Glorious Green Couscous Salad

Green Couscous Salad | My Blue&White Kitchen

A few weeks ago I was at the grocery store wondering what to make for dinner. I stood in the middle of the vegetable section seeking inspiration. What should I make? My mind was blank. And then I knew it: couscous salad. I took my phone, typed "couscous Ottolenghi", and hit the search button. Scrolling. Finally my eyes locked on the title that said "Green couscous". There it was: my dinner inspiration. Thank heaven!

Why Ottolenghi, you may ask. Well, there are certain guys whose taste buds I truly trust and Yotam Ottolenghi surely is one of them. His recipes never fail to amaze me, and his take on food, especially vegetables, is quite unique. If you haven't made his recipes yet, I encourage you to dive into his culinary world, and if you don't have his books yet, I encourage you to run to the next bookstore. Like right now even if the temperatures are below zero (greetings from the north, everyone!).

The original recipe calls for parsley but I used kale instead. Actually, this was a result of a misunderstanding. You see, I thought I had a bunch of parsley in my fridge, but as I realized once I got home, I didn't. What I had, however, was kale. Thankfully, it turned out that kale worked great in this recipe! I, furthermore, omitted the green chili and added some tanginess with freshly squeezed lime juice. Inspired by the Israeli Couscous Salad from David Lebovitz, I added some dried fruit when I made it for the second time yesterday. I think the dried fruit made this salad even better and more interesting than it already was.

This salad is one of the best things I've eaten in a while. Packed with herbs and flavor, it makes a great side or main dish. The first time, I had it with grilled salmon and plain yogurt. Yesterday, I first had a serving for lunch and served it as a side with veal roast for dinner. I can also imagine that it would be lovely served with braised lamb or basically any kind of grilled fish. To make a vegetarian-friendly meal, top it with grilled halloumi or feta and pomegranate seeds.

It's a great dish to serve for brunch or a get-together. It's pretty to look at, relatively quick to make (ready in 15 minutes), and can easily be made ahead; it will keep in the fridge for up to two days. Awesome work lunch, anyone? Double or triple the recipe as needed and be ready to respond to numerous recipe enquiries.


Green Couscous Salad

adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, p. 255

serves 4

2 ½ dl (1 cup) whole-wheat couscous
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp ground cumin

for the herb paste
packed 1 heaping dl (packed ½ cup) roughly chopped kale
2 ½ dl (1 cup) chopped cilantro
2 tbsp chopped tarragon
2 tbsp chopped dill
2 tbsp chopped mint
6 tbsp olive oil

1 heaping dl (½ cup) unsalted & shelled pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 large handfuls of arugula, chopped
lime juice, to taste
1 heaping dl (½ cup) diced dried fruit, such as apricots, cherries, cranberries, or sultanas

optional: plain yogurt, to serve

In a small pot, bring 160 ml (¾ cup) water to a boil. Take off the heat, add couscous, cover, and leave for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, fry the onion on medium-high heat until soft and golden. Add salt and cumin. Mix and let cool slightly.

To make the herb paste, place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Set aside.

Combine the couscous and herb paste in a large bowl. Use a fork to fluff up the couscous. Add the onions, pistachios, and arugula. Add lime juice to taste. Finally, top with the dried fruit. Serve lukewarm.



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Overnight Oats + A Promo Code For Stitch Linens

Overnight Oats | My Blue&White Kitchen

Are you familiar with Marta Greber and her blog What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today? Well, I have to blame her and her gorgeous blog for having been madly obsessed with overnight oats for the last couple of months. It all started with this post last August. See how pretty and tempting that breakfast bowl is? I wanted that deliciousness in my life, made my first batch of overnight oats, and so the love story of me and overnight oats began.

