Sunday, December 31, 2006

Appetizer alla Eipuriru

Made this from suggestion of my sister. However I used what I had in the fridge. Instead of using prosciutto I used jamon serrano. Also substituted the blue cheese with cambozola (a german soft cheese, combination of camenbert and gorgonzola).

First pit the dates, then stuff them with the cheese (my wife suggested goat cheese which I think would be very nice indeed), lastly wrap with the ham. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. Season with pepper. Garnish with chopped pasrley. Serve. These little things are actually quite filling.

Thanks eipuriru for a quick and delightful appetizer.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cookies n' Cream

Desert after forelle was the leftover icecream I made for Christmas dinner.

Found the recipe online, very easy and simple. One of our American friend who used to be in the military said it tasted like the freeze dried icecream he had in the army.

I pretty much followed the recipe except that I used a whole package of oreos. You need 3 egg yolks, 1 can condensed milk, 4 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 cups heavy cream whipped, and the oreos.

In a large bowl beat the egg yolks and stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Fold in the oreos and the whipped cream. Pour mixture into a loaf pan lined with foil. Freeze overnight.

Forelle mit Bratkartoffel

Second course after the soup. As I mentioned before it's expensive to get fresh seafood here. But forelle (trout) is an exception. There are two popular ways to eat this, smoked or fried in butter. When buying fresh trout make sure that the fish does not smell fishy (sign of bacterial decomposition), that the skin is slimy, and that the eyes are clear.

Simply wash and dry the fish. Season well with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Soak the fish in milk and then dust with flour. Fry in melted butter over medium heat until skin is nicely browned and can be easily seperated from the meat. Serve with lemon wedges.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Wife is still sick. It's a Chinese thing to not have chicken when you have a flu, but somehow it always helps me. So I decided to make my wife some, it's always nice to have some warm soup in the winter time anyways.

Buy a whole chicken, remove the giblets. Remove the thighs and wings, reserve for other dishes. Roughly chop the carrots, onions, celery. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the chicken for 5 mins. Dump the water and wash the chicken well. Leave aside. Clean and dry pot. Sautee the vegetables with a bit of oil unti soft, add the chicken and pour in enough water to cover. Add some bay leaves and a few cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 2 hours. Remove the chicken and seperate meat with two forks. Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm. In a seperate pot cook the broken up noodles till done. Strain the soup and season with salt and pepper. In serving bowl place noodles and chicken pieces ( I didn't use the meat, kept it to make chicken salad). Pour the soup and garnish with some chopped fresh parsley.

You can also have the soup with the vegetables for a heartier version.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Hot Toddy

25th of December. Guests just left, full and drunk. Unfortunately, between the cooking and the cleaning. I've forgotten to take any pictures of food (There's some homemade rotkohl and icecream left, perhaps I'll post them shortly). All's left is a picture of a hot toddy I made for me wife becuase she was not feeling too well.

I used to make this when I was working as a bartender at the Hong Kong Fringe Club. A little bit of work but instantly cures sore throats. It's a nice night cap too.

You'd need cloves, cinnamon stick, lemon, honey/syrup/sugar, rum/whiskey/gin/brandy, and hot water/tea. Squeeze some juice from the lemon into the mug, add the honey and two shots of the spirit, add hot water and stir. Then arrage a slice of lemon, the cloves, and the cinnamon stick as pictured (or however you want).

I'm having one right now actually. Next best thing to a warm fire place.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

Have been taking a break from cooking, lots of cleaning and shopping to do before family and friends arrive.

Chinese hot pot dinner for mother in-law on the 24th. Traditional German Christmas dinner for friends on the 25th.

Ofcourse everything will be posted but until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Or as the Germans would say, Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Borscht

Had half of a cabbage left from the cabbage rolls. Need to use it up, also some carrots, beets, celery before this week's organic delivery.

Slice everything thinly ( onion, carrots, celery, beets, cabbage, potatoes). First sautee with onions, carrots, celery in butter till soft and fragrant. Then add the remaining ingredients and cover with enough water. Bring to a boil and simmer. Season with generous amounts tomato paste, cider vinegar, brown sugar, chopped dill, salt and pepper. Let simmer for an hour with lid on. If it's too thin then leave the lid off for a while. It shouldn't be too thin, more stew like consistency. Ofcourse you can add meat and other things into it, this is just my variation.

Serve with sour cream and dill. Very nice with some dark bread for a light lunch.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Baked Pork Chop with Rice

Had a craving for this ever since no. 1 fan sent me a picture of the dish at the favorite cafe in HK. Tried hard to copy it but it just wasn't the same.

