12 December 2010

Plum Pudding. Christmas classic.

When I lived in New Zealand, you could find puddings in every supermarket. And I don't mean the milk-and-starch-based kind. But the English kind which more resembles a cake, either chocolate, caramel or passion fruit. They came in little plastic pots, you would heat them up in the microwave, turn them over on a little plate and the sauce would very slowly run down the sides. Especially the chocolate kind was devine. And around Christmas, you could find plum pudding and mince pies.

Original Christmas Puddings are made with suet, which is kinda hard to find where I live - so I used butter. And I don't have a pudding mold for steaming, so I googled and found a method to steam in the oven.

And those puddings need a lot of time, first for soaking and baking, then for resting so that the flavors can develop.

27 November 2010

Rouladen. German classic, nothing more to say.

According to the wikipedia, Rouladen are "bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then cooked". This is basically correct, but tells you nothing about the taste and texture. Let alone the sauce. And of course, there are millions of recipes - almost every German hausfrau has their own. I, for example, like to keep the onions in the sauce, not in the rolls. And the sauce is based on red wine, which I happen to like very much and have known since childhood.

My mother-in-law on the other hand, makes the sauce with tons of mustard. And my grandmother used to make a simple brown sauce. Over the years, I have developed quite a mixture of all of those recipes. Serve it with any starch you like, but I prefer either mashed potatoes or spaetzle.

20 November 2010

Grilled cheese and tomato salad. Dinner for one.

Cheese and tomatoes have always been a great combination in my eyes. And a grilled cheese sandwich is some of the easiest soul food I know. Here's a little secret: put some drops of Kirsch (Kirschwasser) on the bread slices and it will taste just like cheese fondue.

30 October 2010

Chili. Hot stuff for cold days.

Chili. I guess there is not much to say. Of course, there are different beliefs: beans or no beans, ground meat or pieces, vegetables or no vegetables. This may sound totally crazy, but I like all kinds of chili. But depending on my mood, I sometimes prefer one variation over the other.

What's really much more important: the spices and liquids you add. And in my case, it's whiskey (with a nice amount of peat), red wine and dark ale. Fresh and dried chilies are a must.

23 October 2010

Hot pumpkin soup. Getting ready for Halloween.

Here in Germany, some people started to celebrate Halloween - nowadays, you can even go to parties. But 15 years ago, living in a small town, my friends started the tradition of cooking American food, preferably something hot and watching horror movies. Over the years, we made tons of different things - chili, homemade burgers, spaghetti with meat balls. But one thing remained consistent over the years: pumpkin soup as a starter.

This one is creamy, meaty and bacon-y and of course: hot. But let me assure you: except for the crème fraîche I used for serving, it's vegan!

02 October 2010

Djuvec. Rice and chicken the Croatian way.

First of all, how do you spell that? I'd say something like "jouwetch".

Secondly, what is it? Very, very roughly said: It's like a paella, but from the Eastern part of the Mediterranean. In Germany, you will get it most likely in Croatian restaurants, but I got this recipe from an Armenian colleague, Gemille.

Third, why should I bother? It's incredibly tasty, it's totally versatile and can even be made only with pantry items - or vegetarian if you leave out the chicken. And the best thing: it practically makes itself.

25 September 2010

Jerry's chocolate ice cream with brownies. Intense.

Funny, I've never been a big fan of chocolate ice cream. Or milk chocolate, while we're at it. There even was a time when I thought I didn't like chocolate at all until I found the 70% and 80% varieties. Seems I just didn't like the diluted flavor, I want to be blown away. Same with chocolate ice cream, simply not enough bang for the buck.

But then I found Jerry's chocolate ice cream with 2 kinds of unsweetened chocolate in it and this really gives you a kick. Add a cup of diced brownies, and you're in chocolate heaven.

18 September 2010

Strammer Max. Dinner for one.

As Flo is often working the late shift in the last weeks, I spend many evenings alone. Which is absolutely fine by me, if it weren't for the fact that cooking and eating alone is not really fun. At least for me. So most times, I stick to something quick and simple to make. And in the best case it's filling, too.

