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My name is Vesa Leinonen, i take photographs of Nature, culture and cuisine, particular interest in regional products, natural resources and the cultural traditions of hunter gatherer in the ancient days. A particular region has a population and history, the natural environment provided resources that enabled populations to grow and enjoy life. Often people don't see the connection between ethnic cuisine and the regional environment, also the modern trends tend to steer people away from Natural landscapes, and away from Nature in general. Which leads to ignorance of the importance of regional products and local food ingredients and their role in cultural history. My education and training in commercial cookery (chef), with lots of kitchen work experience, has given me a fresh appreciation for the food ingredients that have been grown on the local farms.

Fennoscandia reindeer

Fennoscandia reindeer

Fennoscandia reindeer in the far north region are well suited and adjusted to that environment just like Kangaroos are to Australia.  Fennoscandia reindeerhas been farmed in larger numbers since the 16 century.  Prior to that Reindeer naturally had many useful applications to help the original pioneers to stay alive and to protect against the extreme elements of nature in the Fennoscandia reindeer region.

Unique qualities of the Fennoscandia reindeer.

The Reindeer fur is unique, it has very good insulation properties against the extreme winter cold, the fur fiber is hollow, making it lighter and a better insulate.  The antlers were used for basic household tools, and for handles e.g knife.  The meat of a Reindeer is a typical game meat, somewhat similar to a small deer or an antelope, but nothing like a kangaroo.  It was used/prepared in several ways, e.g. by hanging the meat outside in the freezing winter climate (freeze drying) and allowing it to dry, it could take several days before it was eaten.  The meat cuts were about 1/2 to 1kg size, they were usually the prime cuts, and also the heart was sometimes used/consumed by some.  This style of meat preparation was/is common in the Fennoscandia reindeer, and it’s use was readily accessible when e.g. when traveling, hunting/herding in the wild tundra areas, it was a protein source which was low a maintenance, quick to prepare and lasted well.  It could be consumed as a snack, or eaten with breads and other condiments.

The free roam style of farming of reindeer is also unique to the Fennoscandia region, the reindeer have been marked either with a neck band or an ear tag.  They roam free and breed during the summer /winter time. Then in spring time they are herded to holding pens, sorted according to the markings, and the new calves are marked according to the adult markings.  The Spring time in the Nordic region still has plenty of snow and ice, so the herding is done with the use of snowmobiles and trained dogs.

Within the Fennoscandia there is the Salla region on the east border of Finland, it is one of the original pioneers of reindeer farming and the reindeer meat industry.

In the Salla region there is a reindeer meat plant that is major producer/exporter of Reindeer meat products, with in Finland and abroad.  The most common reindeer meat dish in Finland is the Reindeer saute (but not literally a saute-a la minute), served with mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers and crushed lingonberries.  It’s highlight is within the natural flavors found in the reindeer meat, butter, potato puree, lingonberries and the pickled cucumber, there are elements of the sweet and sour, with in the condiments that match the game meat by tradition, and the potato puree comfort food.

The preparation of the reindeer cut for the saute is done by freezing the rump, and then slicing the meat into 5mm slices.  The sliced rump is packed and stored in a freezer for later use.  The meat is thawed according to quantity/need, then tossed in a hot pan with butter, and a brown stock and seasoning is added,  and poached until the meat is tender.  Traditional plating of the reindeer saute is by making a nest with the potato puree, and placing the reindeer saute in the middle of the nest (200-300g).  Pickled cucumbers and the crushed lingonberries are placed on the edge of the potato nest,  then served to the customer as “Poron käristys” (finnish).

There are also gourmet cuts/products available for restaurant use in our modern times e.g.  Smoked reindeer, tender loins, heart, kidney, neck, shoulder, saddle etc.

reindeer_butchery_lapland
Reindeer carcasses hanging in a cold storage

Fennoscandia reindeer is a high valued as an high quality ingredient, it is very popular amongst the Hotel and Restaurants of the Lapland region.   Fennoscandia reindeer is also widely used in the southern parts of the Nordic region as well as in  East Europe.  Fennoscandia reindeer is a Natural product that goes back a long way into the traditional culture and ethnic cuisine customs in Finland.

