Beatrice Ojakangas

Recipes from the Scandinavian Chef

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Location: Duluth, Minnesota, United States


Bumbleberry Pie

Bumbleberry Pie
Fruit pies are American comfort food. Summertime is when the abundance of berries and fruits call for the pie baker to get busy! With the rainbow of fruits and berries before us in June, July and even August, there is no lack of combinations to try.

If you opt to skip baking a pie only because the crust is a challenge, here is a simple recipe for a “press-in" pastry shell. It hardly takes more time and effort than pressing a commercial refrigerated pastry shell into a pie pan. What's lost in flakiness is gained in flavor (not to mention the comfort of knowing what's IN the crust itself!)

When you bake this type of crust, it doesn't shrink or change shape when you need a pre-baked pie shell. For a double-crust pie, I just press half the crumbs into the pie pan, and pour in the filling and top the filling with the remainder of the crumbly mixture.

A while ago I received a request for "Bunbleberry Pie". I had never heard of such a thing, but after some research discovered that this i s a category of pie which mixes fruits and different kinds of berries. I've tested the recipe with a variety of fruit and berry combinations, including blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, with or without rhubarb, with or without apples all with delicious results. Just be sure to have a total of 5 cups of fruit.

The idea of bumbleberries fascinated our grandkids so much that they asked for bumbleberries and cream for breakfast almost every morning. We just combined different berries in a bowl and they were perfectly satisfied! Now I’m thinking – maybe a bumbleberry coffeecake or a bumbleberry cheesecake would be fun. But, here’s the pie for starters.


Pastry for a double crust pie, either your own recipe or Press-In-Pastry (recipe follows)

1 1/3 cups white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 small cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 cup raspberries

1 cup blackberries or blueberries

1 cup rhubarb, cut into 1 inch lengths

Water and about 1 tablespoon additional suga r for top of the pie

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Roll or press pastry into a 9 inch pie plate. Stir sugar and flour together in large bowl. Add apples, raspberries, blackberries, and rhubarb. Toss together, and turn into pie shell. Cover with top past ry (either crumb pastry as described in the Press-In Pastry recipe, or with your own rolled-out pastry). Seal the edges. If you use a rolled-out top crust, slash vents onto the top crust, if using crumb pastry, this is not necessary. Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned and filling bubbles. Makes one 9-inch pie, about 8 servings.


1 recipe Press-in Pastry

2 cups fresh blackberries

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup fresh gooseberries or raspberries

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup sug ar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Prepare the filling and press half of the crumbly pastry evenly into a 9-inch pie pan. Combine the berries, almond extract sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl; toss to mix well. Turn into the u nbaked crust. Sprinkle with the remaining pastry crumbles, or press the remaining crumbs together to make a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and using a cookie cutter, cut into leaf, flower or other shapes and arrang on top of the fruit filling. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling in the center is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Cool until barely warm or to room temperature before serving.


2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, or 3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 whole egg

Mix flour and sugar together. Cut in the butter (you can do this in the food processor) until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg until well blended. Press half of the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, pushing it firmly to make an even layer. For a pre-baked pastry shell, preheat the oven to 300*F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.

For a double-crusted, filled pie, pour filling into the unbaked crust. Sprinkle the second half of the pastry mixture over the top. Bake as directed for a double crust pie.


Rhubarb time again

It's that miracle again. We know it's spring when we begin to get excited about rhubarb.

One day it looks like there's nothing alive out there. A couple days later a pinkish knob pushes through the ground, and in a day or so, leaves appear. A week later (we're talking Northern Minnesota here in the middle of May), the stalks are six inches long.

Just when I thought my rhubarb was getting a good start, my neighbor and friend, Carol Settergren, is already giving it away! And now, the end of May, rhubarb season is in full swing. The rain hasn't hurt the rhubarb at all; it's crisp and there's enough for juice and pie and all kinds of desserts.

Rhubarb, this first fruit of the season, is riddled with contradictions. Botanically it's a vegetable, a member of the buckwheat family. It thrives in areas having cold winters and dry soil.

