Saturday, March 31, 2007

Okonomiyaki

This one is for my sister. And boy did I wish she was here to help finish the food. I made two okonomiyakis, one with seafood and the other with minced pork and red bell pepper. My wife and I barely finished one.

The pork and pepper one is not exactly traditional but hey the name okonomiyaki means 'whatever you like' right?

For the batter I used approximately 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of water, half a head of Chinese cabbage, a few eggs and a dash of salt. Mix everything together and fry in a pan with oil. When the batter is half done add the toppings. Flip them over and fry for another few minutes. Top these Japanese pancakes with seaweed, mayo, okonomiyaki sauce (Worcestershire sauce will do as well) and bonito flakes (I paid way too much for the bonito flakes, 3 euros for a small handful!).

We washed every down with a nice cold glass of choya soda.

Lunch on the Balcony

The lunch itself is really nothing to write about. Simple feta salad with peppers and dried apricots. I made the dressing by crushing some garlic cloves, combining them with salt, pepper, lemon juice and whisking in some olive oil. It was our first meal this year on our little balcony. It was very nice to get some sun and listen to the birds on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Tuna Melt and Carrot Salad

I'm putting the boy on a new napping routine. Instead of two naps per day he only gets one in the afternoon. In order to do that I need to keep him busy in the mornings, which means less time to make lunch.

Threw together lunch in 15 mins. Tuna melt should be self explanatory. Basically just grilled cheese with tuna. Today I added some marinated peppers to spice it up a bit. By the way, peppers are actually called pepperonis here in Europe. And pepperoni as North Americans know it is called salami.

The carrot salad was equally easy. Simply peel and shread a carrot, mix with lemon juice, olive oil, a dash of sugar, salt and pepper, minced parsley. Chill if you have time for a few minutes, but it's also good to serve immediately.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stuffed Tofu and Blanched Cabbage

Thanks for the ones who have voted already.

Stuffed Tofu. I had some already seasoned minced pork left from the fried beans dish yesterday. Perfect for this favorite of mine. Simply smash the meat against a bowl a few times and then fill the tofu pockets with it. Roll them in a bit of corn starch then fry first over medium heat and then when they're almost done over high heat until nice and crispy. The black bean sauce was made by sauteing some minced garlic with black beans seasoned with sugar and sesame oil. When it's fragrant pour in some corn starch thinned out with water to make a sauce.

Blanched Cabbage. Boil water in a pan with a piece of ginger. Cook cabbage in boiling water with a dash of salt and sesame oil. Cover. Drain after 5 mins. Arrange nicely on a plate and pour chicken broth over it. This time I gave in and used the instant stuff.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Szechuan Beans and Steamed Tofu-Egg

Went to the Asia shop today for some Chinese stuff. They happened to have Chinese string beans so that along with the minced pork in the fridge gave me an idea. The other dish is a childhood thing my mother made.

Szechuan Beans. Marinate the pork with sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch, and water. Wash and clean the string beans. Cut roughly 2 inches in length. Fry them until browned and a bit crispy. Drain and set aside. Mince garlic, black beans, chili, ginger, dried shrimp. Saute until fragrant, then add pork. When pork is almost done stir the beans back in. Season again if needed. Sprinkle with Chinese sherry. Turn heat off and serve.

While the above is going on. Prepare the Steamed Tofu-Egg.

Mix in a bowl half a block of tofu with a beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. When the water boils, steam with lid on for 5 mins or until egg is set but not over cooked. Sprinkle finely chopped scallions on top, dress with soy sauce and sesame oil, serve.

Cream of Cauliflower

Almost forgot about the cauliflower. It was not in it's best shape but never the less edible. Made a quick soup for lunch out of it.

Simply boil the florets in milk and cream for half an hour and then puree. Season with salt and pepper.

While the soup is cooking prepare the garnish. Cut bread into strips and toast over low heat in a pan. Then wrap them with whatever ham you got in the fridge.

This simple yet elegant idea is again courtesy of The World Gourmet. Lately I've been ripping off recipes from the Internet a lot, lacking motivation to think up ideas.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rotbarsch Fillet with Kohlrabi

Sometimes when I forget to call in my organic vegetables order they'd just send a mixed carton. This week they delivered a few kohlrabis.

I've never seen or eaten this vegetable before coming to Germany. Besides the kohlrabi coleslaw I was really a bit lost for ways to prepare them. So I went to the Internet for help and found a very nice recipe from The World Gourmet

The only things I did different were I used rotbarsch (red perch) instead of turbot, added sliced boiled potatoes, and saved some of the lemon zest for garnish.

It worked out quite well. I think next time I will try frying the fillets.

Fried Rice and Spring Rolls

My wife was hungry unusually early today. In a rush I only managed to prepare a quick fried rice and the frozen spring rolls in the freezer.

Nothing special really, but I thought the picture she took is kinda nice.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Leek And Mushroom Quiche

After a weekend of fast food (both McD AND Burger King) and having to finish the little man's happy meals today's lunch was certainly refreshing.