Strammer Max is one of those simple dishes - it's more of an open-faced sandwich with ham and fried egg. Ready to eat in minutes and giving you that warm, fuzzy feeling, even if you have to defend it against the cats.

11 September 2010

Carrot dip. The mean brother of baby food.

This looks so innocent, doesn't it? I really reminds you a bit of baby food, if it weren't for the olives, right? Go ahead, take a bite. At first, you think: "What is she talking about? Just regular carrots. A bit on the sweet side." And then it will hit you: the tartness of the lemon juice. The slight bitterness of the olive oil. The complexity of the spices. And last, but not least: the slight burn of chili in your throat.

This is a great dip and it goes very well with all those other oriental-inspired dips, hummus, baba ghanoush and tzatziki. Just serve them all with some pita bread and olives and you have a simple, but very satisfying dinner.

04 September 2010

Superfudge Brownies. Where's the ice cream?

Sometimes, it's not that easy adapting foreign recipes. This one for example: all weight measures are given in ounces, so I first need to consult some kind of converter to get it in grams. And what am I supposed to do with "1/2 cup of butter"? In Germany - and many other parts of Europe - butter is only sold in 250 g / 1/2 pound blocks. Thanks to the internet, I didn't have to mess around with softened butter and a measuring cup.

And then there's the problem of finding the right ingredients. I looked almost everywhere for unsweetened chocolate, but it was nowhere to be found. The highest cocoa proportion I could find was 80%, so I had to break out the calculator again - assuming that the other 20% were sugar.

BUT: it was so worth the trouble! These brownies are very chocolaty, quite fudgy, but not too dense and with a nice and crisp top. And in the very unlikely case you couldn't eat them as long as they were fresh: chopped up, they make a very nice addition to chocolate ice cream.

28 August 2010

Coq au vin. The chicken version of Beuf Bourguignon.

Ever since the movie "Julie & Julia" came out, everyone seems to be crazy about Julia Child's version of Beuf Bourguignon. I know, Beuf Bourguignon is a great dish, but sometimes you just can't find the right beef in the supermarket or at your butcher's. Or you just don't want to spend the money. On the other hand, 4 chicken thighs only cost around 2 Euro. Seemed like a deal to me.

Oh, and there's a simple rule about cooking with wine: don't use anything that you wouldn't drink. But you don't have to use the most expensive one; a simple wine in a real bottle will do fine. Real French gourmet food for a couple of bucks. Perfect.

21 August 2010

Picadillo. With cinnamon and raisins.

Picadillo is one of the most versatile ragús in South American cooking. You can simply eat it with rice, preferably accompanied by a fried banana. Or use it as a filling for empanadas or pastel de papas - which is best described as the Argentine version of Shepard's Pie. But more on that in another post, first we are going to make the Picadillo.

14 August 2010

Jalapeño poppers. Some like it hot.

Funny how people react to different kinds of hot. Some people don't mind hotness at all, even search the kick of new levels of hotness. Others flinch at even the slightest amount - I once knew someone who broke into tears and sweat because of a couple of drops of Tabasco someone sneaked into his burger. I guess I'm in the middle: liking the hotness of chilies, unless it totally overwhelms the taste of your food.

This recipe is a work of genius. So incredibly simple, you don't even think about measuring the ingredients. Delicious beyond description. The chilies are reasonably hot, the cream cheese will even that out a bit. And bacon can never be a bad thing, can it?

07 August 2010

Steak au poivre. Even purists will love it.

When it comes to steak, I'm a purist. Salt, pepper, maybe a tad of herb butter and I'm happy. No crazy marinades, no BBQ sauce, no oysters, thank you. Oh, and medium rare, please.

But sometimes you may need a tiny bit more, maybe a little sauce to make the fries go down easier. And this is where Alton Brown comes in. In his show "Good Eats" he did not only present how to manage to get steaks out of a whole fillet, he also made a very minimalistic sauce. Just cream, cognac and pepper. It's a dream, it goes perfectly well with a steak without totally smothering its taste. Just what I like.

24 July 2010

Iced Tea. Thirst quencher for hot days.

