Summer of Lapland - Smoked reindeer quiche

23:01

I blogged earlier the recipe for my smoked reindeer pasta. The other reindeer recipe that I love is smoked reindeer quiche. It’s a lovely “light” and simple dinner served with a fresh crisp salad. It’s not really that light with all the cream and cheese, but kind of feels healthy with the supremely lean reindeer meat and a rye pastry base.

The reindeer and the delicious aromas emanating from the oven as the quiche was baking made me think of this beautiful poem about Lapland. It was written more than a hundred years ago by a much loved Finnish poet Eino Leino – see, even his name rhymes! Well, ok he made the name up, so I suppose it would. The poem is called Summer of Lapland and on surface it movingly explores the unique nature of Lapland and the melancholy, sometimes even heavy Finnish mindset and tendency to introspection and brooding.

But in fact the Lapland of the poem symbolises the whole of Finland under oppression from the tsarist Russia in the turn of the 20th century. During that time Leino was a member of a group of important Finnish nationalist thinkers and cultural figures fighting back the Russian designs for integrating Finland into the Russian empire. This poem is part of the passive resistance and strengthening of the Finnish cultural identity that these great artists all were part of, Sibelius with his works like the Karelia Suite and Finlandia and Gallen-Kallela’s with his Kalevala inspired paintings. A painting by Eetu Isto depicting the two-headed Imperial eagle of Russia trying to snatch the book of laws from the hands of a Finnish maiden became an emblem of Russian oppression in Finland. The painting had to be smuggled into safety to Sweden and further on to Germany, but was eventually returned and now resides in the National Museum in Helsinki.

Anyway back to the poem. I didn’t find any official translations of it, so I translated it myself - I am no poet and not even a native english speaker so it's not a masterpiece but hopefully get the message across.

Attack by Eetu Isto - this painting came to
symbolise Finnish resistance of Russification
The poem was composed to a song much later by a Finnish composer Kai Chydenius, who ironically was a “Taistoist” – a pro-soviet communist fundamentalist. I doubt Leino would have approved. I certainly don't. Luckily that version disappeared to the graveyard of pretentious crap and another composition by much more politically palatable musicians Hietanen and Wesslin became the well-known minor scale frame for the poem. There is one particular version that is close to many Finnish hearts. It’s performed by Vesa-Matti Loiri - a national treasure of a comedian, actor, musician and Eurovision contestant (he came last as any dignified Finnish Eurovision representative always would). Whenever I miss my homeland I play this song and have a little cry! Or a hysterical sob-fest depending on the amount of home sickness and red wine involved.

Smoked reindeer quiche on rye pastry


Rye Pastry base:

120 g butter
2/3  cup of all purpose flour
½  cup of rye flour
3 tbsp of cold water
Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)

Rub the butter, flour and water until it forms a ball of dough. Let rest in fridge for 10-20 min while you prepare the filling.

Smoked reindeer flling:

100 g smoked reindeer
1 red pepper
1 red onion
1 stalk of celery
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Scandinavian Forest spice mix (I realize it’s not easy to find so you can skip this)
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Topping:

1/3 cup of milk
1/3 cups of double cream
1/3 cups sour cream (or creme fraiche)
1/3 cups cheese (feta, goat cheese, cheddar, manchego, whatever you have)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Chop onion and celery, slice pepper and mince garlic. Fry onion, celery and pepper for a few minutes, add garlic and herbs, and a careful pinch of salt and pepper. The smoked reindeer is salty so don’t add too much. Fry until the vegetables have softened a bit still al dente, leave to cool mixing in the chopped smoked reindeer.

Roll the dough and place in a buttered quiche dish. Blind bake for 15 minutes in 200 C.

Pour the filling onto the partly baked base. Cover with cream topping. Bake 30 min in 200 C or until quiche is firm and nicely browned. The rye base takes a bit longer to firm up, which is why it is important to blind bake.

Serve with salad.


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