Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spaghetti with Homemade Pesto

Another pasta dish. But this one is much easier. Had some ruccula delivered so decided to make a pesto out of it. Traditionally basil is used, but ruccula also works, give it a little bitter kick.

For the pesto, ruccula, garlic ( I like it spicy so I used quite a few cloves), pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper.

Warm the nuts up in pan. You can use a blender for this but I prefer to crush everything in a mortar. It gives the pesto a stronger flavour. Crush the garlic and ruccula into a paste, add the pine nuts and crush. Add the grated cheese, then stir in the olive oil to desired texture.

Cook the pasta, and serve with one or two spoon full of the pesto. It would be good with you can keep a bit of the pasta water with the noodles so that when you mix the pesto up with the spaghetti it woudn't be so dry.

Spinach Mushroom Risotto

Had some fresh spinach left from hot pot the other night, wife has mentioned that we haven't had risotto for a while so here we go.

First things first. Wash and chop up the spinach, squeeze out the water. Clean the mushrooms and slice thin. For the soffritto I used onion, celery, garlic. Gently fry with a dash of olive oil until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and the spinach. When everything has softened stir in the rice. Let it brown a bit before adding a few generous dashes of dry white wine. From this point on you can't leave the pot. Constant stiring. When the wine has evaporated add stock. I had some beef stock left so that's what I used. You can also use chicken, vegatable stock. But remember that the color of the stock will affect the color of the risotto. Also, homemade stock makes a big difference for this dish. Ok. So the stock and stir process should take aobut 20 mins, if you like it very soft then add 5 mins to it. When the risotto has reached desired doneness, remove from heat and stir in a handfull of grated parmesan and a small stick of butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover with damp towel for a few mins before serving.

Easy German Pea and Bacon Soup

This one is so easy and yet so good for a quick lunch. I made some melba toast out of vollkorn bread to go with it.

For the melba toast. Slice bread very thin and toast either with toaster or in the oven until crispy.

For the soup. I used, onions, bacon, carrots, peas, potatoe, and celery. Wash and chop everything up. Fry everything except the peas with a dash of oil until fragrant. Add the peas. For every cup of peas you use add 2 cups of water. I used 2 cups of peas so that makes 4 cups of water. Drop a bay leaf in. Bring to boil, and simmer until peas and potatoes are both tender and a bit mushy. Add a small bar of butter, salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thin, adjust texture by adding flour. Garnish with parsley.

Don't go crazy with the salt because the bacon is already salty.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Salat Rustical

Another salad. But it's not the salad that's the feature here. It's the honey mustard dressing, which I have obviously forgotten to include in the picture.

About the salad, I used something more crunchy like Rockette, some pine nuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, a few pieces of bacon on top and sprinkled with homemade crutons.

The dressing, honey, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, egg yolk, garlic. Shake everything in a container, then blend. I find that the dressing works best with crunchy salads.

Lamb Stew

Made this for lunch, just put it on the stove in the morning and let it simmer till lunch time.

Cut the lamb pieces up and sprinkle with salt and pepper and whatever spices you want. Let it sit there while you cut up the veggies, I used carrots, white radish, onions, garlic, and potatoes (to give it that starchiness without using flour). Put some oil in a pot and fry everything for a few mins with top. Add enuogh water to just cover the ingredients and simmmer for a few hours. Keep checking water level and adjust seasoning.

We had it with some left over couscous. Nice and easy lunch. And then for dessert we had some left over apple crumble with vanilla ice-cream (that's another posting).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Baggers


They call them Baggers here in Bavaria, but they are really just some kinda potatoe pancakes. You eat them with applesauce, or jogurt (yuk), or sourcream (even yukkier). I know the applesauce looks like shit (literally) in the picture, but it taste a lot better than it looks. Specially with this combination.

Might as well get the apple sauce over with. Funny thing, I actually just prepared it using my son's baby food processor. But for those of you who don't have hi tech gadgets as such, simply peel and slice the apples and cook over low flame until soft. Mash, cool, and add sugar to taste.

Now for the Baggers. I used for 2 people, 4 potatoes, 1 onion, 1 egg, a bit of flour, salt and pepper and oil for frying.Peel the potatoes and onion, finely shread. Mix in bowl with beaten egg, flour and salt and pepper. Heat pan with oil over medium heat. Spoon about 3-4 spoon fulls of mixture onto pan at a time (depending on how big the pan is, the key is not to have them stick together). Turn once so that both sides can be browned. Takes about 5 mins for each little pancake. Serve with applesauce.