There are few things more refreshing than iced tea on a hot summer day. And I don't mean those over-sweetened soft drinks laced with artificial flavors, preservatives and other stuff you don't really want to know about. Better make it yourself, it's ready in 5 minutes. Go ahead and time it, I'm not exaggerating. And another thing: it helps against those mean headaches.

17 July 2010

Tuna salad filled tomatoes. Hello from the Fifties.

A friend gave me a cookbook from the Fifties as a birthday present a couple of years ago. It is two inches thick and full of wonderful recipes, helpful hints on using leftovers - and even more delightful tips on shaping your food aerodynamically to make it more appetizing. There, I found great classics like meat loaf (in a dozen of variations), upside down pineapple and carrot cakes as well as tomatoes filled with different mayo-based salads, eg egg, chicken or tuna.

My mom used to make the tuna version as appetizer for guests: it's quick and easy, filling but not too much and enjoyed by everyone, whether they like fish or not. Including me and my dad, who virtually despise everything that comes out of the ocean.

10 July 2010

Obazda. Bavarian beergarden cheese spread.

My god, there she comes again with some funky Bavarian stuff... First that strange sausage salad, and now this... And it even comes with tons of butter...

Obazda means - roughly translated - hodge podge, and basically that's what it is. Legend has it, a Bavarian innkeeper was standing in his empty (post-war) kitchen, with VIP guests sitting in the pub and waiting for something to eat. He thought he couldn't serve a half-eaten cheese to those people, so he decided to mix it together with butter, onions and paprika powder. And like many of those dishes born in desperation, it was an instant success.

You can find it nowadays in every beer garden in Bavaria. There are of course a million recipes, but I think this is the most basic and original one: 1 part butter, 2 parts cheese, onion and some spices. Simple and delicious.

This is perfect for that rest of Camembert that has gotten too pungent to eat. But you can use any intense and soft cheese, in some regions of Germany they use Romadour, Limburger or even Harzer. And stretch it with cream cheese if you find the taste too strong.

03 July 2010

Cinnamon macarons with ganache. Not perfect.

About a year ago, I made macarons for the first time. Though I still can't manage to produce those beautiful, smooth caps, I still enjoy making them. And the combination of chocolate ganache and the smooth, almond-y taste of the macarons is still unbeaten.

Don't be afraid - the ganache is terribly easy to make, just chop up the chocolate, pour over the boiling cream and stir slowly until you have a shiny and glossy cream. Just follow these instructions in one of my older posts. Because the ganache needs quite a long time to cool, it is best to make it one day ahead.

26 June 2010

Chickpea salad. Great for summer.

Do you know those people who can eat anything at any time? Like pork roast and sauerkraut in summer or gazpacho when it's snowing. I can't. I am one of those who can't eat warm and heavy stuff when it's hot outside. I like to have a light lunch in the summer heat. But a normal green salad is never enough for me - I always end up hungry half an hour later. So this number here is a great compromise: It tastes fresh like a salad, but the chickpeas bring along some carbs and proteins, just the right amount to make you feel satisfied but not stuffed... And it's ready in minutes - literally - so you'll have more time to go outside and catch some rays.

19 June 2010

Apricot rolls. Like cinnamon rolls, but different.

These rolls are a bit like cinnamon rolls, but filled with apricot jam and some other yummy things. My mom found this recipe in a German baking magazine ages ago and it's a regular in our recipe repertoire since the first time we tried it out. I was still a kid and soon I started making this on my own. Mind you - yeast dough! Don't be afraid, it's so easy a kid can do it!

Follow me and I show you how it works.

12 June 2010

Spinach Salad. Like breakfast in the evening.

This is not even a recipe - just a combination of ingredients. Basically, it's almost everything you would eat for an English Breakfast: bacon and eggs, fried tomatoes and some spinach. OK, the mushrooms and the breakfast sausage are missing, but mushrooms are out for me because of their sorbitol content - and there is no way I will ever eat a breakfast sausage again.

Just arrange everything a bit differently and you'll have an excellent lunch or dinner salad.

05 June 2010

Cosmopolitan & White Russian. Carrie meets the Dude.