Those who love rhubarb, love it. Those who don't, don't. Another of its contradictions, the plant itself is both delicious and toxic. The thick, fleshy, celery-like stalks are edible -- the leaves and the roots contain toxic oxalic acid.

Somebody told me that if you have any weeds you'd like to kill, just cover them with rhubarb leaves -- although I haven't managed to get rid of comfrey that way. The leaves have even been used for cleaning aluminum pans and tanning animal hides.

Even those who don't particularly love rhubarb often grow it for its looks. It will grow almost anywhere in good soil or poor, with no attention. A real ``no brainer'' for landscaping, because it makes such a nice, green filler, hiding the contact zones around outhouses and barns. Some people line their driveways with it.

Rhubarb, which is native to Siberia, was brought to this country in the 1700s. It became known as ``pie plant,'' indicating the way the plant is most frequently put to use.

Today it is commercially grown in California, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Washington, although Utica, Mich., calls itself ``Rhubarb Capitol of the World.''

About growing rhubarb

The best way to get successful plants is to get a root from a neighbor, a local farmer or a nursery. These roots will have acclimated themselves to the local climate. Plant or divide rhubarb roots in the early spring -- for us that means anytime in May or June. Don't expect to harvest rhubarb until next year.

When you first plant rhubarb, it needs a lot of water until it establishes its long tap root. After that, it doesn't require care or attention at all, although the best fertilizer is one that is high in nitrogen (the best is ``manure tea''). When seed stalks and flowers develop, cut them off from the base of the plant as soon as they appear and discard them.

Harvesting rhubarb

Pull rather than cut the stalks from the plant. The county extension service recommends that you do your harvesting before July 4. (Do it quickly before you head off to the parade!) After the Fourth of July, rhubarb becomes coarse and dry. The plants also need time to recover for the next season's harvest.

Rhubarb lovers sweet on that tart

Pucker up, rhubarb lovers: You know how sour it can be, so make sure you've got lots of suger in the canister before you start cooking.

Keep in mind that the green variety tends to be more tart than the red variety. Select the thickest, lushest stalks for cooking. Pull off any strings, if you like, but it isn't necessary to peel them.

When I have an abundance of rhubarb, I usually cut it up, layer it with sugar in my Finnish steamer -- the ``mehu maija'' -- and make rhubarb juice. It's wonderful served hot, but it also makes a delicious punch simply mixed with ginger ale and poured over ice.

Rhubarb Juice in the Finnish juicer ("mehu maija")

Trim leaves and ends of the rhubarb stems and wash the stalks. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces; measure. Put the rhubarb into the perforated steaming basket and set it over the juice kettle. Add 1 to 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar for every 20 cups of rhubarb. Fill the water kettle and place over high heat. Heat until water boils and steaming begins.

Steam will rise into the rhubarb, and as it cooks, clear juice will drain into the pan. Open the drain tube to drain the juice. Refrigerate juice or drain into hot, sterilized canning jars, top with canning lids and process in a boiling water bath to seal. Yield varies with the juiciness of the rhubarb.

And if you don't have a mehu maija to call your own, you still can easily make Rhubarb Juice.

Rhubarb Juice

3 cups rhubarb, cut in 1/2-inch pieces (1 pound)

5 cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

Combine rhubarb, water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool, then pour through a fine sieve and chill. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Sweeten to taste and serve alone, or mix with ginger ale or lemon-flavored soda. Makes 5 cups.

