Food Trek – The Flex Generation

Kitchen. The Final Frontier.


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Summertime special – Pike burgers & mayo with dill

Just before summer, one of my favorite gastropubs in Tampere, Ravintola Esplanadi, closed its doors. Even though the decor and location could have been better, they compensated these deficiencies with great beers (brewed by Plevna) and with great local food.

So, when I caught a pike at my parents’ cabin earlier this summer, it was easy to decide what to make out of it: a tribute to one of Esplanadi’s finest pub cuisines of summertime. Unfortunately Plevna beers are missing from the picture, since in Finland you can not sell out your beer from your brewery.

In any case, here are the recipes that I modified to fit our taste from other sources (1 & 2):

Mayo with dill

  • 1 yolk of egg
  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1,5 dl of canola oil
  • 50 g of fresh dill

Mix first the yolk of egg, mustard and vinegar. Then mix in the canola oil while stirring continously. Drop first just some drops of the oil, and then the rest as a continous, thin stream. After mixing the oil, add dill. Please note that all ingredients should be of same temperature: either fresh out the refridgerator or then of room temperature.

mayo

Pike burger patties

  • 500 g fillet of pike
  • 1,5 tsp of salt
  • some white pepper
  • some lemon pepper
  • 1-1,5 dl of rye flour
  • 2 dl soy cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 spring onion and some chives

Once you have acquired the pike, use the blender to turn it into a smooth mass. Mix the other ingredients (onions and chives chopped up into really little pieces!) in an another bowl, adding the egg as a last ingredient. Mix the pike with other ingredients in order to make little patties. Fry the patties in a pan (the one you use for pancakes, preferably) so that they get nice golden colour – the pan shouldn’t be too hot.

When you have the patties and the mayo, you can make your burgers. This time you don’t even need so much else stuff between the burger: just some nicely roasted potatoes and a fresh salad on the side will do.

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Halloween Special: Vegan Facehugger Cake

We at The Flex Generation -blog have been slightly busy in the past two weeks (e.g. Jaakko got elected as the vice member of Tampere City Council) so unfortunately our Halloween Special is a bit late. However, this Facehugger Cake is excellent addition to any party table: we served it for the first time in my graduation party which had, naturally, a science fiction theme.

VEGAN FACEHUGGER CAKE

Facehugger wants revenge… It has been severed already…

For the swiss roll

3 decilitres wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 decilitres sugar
2 decilitres water
0,25 decilitres vegetable oil

For the filling

2 decilitres oat- or soybased whipping cream
2 decilitres crushed lingonberries (with sugar)

For the topping

1 tube of marzipan
some salmiac (salty liquorice) powder

First, prepare the swiss roll. In a bowl, mix wheat flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and sugar. Add water and oil, stir as little as possible. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and spread it evenly. Bake in the oven heated to 225 degrees celsius for 8 to 10 minutes. The sponge does not have to be brown when you remove it from the oven. Turn the sponge out onto a piece of greaseproof paper. Cut the edges of the sponge off.

For the filling, whip oat- or soybased whipping cream double and mix it with crushed lingonberries. Then spread the mixture onto the sponge, leaving a small gap around the edges. Roll the sponge carefully. Then cut the roll into slices and build a heap or a mound of them onto the serving plate or tray.

For the topping, roll 3/4 of marzipan out as thin, round sheet. Place the marzipan sheet on top of the mound of slices and make sure that the edges of the sheet are tucked under the mound. The surface should be intact and elastic as a thick skin.

Dust the cake with salmiac powder (or icing sugar, the one made out of cane sugar is especially fitting). Make 6 or 8 thin legs out of remaining marzipan.

Place the Facehugger into a refridgerator at least for few hours. Enjoy with courageous friends (who are able to appreciate your efforts…)


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Having Some Tapas When Electioneering

The city council election is coming up, and I invited some fellow green candidates for tapas on friday night. The menu was simple and vegetarian, including

– Fried corn cob slices
– Fried red pepper
– Marinated mushrooms
– Manchego cheese
– Homestyle rosemary chips (the recipe is in a earlier post)
– Baguette

Marinated mushrooms need some preparing in advance. Mix up 1 dl of oil, 0,5 dl of honey, 0,25 dl of vinegar, and some basil or oregano (or both). Add a little hint of salt. When the ingredients are mixed up, you can add around 400 g of mushrooms (champignon) to marinade. Leave the mushrooms in marinade for couple of hours.

