Archive | My favorite RSS feed for this section

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.

 

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.

Simone’s home-made granola

22 Mar

Granola

Muesli and granola are my favorite breakfast meals. Paired with fruit they give you a powerful start into the day.

For a while I have been looking for a simple and kind of healthy granola recipe. I got inspired by Simone, our Airbnb host in Copenhagen, last weekend. She was so kind to invite us for breakfast on the Sunday morning and made us here home-made granola with yoghurt. Yummm.

I couldn’t resist to try my own version of it once back home and here is the result:

Ingredients:

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Sesame seeds

Raisins

Honey

Ratio: 1/2 cup of seeds & raisins on 1 large tablespoon honey

Simone used nuts as well (hazelnuts and almonds if I recall it right) and skipped the raisins. It’s up to you to decide which seeds or nuts you want to combine. Definitely use honey instead of brown or white sugar.

Preparation:

1) Preheat a pan and put a large scoop of honey in it as soon as the pan is warm (use medium heat, you don’t want to burn it)

2) While stirring let the honey melt. Then add your mix of seeds and raisins and keep on stirring.

3) Wait for the honey to caramelize. You will notice the caramelization by the change of color that will go from light brown to brown. Don’t wait for a dark brown nuance, that might burn your seeds.

4) Serve while still warm or let cool down and store in an air-tight container (e.g. Tupperware, glass jar).

P.S. Should you be planning a Copenhagen trip and not be sure about accomodation yet, I suggest to check out Simone’s apartment on Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.de/rooms/2547851

Everybody loves…a pumpkin pie

9 Nov

Before the wonderful pumpkin season is over I want to share a very easy pumpkin pie recipe with you. In Germany, pumpkin pies are not very common to my surprise. Pumpkins are everywhere though!

I have seen many recipes using a ton of cream. I prefer it a little simpler with just a sip of cream. If you want to make somebody a nice surprise, bake the pie in a muffin pan. Serve while still warm with a dab of whipped cream and you will make their day!

Pumpkin pie

Pie Crust

1 cup flour

1 pinch salt

1/3 cup vegetable shortening (in Germany I use Butterschmalz)

2 tablespoons cold water

Preparation:

1) In bowl, combine flour and salt. Then mix in the vegetable shortening and finally add the cold water. Mix until the dough is smooth and holds together.

2) I usually leave the dough in the fridge for about 30 min.

3) On a clean surface, sprinkled with flour, roll out the dough. It should be about 1-2 mm high and round. Tips: Use plastic wrap to roll out the dough.

Filling

1 pumpkin (e.g. Hokkaido pumpkin)

Cinnamon powder, ground cloves (1/2 teaspoon each)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Preparation:

1) In a large pot, bring about 2 l of water to a boil. Meanwhile, clean and cut the pumpkin into slices or cubes. You do not need to remove the skin.

2) Boil the pumpkin at medium heat until soft. This takes about 10-15 min. Drain and put aside to let it cool down.

3) In a blender mix the pumpkin pieces until you receive a smooth pumpkin paste.

4) Transfer into a bowl and season with cinnamon powder and ground cloves. Stir in the sugar and then add the cream. For a spicier taste, add more cinnamon and cloves.

Baking

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).

2) Use a pie baking pan or round ceramic bowl to bake the pie.

3) Instead of greasing out the baking pan, I used baking paper so that the pie would not stick to the baking pan.

4) Place the dough in the baking pan and with your fingers line it into the baking pan.

5) Fill with pumpkin puree and bake for about 20-25 min until the crust has a nice brown color.

For the pie crust, I used this recipe: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/28518/homemade-pie-crust-recipe/ 

Szegediner Goulash

2 Sep

Today I am proudly presenting you one of the best dishes in the world which I have been keeping as a draft for over a year until i found time and courage to give the good old Czech dumplings a premiere.

I should tell you a little bit about my personal experience with Czech dumplings: my parents are Czech and so it happened that whenever I visited Prague with my family those delicious dumplings (not to be confused with toast bread even though they look like it) had to be on my plate, preferably home-made. You may find them at any supermarket, yet it is a question of every Czech mom’s and grandma’s honor to make them from scratch. I perceived this tradition as a kind of dumpling religion and it took me almost 30 years until I gave it my first try. Too scared was I to fail. Looking back I assure you there is no need to wait so long. It’s as easy as kneading a pizza dough ;)

Now to the goulash: There exist dozens of fantastic goulash recipes. What makes the Szegediner goulash special is its mild and moist taste that comes from sweet paprika powder, a good amount of sauerkraut and sour cream.

