Category Archives: green

Elderflower Tea in my Summer Garden

© Johanna Kindvall

Its that time of the year when I stand under the big oak tree in our summer garden listening to the bees collecting honeydew, picking mushrooms, pickling gherkins, making jam, weeding, fighting brown murder slugscooking outdoors or waiting for the rain to stop so I can hang my laundry.

Earlier this year, Rachel Safko introduced me to Elderflower tea or rather Elderflower herbal infusion. Rachel paired the infusion with Dream Cookies by Unna Bakery. The warm and refreshing tea brought me back to my summer garden where I can enjoy afternoon fika while listening to hard working bumble bees and newborn tree sparrows tweeting in their nests. In the back of the house where I hang my laundry, we have a large elderflower bush. The bush produce enough flowers to treat us with my favorite summer cordial while at the same time infusing our laundry with a refreshing smell.

Obviously, this year I couldn’t resist to dry a bunch of them. And it couldn’t have been easier:

Pick as much elderflower clusters as you can. Cut off the thick stems, and give them a gentle rinse. Place them on parchment paper or something similar in a dry and warm place. Let them dry completely. Store the flowers in airtight containers.

If you need guidance to brew your tea or herbal infusion, check out this diagram that I developed together with Rachel.

© Johanna Kindvall

The elderflower season is over but here are a few things you can do with the berries:

Elderberry Liqueur by Hank Shaw
Elderberry Jelly by Elise Bauer
Elderberry Capers by Anna Billing (in Swedish)
Elderberry Syrup with Alexis Siemons

related links
Fika with Tea – Paring Tea with Swedish cookies
Tea and Food by Rachel Safko at Fresh Cup Magazine
A Swedish Coffee Tradition Breaks Through the Day’s Buzz by Rachel Safko at Edible Manhattan
Elderflower gravlax by kokblog

Check out the pattern design I created for Unna Bakery’s new cookie packages. The pattern was inspired by Scandinavian porcelain.

Warm Pear Salad with Thyme & Feta

© Johanna Kindvall

One of my current favorites is this warm pear salad that’s inspired by Ilva Beretta & Jamie Schler‘s beautiful Winter Pear Salad. This is a warm salad with the fabulous combination of pears, blue cheese and walnuts. A combination that shouldn’t really be changed in any way. But the other day, the blue cheese I thought I had, had miraculously been eaten by a mouse (or maybe it was M), so I needed to come up with a quick substitute. I must say, the Hungarian double cream feta I had on hand did a great stand-in job. Not the same, but excellent in another way.

Serve it as a starter or as I did, with hanger steak (medium rare) and a watercress salad.

Warm Pear Salad with Thyme & Feta
(for two)
Slice one pear thinly (about 1/8 inch, 3 mm) from top to the bottom. Saute on medium to low heat together with some ancho pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes) and thyme (dried or fresh) until nicely brown on both sides. Arrange pears neatly on a plate. Topp with creamy feta, toasted chopped walnuts and chopped fresh herbs (oregano or thyme). Sprinkle some freshly hand cranked black pepper over. Serve immediately.


Pssst this illustrated recipe is available as an art print in my Society6 shop.


related links

get more of Ilva and Jamie’s mouth watering stuff at Plated Stories
Minty Zucchini Salad
 – kokblog recipe
Chickpea Salad with Rosemary & Almonds – kokblog recipe
Spinach Salad with Warm Brown Butter Dressing – Sarah Crowder @ TheKitchn



Quick Pickled Cucumber


In our garden we had an earth cellar that my mother stocked with treats during the outdoor season. The whole family went for weekend walks in the woods to forage for plants, berries and mushrooms. Some of the fruit and vegetables came from our own garden or nearby orchards and neighbor’s vegetable gardens. My mother made strawberry and raspberry jam, cooked apple compote, pickled gherkins and beets. With a steam juicer she made both elderflower cordial and black currant juice. She also made lingonberry jam that is very common as a side for typical Swedish everyday dishes such as meat balls, potato pancakes, kroppkakor and blood pudding. Some Swedes even enjoy this jam with fried herring. My father made different kinds of spirits (blackthorn and figs), that they stored and forgot until it was found (to their happy surprise) several years later.

Some of these wonderful treats I do myself today, but at a much smaller scale as I don’t have the storage or a family of five to feed.

My latest favorite are these quick pickled cucumbers that I created from memory from a restaurant visit to Amsterdam last summer. The original origin is definitely not Dutch or European,  it’s more likely Korean or Japanese.  These pickles can be done just a couple of hours before serving. They are fresh and crunchy and the rice vinegar together with the  sesame oil give them a very pleasant sweet and sour flavor. I love it as a small treat before dinner, just as it is or together with cured fish. Its also excellent as a side for BBQ, stews and sandwiches.


Quick Pickled Cucumber

2- 3 (about 10 ounces, 280 – 300 gram) kirby cucumber
2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
black pepper, freshly milled
fresh chopped dill
toasted sesame seeds

Wash the cucumbers and cut them into small bite size pieces.

Place them in a bowl and add the salt. Toss well and let sit for 15-30 minutes.

In the meantime, whisk together rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. Whisk or stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the chili flakes, ginger and season with pepper and fresh dill.

Rinse the salted cucumber lightly with fresh water. Squeeze them slightly to remove water and pat them dry with a paper towel. When dry add them to the vinegar mixture. Toss well until all pieces are well coated. Season with more salt if necessary. Let sit for about an hour.

Sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds over before serving.

Please note that these pickles are not meant to be stored for a long time. The pickles should be stored in the refrigerator and I recommend you eat them within a few days.

