Morning Glory – Oeufs en Cocotte with Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Oeufs en Cocotte with Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes | My Blue&White Kitchen

For a couple of months now, I've bought most of the eggs I use in my kitchen from a farmer for whom his chickens' health and what they eat are the number-one priority. The chickens can roam freely and have the option to go outdoors 365 days a year. These chickens can smell the first greens of spring, feel the warm summer sun on their skin, watch the days get shorter in fall, and experience the beauty of the white Nordic winters. And you can taste all of that in the eggs. The yolks are deep yellow in color and the texture is creamy; they're the best eggs I've eaten.

I'm happy that I've found a product that matches my idea of ethical and sustainable living and consumption, tastes delicious, and is an excellent example of the farm-to-table movement. My money goes directly to the farmer which is, as I believe, the best scenario for both the consumer and the producer. And you know, happy chickens.

For over a decade, I've only bought organic eggs or, better still, eggs from a local, small farmer where I can be sure that the chickens are being ethically raised and held. Standards of how chickens must be held to be called "organic" or "free-range" vary from one country to another, and I encourage you to do some research on what those terms really mean should you be interested in where your eggs come from. Naturally, the same applies to all animal products and, well, to produce in general.

Be interested, care, ask.

If you live in Southern Finland and are interested in ethically raised, fresh eggs, join the Facebook group and check out the dates. The farmer drives around Southern Finland on a regular basis selling his products.

After my love letter to eggs, I should come up with a dish that puts them into good use, right? So today, I'm sharing a recipe for Oeufs en cocotte, one of the fanciest sounding yet easy and quick to prepare dishes for breakfast or brunch. I mean, we could talk about baked eggs but who wants to call them by that name, especially when they have such a fancy sounding French name? This is a dish that makes your guests look at you in awe, sing an ode to the beauty of eggs, and ask for the recipe. You think I'm exaggerating? Try it yourself.

I first stumbled upon this French breakfast classic on either Béa's or Aran's blog and have been an avid fan of this luscious dish ever since. Oeufs en cocotte can be adapted to one's liking and the season. The possibilities are endless! Look what's in your fridge and get inspired by the produce of the season. Last week, I had spinach which I wanted to use up. The idea of tomatoes crossed my mind, so I grabbed a glass of sun-dried tomatoes for a dose of sunshine (cause fresh tomatoes are obviously not in season). Créme fraîche works really nice, especially during the colder months as it makes the dish extra creamy and comforting, so I decided to use some.

The result was a lovely breakfast; one that I couldn't wait to share with you.


Oeufs en Cocotte with Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large handful (1 lightly packed cup) spinach, washed
4 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp crème fraîche
2 eggs
4 tsp heavy cream
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
nutmeg
a bit of finely sliced scallions

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Butter or oil two ovenproof ramekins.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the crushed garlic and spinach until spinach starts to wilt. Add a pinch of salt and the sun-dried tomatoes. Remove skillet from heat. Discard the garlic glove.

Put a layer of crème fraîche in each ramekin and top with the spinach mixture. Crack an egg in each ramekin. Pour 2 tsp of heavy cream over each egg white avoiding the egg yolks. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Finish with finely sliced scallions.

To make a water bath, put the ramekins in a baking dish. Place the baking dish on the middle rack of the oven. Pour steaming hot water (hot tap water works fine!) into the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Serve warm.


Oeufs en Cocotte with Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes | My Blue&White Kitchen

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A Rustic, Nordic Pea Soup or How We Scandis Survive the Winter Months

Rustic Nordic Pea Soup | My Blue&White Kitchen

Is it winter where you live? Cold? Do you have snow? Do you crave the sun? Oh the sun!

Well if you live in a dark place that occasionally feels hopeless (I blame the lack of serotonin), then you've come to the right place. My Blue&White Kitchen presents: Rustic, Nordic Pea Soup aka how we Scandis (try to) survive the long winter months.

This is a true Nordic favorite. There are few things better than pea soup on a cold winter day when you worry that your nose might fall off because of the Arctic temperatures. In both Finland and Sweden, pea soup is traditionally served on Thursdays. Actually, I doubt that you can find pea soup on any restaurant's or school's menu on any other day of the week. Speaking of traditions, it's always followed by Dutch baby pancake, whipped cream, and jam. The dessert is obligatory. Note to self: post a Dutch baby recipe.

You can still make and serve this on another day. After all, no one is going to find out, right? Unless you blog about it, that is... I made this soup last Saturday and ate it on Monday. And Tuesday. And probably today as well. Make a big serving and eat it throughout the week; it tastes much more better on the second or third day. Actually, I rarely eat it on the day I make it. Patience, friends, patience. That said, this soup is just perfect for a busy week when leftovers are more than welcome.

