While reading The Boreal Feast, Miche Genest’s second cookbook, I wanted to pack my baggage and travel to Scandinavia.
Genest surrounds recipes with stories and anecdotes from traveling to Swe
den, Norway, and Finland, and awakens wanderlust in the reader. In Scandinavia, Genest was inspired; she learned about traditions and new recipes that she describes in the book, which follows the seasons in the North, and offers great inspirations for all kinds of feasts.
In chapter four I found a Finnish recipe, which sounds challenging — Karjalanpiirakat: it’s a Finnish pastry filled with cauliflower, which Genest and her husband ate in Helsinki at a waterfront market.
Back in Whitehorse, Genest bakes them in her kitchen and feels like she is “participating in a ritual performed in Finnish kitchens for centuries,” as she writes in the book.
“Finnish families gather in the kitchen to make Karjalanpiirakat together,” Genest tells me, and agrees the recipe is one of the most challenging recipes in the book.
“It will go faster with a couple of friends or family,” Genest recommends. “It will take two hours to bake them if you are alone.”
I am looking for a challenge, so I decide to try the baking all by myself.
I just hope that the Karjalanpiirakat are easier to bake than to pronounce.
In nine steps, Genest describes the making of these pastries, which are shaped like little boats.
While making the dough, I am surprised how well it goes. The dough is quite stiff, but easy to roll out. The only trick is to form it into little boats.
First, I roll out circles, and place the filling in the middle, then I pinch the top of the circles with my fingers, crimp each side into five spots, so that the final pastry looks like a flat-bottomed boat with pointed bow and stern; it takes time and patience.
It takes me a little over two hours to finish the baking, but finally the Karjalanpiirakat are in the oven and the smell makes my mouth water. Karjalanpiirakat are traditionally served with egg-butter as a topping: A hard-boiled egg blended with butter.
While reading through Genest’s Book, I learned that Scandinavians not only have pastry with funny names, they also have a lot of rich traditions and feasts.
In a story called ‘The Power of Fika’, Genest tells about a ritual that is taken seriously in Sweden: Fika, the Swedish expression for coffee break.
“Fika is not something you fit in on your way to something else, it requires your full attention,” Genest writes in the book.
She tells about how people in Sweden gather with family and friends to enjoy coffee and a home-baked treats.
The Boreal Feast offers a lot of cake recipes for celebrating Fika.
The book is great for people who want to experience new culinary adventures or deepen their knowledge of Northern cuisine.
And while eating the warm Karjalanpiirakat, I come to the conclusion that occasionally, I just have to enter my kitchen to quell my wanderlust.