As much as I like browsing through a menu and ordering a cocktail, I often had the feeling that you get more show than taste. While I think it's impressive when somebody can juggle full bottles of vodka, I think the taste is way more important. What's the use of a good show if you can barely drink the result? Believe me, I had my share of undrinkable Caipirinhas and Mai Tais.

So here are two very famous cocktails you can make at home with no show and no equipment at all. One got very popular with "Sex and the City" - though I'm not a big fan of this show, I like the cocktail that's strong, a little bitter and not too sweet. On the other side of the spectrum lies the White Russian, introduced to the masses by the Dude a.k.a. "The Big Lebowsky". The cocktail is sweet and smooth, the film is not.

All the hardware you need are some glasses, a spoon and some kind of measuring device for the liquids. I use a jigger I bought at IKEA for around 2 bucks, sporting a 2 cl and a 4 cl side. But you don't have to go and buy stuff, just look around in your kitchen: a shot glass, an espresso cup, hey - even those breakfast egg cups you never use will work just fine.

Now grab some ice cubes and let's begin:

29 May 2010

Upside down citrus cake. Blood oranges and kumquats.

Hello, my name is Mel and I have fructose malabsorption... Imagine reading all those wonderful strawberry recipes this time of year and and not being able to eat even one little strawberry. Same with apples, pears and cherries. Don't feel sorry for me - leaving fruit away is better than a hurting stomach afterward.

As a coping strategy, I started looking for fruit cakes with citrus and/or banana - fruit I can definitively eat. And stumbling through flood blogs I found this upside down cake - sweet, tangy, fruity and a very good ersatz for all the fruit desserts I missed in the last year.

22 May 2010

Elivs' Meat Loaf. Pure Rock'n'Roll.

Meat loaf is a classic dish in German and American culture and there are tons of variations: my grandma used to put in a hard-cooked egg, my mom puts in tons of herbs and spices and my friend Nadine makes kind of a Greek version with rosemary and feta. But somehow I have settled on the version mentioned in my mother-in-law's Elvis cookbook: glazed with ketchup and with bacon on it. It somehow tastes like home and it tastes even better with a cold beer and some loud rock'n'roll.

15 May 2010

Canelés. Like straight from Bordeaux.

Canelés are to Bordeaux what macarons are to Paris. You will find them in every café and in some very expensive confiseries in the town center - selling not much else. Except those original copper molds for ridiculous prices. I tried one canelé in a café after a shopping tour. As I was in desperate need of caffeine to survive the 2-hour drive back, I ordered a double espresso and one of those rather boring looking canelés. But I was in for a surprise: the crust was actually so caramelized that it cracked and crunched when I took a bite. And the center was soft, almost pudding-like and tasted deliciously of eggs and rum.

It was totally clear to me that I had to make those at home and I was more than happy when I found a silicon mold for making 10 canelés in the supermarket - for the price of a copper mold for making 1 canelé. Don't be afraid, it's not a unitasker: you can also make very cute muffins and cupcakes with it.

Be aware that the batter needs to rest for at least 24 hours before baking - apart form that, they're ridiculously easy to make. And if you don't have a canelé mold, just go ahead and use your muffin tin or simple espresso cups. They won't look original, but you're going for the taste, right?

08 May 2010

Parmesan-crusted chicken. Perfect with salad.

This is one of the recipes I found on the internet, lost it and then found it again on a totally different site. Turns out I found the original recipe. And turns out, there's no such thing as Italian-flavored breadcrumbs in Germany - so I just decided to add some Italian herbs myself. And some chili flakes for an extra kick.

I imagine this chicken would also work very well with a Caesar Salad - in fact, this chicken basically is a Chicken Caesar Salad without the salad...

01 May 2010

Upside down pineapple carrot cake. Who needs frosting?

This simply is a great cake. Or muffin. My mom has a friend called Debbie and she's from Texas, but has been living in Germany for a long time. She once made the cake when I was a teenager and I was blown away. It was cinnamony, had complex flavors and the concept of carrots in a cake was absolutely new to me, She was kind enough to give me the recipe and I have baked it since on uncounted occasions. It's great every time: fluffy on the inside, somewhat spicy, nuts and caramelized top for the crunch, pineapples for juiciness. I've never made a frosting for this cake (it would be a shame to cover up those beautiful pineapples) and personally, I don't think it needs one.