This may not be the sexiest soup in culinary history but it sure is delicious and makes the winter so much more bearable.

Cheers to a better 2015. Vive la France!


Rustic Nordic Pea Soup

serves 6 to 8

Pea soup is popular all over Scandinavia. In Finland, green peas are used, but to make a Swedish/Norwegian/Danish version, use yellow peas instead. If you can't find smoked pork shank, substitute it with (smoked) bacon. This soup can be made vegetarian by simply leaving the meat out. To still get a wonderful smoky flavor, you could add a pinch of smoked salt. Some people prefer to add one or two diced carrots to the soup; it's really up to you. If you do, just add it to the pot with the onion. The cooking times listed below are minimum cooking times; the longer you cook it on low heat, the better it gets. Many like to add mustard to their soup. The mustard is always being served on the side so everyone can stir it in to ones taste. 

500 g dried whole green peas, picked over, rinsed, & soaked for 10 hours
olive oil
1 onion
2,5 l (10 ½ cups) water
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp dried marjoram
400 g smoked pork shank with bone

optional: mustard, for serving


In a big pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the water, salt, marjoram, peas, and pork shank. Bring to a boil and let simmer for at least an hour. At this point, the soup won't look that tasty as the pea husks float on top. Believe me, it will get better.

Remove the shank. Shred meat and discard skin and fat. Return the meat and bone back to the pot. Cook for at least another hour. Add more liquid if necessary. Should the soup look too thin, cook it without a lid for a while.

Taste and season. Discard the bone before serving.

Serve with mustard if preferred and rye bread or crispbread.


Rustic Nordic Pea Soup | My Blue&White Kitchen

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December Love&Inspiration

Traditional Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake | My Blue&White Kitchen

Happy New Year, folks!

As I thought no one would bother reading a blog post on New Year's Eve, I decided to post my regular link love post a few days later than usual. Without further words from your's truly, I'll let you have fun with these links that made me so very excited in December!

P.S. Let's make this year worth a toast (not bread, booze), shall we?

P.P.S. Thanks for being there, saying "hi", making my recipes, and encouraging me in what I'm doing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 2015 will be a year of changes and challenges, and, therefore, this space will occasionally take a slower pace. In this whirlwind called life, I aim for balance and hope to get better at it. A challenge for sure!

Okay, let's enjoy some links now!


» Ginger Sweet Potato Dal with Coconut Leeks – the perfect dish to welcome a new year

» I didn't manage to make Lindsey's chocolate barks this year but will totally make them another time! I mean, how could one resist a pairing of pomegranates and pistachios?

» For me, Sprouted Kitchen has always been one of the most inspiring blogs. Their first cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods, has been on a heavy rotation in my kitchen, and especially after this post (with a killer recipe!), I can't wait for their second book, The Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl + Spoon: Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share, to come out.

» Man, what a post!

» The ultimate podcast list by Sara of Cake Over Steak

» PICKLED GRAPES!!!

» I've never heard of this before but I definitely need pistachio aillade in my life

» So many hearts

» And another stunning cake (Naked Champagne Orange Cake!) to welcome 2015

» ...and another one

» Move over burrito, bibimbap and biriani, it's all about creamed cod roeOh and to love or to hate creamed cod roe? For me, there's only one answer: LOVE IT!

» What a beautifully styled and photographed shakshuka

» I'm really excited for Pure Green Magazine's round two of their inspiring #PGMinseason project which will be launched later this year. So happy to see Sanda of Little Upside Down Cake (her work is stunning!) being one of the community leaders!

» The most amazing cocktail of 2014...and probably 2015 as well: Passioned Green Tea Whiskey 

» A day that starts with a breakfast like this one can only be a good one. [By the way, have I ever told you that Suvi of Suvi Sur Le Vif is one of my most favorite photographers? Just feel the mood in her pics!]

» For all my German-speaking followers: I was honored to be featured on NORR – Das Skandinavische Magazine last month. They even translated the Finnish Cinnamon Roll recipe into German!


Traditional Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake | My Blue&White Kitchen

Above, you see a traditional Finnish Christmas date bundt cake. No worries, I've marked in my calendar, in capital letters, BLOG ABOUT DATE BUNDT CAKE, so it will make a reappearance on the blog in late 2015.


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Hello 2015 – Nordic Canapés with Roe & Gravlax

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas in good company and enjoyed delicious food and got a chance to relax for a few days! If you're like me, you're surprised by the approach of New Year's Eve. It's quite ridiculous as Christmas and New Year are always just one week apart from each other, but every single year I find myself kind of surprised by their proximity. Suddenly, one has to change from Christmas mood to the celebration of a new, hopefully exciting year.

