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For a healthy 2017: Low carb bread

7 Jan

Uff, the time between Christmas and New Year’s day is the most intense time of the year in terms of food and drinks. It is wonderful to come together with the family and enjoy all the good food.

We saw a nice variety of different flavors on our plates this year: From traditional Czech cuisine with karp and potato salad over venison goulash to raclette.

On New Year’s day the fridge looked rather empty and a wish for something not so heavy made me create this low carb bread recipe. You can enjoy it while still warm with salad or cottage cheese. You can also eat it like a normal bread with sausage and cheese. The texture is very smooth and soft, therefore you should consume the bread within 2-3 days and store it in the fridge.

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Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 cups shredded veggies such as carrots, cucumber, red beet and celery (I use the leftovers from my juicer)
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk or cream
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds or flax seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1.5 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt, curry powder and pepper for seasoning
  • Sesame seeds for decoration

Preparation:

  1. Start preheating your oven to 220 degrees Celsius
  2. Prepare your shredded veggies – either by shredding them freshly or by using the leftovers from your juicer
  3. In a blender, mix together the veggies and the condensed milk to receive a smooth paste
  4. Then put into a medium sized bowl and season with salt, curry powder and pepper,
  5. Stir in the oats and seeds
  6. Mix in 1 egg
  7. Add flour and baking powder
  8. Place in a bread pan or rectangular cake pan and decorate with sesame seeds
  9. Back at 220 degrees Celsius for 40-45 min

On top of the mountain in the Czech Republic

20 Nov

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Last weekend marked a friend reunion with Radek and Martin in Prague. Our friendship is a special one, we met 17 years ago during a summer vacation on the island of Korcula in Croatia and since then remained in touch. Every now and then (this time 10 years!) the three of us meet somewhere in Europe. What awaited us was a hiking trip to a historic place: the mountain Rip, just about 1 hour outside of Prague. When I saw it I had a smile on my face. Rather than a mountain it is a cute hill with a small church and bistro on the top.

With the winter having arrived and freezing temperatures around 0 degrees, we decided to hide inside a cafe after our 2 hour hike. Excellent idea. It has been a while since I enjoyed typical Czech cakes and a real hot chocolate (melted chocolate with whipped cream). The cafe was a local kavarna (= Czech word for cafe) in the middle of the old town center of Melnik. 

http://www.nakopci.com/

From there we headed back to Prague and found ourselves on top of another hill at a restaurant called Na kopci (= on top of the hill). The restaurant is nestled in the middle of a residential area and a little bit hidden. The menu is top though. With St.Martin`s day on Friday the menu still offered traditional goose dishes like goose soup with mini dumplings, goose rillette and roast goose with a variety of home-made dumplings and pickled red cabbage. The food was of excellent quality and came in very nice portions so that we got to taste several courses. I especially enjoyed my deer roulade that was stuffed with a fig-date-noisette paste and came on a bed of spinach with fried gnocchi. 

If you decide to go to that place, don`t forget to book. The place was so busy that we had to go at 4pm.

When we left Prague, I realized that I am leaving with a very happy belly. What you do not see on the pictures is what we got to eat at home at my dad`s place: Home-made halusky (= Czech gnocchi) with blue cheese and sauerkraut, red beet borscht soup and an assortment of cheeses that we enjoyed with red wine. For breakfast we had jablkovy zavin, the Czech apple pie or Apfelstrudel as it is called in Germany speaking countries and kolace (= traditional Czech cakes) with poppyseed, cream cheese and plum filling.

Oh boy, I am already looking forward to Christmas and our Czech tradition of fried karp with home-made potato salad. Pictures coming, promised!

Cookie dough terrine

3 Nov

Oh my sweet tooth, sometimes it makes me create little recipes without having planned any of it. Last night after dinner was such a moment, I felt like I needed something chocolaty and quick. And voila, this nice and tasty cookie dough terrine came out.

Cookie dough terrine

Ingredients:

1 stick butter or margarine

3/4 cups brown sugar

Salt

1 cup flour

Dark chocolate chips

Strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Preparation:

1) Use soft butter or let the butter melt in a small pot.

2) Combine the butter, sugar, salt and chocolate chips and stir.

3) Now add the flour until you receive a smooth dough texture.

4) Place the dough in small ceramic terrines and decorate with two strawberries.

4) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390-400 degrees Fahrenheit) and bake for about 15 min.

 

For the cookie dough base I used this recipe:

http://www.centercutcook.com/edible-egg-less-chocolate-chip-cookie-dough/

Exotic summer salad

3 Jul

Summer is on and we are enjoying it at full throttle. Sitting on the terrace for a late dinner while there is still light out there feels so good. Because I want to enjoy the long days as much as I can, I tend to make quick meals in the summer.

