Tuesday, December 1, 2015

End of quince season - quince jelly

I still had a couple of quinces in the kitchen. They have such a great scent but in the end they have to be used up as well. So I decided to make quince jelly. Really easy peasy. First jelly in my life but one of the easiest things to do, I took the recipe from "Essen und Trinken" - a really great source for recipes.

Cut the quinces up in pieces, leave the peel on, just take off the stem. Put them at once in a bowl of water with lemon juice, so they will keep their color (more or less.)  Cook in water until soft - about 30-40 minutes. Then use a linen cloth or kitchen towel as a strainer and let the juice drop off. Add a little bit of orange or lemon juice to taste. Then I added the special canning sugar which contains pectine in order to make the liquid become jelly - measure about 1:1. You can also use sugar and add the pectin so you need less sugar, I guess I will try this next time.
Stir in pot about 5 minutes then put at once in the before sterilized glass jars.
I made some of the jars with chili pieces. They went to the top. Next time I guess I will put whole chilis inside, also for the look of it. - Perfect side dish for goat cheese - sweet and spicy!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Roasted Oven Vegetable

Very simple recipe again. I wanted to try sweet potatoes and looked for others remainders in my fridge:
Parsil roots and carots.
Sprinkle with olive oil, a bit of salt and roast for about 30 minutes in the oven, 200 Celsius. Then another 10 minutes after putting on some rosemary to taste.
Great simple sauce for dipping:
Mayonnaise, 2 spoons of rum or cognac, orange or lemon grated to taste, salt

Friday, November 6, 2015

Quince carpaccio

Now, in fall season, our quince tree left us with lots and lots of quinces. Some of them were given to others and with the rest we have to be creative. The classic recipe for quinces are jams and jellies but that isn't enought. I already made cakes with quinces and quince mustard (great together with goat cheese) and now I am trying quince carpaccio, quince vinaigrette and quince and pumpkin stew. Another interesting recipe was for quince punch - great for the cold fall days. I discovered that my dogs, which are great apple and pear eaters, also like raw quince, so that makes part of their diet, too. Although - actually we had two quince trees last year but the puppies peeled off the whole bark and the poor tree dried out and died.
Now for the quince carpaccio.
I grated one quince - it is important to sprinkle lemon or lime juice at once, otherwise the pieces won't keep their yellow color but go to a kind of ugly brown - and mix it. Then add some salt. I had a grapefruit in the fridge which I added, in the style of a vegetarian ceviche.  I must say, the aroma of quince and grapefruit combined perfectly and were a great side dish to the roasted prawns I made. -

Thursday, October 8, 2015

White fish in foil

I had lots of vegetable still from my shopping trip to the farmer's market. Sometimes there is so much good stuff, I buy a little too much. Solution: chop up part of it and freeze for the next minestrone or vegetable curry. The other part came in my fish dish in the evening:
Yellow and green zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, spring onions and chilis.
whatever is to your liking, just pay attention to cut them according to their cooking time. You don't want part of the vegetables to be overcooked and the others to be still raw.

I put them in the oven with about 180 Centigrade for half an hour, adding just salt and dash of white wine, the vegetable kept the beautiful colors. For an extra taste, I then put them in a pan for about 10 minutes in order the finish the dish.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chinese cabbage salad

You know Chinese cabbage? Maybe you agree with me that it can be one of the most boring vegetables. I have seen it many times on the salad buffet, mostly as staff food in large hotels. When it is cut and remains outside for some time, it gets even more boring because it gets dry, not even the greatest salad dressing (and believe me, they don't put that out for staff either) can help it. Most of the time I avoid to buy it, also because you have a really large chunk of vegetable to work.
The trick is to let the dressing get inside the china cabbage and let it rest for at least 20 minutes, the leaves take up the dressing beautifully then. I decided to make a fancy dressing with different flavors: sweet, spicy and hot:

Many recipes with China cabbage are with fruit because this combines quite well.
My ingredients for the dressing:
2 shallots
1 pear
2-3 table spoons of orange mustard
(if you don't have them use normal mustard and orange peel)
a dash of white wine
a dash of water
sea salt
different oils - this time I used grape seed oil and sunflower oil.
Would be perfect with a walnut or peanut oil, too.

Fry the shallots until they have that glassy look, then put them on the salad with a little bit of the frying oil.
Mix up the other ingredients and blend them.
In the end I added roasted cashews.