Some of you may have made plans for New Year's Eve. Maybe a party at a friend's house or a casual get-together? Or maybe you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and consider spending a night at home. Or you're hosting a New Year's Eve party yourself (awesome!). Well, for all of you who haven't yet decided what to serve next Wednesday whether to friends, family, or just yourself, I have a Nordic treat that I strongly recommend you to consider.

I call these Nordic canapés as they really are a culinary love letter to Nordic flavors. Dark rye bread is topped with smetana, a kind of sour cream from Eastern and Central Europe, finely diced red onion, roe, gravlax, and dill. These are super easy and quick to prepare, look absolutely stunning, and taste amazing. In my world, there's no better way to welcome guests into your home. Serve with a glass of sparkling wine and welcome 2015 with a broad smile.


Nordic Canapés with Roe & Gravlax

I recommend dark rye bread or Nordic potato rye bread/limpa (which I actually used), but crispbread or lightly toasted toast would work as well. Use whatever roe you like the most or are able to find; this time, I used vendance (the orange one in the pictures) and European whitefish (the yellow one). You can make gravlax yourself or buy it from a trusted source. Always make sure the gravlax is fresh; it should be consumed within a couple of days.

dark rye bread or Nordic potato rye bread/limpa
butter
smetana or full-fat sour cream
red onion, finely diced
fish roe, thawed if frozen
gravlax, cut into thin slices
dill

Cut out canapés using a cookie cutter of your choice. I used a round one with a diameter of 4 cm / 1.5". Lightly butter each piece. Top with smetana or full-fat sour cream, finely diced red onion, roe or gravlax (or even both), and dill. Serve and enjoy!


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The Recipe I Had To Share – Rose Pistachio Shortbread

Rose Pistachio Shortbread | My Blue&White Kitchen

I didn't actually plan this to happen. Maybe you think "but she already posted a cookie recipe a few weeks ago!". Well, I can't blame you. This is probably considered "bad food blogging" to some standards, as a nice mix of different kinds of recipes is seen as being the ideal. However, as I'm not really organized when it comes to blogging at the moment (Will there be a post next week? What will it be about? Guys, I have no idea.), you're going to see what's going on in my kitchen anyway, blog or not. As it's December and holiday season, it's mostly sweet things, such as cookies. Okay, and pomegranate seeds in my morning yogurt but that's another story.

At 9pm last week, I suddenly got the urge to bake a batch of rose shortbread. You know when inspiration hits and there's just no way you could resist running into your kitchen? That happens every now and then, or at least it does happen to me. I was inspired by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks and Ashley of Gather & Feast who both blogged about rose shortbread a while ago. As I was making the dough, the idea of adding pistachios crossed my mind (probably cause I'm a sucker for Aran Goyoaga's Pistachio Sandies; a must-bake). First, I planned to make only round cookies, but that tiny dalahäst cookie cutter wanted to play along as well so I let him. He's just too cute, right?

I still wasn't completely sure whether I would blog about these beauties or not, but after getting rave reviews from a bunch of wonderful women at my most favorite yarn store, I knew I had no choice. It would be madness to keep you in the dark.

These are lovely for the holiday season but they would also be wonderful to serve at a wedding or a baby shower. Please note that the scent, strength, and quality of rosewater varies depending on which brand you use. If in doubt, start by adding only two thirds of the amount of rose water the recipe calls for, taste, and add more if necessary. The flavor should be present but not overwhelming. For these cookies, I used Steenbergs organic rose water.

Hope you're all having a wonderful and not too stressful pre-Christmas week!


Rose Pistachio Shortbread

makes 3 to 4 sheets, depending on the size of your cookies

300 g (5 ½ dl; 2 ⅓ cups) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
200 g (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
100 g (1 dl + 1 tbsp; ½ cup) granulated sugar
1 egg (European size M; U.S. size L)
1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp rose petals + more for sprinkling
45 g (¼ cup) pistachios, roughly chopped


In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour and salt. Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl if necessary. Add the vanilla and rose water and mix. Add flour and mix until just combined. Finally, add the rose petals and pistachios. The dough will feel quite sticky, but resist the temptation to add more flour, as this would result in hard shortbread. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Roll out the dough to about 0,5 cm / 0.2" thick. Cut out the shortbread using a cookie cutter of your choice. Place onto the prepared baking sheets. Should the dough get too warm, put it back to the fridge for a while, as it's easiest to work with a well chilled dough. Sprinkle with rose petals.

Bake on the middle rack for 10 to 15 minutes or until they start to get golden brown around the edges. Should you bake shortbread of different sizes at the same time, be sure to take out the smaller ones earlier. Remove from the oven. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely before storing in a tin box or a jar.


Rose Pistachio Shortbread | My Blue&White Kitchen

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