Porridge is an institution here in the north. I think most people start their day with a bowl of warm and comforting porridge. There are even food trucks that sell nothing but porridge (!!). But, you know, I've never been a morning porridge person myself. Yes, I enjoy a bowl of rice porridge in winter (although, not for breakfast, except on Christmas Eve when it's an obligatory part of our Nordic Christmas traditions) as well as farina porridge a couple of times a year, but I've never been attracted to the regular cereal porridges that are all too often rather tasteless and bland. Oh and the consistency can certainly be an issue as well. I haven't grown up eating porridge every single morning, so it's nothing I have an emotional connection with. It's nothing I crave. Well, not until I saw that post about overnight oats that is.

What I love about overnight oats is that it a) can be, as it name already says, prepared on the night before and b) is ridiculously versatile and can be adapted according to the season as well as to one's preferences & diet. My first overnight oats was a combination of oats + apple juice + grated apples + yogurt + nuts + berries. I immediately fell in love with this breakfast and have enjoyed it in the early (and late) morning hours several times a week for the last couple of months. It makes a great breakfast to-go when made in a mason jar or can be enjoyed as a healthy and filling midday snack.

The overnight oats ratio is easy to remember: 1 part of oats to 1 part of liquid. As liquid, you can use juice, such as pure orange or apple juice, milk, plant milk, or even water. Furthermore, you can add some spices to the mix, such as cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, or ginger. Or what about grated apples, pears, or carrots?

There are, of course, endless topping possibilities that I like to change according to the seasons. Some of my favorites are:

  • nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, etc.)
  • fruit & berries (apples, pears, plums, figs, berries of all kind, etc.)
  • dried berries (cranberries, raisins, figs, cherries, berry powder, etc.)
  • sweeteners (agave nectar & honey)
  • plain yogurt, nut butter, jam, etc.
  • toasted coconut flakes, seeds, bee pollen, cacao nibs, candied ginger, puffed amaranth, etc.

This week, I've been having my oatmeal with pure orange juice, cinnamon, plain yogurt, gorgeous, local pears (seriously, these are the best pears I've ever had), pluots (bought them for the first time last week and am obsessed by their beauty and sweet flavor), toasted coconut flakes, wild hazelnuts that I brought with me from Germany (they look like acorns, though), almonds, pistachios, and bee pollen (a new ingredient in my kitchen). Because of the sweetness of the pears and pluots, I don't even feel the need to add any sweetener.

Are you in the overnight oats game already? What's your favorite combination? I would love to hear!


Overnight Oats

for 1 hungry soul

This dish is gluten-free as long as you make sure your oats aren't contaminated with gluten. Oats are gluten-free themselves but are often manufactured in factories that also handle other, non-gluten-free grains. Check that your package specifies that the oats are gluten-free. To make this dairy-free, simply use plant-based dairy.

1 ½ dl (⅔ cup) rolled oats
1 ½ dl (⅔ cup) pure orange juice
½ tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp yogurt + more to serve

toppings of your choice (here I used pears, pluots, coconut flakes, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, & bee pollen)


Mix together the rolled oats, orange juice, and cinnamon. Cover and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

If using coconut flakes, toast them in a dry pan on medium-high heat while stirring regularly until fragrant and light golden brown in color.

While I most often skip this step myself, note that soaking nuts increases their nutritional value and makes them easier to digest. Hazelnuts and Brazil nuts make an exception as they don't contain enzyme inhibitors and pistachios and macadamia nuts' taste may alter, so I don't soak them. To soak, simply place the nuts in a bowl, cover with twice as much water, and let soak for 6 to 12 hours or overnight. Rinse and use immediately or store in the fridge for up to a week.

In the morning, mix 1 tablespoon of yogurt with the soaked oats. Top with more yogurt, fruit, berries, nuts, or whatever your culinary heart longs for and enjoy!


See those gorgeous blue & white linens I've used in these pics? They're from STITCH and are handmade by Blair, a design student (how cool is that??) in a tiny apartment in NYC (even cooler, right?). I have a special place in my heart for small, brilliant companies and artisan products and immediately fell in love with the look and feel of her high quality linens. Aside from these blue & white linens, my favorites probably are the French Green Dinner Napkins. That color is amazing!