And remember, it is worth a try and a great salad to bring to a barbecue, goes fine with meat, too.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chili con carne - texan style (mostly)

I am listening to a nice audio book called "Texas Cooking" right now that gave me the idea to try a Texan recipe. First thing which comes to mind: Chili con carne, of course. I found a really nice recipe on another blog and was amazed how many types of chili there are. Of course I couldn't find the chipotle in one of our stores, so I had to cheat a bit. The chipotle would be a smoked jalapeno which gives this special flavor to the dish. I didn't want to buy any of those bottles in the supermarket, nor liquid smoke, so I used smoked bacon instead. 
Here are the ingredients I used:
1 diced onion
Beef, cut in small pieces - about 1 pound
Minced beef - about 1 pound
Smoked bacon - about 1cup
All different kinds of chilies, I only had the two types you see below
half a glass of beer
1 can of diced tomatoes
My special homemade spicer in the glass made of garlic, almonds, white wine, bread crumbs, olive oil and sea salt
clove (just 1!)
1 tablespoon of cocoa

I took the original Texan recipe as an inspiration, so don't tell it to any Texans, as I understood, they usually don't put beans in it (which I didn't) and neither tomatoes (which I did).
Next time I would put more spices and add diffent kinds of chili, hopefully also the chipotle.
By the way, sorry for the pictures, they really are not much, hopefully I will make better ones!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Vegan Butternut-Zucchini Ceviche

Usually a Ceviche would be raw fish, marinated with lime, originally from Peru but I also tasted it in Costa Rica. Very yummy. This time I stole the word for a purely vegan dish. The important thing is to slice the pieces in very fine stripes and leave it at least two hours - better more with the marinade.
So here we go:
VERY thin slices of butternut and zucchini, marinate with lots of lime juice and sea salt. After two hours add the oil. I used grape-seed oil this time.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Parsley root salad

Still summer and an opportunity to make a little barbecue. So we grilled some squids and I just made a light lettuce salad and a parsley root-carrot-remaining vegetables in the fridge one.
I have two types of mint in my garden, one sourced from a mojito drink in Cuba many years ago and planted in the garden without roots, still going strong. The other is the more spearminty type. The added an extra freshness to the salad.

Parsley roots and carrots - I let them simmer with a little bit of olive oil and a dash of water in the pan.
Cherry tomatoes, a half avocado and two kinds of mint, cashews.
The cashews are slightly roasted to give them more flavor.
Mix everything with lime juice, a little sea salt and olive oil.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Olive oil

Maybe you noticed already - I really use a lot of olive oil. It is a very healthy and cholosterol free oil. There are few times I use butter, pumpkin oil or sunflower seed oil for special recipes, otherwise the healthy mediterranean oil is the best.
Since we have about 300 olive trees in a lot in Sardinia we, have the possibility to harvest and press our own olive oil, knowing exactly where it comes from.
The grooming of the trees and the harvesting also involve a lot of work and money. The trees have been cleaned again this spring, about the harvest we are not sure yet. Since the trees have been cut down, in the last years there has been no harvest, now is the first year with lots of olives.
I started a Kickstarter project for the harvest, if it is fonded, we will go down and bring up delicious "Valverde" olive oil to Germany - and send it to whoever is too distant.
 So if the funding is done until the end of October, there will be interesting news about all the stuff involved in harvesting, video and pictures of the special device for shaking the olive tree and the people collecting the olives and also pictures from the oil mill where the olives will be pressed afterwards. I have many pictures from Sardinia, too, which I will post these days on my other blog, so you get an impression of this beautiful island where there is lots of space and few people, lots of animals which are allowed to roam free outside and this special scent of the "Macchia mediterranea" which can not be described in words but which will end up in the olive oil as well.
Giant Schnauzer guardians of the olive trees

The sea is about 1 mile from the olive tree lot

Delicious sea food - Spaghetti e cozze alle vongole

Delicious roasted squids

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Summer is turning into autumn and these are the last day to eat lighter stuff. Actually I just discovered "Zoodles" on the blog of Kevin. I had been roaming the internet, looking for mixing prawns with something else to make it a more substantial meal. Of course I also had to surf by "Closet Kitchen" because I love these recipes and actually found the cutting zucchini in very long and narrow stripes to use them as a fresh spaghetti replacement. I still must practise how to create these thin stripes without mashing the zucchini. I cut them with the knife in small stripes, then took the pealer and cut them from up to down. This is all very well when you are on the outer part of the zucchino, the further you get inside, it will disintegrate. So I cut in stripes what I could and cut little dices from the rest. Looked nice, too.
Here is how I did it:
"Soffritto" with onions and garlic to taste - I took 1 onion and 2 pieces of garlic
1 chili - medium hot
10 prawns
I let it roast, then simmer slowly and put the zucchini in the end because I didn't want them to be too soft.
In the end, add a glass of white wine or rum to taste.
In the meantime I heated up the water for the pasta - I took "bavettine" this time, let them cook for 5 minutes and put everything together in the end.
The combination of chili hotness and the sweetness of the zucchini combined perfectly with the prawns. Definitely a plate I will try again, maybe also with caroodles (carrots) or celoodles (cellery) and in autumn I might also go with pudles (pumpkin). The idea of the whole thing is that the vegetables are not really cooked but just simmer along until they get softer and this leaves them so much more flavor - try it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Roasted hokkaido with gorgonzola cheese

