Into The Woods – Crostini with Wild Mushrooms & Ricotta

One of the biggest reasons why I love fall so much is because it's the season of numerous mushroom foraging trips. As I see the leaves slowly burst into vibrant colors and watch mist linger on the fields, my mind starts to wander in those deep forests; the forests that are not only a home to rich and diverse wildlife but also to edible berries, herbs, and mushrooms. As I've mentioned before, foraging is one of the greatest things that defines the Nordic kitchen and way of life. It's one of the most wonderful ways of living in harmony with the surrounding nature. It's a feeling of deep gratitude for those thick forests, blue lakes, and fresh air in our lungs.

We have a thing called every man's rights aka freedom to roam here in the north. This basically means that the nature is something that is to be shared with everyone. Everyone has the right to enjoy the wilderness amidst we live. As long as you don't harm nature or disturb other people's privacy, you're free to forage berries, plants, and mushrooms as well as walk, ski, cycle, and camp. It's a downright wonderful thing.

So last week I picked up my wooden basket and mushroom knife and headed into the woods to forage mushrooms. It's a brilliant mushroom year, they say. Porcini, one of the most delicious mushrooms, are growing like mad ones. It's such a good porcini year that even commercial exporters (every year we export large amounts primarily to Italy) have a hard time figuring out how to get the most of this unexpectedly phenomenal harvest. I too wasn't disappointed and returned home with a lovely harvest of porcini, hedgehog mushrooms, and something I've never foraged before, amazing parasol mushrooms. I had a basket full of possibilities.

Quite quickly I decided to make crostini. I wanted to highlight the flavors of the wonderful wild mushrooms and felt that these appetizers would truly do them justice. I toasted slices of homemade Bread in 5 baguette, rubbed them with garlic, topped with creamy and oh-so-luscious ricotta as well as herby panfried wild mushrooms. To finish, I drizzled some high quality extra virgin olive oil on top.

Quick to make, simple, and delicious. In other words, a perfect fall appetizer.

A few weeks ago, I received a sample of Feel IT extra virgin olive oils to test: Casaliva from Lombardy, in the north of Italy, Dolce Agogia from the north of Umbria, a region in central Italy, and Cerasuola from the northern parts of the lovely island of Sicily. Before tasting the Feel IT extra virgin olive oils I just thought that an olive oil was either good or bad. Never did I sample it like wine; tasting all those different nuances, noticing the differences, and wondering with what kind of food it would pair perfectly. What I had on hand were three very different extra virgin olive oils made of three different olive varieties harvested in three different parts of Italy. I truly did feel it.

Feel IT was created out of a passion for high quality, truly Italian extra virgin olive oils. Their oils are monocultivar meaning that they are pressed from a single type of olive, whereas, most olive oils are made of blends. Feel IT not only praises family owned local olive farms but also the unique flavors of different olive types. These olive oils are like a love letter from Veronica Motto, the 26-year-old Milan-based founder, to her country. And I love it.

I tried all three oils with these crostini and found Casaliva to be my favorite. Casaliva from Lombardy with the mighty Alps, the fertile Po Valley plain, and the great Lombard lakes, such as Lake Garda.

Feel IT High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oils | My blue&White Kitchen

On another note, I'll be traveling for the rest of the month which basically means I'm going to put on my dirndl and raise a Maß or two. I haven't planned any posts for my absence so it may be a bit quieter around here. However, I do have my camera and laptop with me so in case inspiration hits and I'm not too busy stuffing my face with Zwetschgendatschi,
SpätzleGrießnockerlBrezn (aka soft Pretzels)SauerkrautLeberkäse, and other deliciousness, I may surprise you with something Bavarian inspired.

But for now I'm leaving you with these absolutely delicious fall crostini. Enjoy!

Crostini with Wild Mushrooms & Ricotta

This is not really a recipe as I'm not going to give you exact amounts of what you need. Why? Because you don't really need to. Cook with your senses; use your eyes, your nose, and taste as you go. For 6 crostini I used around 1 cup of roughly chopped wild mushrooms and 2 small shallots. I prefer to use a mix of different mushroom varieties to keep things more interesting. The mushroom mixture can be prepared beforehand; just reheat it before assembling.

baguette or ciabatta-style bread, sliced
1 garlic clove, halved lengthwise

wild mushrooms, roughly chopped (remember that they'll shrink considerably as they cook)
fresh thyme leaves
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to season
shallots, finely sliced
dry white wine
more fresh thyme leaves & finely chopped parsley

high quality ricotta

high quality extra virgin olive oil, such as Casaliva

Toast the bread slices on a dry frying pan until golden brown in color. You can also grill them for even more flavor. Rub the fried bread slices with garlic on both sides.