Here's some awesome news: you get 15% off from all STITCH products from today until January 31th with the promo code LOVEBLUE&WHITE. They'll launch some brand-new fall & holiday colors in the coming days so stay tuned! This may be the perfect little something to get to your loved ones for Christmas. I mean, they even offer custom made linens soon.

Hop on over to stock up your collection of linens! Cause let's be honest: one can never own too many. Am I right or am I right?

 

Disclaimer: Linens provided by STITCH.


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Korvapuusti – Finnish Cinnamon Rolls

My Blue&White Kitchen | Finnish Cinnamon Rolls

Last Saturday, I woke up realizing it was National Cinnamon Roll Day, and I didn't have anything planned. "Oh crap", I repeated to myself like some sort of mantra. As I had to go to work that day, I decided to devote the next day to baking those traditional sweet treats. They're the ultimate Nordic baked good, and our love for them is deep and true, endless like the Nordic winter nights. Or winters in general.

We all know that the days are getting colder now. First comes the rain, then the snow. Therefore, we all need some cinnamon rolls in our lives. They make it all so much more bearable.

I think cinnamon rolls are not without reason one of the most loved baked goods in the world. While they're topped with icing all over North America, here in Scandinavia we skip the icing and sprinkle pearl sugar on top. Lots of it. Furthermore, we use the traditional cardamom-spiced yeast dough that is also used to make pulla, as we call them in Finland, or bulle, as they're called in Sweden. Here in the north, cinnamon rolls are the ultimate baked good that can be found at every café. That's also how you're supposed to eat them; alongside a big cup of coffee. However, I think they're also great with a glass of cold milk, especially when they're still warm. You can, of course, also enjoy them with a cup of tea; after all, it's your choice, your moment of comfort.

Cinnamon rolls are actually called korvapuusti here in Finland which can be translated as slapped ears. I have no idea where this slightly violent name comes from; I tried to do some research on it but without success. However, the name has been around since the late 1800's. Very mysterious indeed. But I like it; I like food with funny names.

Although the dough and filling are the same in both Finland and Sweden, the shape is unique to Finland. For me, this is the one and only cinnamon roll shape. It's a bit like with pasta; theoretically they all should taste the same no matter the shape but in reality, well, they definitely don't.

I even made a GIF (my very first one!) to show you how to shape proper korvapuustis. See? Easy! And it's definitely lots of fun to poke once finger into dough. Truth.

My Blue&White Kitchen | Finnish Cinnamon Rolls

A few notes on the recipe: For the best result, make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature. I recommend using bread flour, but this recipe will work with all-purpose flour as well. Just substitute the flour by weight, not volume (although, you'll notice when the dough is ready as it'll come clean off the sides of the bowl). Pearl sugar is obligatory; remember to be generous with it. You can certainly adapt the filling to your liking by adding more or less sugar. I like mine not overly sweet, but I've seen recipes that use up to 2 ½ dl / 1 cup of granulated sugar (basically almost three times as much as my recipe calls for) for the same amount of rolls. You can leave the egg out and, furthermore, substitute the milk with water should you follow a special diet. However, as you can imagine, the most delicious and flavorful result is made with eggs and milk.

So next time you plan to make cinnamon rolls, why not try this Nordic variety? I hope you do.


Korvapuusti – Finnish Cinnamon Rolls

makes around 30 rolls
 

5 dl (2 cups + 2 tbsp) lukewarm milk (preferably whole milk)
50 g fresh yeast (or alternatively 16 g / 1 tbsp + 1 tsp instant active dry yeast)
180 g (2 dl; ¾ cup + 2 tbsp) granulated sugar
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)
1 egg
about 1 kg (15 dl; 6 ½ cups) bread flour
170 g (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

for the filling
150 g (1  sticks) soft butter
6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp + 2 tsp cinnamon

for the egg wash
1 egg

pearl sugar, to sprinkle
 

To make the dough
In a large mixing bowl (you can make the dough by hand, like me, or in a stand mixer), combine the lukewarm milk and crumbled yeast. [If using instant active dry yeast, skip this step. Combine the yeast with some flour and add to the warm, 42°C / 108°F, milk mixture before adding the rest of the flour.] Stir with a spoon until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add sugar, salt, cardamom, and egg and mix until combined. Gradually add about two thirds of the flour and knead. Add butter and knead until well combined. Continue to knead the dough, and gradually add just enough flour so the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl and doesn't stick to your hand.

