Month: September 2015

Finnish Pulla Bread with Cinnamon & Cardamom

This recipe is the Scandinavian version of a cinnamon roll. But better. Not as sickeningly sweet as their Amercian counterparts, the dough is yeasty & just slightly sweet, the filling is flavorful and not excessive, and they are delicious without any type of gooey white icing on top. If you would like, you can top with crushed cardamom seeds or almonds after the egg wash. Completely by accident, I made these the same night I made chili for my kids for dinner. Chili & cinnamon rolls are some sort of weird Midwestern combo that I have never understood. Possibly a native Midwesterner can explain it to me?

A side note: cardamom is awesome & a cornerstone of the Nordic flavor profile. It is expensive, but a little goes a long way. I would recommend *not* buying the pods if possible. Use seeds or ground seeds. I had the pods leftover from when I made spiced rum & it was extremely time-consuming & labor-intensive to open a pile of pods & remove the seeds from within.


As I was taking the seeds out of the cardamom pods, I was reminded of this passage from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. #nerdalert

Pulla Bread with Cinnamon & Cardamom

makes 16 large rolls


for the dough:

  • 4 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2C warmed milk (2% or whole is best)
  • 7C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2C granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

for the filling:

  • 18 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1C granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • slivered almonds, or crushed cardamom seeds, for garnish (if desired)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Warm the milk in the microwave. As with any liquid you are adding yeast to, you will need it to be warm, not hot. In my microwave, it took about 1 min.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together warm milk and yeast. Set aside for at least 5 mins, or until frothy.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir until combined.
  5. Add the butter, a tbsp at a time, waiting for each addition to combine before adding the next.
  6. Knead for 6-8 mins, until dough is elastic & slightly sticky.
  7. Put the dough in a larger bowl that is oiled or buttered (here I recommend either butter or cooking spray), cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  8. Meanwhile, prep the filling: combine the butter, granulated sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until combined.
  9. Lightly dust your work surface with about 2 tbsp of flour. Turn the risen dough out and divide in 2 (I found that this was alot of dough to work with at once).
  10. With a rolling pin, roll it out to about 1/2″ thick. Ideally, the shape of the dough should be as close to rectangular as possible, but don’t worry if your dough is slightly rounded at the edges.
  11. Spread half the filling evenly over the dough, reaching all the way to the edges, then, beginning with a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 8 rolls.
  12. Repeat the above process with the other half of the dough.
  13. On two baking sheets with parchment paper arrange eight Pulla on each sheet, making sure they are about 2 inches apart. Cover Pulla with plastic wrap and allow them to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. They will double in size. (Hence the spacing.)
  14. Brush the pulla with the beaten egg and sprinkle with cardamom seeds or slivered almonds, if desired.
  15. Bake for 10 mins or until golden brown. Serve warm with a cup of strong coffee.

    adapted from a recipe from

Fill-in-the-Blank Bread

So here’s a little quick-bread recipe you can use all year round. I’ve done it with zucchini, pumpkin, and bananas but you could use carrot, squash or almost any other fruit or vegetable that you like. I like this recipe because it’s simple & I almost always have all the ingredients on-hand. Great for breakfast, or an after-school snack for the kiddies!

Fill-in-the-Blank Bread

makes 1 loaf


  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C quick oats (uncooked)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 3 C your fruit or veg of choice (When I did pumpkin i used 1 15-oz can of pureed pumpkin)
  • 1/2 C walnuts, raisins, or craisins (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine all dry ingredients.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a whisk to combine.
  4. With mixer on medium speed, add egg mixture to dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. Add fruit or veg, stir until combined. Scrape down sides of mixture as needed.
  6. If desired, add nuts or dried fruit. Give the mixer a quick stir to distribute throughout batter.
  7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour to an hour 15 mins. Until a toothpick inserted into loaf comes out clean.
  8. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack for at least 10 mins before slicing.

Pumpkin Spice Kombucha

I know, I know… it’s pumpkin-spice-everything time! But there’s a reason everyone goes loco for all things pumpkin & spice at this time of year… BECAUSE IT’S DELICIOUS! And not to toot my own horn or anything, but this is the tastiest flavored kombucha I’ve made to date. Real talk. Usually, what I do when I’m flavoring kombucha is do all the brewing & fermenting, then after the booch is filtered I will add some frozen fruit & let it sit on my counter in the jar with the lid loosened for another 24 hours. Usually I will end up with some secondary fermentation & a little fizziness. Some of my favorite flavors are peach & basil, black cherry, and mixed berry (cranberries, raspberries, and blueberries).