But if you really insist on putting something on this cake, some vanilla ice cream goes tremendously well with it. Especially if the cake is still warm.

24 April 2010

ANZAC biscuits. Cookies from down under.

Are you also obsessed with foreign supermarkets? When I came to New Zealand 3 years ago, I spent hours in the supermarket, inspecting every row and wondering about many products, looking desperately for others. And of course buying quite a lot to try them out. And everywhere around NZ you will find ANZAC cookies next to the well-known classics like chocolate chip and oatmeal-raisin cookies. After wondering and reading the package, I found out that these cookies were originally sent from families to members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) abroad. I guess they were made without eggs so that they would keep better when being sent halfway around the globe. But nowadays you can make vegan cookies by substituting the butter with a good margarine. 

These cookies are a bit on the hard side, so don't give them to your granny. Unless of course you don't mind dipping them into hot coffee or tea. Oh, and by the way: tomorrow (25. April) is ANZAC day!

17 April 2010

Citrus fillets. How to get them.

Maybe you're like me and you don't like the tough white skins on citrus fruits. So when I realized that there's an easy way to cut around them and only have the orange flesh, I was in heaven.

And it's really easy to to, just follow the steps:

Cut off the top and the bottom of the orange. Just look for the navel and the stem and cut away about 5 mm / 1/4 inch thick slices from both ends. Make sure there is no white skin left - if there is, cut away another thin slice till the cut section looks all orange.

10 April 2010

Spaghetti Bolognese. Hearty, chunky, highly aromatic.

Isn't curious that half the world eats Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, except the Italians? They think we are all crazy eating fine, delicate noodles with a thick and chunky ragú. Or even worse: with meatballs.
I admit, getting the appropriate amount of pasta and sauce into your mouth is not really easy with this combination. Either you roll the spaghetti on your fork and all the ground beef falls off. Or you try to scoop up some sauce and the long pasta strands falls of. Feel free to cook rigatoni, ruote, conchiglie or whatever you like. But I stick with Spaghetti, because nothing beats the taste of childhood memories.

27 March 2010

Fruit smoothie. Throw in whatever you like.

When I was a child, my mom often made fruit smoothies for me and my brother. At that time, that kind of drink was completely unknown in Germany and my mom called it "liquado" because of her past in Argentina. She bought a US-made blender and that's the one I'm still using today!

I'm not on a diet - heavens no! - but on the Good Eats episode "Live and let diet", Alton Brown has some very interesting points on making smoothies:
  • Buy overripe bananas in bulk, then peel and freeze them. 
  • When turning on your blender, start on the lowest setting and move your way up slowly. 
  • Make sure you always see a "vortex" - if not, start over at the lowest setting.
And if you don't have a blender, then use a tall vessel and a stick blender. It's a bit messier, but the taste is the same...

I always liked bananas in my smoothie - it's what I use as a base - and then I add everything fruity I have at home. If you're lactose intolerant, leave out the milk and use water or soy milk instead. If you're vegan, leave out the honey, too. If you think you need some extra protein, add a raw egg or just the egg yolk.
And if you have fructose malabsorption, use the fruits your stomach is comfortable with. In my case, bananas and oranges are fine. And I'm still testing the red fruits.

20 March 2010

Zürcher Geschnetzeltes. Stroganoff the Swiss way.

Did you know that sweet sherry is a total pain to clean up? Some years ago, a bottle broke with less than half a cup of sherry left. It might not sound so much, but it was a tremendous disaster. Sweet syrupy drops rolling down in slow motion, sticking to everything in their way and running into every little groove. Photo albums, books, shelves, parquet floor, the TV set and various video game consoles got their share. Up to this day, the reset button of the Nintendo N64 still needs a bit of extra persuasion. Not to mention that some weeks ago, when I disassembled book shelves to replace them with new ones, I found various remnants of the sherry fiasco on those hard-to-reach places.