Don't overwork the dough or you'll end up with hard rolls, not soft as we want them to be. Shape into a ball and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour, or until double in size.

Meanwhile, mix together the butter, sugar, and cinnamon for the filling. Set aside.


To shape and bake the rolls
Line four baking sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide into two equally sized portions. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Roll out the first portion of dough into a large, about 60-by-40-centimeter / 23-by-16-inch rectangle. Spread half of the filling evenly on top. Beginning with the long side, roll the dough into a tight tube shape, seam side down. Cut into 15 cylinders and press each point tightly into the center with your index finger. 

Place the shaped cinnamon rolls on the baking sheets, spacing them about 5 cm / 2" apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for further 30 minutes, or until they're double in size. Repeat with the second batch.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225°C (435°F).

For the egg wash, lightly whisk the egg. Before baking, brush each roll with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with pearl sugar. Bake the rolls on the middle rack for 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden to dark brown in color. Repeat with the other sheets of rolls.

The cinnamon rolls are best eaten while still slightly warm or on the same day. However, you can freeze them once baked and warm them up when ready to serve.


My Blue&White Kitchen | Finnish Cinnamon Rolls

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September Love&Inspiration

My Blue&White Kitchen

It has been a gorgeous September with an abundance of fresh, seasonal produce. Slowly summer fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, berries, and stone fruit, are replaced by children of fall. I'm especially looking forward to even more mushrooms as well as to pumpkins and chestnuts. Oh and to baking; lots of it.

I'm leaving Germany soon but will stop by the Viktualienmarkt in Munich before boarding my flight. I'm going to grab some amazing things and turn them into something delicious back home. Maybe I should buy some quinces or mirabelle plums; they're both are hard to find back in Finland. I also need to visit that stall with an impressive selection of fabulous preserves and condiments, such as jams, chutneys, and mustards. Thank you Nicky for the recommendation!

What fall produce are you most excited about? And what would you make with a bunch of quinces?


» I LOVE Ottolenghi's new book! It's, once again, a masterpiece. Seriously, get that book.

» And go get Green Kitchen Travels! It's as brilliant as Luise and David's first cookbook. Can't wait to feature a recipe from it, although, it's gonna be so hard to decide which one.

» Mimi Thorisson's first cookbook, A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse, comes out in October and I can't wait to get cooking from it. I'm sure it's going to be a gorgeous book filled with delicious recipes, lovely stories, and top-notch photography. 

» Beautiful post. Makes me miss summer more than ever.

» I could have this for breakfast every single day. So eager to try that nut milk!

» About Finnish food culture on Honest Cooking

» It's not too late: Sea Salt Iced Coffee with Sea Salt Cream

» New blog love: Portland Fresh

» Latke Waffles, anyone?

» I have a huge virtual crush on this Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam.

» A new series on seasonal eating. Got to love Cookie+Kate!

» Made this delicious eggplant curry from The Bojon Gourmet. Highly recommended! 

» Harvard Common Press on Twitter: "Looking for Scandinavian food in the States? Don't rely on IKEA check out @mybandwkitchen"

» Learn to make proper Masala Chai

» Totally obsessed with Brooklyn Tweed and their gorgeous patterns. Fall doesn't only mean more baking but more knitting as well!

» These chocolate cupcakes with sea salt buttercream are magic.

» YAY! Eva of Adventures in Cooking is writing a cookbook!

» This post

» Ricotta Beignets!