In a frying pan, melt the butter on high heat. Once the butter has melted and stopped to bubble, add the mushrooms and thyme. The mushrooms will first release quite a bit of moisture but as it evaporates, the mushrooms will start to get color. Season with salt and pepper. When the mushrooms are golden brown in color, lower the temperature to medium-low and add the shallots. Cook until the shallots have softened. Add a splash of white wine and let it evaporate. Add more thyme and parsley. Taste and season (or even add more wine) if necessary. Set aside.

To arrange, top each bread slice with ricotta, mushroom mixture, and more herbs. To finish, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the crostini. Serve!

Crostini with Wild Mushrooms & Ricotta | My Blue&White Kitchen

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Feel IT. However, all opinions are my own.

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Welcoming Fall – Warm Chèvre Salad with Grapes, Heirloom Apples, & Walnuts

It can't be denied anymore; fall came here to stay. Fallen leaves mark my way home from farmers' markets where apples appear in all kinds of colors and shapes. Apples truly are the heroes of fall: local, tasty, and immensely versatile. 

Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Gala – do yourself a favor and leave those ones at the store. There are so many local heirloom apples to discover! They burst with flavor and are often fierier than their highly commercial counterparts that often are downright boring. My granny used to have apple trees growing in her backyard. I loved to harvest the different varieties and discover their unique flavors; my favorite always was a variety called cinnamon apple which had not only a perfect balance of sweet and sour but, as its name says, a delicate cinnamon flavor. Nowadays I either head to a friend's backyard (like last Sunday and again today) or buy apples at one of those farmers' market stalls that sell apples till it gets too cold to stand outside all day long.

Apple pie may be the first thing that pops into your mind when spotting an apple tree heavy with fruit but they're also lovely in savory dishes, such as with pork. Salads are ridiculously easy to adapt according to the season. Therefore, I often start the shift in seasons on my plate with a seasonal salad. Here I combined crisp apples with the earthy flavors of walnuts, sweet red grapes, and creamy goat cheese and finished it with a walnut vinaigrette. This salad stays interesting till the very last bite.

The perfect way to welcome fall.

P.S. As the vibrant fall colors and apple galore always reminds me of Canada, its lovely people, and all the delicious food I've enjoyed there, I have to mention you the new Canadian group baking blog BAKED. The forces working behind this space are some of the most creative and inspiring ones that the food blogging world has to offer: Laura, Kelly, Gabriel, Kris, and Ashley. Yay!

Warm Chèvre Salad with Grapes, Heirloom Apples, and Walnuts

serves 2

4 handfuls of mixed green salads (I used bloody dock & arugula), washed & dried
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of walnuts
2 handfuls of red grapes (preferably seedless), halved
2 small apples, thinly sliced and seeds removed (I usually don't core small heirloom apples)
5 cm / 2" log of goat cheese, cut into two disks
olive oil, for frying

for the vinaigrette
3 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp dark balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
a drizzle of agave nectar or honey
fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

optional: bread, to serve

Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat stirring regularly until the nuts start to get fragrant. Be careful not to burn them as this can happen quite quickly. Set aside.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and agave nectar. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a non-stick frying pan, fry the goat cheese disks for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown in color. While the cheese is frying, assemble the salad on plates and drizzle with some vinaigrette. Top with the warm goat cheese and serve immediately.

Warm Chèvre Salad with Grapes, Heirloom Apples, & Walnuts | My Blue&White Kitchen

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Warm Spiced Brown Butter Zucchini Muffins

Warm Spiced Brown Butter Zucchini Muffins | My Blue&White Kitchen

In order to deal with 7 lb of zucchini, I've tried to come up with different ways to use summer squash in my kitchen. There were so many great suggestions when I asked for recipe ideas on Instagram! Curries, jam, latkes, tempura, soup, pickles... As one of you predicted, the skin was very tough so I came to the conclusion that the best way to use it would be to grate it. I don't know why but the moment I saw this giant all I could think of were baked goods. Zucchini bread, cakes, and muffins. I also had the idea of zucchini waffles with crème fraîche and gravlax that I yet have to try. What is your favorite way to prepare this summer veggie? I still have a big piece left...

