Friday, January 18, 2008

Piirakka

After years of sending mass e-mails, I've finally evolved into a blogger.

And it coincides quite nicely with my latest triumph: Piirakka.
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When I was a kid, my mother made piirakka about once a year. She would enter the kitchen with a particular blend of doomed crankiness and determination. Hours later, we would hear her muttering unhappily, "They look like ugly cows." A few hours more and she would serve them with soup and candles--which was as fancy as it ever got. While we enjoyed the piirakka, the truth is--my mother never much liked the looks of them. One Thanksgiving, I volunteered to help my mother. Mostly, I was assigned rolling pin work. My general feeling was: not so difficult.
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Then I tried to make them on my own--and I tried and I tried. From Santa Fe to South Korea, I baked my miserable piirrakas and my family's general consensus was: "Not so bad. No really. Seriously. They even taste a little bit like Finnish piirraka. Yum! Yum! I'm going to have another!"

Google was no help (there were recipes, but they were disasters), nor was a trip to Finland. Even though I climbed into an hole that was cut into the frozen Baltic Sea--I still couldn't get a recipe. ("We buy it," everyone told me.)

Amazon to the rescue. There, I found this cookbook--for wanna be Finns.


While I was doubtful about a recipe that called for 1 cup of rice and 6 cups of milk, I placed my fate in the worthy hands of Beatrice.

Not only were the piirrakka delicious, more importantly, they were beautiful. My mother would have been so jealous. There wasn't a cow among them. Or maybe I have low standards. Judge for yourselves.







(By the way, this is not my apartment. This is my father and Karen's house in Santa Fe.)

So far, I haven't tried any of the other recipes. The rye breads look too ambitious. And the Fancy Fish Loaf, Fish Potato Scallop, and Lapland Chips (made with one pound frozen reindeer meat) look too meaty. And the cabbage roll? Let's just say they were a childhood burden. (I'll add that the "roll" part is made with boiled cabbage leaves.) Okay, it sounds like I'm knocking Finnish food. The truth is I LOVE most Finnish food. The cheese. The chocolate. The bread. Oh the bread! And the apples and the berries and the beet casseroles and the ice cream and the tea!

And it turns out, I love blogging too. I'll leave you with a recipe for Herring "Caviar." Let me know how it turns out.




15 comments:

Ellen said...

On behalf of aspiring Finns everywhere, I say: "Welcome to the blogosphere!" and "Yum!" and Why were you looking for a recipe in a frozen body of water?

David Niall Wilson said...

Piirakka is such a cool word, that I was drawn all the way from the blog-title list at Metaxu Cafe, through your friend's blog, to yours. Now I am left with a strong desire to know just what a Piirakka is, and what it tastes like (and by the way does it really ever look like an ugly clown?) Welcome to blogging.

DNW

Shana said...

These look beautiful! I'm so impressed and I love that cookbook by the way some of the cookies from it are really yummy, I've been wanting to try the pulla recipe too, I'll let you know if I get the drive!

Writing Sisu said...

Ellen, I didn't know you were a Finn. Hyvaa paivaa!

David, if you live in the Cities, you can get piirakka--I believe--at the Finnish Bistro (2264 Como Avenue). It really is delicious!

Shana, I should have known you owned this cookbook! Have you tried making the piirakka. Let me know how the pulla turns out. I was also eyeing that recipe.

ellen said...

Nope--I'm Irish and German, with a sprinkling of Alsatian and, if highly suspect family legend is correct, a pinch of Delaware Indian. I should have italicized "aspiring" in my earlier comment.

sonja said...

I like the name of your blog. Even I couldn't make piirakka that look that good. :-) I think next time you should post pictures of those cute nephews of yours...

Pappa G said...

Sari's piirakkas are delectable. Her Aunt Riitta-Liisa would be envious of their perfect shape, texture and taste.

Shana you really should try pulla. Just thinking of it starts my saliva flowing.

Sari, let's see those nephews.

Bryan said...

The piirikka recipe you gave me a couple years ago had blueberries in it, and didn't contain rice. I suspect you've misled me about the true nature of piirikka. Is authentic piirikka a national secret? Did you give me some sort of dummy recipe the Finns give to us of non-Finnish descent?

Glad to see you blogging.

kramer said...

I tried Sari's blueberry piirakka in Santa Fe so I can tell you it is not a fake recipe. :-) I also remember how good it was! Whenever the Christmas season comes, I miss her cooking. She bakes really yummy cinnamon rolls.

kate said...

Yay! Welcome to the blogosphere!

American_in_Cairo said...

The cookbook and the piirakka - which is more beautiful? It's hard for me to decide.

Writing Sisu said...

Wow! Talk about starting my blog with a bang. This is great! Thanks everyone for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I have the same cookbook. My mom got it for me for my wedding since I'm half Finn, and yes...the piirakka are AMAZING! They also freeze well to be eaten later.

Lee McKenzie said...

My Finnish grandmother often made piirraka and served them at lunchtime, still warm from the oven. We grandchildren usually called them rice pies. My non-Finnish grandfather called them mocasins!

Bisquits said...

I'm not sure if you notice this comment, but anyway... Piirakka is actually just a common name for pies. Those pies that you were baking are called karjalanpiirakka. :-) If you say piirakka a Finn would see it as any kind of pie.