Sherry is a key ingredient in this dish, though I - ahem - stick to the medium-dry variety nowadays. You can leave the mushrooms out if you want to, even the green pepper corns if you must. And binding the sauce with cream cheese is such a clever trick: it brings a certain discreet acidity and as it is thick and often contains a little amount of starch, that saves you from stirring up a slurry. In my hands, corn starch always makes a mess. Luckily, no comparison with sherry.

13 March 2010

Porridge. For when you're ill.

Porridge is the perfect breakfast or snack when you're ill. It's warm, but you don't have to stand long in front of your stove if you feel a little weak. It's nourishing, but light and soothing if your stomach is acting up. And it's an absolute no-brainer to make, which comes in handy if you feel like your head is exploding.

06 March 2010

Pork tenderloin with onions and red wine. Heaven.

A couple of years ago, there was a cooking show on TV, called "Schmeckt nicht, gibt's nicht" - which translates to something like "no yummy, no way". Host was a guy named Tim Mälzer and I liked the 20-minute show because he actually managed to have his meals ready in 20 minutes, mostly without saying the dreaded sentence "and here we have it prepared in advance"... It gave you a kind of down-to-earth feel when a TV cook actually starts to peel an onion in front of the camera, instead of being surrounded by an endless number of thick-rimmed glass bowls, one for each cut and measured ingredient. What a waste!

Sadly, because the show was canceled some time ago, all the recipes were taken off the TV channel's website - not even the wayback-machine could bring them back. I was really happy when I found a printout of this recipe when I browsed through my binder! I hope I remember to print out more recipes from the Internet, they vanish so quietly...

02 March 2010

And now to something completely different. On IKEA hacker.

This is a short intermission. Sorry for being off-topic, but maybe you're like me and have more than just one hobby:
Today, you can see on IKEA hacker, what I did to my zebra bench and how I use it as coffee table. Here's the direct link to the post:

Bench and coffee table in one

20 February 2010

Dates and bacon. Only better with parmesan.

In foodie questionnaires, one question that almost always pops up is: "sweet or savory?" Seems that I belong to the rather small group that answers: "both! at the same time!" I have always been a fan of sweet/salty combinations, like cheese and membrillo, toast Hawaii or arroz a la cubana (fried rice, eggs and bananas). As Flo finds those combinations ranging between barley edible to downright revolting, I sometimes make myself something he really doesn't like - when he's not there. For example, dates rolled in bacon, then fried until crispy. This is a classic combination, just like prunes rolled in bacon. Then I read somewhere about filling them with Parmesan. And let me tell you, this takes this party classic to a whole new level.

Side note for you fructose malabsorption guys: dates contain sorbitol, which deactivates the very few fructose transporters you have. For me, 4 dates are just the limit.

14 February 2010

Fondue sauces. A rainbow of colors and tastes.

Fondue is our standard meal for special occasions. We have it almost every Christmas and New Year's and some other times of the year, too. I like it because it's festive, you get to eat beef tenderloin and for the fact that you can prepare everything in advance. So on the great day, you only have to heat the broth, set the table and everyone is cooking for himself and having fun. Not to mention the romance, coziness and warmth an open fire brings into your house.

And in fact, we prefer the "fondue chinoise" variant, that means cooking thin slices of meat in a broth. As opposed to "fondue bourginonne", which means cooking the meat in hot oil. That is, of course, tasty like everything that has been fried. But your house will also smell for days as it has been fried. And I'm really not the one to count calories, but food cooked in oil and served with mayo-based sauces simply is too fatty for my taste.

06 February 2010

Mushroom Sauce. Perfect with Semmelknödel.

Last week on the Semmelknödel post, I promised you a recipe for mushroom sauce. This is a classic combination in Bavaria and in most cases, the only vegetarian option in traditional restaurants. I'm really not a vegetarian, but I sometimes wonder about the "meatless" menus in restaurants - accompanied by gravy, lard or even bacon. Personally, I think humans are omnivores (just ask a biologist about our teeth sets), but I deeply respect the choices people make. You never know what's really behind it. For example, when I was a teenager, there was a year when just the sight and smell of meat made me feel sick. And it even happens nowadays that I prefer a meatless meal. Just like on other days, I crave a steak. Medium rare.