Warm Spiced Brown Butter Zucchini Muffins | My Blue&White Kitchen

The air already smells of fall. Misty mornings, chilly winds, rainy days, and bright red rowan berries. The urge to head to the woods to forage porcini and other mushrooms. Waiting for sea buckthorns and lingonberries to ripen. Trying to find my way back to the daily hassles. The kitchen smells of warm spices and the oven is used more often.

I've made these muffins multiple times. They are spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom giving them that comfy fall feel. They also happen to be gluten-free! I often bake with gluten-free flours, although, there isn't a reason why I should avoid gluten. I simply enjoy to bake with different flours playing around with flavors and textures. Why to always use wheat, barley, or rye flour when there are so many other wonderful flours available? I made a few adaptions to Aran's original recipe: I used grated zucchini instead of carrots and apples as well as decided to top the muffins with a simple streusel. Because who doesn't love streusel, right?

Warm Spiced Brown Butter Zucchini Muffins

adapted from this recipe by Aran Goyoaga

makes 12 muffins

In this recipe butter is being browned. To brown the butter, simply melt it on medium-high heat. Swirl the pan every now and then to make sure that it cooks evenly. As the butter melts, it will first start to foam and then change its color from yellow to a toasty brown creating a wonderful nutty aroma. Keep an eye on the butter as it melts and be very careful not to burn it. Brown butter is lovely in many baked goods such as cakes and cookies. Make it and fall in love with its nutty flavor.
You can substitute the brown rice flour, almond flour, and tapioca starch with 205 g all-purpose flour if you wish to. However, note that the flavor and texture will be somewhat different.

140 g (10 tbsp) unsalted butter
140 g (2 ½ dl minus 1 tbsp; 1 cup) brown rice flour
50 g (1 dl + 1 heaping tbsp; ½ cup) almond flour
70 g (¾ dl; ⅓ cup) light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)
2 eggs (M), at room temperature
80 ml (¾ dl; ⅓ cup) maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
200 g zucchini, coarsely grated

for the streusel
70 g (1 dl + 1 heaping tbsp; ½ cup) brown rice flour
40 g (3 tbsp) light muscovado sugar
pinch of salt
50 g (3 ½ tbsp) unsalted butter
2 tbsp almond meal

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a muffin pan with paper or silicone liners.

In a small pan, brown the butter. Take off the heat and let cool a bit (it may be a good idea to transfer the browned butter to a separate bowl as it can continue to cook in the still hot pan).

To make the streusel, combine the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until you have a crumbly mixture. If not using immediately, store in the fridge until ready to use.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, syrup, vanilla extract, and browned butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in the grated zucchini.

Divine the batter between the prepared muffin tins and top with the streusel. Bake on the middle-rack for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Enjoy!

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August Love&Inspiration

My Blue&White Kitchen

It's the last day of August which basically means it's the last day of summer. I'm going to miss the warm days and all that light. And strawberries. And tomatoes. And.... Oh well, I guess it's time to move forward and welcome a new, wonderful season with crispy mornings, vibrant colors, wild mushrooms, and apples. Hello, fall! Please, be kind to us.

» Green Kitchen Travels is out in only two weeks (or three if you live in the US)! Loved their first book and I'm sure this one will be even better. Hey, and Linda Lomelino will publish her third book, Sweet Food & Photography in September! Sorry international readers, for now it's only available in Swedish. Oh and don't forget to order Easy Gourmet by the lovely Stephanie Le of i am a food blog! I can't wait to get my copy!

» Got totally lost in this blog.

» Fava Bean Hummus

» 22 really handy kitchen cheat sheets

» Totally fascinated by this video – How the Sun Sees You

» I've joined Steller, a wonderful app that helps you create and share stories. For now, I've published a couple of food related stories but am also excited to be able to share some travel stories.

» This stunning summer salad on The Gouda Life.

» Homegrown Swedes

» Nigella Lawson is a goddess. The easiest way to make no-churn ice cream.

» The inspiring Lindsey of Dolly and Oatmeal talking about a wholesome lifestyle and other stuff. Also, her Frozen Salted S'more Sandwiches look to die for.

»  Are your listening to the Spilled Milk Podcast? No? You totally should. It's hilarious. Thanks Sara for the suggestion!

» KRAUTKOPF – A Berlin-based vegetarian food blog that is now also in English! Lovely recipes and gorgeous photography.

» Pork at its best – Cantonese-Style Roast Pork

» Collard Wraps and talking about how overwhelming life can be.

