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Seasonal Sensations: Vibrant Dishes Highlighting the Best of Your CSA Box

June 26, 2024

Table of Contents

Seasonal Sensations: Vibrant Dishes Highlighting the Best of Your CSA Box

The Versatility of Chickpea Flour

Although I consider myself a serious food enthusiast and a passionate cook and baker, there certainly are ingredients that I don’t use that often or that I’m rather unfamiliar with. Similarly, there are dishes, even classics, that I’ve never made – either because they somehow scare me to death, because I have never really been in the mood to make them, or because it just has never happened.

I’ve never made a tarte tatin or a summery granita. Pulled pork is still on my “recipes-to-tackle” list. Brownies? Oh well. I’ve made filled pasta shells numerous times, but have never made cannelloni at home. And although I love Asian flavors, I don’t cook Asian that often. I haven’t grown up using the ingredients and have learned Asian cooking methods and techniques simply by reading online articles, books, or magazines and by watching TV shows or clips on YouTube. This means that every time I cook Asian, I have to get out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it works out perfectly, other times I’m left confused as I can’t get the flavors or textures right or because the dish looks monumentally different than what it’s supposed to.

For a long time, chickpea flour was an ingredient that just never found its way into my kitchen. It just never happened. Lindsey is one of the first food bloggers I got online friends with. I still remember how fascinated I was by her cooking back in 2013 when I stumbled upon her blog dolly and oatmeal for the very first time. Her space was different from others – I could really feel her spirit in her photography, writing, and recipes.

I’ve always felt that one of the best compliments one can get as a creative is that others recognize your style – that they can say “hey, that recipe/photo/piece of writing is from person x.” And yes, Lindsey truly has a unique style and a special, fresh take on season’s best produce. In her recipes, she highlights how food can make us fell good and healthy without making you feel bad just because you may or may not have eaten that burger with extra fries and mayo last night. She manages to be authentic, inspiring, and encouraging both on her blog and in her debut cookbook Chickpea Flour Does it All: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian Recipes for Every Taste and Season.

Chickpea Flour Does it All

Chickpea Flour Does it All is a collection of 96 delicious recipes organized by season and month. I must admit that I hardly ever like books that focus on one ingredient only – the exception is chocolate, obviously. But Chickpea Flour Does it All makes an exception. And I’m really not saying this because I love Lindsey’s work anyway. The book’s recipes use chickpea flour in such a clever and versatile way that you’ll actually forget that chickpea flour is mentioned in the book’s title.

Primarily, Lindsey’s book is about seasonal, fresh ingredients that are tasty not only for people who have to avoid gluten and dairy or just choose to live a specific lifestyle, but for everyone. Chickpea flour is an ingredient that I, as I already mentioned, was pretty unfamiliar with prior to this book. Yes, I had made socca according to Lindsey’s recipe before, but that was about it. After testing a couple of the book’s recipes, such as the divine Chocolate Banana Loaf that I started to bake after 9 pm one Sunday night, I was amazed by what an amazing ingredient I had previously ignored.

Chickpea Flour Does it All is a beautiful book for any food lover who wants to discover the world of seasonal, fresh cooking with big flavors and ingredients that make you feel good. Some of the recipes that are high on my to-make list:

  • Ginger-Shiitake Miso Broth with Chickpea Tofu
  • Hearty Morning Glory Loaf
  • Almond Butter Brownies
  • Chickpea Polenta with Sautéed Spring Vegetables
  • Sweet Flatbread with Grilled Berries
  • Quinoa Falafel with Romanesco Sauce
  • Baked Buttermilk Onion Rings
  • Baby Kale Caesar Salad

I’m already drooling here – what about you?

Clumpy Granola with Stewed Rhubarb

When Lindsey asked me whether I was interested in sharing one of her book’s recipes on my blog, I knew that the Clumpy Granola with Stewed Rhubarb would be the one. As some of you probably know, I’m a huge fan of granola, and rhubarb is one of my all-time favorite ingredients. The thought of combining these two favorite things sounded perfect.

In this recipe, chickpea flour is used to create a wonderfully clumpy granola without the need to add egg whites. I ended up baking this granola numerous times because one batch didn’t last very long. The first time I made the recipe, I used extra virgin olive oil instead of coconut oil, and it worked out perfectly.

You may want to add some dried fruit or berries to your granola once baked and cooled. For example, I added candied ginger to the batch I photographed for this post and loved it. For a spring and summer version, you can add dried flowers to the baked granola to make it look extra pretty.

As a final note, the stewed rhubarb tastes equally great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and cacao nibs sprinkled on top. Just sayin’.

Nordic Canapés – The Perfect New Year’s Treat

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.

The Deliciousness of Overnight Oats

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 its 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 and diet. My first overnight oats was a combination of oats, apple juice, grated apples, yogurt, nuts, and 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:

  • This week: pure orange juice, cinnamon, plain yogurt, gorgeous local pears, 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.

Seasonal Crostini

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. 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 Thornappple CSA baguette, rubbed them with garlic, topped them with creamy and oh-so-luscious ricotta as well as herby pan-fried 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.

Tasting the Difference with Feel IT Olive Oils

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, is now available through My Fabulous Collection.

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, Spätzle, Grießnockerl, Brezn (aka soft Pretzels), Sauerkraut, Leberkäse, 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!

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