You can tweak this in many ways. For example you can take out the sesame oil and switch the rice vinegar to distilled white vinegar and use horseradish instead of ginger.


related recipes

Raw Stirred Cranberries (kokblog recipe)
Orange Cured Carrots by Sofi Meijling
Lemon & Olive Oil Preserved Asparagus by Amy Pennington
Superfast Salt-and-Sugar Pickles by Dave Chang

Chickpea Salad with Rosemary & Almonds

© Johanna Kindvall

One of my favorite starters is Jules Clancy’s warm chickpea salad with rosemary & garlic. It’s a wonderful dish that is super easy to put together. It always seems to be a welcoming treat for my guests. I serve it warm or cold as a starter together with fresh homemade bread. This dish is also nice together with olives, mushroom confit, feta and thinly sliced dried sausage.

I have tried different variations of this recipe; thyme instead of rosemary and sunflower seeds instead of almonds. They are all good, however the original combination of chickpeas, chili, rosemary and almonds is just perfect so I mostly stick to that. The recipe below is almost identical to Jules, but my method is slightly different. For example, I prefer to add the garlic at the end, as I easily burn the garlic otherwise. And in this way I minimize the risk of bitter and overcooked garlic.

Thanks Jules for this lovely recipe.

Chickpea Salad with Rosemary & Almonds
adapted from a recipe by Jules Clancy

400 g cooked chickpeas, drained (about one regular can)
chili flakes
one sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves chopped fine or kept whole
one garlic clove, minced
flaky sea salt
¼ cup (60 ml) almonds, toasted

In a separate frying pan, heat up some olive oil. When the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium and add the rosemary with a pinch of chili flakes, fry for about a minute before adding the chickpeas. Stir occasionally. Just when the chickpeas start to brown, clear a spot in the pan and add the minced garlic. Let cook for just a little bit before stirring in the rest. Lastly, add the toasted almonds and season with sea salt and some more olive oil (if it feels too dry).


As you may know already, Jules is the creator of Stonesoup where she share recipes and teach minimal healthy cooking. In 2011 she was a guest here on kokblog. I have also done several illustrations for her websites, for e.g. the beets in the header of stonesoup, the yellow bench and header of her Virtual Cookery School.


Can’t get enough of chickpeas? I suggest you check out these links:

Feed the Hommous – Chickpeas, the Versatile Bean by Fouad Kassab
Fabrizia’s Panelle by Nicky at Delicious Days  (I love Fabrizia‘s Panelle)
Black Chickpea and Broccoli Soup by Elizabeth Minchilli
Smoky Fried Chickpeas by Aliwaks at Food 52
Easiest Way to Skin Chickpeas for Super Smooth Hummus [VIDEO] by Andrew Janjigian at America’s Test Kitchen


Guest Post: Mushroom Confit by Andrew Janjigian

I think the first time I talked with Andrew Janjigian (on twitter) was when he suggested an excellent trade: homemade sujuc (spicy sausage from the Middle East) for an illustrated Pide t-shirt!

Andrew is an associate editor at Cooks Illustrated Magazine, a passionate baker and a mycologist! It’s no wonder we connected on twitter, as you know, baking and mushrooms (especially foraging) are two of my favorite things (besides drawing of course). However, compared to me, Andrew is a master, in fact he teaches classes in both subjects in Cambridge, MA where he lives. He is also an organic chemist, professional cook and as a pizza enthusiast (he used to be a regular contributor at Slice & Serious Eats), he recently he built his own pizza oven. Impressive!

As if the above weren’t enough I just recently discovered he is, on top of everything, an excellent photographer. He has a great eye for detail, but most of all he can really capture the characters of people, women and men. His photos can be staged or captured in the moment, they can be funny or very serious and intimate. At the moment, a selection of his photos are showing at Gallery 263, in Cambridge.

Its a great pleasure to have Andrew as a guest here on koblog and I can reveal that there will be more by us soon.

Mushroom Confit
by Andrew Janjigian

This confit is one of my favorite ways to preserve mushrooms of nearly any kind. Delicately flavored mushrooms such as chanterelles or morels are best used by themselves, or paired with milder ones such as oysters or—as seen in Johanna’s lovely illustration—beech mushrooms. Other varieties may be combined however you like.
As for the confit’s uses, they are nearly endless. As a sublime topping for pizza, of course. Added to sautéed greens. Mixed into an omelet or scrambled eggs. Spooned over crusty bread or crackers, perhaps along with a funky cheese. Or just eaten with a spoon, right from the jar. Once you taste it, I’m sure you’ll think of plenty more.

Mushroom Confit Recipe
makes about 4 cups

2 pounds fresh mushrooms of any kind, cleaned, woody stems removed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1. Adjust rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 275°F (135°C). Slice or tear mushrooms into bite-sized pieces (smaller ones may be left whole). Place in colander set into large bowl, toss with kosher salt, and let stand for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard any water collected in bowl. (Mushrooms can be further dried of excess moisture in a salad spinner, if available.)

2. Transfer mushrooms to Dutch oven, along with garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, and toss to combine. Add oil, stir to combine, and transfer to oven.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Allow to cool. Discard herb stems and bay leaves. Pack mushrooms in jars, along with enough oil to cover. (Excess oil may be reused or repurposed.) Seal and refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. (For long-term shelf stability, jars can be pressure canned for 2 hours at 15 psi.)

More with and about Andrew

Cooks Illustrated’s Thin-Crust Pizza: Works Like a Charm
post by Adam Kuban at Serious Eats
How editor Andrew Janjigian took the fear factor out of souffle, Cooks Illustrated
Follow Andrew on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.


Pssst just want to say that this summer (2014) I have been making endless amount of mushroom confit. Most of the time I have served it as starter together with home made bread and for e.g. paté, pickles, dried sausage or my chickpea & almond salad. It’s such a treat. And everyone wants the recipe.