If I could send you a tiny note of the smell and taste, you would immediately head out to the supermarket and start cooking, that’s how good it is!

Szegediner Gulasch

Dumplings in the making

Dumplings

Goulash meat:

Ingredients:

1 kg goulash meat (should be one piece of tender meat, e.g. roast meat)

1 slice lard (ca. 30g/1 ounce)

2 large white onions (at least 300g/a little over 1/2 pound)

3 garlic cloves, pressed

500g (1 lbs) sauerkraut

1 cup veggie broth

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon caraway

sweet paprika powder

spicy paprika powder

salt

pepper

1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

Preparation:

1) Dice the onions, peel the garlic and cut the meat into mouth big pieces.

2) Put the piece of lard in a hot pot and sear the onions until they are glassy. Put aside.

3) Leave the lard in the pot and saute the meat at the highest heat available.

4) Cover with broth, then add the tomato paste, garlic and spices. Mix everything together and let simmer at medium to low heat for about 25-30 min.

5) Add the sauerkraut and let simmer for another 10-15 min. If the goulash comes out too dry, add a little more water.

6) Before serving stir in 3-4 generous spoons of creme fraiche or sour cream. Add salt and/or pepper to taste.

7) Serve with oven warm baguette, bread or traditional bread dumplings.

Dumplings

Ingredients:

500g (1 lbs) flour

1 old roll

1 egg

250 ml milk (water for vegans)

1 pack baking soda

Pinch of salt

Preparation:

1) In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda and a pinch of salt. Brake the roll into crumbles and add.

2) Add the egg and start stirring it in.

3) Then slowly add the milk (or water) and with your hands knead everything into a soft dough.

4) Form 2-3 rolls with your hands, wrap in plastic foil over and leave them at the fridge for 30 min.

5) Bring water to a boil, add salt and let the dumplings cook for 20 min. Every once in a while turn them around.

6) Now comes the tricky part: you don’t want to slice the dumplings with a knife. Instead, use a sewing thread. Wrap the thread around the dumpling always about one finger tip wide, cross the ends at the top and slice them down. This way you get perfect dumpling slices that will not fall apart and deform their shape.

7) for serving, arrange 2-3 dumpling slices on a plate and place a scoop of goulash meat next to it. Enjoy!

Portuguese tomato jam (doce de tomate)

17 Aug

Tomato jam? Wouldn’t you normally use fruit to make jam? That is right and yet it is also what make this jam so fabulous. It’s my latest discovery from Portugal. I recently spent a weekend in Lisbon and Cristiana, a Portuguese friend of ours, told me to try it. I would have not imagined that ripe, caramelized tomatoes and a sip of Port wine could create such a mouth-watering delicacy.

While the tomato season is still on,  I strongly recommend you to get at least 1 kilo (2 pounds) of very ripe tomatoes and to give it a shot yourself. The good thing about jams is that you barely cook them for longer than 10-15 min. You want to avoid caramelizing your ingredients too much because that would change the taste. The trick is to let the water evaporate a little bit and then to seal the jam in jars while it is still hot.

For one kilo of tomatoes, you will need 3 medium size glass jars of 160 ml (5 oz) as shown in the picture.

The jam is fantastic on whole grain bread or with a slice of cheese (e.g. goat cheese) or meat (e.g. steak).

Doce de tomate

Ingredients:

1 kg tomatoes (very ripe)

370 g brown cane sugar

50 ml port wine (preferred kind: Ruby port)

1 pinch ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground cloves

1 tablespoon lemon zest (from an untreated lemon), about 1 tablespoon

Preparation:

1) In a large pot, cook the tomatoes until the skin comes off (this takes about 10 min). Drain the tomatoes under cold water and immediately take off their skin. In a blender, process the tomatoes. Transfer the tomato sauce back into your cooking pot.

2) Stir in the sugar, port wine and season with cinnamon, cloves and the grated lemon zest. Bring to a boil at maximum heat and cook for 5-10 min. Stir well while you keep the jam at high temperature.

3) As soon as the texture becomes jelly, lower the heat and simmer for another 5-10 min.

4) Sterilize the glass jars by dipping them in boiling water or by pouring hot water over them. Use a pair of tongs, you can easily burn your fingers.

5) Fill in the jam up to the top of the jar and fix the lid tightly. For my jars I used rubber rings and metal clamps, a normal lid will do as well.

6) Store the jam in a cool, dark place or in the fridge. Sealed jars should last you at least 6 months.

Tip:

Add a pinch of pepper and chili powder for a little kick.