Made extra rice for last night's dinner for this. First fry the day old rice with oil and a beated egg. Add some peas and carrots in there if you want. Layer rice in a baking dish. Then brown the chops in a pan and put that on top of the rice. I marinated the chops in starch/water/oil to soften them up a bit before frying. For the sauce I sauteed some onions, celery, garlic in oil till fragrant. Then added ketchup and tomato paste. Thin out the mixture with water. Puree everything and return to pan and simmer till sauce thickens. Pour on top of the chops and rice. Bake in preheated oven for 5-10 mins until top is browned.

At the cafe I used to like to have this with their signature drink, an iced red bean drink. But a nice iced lemon tea today also brought on nostalgia.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

French Toast

Perhaps I'm becoming a frugal homemaker, but I just love everything that utilizes leftovers.

Had half a baguette left, enough to make my wife a nice little breakfast. You'd need an egg, some milk, and butter as well. You can't make nice french toast with fresh bread since it's still got too much moisture. Day old is best because it's dry. Slice the bread and soak in egg/milk mixture. Melt butter in a pan and fry each slices until golden brown on medium heat. Remove from pan and place on paper towel to soak up excess fat. Sprinkle with powdered sugar/maple syrup/honey or whatever your favorite jam is. It's nice with a dash of cinnamon as well.

Very nice with a citrusy drink like orange/grapefruit juice, or better yet a hot cup of lemon tea.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Creamed Mushrooms

At the begining of everyweek I'd ask my wife if she has any special request for the week, helps me to come up with ideas. This week she has asked for some mushrooms.

Something they serve here at the Christmas markets. Very rustic and savory. You just need a large amount of fresh button mushrooms, bacon, onion, cream, salt and pepper, parsley.

Fry the chopped bacon with the onion until soft. Add the whole destemed mushrooms and fry for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream and let cook for another few mintues. Serve immediately with fresh parsley. It's a great side dish to veal or other gamey meats. Or in our case it was a nice simple lunch. Be sure to have lots of crusty bread to mop up with sauce.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cabbage Rolls

Had some minced pork left, perfect for cabbage rolls. It's very easy, just takes a bit of prep time.

First blanch the cabbage in water for about 30 mins to soften it up. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Fry some chopped onions and garlic in a pan till soft. In a bowl mix together the minced meat with an egg, uncooked rice, and the onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Throw in whatever spices you fancy, some nutmeg is nice.

When cabbage is done let cool. Wrap a spoonful of filling with each leaf. Arrange rolls in a baking dish, pour in enough broth/wine/water to cover. Add a piece bay leaf. Dot with butter and bake at preheated 200c oven for 30 mins.

Serve with cooking juice and mash.

Potato and Onion Dauphinoise

Made this for lunch on Saturday. Running out of ideas so started to recycle.

I used, potatos, onions, cream, butter, salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 200c. Wash, peel and slice potatoes thinly. Slice the onions in the same fashion. Layer potato and onion in lightly greased shallow baking dish ending with a layer of potatoes. Salt and pepper each layer generously. Pour cream on top and bake on lower shelf of oven for an hour or so or top is browned. To make it more substantial you can put some bacon in it. Serve with salad.

Seems like I bake a lot and some of you really wish that you have an oven. I wish though that I have a gas stove with a proper wok. It's impossible to make decent stir fries with a non stick pan.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Nasi Goreng (sorta)

It's not even close to the authentic Indonesian version. However it is widely served here in Germany at various Imbiss (fast food stalls) that specializes in 'Asian' dishes. This is the only thing that I'd order as they rest of the menu consist of pretty much heavy yukky sweet and sour sauces.

Thought I'd make my own Nasi Goreng German style to save 5 euros. Day old rice, chicken, carrots, peas, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, ginger, eggs, cucumber, soy sauce, chilli pepper flakes, curry powder.

Beat an egg or two and make an omelete, let cool and slice into thin stripes. Sautee the chicken pieces, remove from pan. Sautee the chopped veggies, put the chicken back in, then the rice. Season generously with curry powder, chilli flakes, soy sauce. Add handsful of bean sprouts last minute. Serve with eggs slices on top and garnish with cucumber slices. Some shrimp chips would be nice too. Fantastic with a light beer, or two.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Penne All'Arrabbiata

I was out preparing my wife's Christmas present so needed to make something quick for lunch. Looked in the fridge, had some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used before the organic food delivery tomorrow, had some penne on hand, and some buffalo mozarella from the cheese shop. Everything I needed to make pasta with double tomato sauce.