First prepare the dough. Mix togther 500g flour, 1/8l milk, a package of yeast, a dash of salt, and some butter. Set aside the dough covered with damp towel for a few hours.

When the dough is ready sautee the leeks and mushrooms in butter until soft. Season well with salt and pepper. Let cool a bit. In a seperate bowl mix together shreaded gouda cheese with egggs and a cup of cream.

Slightly butter the baking dish and form the dough. Remember to poke lots of holes on the bottom with a fork. Pour in the leeks and mushrooms. Layer the cheese/eggs/cream mixture on top. Sprinkle generously with more pepper. Bake in preheated oven at 170 for 45 mins to an hour. Until the quiche is set and nicely browned.

Serve with a side salad. Some of you might notice that I've made other quiches before. The ony difference is the filling. You can use whatever you have in the kitchen, but ideally the ingredients should go well togther.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yakisoba

To be precise this is actually yaki-instant ramen. I suppose it's the Japanese fried rice with noodles, basically anything goes. I had in the kitchen some cabbage, bell peppers, spring onion and chicken so that was what I used.

First cook the noodles according to package instructions, then rinse under cold water and set aside. Slice and chop whatever ingredients you have. WhisK together the sauce for which I used soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and worcestershire sauce. Heat the pan/wok with oil and sautee the meat. When it's half done add the noodles along with the sauce and fry for a few minutes. Then lay the veggies on top and cover. Steam the veggies for a few minutes, remove cover and mix everything together. Adjust seasoning if required. Serve with some toasted sesame.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Eier-Schnittlauch-Salat

I recently got a very nice regional cookbook ' Bayerisch kochen'. Before going into the heavy duty stuff I decided to try it out with a simple Bayern Egg Salad.

Basically hard boil a few eggs, smash them and mix in a bowl with chopped parsley, chives, spring onions. Season well with salt and pepper, and sitr in dressing of yogurt and cream. Chill for an hour before serving.

A note on the pickle. It's actually a special kind of pickles from the east called 'Spreewald'. Don't ask me why but they are specially tasty. They were and are still one of the few products that the east have exported to the west.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chicken Cacciatore

Still had two chicken thighs in the fridge. Was thinking of frying them all crispy and serving with a salad and homefries but then realised it wouldn't really agree with my cold sore. Alternatively I made this chicken cacciatore - hunter chicken. Fancy name for chicken stew really.

First dust the thighs or any other chicken pieces you have with salt, pepper, and flour. Fry the chicken pieces in a pot with oil/butter until the skin is browned. Remove from the pot and sautee chopped onions, garlic, celery until fragrant. Next add lots of sliced mushrooms (they really do cook down so be generous). Put the chicken back in, add a can of tomatoes, white wine, chopped herbs ( I used basil, parsley, a few sprigs of thyme, and a piece of bay leaf), tomato paste. Bring everything to a boil and simmer over low heat for at least 30 mins. Season well with salt and pepper. When the chicken is tender it's time to serve. Serve it with pasta or rice, garnish the chicken some freshly grated parmesan and parsley.

Be sure to save the suace for another quick pasta dinner.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thyme Baked Chicken

There's a Turkish store that always has nice fresh herbs. Dropped by there and picked up some thyme yesterday. I wanted to make chicken so that we can have the bottle of Chardonay we brought back from Toronto. The chicken turned out great, couldn't say the same about the wine.

Slice onions, peel garlic and mix together with olive oil. Place on the bottom of baking dish then layer thyme sprigs on top. Rub chicken with salt, pepper, paprika powder, chilli powder, cumin, and whatever herbs and spices you have on hand/fancy. Place chicken skin side up on top of onion and garlic. Bake in preheated oven for half an hour. Take the dish out and pour lemon juice on top and dot chicken with butter. Bake for a further 15 mins or until skin is crispy and nicely browned.

Arrange everything nicely on a plate and serve with some crusty french bread to mop up the juices.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Steak Salad With Breaded Olives

The salad is nothing new, but the olives I've been wanting to try eversince my wife had them at a cafe a while ago.

They are very simple. Just drain the olives, dust with flour, then beated egg, and lastly bread crumbs. Fry until golden brown.

To be honest they didn't go so well with this particular salad, I think something with feta cheese would be a better combination.

For the curious ones. I had some cherry tomatoes, carrots, pistachios, pineapples in this salad. The dressing was just a simple vinegarette made with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Onion Soup

Don't make this unless you have lots of onions on hand. For the two of us I used about a dozen. Besides onions the ingredients are rather simple. A bit of flour, butter, white wine/spirits, croutons, Gruyere cheese.

First slice the onions and fry in butter. Sprinkle a bit of flour in it and let simmer for at least 30 mins. The longer you cook the onions the sweeter they get. Next add a few dashes of wine/spirits, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot for those nice brown bits. When the alcohol evaporates add the stock. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer with a piece of bay leaf for another 30 mins.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to a very high temperature. Prepare the croutons and shread the cheese. When the soup is ready pour into oven proof bowls or ramskins, top with croutons and cheese. Bake until cheese melts or browned. Serve immediately before the croutons get saugy.