Marinated mushrooms, baguette and manchego

Manchego cheese and baguette are easy to serve: just slice the bread and cheese in to smallish portions.

Fried corn cob slices and red pepper were also to prepare. Slice the peppers to longish bits and slice up the corn cobs into 4 or 5 pieces (with a good saw-blazed knife). After that, warm up some canola oil with good amount of ground pepper and chili in it, and then add the peppers. When peppers are softened a bit, you can add corn cob slices. Let them get some color too.

Fried corn cob slices and red pepper

 

WHAT TO DRINK WITH IT?

Normally we serve tapas with light red wine (like this fine Chilean). But because we went to hand out leaflets afterwards, we drank mainly lager and mineral water.


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Wonderful Vegan Banana Chocolate Muffins

One of the most important aspects of a good work place is undoubtedly a good coffee group, and you must always be willing to look after the wellbeing of your fellow coffee addicts. Tomorrow my colleagues at University of Tampere will be enjoying my favourite vegan banana chocolate muffins – it is Friday, after all.

I encourage everyone to bake these muffins for their colleagues (or friends). They are easy to bake, easy to carry from home to work, and simply delicious. Serve them with a steaming cup of coffee (or tea), sympathy and collegial support.

BANANA CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
(20 muffins)

2-3 bananas (ripe)
125 grams soft, vegan margarine, melted (or approximately 1,5-2 decilitres vegetable oil)
2,3 decilitres (125 grams) wheat flour
1,5–2 decilitres brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cooca powder
2 tablespoons soy or oat milk
40-100 grams dark chocolate

Mash the bananas with a fork or a mixer. Add the melted margarine (or oil). Mix the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, bicarb, cocoa powder and vanilla extract together and add this mixture to banana mixture, blending with a mixer at the same time. While mixing, add two tablespoons of soy or oat milk. Chop the dark chocolate with a knife or scissors into small pieces – the amount of chocolate depends on how ‘chocolaty’ you want your muffins. Add the chocolate chunks into the mixture, then spoon it in muffin paper cups (one spoonful per cup should be enough). Bake in the oven heated to 200 C for 15–20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be dark and rounded. Allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!

I like my muffins frrrresh and juicy…


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The Best Red Lentil Soup Ever

This is one of my all-time favourite vegetarian recipes, and it is vegan if you don’t serve the soup with cottage cheese or smetana. This is excellent meal to warm up the chilly October evenings – enjoy with friends!

red lentil soup

We served the lentil soup with smetana. Delicious!

RED LENTIL SOUP
for 6 persons

1 large red onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil (e.g. cold pressed canola oil)
1-3 teaspoons curry
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 teaspoons ground paprika
1,2 litres of vegetable bouillion
3 desilitres red lentils
2-3 potatoes, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 desilitres tomato purée
some black pepper
some salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
Sunflower seeds
Serve with: Cottage cheese or smetana

In a large pot, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in curry and ground paprika. Add vegetable bouillion, lentils, potatoes, tomato paste and tomato purée. Simmer about 20-25 minutes. Taste and stir in black pepper, salt, juice of lemon and sunflower seeds. Simmer until potatoes are soft. You can decorate the portions with slices of lemon and cottage cheese or smetana. Enjoy with good bread & fresh green salad.

P.S. We served this soup in our pop-up restaurant which supported Finnish presidential candidate Pekka Haavisto in last February.


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Science Fiction Made Me a Vegetarian

We no longer enslave animals for food purposes.
– Will Riker, Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Lonely Among Us”

What do science fiction and going vegetarian or vegan have in common? Science fiction scholar Darko Suvin has coined the term novum (latin for ‘new thing’) in order to describe the (scientific) innovations and novelties distinguishing science fiction from fantasy fiction. To put it briefly, novum is an element by which the work is shown to exist in a different world than that of the reader or the spectator. It must be validated by cognitive logic, which means that the audience must be able to  extrapolate it of today’s science – if  the novum in question is the warp drive, for example. However, a novum can be something completely different that a scientific innovation: it can also be an idea, like elimination of gender in Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). Even if these ideas were strange, in science fiction they are grounded in the world we know and therefore they are capable of estranging us from our everyday conceptions. The reader of Le Guin’s novel might think something along the lines of “Yes, I’m familiar with the idea of gender, but… ‘The king was pregnant?’ What the…?”