First make the soffrito. I used garlic, onion, celery. Try the finely chopped veggies in olive oil for a few minutes until soft and fragrant. Pour in some wine and let boil for alcohol to evaporate. Then one can of canned tomatoes chopped with juice. If mixture is too thick then add half/one can of water/stock/wine. Season with fresh herbs, I used some rosemary. A dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and a generous amount of brown sugar. I added a hand full of dried chilli flakes (hence Arrabbiata) but you can also do without for a regular tomatoe sauce. Then I purreed everything and returned it to the pot. Added the halved cherry tomatoes and let simmered for 15 mins until thickened.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to package instructions. Served with mozarella and freshly grounded black pepper.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

Wanted to do something nice for my wife, so I got up early to bake these muffins.

The recipe is very reliable, even for a baking moron such as myself. 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup oat meal, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 egg, 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 cup raisin.

Preheat oven to 200c. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Combine and mix well. Pour into greased muffin tray and bake for 20mins or until brown and crispy looking. Very important to flip them immediately so the tops don't get soggy from condensation.

Best served with a nice glass of cold milk.

Mac n Cheese

Quick and simple dish. In it's simplist form you only need macaroni, butter, cheese ( I used cheddar), salt and pepper. I added a spoonful of mustard, an egg, plus some bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 200c. Cook the pasta till done, drain. Mix pasta with shredded cheese, egg, bread crumbs, butter, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 20 mins or so and then broil for another 5 mins until top is crispy and nicely browned.

You can also put some bacon/chicken/etc in the mixture to turn it into a more substantial meal. But I liked it the way it was. Served with salad. Rainy days calls for comfort food.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Salt Crusted Duck Breast


Pretty simple dish. All you need is salt and duck breasts.

Cut breast skin in criss cross patern and brown for a few minutes in a pan skin side down. Remove, drain and lay breasts in baking dish lined with 1cm fo salt. Then cover generously with another layer of salt on top. Sprinkle some water on the salt.

Bake at preheated 225c oven for 20 mins. I baked mine for 25 mins by mistake so it's more done than I prefer. Remove from salt and let rest 5 mins before slicing.

I served it with left over mash and a walnut-orange salad. Duck and orange go wonderfully together. Just like pork and apples.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Roast

Went for a nice bike ride with the boy this morning. Came home and started my project of the day. Sunday roast.

Actually the preparation started late thursday. Bought the meat from the butcher and let it rest in with two chopped onions and a few bones in a pot. Covered with foil.

Before we went out this morning took them out and let reach room temperature.

Preheated the oven to 200c with the baking tray in it along with the onions. Dusted the fatty edges of the meat with flour, salt and freshly grounded pepper mixture. Browned the meat in a pan with oil along with the bones. Remove meat and bones and place in baking tray. Using the bones as a bed so that the meat doesn't sit right in the cooking liquid. Now deglaze the pan with a generous amount of red wine. Pour liquid over the meat and add a cup or so of water in the tray as well.

Bake for 15 mins then take the meat out and baste the meat. Turning the heat down to 180c and cook for another 20 mins per 500 grams for medium rare.

Remove the meat and cover with foil on plate for 15 mins before carving. Meanwhile make the gravy. Put the roasting tray on the stove and deglaze on hight heat with red wine. Add to it a table spoon full of jam, mustard, salt and pepper, a stick of butter. Let liquid simmer to desired thickness. Add water/wine/cooking liquid if required. Be sure to have enough gravy for the meat. Strain liquid of solids and serve.

The tradional way is to have sunday roast with baked potatoes but I preferred mashed.

The horseradish was homemade. Simply grate the radish and cover with vinegar and sugar in a jar. Keeps for a good 6 months.

The wine I used for cooking as well as drinking was a German Schwarz Riesling from our reigion - Franken.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Tacos


Had other plans for dinner initially. Duck breast with salted crust to be precise. But we went Christmas tree shopping and that took some time. It was too late for an elaborate meal by the time we came home so I just whipped up something quick.

This one is for my friend Clara, she has asked me to do something Mexican some time ago eventhough I know this is only Tex-Mex at best. Toppings included guacamole, shredded cheddar cheese, ground beef and lettuce. I just put everything on the table and we assembled our own tacos.

For the guacamole I used one ripe avocado, lime juice, minced red onion, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. Just chop and mix everything together.

