Kristina Vänni is a Finnish-American recipe developer and food writer living in New York City. Currently, she is working on the Homefarm Life cookbook project alongside photographer Eric Kleinberg. The English-language book explores traditional and seasonal Finnish cuisine through the lens of our family dairy farm. Her great-grandmother, Josefiina Pitkäranta, was born and raised on this very farm until she left for a new life in the United States. Kristiina has retraced her steps back to Finland to tell the unique story of Finnish cuisine and culture to an American audience.
What is the role of cheese in your cooking?
Growing up in the Midwest region of the United States, cheese is a staple in our cuisine. Living near the state of Wisconsin meant that we had access to some of the best cheese in the country. In American cuisine, cheese is a universally loved ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of ways. It adds creaminess, color, richness and flavor to any dish. It can also be incorporated in many ways, whether it be shredded, sliced, cubed, or used a topping. There are countless quintessentially American dishes that incorporate cheese and I look forward to sharing some of them with Finns and other cheese-lovers abroad!
What is your favorite way of using cheddar?
It is so hard to choose just one! One classic American comfort food is “Macaroni and Cheese.” Macaroni pasta is combined with creamy, melted cheddar cheese and then baked in the oven until it is lightly browned and bubbly. This is a favorite meal for all ages and is often served at a buffet during parties and celebrations. Sometimes it is even served as a side dish during Thanksgiving dinner!