thin pizzas from it.

Chop the onion in thin half rings and the garlic finely. Cut the potatoes into thin slices. I didn't peel mine, as then the potato taste was even more intense.

Cook the potato slices in boiling water for about 5 minutes so that they are pretty much cooked. Put them into a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, seas salt and black pepper and mix. Leave them in the bowl for about 5 minutes.

Heat a large frying pan with a metal handle to the highest setting and place the pizza dough on the dry pan. Place the toppings onto the pizza and leave in the pan for a couple of minutes. Then put the whole pan into the oven under the grill at 250C. Leave in the oven until baked and golden brown. It can take only a couple of minutes or a little bit longer depending on the power of the oven.

Serve immediately and enjoy! Have good pizza moments!

Your VegHog

16 April 2015

Stuffed portobello mushrooms with pearled spelt

I think that stuffed mushrooms are always a good idea and I have served them in a variety of combinations. I quickly came up with these ones stuffed with pearled spelt for a light weekday dinner.

Four stuffed portobellos make a neat starter for four people or a main for two people with some side dishes.


4 portobello mushrooms
1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup pearled spelt
1 vegetable stock cube
50 g mature cheddar
Fresh sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
10 g pine nuts


Remove the stalks of the mushrooms and chop the stalks finely. Also chop the shallot and garlic. Cook these in olive oil for a few minutes and then add the pearled spelt, vegetable stock cube and about 250 ml water. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes until the spelt is cooked and season the mix with salt, pepper and sage.

Grate the cheese and mix with the spelt. Stuff the mushrooms with the mix. Coarsely chop the pine nuts and sprinkle on top of the mushrooms.

Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes. Serve instantly and enjoy! Very easy!

Your VegHog

15 April 2015

Newcomers on the balcony

Whilst my own crops that I'm growing from seeds are still fairly small, all of those plants have now moved outdoors. Since last week it has been quite nice and warm here and on the weekend I finally had time to do a bit more balcony gardening. Additionally to my seedlings I bought some new specimens to add to the balcony. Here is a small introduction to the newcomers.

Chilli Pepper Trinidad Perfume is a chilli plant producing fruit with melon and apricot flavours and it's extremely mild. It is supposed to have the taste of a traditional fruity habanero, but without the heat. That sounds like it's just the right chilli for me, as I'm a real lightweight what comes to spicy food.

Red Gauntlet Strawberry is a fast growing variation and I hope to be getting a few tasty strawberries. Together with the Pegasus Strawberry it can hopefully grow me some fruit. The Pegasus produces mid-small soft fruits and is also a very productive plant.

I also want to mention another fact about my balcony gardening. I don't have a car, so carrying heavy soil bags from the shops isn't a very attractive option. Luckily, years ago I detected this product at Ikea: Kokosnöt! The small and light soil block made out of coir and coconut husk, swells to 15 litres of soil when mixed with water. And that's not the whole beauty of it. It's also made from renewable materials and doesn't contain peat, so you are saving the environment at the same time. I have grown my plants in Kokosnöt for years and they have been doing well. It's also very convenient to store in small flats. I can only recommend it to every gardener without wanting to sound like an Ikea ad campaign.

What I also like to do at the moment, is purchasing a fresh bouquet of spring flowers, preferably tulips, and just get joy by looking at them. It's a lovely thing to have when my own plants still need to develop a bit to turn the balcony green.

How are your gardens and plants currently doing? Are you excited about the growing season?

Your VegHog

14 April 2015

Black rice with roasted vegetables and halloumi

I have been fancying unusual coloured food lately, especially black, which is slightly weird for the spring season. Anyhow, I saw this black rice at my local health food shop and was curious to try it. I planned for me quite a typical weekday meal around it and here are the results. I made a black rice dish with roasted bell peppers and plum tomatoes and fried halloumi. I liked it very much and will surely be making similar dishes in the future.


2 bell peppers
250 g baby plum tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup black rice
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
250 g halloumi
½ tbsp vegetable oil for frying
2 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chilli flakes


I cooked everything separately first: Roasted the bell pepper and baby plum tomatoes in the oven; boiled the black rice in water with vegetable stock powder; fried the halloumi cubes in vegetable oil and then combined them. Here are more detailed instructions.

Cut the bell peppers into coarse pieces and brush them and the tomatoes with olive oil. Roast in the oven until they have distinct roasting marks. I did the roasting in separate dishes, as the tomatoes can come out of the oven a bit earlier.

Cook the black rice in water with added vegetable stock powder. Fry the halloumi cubes in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Start cooking the finely chopped shallots and garlic in olive oil. Then add the rice, roasted tomatoes and spices to it. Cook until the flavours have blended nicely and the rice is fully cooked.

Serve together with the roasted bell peppers (which can also be mixed in, I just didn't want them to turn purple for the presentation) and halloumi.

What do you think, does black or weird coloured food appeal to you or rather not? I wouldn't always want to have it, but it can be a nice change.

Your VegHog