For the beef I fried it in a pan, added some water and hp sauce, salt and pepper to taste and simmered for 10 minutes. I am usually not a fan of bottled sauces, I agree with Elizabeth David that if the kitchen has a bottle of red, a bottle of white, and a bottle of sherry then you can throw out all those artificial sauces and dressings. But in this case, who cares, it's tacos man.

And for those of you who are wondering why the avocado pit is in the guacamole, I read somewhere that it's an old Mexican wives' tale that if you put the pit in the guacamole the avocado won't turn black. Because it's not sad from missing the heart (or something to that effect). Romantic, isn't it?

We had six tacos each with lots of tabasco ofcourse (the shells were store bought btw) and coupla beers to wash them down.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Kimchi

Had a little incident earlier so not really in the mood to cook. Ordered pizza instead. Did manage to make some kimchi this morning though.

Ordered two chinese cabbages last week. One was used for dumpling filling, and the other for kimchi. This is not exactly the most authentic way of preparation but I don't think it's too far off.

Wash and dry the cabbage, I added some sliced onions, shredded carrots, and spring onions to the mix. Combine everything together, pour lots of sea salt and Korean chilli pepper flakes on top and mix. Store in a container for at least coupla weeks. Not in the fridge though as this will slow down the fermenting process.

Can't wait to use this for Kimchi Chigae. Need to get more Soju. Gotta love the Koreans.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Homemade Sauerkraut

The sauerkraut is like the German kimchi, without the chille peppers. Goes well with almost all the pork dishes here. Figured I'd make my own.

You just need a good sized head of white cabbage and some sea salt. Quarter the cabbage and remove the core. Finely slice the cabbage. Start layering the jar and sprinkle salt on top of every layer. Make sure it's packed tightly. Leave a bit of space on top for the juice. Do not close the lid when it's fermenting (about 1 week) as the pressure will break the jar. Simply cover a towel.

Sometimes the simple things in life are the most beautiful.

B.L.T.

So this one is nothing to go crazy about. Unless you're a B.L.T. fan like me. When I worked at Pret a Mange that was all I had everyday for lunch ( well that and avocado chicken).

It's pretty much self explanatory, bacon lettuce, tomotoe. I used french bread from the morning. I gotta tell you though, the bacon from the butcher is much nicer than the packaged stuff from the supermarket. Needless to say, that's what I used. Generously spread the bread with mayo and butter, season with salt and freshly grounded pepper and you got yourself a quick and satisfying lunch.

Served it with a side salad, for vitamins sake.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Cold Sesame Chicken Noodles

Don't remember how this came about, I think I wanted to finish the jar of peanut butter.

Cook the instant noodles and then run under cold water. Julienne the veggies, cucumber, carrots, tofu pieces, what have you. Layer them on top of the noodles. Warm the sesame seeds up in a pan until fragrant. Sprinkle on top of noodles and veggies. Mix the dressing by combining sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, sugar. Thin out the mixture with water if it's too thick. Chill everything for about 30mins before serving. Sprinkle some crushed roasted peanuts on top if desired.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Gorgonzola Steak Salad

The presentation is not the best and the cheese was mixed in so you can't really see it. But it was really a cool combination, and I got to use up a lot of things in the fridge.

The dressing. Olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice, minced garlic, red wine.

The salad. Cucumbers, carrots, sweet peppers, tomatoes, pineapples, red onions (yes, caroline they are raw), and gorgonzola. And salad of choice ofcourse, I used lettuce because it was there but I prefer to use rocket salad for this. The bitterness works well with the beef.

The meat. Steak seasoned with sea salt and fried 3 mins on each side. Let it cool a bit before slicing so the juices don't all come out.

The salads were so gigantic that I had to serve them in big bowls. Went nicely with the bottle of spaetburgunder (it's always nice to match the wine you cook with).

The first time I tasted gorgonzola was when I was working at Movenpick 10 years ago, some kinda pasta with gorgonzola sauce. It was love at first taste.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

I don't know how authentic my bolognese sauce is for I've never been to Italy. But my wife who's been quite a few times says it's as good as what she's had there, I suppose that accounts for something.

Heads up. You need at least 3 hours for this, so if you want to have it for dinner better start after lunch. We had this for lunch so I prepared everything in the morning and just let it simmer until lunch time.

