Vietnamese summerrolls – first timers guide

This weekend we tried a new recepie with a friend couple of ours: Vietnamese summerrolls, also known as nem rolls, spring rolls or like they call them in Vietnam, Goi cuôn.

I have tried this dish earlier in some street food kitchens on #restaurantday or the Arabia streetparty – one of those trendy neighbourhood blocos in Helsinki.

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Our friend couple had made summerrolls earlier a couple of times, so they knew some really nice sauce recepies and wanted to civilize us aswell. The pictures in this post aren’t at their best, because I was concentrating on the company, not photographing, but still wanted to take some pics to memorise this dish better.

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It’s an easy dish to prepare: just choping, maybe frying some meat and just mixing the incredients for the delicious sauces it deserves!

We prepared two sauces: the traditional chili-garlic sauce and peanutbutter sauce. In addition, I also used some Thai chilisauce from the supermarket in my rolls. The nem rolls might be a little lightly seasoned otherwise, but you can alter the level of hotness and flawours with the sauces. Traditionnally every eater has one’s own dip sauce in a tiny bowl. Now that we only made one bowl of each sauce for common use, it made the dipping a little harder.

The rolls are made inside super thin rice paper that could be found fro good grosery stores and supermarkets atleast in Finland. If not, try the Asian supermarkets or etno food markets.

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What to put inside the rolls?

Traditionally nem rolls consist of rice paper, rice noodles (vermicelli), pork or shrimps and fresh vegetables.

In our rolls we put inside:

  • rice noodle
  • chicken (maybe not the best option)
  • chili shrimps
  • thinly sliced sticks of carrot and cucumber
  • sliced avocado
  • ca 3 cm long cuts of chives
  • baby spinache

As a salad it is recommended to use something little more tastier version than regular iceberg salad: spinache, romaine etc… Other incredients that go nicely in the rolls:

  • radish in thin slices
  • bean sprouts
  • spring onion
  • fresh herbs like coriander, mint, thai basil
  • different kids of shrimps
  • pork
  • roasted peanuts
  • minced meat?
  • fried egg

20150606_215629So then you just chop the ingredients in thin slices (so that they nicely fit into the roll) and it’s nearly ready!

Mix up the following ingredients to prepare the sauces (home-made sauces are obviously the best):

Traditional sauce

  • 1 clove of garlic (finely sliced)
  • fresh chili according to taste (finely sliced)
  • 1/2 lime’s juice
  • 1 tblsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tblsp vietnamese fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 dl water

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Peanutbutter sauce

  • 4 tblsp peanutbutter (not sugarred)
  • 2 tblsp hoi sin sauce
  • ca 2 tblsp sugar
  • 1 dl water

So FINALLY it was all prepared and it was time to hit the table! The rice paper tortillas are softened in a plate filled with water. But as we noticed, if you prepare many at a time, one has to be really carefull not to break the rice paper. It’s terribly thin and fragile. Also notice that if the rice papers stay in water they become too soft for rolling. Best result came by watching the rice paper while it softens and take it out of the water immediately. Later, a vietnamese friend also gave tip to use the cutting board for the rolling part since it ’swallows’ less of that sticky water than a plate.

How to succeed:

Fill in the ingredients starting from the other half of the rice paper tortilla, not from the center (like I did first) and not too close the edge. After folding the roll once, you flip the empty sides of the roll into the middle and then roll again. The result should be beautifully packed little roll pouche.

When filling in the rolls, you should traditionnally keep in mind also the looks of the roll… starting from the beautiful shaped shrimps for example, so that they show out the best from inside of the roll… Yup, or then it’s just good to try succeeding in making one whole roll that doesn’t break…20150607_223235

It was all easier said than done. My mental health was on it’s verge time after time while preparing my so-called rolls. When I just thought I had succeeded to roll a beautiful little baby roll, the rice paper scratched and the roll broke down in my fingers… the problem was obviously the too much softened paper roll.