This kombucha contains actual pumpkin, which is great for your eyesight, reducing “bad” cholesterol, and keeping your skin wrinkle-free! And it’s tasty too!


I totally agree Charlie!

Pumpkin Spice Kombucha

makes 2 qts


  • 4 tbsp pureed pumpkin (use canned or make your own)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmug
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 qts kombucha


  1. In a small bowl combine pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices.
  2. Pour kombucha into a large pitcher.
  3. Add pumpkin mixture to kombucha & stir well to combine.

    I used this type of whisk.

    I used this type of whisk.

  4. Pour mixture into two 1-quart jars. Screw lids on loosely. Let jars sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours.
  5. Before drinking you will need to shake your kombucha, as the pumpkin mixture will sink to the bottom.
  6. An alternative method is to place half the pumpkin mixture directly into two 1-quart jars of kombucha, put on the lids tightly & shake well. Then, loosen the lids and allow kombucha to sit at room temp for at least 8 hours before drinking.

Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog

It’s that magical time of year, so here’s pumpkins, apples, and all things fall!

Originally posted October 2014.

Yesterday I went apple picking and picked out some pumpkins. Yes, I was THAT GIRL, walking around the orchard in a scarf and a chambray shirt, picking apples. Today I have more apples than you can shake a stick at. Hence, today’s Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog: apples, pumpkins, and warm spices. Put on your riding boots and let’s embrace autumn!

Slow-Roasted Pork Loin with Apples, Carrots, and Onions

4-5 apples, skins on, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Pork Loin, about 3 lbs
Salt & pepper, to taste
Wine, enough to cover

1) In a crockpot or slow-cooker spread a layer of apples, onions, and carrots.


The apples we picked were golden delicious and another one that was “like a Jonathan”. I used a little of both, and threw in a couple of carrots since I had them laying around.

2) Lay the pork loin over the apples, onions, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper.


My 3-pound pork loin actually ended up being 2 smaller ones packed together. I’m cool with that, leftover pork loin makes awesome sandwiches and can even be chopped and used as an omlette filling!

3) Pour wine over everything until mostly covered. I used Briolette Apple wine (shout out to my new gig) but you could use a Riesling or even beer in it’s place.


The wine pictured is Briolette Cut, a seasonal Apple wine from my new gig at Weston Wine Company!

4) Slow cook at 200F 8-10 hours or until tender, serve over noodles, or with roasted potatoes.

Roasted Pumpkin Purée
Make your own puréed pumpkin and never buy canned again! The possibilities are endless!

2 pumpkins, I used one regular pie pumpkin and one Amish pie pumpkin


On the left is the regular pie pumpkin, on the right is the Amish. Pie pumpkins are in general better for making pies because there is way more flesh inside. I decided to try both to see what the difference was.1) Preheat oven to 350F

2) Cut the pumpkins into quarters and remove the stems. The stem on the Amish pumpkin popped off much more easily than the stem on the regular pumpkin.


Here’s the inside of the Amish pumpkin. The seeds are quite a bit smaller than a traditional pie pumpkin. No extra charge for dramatic lighting. 🙂

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o' lantern out of this baby.

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o’ lantern out of this baby.

3) Scoop out the seeds and gooey stuff and set aside. Toasted pumpkin seeds are yummy!

4) Place skin-side-down on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 45 mins.
5) Remove from oven and allow pumpkins to cool at least 10 mins until able to handle easily.

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

6) When cooled, remove flesh from skins and place in blender. Blend flesh until smooth. I added about 1/4 C of water to help it blend more smoothly.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

7) Allow to cool at least 30 mins. Maybe be frozen or used immediately in place of canned pumpkin, such as in pumpkin pie. This recipe made enough pumpkin purée for 2 9-inch deep-dish pies. The equivalent of about 2 cans.

