Do you know what Finnish and Italian food cultures have in common? Or how about pasta and Karelian pies?
Close to 30 years ago, my husband Rolf and his father Heimo founded HEIROL, a kitchenware importing company.
On their first trip to a trade fair in Milan, I asked Rolf to visit the Marcato and Bialetti stands. Marcato pasta makers and Bialetti Moka Express are both industry classics, so it seemed obvious that we should have them in our product selection! It just so happened, that Rolf mentioned his wife is from Italy, and right away HEIROL got the right to import both brands in Finland. We are still representing both Marcato and Bialetti in Finland and as a matter of fact, we are the only company who the brands have worked with for as long as 30 years!
But how to get Finns excited about making pasta, as 30 years ago very few people were eating pasta, to begin with?? When the collaboration with these two brands started HEIROL was a fairly young company and money for advertising was slim, so we had to find another way to introduce the products to the people.
One day, Heimo noticed that a customer had purchased multiple pasta makers. What on earth? The customer was Hankkija in Kitee, a company which focuses on agriculture, what would they do with pasta makers? Heimo called the customer and with zero hesitation he said; ”It ain’t no pasta maker! It’s a Karelian pie machine!’‘. Heimo wanted to share this wonderful idea with the whole nation but didn’t know how he would succeed in doing so.
In the early ’90s, the tv channel MTV3 had a popular show called Huomenta Suomi (transl. Good morning Finland), in which the host Kati Nappa would inspire Finns to make delicious everyday foods. Rolf contacted the show and soon our customer and his wife from Kitee were on a live broadcast making Karelian pies with a Marcato pasta maker! Right away our phone started ringing and hundreds of pasta makers were sold in next to no time! This was a grand moment for us, as this gave HEIROL the wings to continue its operations. HEIROL was founded during the start of the worst depression of the ’90s when the economy in Finland was struggling, which we, as a company, had to deal with as well.
After this, the Karelian pie machine was also being sold to make pasta.
In 1997, Rolf and I collaborated with a Finnish magazine called Kotiliesi and prepared a few different pasta recipes with a pasta maker in their photoshoot kitchen studio. Once the magazine came out, we instantly received a bunch of orders for pasta makers. Lemon pasta, Nonna’s Lasagna, Carbonara – all these recipes gained popularity and for many people, our family included, they are still their favorite recipes! This Karelian pie recipe may be a bit more challenging for my Italian genes than what I am used to – but if I can do it, so can you!
The handprint of the chef is nicely visible when making homemade Karelian pies. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Making something with your own hands relaxes both the mind and body.
KARELIAN PIE RECIPE – 30-40 pcs
50 g of butter
3 dl of rice
2,5 dl of water
1 liter of whole milk
2 tsp of salt
Dough / crust:
3 dl of water
1 tsp of salt
3 dl of all-purpose flour
3 dl of rye flour
Boil the water and add the rice. Cook on medium heat until the water is absorbed and then add the milk. Let the mix simmer for about an hour and finish off by adding the butter and egg. Mix the water, salt, and all-purpose flour. Knead into a solid dough and then add the rye flour. Use your hands to form a long, even bar, and cut it into same-sized pieces. Use a rolling pin to flatten the pieces and run them through the pasta maker one piece at a time. If the dough is sticky, use some flour to help you out.
Place a spoonful of the filling on each of the prepared pieces. Fold both sides of the dough towards the middle, so that 1-2cm of the filling is visible. Use your thumb and index finger to ”crinkle” the edges (as seen in the picture above). The end result varies based on the maker, so don’t worry about what they look like, the taste will be great regardless!
Bake the pies in the oven at 300° Celcius for about 10 minutes, or until the filling is golden colored. Smear some butter on top and enjoy!