Washed them down with a nice cold local pils called Kitzmann. Btw, my wife says they call them Kartofelpuffer in the north of Germany.

Kurbissuppe

Man sometimes you just gotta pad yourself on the back for a job welldone. And this was definately one of those time.

What's better than a bowl of pumpkin soup for dinner on a breezy autumn evening?

I used for this simple wholesome soup, 2 Hokaido pumpkins, 1 potato, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, milk, salt and pepper. For the croutons/bacon bits, bread, olive oil, salt and pepper, bacon.

So first things first. Preheat the oven to a medium temperature. Cut the top off the pumpkin so that the heat can escape, keep the tops if you wanna be fancy and use them as lids for serving. I just discarded them. Bake the pumpkins for about an hour until the inside is soft enough to scrape out with a spoon. Let them cool a bit before getting the meat out, don't hurt yourself there. Remove the membrance and the seeds, then carve out the inside but careful not to break the skin as they will be the serving bowls. Heat oil in pot and gently fry the pumpkin, chopped potato, carrot, onion, and garlic. Cover with just enough water, bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are soft and one. Purree with blender or mash it up. Thin out with milk to desired consistinency over medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

When the soup is simmering prepare the croutons. Cut up the bread and bacon to little piece. Mix with salt and pepper and olive oil then fry over low/medium heat until everything is crispy.

When soup is ready pour into pumpkin bowls and top with crouton mixture.

We had this with an Eastern German Sekt (sparkling) called Rotkaeppchen. Apparently this is one of the few eastern German products that survived the reunification.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Warm Couscous Salad

Haven't had couscous for a while, it's a nice change from rice and potatoes. Usually I like to have it with lamb stews like the Tuneians.

This one is very fluffy and light, all I used were couscous, carrots, cucumbers, celery, onion, olives, frozen seafood package, lemon juice, olive oil, feta cheese, salt and pepper.

Prepare couscous as per box instructions. Cook the seafood in a pan with a dash of oil. Let both cool off a bit.

Chop the vegetables real fine, in a mixing bowl combine with couscous, seafood and everything else. Season to taste and serve warm.

It's basically like a fried rice, just throw stuff from the kitchen into it. Very easy deal.

Rettichsalat Bavaria

I got this from a German cook book I bought at the flea market. The book is full of rustic German fare and this is the first thing I tried. The actual recipe follows:

Rettichsalat Bavaria

Rezept fuer 4 Personen

Das braucht man:
Fuer den Salat:
1 grossen Rettich
2 Bund Radieschen
2 Zwiebeln
600g Lyoner Wurst
2 Bund Schnittlauch
1 Bund Petersilie

Fuer das Dressing:

1/2 Tasse Oel
1/2 Tasse Weinessig
1 Tasse Fleischbruehe
Salz
Pfeffer aus der Muehle
1 Prise Zucker

So macht man's:

1. Den Rettich schaelen und hobeln.
2. Radieschen putzen , waschen und in Scheiben schneiden.
3. Zwiebeln schaelen und ebenfalls in Scheiben schneiden.
4. Lyoner Wurst enthaeuten und in Scheiben schneiden.
5. Schnittlauch verlesen, waschen und in hauschduenne Ringe scheiden.
6. Petersilie verlesen, waschen und fein hacken.
7. Die Zutaten in einer Schuessel vorsichtig miteinander vermischen.
8. Dressingzutaten miteinander verruehren, mit Salz, Pfeffer und Zucker abschmecken.
9. Den Salat Damit anmachen und eine halbe Stunde im Kuehlschrank ziehen lassen.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Greek Salad with Homemade Flatbread


The salad is a no brainer. What's nice about this lunch is the homemade flatbread. And what's nice about the flatbread is that it uses the same dough as the homemade pizza. Instead of spliting the dough into two balls, split it into 4, flatten out and fry on medium heat on a pan. Turn frequently to avoid burning.

For the salad I used cucumbers, red onion, garlic, sweet pepper, tomatoes, olives, capers, lemon juice, oregano, olive oil, and feta.

Slice everything in whatever shapes and sizes you prefer, mix them together with the olives, capers, lemon juice and crushed garlic, dress with oregano, olive oil, and feta cheese.

I like to chill it for a bit before serving.

Doesn't sound too substantial but it's actually quite satisfying witht the bread. Be sure to mob up the juices.

Turkey Schnitzel with Grape Sauce

Personally I don't prefer turkey, I'd only eat it maybe for thanksgiving and with lots of gravy, or stuffed inside a Doener. But there were some grapes that needed to be finished and somehow I thought this would be a nice combination.