Onion Soup

Don't make this unless you have lots of onions on hand. For the two of us I used about a dozen. Besides onions the ingredients are rather simple. A bit of flour, butter, white wine/spirits, croutons, Gruyere cheese.

First slice the onions and fry in butter. Sprinkle a bit of flour in it and let simmer for at least 30 mins. The longer you cook the onions the sweeter they get. Next add a few dashes of wine/spirits, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot for those nice brown bits. When the alcohol evaporates add the stock. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer with a piece of bay leaf for another 30 mins.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to a very high temperature. Prepare the croutons and shread the cheese. When the soup is ready pour into oven proof bowls or ramskins, top with croutons and cheese. Bake until cheese melts or browned. Serve immediately before the croutons get saugy.

Spring Rolls

I had the spring roll skins a while ago, finally got around to using them today.

It's pretty much like if not easier than making dumplings. Anything goes really, just julienn and fry everything , let cool and wrap them up.

I made some vegetarian ones with carrots, mushrooms, celery, and some leftover lettuce. Very clumsy with the wrapping, I suppose they can look much better if one has more delicate hands.

Whatever you don't finish you can put in the freezer, they make great snacks.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Couscous with peas

I have all kinds of carbs in the kitchen. Different types of pasta, noodles, and ofcourse rice. They all get used from time to time but it's that package of couscous that's always an eye sore.

Quickly threw something togther today for lunch in under 15 mins. That's a new personal record.

So prepare the couscous according to package directions. Defrost the peas, finely chop some dill, zest a lemon. When the couscous is done throw everything in. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with some grated parmesan. If it's too dry you can add some lemon juice and olive oil.

Doesn't get simpler than this. I think it'll be the first thing I teach my son to make.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thai Lettuce Wraps and Cucumber Salad


As I've mentioned before I usually plan my meals around stuff I have in the fridge. This one started with half a stick of cucumber.

I like making this cucumber salad during the summer months with satays. Quite refreshing. With the salad in mind I had to come up with something to go with it. Had some lettuce left, perfect for some wraps.

The salad. Simply finely chop and slice cucumber, chillis, shallots. Mix with water, vinegar, sugar. Chill for a few hours and serve.

The wraps. Marinate the minced pork with fish sauce, sugar, starch, and water. Fry in a bit of oil, add lemon grass, scallions. Season with lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Let cool a bit and mix with chopped coriander and chillis. Serve with lettuce leafs.

It was very nice with some steamed rice and Thai beer, just that the timing is a bit off. Will make again when it gets hotter.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Corned Beef Hash and Corn Bread

I'm no genius when it comes to baking, so I followed this pretty reliable recipe from wikipedia for the corn bread. The key is to add water to the mixture so that the bread will turn out light and chewy. You can also add a can of sweet corn to the dough for some texture.

As for the hash, it's pretty much like a fried rice with potatoes. Basically you try to find things in the fridge that goes well together for a hearty one pot dish. The main ingredients are onions, potatoes, and a can of corned beef or whatever leftover meat you have. First fry the chopped onions and potatoes in a pan with oil. When the potatoes are almost done add the rest. I used carrots, celery, bell peppers, parsley, and scallions. Season well with salt, pepper and tabasco. Lastly stir in the corned beef. I had a small head of lettuce sitting in the fridge so that was sliced and put into the mix as well.

Beer would've been the perfect beverage but unfortunately I was out. Had to settle for a glass of red instead.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Mushroom Soup

I'm still taking it easy so just made something simple for dinner.

Seperate the stems from the button mushrooms. Finely chop the stems and slice the caps. Melt butter in a pot and sautee chopped onion. Throw all the stems in along with 2/3 of the caps. Let sweat for a few minutes before adding water or stock just enough to cover. I put a copule of potatoes in it to thicken the soup, you can skip this and just add some flour when frying the mushrooms. Let simmer for a bit, meanwhile fry the rest of the caps in a bit of butter and set aside. Puree the soup and add cream or milk to desired thickness, be sure not to boil. Stir in the rest of the mushrooms. Season well with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsely and serve.

Takes a bit longer than the canned stuff, but worth the effort.

Btw, thanks for all the nice comments. You guys are so cool.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Fried Feta Cheese Balls Salad

First meal back. Watched tons of cooking shows on TV in Toronto, got a few new tricks up my sleeves.

I think they used gorgonzola instead of feta. I suppose it's better since the feta is crumbly and hard to form into balls. First make little cheese balls, dip into beated egg then bread crumbs. It's important to freeze them for an hour so that they don't start melting away immediately when fried. When you're ready, simply fry the balls in oil over high heat until golden. I made them really big and put them on top of the salads. You can also make smaller balls and mix them in. Whichever way it's a great salad to go with some crusty french bread.