Winter Nordic flavors

Winter Nordic flavors

Winter Nordic flavors are well suited for the extreme cold winters, that can last at times for about 6 months, meaning that the temperatures during the day dip or stay below -10′ Celsius, therefore a good time to prepare body warming foods that are healthy and have those unique Nordic flavors.  Here are some fun canapes  ideas that have good tasting ingredients that are also used traditionally for serving a main size meals at dinner/lunch table.

Winter Nordic flavors in herring and potatoes.

Boiled potatoes, cured herrings and an egg topper, very simple to prepare, they are also rich with flavors.  Herrings can be easily prepared, or purchased from a grocery store in a jar, ready made. With ready cured herrings it should only take approx 45 min to prepare and ready to serve canapes for 4-6 people.

Boil the potatoes with skin on for approx 20min, boil the eggs in hot water for 9 min,  dunk the boiled eggs in cold water, for  5 min, then peel.

Remove the herrings from a curing liquid and cut into neat portions, approx the same size as the potato portions.

Remove potatoes from the simmering water (after 20 min), allow to cool a bit, then peel and slice into canape size medallions.

Place the potato portions on a plate, top with the herring.  The egg portions may be placed on top of the potato/herring, or combined with either of the two as a different taste combination required.

Season according to your taste, along with the cured herring flavors.

Serving Winter Nordic flavors canape style.

Winter Nordic flavors and ingredients served canape style can be a natural process, it does not have to be complicated.  Ideally natural ingredients that have delicious Nordic flavors and are interesting combination of color, texture, shape and easy to work with.  Canapes can be decorated using a herb garnish or a sauce, or cracking some pepper on top for extra zing.

Nordic flavours

Nordic style canapes for an appetizer

 Winter Nordic flavors are essential part of the Nordic regional cuisine experience, a smorgasbord table of the Natural wild flavors of the Nordic cuisine focus, enjoy.

 

 

Cultural cuisine: rye bread and herrings

Cultural cuisine: rye bread and herrings

Cultural cuisine: rye bread and herrings are two traditional food items that have been well used for a long time, they are part of the regional cuisine.  Herrings and Baltic herrings been fished for food for many thousands of years.  The grain growing  appeared in the gulf of Finland around 2500 BC.  The craft of grain farming came with the war axe tribes at that time.   The Ingria-land people of the gulf of Finland would most likely would have used natural grains for food long before the migrating tribes came to the gulf of Finland from the west.

Cultural cuisine: rye bread and herrings is one of  the main stays of the traditional cuisine tables in Finland.

Nordic Cuisine Focus

Nordic Cuisine Focus welcome you

Nordic Cuisine Focus is regional nature photography and natural food ingredient blog, i place entries on the seasonal changes that are happening here in the Nordic region.

Nordic Cuisine Focus delivers information on the Nordic region, digital images of natural impressions of the environment, regional ingredients,  seasonal farmers markets and Information technology stuff like cameras, lenses, text readers and more.
Today is the Equinox for 2011, now were moving from a shadow/night dominated seasons to a day/light dominated seasons.  Already the seasonal change is being felt, and is both audible and visible.  Thermometer has moved from the – (negative) to the + (positive) side, some of the migrating birds have returned to the north (i have seen some sea gulls, and swans) the birds are singing in the trees.  The snow has started to melt from roads and pathways and the water is streaming along the road side, when the afternoon sun is out.

Nordic Cuisine Focus has many interesting articles on tradition, culture and ingredients.

Nordic Cuisine Focus content includes lot’s of digital images, pictures can communicate and affirm a thousand words within a few seconds, effortlessly.  There are links to picture galleries, and also links to other sites, and some amazon.com links to camera gear, books and nutrition just to name a few.  Nordic Cuisine Focus is a window view of our world here in the Nordic region, and at times with a close focus to specific topics of interest.

Nordic Cuisine Focus