Rhubarb Creme Brulee

6 cups rhubarb, cut in 1/2-inch pieces (2 pounds)

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Arrange rhubarb in an even layer in the baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender and the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Scoop the rhubarb into six (3/4 cup) individual ovenproof dessert dishes or eight (1/2 cup) custard cups. Sprinkle each with granulated sugar.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and vanilla. Heat the cream to simmering. Whisk the cream into the egg yolks. Pour the cream mixture over the rhubarb, dividing the mixture equally. Place into a larger pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Loosely cover with foil and bake until set, about 50 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack. Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown sugar evenly over each custard and caramelize with a blowtorch, moving evenly back and forth just over the sugar until it's evenly melted. Or you can caramelize the sugar under the broiler. Set the dishes 2-3 inches from the heat until the sugar is evenly melted. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ginger Rhubarb Compote

5 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced 1/2 inch

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

Whipped cream

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and ginger in a 2-quart glass baking dish, cover and microwave at HIGH power for 5 minutes until rhubarb is tender; stir. Taste. Add more sugar to taste. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.

Here's a recipe from my friend Carol Settergren -- a three-layer dessert consisting of a crust, a custard-like filling and a fluffy meringue on the very top. This luscious, light-as-air wonder will serve a crowd.

Aunt Minnie's Rhubarb Fluff

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut up

5 cups rhubarb, cut 1/2 inch

6 eggs, separated

2-3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup undiluted evaporated milk

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with nonstick spray. In a bowl or in the food processor, combine the flour, sugar and butter together and process or blend using a hand mixer until the butter is completely blended into the flour. Press the dry mixture firmly into the bottom of the cake pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until layer is firm to the touch but not browned.

Spread the rhubarb pieces evenly over the baked crust. Mix the egg yolks with 2 cups of the sugar, salt, evaporated milk and 6 tablespoons flour. Pour over the rhubarb evenly. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the rhubarb layer is set.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. With beater going at high speed, beat in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar until stiff.

Spread over the rhubarb layer. Sprinkle with the coconut. Bake for 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/2 inch

4 cups strawberries, sliced

1 1/2 cups uncooked rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch baking dish. Combine the sugar and cornstarch; add the rhubarb and strawberries and toss until fruit is coated. Spread evenly in the baking dish. Combine the rolled oats, brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon until crumbly. Sprinkle over the rhubarb and strawberries. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 6 servings.

Carol also makes the old favorite apple pie squares with rhubarb replacing the apples, adding a bit more sugar. I tried it and we loved it.

Rhubarb Pie Squares


2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powdefr

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or 1 cup lard

1 egg, separated

2/3 cup milk


1 cup cornflakes, measured before crushing

5 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix in the butter until butter pieces are about the size of peas. Mix the egg and the milk and pour over the dry ingredients. Toss with a fork until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Gather the dough into a ball and divide into two parts.

Roll dough out to fit into an 11-by-15-inch jelly roll pan. It may be easier to roll out dough to fit half of the pan at a time. Sprinkle evenly with the crushed cornflakes. In a large bowl, mix the rhubarb with the sugar and cinnamon. Spread the mixture evenly over the pastry lined pan. Dot with the butter.

Roll out the remaining dough and fit over the filling, sealing the edges all around the pan. Beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Spread the egg mixture evenly over the top crust of the pie. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the pastry is browned.

While it bakes, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice until icing can be drizzled. Drizzle over the top of the baked squares. Cool. Cut into squares to serve. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

The crunchy and sweet topping on these tender muffins balances the tartness of the rhubarb. This recipe comes from my rhubarb-loving sister-in-law, Kathie Luoma.

Kathie's Rhubarb Nut Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup fresh rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch dice


1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, egg, buttermilk and vanila. Mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the rhubarb. Scoop batter into the muffin cups. Combine the brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture over the tops of the muffins, dividing equally. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes or just until a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean and dry, or until the muffin feels firm in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Makes 12 muffins.


Mozzarella! Mozzarella!

You'll want to shout it from the kitchen window when you discover how ridiculously easy it is to make fresh mozzarella cheese at home

Fresh mozzarella made by hand. Sounds complicated and expensive, doesn't it?

Surprise: Nothing could be further from the truth. You CAN make fresh mozzarella at home in less time than it takes to make a box cake mix. It isn't rocket science, and you don't need the computer skills of a 6-year-old to understand what you're doing.

We're talking firm, fresh cheese here, with a mild flavor, that can be sliced. Not at all like aged or ripened cheese.