 

 

 

Eating like in Israel

1 Jun

A while ago I stumbled across a restaurant called Sababa in Berlin (http://www.yelp.de/biz/sababa-restaurant-berlin). From the outside it did not seem very special. A small place, not crowded and we were extremely hungry after a long day. I had a quick look at the menu and was very convinced to stay. Sababa offers Israeli food, the perfect place for hummus lovers!

Some of the food combinations were new to me and I was curious to see how they would taste: Without a doubt delicious. Tonight I cook an imitation of what we ate there, spoiling ourselves with a quick and delicious dinner. Here is an overview of what was served:

Home-made hummus

Mung beans with tahini sauce

Ground beef seasoned with cinnamon

Pomegranate tomato salad with caramel mustard dressing

Minced meat, mung beans, hummus, pomegranate salad

DSC_0106

Ingredients:

1 pack dry mung beans

1 can chick peas

1 pound/450 g ground beef

1 plain yoghurt (e.g. greek yoghurt)

1 salad

1 pomegranate

1 tomato

1 lemon

1 red onion

1 small yellow onion

2 garlic cloves

Tahini paste (sesame paste)

Whole grain mustard (e.g. Dijon mustard type)

2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Olive oil, vinegar

Cinnamon, salt, pepper

Hummus

1) Drain the chick peas. Put them in a high container or a large measuring cup.

2) Peel and press the garlic; then add it to the chick peas.

3) Add the yoghurt. Season with salt and drizzle with lemon juice. Then blend until smooth. Keep the hummus in the fridge until you serve it.

Mung beans

1) Rinse one cup of dried mung beans under running water.

2) Bring a small pot with unsalted water to a boil. Add the mung beans and let boil at medium heat for about 30 min.

3) Drain the remaining water. Season with salt and add a spoon of tahini sauce. Serve while still warm.

Ground beef

1) Chop up the yellow onion.

2) Preheat a pan with a spoon of oil and saute the onion at high heat until glassy.

3) Add the minced beef, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and keep on stirring for a few minutes. Serve warm.

Salad

1) Wash and clean the salad.

2) Chop up the red onion and the tomato. Separate half of the seeds of the pomegranate. Add all ingredients to the salad.

3) For the dressing, combine 2 tablespoons mustard with the chopped nuts, 3 tablespoons oil, 1-2 tablespoons vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Red soup (Asian inspired veggie soup)

20 May

Soups are always a good idea for a light meal. I like making soups for dinner. Also because they are perfect for throwing in any leftover veggies you find in the fridge. I can’t think of any vegetable soup combination that has not worked so far. Since I prepared the Assam Laksa dish the other day, I now have a huge glass of sambal laksa paste sitting in my fridge.  The soup I am presenting today has a similar base (sambal laksa paste & tamarind) than the Assam Laksa, however, it is 100% vegetarian and vegan.

You can count roughly 30 min to prepare the soup and we finished the whole pot with only 2 people for dinner as it was quite delicious :)

A while ago I posted a Chinese sweet & sour soup recipe (https://fourchetteknife.com/2012/02/26/chinese-sweet-sour-soup/), maybe that’s also something for you if you don’t happen to have chili paste and tamarind in your fridge.

China inspired soup

Ingredients:

1,5 l water

1 small red onion

1 fresh chili

1 inch long piece fresh ginger

2 carrots, cut into thin 1 inch long stripes

1 small glas pickled mini corn

1 small glass gherkins

1 small red bell pepper

1 bunch spring onion

1 cup cocktail tomatoes

1 cup shredded or pickled red cabbage (optional)

5 dried mu-err mushrooms (soaked in water as indicated on the package, optional)

Cooking oil

For the broth:

Tamarind (sour)

Sambal laksa paste (or chili paste or also red curry paste)

Tomato paste

Ketchup

Dark soy sauce

Preparation:

1) Bring the water to a boil and add the ginger, peeled and diced. Let boil at medium heat while you prepare the veggies.

2) Clean, peel and cut the veggies. The onion should be diced, the carrots striped and all other ingredients  can be sliced.

3) In a wok or pan, preheat a tablespoon of cooking oil and saute the onion and the chili. Then add all other veggies and saute them for a few minutes. If you feel that the veggies start burning, add a sip of water.

4) Transfer the veggies to the broth. Continue cooking at medium heat.

5) In a bowl, dissolve tamarind (the size of a tablespoon) in about 1/2 cup of warm water. Then stir in 1-2 tablespoons laksa paste (depending on how spicy you want the soup to be), add half a cup of ketchup and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Season with dark soy sauce (about 2 tablespoons). Pour the sauce into the soup and stir well. Let the soup simmer at low heat for another 10 min.