Last week, I ended up in the kitchen baking birthday muffins and I can tell you that it felt like a visit to the sauna with the hot oven around me. That adds to my point about quick meals without long cooking.

Today, I decided to go for a salad in which I bring together a rainbow of tastes. Let surprise yourself with this summer salad recipe!

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Ingredients (serves 2 people):

1/s lettuce

2-3 carrots

1 shallot

1 fennel head

1/2 cup barley or bulgur

Roast pork

Cantaloupe melon

For the dressing:

Orange

Soy sauce

Basil infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)

Preparation:

  1. Prepare the dressing by squeezing one orange and adding 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce and oil. Basil infused olive oil will give your dressing an exceptional and fresh note. In case you do not have basil infused olive oil at home, you can as well chop up a few fresh basil leaves and add them together with extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Cut your veggies and arrange them layer by layer on a plate: First comes shredding your lettuce, then peeling and thinly slicing 2-3 carrots. After that, slice the fennel and shallot.
  3. At high heat, sear the shallot and fennel in a pan with a teaspoon of butter. When your done, place it as the next layer on your salad.
  4. Cut the cantaloupe in small dices.
  5. In a small pan, cook your barley or bulgur as instructed. Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water.
  6. Now for the roast pork, you have two options: Buy it cooked and ready for use or make a roast yourself (very time consuming). I used left-overs that I had in the freezer and cut them in dices.
  7. Before you put the last layer on your salad, combine the cantaloupe, barley or bulgur and the diced roast pork in a bowl and add some olive oil and a spoon of the dressing that you have prepared in the beginning.
  8. Pour the dressing over the first two layers, add the last layer (melon-meat-barley/bulgur mix) and enjoy.

 

Tartine breakfast

26 Jun

tar·tine

(tär-tēn′)

n.

A French open-faced sandwich, especially one with a rich or fancy spread.

 

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Rich or fancy spread, that is the question here. I tend to go with fancy and colorful. And most important of all: Tartine sounds nice (better than bread breakfast). You will find lots of varieties of tartine bread or sandwiches in countries where bread is part of the daily food plan.

A few that I can think of are:

Brotstulle – Germany

Sandwich – UK/US and other English speaking countries

Chlebíček – Czech Republic

Smørrebrød- Sweden and Denmark

Bocadillo – Spain

Tartines are allrounders: They are great for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All you need is bread and a topping of your choice. I prefer colorful toppings and try to make my tartines healthy. As you can see in the picture, I used avocado, radish, tomato and egg. When I made this tartine I immediately had a good start into the day.

Two tipps that I have for you:

  1. Toast the bread before you put the topping on it (unless you use very fresh and fluffy bread)
  2. Use an oily base like butter, olive oil or sour cream

Next time you make your own tartine, do not forget to include colorful and healthy ingredients and you will see how happy this tartine will make you :)

Wishing all of you a good start into the week!

Mousse au chocolat

29 May

Who does not like desserts?

As far as I know, almost nobody. I am sure that out of a group of 10, a maximum of 1-2 persons do not have a sweet tooth and do not get attracted by a sweet seduction after a good meal. For you as a hobby chef, that is good news. Offering a tasty dessert at a dinner party will make your guests happy. That being said, do not skip dessert :)

My experience is that desserts with dark chocolate always are a perfect fit after any kind of main course. They go well with digestives like liqueurs, an espresso or your glass of red or white wine.

I was invited to a dinner party last night and decided to go with mousse au chocolat. Turns out, it was a good choice: It is quick to make and you only need 4 ingredients.

mousse au chocolat

Ingredients (serves 6-7 people):

200g dark chocolate (60% cocoa)

100g very dark chocolate (85% cocoa)

20g white chocolate

400ml whipping cream

2 eggs

Raspberries for decoration

Preparation:

1. Melt all the dark chocolate in a bain-marie.

What is a bain-marie? You do not want to destroy the chocolate by melting it at a too hot temperature. Therefore, you use a bowl or small pot that you place in a larger pot with hot water. Stir the chocolate while melting it and make sure that no water spills into the chocolate. This would make the chocolate flaky instead of smooth.

Put aside and let cool down. The consistency of the chocolate has to be viscous (not liquid) before you continue processing it.

2. Separate egg white from yolks. In separate bowls,  whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and the egg yolks until they are fluffy.

3. Whip the cream with a hand mixer until it has a very firm consistency. Takes about 2-3 min.

4. Prepare a bowl that is large enough for all ingredients. Use a spatula and not a hand mixer from now on as you want to slowly combine all ingredients.

