Sunday, September 1, 2013

Food from the forest: wild blueberry and ricotta "boats"

Freshly baked pastry out of the oven, a cup of coffee... that´s the kind of morning I like.

July and August is the wild blueberry season in the north of Europe. Lots of people take the opportunity to wander into the forest. I was reading how one of the Finnish Government ministers was motivating people to go and pick wild berries. He said that the Finnish forests are full of these berries, the problem is to get them out of there as food for people. He couldn´t be more right, same goes for Estonia.

The wild blueberries, or any other wild berries for that matter, are full of top antioxidants you can´t buy in any pharmacy, and besides the nutritional benefits I can say with confidence that the taste is just uncomparably top of the world. There is nothing more "Eco" or "Bio" than these berries that have grown without any drop of forced irrigation and the journey from picking it to the mouth is a couple of seconds long. Eat as much as you can. And when you get tired you can sit down on the soft moss and reach out for more like a panda bear.

Now then. Following the neigbour country´s minister´s call we grabbed our "baskets" and made our way to the forest that we know has been a good place for blueberries.
The thing is that the good places for any forest crop are more or less kept secret among a close circle of family and friends. By the forest crops I mean berries like wild blueberries, red lingonberries, yellow cloud berries, chanterelle or other mushrooms. Cloud berries are more available in Finnland,  further north from Estonia. Or perhaps we don´t know the right places.

There is plenty of time to let all sorts of thoughts fly through the head when foraging in a forest. I was contemplating that there is even a special word for a small basket in the Estonian language. It is called "marjakorv", meaning simply a berry basket. In the past, I mean in the centuries before the 21st, it was customary to pick the wild berries into a nice basket. The modern times provide more comfort and more practical materials like plastic. Especially the wild blueberries have a habit of leaving stains and it is pretty hard to wash a basket. Whatever the container may be that carries home the sun warm juicy berries, the result of your hard work of bending your back a hundred times, the berries are worth the sweat.

The cultivated blueberries have a much longer season and can be used instead of the wild ones. Nothing complicated. Here is how it goes.

Wild Blueberry and ricotta "boats"
Ingredients for 6 bigger portions
200g ricotta
2tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
1 egg white, beaten hard
500g puff pastry, yeast based if available

The cuts in the puff pastry makes it rise at the edges, blueberry-ricotta filling

1. Roll the dough into a 5mm thick layer. Cut into suitable size rectangles.
2. With a sharp knife cut into half the thickness of the dough on all sides, circa 1cm from the edges. This will make the edges rise nicely during baking and keep the filling in the "boats".
3. Mix ricotta, egg yolk, sugar.
4. Separately beat the egg white until hard.
5. Add the egg white to the ricotta mix and combine lightly.
6. Spread a good tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each "boat", leave the cut edges free from the filling.
7.Place a handful of fresh wild blueberries onto each boat.
8. Bake in the middle of the oven for ca. 20 minutes until the dough has taken on a light brown colour and feels cooked. Tapping lightly on the dough and if it feels crisp is a good sign.

Blueberry Ricotta pastry "boats"

More wild blueberry recipes:
Sweet wild blueberry soup with fluffy semolina dessert
Wild blueberry ricotta cake
Wild blueberry - banana smoothie