Last but for sure not least (it’s time to eat!!!) just dip’em and enjoy with a glass of riesling, gewürtsraminer or other lightly sweet, not too dry white wine! (Or eat them with knife and fork, if needed, it’s delicious anyways!)

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My hub’s roll and mine… guess which one is which! Well at first, mine looked like that too. At times at least…

One of my rolls that suceeded nicely:

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The fresh ingredients I had in my summer roll. In the bowl traditional chili-garlic sauce for nem rolls.

Mainokset

Holidaymoods

My 2 month summer vacation has begun! What a feeling!

In the picture the loveliest things from my second summer vacation day:

syreenitThis morning I woke up to the lovely scent of lilacs that I picked on my night table the day before. I just love lilacs like I love the mangolias, apple flowers and all other scenting spring trees. This time of year is just perfect! Everywhere is green, alive and blooming, and the lovely scent of early summer filling the air!

Then making some breaky and coffee… I was drinking my morning coffee from my new moomin mug (by Arabia), that I just couldn’t stop myself ordering from Sweden from Royal Design, since it’s only sold there for the campaign Håll Sverige Rent… The mugs were sold out so I had to wait the mug to arrive for several months…  I’ve promised myself earlier not to buy anymore moominmugs unless it’s a desperate situation, well I guess this was.

My perfect vacation athmosphere was fullfilled with the pile of books I’m planning to read this summer… All in Finnish for the time. Beside these ones in the picture, I have several books in my bookshelf just waiting to be read. Reading books for my own fun is something I do way too rarely these days. As a kid and as a teenager I used to read all the time, but studying and working has lowened my enthousiasm and ability to concentrate on reading. Sad so, the holidays are perfect time for freetime reading aswell!

In this day’s less lovely programme is doing some cleaning-up and changing the curtains, but somehow it doesn’t feel as avoidable and boring as it usually does…

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The scent of lilac is just dazzling

Flower power and spring energy

Hooray! It’s finally here! Or it has actually been for some time now. My blog writing enthusiasm has been on a holiday for some time I see… What is here? Spring of course, that lovely and precious time of the year after the long, cold, windy, wet and grey Helsinki winter! Phew, thank god it’s over!

So to say, I’m deeply in love with that shy, early spring green in the trees before it’s turning to it’s deeper shape of summer green after that first syrupy honeymoon! Sun caressing the skin and leaving there it’s unique odour, birds flying, singing and flirting their hearts out, grass getting greener and greener and you know, that feeling in the air and your heart: It’s here! It’s finally here! There is no feeling like the one you feel in the spring time! I’m a spring person. No matter how I love the summer, spring is even better, because all that lovely time of summer is also still ahead, too!

In the springtime, I could wander around the forrest forrest listening to birds singing, trying to spot them and name them (or hiding in the bird hide by the sea of bulrush), picking up flowers and walking around my jacket open and feeling its gentle breeze in my hair! Not to mention eating slow breakfasts on the balcony after the long winter pause! Yup, there’s nothing better!

Except of all that above, one of my spring traditions is making a pilgrimmage to see the magnolia tree in bloom. sometimes these pilgrimmages lead also to Roihuvuori district and to its Japanese garden during their SAKURA festival (cherry blooms) or checking out the amazing park full of Rhdodendrons  in the district of Haaga. But, my absolute favourites are magnolias, I fell in love with when living in France, and magnolias and other trees blooming absolutely everywhere!10599540_10152896664004639_5485538095217064605_n

In Finland, it is obviously a little too cold for magnolia trees in the winter time, so there are quite a few of them, when compared to Central Europe for example. I made such a trip yesterday to Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden, an there it was again! Here it is, my love, japanese magnolia! The other beauty is obviously layered Anemone Nemorosa, I’m definatyely going to plant in my garden one day, when I have one. Along with all the magnolias, peonies, cherrytrees, appletrees etc…

Speaking of peonies, I still want to share here my precious finding from todays florist shop visit: Even the florist herself was super-excited about this flower she had not met but now during her long career: Lemon Chiffon Peony! It drew my attention with it’s huge, light yellow flowers when I walked past the florist shop… So I couldn’t leave without it! Just beautiful!

