Smoked Trout Pate on Old Country Trenary Rye

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I just returned from a week in the Upper Peninsula spending time with family and friends. It’s absolutely beautiful but it’s also the land that time and the internets forgot. So no blog posts while I was away.

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One of the highlights of this trip was the annual Outhouse Classic held in the wee town of Trenary. Where they race outhouses built on skis on a rough, snow covered track. The festivities also include beer tents, coolers full of turkey legs for your gnawing pleasure, and, of course, pasties.

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Trenary also has a somewhat famous bakery whose specialties are Trenary Toast (a dry cinnamon sugared sweet bread perfect for dunking or making milk toast) and an old country rye bread that’s very hearty. The bakery also had an outhouse entry.

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On to my pate.

The UP is known for all kinds of freshwater fish from inland lakes as well as the Great Lakes. My dad used to make the best smoked fish I’ve ever eaten. He no longer makes it but it’s available at several small specialty groceries on the sweet side of the Mackinac Bridge. For my return home I bought smoked trout and whitefish, old country rye bread, ternary toast and lots of pasties. For lunch today I decided to make a real simple pate served on the rye.

Ingredients:

8 oz smoked trout, skin and bones removed

4 oz cream cheese

1 tsp prepared horseradish

1 tsp dill

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 T grated onion

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Because I haven’t been home for awhile I had no fresh lemons but I always keep extra lemon juice in mini zip locks in my freezer. Fresh dill would also be preferable but improvise, improvise.

Combine the cream cheese and trout in a food processor. Make sure you’ve gotten all the bones out. Getting a bone in the pate might even be worse than egg shells in your deviled egg.

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Grate the onion and add the onion, dill, horseradish and lemon juice to the fish/cream cheese.

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Pulse until its a nice, creamy consistency. It’s as easy as that!

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I served up our smoked trout pate with rye bread, beets my daughter did in her pressure cooker, and home canned dilly beans.  I added some balsamic reduction to the beets to brighten up their flavor. It would also be good with sliced, hard boiled eggs, tomato slices, green onions, or crisp apple slices.

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Enjoy.

NOTE:  If you’d like to order bread or toast from the Trenary Bakery you can email trenarytoast@tds.net Or call them at 1-800-TOAST-01. That was unsolicited but I do like promoting the UP.

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Juustoa (Finnish Squeaky Cheese)

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I have always loved juustoa. It’s a very mild, fresh cheese that “squeaks” when you bite into a piece, especially when it is still warm. It’s a cheese that you rarely see in a deli or cheese counter unless you live in the UP (of Michigan). I can’t buy it where I currently live so I decided I would make my own. I got on line and found some recipes and video instructions. The recipes varied slightly but overall were very similar. I have absolutely no cheese making experience but I always say, if you can read and follow instructions you can make anything. Well I’m not sure I still believe that. If you’re at all familiar with juustoa you will recognize the picture at the beginning of this post as bearing some resemblance.

Ingredients:

2 gallons skim or raw milk (the recipe I chose to follow stressed that whole pasteurized milk would not work)

1 pint heavy cream

3 T sugar

1 tsp salt

2 T cornstarch

1/2 vegetable rennet tablet or 1/2 tsp liquid rennet

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I found rennet at my local food coop and organic skim milk from a local dairy. There is animal rennet and vegetable rennet. Rennet causes the proteins in milk to form a curd. You might not want to know what either type of rennet is derived from so I won’t go into that. It’s just important to know that it’s an ingredient essential in the cheese making process. I got out my big stainless kettle and heated the milk and cream over medium heat to exactly 90 degrees.

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I removed the kettle from the heat and added the sugar, salt, cornstarch and rennet. The recipe said the milk should gel in 20-40 minutes.  The readiness test is to insert the handle of a wooden spoon in the center and it should leave a hole. Its at this point the process failed. No “hole” after 20 minutes, 40 minutes or even 90 minutes.

I googled, “what if the rennet doesn’t set up”.  It suggested I add half again the amount of rennet the recipe called for so I added another 1/4 tsp of rennet and waited some more. Now it’s been a few hours. I’ve rearranged the furniture in my house, done a couple loads of laundry. Still my milky concoction has not gelled.

I’ve invested too much money and time and I’m determined to make something of this mess. I got out a large mesh strainer and poured the pot of clotted milk into the strainer. I’m reminded of little miss muffet sitting on a tuffet eating her curds and whey. I cannot fathom eating the curds and whey. This was a real challenge to my weak stomach. I got rid of as much of the whey as possible and poured the curds into a round 9″ glass pan. I preheated the oven to 400 and put the pan in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. After about 10 minutes I checked and removed my cheese from the oven and siphoned whey with my turkey baster. A whole cup. I put it back in the oven, reset the timer for another 10 minutes. I removed another half cup of whey. But I’m finally getting a solid mass that is holding together pretty well.

Now I turned the broiler on and put the cheese under the broiler until it was browned. I took it out and waited until it had cooled down enough to flip and put side two under the broiler to brown. As soon as it had cooled enough I cut a piece off.

It tastes just like I remember. And it squeaked!!!

I’m going to do a little more research and try again. Even though my recipe said to use skim or raw milk other recipes did not specify skim milk. Organic vegetable rennet apparently has a 4 month shelf life.  Since there was no date on my bottle perhaps my rennet was outdated and losing its potency. It was a little disappointing to have things go awry but I’m glad I was able to salvage enough to make a little juustoa.  Sorry there aren’t more pictures but most of the process was not at all photogenic.

