Saturday, March 15, 2014

Making Karelian Pies

Last weekend's adventure? Making Karelian pies!

Karelian pies with garlic and herb cheese spread!

Unless you are Finnish, or have been to Finland, you've likely never heard of Karelian pies, just like most folks who are not from the South have no idea what a Cat's Head biscuit is. I'm Southern, and here, food is life. It is culture as much as language is culture. I love to cook, so of course it stands to reason I would attempt some of the regional foods from P's world. And while I can make a mean Finnish-style berry pie in a matter of minutes, (thank you Essi for that lesson!) Karelian pies turned out to be quite a different experience!

First of all, a Karelian pie is a rice-filled pastry that is commonly served as a breakfast food in Finland, also at parties, large gatherings. P told me of times spent with family making the pies for a wedding, hundreds of them, and how it was an all day process. I couldn't wait to get started, though. Karelian pies are unique to Finland, and I was excited to give it a try. First, the recipe, which I found on a wonderful blog, (I'll post the direct link at the end of this writing.) Next, the ingredients, which I had to improvise a little. Authentic Karelian pies call for rye flour, which was impossible to find here in the sticks. So I used regular instead. Short grain rice was also not the easiest thing to locate. This required me to venture into Walmart, which, if you know me well, you'll know how much I enjoyed...not. Still, I had the main things I needed now, and could begin!

Getting ready...
First was making the rice porridge. Cooking the short grain rice in milk seemed to take forever. I used a favorite cooking pot, which belonged to my mother for years before she passed it on to me.

I think the pot is as old as I am...
Finally, an hour or so later, it is done!
Next, the dough. Making it, then separating it into 20 small pieces, and rolling those as flat as was a timely process for just one person (the boy bailed on me when his neighborhood buddies asked him to come outside and play.)

Flat as a fritter, as we say in the South!

Then, spreading the porridge filling into the first I thought I had way too much porridge, then I feared I would not have enough. However, it was the perfect amount!

Rice filling on dough...
Then, pinching up the edges of the dough around the filling. I'm sure I did not do this nearly so elegantly as a Finnish cook would...but it was my first time, and I don't think it was half bad! Then they went into the oven!

Ready to cook!
After 10-15 minutes, I brushed them with a butter and water mixture to soften, then covered with clean kitchen towel to cool.

All done!!!
I began these around 4pm, and the last batch came from the oven a few minutes before 7pm, when my guests were set to arrive. Talk about timing! They were served up still warm, with an herb and garlic cheese spread that complimented the pastries perfectly. It was not the traditional boiled egg spread that they are customarily served with, but I had them with all kinds of toppings while I was in Finland, and you can't go wrong with cheese! My guests found them tasty, and one took a few pies home to share with family!

I had enough left over to breakfast upon for the next few days, which was nice! Also to share with my family, as the recipe made 20. Karelian pies are quite filling, and not unhealthy, especially if you can find the rye flour to make them with.

Here is the recipe I followed, very simply written, with wonderful photos to guide you along. In addition, this blog is fantastic and I encourage my readers to explore her other posts as well:

And now, off to prepare for this weekend's pleasures. A day in the city with the boy, and my mother is going with us, which due to her handicaps, is a very rare occurrence! Lunch at our favorite cafe, visiting a new yarn shop, a sunny day for the drive and time together with family...good stuff. Hope your Saturday is full of love and sunshine!


Virginia ("Ginn") said...

I loved the Karelian pies...and I know you enjoyed the process of preparing them. Thanks for sending some home with me. As you said - there's something wonderful about cookin' up food for others. <3 - Ginn PS: Tell us about the new yarn shop! I recieved 6 skeins of wool in today's mail - can't wait to start workin' some magic.

Amy Alley said...

Thanks, Ginn! I'm glad you enjoyed the piirakka! :-) And cooking is such a wonderful, simple thing... one of these days, I'm going to make my own bread for the week. Not today, though. On this cozy rainy day, a Lord of the Rings movie marathon is the only thing on the agenda!

Mari ❤ SaimaaLife said...

You did it! That´s so great :) Your Karelian pies look just perfect. I´m so happy that my post helped you and you were able to make these Finnish specialities for your friends. Thank you also for your kind words concerning my blog. We definitely share the same passion for simple living and homemade :)

Amy Alley said...

Yes, we do, Mari! Thanks so much for reading and posting the recipe in such a way that it was quite simple to follow!! I froze a few and will enjoy them as a treat this weekend with some topping! :-D