Saturday, 17 May 2014
Rhubarb kissel and semolina pudding
This is another post where I have learned something new about some of my childhood foods. When we were children, we would often have oatmeal for breakfast. Every now and then we would have porridge deluxe, i.e. semolina porridge. It was such a treat. In Finnish semolina is called "manna", and I had no idea what it was called in English, so I just assumed you couldn't get it over here. However through some coincidence or other I learned that it was called semolina and that you could get in pretty much any supermarket. So I got myself a large bag of coarse semolina (it's still not quite the same as the Finnish "manna" but works well enough) and have enjoyed the occasional treat of semolina porridge (or pudding, as I think it's called over here. But basically it's just a porridge!)
Another food I had always assumed was pretty much Finnish was the "kiisseli". I haven't found anything resembling it in the UK. However, for this post, I decided to do some research, and lo and behold, I have learned that "kiisseli", called kissel in English (thank you Wikipedia) is a Slavic dish, and the name (which I always thought was a "real" Finnish word) comes from the Slavic word for sour. I have also learned that according to Wikipedia kissel is a "viscous fruit dish". Basically, it's fruit or berries cooked in a bit of water (with sugar) and then thickened with cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot. As a child, I remember when I was in daycare, we used to have it a lot as a dessert. Strawberry kissel, rhubarb kissel, blueberry kissel. It's a nice dessert or breakfast, it can be enjoyed with porridge, ice cream, custard or just as is. I really love rhubarb kissel, it's not too sweet (and you can adjust the amount of sugar to make it exactly how you like it) and it just tastes of summer. It's also ridiculously easy and quick to make.
Semolina pudding (serves 4-6):
1 1/4 dl (1/2 cup) semolina
pinch of salt
Rhubarb kissel (serves 6-8):
500 g rhubarb
400 ml water
100 ml sugar
2 tbsp corn- or potato starch
1/2 tsp vanilla syrup
For the semolina pudding, bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan (preferably non-stick if you have one, but any saucepan will work). Add the semolina and salt, cook until the pudding thickens, about 15-20 minutes.
For the rhubarb kissel, chop the rhubarb into about 1/2 inch thick pieces. Put the rhubarb, water and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil and let cook for a few minutes until the rhubarb has softened. Mix the starch with a tablespoon or two of water. Take the rhubarb mixture off the hob, very slowly pour in the starch and water mixture, while stirring. Put the mixture back onto the hob, and bring to a gentle boil for another minute or so to thicken the kissel. You can serve the kissel and pudding warm (not hot) or cold.
I'm sorry for choosing another one of those foods that just isn't photogenic at all. And I need to get some glass bowls for photography... But as usual, it's not the looks that counts, and I wouldn't blog about it unless I loved it. This is comfort food at it's best. It's perfect for breakfast or pudding. Or why not a light lunch. You can have the semolina pudding on it's own or with jam or fresh fruit. You can have the kissel on it's own, or with ice cream or custard. And with rhubarb season in full swing, this is definitely worth a try!