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Juustoa. Perfect sprinkled with a little salt and enjoyed with a strong cup of coffee.

Ring Bologna Bake – Käyrämakkarahe

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Yup. That’s a ring bologna. It’s not my personal ring bologna and I’m not actually going to cook it but I’m going to tell you about ring bologna. It’s the crowning glory of one of my Dad’s favorite dinners. He calls it Finnish tube steak. You take a ring bologna, just like the one in the picture. Make a slit in the top all the way around. You put it in the oven at 350 for about 15-20 minutes and watch for it to begin to split open. Fill the opening with brown sugar and catsup and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and a can of green beans or corn. I grew up in a family of 5 kids; me and 4 brothers. We had this quite frequently for dinner along with the potatoes and canned vegetables. I don’t know if my mother made two of them at a time or if all 7 of us shared the one Finnish tube steak.   When my dad visited last summer I bought the best quality ring bologna I could find and made this for him. He was a happy man!

Since I’m not actually cooking one right now I had to get on line to find pictures and I discovered that ring bologna actually has it’s own Facebook page!

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I’m not sure what the relationship is between the Green Bay Packers and ring bologna but this is ring bologna’s Facebook picture.  I apologize to all the Lion fans in my family for this picture.

The other day I was reading through a Finnish cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas and came across a couple paragraphs about ring bologna. She says, “Ring bologna is as popular in Finland as wienies are in the United States. The Finns have many ways to cook it. They cut it into pieces and cook it over a campfire as we cook wienies. A crowning touch to a sauna party in Finland is to roast ring bologna pieces over the hot sauna stove and eat the pieces with hot mustard. With these, one drinks kalja or olut (beer).  Finns do not put the meat into bread as we do with weenies.”

Apparently the brown sugar and catsup bake is the Americanization of Finnish ring bologna.

In July of 1969 I traveled to Finland with my mummu (grandmother) and aunt and uncle. It was my grandmothers first visit back to her homeland in nearly 40 years. We spent a couple of weeks traveling the country and visiting family and friends. I had a vague recollection of the sauna/ring bologna experience so I got my “Air Travel Diary” out and read through the “places and events visited”.

July 13, 1969 we were in Kauhajoki visiting my grandfather’s relatives where I wrote, “He has a real nice home where we went to the sauna. The sauna had four rooms. First room was for undressing. Then you walked through the shower room and then into the hot sauna room. You suds up good and then back to the shower room to rinse off. Then you go into the sitting room before you dress and cook sauna bologna over a fire place.”  There was no mention in my journal about beer but the adults may have imbibed. For non-Finnish readers unfamiliar with Finnish sauna practices I’ll elaborate on that another day.

I’ve been having long morning conversations with my dad and we get on these off the wall topics like ring bologna. While looking for suitable pictures I came across a Ring Bologna in the Crockpot recipe. Dad asked me to write it down and send it to him. He wants me to write it twice so he can mail a copy to a fellow Finn who loves ring bologna as much as my Dad does. If I ever make it I promise to blog about it. In the meantime get on line and check it out…there is a whole ring bologna culture out there!

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Kaalipiirakka (Cabbage Pasty)

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If you’re Spanish you might have empanadas, if you’re Polish pierogis, Italian raviolis, and if you’re Finnish kaalipiirakka (cabbage pasty). I was reading a Finnish cookbook today and came across this recipe. I didn’t grow up eating these but I might have. These would be served as an accompaniment to soup or as a bread side with a meal. I think they would be great with tomato soup!  Bread is a mainstay of the Finnish diet…and true to his heritage my grandfather could not eat a meal without bread. I remember both of my grandparents eating bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt.

These little cabbage pasties are fairly easy to make. The slightly sweet pastry dough and the savory cabbage are a nice combination. They might be tasty with a dip of some kind…I’ll have to work on that. Suggestions??

Yeast Pastry ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm

1 tsp salt

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 cup sugar

4-4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter

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Dissolve the yeast in the water. Beat the egg well with a whisk.

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Combine the milk, salt, egg, and sugar in a large bowl.

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Add the yeast and 2 cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and elastic.

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Stir in the butter until blended. Add the remaining flour and mix until you have a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. About 5 minutes.

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Place dough in a lightly buttered bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a draft free place until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise again for about 30 minutes. While dough is rising make your filling.

Filling Ingredients:

4 T butter

2 cups sauerkraut drained

2 medium onions sliced thin

2 T brown sugar

1 tsp caraway seeds

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In a heavy skillet melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is tender and beginning to caramelize.

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Add the sauerkraut, sugar, and caraway seed. Stir until well blended and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Our filling is ready.

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Preheat your oven to 375.

Now you’re ready to roll your dough and fill your kaalipiirakka. Divide the dough into thirds and roll the dough about 1/3 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a glass or cookie/biscuit cutter on the dough. I used a scalloped cutter but round would work just fine.

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Brush each circle with half and half to moisten the edges for sealing. Put a tsp of filling in the center of a disc, put a second disc on top and crimp the edges with a fork.

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(The amount of filling in each will actually depend on the size of your discs). Brush each filled and crimped kaalipiirakka with half n half and cut a little steam vent in the center. Put on a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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Bake for 15 or 20 minutes until golden brown.

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You’ll have extra filling. Just get out a fork and finish it off. Tastes great!!