Dinner by the Seasons
Seasons do not only belong to the fashion industry – they should be seen on your dinner plate as well. When eating according to the season, you are cost-effective, and not overwhelming the environment. During the high season of different ingredients, there is plenty to choose from and it is true that the flavors are on point during the peak seasons. Summer is for strawberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. Fall is for potatoes, corn, and carrots. Citrus fruits are the best during the wintertime and when spring arrives, you could make fresh nettle soup. The Martha Organization (Martat) is a Finnish home economics association and on their website, you can find a lot of seasonal recipes.
When you enjoy cooking – You will succeed. What ingredients gets you excited in the kitchen?
In Finland you can find different mushrooms from the early spring to the late December. July and August are the best months to find chantarelles and boletes. Funnel chantarelle, cousin of the yellow chantarelle, can be found later in the fall.
The funnel chantarelle is delicious and extremely easy to use. It can be found in cold parts of Northern America, and in Europe, including Finland. It has a distinctive look with dark brown, yellowish cap, and a funnel in the middle. It grows in groups, in moss, or around rotten wood. It is also called the winter mushroom since it can be found late in the mushroom season. It is easy to use in cooking. It can also be frozen and dried and used later during the winter. It makes a great soup, it can be used in sauces, or you can add it to bring earthiness to meatballs.
My favorite fall recipe is mushroom cream sauce. If you do not have funnel chantarelles handy, you can use other mushrooms as well. The sauce goes extremely well with boiled potatoes.
Delicious Mushroom Sauce
Roughly 3 deciliters of mushrooms (if using fresh funnel chantarelles, wash and pat to dry before using)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 medium sized onion
Black pepper and salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic
2 deciliters of heavy cream
If using fresh mushrooms, wash, pat to dry, and chop into small pieces. Add the mushrooms to a cold pan and turn the stove on to low/medium heat. This way you will get the excess moistness out of the mushrooms. Let them simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, lightly mixing them. Make sure the mushrooms do not get too dry though. Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and add onto the pan with butter. Add salt and black pepper. I like to add the black pepper in the early stages of my cooking so the taste of it mellows. Let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes and add the cream. Taste and add salt if needed. Chop lots of fresh parsley and add to the sauce right before serving to bring some fresh taste and color. Serve the sauce with boiled potatoes.
If you cannot have funnel chantarelles, you can use yellow chantarelles, or other mushrooms. Champignons do well in this sauce as well. If you are using dried mushrooms, for example later in the winter, you do not have to get the excess water out of them. You can start the recipe with butter, onion, and garlic, and then add the chopped mushrooms into the mixture.
I have a tendency to modify my recipes regarding what I have in my pantry or fridge. You can add green onion, shallots, or sweet mini peppers into this recipe. You can also add Philadelphia cream cheese to make it thicker. Smoked bacon bits will bring extra crunchiness to the sauce.
My husband is from Puerto Rico and I have learned to use different spices through him. My “not-so-secret” ingredient is Adobo. I add it to almost all my recipes and it goes nicely with mushrooms too. You can find it in any Puerto Rican store, as well as in majority of the grocery stores; usually at the international isle. When using Adobo, it is good to remember that it already has salt in it, so taste the sauce before adding extra.
Do you cook Finnish foods here in America? And which ones are your favorite substitute ingredients, if you are not able to find the right mustard (Turun sipappi) or the Aura blue cheese?
Happy fall cooking! Cheers!