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 them 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.

Update: Feel IT is now available through My Fabulous Collection!

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 a New Year – No-Knead Country Loaf

no-knead country loaf :: my blue&white kitchen

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I haven't made them for years. Of course I could say I'll work out more, learn to make croissants, travel to unknown places, and aim to live in the moment. Partly, I don't make any resolutions because I don't want to make promises I most probably won't keep. Let's be honest, most resolutions are forgotten by February anyway. Do I really have to make them only to be disappointed in myself later?

no-knead country loaf :: my blue&white kitchen

Partly I don't make New Year's resolutions because I don't believe that New Year is the time when change needs and will happen. Mostly it's like any other night of the year. Nothing special except that people gather with friends, light sparklers (they're so pretty!), and find a reason to drink champagne straight from the bottle (it happens). It's not a make-a-decision-to-change-or-be-doomed-forever moment.

So as the year 2014 kicks off, I think the same as on the 364 other days of the year. Yes, we need to strive to be the very best version of ourselves. But we also need to get lost, take the wrong turn at the crossroad. We need to aim high, move out of our comfort zone, and take big leaps no matter the risk of falling down on our knees. We need to make mistakes because through mistakes we learn.

Every mistake, every crossroad, pretty much every moment, is an opportunity for change.

no-knead country loaf :: my blue&white kitchen

No-Knead Country Loaf

recipe slightly adapted from NYT, November 8, 2006; original recipe from Jim Lahey's book "My Bread"
yields 1 loaf

This is a great and easy method to create an irresistible loaf of bread. I warn you, this recipe is addictive! There's no need to knead the dough which means little to no work. The only thing you need is time. The long rising time, also called fermentation, ensures a delicious flavor. The baking method, on the other hand, is the key to the crackling crust. The no-knead method most probably isn't what you're used to – the long fermentation time and the wet dough that's almost impossible to handle. However, it's dead simple and the result is incredible. I still can't believe that I used this method from Jim Lahey, the owner of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York, for the very first time last week! I've made three different versions so far, playing around with different flours – spelt, like in this recipe, einkorn, and rye. Next time I'm going to sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the loaf. You could even fold in some nuts, seeds, herbs, cheese, or olives. This is also what I want you to do. Play around! Get creative! Just remember that substituting works by weight not volume. Basically, there are three reasons why I prefer to use the scale instead of measuring cups. The first one is accuracy and the second fewer dishes. The third one is that by baking by weight it leaves me the freedom to play around with the ingredients. So get that scale.


300 g (4 ¼ dl; 2 ¼ cups) bread flour
100 g (2 dl; ½ +  cup) whole wheat spelt flour
1 ¼ tsp (8 g) fine sea salt
3 g fresh yeast (or alternatively 1 g / ¼ tsp instant active dry yeast)
1 ½ cups cool water (about 13–18°C / 55–65°F)

more flour for dusting (I used durum flour but bread flour is okay as well)


In a large bowl, combine both flours and salt. Dissolve the fresh yeast in the water (if you're using instant active dry yeast skip this step and add the yeast straight to the other dry ingredients – there's no need to dissolve it in water first). Add the yeast water to the dry ingredients. Using a bowl scraper or a wooden spoon, stir until blended. The dough will be quite wet and very sticky. If it's not tacky, add a little more water. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. The dough is ready when it's more than double in size and the surface is dotted with bubbles.

With the help of a bowl scraper, pull the dough onto a generously dusted work surface. Dust the dough with a little flour, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for further 15 minutes.

With lightly floured hands, pull the edges of the dough into the centre to form it into a round or oval shape (depending on the shape of the pot you're using). Wrap the shaped dough, seam side down, in a generously dusted kitchen towel (no terry cloth). Let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours. It's ready when it's more than double in size and will not spring back when poked with a finger.

At least half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 225°C (450°F) and place a heavy covered pot, like cast iron, enamel, or ceramic, on a rack in the lower third position. When the dough is ready to be baked, remove it from the oven. Lightly dust the bottom of the pot with flour. Gently turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up (this will ensure beautiful cracks). Shake the pan a couple of times if the dough is unevenly distributed. Bake for 30 minutes covered and for further 15 to 30 minutes uncovered until the crust is deep golden. Cool on a rack or rip it into pieces while steaming hot (probably my favorite part of bread baking).


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