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.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Marble Muffins

These were actually by-products of a marble cake we made for a friend's party. Had some leftover dough so my wife suggested that we use it to make muffins. They turned out better than the cake itself.

I'm just gonna translate the recipe directly from German to English, it was printed on the back of the flour package.

Marmorkuchen (Marble Cake)

Ingriedients: 250g butter, 1 package vanilla sugar, 200g sugar, 4 eggs, 500g flour, 1 package baking powder, 1/8 l milk, 40g cacao, 20g sugar, 3 tablespoon milk.

Preparation: Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla sugar together in mixing bowl. Mix flour and baking powder in a sepearte bowl and then add to the other mixture. Add milk. Pour 2/3 of the mixture into the buttered form. The rest of the mixture mix with the cacao, sugar and milk. Pour on top of the other mixture and run a fork through both to create a spiral effect. Bake at 175c for 60-70 mins. Let cool and sprinkle powdered sugar on top if desired.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

“Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivĂ©!”





Time flies. It's that time of year again, 3rd Thursday of November. It's been my 4th year of Beaujolais indulgence, but this year I've decided to go all out. Aside from the rather expensive cheese selection (camembert, comte, roquefort, and morbier) from the cheese store, I've made my own baguette.

For four 6 inch baguettes you need 1 egg, 1 teaspoon yeast, 2 cups warm water, 4-5 cups flour, a pinch of salt. First dissolve the yeast in a bowl with 1/2 cup of warm water, let sit for 10 mins, stir with fork. Mix flour with salt and when yeast is ready pour that in along with the rest of the warm water. Stir until dough is ready to be worked on. Work on the dough on floured surface for 5 mins on so, put in big bowl and cover with damp towel for 1 hour for it to expand 2 folds. Then split into 4 little balls and shape into baguettes. Put them on a baking sheet and brush with beated egg mixed with a dash of cold water. Put in preheated 220c oven for 15 mins, then lower the heat to 180c or so for another 5 until golden brown. The trick is to have 2 cups of water in the oven to provide moisture.

Bread, wine, cheese, nuts, fruits, candles, a beautiful wife, and a gorgeous little boy. Life don't get much better. And btw, thanks for voting for my video. Eventough it didn't win, as one of the 10 finalists I'm still entitled to an all inclusive trip to Berlinale. There would be a screening of the video as well.

'Wine is sunlight held together by water' - Galileo

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My New Sous-Chef


Very exciting. Today my wife was helping out in the kitchen, and she did a great job, I'd hire her for sure.

We had Agedashi Tofu, Tonkatsu, Miso Soup, and Korean Soju. The tonkatsu was made just the same way as schnitzel but smaller and drizzled with some kinda Japanese sauce my sister brought over last time from T.O. The miso was instant. So that leaves the tofu.

Nice and easy. Soak up the water from the tofu with paper towel for at least 15 mins on each side. Cut into little cubes and coat well with starch. Heat oil in pan and fry until both sides are nicely colored. Personally I prefer to have them a bit pale. Garnish with shreaded white radish and chopped spring onions. The only thing you have to premake is the tentsuyu broth. Usually it is made with dashi, mirin, and shoyu. But since I'm in a small town in Germany and couldn't find any one of those I did some research and came up with a substitute. For the dashi I used chinese dry mushroom soaking water, sugar for the mirin, and regular soy sauce for the shoyu. Three parts cdms water, one part sugar, one part soy sauce. Bring everything to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. I swear it tastes just the same as the instant stuff. You can keep what you don't use for next time.

Wish I ccould get decent sake here but they are more for cooking than drinking.

Well done Mrs. Chan.

Penne with Smoked Salmon

This is a great way to use that leftover smoked salmon in the fridge.

The cooking time for the sauce is about the same as the pasta, so start the noodles and in the meantime made the sauce.

Sautee one shallot half mooned in butter till soft. Add the juice of half a lemon. Then a few dashes of Cointreau/Vodka/Whiskey, when the alcohol evaporates add the torn up smoked salmon. Add the cup of cream, bring to a boil and simmer. Throw the capers in as well and season with salt and pepper.

Dish out pasta and pour sauce on top then garnish with chives.

This one is for you Kitty.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mapo Tofu

Needed to make something quick for lunch. All you need for this is some pork, tofu, corn starch, sz pepper, and oil.

