The proceeds from the Finlandia Vodka dinner series benefited Slow Food USA, an organization that promotes sustainable food practices. Why is this cause important to you?
In Scandinavia, fresh, organic ingredients are the soul of food. In Finland, we even pick our own blueberries and mushrooms. It’s important to know where your food and flavors come from. We’re all really busy but we should have moments around food. Growing up, all my moments around food were really joyful.
What ingredients most inspire you?
At the moment, I really love rhubarb and passion fruit. My favorite dessert is a rhubarb and strawberry granita. For a barbecue, you can just put the fresh fruit, ice and sugar into a blender; add a little vodka and champagne, and you have a great drink.
Why is Finlandia Vodka a good fit for your recipes?
The water in Finland is very pure. It doesn’t leave a metallic aftertaste in your mouth, which makes it ideal for cooking. It’s great in sauces, especially black currant, and you can even use it to marinate your food. Finlandia also comes in so many different flavors, so it’s perfect in desserts like sorbet. Using alcohol to prepare your food isn’t new but I think vodka is a younger, trendier choice than traditional liquors like rum or cognac.
How can non-cooks learn to love the kitchen?
You don’t have to do too much to make good food. My recipes are quite simple and accessible, which is really important to me. When a recipe is easy to follow and doesn’t take much time, you become excited about food and being able to prepare something really good. My dishes are for everyday life, not just special occasions.
Plating and food styling are very important to you. Why?
It’s your first impression of that dish and first impressions are important. And it makes eating more of an experience. I love how food connects with the whole theme of a party.
Appetizer: Oriental Chicken Skewers with Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka
3 – 8 oz Chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tsp Ginger, grated
2 tsp Garlic, grated
2 tbsp Fresh spring onion, chopped
4 tbsp Honey
1 tsp Horseradish, grated
1 tsp Red chili
1 tbsp Lime juice
1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp Soya sauce
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka
To taste Salt
3 tbsp Fresh cilantro, chopped
8 Barbecue sticks, soaked in water
Combine ingredients for marinade in a bowl, add chicken strips and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Skewer the chicken strips and place them on the grill for 5 – 10 minutes until done.
Dessert: Pavlova with Finlandia Mango Vodka and Tropical Fruits
4 Egg whites
3/4 cup Icing sugar
2/3 cup Sugar
2 drops White wine vinegar
Or ready-made meringue, store bought
Finlandia Lime Passion Sauce
5 tbsp Lime curd
6 Passion fruits
Splash Finlandia Lime Vodka
1 1/2 cup Cream, whipped
2 tbsp Sugar
1 pint Strawberries, sliced
1 pint Boysenberries, or seasonal berries
To make the meringue:
Preheat oven to 170°F. Whisk the sugar and egg whites until stiff; fold in the icing sugar and the white wine vinegar. Pipe into small round shapes on a baking sheet and bake for 3.5 – 4 hours.
To make the cream:
Whip cream until it begins to peak; add sugar to taste.
Finlandia Lime Vodka Passion Sauce:
Mix lime curd, the flesh of passion fruits and a splash of Finlandia Lime Vodka in a bowl. Place the meringues on a plate with a large spoon of the cream mixture, garnish with a drizzle of passion fruit sauce and top with tropical fruits.
Sara La Fountain works with Finlandia in Europe to promote cooking with vodka and is a caterer, TV chef personality, food stylist and cookbook author. She also pens a blog about her passion for fashion and food. In partnership with Finlandia, Fairmont launched the “Classic Cocktails” Program – a collection of some of Fairmont’s most time-honored libations available at Fairmont Hotels worldwide.