What if we had Romulan ale in pubs in Tampere?

Since I was raised in a quite “ordinary” Finnish family, I feel that going vegetarian introduced a novum of one kind into this world. When I was a child, I ate animals almost every day: my favourite dishes included spaghetti bolognese (my father used to make the best sauce ever), chicken breast in sweet curry sauce (one of my mother’s bravuras) and fried Baltic herring fillets. Of course, we sometimes ate vegetarian dishes such as vegetable soups or cauliflower gratin, but giving up eating meat completely would have been a really strange idea – definitely like something out of a science fiction novel. So why did I ever choose going vegetarian?

If we were to one day encounter a form of life more powerful and intelligent than our own, and it regarded us as we regard fish, what would be our argument against being eaten?
– Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

What if, indeed? “What if” is one of the most common starting points for a science fiction work, and this is also why science fiction was once dubbed as a “literature of ideas”. This means that science fiction is not only concerned with science or fascinating new gadgets, but also with consequences. In science fiction, it is possible to explore and examine endless variety of ideas, and during the years science fiction has certainly taught me to weigh the consequences of my actions and choices in a much more intellectual way. Finally, it was not that hard to present the question myself: “What if I went vegetarian?”

[T]here’s nothing like constructing a world, or recognising a constructed world, for teaching you to see your own world as a construct.
– Gwyneth Jones, Deconstructing the Starships

All in all, constructing a coherent model of the world we live in is one of our primary “survival strategies”.  We tend to see the world as a neat and simple network of entities, events and causes, because it makes our life a lot easier. Unfortunately it also lets us forget that our model of the world is not natural or inevitable. Eating animals on a daily basis, or at all, is not necessary. Good fiction such as challenging science fiction novels reminds us that things do not necessarily have to be the way are. It is possible to invent something new, to ask new questions, and to make a change.


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Jaakko’s Famous Chanterelle Tart

Jaakko’s chanterelle tart has got many fans over the years. It has been served in several occassions with great success, and this is why we decided to share the recipe in this blog.

Nowadays you don’t even have try your luck in the forest in order to get mushrooms: you can get chantarelles from almost every one of  the bigger stores in Tampere city centre.

CHANTERELLE TART

2 desilitres wheat flour
0,5 desilitres rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
0,5 teaspoon salt
1 desilitres water
2 tablespoons canola oil

For the filling

2,5 desilitres fresh chanterelles, cut into smallish pieces
2 small onions, chopped
2 desilitres oat- or soybased cream
Optional: 1 organic egg (you will be fine without it if you use cream that is thick enough; you can also make the cream thicker by adding couple of tablespoons soy flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
some fresh or dried thyme (tarragon is also great)
Optional: some grated cheese (Emmentaler or Prästost is good)
Alternate fillings: The ingredients listed above are for “classic” version of the tart, but Jaakko has used either tomatoes or fresh broccoli beside mushrooms and onions.

Chanterelle tart

It’s just out of the oven…

First, make crust: In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add water and oil, then stir until dough comes together.

Then prepare filling: Heat a bit of canola oil (or butter, if you like) in a frying pan. Add chopped onions and salt and cook, stirring, until onions are soft. Next, add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms have given off most of their liquid. Stir in thyme (or tarragon) and pepper, then turn off heat and let cool to for a bit.

Mix cream and grated cheese (and egg or soy flour).

Line the bottom and edges of a greased tart tin with the crust. Then spread the mushroom-onion mixture over the crust, and pour the cream(-cheese-egg mixture) over it.

Bake the tart in 225 celsius for approximately 25-30 minutes.

WHAT TO DRINK WITH IT?

Some nice red wine goes well, or then a dark lager. On most working nights, we tend to enjoy the tart with mineral water or with low-alcohol beer (for example Karhu Dark 2,8 %).