Pumpkin is one of these vegetables it really took me a long time to really find a good way to cook it. My grandmother used to make stuff she called "platschenta" - a bessarabian dish, practically dough pockets stuffed with a pumpkin puree. In fact, she always had a garden full of really large specimens.
It smelled deliciously but the taste was neither sweet nor spicy or savory, just boring in my opinion. Later on I once tasted a Caribbean soup with black beans, chili and pieces of pumpkin, not too bad, the spicyness and the sweetness of the pumpkin got along really well.

So last year, I saw these pumpkins in season again and tried one of the recipes of Kevin's great food blog:
This was my inspiration.
My version:
I took hokkaido which has the advantage that you don't have to peel it. Whoever cut off the peel of a raw pumpkin or squash will remember that it isn't really fun and can be dangerous, too. The only worse thing to peel for me is a raw quince. 
As you see in the picture, it also looks beautiful with the dark orange peel. I just put a bit of Sardinian sea salt and pumpkin seed oil on the slices and let it roast in the oven until it got a bit darker and a soft texture (approximately 20 minutes with 200 C (392 Fahrenheit) - always depending on the width of your slices.
Using the oven it is convenient to stuff it full and keep some of the stuff in the freezer for out of season cooking. In  fact, this is what I did during fall and now I still had some of the slices left which I simply defrosted, covered it with small bits of gorgonzola and put it for an instant in the microwave.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Bottrop Salad

This is a summer salad - more than the traditional Swabian salad made with broth which I will teach you in the future. Actually I stole the idea from a place which isn't really known for creative cuisine. Some years ago we went to pick up our Giant Schnauzer Sissi - Susi Sorglos vom Kellergeist - from her breeder. Since they were breeding Continental Bull Dogs in the meantime, she wanted to give away this great dog and we met at a dog training place in Bottrop where they were for an exhibition that day. The Boxer dog camp was a small club and for the exhibition the members made a barbecue and homemade salads. I really liked the combination of spring onions, radishes, potatoes and sour cream. In honor of the place where I tasted it for the first time, I called it Bottrop salad.
Very easy: Cook potatoes - important to take the small spring potatoes with a quality of not becoming too starchy when cooked. Add the cut spring onions, radishes and sea salt. Wait for at least 10 minutes to add the sour cream. - That's it, great component of a spring or summer barbecue.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sweet quinoa pudding

The quinoa experiment continues. This time I created this mix:
Cook quinoa (20 minutes in hot water), rinse it for at least 15 minutes.
Mix it with curd, maple syrup, coconut flakes and add 1-2 teaspoons of gelatin in powder.
Put the mix in little cups and let it become cold in fridge

Quinoa Experiments and Vegetarian Stew

Quinoa must be really healthy, gluten free, much protein and it can be used in many different ways. Somehow this is also it's problem. I tried to cook it as written in the recipes for about 15-20 minutes and used it as side dish. Actually it didn't taste of much, now I understand why you can use it also for desserts. In a post I read that you must roast it in order to give it a more special nut-like taste. I also did that, still I am not very satisfied.
My next test was to make a hearty stew with little white beans, red lentils, and peeled tomatoes. That was really good, I like the veggie chili taste.

It is important to wash the quinoa with hot water before cooking it, otherwise it will keep a bitter taste of the saponin attached to it's shell.

Onions, garlic, olive oil, quinoa, chili to taste, white beans, red lentils, diced peeled tomatoes, tomato puree, sea salt

If I remember, I put the white beans to soak the day before, this saves some cooking time, otherwise it will work just as well, you just have to let it boil for a little more.

Roast the onion dices and garlic until they are glassy, add water and the white beans. The white beans take the longest time to cook, about 30-40 minutes. When they are nearly ready, add the red lentils which have to cook about 5 minutes, in the end the already cooked quinoa.

Since I am still experimenting, I still had leftover cooked quinoa. If  you don't have it cooked yet, you can also add it directly to the stew calculating about 20 minutes of cooking time.

Add one can of peeled diced tomatoes and one of tomato puree, the chills, salt and try if you like to eat it with roasted cumin

What I added apart from that:
I had a cup of vegetable stock still frozen. I did this some time ago, it is a great plus for taste.

