28 August 2016

Foodie stuff from Finland

As usual I ended up buying quite a few Finnish products to take home with me from the holiday. I wanted to share some of my bounty with you in case you're interested.

I expanded my Moomin bowl collection (normally I always buy a mug) by the ancestor of the Moomins bowl. I really like the artwork on this and the rare ancestor character is quite intriguing. Also these bowls are quite a convenient size and shape for many kinds of dishes.

And since we were in Finland, I bought even more Moomin products. I found these cute small Moomin napkins that feature some of the more rare characters. I'm sure they'll soon be seen in my food posts.

I had to buy proper rye bread in bulk again and freeze them for future use. They are very good after toasting. I also bought these root vegetable breads (beetroot & carrot and parsnip and carrot), thin oat crisp breads and rye crisps. These will be lovely as work lunches and evening snacks.

You may already know that I'm a fan of a certain healthy berry, sea-buckthorn, so I got this sea-buckthorn jelly and dried sea-buckthorn powder. The powder I normally use in baking and in yogurts. I'm not quite sure yet how to use the jelly the best way. Somehow I have this idea combining it with fried halloumi. Would that work?

Here come the Moomins again! My partner really likes these Moomin blueberry-raspberry liquorice sticks, so we bought a few to take with us. 

I visited the Kyrö Distillery Company again and apart from tasting their drinks, I bought their new product Cranmary raw chocolate. It's vegan and contains gin, cranberry and rosemary, a very good combination.

Fazerina are probably my favourite Finnish chocolates. Even though I don't eat much chocolate, it's nice to have a Fazerina occasionally. They are milk chocolates with a truffle filling, so good!

This was my foodie shopping from Finland. I hope you like the products. Most of them will be seen on the blog later, I'm sure.

Your VegHog

Favourite eateries in my area – Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen / The Stable / Tap Room

I want to introduce to you three further favourite eateries of mine around my area in Southampton. All of these serve very nice veggie food, although they are not purely vegetarian places. Here are three more in case you missed my first post in this series.

Chalk Valley is an excellent organic burger place and has been my favourite ever since they opened a few years ago. They use organic and local produce and are very ethical in their approach. You can choose your bun, patty and toppings for your burger yourself. They have the most excellent veggie patty and other wonderful toppings to choose from. The skin-on-fries are so tasty and often they have a special side salad on offer. Chalk Valley have opened larger premises this month, so I should visit them soon again to check it out.

The Stable is just a dream place for me due to their offering: cider and pizza! They have a huge selection of ciders, of which you can take a tasting board, if you can't quite decide what to drink from the vast selection, or just want to get to know several ciders. They serve pizzas, pies and salads. I normally always have the pizza margherita with their house chilli oil. The crust is crispy and thin with such tasty toppings, just perfect for me. I never mind sitting for longer in this place, as the atmosphere is relaxed and fun. The Stable is a chain, so you might find one near you as well.

Tap Room is a very friendly pub close to my place. I always feel welcome, and enjoy spending time there. Their cheesy fries are just lovely when you have a smaller hunger, but mainly I love their Living On The Veg pizza and flatbread. They are filled with char-grilled vegetables, olives and cheese and served with a chilli mayo on the side. This is basically my Friday evening standard meal. They of course also have a good selection of drinks.

26 August 2016

Halloumi, pepper and tomato salad

It's so hot over here! I shouldn't be complaining, as summer finally seemed to arrive to England, but around +22C is more than enough for me. In such a hot weather a salad is a very satisfying meal, as there isn't much hunger generally. I always try to add a filling agent to salads as well, whether it's pulses, nuts or cheese. Halloumi is one of the most frequent ones, as it's just so delicious when properly fried or grilled. Nothing disappoints me more than get some uncooked halloumi served. In the summer it's nice to grill halloumi on a barbecue. For this salad I also quickly fried the pepper slices, but they could also be barbecued.

Here is my salad recipe.


250 g halloumi fried
1 red bell pepper fried
Vegetable oil for frying
Tomatoes sliced
Lambs lettuce
Olive oil + balsamic vinegar + salt + pepper as dressing


Fry the halloumi on both sides until golden brown.

Also quickly fry the pepper slices in hot oil so that the pepper gets some frying marks.

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and dress with a light olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.


Your VegHog

24 August 2016

Pulled Oats – Nyhtökaura

A wonderful new sustainable protein product suitable for vegans and vegetarians was launched in Finland earlier this year and it has become a real sensation. It's Nyhtökaura aka Pulled Oats by Gold & Green. The product resembles pulled pork with the texture, consists of oats, broad beans and peas and it's sold as a cooled product from the fridge. There are currently three pulled oat flavours available: nude / kaffir lime sesame, ginger / tomato, smoked paprika, leaf parsley. The texture of pulled oats is pleasant, quite chewy and not too dry. The product itself doesn't require much preparation and through quick frying can be added to all sorts of dishes.