Actually, though, ripened cheese starts its life the same way as fresh cheese, only it goes through a brining process and controlled temperature aging -- while fresh cheese goes right onto a bruschetta topped with fresh tomato or a pizza or into a salad, or onto a piece of buttered toast. And what a delicious way to eat your four glasses of milk a day!

What do you need to make fresh cheese? A non-aluminum pot that will hold a gallon of milk, a custard cup to dissolve the rennet, a spoon, a candy thermometer (or an instant reading thermometer -- I love my digital one) and a large slotted spoon or a small sieve. A glass bowl and a microwave oven are handy to further speed up the cheesemaking process.

Ingredients? One gallon of skim, 1 percent or 2 percent milk, citric acid, rennet tablets and regular table salt. One gallon of milk will produce about 12 ounces of cheese.

Citric acid and rennet are available by mail order -- or you might check your local pharmacy. Or you can order the supplies through the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co., 85 Main Street, Ashfield, MA 01330, phone: (413) 628-3808, or see the Web site at I ordered their cheesemaking kit for $19.95, which comes with enough supplies to make 20 batches of mozzarella cheese or eight batches of ricotta (you'll love the fresh taste of homemade ricotta). One batch and I was hooked!

First encounter with fresh mozzarella

``Mozzarella! Mozzarella!'' is a moment etched in our memories.

Recently married, my husband, Dick, and I were driving through southern Italy and the cheesemakers were hawking their fresh mozzarella to passersby on a narrow country road. Excited to try it, we bought a bucketful of the soft fresh cheese scooped out of a tank of brine.

We were on a monthlong drive in our little VW and it would be three weeks before we'd cross the English Channel to our apartment in Oxford, England.

But in just a few days, the stench began. The car reeked of sour (rotten) cheese, and we had to throw our precious mozzarella away.

The lesson here: Fresh mozzarella is meant to be eaten fresh. Even packed in a brine, it keeps no more than a few days.

The cheesemaking tradition

This is the time of year I think of making cheese. It goes back to my farm heritage. Cows freshen in the springtime and milk was abundant on our little farm in Floodwood. As a teen-ager, I made an aged yellow cheese following the instructions in a St. Louis County Extension service pamphlet on cheesemaking.

I grew up idolizing Heidi in Switzerland, who spent her summers in the mountains drinking ``bowls'' of milk and helping to make Swiss cheese. I also heard colorful stories of Norwegian dairy maids in their mountain settings making kilos and kilos of cheese throughout the spring and summer. It was a way to preserve milk. (It takes approximately 10 pounds of milk to produce 1 pound of cheese.)

It wasn't until recently that the idea of making cheese in small batches gained interest across the country. So-called ``artisan'' cheesemakers, like my friend Paula Lambert, who founded The Mozzarella Company in Dallas, make high-quality fresh cheeses in small amounts that are sold mostly to restaurants and specialty shops.

However, if you make family-sized batches of cheese, like you would bake bread, you can add a whole new dimension to life in the kitchen. Or you might discover a rewarding activity to share with your children or grandchildren. I found that I can start the dough for either simple French bread or one of my fruit, nut or whole-grain breads (in ``Whole Grain Breads By Machine or By Hand''), and when the dough is done, I shape and set it to rise. By the time the bread is baked, I can have fresh cheese made, too!

I often get questions about special kinds of baked cheese, the kind that are traditional in the Scandinavian countries. I describe several in ``The Finnish Cookbook.'' One that those of Finnish and Swedish heritage remember is called 3ostkaka,1 or ``cheesecake.'' Unlike the cheesecake Americans are familiar with, ostkaka is made of baked ``colostrum'' milk -- the first milk after freshening.

Colostrum milk, which has the consistency of firm custard, was always a delicacy. To make it, we simply poured the colostrum milk into a heavy casserole dish with nothing more added to it. We used milk from about the third milking after the cow had freshened. This ``first milk'' is high in protein, so that when it is baked, it sets as if there's egg in it.