Start with the fluffy egg yolks by adding them to your bowl.

Now stir in the chocolate.

Add the egg whites.

Finally, work in the whipped cream. Leave about 2-3 tablespoons of whipped cream for decoration.

5. Serve the mousse straight away or chill it in the fridge (good idea if you want to prepare the mousse in advance). It is important that the mousse is firm like a pudding. Should that not be the case, cool it in an ice bath by placing the bowl into a larger bowl with ice-cube infused water or in the fridge until it gets firm.

6. Decoration: Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie (just like the dark chocolate earlier). Wash a few raspberries. In a small bowl, put a scoop of mousse au chocolate and decorate it with a spoon of whipped cream, 2-3 raspberries and drizzle a few lines of white chocolate on top of the mousse. Enjoy with pleasure.

 

Seafood bolognese with sepia pasta

28 Mar

Living in Hamburg, I am getting used to eating good fish and on some occasions seafood. Little did I know for quite a long time that the fish shacks near Fischmarkt (on Grosse Elbstrasse) that do not look very inviting from the outside but make excellent fish rolls and traditional seafood dishes are an excellent escape for a quick and good lunch. If you get a chance to spend a day in Hamburg during the week go there for your lunch and you will get to feel a piece of Hamburgeois life.

This year I tried Stinte fish for the first time – Stint is a fish that lives in the ocean and comes to the river Elbe for breeding. When the baby fish are born end of February/March you will find them on the menus of traditional restaurants across Hamburg. Stint fish are served fried with potatoes (boiled potatoes or potato salad) on the side.

Matjes and hering are also traditional fish here and should you not find the time for a restaurant visit you can go to any supermarket (e.g. Rewe or Edeka) and get your dose of fish to go. Matjes and hering are eaten cold with bread and usually come in a cream sauce.

In my corner, we do not have any fish store nearby. I sometimes store seafood in the freezer so that I have something at hand if I feel like eating seafood and this is what I came up with the other day as I was craving a simple seafood dish on a Sunday night:

Seafood bolognese with sepia pasta

Seafood bolognese with sepia pasta

Ingredients (serves 2 people):

200-250g of sepia colored pasta

1 bunch arugula salad

A handful of cocktail tomatoes

2-3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup seafood (I used frozen seafood – e.g. mussels, squid/calamari, shrimps)

2 garlic cloves

Juice of half a lemon

Large capers for decoration

1/2 teaspoon shrimp or fish sauce

Salt and pepper

For the salad dressing: cranberry vinegar, olive oil, dill mustard

Preparation:

1) Defrost the seafood. For quick defrosting: Pour hot water over the seafood and let stand for a few minutes. Drain the water and drizzle the seafood with lemon juice.

2) Chop the garlic and slice the cocktail tomatoes in half.

3) In a pan, fry the garlic in a little oil, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Season with salt, pepper and a little shrimp or fish sauce. Stir in the seafood. Keep warm.

4) Wash and drain the arugula salad.

5) Prepare the salad dressing by mixing 1 part of cranberry vinegar, 1 part of oil and 1 part of dill mustard together. Season with salt and pepper.

6) Boil the pasta as indicated on the package.

7) On a plate, arrange the pasta in the middle, then add the seafood tomato sauce and finally arrange the arugula salad on the side.

Mini Franzis (Franzbrötchen)

24 Jan

Hamburg is my home base. A very lovely city that is not as hyped as other European cities (Berlin, London, Paris) and my hidden gem with loads of outside activities to do, secret spots to discover off the path, a varied culinary scene and the best about it: Some traditional Hamburgeois foods. Nothing too fancy. Simple and tasty. That`s what is Hamburg to me.

Why not take the occasion to introduce you to what Hamburg has to offer.

Franzbrötchen

My number 1 is our local answer to French croissants called Franzbrötchen (Franz roll for a literal translation). Franzbrötchen are sweet cinnamon buns and in most bakeries you will find them with varieties of toppings (pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, chocolate). They are a very good accessory for your weekend breakfast table.

They look very artsy and I have not dared to bake them on my on so far. It turns out that making them is not difficult at all so I recommend that you give it a try. The more difficult part about the recipe is to get the yeast dough right. Follow those steps and I am sure you will succeed:

Ingredients (for 10-12 small rolls)

Yeast dough:

125 ml milk

35g butter

250 g wholewheat flour

1 teaspoon dry yeast (or 1og fresh yeast)

35 sugar

1 egg

1 pinch of salt

Topping:

40g butter

40g brown sugar or honey

1.5 tablespoons cinnamon

3 tablespoons seeds (e.g. pumpkin or sunflower)

2 tablespoons milk

Preparation:

1) Heat up the milk to medium temperature (no boiling) in a small pot, then add the butter and let it melt, too.