Festive two course meal and Happy Easter

20 Apr

Easter is here and like me you might be wondering what to cook this weekend, especially if you are expecting guests. I would like to share a two course menu with you:

Starter:

Red beet carpaccio with arugula nest, goat cheese crumbles and walnut dressing

Main course:

Mediterranean roast with celery potato mash and honey glazed carrots.

~

Last Easter, we had a big family gathering and made a festive spring inspired meal for the entire family (12 people!). Not that we cook for such a big group on a regular basis but with the right piece of meat which can be parked in the oven it is actually not so difficult. The one thing you have to plan for is time though: I suggest roughly 3 hours for preparation and cooking. If you are not going to host such a big group, simply reduce the amount of ingredients, with 800g of meat you will succeed in making a nice meal for 4-5 people.

Happy Easter!

Starter: Red Beet and Aragula with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
Red beet carpaccio
Ingredients:
4 pickled red beets
2 packs of arugula (rucola) salad, equals roughly 250-300 g
1 pack goat cheese crumbles or 1 piece creamy goat cheese (150g)
1 cup walnuts
olive oil (2 parts), walnut oil (1 part), dark balsamic vinegar (2 parts)
salt, pepper
crostini sticks for decoration
Preparation:
1) Use a sharp, long knife to very thinly slice the red beets. Your slices should be transparent. Place a layer of slices on a large plate.
2) Wash and dry the salad, put a small handful in the middle of the plate.
3) For the dressing, combine the olive and walnut oil with balsamic vinegar and season with salt & pepper. Pour over the salad. Do not forget to add the dressing only when you are ready to start serving, otherwise the salad will be squishy.
4) Chop up the walnuts with a knife. For a little extra, heat up the goat cheese crumbles. Now sprinkle the salad with the goat cheese crumbles and walnut pieces. Decorate with crostini sticks and serve.
DSC07746
DSC07749
Mediterranean beef roast with celery mash and honey glazed carrots
Ingredients (serves 12 people):
2 kg beef or veal roast
1 glas sun-dried tomatoes in oil, use a blender to turn them into tomato paste
2 cups creme fraiche or sour cream
1 l milk
100 g butter (3.5 oz)
1 pack spinach leaves (preferably fresh)
2,5 kg (5 pounds) potatoes
1 celery head
2 kg (4 pounds) carrots
1 lemon
honey
salt, pepper, ground nutmeg
Mediterranean beef roast
1) Preheat the oven to 80 degrees Celsius.
2) Cut open the piece of meat in a spiral form as you want to fill it and roll it back together. Alternatively ask for about a 1 cm  (half inch) thick piece of meat. Put it on a flat, clean surface and season with pepper. Spread the dried tomato paste over the meat. Then put a layer of creme fraiche on top of the tomato paste and finally the spinach leaves. If you use fresh spinach leaves, blanche them in hot water for about 2-3 min until they are soft. Roll the roast and use a cooking thread to keep the roll together.
3) Preheat a large pan and add a layer of cooking oil before you add the meat roll. As soon as the pan is hot, sear the meat from all sides for about 2-3 minutes. Make sure that you sear the meat at very high temperature.
4) Place the meat in the oven, same temperature as before, for at least 1,5 to 2 hours. We additionally placed fresh rosemary bunches on the meat for more flavor. You want the meat to remain tender and not dry. It helps a lot to use a food thermometer as the meat needs to heat up to at least 60 degrees Celsius while baking.
5) Before you serve the meat, take it out of the oven, let cool off a little bit and cut it into finger thick slices. You can use the sauce that is left in the baking pan for the meat.
Celery potato mash
1) Peel the potatoes and the celery and cut both into mouth big pieces. Then boil both in salted water. With this large amount of potatoes and celery, preview at least 40 min.
2) Next drain the water, add about 500 ml of milk, the butter, salt, pepper, and a pinch nutmeg and mash the potatoes until smooth. Little chunks of potato or celery are totally fine. If you feel that the texture of your mash is not smooth enough add more milk and maybe also butter.
Honey glazed carrots
1) Peel the carrots and cut them into sticks or slice them. Then boil them in salted water for about 10 min until they are crispy soft.
2) Drain the carrots and add a few spoons of honey. Stir at low heat for a few minutes until all carrots are covered with honey and season with salt and drizzle with lemon juice.
Tip: How to arrange the plate
I recommend to use a geometric arrangement on the plate. As you see on the picture above, we put the potato mash into small glass bowls. If you grease small bowls with butter, you can turn them upside down on the plate and remove them for a nice little scoop on the plate.
If you use a squared plate instead of a round plate you can arrange the three ingredients in a horizontal row (e.g. carrots – meat – potato mash).
%d bloggers like this: