Friday, 8 October 2010

Moomins Cookbook


When I was young I remember watching the Moomins on television, the charming animation about a family of friendly trolls, whose exciting adventures in Moomin Valley had me captivated.
This year, the Moomins are back. They have a full length movie and a cookbook. I'm sure they have always been active in their native Finland, but now at last, we can enjoy them again in the UK.

First published in Finland in 1993, the book is now available in English for the first time. Tove Jansson (now sadly deceased) and Sami Malila have got together to create over 150 different recipes that perfectly capture the favourite dishes of many of the Moomin characters and no doubt human Finns too.

"Everything fun is good for the stomach," announces the intro page, setting the scene of happy Moomins eating together and enjoying good food.
The book's subtitle is 'An Introduction to Finnish Cuisine' and that's exactly what it brings us, traditional recipes that are produced by home cooks all over Finland – I can imagine that many are Tove Jansson's nostalgic memories of what she grew up with – comfort food.

The recipes take us from breakfast through to lunch and on to dinner with a picnic outing and garden party thrown in for good measure. Fish from the rivers and lakes, heartwarming vegetable soups, wholesome meat dishes, rib sticking savoury bakes and a myriad of puddings and cakes using forest berries and spices to keep us cosy in winter.
The book is illustrated with Tove's enchanting black and white line drawings of Moomin Valley scenes, also appropriate text extracts from the Moomin stories further embellish the recipes.

As well as the well-loved-by-Moomins pancakes (p.113), there are many recipes I'd love to try, Fish Solyanka, (p. 36) a substantial soup with an ingredients list that sounds interesting to say the least, Moominmama's Backpack Pie, (p.88) a mixture of boiled eggs, rice and salmon cooked in butter pastry sounded appetising.

Mouth-Watering Onion Pie

However, I settled on two recipes to test. The first being the Mouth-Watering Onion Pie (p. 43). This was easy to make, even the unusual pastry which contains grated carrots. The filling was delicious, the onions sweet and melting held in a cheesy, creamy quiche-like savoury custard.
As with most of the recipes, my main criticism would be that they don't tell you what size dish/tin to use or how many they serve, so I had to use my own judgement. That said, I couldn't fault the results.

Lingonberry and Cardamom Cake

I couldn't resist doing some baking, so chose to make the Lingonberry and Cardamom Cake (p.91). Not having any fresh lingonberries or even cranberries to hand, to make the purée, I used some lingonberry jam and reduced the amount of sugar, which worked fine.
The cake is generously flavoured with spices, as well as cardamom, there is ginger, cinnamon and cloves, which resulted in a cake not too dissimilar to ginger cake or Parkin, but far more complex. It tastes better and better as the days go by.

This a great cookbook for those who adore Moomins and want to learn about Finnish cuisine – a definite collector's item.

Moomins Cookbook by Tove Jansson and Sami Malila is published by SelfMadeHero
Hardback RRP £12.99
Order yours now

Food photos: ©childsdesign 2010
Book kindly supplied by SelfMadeHero


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