The year has changed (luckily) and you have permission to enjoy the new year with some great flavors.
It is traditional to enjoy Blinis in Finland during the months of January and February. Many restaurants promote Blini-weeks having special toppings and fillings to set them apart from the competition. Blinis are traditionally small, savory, ”pancakes” and depending of which part of Finland you come from you might choose different toppings. Quite common choices are fish roe, creme fraiche, pickles, and red onion. Blinies landed to Finland from Russia, where this treat is extremely traditional. If you cannot find these in your local Finnish or Russian restaurant, you can make them also at home. And if your mom’s recipe is not available, you can find many different recipes online. If you decide to host, make sure you reserve all day for the prepping, and make enough of blinis since these are a treat for sure. You can find easy blini recipe here.
Interesting fact: Blinis used to be baked in the oven instead of making them on a pan like you see them done these days. The dough was risen with yeast and the blinis were never flipped while baking in the oven. Many families that have cooked blinis during their lifetime, have a cast iron pan just for this purpose. It is the perfect fit to make one blini at a time and remember, it is never washed. You simply heat salt on it, wipe it clean with a clean cloth and store it away until your next blini dinner party.
The beginning of the year usually reminds us of snow, sledding, hot chocolate or glogg and of course semlas, or like we like to call them in Finnish “laskiaispulla”. Semla is actually a Swedish word where the treat migrated to Finland. Unfortunately, we can’t really enjoy snow in Florida, even though the weather has been cooler than normally during the first days of the year, but luckily, we can surely get semlor (plural of semla in Swedish) from the local Nordic Bakeries.
If you are thinking of placing an order for some laskiaispulla, make sure to identify if you are ordering a Finnish or the Swedish version of it. Swedes have always put almond paste into their buns and when the treat came to Finland around 1800, we just simply couldn’t afford it. Originally the buns were eaten with warm milk and later we filled them with jam and whipped cream. Shrove Tuesday will be celebrated on February 16th this year.
Did you know that January 11th is the “traditional” hot toddy day? This drink will keep you nice and warm during the chillier days and you can easily alter this traditional drink to reflect our Nordic heritage. You can add a hint of cardamom into your drink and it will for sure remind you of the traditional Finnish Pulla (sweet bun dough used to make e.g. Finnish cinnamon rolls). Cardamom can be easily found in many local grocery stores and you can usually buy it in the pods as well as already grinded. You could also add a cardamom plant into your own garden. It seems to be an easy plant to take care of. It likes shade but needs some passing sunlight. Direct, burning hot sun makes it leaves to turn brown. Cardamom needs plenty of water when it is growing and when in resting mode, watering once a week is just enough. A Finnish gardening website states that when grown in a planter box, it might not bloom at all. One reason might be that it prefers more an actual garden and seems like Florida weather would be suitable for this plant.
January and February are filled with all kinds of different days including Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18th. February is Black History Month and Chinese New Year is celebrated on February 12th. Many couples get together to enjoy romantic dinners on Valentine’s day and perhaps this year is dedicated to trying something new, like Raclette. New year is filled with amazing dates with different traditional treats and we hope your year starts tastily. Share your secret recipes below to bring joy to us all. Thanks.