It's a very simple sauce consisting of the sofrito (carrots, onions, celery, garlic), white wine, meat, milk/cream, stock, and a little bit of tomato paste. Contrarary to popular believe, the traditional sauce bolognese is actually not a tomatoe based sauce but rather meat based. The idea is to simmer beef pieces over low temperature for about 4 hours until everything breaks down. If you don't have 4 hours then you can use minced beef like I did. The set back is that minced meat tends to be a bit oily, so you might have to drain the fat before adding the stock.

Shread and finely chop the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic and sautee for a few minutes in a pot with a dash of olive oil. Then add the beef along with a gernerous amount of chopped fresh herbs, I used parsley. Throw in half a glass of wine and let it evaporate. Then add the stock just enough to cover the mixture. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 2 hours. 15 mins before it's ready add some milk/cream. Round out the sauce with a little bit of tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I served it with tagliatelle but penne is also a nice choice, basically anything that can allow the sauce to be attached to. Spaghetti doesn't really provide enough surface area and hence not really a good choice.

We had it with a German version of the pinot noir called spaetburgunder (late burgundy), very nice wine from our region - Franconia.

A note on stock. I like to make my own, you can really tell the difference. I usually do it the day before I need to use it so that it can cool down and allows me to skim off the layer of fat with ease. For the stock I used some bones, a whole onion with skin (adds to the color), a carrot, and whatever odds and ends of herbs or vegetables. I used for this stock some ends of spring onions, the tough end of the celery, and a piece of bay leaf.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Banana Bread


Sunday. Stayed home all day. Cleaned up, cooked, played with the boy. Time to take a break.

My wife's favorite, banana bread. She'd take them to work for the afternoon.

For one loaf I used 2ggs, 1/3 cup milk, 1/2 butter, 3 bananas, walnuts, 1 1/2 cups sugar, pinch of salt, vanila extract, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder. Preheat oven to 175c, crush bananas and walnuts in mixing bowl and combine with the rest of the liquid ingredients. In seperate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Then combine the two and pour into lightly buttered breadloaf and bake for 1 hour. Let cool before slicing.

Perfect with a glass of Vietnamese coffee.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Eggs Benedict

Saturday morning, lazy breakfast. Been looking forward to this for a few days now, I know it's sad but you haven't tasted my eggs benedict.

Very cool trick I learned when I was working at Spoon by Alain Ducasse. To poach a perfect egg you should boil the egg for 30 secs before cracking it in a seperate pan. This way it keeps it's shape and doesn't fly everywhere. Poach them for a maxium 2 mins. It's a very precise operation. You should also do it one at a time.

Assembly is the easy part, toast the muffin half, put the ham on top, then the egg, top with sauce hollandaise (I've covered this in previous posting), salt and pepper, and for a bit of color some fresh parsley.

Best partner for eggs benedict, mimosa.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Toast Hawaii

Believe it or not, this is actually a German invention. It was popularized in the 50s by this German TV cook. It consists of bread, pineapple, cheese, and ham. The difference is that the authentic one is an open sandwich. Mine's more like a grilled cheese/toast hawaii.

I used the leftover comte with some nice ham from the butcher. Pineapples were canned though. A dash of pepper goes a long way with the pineapples. Some paprika powder is nice too if you hav eit. Serve with side salad.

Quick and easy lunch, something that doesn't leave you all stuffed and sleepy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cola Wings

I really had a problem following recipes, perhaps that's why I can't bake. The idea was to make the wings as per my friend's recipe but half way through I just had to start adding other stuff into it. Well at least they didn't taste too bad.

Instead of dark soysauce I just doubled the amount of light soysauce, threw in a big piece of ginger, added sesame oil, added garlic instead of spring onions, and simmered for way too long.

It wasn't exactly what I hoped for but my wife didn't complain, so I guess it was all good.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Meatloaf im Broetchen

Made meatloaf last night and had some leftovers. Made meatloaf burgers out of it with German 'Rose Buns'.

Just pan fried the leftover meatloafs a bit and added rocket salad, red onions, and tomatoes. And ofcourse lots of mayo, mustard, and ketchup. It was actually alright.

To be honest I don't even remember exactly what I used in the meatloaf, and that's the beauty of it. Anything goes. But the basic things were minced beef, eggs, bread soaked in milk, onions, salt and pepper, and some herbs of choice. I use lots of pasley and a bit of rosemary. I added more veggies to the dough like beans and sweet peppers. Mix everything together in a mixing bowl to a dough like texture, pour into a bread loaf and bake at 220c for 45 mins. Discard the extra juice and cool before slicing. I used the juice to make a little gravy for the meatloaf last night and served it with some steamed rosenkohl (tiny little cabbage).