For the schnitzel, eggs, flour, breadcrumb, salt and pepper, oil, and turkey.

Flatten out the meat with a meat hammer to make it nice and thin, you can trim off the not so tidy edges if you feel like being fancy. I just left it as is. Heat the oil (for this you need an oil with a high smoking point so olive oil is out of the question). Salt and pepper the meat, then coat with flour, then the beated eggs, and lastly the breadcrumb. Slide schnitzel into pan with enough oil to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom. Turn frequently to avoid burning. It's done when the color is that perfect golden brown.

It's a good idea to make the sauce prior to frying the schnitzel so that you can just keep it simmering. Wash and cut the grapes in halves, coat with sugar and fry in a little bit of butter and a pinch of salt. When they have softened up, sprinkle dashes of whatever liqueur you have and let it evaporate. Then cover the grapes with just enough white wine so that it's not too runny. Bring to boil and then simmer.

Idealy you really should have schnitzels with kartoffelsalat (potatoes salad) or pommes (fries), but I was out of potatoes. Finished the bottle of German Riesling I used for the sauce with the schnitzels. It was alright, I'd make it again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nuernbergerbratwurst mit Waldorfsalat


Something easy again and German again. Well, at least the sausages are. The salad was an American invention.

Nuernbergerbratwurst are small pork sausages popular in the region of Bayern. Usually you have it with (whatelse) potatoes, on a roll, or sauerkraut. The sidedish might change but you almost always have it with German sweet mustard. I wanted a change and remembered that pork and apples always go well together for some strange reason. More importantly I had everything I needed in the kitchen to make the Waldorf.

For the salad, apples, mayo, lemon juice, celery, walnuts, raisins and maraschino cherries if you have them, salt and pepper.

Peel and slice the apples, coat with lemon juice to keep from getting brown, then with just enough mayo to coat the apples. Mix with chopped celery, crushed walnuts. Put in fridge for at least half an hour. Sprinkle with raisins and cherries when ready to serve. (Looks nicer that way, but you can also mix them in before the fridge like I did.)

Makes a nice satisfying lunch for the non-calories counting individuals. Excellent with a glass of German white. We had Silvaner, a German specific grape varietal from our region of Franken. 2004 Volkacher Kirchberg Silvaner Trocken.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Beef Stroganoff

Alright, so this is nothing new. When you're cooking 2-3 times a day, almost everyday, creativity can run out. Besides, I needed to use up the button mushrooms before they go bad.

All you need for this is mushrooms, onions, nice fillet of beef, butter, and some sourcream. If you don't have sourcream, regular cream would do but add the juice of a lemon.

Use a big pan, melt the butter and fry the beef strips for coupla minutes. Move the beef to the side of the pan. Fry the onion and mushroom slices till soft. Stir everything together and add the cream. Salt and pepper generously, and simmer until sauce has thickened a bit. Done.

Serve over rice, noodles, potatoes, or whatever your preferred carb is. Looks heavy but the sourcream/lemon juice helps with the tangy zing.

Something interesting about this dish. You'd find it in lots of old school Hong Kong western cafes such as Queen's. Never knew why until recently. The dish was invented for a Russian Count late 1800s and when the empire fell the recipe became popular in pre-communist Chinese hotels. I suppose Russia was the closest western country and hence this along with things like Chicken Kiev became the staple of Asian-Western cusine.

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

This picture really doesn't do this dish justice. Before I go further just want to say that the North American way of using cream for Carbonara is not authentic.

Rebecca wanted pasta, and I haven't made this one for a while so here we go. This one has a nice story behind it. Supposedly the Coalminers (Carbonara) made this all the time because the ease of carrying and storing the ingridents. They would make this in an open fire, and while they eat sprinkles of coal would land on their food. Sounds to me rural and romantic. For this simple rustic fare I used:

spaghetti, parmesan, 2 eggs yolks, bacon, olive oil, salt and lots and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Heat the pan with olive oil, cut the bacon into small pieces and fry on low heat for like 10/15 mins until the meat is soft and the fat has been rendered out. Meanwhile cook the pasta as per instructions in salted water. Beat the egg yolks with a bit of the pasta water and the grated cheese and load it with pepper. When the noodles are done, drain, and mix them on the pan with the bacon. It's nice to keep a little of the pasta water with the mixture so that the end results won't be too dry. Then turn the heat off, stir in the egg/cheese mixture and serve. Ground more pepper on top so it really looks like there are little bits of coal on it.