Let’s enjoy the month of May, the month full of life, flowers blooming and birds nesting! ❤

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Feelgood Breaky in a Cup!

Here, some pictures of one of our feel-good breakfasts: bacon, eggs & cheese in a bowl made of toasts! The idea and the recipe is taken from Lick The Bowl Good that I found via Pinterst’s wonderful world!

It was really tasty in the end, but there were some missfortunes on the way, cause we accidentally added tomatos on the top which obviously prevented the eggs to cook well enough compared to the bread in the time required. Well we removed the tomatoes for some time and added some time and patience and in the end, it was all worth it. We are making these again for sure.

Cute bowls are from Taika and Satumetsä series from Iittala.

Being ill but inspired

I’m ill… It’s third day away from work already. I’ve been mainly sleeping for the last two days! So, today I woke up with the sun and my man, who made me some breakfast. Lovely, isn’t he? Luckily it feels better already, and heading back to work tomorrow. I’m starting to get some energy, and thinking about planing some work stuff today. I’ve been pinteresting ALOT these last couple of days (sorry all my pinterest friends) and I’m so excited about three things: planning our Finland theme in class, travel dreaming (once again) and art journals!

So, I guess I will be starting one. Meaning, you will keep a artsy diary by drawing at least a little everyday. I’m not sure how this works out for me, propably it doesn’t, but the level is low, if you don’t need to make anything big, than just some pattern one day and what ever you feel like the next. Or even fill in several pages a day. This might be a way to make something out of my croquis scetchings, too.

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Photo origin (via pinterest): https://www.flickr.com/photos/kaitlynbphotography/5604432175/in/set-72157627518773156

Don’t get me wrong, I love doing artsy stuff, it makes me feel great and little bohemian. It’s still sad but true, that I do it quite rarely, cause, you know it feels hard to begin and there is an illusion in my head that once I do something it has to be something big, painting-like or hanged on the wall.. Blah.. I have too big thoughts of myself. So, I will keep a journal. Reminding of those old notes full of drawings from high school and university… 😉

If you got interested with the idea, there are several cool pages on the internet to get inspired (and naturally from pinterest you will easilly find loads of inspiration).

There is even this one challenge for a daily sketchbook going on. One can join the challenge if needed for inspiration what to draw. I’m not joining, but why not peeking a little to take some inspiration from time to time, if feeling uninspired.

This one’s lovely inspirational sketchbook blog to follow aswell: Alisa Burke Redefining Creativity

f15a64d3da21ae8f51be4e71260cd648Photo origin (via pinterest) from: http://thestars-themoon.tumblr.com/post/5442476549/sweetwillowtree-awitchesbroom

Fifty Shades of Blue in Chefchaouen

Finally I get to publish some pictures from the beautiful blue medina of Chefchaouen in Northern Morocco. It’s a place I’ve been hoping to see for several years now, and now that we headed for Morocco, it was on our must-see list. When arriving to Morocco, we started to doubt if we had time for a visit to this remote mountain town after all. Luckily all the fuzzing and buzzing of the locals and our travel companions made us arrange some time! I’m so happy we did it!

The different shades of blue and lilac are covering the buildings in this old medina embraced by the Rif Mountains. even the name of the town means looking at the mountains. The city was founded in 1471, and a small fortress from that time still remains in the heart of the medina.  Until the 1930’s it was forbidden for christians to enter this town, under the pain of death.

We spent our New Year’s in Chefchaouen. Muslim New Year is celebrated this year later in January, and the town in the evening was now quiet and deserted. Only the tourists filled in the restaurants to celebrate a little. We were lucky to find a athmospheric quality restaurant Aladdin La Lampe Magique that was still very reasonably priced. The ambiance was cosy and oriental, with some real fireplaces warming up the chilly evening of Chaouen. Especially happy we were with their starter salads, they were both different, but propably one of the tastiest of our lives!