I prefer the meatloaf burger better though, as it was much less work. Made some iced tea and chowed them down in 5 mins. You gotta love leftovers.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fried Rice

I know my Asian friends are thinking, fried rice? What's so special about that? And they're right, there really isn't anything spectacular about a bowl of fried rice. But nevertheless it holds a speical place in my heart.

It was the first things I tried making (aside from the instant noodles and canned soups). It was also the first thing I ever made for a girl at the age of 18. Not to mention the wonderful varieties my mother produced over the years. It's certainly on the top of my comfort food list.

There are three great things about fried rice. It's a great way to use up the left over rice, it's highly versatile (you can pretty much throw whatever you have/want into it), and it's also a balanced meal in a tiny bowl.

So enough with the sentiments and advantages, let's make some fried rice. For mine I used leftover rice (this is a must for good fried rice as fresh rice is not dry enough and tends to stick together), carrots, beans, onions, minced beef, and the only seasoning I usually use is soysauce. Plus an egg at the end. Marinate the beef with starch, water, and salt. Chop the veggies up in small pieces. Beat the egg and set aside. Brown the beef in a pan/wok, no need to add oil as minced meat is usually fat enough. Drain, and keeping the oil in the pan sautee the veggies until soft and fragrant. Throw the meat back in along with the rice. Fry everything until it's a bit dry and add the soy sauce to taste. When done, turn the heat off and stir in the egg. Serve hot.

It's probably not visible but the chopsticks we use are from my sister. They are engraved with our names in Japanese.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts

Been missing my mother's cooking, so I decided to make one of her seasonal signatures.

You need chicken, chestnuts, chinese mushrooms, ginger, sesame oil, salt, corn starch, and oyster sauce. Soak the mushrooms over night. Marinate with chicken pieces with salt, starch, sesame oil and water for 30 mins. In the mean time boil the chestnuts for about 5 mins so that they have be easily peeled. Slice the mushrooms, keep the soaking water. Peel and smash a generous piece of ginger. Time for cooking. Fry the chicken pieces in a pot on low with dash of oil along with the ginger. Throw the mushrooms in, then enough soaking water to cover the mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer. Season with oyster sauce and salt. Don't forget the chestnuts. Simmer for about 20 mins or until the sauce thickens. Correct seasoning. Decorate with some steamed veggies on the side. Serve with rice.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Schweinehaxe mit Semmelknoedel




I love rustic food. Nothing turns me off more than a wine and dine experience that only leaves me hungry. And I love cooking with beer and wine, another excuse to be drinking and cooking at the same time. The bottle was opened anyways... The French has 'coq au vin' and the Germans got Pork Knuckle in beer sauce. Took the whole afternoon but oh sooo worth it.

Let me just get the side dish over with. The Semmelknoedels. The idea is to use stale old bread, crush it up, mix it with milk, eggs, sauteed onions, season with salt, pepper, parsley and boiled on low heat in salted water until floating. Takes about 30 mins all together, 15 prep, 15 cooking.

Now the star of the evening. The Schweinehaxe. Takes about 5 hours, so I suggest you start early. Chop carrots, celery, onion, leeks, and sautee in butter until soft and fragrant. Add pork knuckle and water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook on low for 3 hours or until the meat is very tender. Salt and pepper to season and don't forget the bayleaf. About at the end of the cooking time pour in a bottle of beer and simmer. Open another bottle, drink that, and try to make it last the rest of the cooking time. Didn't work for me. Transfer the knuckle when done to a preferably cast iron pot ( I don't have one, so I used a plain old glass one). Strain the cooking liquid and pour into pot along with pork. Brush skin with maple syrup and pour some of the cooking liquid on top. Broil in preheated (220c) oven for 30 minutes. Half way through spoon some cooking liquid on skin to avoid blacking. Serve with Knoedles. Strain the cooking juices once more and use as sauce.

It's nice to serve the food with the same beer you cooked with, that way the flavors really compliment each other.

Pavlova

This is for my Aussie friends (eventhough it's a New Zealand desert).

The recipe is from wikipedia. For the whipped cream you can try this little trick.

Keep the heavy cream (at least 30%), the whisk, and the bowl in the fridge for a few hours or better yet over night. The colder they are the faster it whips. I didn't put any sugar in it because the meringe is already sweetened. For the topping I kept it minimal but you can go nuts with candies and what not.

Passed the wife test but for me was a bit too light. Definately not going to be on my X'mas menu.



