In Hanni Koroma’s kitchen, aesthetics come first

Interior architect Hanni Koroma is a visual cook. She only tries out recipes with inspiring photos. At the end of the article, you’ll find a few of Hanni’s recipes such as nettle soup and false morel stew.

Hanni Koroma replaced the top cupboards with a large mirror that makes the space look larger and adds light. Above the tap is a photograph by Arsi Ikäheimonen of Hanni’s piece Morsiamen huone (‘The Bride’s Room’).

Residents:

Interior architect Hanni Koroma and her partner Tuomas Pulliainen. Their home is located in Helsinki’s Kruununhaka neighborhood. The kitchen has elm wood cabinets designed by Hanni and manufactured by Avance, as well as birch counters built from old office furniture.

Green tea is most beautiful when served in a clear glass pot. Hanni serves it with dessert.

IN THE INTERIOR ARCHITECT’S KITCHEN every dish, scoop, and piece of table setting fabric has its own, dedicated place. Below the kitchen’s long countertops is an astounding set of 38 drawers and yet, amazingly, Hanni Koroma can find any kitchen equipment she needs as if it were at her fingertips all along. She built the drawers from repurposed office furniture.

”There are glasses, plates, and cutlery for everyday use in the top drawer. I use the dishes in the bottom drawer less often.” Above the stove, there is a bold mirror, from which the cook can see the dining table behind her.

”The mirror opens up the kitchen and reflects the light from the windows,” Hanni says.

The high cupboards are elm. Hanni designed the ash-topped table that was then built by the carpenters at Avance. The chairs are repurposed from a hospital.

By the mirror, Hanni prefers to cook vegetarian dishes with ingredients from Finnish nature: mushrooms, wild herbs and berries. If she can’t find the right ingredients in her cottage garden, help is near. Hanni trades with her friends.

”I give my friends wild herbs and get false morels in return, for example.”

Hanni prepares false morel stew in her grandmother’s old iron pan. The mushroom, which grows in sandy soil, is poisonous when not prepared correctly, but is edible and very tasty when blanched.

Ramsons make a delicious sauce for wild asparagus.

Ramsons make a delicious sauce for wild asparagus. The wild herb with a mild garlic flavor is quite common in Europe, but less so in Finland. Nettle, however, is plentiful: there is a beautiful, green soup simmering on the stove, which will make for a tasty starter for this springtime meal of mushrooms.

Hanni enjoys a bit of tea in her atmospheric living area, which features the birch Avata closet of her own design.

Hanni is an experimental cook who loves to test and exchange recipes with her friends. However, Hanni’s partner Tuomas has the best sense of smell and taste.

”I thought I was a good cook before we met. Luckily we make completely different dishes. I concentrate on vegetables, while Tuomas more so on fish and meat dishes,” Hanni explains.

The look of the dishes is of interest to the interior architect, even more so than the recipes.

The interior architect sets the table with handmade ceramic tableware with shapes and colors that balance with the dishes and colorful tulips. The look of the meals is of interest to the interior architect, even more so than the recipes. Hanni particularly likes the aesthetics of Japanese images of food.

”If a particular food picture inspires me, I get excited about trying out the recipe, as well.”

The springtime nettle soup is topped off with quail eggs.

Recipes:

Nettle Soup (2 portions)
250 g fresh nettle
chives
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
2 dl water
1–2 dl cream
salt
black pepper
a pinch of sugar

For serving
quail eggs

1. Rinse the fresh nettle. Boil for a few minutes and pour away the water.
2. Chop the nettle and chives. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the flour, then the chopped greens.
3. When the flour and butter have browned slightly and absorbed by the nettle, pour the boiling water over them. Let boil for a few minutes. Add salt, black pepper, and cream. Let simmer for a moment.
4. Purée the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender.
5. Pour the soup into the serving dishes and add the boiled and halved quail eggs on top.

Wild asparagus is Hanni’s favorite ingredient. The sauce is made with ramsons.

Asparagus and ramson butter
organic or wild asparagus
water
salt

Butter sauce
100 g butter
1 dl fresh ramson leaves

1. Boil a large amount of water in a pot. Add salt.
2. Place the asparagus snugly onto wooden skewers. Make two skewers per person.
3. Melt the butter for the sauce. Rinse and chop the ramson leaves. Mix with butter.
4. Boil the asparagus skewers quickly, only for about a minute so that they stay crunchy. Serve right away with the hot butter sauce and false morel stew.

Wild asparagus is skewered with wooden sticks for boiling.

False Morel Stew
water for blanching
2 dl false morels
3 tbsp. butter
1 ½ onions
1 tsp. flour
water
1–2 dl cream
salt
black pepper

1. Fresh false morels need to be boiled twice for 10 minutes at a time in plenty of water. Pour the boiling water away and rinse the mushrooms well in cold water. Make sure to air out your kitchen well when blanching false morels.
2. Chop the blanched false morels and onion. Sweat the onion in the butter for a few minutes and then the mushrooms separately for five minutes.
3. Combine the onion and the mushrooms in the pan and sprinkle flour over them. Add a bit of hot water and let simmer for five minutes.
4. Add cream and simmer for another five minutes. Season to taste.

Light and dark colored dishes work well together in a dessert setting. The Portuguese pastries are called queijada.

Queijadas (18 pieces)
3 eggs
4 ¾ dl sugar
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 ¾ dl flour
4 ¾ dl milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a blender, combine the eggs, sugar and melted butter. Mix until smooth. Add flour and milk little by little with the blender on. Add the vanilla.
2. Pour the mixture in muffin tray molds. Fill the molds until they're ¾ full.
3. Cook in the oven at 165 °C (330 F) for 45 minutes, until the surface is beautifully golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Text: Anna Aromaa Photos: Johanna Myllymäki

This article was first published in Avotakka.

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