|Sini signing her cookbooks at the Kuura launch at |
the Finnish Ambassador's Residence
The flavours of Nordic cuisine have become ever more popular in recent years as Scandinavian design, lifestyle and drama have penetrated the public consciousness in the United Kingdom.
In spite of its apparent ease and simplicity, cooking the Nordic way with ingredients available in Britain can be tricky. To help navigate the cross-cultural gastronomy, Sini Kiialainen, Chef for the Finnish Ambassador to London, has created Kuura, a Nordic cookbook designed for the British audience.
‘I began writing the book after receiving many requests for my recipes, and I’m very proud of how it turned out,’ says Sini Kiialainen.
Born in Finland, Sini moved to London at the age of 18. She has made an impressive 12-year career on the London restaurant scene, and Kuura draws its inspiration from Sini’s extensive work for a variety of diplomatic occasions, be it intimate meetings over coffee, luncheons, formal dinners or large receptions.
For me the most inspired recipe is the ‘posh’ mini meat and rice pasties (lihapiirakka). But these lihapiirakka are million miles away from some of the worst examples of this classic street food that you just must have after a night out in Finland, when some drinks have been consumed...you know the kind of moment! Having tasted Sini's pasties at the launch of Kuura, I can vouch for their authentic and excellent flavour.
‘Every time I see that picture I want to make the meat and rice pasties again,’ Sini said when we chatted about her new book at the Finn-Guild office yesterday.
I love lihapiirakka in all their incarnations (even the greasy ones sold from a van), but the Englishman has a love/hate relationship with this Finnish version of the late-night kebab. He believes a drunk and hungry Scot, while visiting Finland, must’ve invented the deep-fried savoury pasties. (This is a reference to deep-fried Mars bars, I think). When I told him that I’d tasted a posh version, he couldn’t quite believe it.
So to prove a point, here it is – exclusively on my blog - Sini’s Beef and Rice Pasties (to be served with Pickled Cucumber and Mustard Mayonnaise). I bet you’ll fall in love with them just as I and all the Finnish Ambassador’s guests did!
Beef and Rice Pasties
MAKES 12-15 LARGE PASTIES
This is the best street food imaginable after a night out. My husband loves them. Rare treat though.
500 g beef mince
1/2 bulb of garlic
2 - 3 tablespoons of oregano
1 tablespoon of all spice
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of anchovy sauce
6 drops of Worcestershire sauce
sea salt & black pepper
250 g boiled arborio rice
30 g fresh yeast
500 ml warm water
750 g strong white bread flour
25 g caster sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
50 ml olive oil
plus 2 litres of veg oil for deep frying
Start with the filling. Boil the arborio rice for 10 - 15 minutes, or until al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set to the side.
Brown the beef mince in a frying pan. Add finely chopped onion and garlic and fry lightly for a few minutes. Add spices, anchovy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Add the rice to the mixture.
Then make the bread dough. Dissolve fresh yeast into warm water. Add all of the other ingredients and mix well for 3 minutes. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for 4 - 5 minutes.
Leave the dough in a bowl, covered with a tea towel in a warm place for 30 - 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Knead the dough once more and divide into 12 - 15 balls and roll them out to approx. 1cm thick discs. Spoon in the filling to bottom half of the base, fold the top part over the filling and crimp the edges carefully shut using cold water to glue the edges together.
Deep fry at 180 °C for a few minutes per side or until golden brown.
To buy your own copy of Kuura, go to www.sinikiialainen.com
There's a limited number of copies for sale to members of Finn-Guild at the Camden office.