So next time you have some time, too much vegetables which have to be consumed, a large pot and some space in your freezer, prepare some of this stock, it can be used in so many ways. Any time you see a recipe which requires the addition of vegetable broth, you can use this. The only difference is that it has less liquid which will save space in your freezer - and there is a huuuuge difference to the vegetable broth you can buy in the supermarket in cans, powder or paste - lots of chemical ingredients and no taste.
Very easy: Start with the usual groundwork: Pot, olive oil, diced onions and garlic in very very thin slices, roast slowly until they have a glassy appearance.
Then add the vegetables cut in small dices, water and let it simmer until the vegetables are well done. I put them in small empty yogurt or curd cup which holdsabout 200 g (7 oz)

Furthermore some already cooked carrots and yellow zucchini, cut in a bit larger dices. I found this dish to be a really yummy alternative, a bit like a Chili sin Carne.
Topping: Sour cream and roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
Without the sour cream topping it is a vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free and even absolutely vegan dish.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chick pea salad

A really simple summer dish which also goes really well with a barbecue is this one:
Dried chick peas are always good to have at home, they don't go bad because they are dried and are easy to cook. If I remember to do this in time, I let them soak in water for one day, then rinse them thoroughly and put them in hot water to cook for about half an hour. If you didn't let them soak it takes a little more time. Remember to put salt only in the end, otherwise your cooking time will increase considerably.
Since I am lucky to always have aragula in my garden - even more than I would wish for - during spring until fall I just have to get outside to get my portion.
The cooked chick peas are combined with the aragula, a couple of cherry tomatoes, mint (from the garden) and seasoned with olive oil, a little lemon and salt.

Yellow beet carpaccio

My inspiration for today came along doing two detours. Listening to a foodie podcast, I arrived at the blog of Bushcook, which I mentioned already in a former post. This time she made a beetroot carpaccio with bottarga.
As usual, I changed the recipe a little bit. First of all, I used yellow beetroot from the farmer's market which has a more delicate taste and doesn't color your hands as the red ones do.
It took me a long time to gather the courage to cook these. At home we never made them, not even during my time working in the catering business. Just having a talk with the vendor at the farmer's market some time ago I decided to prepare them myself. In fact, you get the red ones all the time, already cooked, but the yellow beets seem to be a rather new species. Actually, if you have ever cooked potatoes, it is just the same. Leave them in their peel and cook them with a little salt about 20-30 minutes until they are done. Peel them and cut them into very thin slices. The seasoning I made was lemon, a little salt and olive oil, topping it with grated (organic) orange peel which I stored in my freeze during the winter season. We had had two large boxes of Sicilian oranges in January and all the peel was taken away before using the juice or eating them.
In the end I sprinkled grated bottarga on them. Now this might ask for some logistics. It is called the Sardinian caviar or the roe of the grey mullet. Wikipedia tells me that it is also soldin other European countries and Japan, even Africa and Florida. Since it is dried and lasts very long, you might be lucky to try it. We brought it from Sardinia which is our favorite food shopping region. The taste is very special and for me it doesn't resemble the taste of the usual caviar but is much more earthy and smoky.
Andrew Zimmern, which I like very much, made a great video about food in Sardinia, here is a snippet about bottarga.

On this picture you can see it as well on the bottom left

It has a form like a locust bean

Friday, June 26, 2015


When I had a look at the posts I made already, I noticed that one of the words I use a lot is the word "leftover". In fact, I you cook every day, something remains and there are different ways to handle it. 1. Throw it away (not an option if it is good)
2. Freeze it ( alright if it can be frozen and you have the capacity)
3. Continue to eat until everything is consumed, even if you have to force yourself (not an option)
4. Try to use it in a different way the next day.

Number 4 is the one which will stimulate your fantasy. No number of recipes you can read can cover all the combinations you can come up with if you look in your fridge and your garden, adding something bought in order to create a perfectly new menu.  Maybe next time the dish won't be exactly the same because you don't have this leftover banana or roasted pumpkin but hey - otherwise you might never have tasted it in the first place.

In a place where I worked, the cook told me that many of the guests were asking again and again for this great horseradish cream soup they once had there. The reason - which he couldn't tell them - was simply the fact that he had made a blending of three different dishes the day before. So - he told me - practically we would have to make the identical menus, have leftovers in the same quantities for making this soup the next day. It just won't happen!