» So how have I not seen this before? Rene Redzepi on Jimmy Kimmel. Hilarious. [Although, when you read the comments, many think he's pissed off while he actually just has a dry, Nordic humor ;)]

» Bubble Tea! Not the kind you're used to...waaaay better.

» My kind of breakfast: Millet Baked with Berries, Spices, & Nuts on one of my absolute favorite blogs at the moment, What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today?

» Grilled Oysters rock the world.

» Finally: Ouur

» Grain Free Matcha Granola from Izy of Top With Cinnamon (And yes, she too is releasing a cookbook, Top With Cinnamon: Stylish Sweet and Savoury Recipes! Yay!)

» A breakfast with style: Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch

» A great read and a decadent double chocolate brownie recipe.

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The Very Essence – Gooseberry Clafoutis

Gooseberry Clafoutis | My Blue&White Kitchen

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a weekend in the Finnish archipelago. We were staying at my friend's summer cottage – a wooden red house by the sea. So cliché but, at the same time, so perfect. All kind of berry bushes were growing around the house: bilberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, rose hips (unfortunately they weren't ripe yet), and red gooseberries. Every morning we went outside with our breakfast bowls, picked our berries of choice, and enjoyed them with plain yogurt and the granola I made for us. It can't get more seasonal, local, and sustainable than this, right? The very essence of Nordic summer life.

Actually, it's the very essence of the Nordic cuisine. Yesterday, I read a column in the Swedish Gourmet magazine that wondered what's really new about the so-called New Nordic Cuisine. After all, as René Redzepi has stated "In Scandinavia, we've always foraged, wandered in the forests and searched for food, long before the term even existed". And we still do.

I don't know why but it's quite hard to come by gooseberries in grocery stores and at farmers' markets these days. Are they 'out of fashion'? Can food get out of fashion? Well, I guess it can. [Apparently we aren't the only ones who have lost our love for these berries.] Furthermore, if you get lucky to find some, they most probably are the green ones. You should have seen my excitement when I saw those perfect, burgundy colored gooseberries grow in the backyard. The bushes were heavy with berries so I didn't even have to worry that there wouldn't be enough for everyone PLUS for me to take home.

On Sunday afternoon after most of the cleaning and packing was done, I took my pink bucket and started to pick those sweet gooseberries one after another always trying to be careful not to touch the sharp spines (with varying success though). I already had a specific use for them in mind: clafoutis should be their destiny.

Are you familiar with clafoutis, one of the most decadent yet simple desserts the French cuisine has to offer? Clafoutis is what would happen if pie and custard made love to each other. The custard melts in your mouth while the berries have their own dance party. It's not a treat I grew up with. I stumbled upon it years ago on Béa's blog La Tartine Gourmande and immediately fell in love with this French classic. It's versatile, simple, relatively quick to make, and a decadent treat even for special occasions. I particularly love clafoutis made with plums, peaches, or berries and always add some nut flour to the batter.

Go get some berries, or even better forage if you're lucky, and make your Wednesday brighter with a lovely clafoutis on your table!

Gooseberry Clafoutis

makes one 18 cm / 7" clafoutis

In this recipe, I use gooseberries, but you can definitely use whatever fruit or berries you have around. After enjoying a gooseberries only version, I made one with a mix of gooseberries and blackcurrants which I found to be exquisite as well. As I mentioned above, I like some nut flour in my custard batter but it can be substituted with all-purpose flour if you aren't into nuts or simply can't tolerate them.

1 ½ dl (⅔ cup) whole milk
1 dl (½ cup minus 1 ½ tbsp) heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
zest of ½ an organic lemon
1 vanilla bean, split open & seeds scraped out
45 g (¾ dl; ⅓ cup) all-purpose flour
20 g (3 tbsp) almond flour
66 g (¾ dl; ⅓ cup) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3 eggs (M)
30 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

400 g gooseberries, cleaned

powdered sugar, to dust

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter a 18 cm / 7-inch pan. Set aside.

In a small pot, heat the milk, cream (or coconut milk), lemon zest, and vanilla seeds and bean. Take from heat, cover, and let infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and gradually add the dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter and infused milk mixture.

Arrange the berries in the prepared pan and pour the custard on top. Bake the clafoutis on the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center has has set and is golden in color. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature – the clafoutis will continue to set while cooling down.

Gooseberry Clafoutis | My Blue&White Kitchen

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