Note for you fructose malabsorption guys out there: those white mushrooms contain mannite/mannitol and if you can't handle sorbitol you can't handle that one either. Apparently, I can't. Lesson learned.

30 January 2010

Semmelknödel. Bavarian bread dumplings.

When I was 12 years old, my family moved to Bavaria. Before that I only knew Semmelknödel as a side for special occasions, eg the roast turkey on Christmas. But it was the pre-packaged stuff that came in individual plastic bubbles and that only tasted good when you spooned a LOT of gravy on top. But in Bavaria, those bread dumplings are served with almost any kind of roast that comes with a dark sauce. Most commonly: roast pork with dark stout sauce. And the vegetarian version: with mushroom sauce - more on that next week. Other great combinations are pot roast and goulash (that's my favorite combination). After a while, my mom got to know some people better and one lady showed her how simple those bread dumplings are.

This is the best part: When you have leftover dumplings, cut them into thin slices and fry them in butter until they are brown and crusty on both sides. Serve either with herb butter, sour cream or - according to my husband - ketchup. That's why I never half the recipe although we're only 2 eaters.

23 January 2010

Sauerbraten. With the brine, you're halfway there.

Sauerbraten is a very traditional German roast, the sweet and sour brother of the pot roast. And to make it, just put the meat into the brine for a couple of days (check and turn over every day) and then follow the directions for pot roast, but instead of the wine and onions, use the brine. And when making the sauce, add a handful of raisins and almond slivers. And then you'll have a very nice dish that goes very nicely with potato dumplings or spaetzle.

Of course you can also use this brine for any other kind of meat, especially venison and other game would work pretty fine.

16 January 2010

Beef and Guinness Stew Pie. Sort of.

My dad went for a business trip to Zwickau - that's in the Eastern part of Germany. And he brought back several bottles of "Mauritius" beer. And it was very tasty stuff. Dark, slightly sweet, not too bitter. As I stayed with my parents over new year's, we drank quite a bit and suddenly I was remembering the taste of Guinness in the Irish Pub in Auckland, New Zealand. And my husband's tales of the pub in Hamilton, where he had a dish called "Beef in Guinness", a very dark, rich stew with fork-tender meat, served with garlic bread and - of course - a pint of Guinness. And so we made "Beef and Guinness" the next day, but with Mauritius. While we were cooking, my mom remebered having eaten pot pies on a trip to UK - and so we covered the stew with flaky pastry. The perfect winter food - and with the perfect timing, as it just stared to snow...

10 January 2010

Chorizo and Potatoes. Minimalistic in every way.

When I visited Spain some time ago, we went into a tapas bar. At first, I thought: "Do I really want to eat here?" It was really dark, from the ceiling were hanging dozens of whole hams, the interior was shabby and the floor was covered with used toothpicks. But at a closer look, all the people inside were having a good time, the whole 10 meters of the bar top were laden with snacks of all kinds and it all smelled incredibly good. So we ordered some sherry and took from the bar what we liked. We had planned to eat dinner afterward, but we came out of the bar feeling slightly tipsy and incredibly full.

One of the classic tapas is chorizo and potatoes cooked together and you won't believe how easy this is. It tastes complex, the sauce looks like it has been cooked for hours and it warms your soul. But all you need is found in all kitchens, even that of a student that has just moved in. As for cooking skills: if you can hold a knife and know how to turn up the heat on your stovetop, you're good to go.

02 January 2010

Lasagna. Brings back childhood memories.

My mom learned to cook with an Italian family. So in my childhood, many of the everyday dishes were Italian - like pasta, gnocchi or risotto. Lasagna being - as it is rather labor intensive - a treat for special occasions. Plus, 25 years ago in Germany, there simply weren't any lasagna sheets to buy in the supermarkets. So my mom also made the pasta sheets from scratch.

And this is what the perfect lasagna looks like - at least in my opinion: 5 to 6 layers of pasta, thick beef sugo, a savoury Béchamel sauce and a thick, cheesy crust. No 1000 layers of dough, no ham slices and no pools of aurora sauce. But maybe that's just me...