Creamy Salmon Soup AKA “Lohikeitto”

Remember the Legit Fish Stock I made the other day? It made 4 quart-size mason jars full, and here’s what I made with 2 of them. This recipe is for a salmon soup, known in Finland as Lohikeitto. You pronounce it like this. It’s a simple, hearty soup that’s surprisingly filling. I actually adapted it from a recipe, translated from Finnish with metric measurements changed over. You’re welcome. If you’re interested, you can find the original recipe on my Pinterest board, Viking Grub.

Creamy Salmon Soup

makes 4-6 servings


  • 1 15-oz can Pink or Red Alaskan Salmon
  • 2 quarts fish Stock
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced fine
  • 4 cardamom pods, smashed open
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 C half-and-half
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • dill or chives for garnish (optional)
  • salt & white pepper (to taste)


  1. In a medium dutch oven or a large pot, bring stock to a boil.
  2. When the stock is boiling, add onion, cardamom pods, nutmeg, and bay leaves.
  3. Add the potatoes to the boiling stock and cook for about 10 mins.
  4. Remove the cardamom pods and bay leaves from the broth.
  5. Remove the salmon from the can. Examine it for any small bones or residual bits of skin, and remove these. The can that I used contained most of a spinal column and a few pin bones and I’m not really too into having that in my soup so I pulled them out.  IMG_1019
  6. Break the salmon into bite-sized chunks and add to the soup. Simmer soup at medium-high heat for about 5 mins.
  7. Add the half-and-half and the butter, heat for about 5 mins at medium heat, or until the butter is melted.
  8. Taste the soup and add salt and white pepper to taste. I found the fish & stock to be salty enough, so I didn’t feel that I needed to add any salt.
  9. Serve warm and topped with dill or chives, if desired, with a few slices of dark bread for sopping up the broth.

Legit Fish Stock

Nordic is the new black. I’m not kidding. Check out my new Pinterest board Viking Grub. Nordic food & the Nordic diet are getting ready to have a serious moment. Mark my words. What constitutes a Nordic diet? That’s a great question & I’m glad you asked… berries (think the lingonberries you get alongside your meatballs at IKEA), root vegetables, dark grains (like rye), a subtle flavor profile with spices like cardamon & dill, and seafood. Lots of seafood. Hence my preparation of a legit fish stock. You can make a “cheaters” fish stock of sorts using things like shrimp shells to provide the “fishy” flavor. This is not an option for me since I shouldn’t really be eating shellfish (allergies: sad face). And so,with temperatures dropping, and autumn imminent, I bring you the prelude to my upcoming adventures in Nordic cuisine…


I felt very special when I arrived at Whole Foods and received these… **BONUS** He spelled my name correctly!

Legit Fish Stock


  • 2 pounds fish parts (heads, tails, bones etc) You don’t want to use any fish that are too oily to make stock. I ended up using red snapper, and 2 pounds ended up being 2 full snapper carcasses.
  • 1 pound of carrots, roughly chopped (Remember, when you’re making stock it’s OK to leave the skins on.)
  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped (I chop the top & bottom of the onion off & remove the skin.)
  • half a head of celery (4-6 stalks), roughly chopped (Leave on the leaves!)
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 12 C water
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 1/4 C dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven heat EVOO over medium high heat.
  2. Add celery, carrots, and onion & sweat until translucent but not browned.


    See? I leave the leaves on my celery and the carrots are not peeled…

  3. Season with salt & pepper, if desired.
  4. Pour in white wine and bring to a boil. Breathe in the delicious aromas deeply…
  5. Add the fish carcasses and cover with water. I like to use water that I have already heated in my electric kettle because it makes the wait-time until boiling shorter.
  6. Add the vinegar and bring it to a boil.
  7. At this point you may want to skim off any scum that rises to the top. I use a tool that looks like this:  skimmer
  8. Add the parsley & bay leaves to the pot. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 4 hours.
  9. Let stock cool for 1-2 hours, fish out the large bits of bone & veggies with a slotted spoon.
  10. Strain stock through a cheesecloth and can or freeze until ready to use.

**NOTE** You can carefully sift through the bones & pick out some lovely bits of fish that you can use in your soup or in place of canned tuna in a later application. Let me emphasize the word CAREFULLY. Fish carcasses have a lot of small, sharp bones, so be safe!  safety