You really should eat this with a nice glass of red, but we were out of wine. Kicked it back with a bottle of Beck's instead.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Goat Cheese Pear Salad

Had to finish the fruits and veggies before the new delivery comes. Also had some goat cheese in the fridge so thought I'd give this a try. Turned out not bad.

2 pears, kopfsalat (head salad translated, kinda like lettuce), cucumber, carrots, goat cheese, walnuts, pine nuts, red radish, and whatever else you like to put in a salad.

It's pretty much self explanatory. Wash and mix everything together, salt and pepper to taste. We simply dressed it with olive oil and balsamic, but you can go all out and make a fancy vanigarette.

One thing though, I did warm the nuts in a pan for a few minutes to make them fragrant.

Fruits, nuts, and cheese. Wonderful combination that never fails.

Kartoffelsuppe

Made this for lunch the other day. German potatoe soup.

The Germans are huge on beer, bread, sausages, and what else, potatoes ofcourse. I don't think there has been a day without one of the above since I've been here.

You need for this simple hearty soup, 2 potatoes, onion, leek, bay leaf, butter, salt and pepper, parsley, parika powder if you have some, and milk, and ofcourse water.

It's kinda like congee, try to make the most from the little you have. That's why you only need 2 potatoes. Chop up the potatoes, leek, and onion and soften them up in a big pot with some butter for a few minutes, put just enough water to cover the ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins until the potatoes are done. Don't forget to throw the bay leaf in.

Times up. Take the bay leaf out, puree what's in the pot, thin out soup with milk to desired thinkness over low heat (do not boil). Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chopped fresh parsley, and paprika powder for some colour.

I prefer to make this with celery instead of leeks because you can use a masher to smash the whole thing which gives it a more rustic texture. Rebecca however is not a big fan of celery so that's the reason for this leek variation.

Nice light lunch for a cool autumn day.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Chrizo Eggs

Chorizos are great. You can eat them as a tapa, cook them with pasta, and in this case use them as breakfast sausage.

It's 7:30 in the morning, just came home from my jog. Rebecca's gone to work, Kai's sleeping. Great, a little breakfast time for me. Go into the kitchen, cereal's out, milk's out, bread's out (except for the last piece of Dinkelvollkornbrot (German dark whole wheat bread)). You can kill someone with them German breads.

So gotta improvise. Got from the fridge.

Chrizo, 2 eggs, olives, 1 onion, butter.

Fry the sausages with the chopped onions until soft and the oil comes out. Add the olives. Turn off the heat and throw the beated eggs in. Viola. The chorizos are already salty so I just put some freshly grounded pepper on it at the end. Had it with the last piece of bread with loads of butter.

Currywurst mit Bratkartoffel


Before I forget, want to give my wife credits for the pictures.

This one was whipped up a few days ago, originally planned to make Linsensuppe but Rebecca didn't feel like soup so here we go.

Very easy, if you can get nice sausages that is. Being in Germany this is not a problem.

Bockwurst (Frankfurters will do as well), potatoes, and onions. That's all you need.

Boil the potatoes first for 20 mins until done. Drain, saute with chopped onions till nice and brown. Salt and peper to taste ofcourse. Move to side of pan to keep warm while frying the sauages. Turn frequently.

In the mean time, make the currywurst sauce. In a small pan mix ketchup, mustard, peper, a little balsamic, and water together to sauce-like consistency. Bring to boil and then simmer. When the sauages are done pour sauce on top, and don't forget loads of curry powder. This is a favorite German snack. This is as close to street food as you get here, usually served with pommes (fries) or broetchen (rolls) though.

If you feel like being healthy, throw together a little side salad. Btw, most of the vegatables I use are from this BIO food delivery service. You can really taste the difference.


Pizza Night







First posting. For those of you who don't know, SAHD is short for Stay At Home Dad. SAHD cooks means, well it means what it means, me - Jason cooking. No big words, no fancy ingredients, just plain old home cooking in Deutschland. Guten Appetit.

Made these two pizzas last night. The toppings were just stuff from the fridge, one was mozarella, tomatoes, and basil. The other was chorizo, olives, red onions, mushrooms, and parmesan. The measurements for the dough was given to me by one of my Tunesian students Adam, very nice guy.

300g flour, 20g yeast, 150ml water and some salt. Remember to let the dough sit covered with towel for at least half an hour. Bake at about 220c for 15 mins or so.

We (and from here on we means my wife Rebecca and I) had a surprisingly nice bottle of German (Baden) Chardonay with it. 2005 Nimburg-Bottinger Steingrube Chardonnay Holzfass trocken.