First marinate the minced pork with corn starch, water, and salt for 30 mins. Then heat some oil in a pan and fry the whole sz pepper until fragrant then discard. Fry the beef in the oil, throw in the chopped up tofu pieces, season with salt and grinded sz pepper and maybe a few dashes of sesame oil if you like. Dissolve a table spoon of cornstarch with a cup or two of water and throw that in as well. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few minutes until the texture thickens.

Serve with rice and beer.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pork Dumplings



Haven't cooked for days, it was nice to take a break. Got some minced pork left in the freezer so decided to make some dumplings out of it.

I used for the dumplings pork, scallions, chinese cabbage, ginger, salt, pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, corn starch. First marinate the pork in the starch, salt and pepper, oil, soy sauce and a bit of water for at least 30 mins. Chop the cabbage up finely and then sprinkle salt on it and let sit for the same time to let the water out. Times up, squeeze the excess water out from the cabbage and mix into pork, along with chopped up scallions and ginger. Fill the dumplings skins up with the mixture and boil in water until floating. I had them in the leftover hot and sour soup I made a while back.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Kohlrabi Remoulade

Yes, I konw it's just a giant hot dog. But it's not the hotdog that I'm writing about, it's the condinment - the kohlrabi remoulade.

Kohlrabi is kinda like celery root. Got delivered a few of them from the organice place and thought this might be a nice way to use them, turned out to be not bad. You can put it on a hotdog, or simply have it with a piece of country bread.

In a mixing bowl mix the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley together and season with salt and pepper. Then mix in the shredded kohlrabi and mayonnaise. Season again and refrigerate. About 30 mins before serving take it out from the fridge and give it a light toss.

It's kinda like a coleslaw with less crunch. Works well as a sidedish with fish.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Zwiebelkuchen


During fall you can get this young wine called 'Federweiser' in Germany. It's a very light wine with yeast still in the bottle fermenting. And Federweisers are usually drunk with savory dishes such as Zwiebelkuchen (onion pie). The other day I grabbed the last bottle from the store and made the pie over the weekend.

The dough. For a 22cm form you need, 250g flour, 100ml milk, 40g butter, salt and yeast. Let the dough sit covered with damp cloth for a while before forming shell in buttered form. Don't forget to poke holes with a fork all over it.

Onion pie is obviously made with onions, and lots of it. Cut the onions up to half moons, fry on low heat with bacon pieces. No need to use oil because the fat from the bacon is enough. I don't usually put salt in it either since the bacon is usually quite salty as is. Do season with pepper generously though. So while that's cooking, break an egg into a mixing bowl, beat with a cup of cream, and add shredded Gouda cheese. Mix everything up and season. The idea is to have enough of this mixture so that it will cover the pie. When the onion and bacon mixture turns soft pour it into the form and top with the cheese mixture. Ground some more pepper on top and put the pie in to a 200c preheated oven for 40 mins. If you 're like me who like the pie a bit more brown then leave it inside for another 5 mins.

Very nice lunch and a great way to have a last taste of fall.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This was an easy and light lunch, but it was ohhhh sooo good.. Perhpas due to the fact that I've been craving grilled cheese since I watched The Devil Wears Prada in which Andy goes home to Nate who makes her a grilled goat cheese sandwich.

The soup. Ideally you'd want to peel and deseed the tomatoes. But the last delivery from the organic food company contained only the tiny little tomatoes. Chopped up some onion, celery, and because I want to have a thicker texture, I threw in a potato as well. Sweat them out a bit and add the tomato. Don't add any water just yet, instead turn the heat on low to soften up the tomatoes and for the juices to come out. And then if it's too thick add a bit of water and simmer for 20 mins or so until potatoes are soft. Don't forget the bay leaf. I used some oregano as well. Puree everything and add milk to thin out. Salt and pepper to season and garnish with fresh dill.

The sandwich. Inspired by the movie I decided to get some expensive goat cheese as well for the sandwich. Butter the outside of the bread. I find that it is easier by melting the butter and brushing it on than trying to butter a piece of soft bread with hard butter. Put the cheese in the middle and grill until both sides have browned. Personally I prefer to have it quite dark, it's crunchier this way.

Oh and the best way to eat the soup is by dunking the sandwich into it.