As most of my readers aren't from Finland, I thought I'd write about this product to introduce it. It may be a while yet before they break into the international market. It's very popular in Finland at the moment and normally sells out from supermarkets within a few minutes from stocking the shelves. It seems that the production can't quite keep up with the demand yet. Pulled oats have also boosted the sales for other veggie products in Finland and helped people to consider more vegetable based diets, which is a very good trend, as Finnish diets are still much too meat centric these days. Due to the high demand and rarity I wasn't sure beforehand if I'd be able to taste the product at all during my holiday, but quite unexpectedly I was lucky enough to have a several pulled oats experiences and can therefore report back to you. Gold & Green's web page is also in English, so do have a look, if you want more information.

I tried pulled oats for the first time when eating out in Helsinki in a veggie restaurant called OmNam. I had their pulled oat burger and sweet potato wedges: Brioche, pulled oats with OmNam BBQ sauce seasoned with orange, vegan hoisin mayo, fresh tomatoes, pickled cucumber and kale slaw and wedges of organic sweet potato, vegan smoked paprika mayo. Both were really excellent dishes and the restaurant was very cosy located a little bit hidden in an inside yard of a housing block. Pulled oats suit veggie burger dishes very well and there are so many possibilities to make different burgers and breads.

Already the next day I got the chance to taste pulled oats again as festival street food and this time it was cooked by the manufacturer themselves. Gold & Green had a stand at the Flow Festival offering some great vegetarian and vegan dishes. I had a Nordic rainbow bowl with dill & lime pulled oat, beetroot quinoa, vegetable chips, sweet peas, root vegetable coleslaw, red kale & sunflower dip, corn & seed cracker. It looked absolutely stunning and tasted the same way. I loved the currants in the salad and could eat this dish all day long!

There was another company serving pulled oat dishes at the festival called Fat Tomato – Nordic Twist. I had their Rootz Reiska, a flatbread with pulled oats, half dried plum tomato sauce, homemade cheddar, butternut squash, roast garlic, chanterelle mushrooms and wild thyme. It was another brilliant dish that I would happily eat every day and another successful pairing for the pulled oats. Both portions were incredibly colourful and cheerful and I'm really happy that I chose them.

After these tastings I got even luckier and found a few packets of pulled oats in a supermarket so that I could do some homecooking with it. From the tomato, smoked paprika and leaf parsley flavoured pulled oats I made Rye breads with tomato sauce, chanterelles and pulled oats. These were very tasty and filling breads and I got to use my self foraged chanterelles in them.

From the nude version of pulled oats I made a Reindeerless fry, a dish also recommended by Gold & Green transforming a classic Finnish dish to a veggie version. The pulled oats were just fried with some onions and served with potato mash and lingonberry jam. It was a nice and very Finnish style dish.

I really hope that these pulled oats will make it internationally. There can never be enough interesting vegetarian protein products and these happen to have an excellent texture, are versatile and very easy to use. I took one packet with me back to England and will post soon what I cooked with it.

Have you heard of pulled oats before or even been able to taste it? What do you think of it?

Your VegHog

23 August 2016

Holiday photos from Finland

Here are some of my holiday photos from Finland trying to transmit the holiday atmosphere and whatever I got up to there. I hope you'll enjoy these photos. I have a few more Finland posts in store, which I will post as soon as possible.

Helsinki and Flow Festival

First of all I arrived in Helsinki with my partner, where we met a very good friend of mine and also visited a music festival called Flow. In Helsinki city we went to the Market Square as usual, as there are so many lovely looking stalls offering local produce. There's nothing better for me than fresh Finnish summer produce. I especially like fresh chanterelles, they are so very tasty. We also visited a covered food market next to the Market Square outdoor market.

Flow Festival had a whole section selling vegan street food, and I had to try several things as you can imagine, even when I wasn't that hungry anymore. Unfortunately I didn't manage to try all of them, but was very well fed for the festival day. I have another post coming, where I'll write about a couple of more dishes from there, but these kale-broadbean sticks with pea hummus were just lovely and so was a falafel platter with dips.

Helsinki is a very pretty city in the summer. If you have never been, I can only warmly recommend.

At home

After the visit to Helsinki it was time to go home to visit my family. At my mum's and granddad's places I got up to the usual summer activities of the countryside, foraging, walking in the forest and going to the sauna. These are the most relaxing things I could do on my holiday and I do feel really refreshed after this.

The forests were absolutely loaded with lingonberries, it looked so pretty. I like lingonberries, although they are very intense tasting and can be overpowering. However they are so healthy. This summer has also been very good for wild mushrooms in Finland (both edible and poisonous ones, need to be very careful when foraging) and we managed to find some chanterelles. I made a cheesy chanterelle tart, but used the mushrooms that I bought at the market in Helsinki for this.

The weather was quite rainy and so the river by my mum's house started flooding, luckily not too much. We had some nice and sunny days too and it was warm throughout.

I also did some cooking and was delighted about some new products I found. There was a really good fresh beetroot pasta and a mix to make veggie burgers from grains. It was so nice to use the seasonal berries from the garden or the forest in different dishes as a boost.