» A salad inspired by the beautiful island of Bali

» Thank you Pure Green Magazine as well as Lindsey, Laura, and Claire for choosing me as one of the top contributors on the #PGMinseason project on Instagram! My Crostini with Wild Mushrooms & Ricotta recipe was featured on their blog. This project was fun and inspiring!



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Zwetschgendatschi – German Plum Sheet Cake

Zwetschgendatschi | My Blue&White Kitchen

+++
When I bake, my mind finds peace.
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There's something about baking that calms me down even when my mind tries vigorously to solve out things that aren't really ones it can solve. Maybe it has to do with the familiar ritual of measuring flour, butter, and sugar. Maybe it's the rhythmical pace of kneading dough. Baking calms me down like nothing else, gives me comfort, makes me feel whole again. Whether in moments of pure joy or of sadness, you can find me in the kitchen with a bowl in my hands and flour in my hair.

I'm back at my most favorite kitchen window, my favorite spot to bake and take pictures. I'm kneading dough and quartering plums while enjoying the beautiful scenery; alps and cows. The light is, again, magical. Soft, clean, and welcoming. Perfect.

Zwetschgendatschi | My Blue&White Kitchen

Prune plums, called Zwetschgen here, are in season from August to September. They are used to make one of my most favorite cakes, Zwetschgendatschi, a traditional plum sheet cake that is topped with lots of streusel or sliced almonds. I belong to that range of people who always choose a slice with streusel; maybe it's because my beloved late Oma made it that way. A generous dollop of whipped cream is almost mandatory, although, to be honest with you I was too lazy to whip cream this time, so I enjoyed the Zwetschgendatschi plain. And you know what? It was luscious.

This cake is basically the best thing you can do when you spot gorgeous prune plums at the farmers' market or have some sitting on your kitchen counter waiting for their destiny.


Zwetschgendatschi – German Plum Sheet Cake


The recipe yields one large sheet and is adapted from a handwritten note my Oma has given me years ago. It tastes just like hers did. This is not just a cake; it's an ode to her.

If you prefer a thinner crust, make the dough I used in this Rhubarb Strawberry Datschi – the result will be a more sophisticated, delicate Datschi with a higher fruit to crust ratio.

for the dough
250 ml (1 cup) lukewarm milk
21 g fresh yeast [or 7 g (instant) active dry yeast, used according to packet instructions]
66 g (5 tbsp) granulated sugar
1 pinch of fine sea salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil, such as canola or olive oil
2 eggs (M) OR 1 egg (L), at room temperature
500 g all-purpose flour

for the streusel
230 g all-purpose flour
125 g granulated sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
125 g unsalted butter

for the topping
1 kg (generous 2 lb) Zwetschgen (prune plums) or damson plums, quartered
2 tbsp granulated sugar
cinnamon

optional:
whipped cream, to serve


To make the dough
In a medium-sized bowl, combine milk and crumbled yeast. [If using instant active dry yeast, skip this step. Combine yeast with some flour and add to warm, about 42°C / 108°F, milk mixture just before adding the rest of the flour.] Stir until yeast is completely dissolved. Add sugar, salt, oil, and eggs. Whisk until combined. Gradually add flour and knead. Continue to knead and add flour until the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl and doesn't stick to your hands. Note: You can make the dough in a stand mixer if you prefer.

Shape into a ball and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it's almost double in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.


To make the streusel
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter until you have a crumbly mixture. If not using immediately, put the bowl into the fridge until ready to use.


To assemble the Datschi
With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until roughly the size of the baking sheet. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet and pull into shape. Arrange the plum quarters in slightly overlapping rows (tightly and cut side up) over the dough. Leave a rim of about 1 cm / 0.5". Sprinkle with sugar and some cinnamon. Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit.

Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the edges are dark brown. Let cool, cut into squares, and, if you like, serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

The Datschi will keep for up to 3 days and is, in my opinion, at its best on the second day when the flavors have developed.


Zwetschgendatschi | My Blue&White Kitchen

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