We'd set the casserole into a larger pan with hot water and bake until firm. If it was overbaked, it would get watery, much the same way a custard might. The custardy result was scooped into a bowl, and we'd sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top and eat it for breakfast or dessert.

When colostrum milk was no longer available, we would make ostkaka or ``uunijuusto'' by adding rennet to fresh milk and then straining off the curds from the whey. The recipe I'm including here is from my friend Marj Bergeland, who grew up on a farm in west-central Minnesota. Marj says her Grandma Swanson always started out with several quarts of milk plus rennet tablets to make firm curds. She then strained the whey through cheesecloth. Marj has simplified the recipe by starting with small-curd cottage cheese.

Cooking and Baking with Fresh Herbs and Phyllo

Do you remember when parsley was the only fresh herb anybody used? You put a sprig of it onto an otherwise colorless dish and called it “garnish”. Nobody ever ate the stuff. You never ate the garnish. That may have been why people didn’t think anything of decorating food with something poisonous like fresh daisies. The rule now is that you don’t put anything onto a plate that’s not edible.

Today, the garden outside my kitchen window is abundant with all kinds of herbs, including parsley, sage, basil, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, tarragon and thyme. We use these herbs for their flavor, though they do make great edible garnishes. I snipped garlic chives into a salmon quiche the other day and our curious grandchildren wanted a taste. That led to a tasting tour of the herb garden. Tarragon tastes a little peppery and licorice-like, basil leaves are sweet, lovage tastes like celery, rosemary tastes a little like a Christmas tree needle and sorrel leaves taste lemony. Sorrel turned out to be a favorite.

Herbs are one garden product that I feel really pay their way! I like to clip and dry them so that I have a winter’s supply far tastier than anything I can buy in a jar. Although I sometimes use a dehydrator, I like to hang herbs in bunches to dry the old fashioned way. It takes just a couple of days before I can crush the leaves ready for storage. I just want to be sure I pack them away while they’re still green and aromatic. Any herb whether in a jar or in the air that’s turned brown and smells like dried hay won’t do much to flavor anything.

We were talking about fresh herbs one day while I was getting a haircut. My hairdresser said he had clipped a recipe from Gourmet Magazine about twenty years ago for a phyllo-crusted pizza and he uses all kinds of fresh herbs from the garden. The idea sent me to the kitchen to do some experimentation. I loved the results. Eight layers of phyllo, each brushed with an herb and olive oil mixture with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano, makes an irresistible base for a few simple toppings.

The advantage of baking this pizza in the convection oven is that the pizza bakes quickly at a lower temperature than in a conventional oven. For conventional baking, you’ll need to increase the oven temperature by 25*F. Although I prefer a rimless, dark, non-insulated cookie sheet, you can bake the pizza on a shallow-rimmed jelly roll pan. I avoid insulated cookie sheets of any kind.

Phyllo-Crust Fresh Herb Pizza
Makes one 12 by 17-inch pizza, about 6 servings or 24 appetizer squares

8 (17 x 12-inch) sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, basil, oregano, marjoram or thyme, or a combination
8 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup coarsely shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup very thinly sliced sweet onion
5 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh or dried rosemary

Preheat oven to convection bake at 350*F. (or in standard oven, to 375*F.) Coat a rectangular, preferably rimless, cookie sheet with nonstick spray

Stack phyllo between 2 sheets of waxed paper and cover with a dampened kitchen towel.. Mix olive oil with the garlic and herbs. Lay 1 sheet of the phyllo onto the baking pan. Brush with some of the olive oil and herb mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese. Lay another sheet of the phyllo on top and press firmly so that it adheres to the bottom sheet, and brush with oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan, Continue layering the phyllo and brushing with the oil and cheese until all eight sheets are stacked. Brush with any remaining oil mixture and sprinkle with any remaining Parmesan. Scatter sliced onion, sliced tomatoes, oregano, thyme and rosemary over the top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake in the center of the oven for 18 to 23 minutes at convection bake or 25 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, or until the edges are golden. With a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut the pizza into squares.