Fleischsalat

Since I'm making a heavy duty meal for dinner, for lunch I've made something quick and simple.

For this week's organic deliveries we got some bell peppers. Perfect for a German meat salad. Fry the julienned peppers and onions in butter until soft. Pour mixture into mixing bowl along with the thinly sliced Lyonner sausage (or other varieties of ham and sausage) with equal parts of white vinegar and broth, then add sugar, salt, pepper to taste. Lastly mix in the chopped fresh parsley. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins before serving. Best eaten with salted pretzels.

You can also throw in some pasta of choice to make a pasta salad. Eitherway, it's a nice light lunch.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

White Wine Mussels

I love shellfish. Between the two of us we had enough mussels to feed 6 people.

Very easy dish, used to make it when I worked at Movenpick. Wash and drain mussels. Chop leeks, carrots, onions, gralic finely. Sautee everything in butter until soft and fragrant. Pour in white wine (for the amount of mussels I had I needed the whole bottle) and bring to a boil. Throw the mussels in and cook until they open up. Season with salt and pepper. Throw in the chopped fresh parsley. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

My wife couldn't finish hers so I ended up eating a portion and a half, and drank all the soup too.

Nice change from the heavy meat diet.

Pan Seared Salmon with Sauce Hollandaise

Haven't had seafood in a while, it's not easy to get fresh fish in our town and even if they're available they tend to be expensive. I was at the fish shop the other day and came across a nice piece of salmon so decided to make a simple lunch from it.

Peel and boil potatoes in salt water for 20 mins. Rub some sea salt on the salmon and let it sit in room temperature until ready to be cooked. In the meantime prepare the sauce. In a mixing bowl beat an egg yolk with a table spoon of lemon juice and a table spoon of white wine, set aside. In a pan melt about 1/3 of a stick of butter over low heat. When the butter has melted pour slowly into the egg mixture stirring constantly. The result should be of uniform texture. Fry the salmon over medium heat skin side down in the pan with the butter for about 8 mins, turn once. If you like it more well done then 10 mins max.

I served it with a German white - Bacchus, for me it's between a Riesling and a Chardonnay. Light and easy, great for simple lunches.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Anniversary Dinner Part 2

New York Cheesecake. I used a 7 inch form. Preheat oven to 170c. Prepare crust by mixing a cup of butter cracker with a few table spoons of brown sugar and enough butter to make the mxture uniform in texture. Pack the mixture tightly on the bottom of the form and bake for 10 mins. In the meantime prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl mix with electric mixer three packages of room temperature cream cheese with 3 table spoons of flour and 1 cup of white sugar, then slower add a cup of cream, then 3 eggs one by one all with the mixer on low speed. Pour mixture on top of crust and bake at 160c for about 70 mins until center is almost set. Run sharp knife on the inside of the form. Cool before removing from form. Chill in fridge for a few hours or best overnight. Serve with strawberry sauce.

Perfect match to a steak and mash dinner. Would have been nicer with a glass of ice wine but hey no one's perfect.

Anniversary Dinner Part 1


Wanted to do something nice for my wife on our 18th month anniversary. Only thing I came up with was candle light dinner.

For the mash potatoes please check out the shepard's pie posting, the only thing different is that I put in a few cloves of garlic.

The only cooking advice I'd give my son is that always buy meat from the butcher. Glad I did. Expensive but worth every penny. Only rubbed the steak with a bit of sea salt, and fried on both sides for about 3 mins each for a new juicy medium rare. Don't need no pepper/onion/garlic/etc sauce, a nice piece of fillet, sea salt, and a pan is all you need. Not even oil.

The spinach was the rest of it from the crazy giant order I placed. Wash and remove stem, cook in large pot for 5 mins till soft and drain. In seperate pan I melted the left over 'king of cheese' Roqefort, and mixed the spinach it. Dash of pepper, nothing else.

Washed this all down with a nice German wine. Something from our region. Franken 2005 Randersacker Winzerkeller Randersackerer Dabug Portugieser Trocken. Anyways, it's German red that drinks like a heavy white. Not ideally for steak and mash but people like me who don't like wines too robust it's just perfect.

And then we had desert...

Warm Eggplant Salad

This was inspired by my friend Jackey's mother, she's a wonderful cook.

Chop up the eggplant into bite size pieces and boil in water with a dash of salt until soft. About 10 mins. In the meantime finely mince the garlic and brown in oil over low heat. Finely mince the red and green chilli and put into mixing bowl with dash of sugar. Pour garlic with oil into the mix and add soy sauce and dash of vinegar. Whisk. Drain the eggplants and arrange on plate, pour sauce on top. Serve warm.