If you remember the old days when your grandmother cooked, this is the way dishes were made then and (I hope it for you) everybody can recall the scent of a stew which had been cooking for hours in the morning.
So one of the important things in cooking might be this: Don't use anything your grandmother didn't know. At least I go along with this for anything like processed food. Exotic fruit and vegetables which weren't sold here then, are an exception for me. It is even more interesting to immerse in old cook books and read about herbs and wild vegetables used in former times.

Fried Bananas

When I was in Costa Rica, many times a component of the mixed plate, the "Casado", was a fried banana. It isn't usual here to add fried bananas, but really worth trying. The subtle sweetness combines perfectly with rice and meat. Sometimes you may have a leftover banana at home and before it starts to become brown, just use this recipe and add it to your dinner or eat it as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream.
Again very simple: Fry the banana in a pan with butter or oil,  just a couple of minutes until it has this honey like color, add a couple of chopped nuts - I had leftover Brazil nuts - 5 minutes for a delicious and different taste to your plate.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


One of my favorite podcasts where two people talk about food for more than one hour is always mentioning burgers. In the end I couldn't resist and got myself some minced meat and buns for making a cheese burger.

It is still fast food, even if you make it yourself. Took me about 20 minutes and that is just the same time you need to get out of your house and drive to the burger place to buy it, if you are not actually living over the place, so have a try.

The minced meat is fresh, not one of those frozen patties, cheese is a leftover smoked raclette cheese from winter which I still had in the freezer. Of course you need onions but if you cook regularly you will have that at home as well. Salad is from my salad glut garden.

First cut the onion in small small cubes and roast it in olive oil until they have a glassy appearance, not too much, they mustn't become brown.
In the meantime you form the patties with your hands, as you see they aren't as beautiful as the bought ones and they fall a little apart because I didn't add any egg or flour, I just wanted them natural. If you wish to make them more beautifully formed, you can do this in a different way:
This is what I do when I make my German version of burgers: I put a handful of white bread crumbs in water or milk until they are soft, add an egg and mix it with the raws meat. Doing this you get a more coherent mixture which can be formed more easily.
Put the onions aside and fry the meat, adding a little salt and ground black pepper.

I roasted the buns also for giving them a crispy touch, here I added some ketchup, mustard and the salad leaves

Pickles are a must for me, as you see, the cheese is already melted. I put it in the pan at the end together with the meat for some time. Doing this I recommend to use a coated pan, otherwise the cheese will glue to your pan and not your burger meat, that would be a pity.

Ready, go. I know these buns won't win a beauty contest but the roasted texture was great. 

Fruit smoothie

Have you ever wondered what is inside these fruit smoothies they are selling everywhere now, even in the super market. I do so, too. Actually it is better to make it yourself, you spend less, know what is inside and can use up your leftovers in the fridge or the garden. Plus, it is super healthy and tastes good because you choose your ingredients. You can drink it as plain fruit smoothie or add some yogurt if you like it, add oat flakes ( not the whole grain ones but the ones which would melt) for more substance and you have a wonderful start for the day. If you don't have time in the morning, prepare it the day before and but it in your fridge.

Here we go, in this case I used apricots, peaches, red and black currant from the garden and a banana. Blend it with a hand blender - you don't need to have the most sophisticated kitchen tools, the hand blender is a tool you should have in your kitchen, though, for many purposes and it doesn't cost too much. Mine has at least 10 years now and is still going strong.
(Braun MQ 500 Soup Multiquick 5 Stabmixer)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Avocado hummus

Kevin has a great food blog and this inspired me for the avocado hummus. Practically hummus is a mix of chickpea puree and tahina - a sesame paste with salt and spice. He used chickpeas from a can, already cooked, I used some leftover already cooked chickpeas, left off the garlic as well.
Ingredients: Cooked chickpeas, tahina, avocado, salt, mint.
Procedure: Blend everything, time for preparation - 5 minutes (if you are slow)

Salad glut - green smoothie

I love smoothies, they are a great healthy way to consume some raw vegetables and vitamins. Healthy food always has to be something you like to eat, so add always stuff which tastes good for your taste.

I am still fighting the salad abundance so this of course is part of the smoothie, basil and mint leaves give this special, slightly spicy kick, add a little salt, blend it - that's it.

Second round - salad glut recipe

Last time I went for the soup - thought there would be something left to freeze, but no, all eaten up with different toppings: sour cream, bacon, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted tomatoes...

Why not do this next time with a variety of different toppings offered in order that everyone can try their own version?

This time I tried a braised version, like spinach - more or less.

Again: olive oil, eschalotts and garlic, heated up, then add lettuce and a little bit of water, salt, nutmeg and let it simmer with little heat until it is done (about 10 minutes)
I added seeds and a little blue cheese (Gorgonzola)