I wish that one day, I find myself walking these narrow, heavenly soloured alleys again. Until then, let the pictures speak for themselves!

Weekend’s gourmet experiences – Sandro Eira and Bergga Sunday Roast Brunch

So, last saturday I turned thirty. Feels a little old, knowing I’m not, but at the same time, I can’t believe I’d be a day over 20! Well to be or not to be…  I’m so happy and life is just great! ❤

For my birthday, I organized a little party for my friends on friday. It was a success. My boyfriend made a delicious New York Rasberry Cheesecake and in addition, there were some cocktailfood: Caprese-cocktail salads (mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil), toasted avokado-spinach-mozzarella mini sandwiches, crunchy rye bread buttons filled with cold-smoked salmon paste, grape poppers with white chocolate and nut crunch (this didn’t really work out cause the chocolate solified too much, ooops…) olives, cheese and grapes, and of course several types of snacks and dips.  For welcome drinks we offered some Bellinis.

Evening was great, time flew by and for an afterparty we headed to a cosy bar playing ’black rythm music’ in Southern Helsinki, called Tres Bones. It’s nice to check out some new places like this from time to time.

Sandro Eira – oriental street gourmet

On saturday, my real birthday, we headed to one of the most intresting newish restaurants in town: the awesome Sandro in Kallio district with Middle-Easter-Moroccoan food has now a little brother in Southern Helsinki: Sandro Eira! The readers of local Street Newspaper, City readers chose Sandro Eira the best restaurant of the year as well as Sandro Brunch has been chosen the best in town several times. It’s not too fancy, no way too expensive and the food and cocktails are delicious and intresting. I really really do want to recommend this place!

I chose from the Beirut street kitchen the saffron cream mussels along with some amazing tabbouleh and hummus accompanied with some Riesling…The mussels were a little too salty, but not too much after all, the dish was heavenly! Lauri ordered the pulled lamb batbout burger accompanied with a Moroccoan wine and was satisfied with his dish aswell.

For the dessert I took some chocolate cake with caramelised carrots and pistachio ice cream and Lauri had grilled fruits with youghurt cream and fennel toulie both accompanied with some Royal Rabat mint tea. Awesome! We also tried some of the nice and original cocktails they had on their list.

Bergga Sunday Roast Brunch

The culinary weekend ended with  a Bergga Sunday Roast Brunch (19€). Bergga bar/coffee house is situated in a good spot just opposite to Karhupuisto in Kallio district.

The brunch was still in conclusion pretty simple and ordinary, except that the muesly (with some cinnamon?), bagels and variety of desert cakes were homemade (and delicious). The main course was ok, it was a plate of lamb, pork and cattle roast beef with carrots, onion, parsnip, sweet potato, Brussels sprout with rosépepper sauce that came from the kitchen straight to your table. There was also a veggie option – Tempeh with ginger and carrots.in a way I wouldn’t need that huge and meaty main course, it’s a brunch, not lunch after all.

For the dessert you could choose one of the awesome-looking and surely heavenly-tasting, huge cake pieces from the vitrine, except that we, being already too full, asked to choose it for one of Bergga’s amazing smoothies. The fruits were nice and fresh. To mention some bad sides, juice was made from concentrate and the coffee was just ordinary coffee even though they have some really nice ’special coffees’ in this coffee house.

So, all in all, not bad at all, but unfortunately, the Bergga Sunday Brunch wasn’t SO special compared to the tens of other brunches in town that it would stand out from them. To reach something more worth mentioning, the variety could have been a little broader or the special coffee and better juice included in the price.

Well anyways, Bergga is still one of my favourite coffee houses in town, and you can spend hours just reading some travel/ lifestyle magazines and drinking and eating their mainly ’homemade’ treats. Been there, done that. ❤