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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Last Breath – Beet & Potato Latkes

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

Do you still remember how I told you that February is my favorite winter month? Well, that was before this February. It has been a letdown. A total bummer. Where are the freezing temperatures? Where is the bright sunshine? I wanted to take long walks on the lake ice. I wanted to wear sunglasses because the harsh light that would be reflected by the white snow would otherwise hurt my eyes. I wanted to go sledding with my friends and drink Lumumba from a thermos. Instead, it has been gray and wet. Snow? Gone. February 2014, nul point.

I don't want it to be winter anymore if it looks like this. Spring. I want it to be spring.

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

At the same time as I wish this season would be already over, I realize (with a slight feeling of terror) that I don't have much time to enjoy the wintery foods. Like beets. I've had them way too seldom. I haven't made borscht. I haven't baked a chocolate beet cake yet. I've not eaten enough of beet salad with arugula, chèvre, and walnuts.

This is me taking my last breaths of winter. This is me shaking off the gray dust of February. This is me making beet & potato latkes.

Will you join me?

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

Beet & Potato Latkes

makes about 20 latkes, enough to serve 4–6 hungry souls

The ruby red latkes topped with creamy sour cream, salmon with a subtle smoke note, crispy apples to fresh it up, and the classic pairing of dill. These latkes aren't only gorgeous to look at but also damn delicious. I think they are perfect served at a get-together with a simple green salad and a glass of sparkling wine. I used blazing salmon as I really love its flavor but you can substitute it with regular cooked salmon. Blazing salmon is a traditional Finnish fish preparation, in which the salmon is nailed to a wooden plank and partly smoked, partly cooked over an open fire. It's one of my most favorite ways to enjoy salmon, especially in salads, as smoked salmon often has a too strong flavor for my liking.

For the latkes:
375 g (13 oz) red beets, peeled
900 g (2 pounds) starchy potatoes, like Russet, peeled
2 eggs (M)
40 g (1.5 oz; 0,6 dl; ¼ cups) fine plain tried breadcrumbs
1 tbsp fine sea salt

vegetable oil, for frying

To serve:
~ 375 g (12 oz) salmon (preferably blazing salmon)
~ 300 g (10 oz) sour cream
2 tart apples, cubed
dill sprigs

Preheat the oven to 150°C (325°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top of it. Line another baking sheet with paper towels.

Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the beets and potatoes. Place in a colander and let drain for 10–15 minutes. Press the shreds firmly against the colander a couple of times to draw out excess moisture. We want the shreds to be as dry as possible to ensure crispy latkes!

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, breadcrumbs, and salt. Add the beet and potato shreds. Using your hands or a silicone spatula, mix until well coated.

Generously coat a large frying pan with oil (about ⅓ cm / 1/8" high) and heat over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into the pan – if the oil sizzles around the edges, it's ready. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of the latke mixture into the hot pan and press slightly with the back of your spoon to flatten. My latkes were around 1 cm / ½" thick and 7,5 cm / 3" in diameter. Fry until brown and crisp, about 2–3 minutes per side.

Transfer the latkes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, then transfer to the prepared wire rack. Place the sheet with the wire rack and latkes in the oven to keep warm and crisp while continuing to fry the remaining latkes.

Serve the latkes warm with sour cream, salmon, apples, and dill as well as a simple green salad.

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

Real-life food blogger note: The day I shot this post (last Tuesday) was one of those nasty, gray days. The secret behind these sunny looking pictures? A foam board. Praise the foam board!

Be Grateful – Mulled Cider with Calvados

crocheting :: my blue&white kitchen

Sorry for the silence. I've been dealing with death. Loss and grief. Crying at night while trying to keep myself together during the day. Long, stressful days. Lack of sleep.

But don't worry, I'm getting better. Day by day.

crocheting :: my blue&white kitchen
yarn :: my blue&white kitchen
yarn :: my blue&white kitchen

Although I've been visiting the dark places more often than usual, I've been cooking and baking a lot during these past two weeks. Whether I'm sad or happy, anxious or feeling glorious – in the end, it all comes down to standing in the kitchen. Chopping, stirring, braising, kneading. Creating food and sharing it with the ones I love. That's who I am. That's what keeps me going. Through the good times and the bad times.

I created a mulled cider recipe for the holiday season that lies ahead of us. Something to warm you up from the inside. A mug of comfort. I served it at a get-together last weekend and saw people getting second servings. The next day, they asked for the recipe. One friend even told me she was gonna serve it on Christmas Eve. Yes, this recipe is a winner.

Make this and share with your loved ones. Be grateful for the time you have together. It's worth more than gold.

mulled cider :: my blue&white kitchen

Mulled Cider with Calvados

serves 2 – 3  (but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled)

500 ml (~2 cups; 17 fl oz) unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice 
zest of ½ an orange
1 cinnamon stick
½ a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
2 whole allspice berries
pinch of ground cloves
130 g (1 ½ dl, packed; 4.6 oz) light muscovado sugar

optional: 2 tbsp calvados

Combine all the ingredients, except the calvados, in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the spices (you can leave some for garnish, if you wish). Add the calvados for an even more delicious mug of comfort. Serve hot.

mulled cider with calvados :: my blue&white kitchen

Canada in my Heart - Homemade Apple Butter


Ever since my trip to the Maritimes, fall brings back sweet memories of Canada. Its kind and hospitable people, the breathtaking nature, and the food we enjoyed - scallops on Prince Edward Island, blueberry beer in Saint John, clam chowder on Cape Breton Island, and lobsters in Halifax. We were lucky enough to visit during fall when the trees were on fire. All those colors! What a beautiful region it is. I left a piece of my heart right there at the shores. One day, I'll come back to look how it's doing.

It was in Nova Scotia, in the small town of Baddeck, that I tasted apple butter for the first time in my life. Here in Scandinavia we aren't aware of its existence. Such a shame! I still remember the lovely young shop owner (?) couple. He was totally into hockey and beyond excited when he heard we were from Finland - "the Koivu brothers!". She couldn't stand maple syrup which I though was totally weird. Living in the promised land of maple syrup and not liking it? What a crazy world we're living in.


This is for you, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Nova Scotia. 


Homemade Apple Butter

yields about 1 liter of apple butter
2,5 kg (5.5 lbs) slightly tangy apples, peeled, cored, & coarsely chopped
250 ml (1 cup) hard cider
1 dl 1 tbsp (½ cup) packed light muscovado {or light brown} sugar 
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cloves

Put all the ingredients into a large ovenproof pot. Mix well and cover with a lid. Bring the liquid at the bottom of the pot to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until the apples are soft and falling apart. Remember to stir occasionally. 

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.

Remove the pot from the heat and discard the cinnamon sticks. Pour the applesauce into a blender or use an immersion blender and blend until lump free. {At this stage you have a delicious applesauce. Feel free to stop here and enjoy!} If you used a blender, pour the applesauce and the discarded cinnamon sticks back into the pot.

Place the pot in the preheated oven. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent any scorching. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Continue cooking the applesauce, stirring every half an hour, for 3-4 more hours, or until it has the desired consistency. As it cooks, the applesauce will slowly thicken and turn into a gorgeous deep red-brown color.

Remove from the oven and store in jars. The apple butter will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or longer if you decide to can it. {For canning instructions, look at my Queen Jam post.}

Note: The recipe can easily be halved. The cooking time in the oven will reduce to 2-3 hours. 


The first snow was sighted yesterday. Wait, what!?! I'm sure the poor cloud just lost its way. I'm definitely not expecting more snow until November.