Monday, March 16, 2009

Illonen St. Urho's Paivaa!

Quite a while ago, my friend Kate used to have an annual party to celebrate St. Urho's Day. This started sometime after discovering a can of St. Urho's Brew at a DC bar called the Brickskeller. As the years went by, the party evolved to serving purple and green foods (the official holiday colors), and there was always a ceremonial reading of the Ode to St. Urho (found on the back of the beer can) by the drunkest or the most self-conscious person in the room.

Today, March 16th, is St Urho's Day. To learn more about the holiday, read up on it here. Be sure to check out the pics on the party page, featuring yours truly as a blonde in a pink and green bustier (done before we found out that the official color was royal purple, not hot pink. But look at the can - you can see it was an easy mistake to make.)

So what to eat on a fake holiday celebrating a fake Finnish saint? Finnish food, of course (although fake Finnish food would be most appropriate)!

According to the Ode, St Urho got "tall and trong" on "feelia sour" a yogurt-like substance with a stretchy texture, aka Viilia. Here's a quick recipe.

Viilia

1 to 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
½ cup milk

Let milk warm to room temperature and combine with buttermilk in a custard cup. Place in a slightly warm spot (on the pilot light of a gas stove is a good place, if it’s not too hot.) Cover loosely to keep the dust out, and leave it overnight. Don’t shake it, or it may become watery. In the morning it should have the texture of gelatin. If not, let it stand until it coagulates. Chill in the refrigerator, then season with salt and eat it with dark bread, or sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Serves 1.

The Happy Herbalist sells viilia culture/starter. No affiliation, just providing a link.


How about a recipe for fish soup (kala = fish, keitto = soup)?

Kalakeitto

Ingredients
6 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, diced (a larger size onion) or two leeks, well-washed, cut into 1" pieces
2 teaspoons salt
5 whole allspice berries
6 cups water
3 lbs fish (salmon is especially nice)
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

Directions
In a large kettle, place potatoes, onion, salt, allspice and water. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Cut fish into bite-size chunks and add to potato mixture. Simmer covered for another 15 to 20 minutes or just until fish flakes easily.

Do not boil the soup.

Stir in cream, milk, butter and dill; heat through and serve.

This is what your soup should look like:
Image courtesy Stefan Richter



Want more recipes?

Mmm...doesn't blood pancakes sound yummy?

No? Maybe filet of reindeer with cranberry sauce is more up your alley? (Sounds like a perfect Christmas dish!)

I'm kinda intrigued about the beet burgers myself.



Maybe fried grasshopper would be most appropriate?

No post on Finnish food is complete without a pic of everyone's favorite Finn, Stefan Richter! Doesn't he make a cute St. Urho? ;)