2) In a bowl, combine the flour with the yeast and a pinch of salt. Mix in all other ingredients: The milk-butter-liquid, sugar and egg. Stir by hand or with a hand mixer until the dough is smooth and gooey. Put the dough aside (minimum room temperature at 18 degrees or warmer) and let it double in size. Meanwhile start preheating the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).

3) Now comes the topping: Melt the butter and combine with the sugar, cinnamon and seeds.

4) Knead the dough once more and roll it out to a square on a dry surface sprinkled with flour. Your square should be the size of 20x60cm rectangle.
5) Apply the topping and roll the dough. Cut small, 7cm wide trapezes (picture 1)
6) Turn the trapeze on the long side and gently press a hole in the middle using a spatula or a rolling pin (picture 2+3).
7) Lay out the rolls on a baking tray leaving enough space between them so the don’t stick together while baking and brush the rolls with milk before you put them in the oven. Don’t forget to grease the baking tray or line it out with baking paper.
8) Bake for 10-12 min until golden and serve while still warm.
Picture 1:  Apply the topping on the dough and roll it. Cut small, 7cm wide trapezes.

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Picture 2: Turn the trapeze on the long side

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Picture 3: Press a hole in the middle using a spatula or a rolling pin

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Picture 4: Leave enough space on the baking tray and brush the rolls with milk before you put them in the oven

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Inspired by this German recipe: http://www.oetker.de/rezepte/r/franzbroetchen.html

Fruit & nut cake

18 Oct

What is a good alternative to a breakfast cereal or porridge? If you like sweet for breakfast then my answer is: Cake. Not that it has to be a large piece with whipped cream. I am looking for something healthy that gives me an energy boost for the day.

Today I tried out a wholegrain recipe with nuts and a lot of fruit. Delicious it was. Top it up with butter, jam or honey and a coffee and I guarantee you an excellent start into the day!
Fruit & nut cake

Ingredients

2oog wholegrain wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 pinch of salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/4 cup raisins

Fruit in sirup (e.g. walnut, fig, grapes, orange, lemon) – I used 2 walnuts, 2 tablespoons grapes and 2 large orange slices

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup water

1 egg

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven at 220 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves and salt.
  3. Add the hazelnuts, brown sugar and raisins.
  4. Cut the preserved fruit into smaller pieces and add them to the bowl.
  5. Pour in the buttermilk and water bit by bit and stir well. The dough should not be too liquid.
  6. Mix in the egg.
  7. Transfer the dough into a baking pan and drizzle with sugar.
  8. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes.

Tip: If you experience difficulty finding fruit in sirup use dried fruit instead and leave it in a bowl with warm water for about 30 min before adding it to the dough. That way you allow the fruit to absorb water and it gets softer. Fruit in sirup is a delicacy in countries like Greece where the mild climate lets fruit grow in abundance. The sirup preserves the fruit and gives it a very juicy and sweet taste.

Carrot cake: Moist and delicious

31 May

Somehow this month is coming along with plenty of cake occasions for me: Birthdays, weddings, a job change and sometimes simply a sweet tooth on a weekend afternoon made me look through my collection of cake recipes. I stumbled across a carrot cake recipe that I was given by my German friend Mareike about three years ago. What I love about this recipe? This carrot cake is very soft, moist and the frosting gives it just the right amount of sweetness. You almost can’t stop after one piece, I swear. A practical side effect on top: It is made without nuts which is perfect for people with nut allergies and instead of spending quite an amount of time grating carrots you use a jar of carrot baby meal.

Carrot cake

Ingredients:

25o g vegetable oil

400 g cast sugar

4 eggs

500 g flour

1 pack vanilla sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla aroma (in Germany: Butter-Vanille-Aroma)

1 pack baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

380 g carrot baby meal (e.g. 2-3 jars Hipp baby meal depending on size or 400g of boiled and smashed carrots)

Frosting:

75 g butter

250 g powder sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla aroma (in Germany: Butter-Vanille-Aroma)

75 g cream cheese

Preparation

1) Except for the carrots, whisk all ingredients together until you have a smooth dough. Then add the carrots and bake at 190 degrees for 35 min (important: do not preheat the oven). You can use a normal deep dish baking pan, a cake tin or even a Auflaufform.

2) As soon as the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool down.

3) Prepare the frosting by whisking together all ingredients as indicated above and spread a thin layer over the cake.

Tip: If you do want to eat the cake immediately I suggest to store it in the fridge so that the frosting doesn’t dry out.

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