Mothers are great, you gotta love them.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

I have placed a wrong order for the organic deliveries. So now the whole fridge is stuffed with spinach. Needed to make use of it, and this is one of the ways I came up with.

For the dough I used the same one as the zwiebelkuchen. For the filling I used fresh spinach, bacon, mushrooms, comte cheese (I know it's a waste of comte but I bought too much), salt and pepper, parsley, 2 eggs, cream.
Sautee the spinach for a few mintues until they reduce in volumn. Squeeze out all the water and season with salt and peper. Fry the bacon and mushrooms together until soft and drain liquid. Mix shredded cheese, beated eggs, and cup of cream together and season. Place spinach as the bottom layer, then the bacon and mushrooms, then the cheese/eggs/cream mixture. Sprinkle generously with chopped parsley and more freshly grounded pepper. Bake in preheated oven at 200c for about 30mins or until golden brown.

We had this for dinner but it'd be better for a lazy Sunday brunch.

Wiener Schnitzel mit Kartofelsalat

Lots to do today, so just made something quick for lunch. The Schnitzel has been posted before, and the coleslaw is the same except this time I made it with celery root.

For the Kartofelsalat (German potatoe salad), I used potatoes, onions, butter, white vinegar, sugar, mustard, paprika powder, salt and pepper, chives.

Boil the potatoes for 20 mins till soft. In the meantime chop up the onions and chives to small pieces, put in mixing bowl. I like to have the onions raw but you can also sautee them first. Then when the potatoes are done cut them up into small pieces throw them in the mixing bowl. Then add a small piece of butter, coupla tablespoons of vinegar, sugar, coupla teaspoons of mustard, and season with salt, pepper, and paprika powder. Let cool for 30 mins, and serve at room temperature. It's great with any fried pork dishes.

We chowed it down with that crazy 'liquid bacon' beer from Bamberg.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Brunch

Second day of visit. I decided to make a greasy spoon breakfast, but by the time we got around to eat it was more like brunch. We had scrambled eggs, toast, sausages, bacon baked beans, pancakes with banana and maple syrup, and what is a brunch without mimosa?

For the pancakes I used 3 cups flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, pinch of salt, 3 eggs, 3 cups milk, and 1/4 cup butter. Mix the dry ingridients together and in a seperate bowl mix the wet ingridients together. Then whisk the two into a smooth mixture. Fry the batter in a pan with a bit of butter. Makes quite a few so for 2 people I suggest you half the amount.

Very nice weekend, but as always too short.

Shepard's Pie and Apple Crumble




Had some company over from Berlin, one was American so figured that I'd make something more American. Shepard's Pie and Apple Crumble for desert. And then I realised that they are both British inventions. Figures.

For the pie, powdery potatoes, minced beef, carrots, onions, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, beer, peas, butter, milk. To prevent the potatoe layer from sinking into the meat, it's best to make the meat part in advance so it can cool down. You don't need oil for frying the beef as it is fatty enough already. Then add the chopped onion, garlic, carrots and saute for a few minutes until veggies are soft and fragrant. Then add the beer, I used a dark German beer called Aecht Schlenserla Rauchbier, it's a specialty from Bamberg. This beer is very interesting, it actually taste like bacon, sounds strange but it's actually nice with food. So back to the pie. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 mins. Season with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to boil again to reduce the liquid. Pour mixture into a baking dish, then layer peas/corn on top. In a pot boil the potatoes for 20 mins, drain and dry. Then mash with butter and season with salt and pepper. Add enough milk to it so that it's fluffy and light. Layer it on top of the meat and peas. Score the top with a fork and brush with butter. Bake at 200c for 30 mins until top is golden brown. Serve with boiled beans.

For the apple crumble. I use about 1 apple per person, lemon, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, oats, and butter. First peel and slice the apples and mix with a few dashes of water and lemon juice. Season with cinnamon and a dash of salt. Pour apples into the butter baking dish. In another mixing bowl mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup oats, and 1/2 cup melts butter together and using your fingers crumble everything up to an uniform texture. Add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture on top of apples and bake in 200c oven for about 30mins until top is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.

We had coupla bottles of ex DDR Rotkaeppchen Halbtrocken Sekt with it, bubbly is always good with company.

Btw, when you make shepard's pie with beef it's actually called cottage pie. Real shepard's pie is made with lamb.